The Bounty Hunter Reviewed at clevescene.com.
A Boy and His Dog (U.S., 1975) This 1975 post-apocalyptic fable was a midnight-movie hit back in the day, when stoned teens and young twentysomethings would fill theaters to catch director L.Q. Jones' vision of a world without rules. Set in the year 2024, A Boy and His Dog (based on a story by Harlan Ellison) contains all the usual post-nuclear images you know from movies like Mad Max and The Book of Eli: desert landscapes, marauding gangs, godlike despots. A pre-Miami Vice Don Johnson (displaying all the emotional range he exhibited as detective James Crockett) plays Vic, a gun-toting 18-year-old searching the wasteland with his dog Blood — with whom he telepathically communicates — for food and sex. But this is all pretty one-note, with clumsy direction and mostly mediocre acting. Only Jason Robards — who shows up later as the leader of a bizarre underground civilization populated by a carnival of postwar freaks — chews through his scenes with gusto. Still, there's some ragtag charm to the movie, especially when Jones doesn't push the story (or his stars) too hard. These quiet moments of reflection — like when Vic and Blood watch a movie at a refugee camp — play much better than the many scenes where boy and dog banter endlessly about the end of the world. Cleveland Institute of Art Cinematheque. At 8:30 p.m. Friday, March 19, and 10:10 p.m. Saturday, March 20. ** 1/2 (Michael Gallucci)
Bronson (Britain, 2009) "I came into the world as Michael Peterson, but I come out with my fighting name, Charlie Bronson," the bad-tempered brawler (played by Tom Hardy in a virtuoso performance) tells the camera early in this spunky movie about a real-life convict. And he's indeed a fighter. The first several minutes of Bronson consist of scuffles with schoolmates, teachers, police officers — pretty much anyone within his fists' reach. "Prison was a place where I could sharpen my tools, hone my skills," he says at one point. "It's like a battleground, an opportunity." Hardy is terrific, skirting Bronson's line between psychotic and being in complete control of his actions. He's charming, funny and downright terrifying as a man who's shuttled between prisons, in and out of prison, and eventually to the crazy house. Director Nicolas Winding Refn literally lets Hardy roll with the punches, pulling him along with quick edits, some extreme close-ups and a few fancy camera moves. Mostly, though, he unleashes his star and allows him to roam. Cleveland Institute of Art Cinematheque. At 10:15 p.m. Friday, March 19, and 6:45 p.m. Saturday, March 20. *** (Gallucci)
Diary of a Wimpy Kid Reviewed at clevescene.com.
Four Seasons Lodge (U.S., 2008) Andrew Jacobs' feel-good documentary about a group of Holocaust survivors who gather each year at a Catskills resort called Four Seasons Lodge profiles the survivors and the bond that keeps them together. The film is a mixture of new interviews and footage from earlier reunions that took place after the survivors sought each other out upon arriving in the U.S., focusing on what everyday life is like for the retirees and how they cope with what will potentially be their last summer at the lodge, which is about to be sold. One man is caring for his wife who has Alzheimer's, but most of the survivors have fared quite well. "The best thing in the world is to eat, drink and enjoy yourself," says one particularly lively survivor. The film isn't too flippant either. "It would be easier to just live and not to remember all the time," admits one woman who lost her entire family. But in showing the way these survivors have become family to each other, Four Seasons Lodge depicts the human spirit's ability to triumph in the face of tragedy. Cleveland Museum of Art Lecture Hall. At 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 17, and 1:30 p.m. Sunday, March 21. *** (Jeff Niesel)
Lord, Save Us From Your Followers An attempt to find out why "the Gospel of Love is dividing America," this documentary addresses controversies concerning the religious right. We see a conflict between the Bible-beating Battle Cry organization and gay-rights activists in San Francisco and get to hear both sides of the story as a gay man dressed as a nun talks about his anti-Christian sentiments and Battle Cry head honcho Ron Luce denounces gays because of "the things they do." Though it's clear writer-director Dan Merchant is on the liberal side of things, he's still a Christian, so his film takes aim at hypocritical Christians rather than Christ. "The Gospel of Love has now become the Gospel of Being Right," says Merchant. Much like Michael Moore, Merchant doesn't take himself too seriously — he even stages a game show dubbed "Culture Wars" and mans a confession booth so he can hear the church's sins. He also gets good quotes from the usual suspects (Jon Stewart, Bill Maher, Al Franken). But in the end, it all feels a bit like stating the obvious, with Merchant suggesting that true Christians are hard to find. As if we didn't already know that. Cedar Lee Theatre. ** 1/2 (Niesel)
The North Face Based on a true story of a 1938 climb, during which a group of mountaineers tried to scale the "Murder Wall" in the Swiss Alps, Philipp Stölzl's docudrama is a faithful recreation that follows the efforts of a German duo — Toni (Benno Fürmann) and Andi (Florian Lukas) — as they try to make the treacherous ascent. Initially, things go well; they make good progress after a single day of climbing. But when a blizzard sets in, things go horribly wrong. Luise (Johanna Wokalek), an aspiring young journalist, and Toni and Andi's childhood friend, is sent to report on the attempted climb but soon decides she can't objectively cover their attempt when it becomes apparent that they might not even survive. You won't confuse The North Face with a Hollywood film like Cliffhanger the extensive climbing scenes are incredibly realistic and stay true to the techniques of the day. And to the filmmakers' credit, the love story that emerges never becomes too corny. Cedar Lee Theatre. *** (Niesel)
The Repo Men Reviewed at clevescene.com.
