Monterey Bay, critters, shine in savvy, engaging 'Otter 501'
Who doesn't love sea otters? These playful, fuzzy-headed little guys cracking open shellfish on their bellies, or industriously cleaning their faces, are a fixture right out in our own yacht harbor, and entire rafts of them float just offshore at Moss Landing and Monterey. Otters are so plentiful around here, most of us don't realize how precarious their living situation still is.
Splendid cast tries retirement, Indian-style, in entertaining 'Marigold Hotel'
The perfect antidote to the summer blockbuster season,The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is a wistful, humorous, grown-up story of love, loss, family, identity, and the ever-present whooshing of time's wingéd chariot. Its splendid ensemble cast play Englishmen and women of a certain age, gobsmacked by circumstances, who decide to "outsource" their retirement to sunny, inexpensive India.
Stillman's wit falls flat in mistimed coed comedy 'Damsels In Distress'
If cult filmmaker Whit Stillman hadn't already made Metropolitan back in 1990 ... well, let's face it, his new film, Damsels In Distress would still be a mess. The talky cast of Manhattan debs and preppies trying to navigate the shoals of life and the first glimmerings of potential romance in the earlier film might have been a vapid and self-absorbed group, but Stillman's ironic wit was generally keen, dry, and entertaining.
"It's only impossible if you stop to think about it!" As a call to action, this line captures both the exuberant silliness and the sly, throwaway gaggery in The Pirates! Band of Misfits, a stop-motion animation comedy adventure from Aardman Studios, those cheerfully nutty folk responsible for the Wallace and Gromit series and Chicken Run.
Tough LAPD enforcer a character in search of a story in 'Rampart'
In 2009, filmmaker Oren Moverman staked out his turf with quiet authority in his debut feature, The Messenger. A fraught, yet spare and ultimately moving drama about a wounded young Iraq War vet serving out the rest of his tour Stateside, notifying families that their loved ones have been killed in the war, it featured a towering performance by Ben Foster in the central role. It also provided a showy, profanely funny supporting role for Woody Harrelson as Foster's new CO, assuaging the harrowing nature of their job with glib wisecracks and plenty of booze, but it was all in pursuit of Moverman's serious theme, exposing the true cost of warfare, in lives and souls.
Disneynature is back with its annual Earth Day Weekend wildlife documentary. Shot on location in the rainforests of Tanzania, Chimpanzee is presented as a narrative tale about an adorable baby chimp growing up within the support group of his community, working, playing, and feasting together. Made in association with the Jane Goodall Institute and shot by painstaking camera crews over a period of months as the story-in-progress gradually emerged, it's directed by Disneynature series veterans Alastair Fothergill and Mark Linfield.