The Wild Women of Wongo (U.S., 1958) This movie about cavewomen who long to meet a group of clean-shaven men who live on a nearby island has been called "the most obscure (and the funniest) entry in the wonderful sub-genre of scantily-clad-prehistoric women movies." Cleveland Institute of Art Cinematheque. At 7 p.m. Friday, March 19, and 8:40 p.m. Saturday, March 20.p>In Theaters
Alice in Wonderland Tim Burton's psychedelic 3-D take on Lewis Carroll's timeless fantasy picks up 10 years after Alice first fell down the rabbit hole. When the all-grown-up Alice (Mia Wasikowska) tumbles down to Wonderland again, she finds the evil Red Queen (a scene-stealing Helena Bonham Carter, sporting a humongous CGI-enhanced head) in charge. She also discovers some old pals: a talking rabbit, a disappearing cat, a smoking caterpillar and Johnny Depp as the maddest hatter you've ever seen. The movie is a visual delight, with Wonderland's sumptuous images popping from the screen (even without 3-D glasses). Burton flashes some of his gothic humor (the Red Queen uses a flamingo as a croquet mallet), and he goes wild with the talking animals and colorful scenery, undoubtedly inspired by a palette that isn't filled with the usual dark and brooding tones. But like many of Burton's films, Alice in Wonderland feels a bit distant at times, as if the director can't do genuine without a twist of ironic detachment. Alice could use a little heart. Still, this is an adventure that's worth a trip down the hole. *** (Gallucci)
Green Zone Some Iraq war veterans have voiced complaints over the accuracy in Kathryn Bigelow's Oscar-winning film The Hurt Locker. You can only imagine their response to Green Zone, which takes even more liberties. Most likely, they'll be too busy howling with laughter to mount a protest. The idea of U.S. Army officer Roy Miller (Matt Damon) abandoning his mission of searching for Iraqi WMDs to suddenly go rogue and morph into a Jason Bourne-type character might work if this were merely a liberal variation on the sort of action movies Sylvester Stallone and Chuck Norris made back in the '80s. Unfortunately, the trademark documentary style of director Paul Greengrass (United 93, The Bourne Ultimatum) and the film's constant proselytizing indicate that we're supposed to take this nonsense seriously, and that's just not possible. "Inspired by" the Rajiv Chandrasekaran book Imperial Life in the Emerald City, the film merely cherrypicks a few facts and observations, and shoehorns them into a dunderheaded action-movie script. Even if you agree with the politics, it's hard not to be embarrassed by the way it goes about imparting its message. Greengrass does stage a few gripping action scenes early on, but the film is so relentlessly over-the-top that it eventually just wears on you. * (Ignizio)
Remember Me Terrible things happen to people in this romantic drama starring Twilight teen-throb Robert Pattinson and Lost's Emilie de Ravin. A mother is gunned down in the New York subway in front of her young daughter. A marriage falls apart after a son's suicide. A young woman's father slaps her, splitting her lip. But none of this prepares the viewer for the gratuitous final twist, an epic spoiler already revealed on several movie-review sites. Pattinson plays Tyler, a sort of Holden Caulfield by way of James Dean: brooding, poetic, cigarette-smoking, dotes on his clever little sister, idolizes his dead brother and, in rebellion from his rich family, lives in a squalid flat and aimlessly audits college classes. He also has an explosive temper that leads him into, among other things, fights with policemen. He meets Ally (de Ravin), the pretty daughter of the cop (Chris Cooper) who arrested him. They fall in love and, just like Romeo and Juliet, must contend with parental issues: Her protective father distrusts delinquent Tyler, and Tyler's distant dad (Pierce Brosnan) neglects Tyler's cherished 11-year-old sister (Ruby Jerins). Its unrelieved mournfulness overshadows the movie's better qualities: Will Fetters' clever dialogue, a strong cast and brisk direction by Allen Coulter, known for high-quality television work. But for the Twilight devotees who are likely its target audience, this brutal, often manipulative melodrama is probably too grim. At an early screening, while the credits rolled, one girl lamented, "I didn't know it was gonna be so sad!" ** 1/2 (Pamela Zoslov) .
She's Out of My League She's Out of My League deceptively begins as your typical nerd-meets-girl romantic comedy. When Kirk (Jay Baruchel), an airport security official (essentially one step above a mall cop), first meets Molly (Alice Eve), a beautiful blonde girl that his friends describe as a "hard 10," he thinks he has no chance with her. After all, Kirk is skinny and weird-looking, and the buxom Molly has curves that never quit. But when Molly's friend Patty (Krysten Ritter) tells Kirk that her gal pal has a thing for him, he starts to think otherwise. The film follows a predictable path as Kirk and Molly start dating, hit a rough patch and eventually try to find a way to resolve their differences. Many of the jokes will remind you of other comedies. In one funny scene that recalls the shaving scene in The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Kirk decides to prune his pubic hair. In another awkward moment, which seems inspired by There's Something About Mary, he literally creams his jeans when he and Molly are getting hot and heavy. What makes the film work is its great cast of characters. Baruchel plays the good-natured nerd with enough charm to make his character heroic despite his flaws. His pals Stainer (T.J. Miller), Devon (Nate Torrence) and Jack (Mike Vogel) are well-rounded and deliver plenty of good lines that make them essential to the film's unrelenting humor. *** (Niesel)
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