Favorite

Film Capsules 

Bite-sized summaries, for when just a bite is necessary

Arthur (PG-13) — Russell Brand's drunken, druggy past served him well in Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Get Him to the Greek, where he basically played himself. So he was a natural choice for this remake of Dudley Moore's 1981 hit about a drunken libertine forced to change his lifestyle to avoid losing an inheritance. A surprising level of creativity has gone into this remodel. Rather than trying to recast John Gielgud's acerbic valet, this Arthur cleverly uses the excellent Helen Mirren as Arthur's tart but loyal nanny. The script is fairly nimble, with a good deal of Brand's characteristic wit, so it's easy to forgive the broad physical humor and the fact that, unlike the short and cuddly Dudley, Brand's angular dishevelment makes him a rather unlikely object of affection. (Pamela Zoslov)

Certified Copy (NR) — Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami's first feature set in the West revolves around James (William Shimell), a British writer visiting Tuscany to promote his new art book. A woman (Juliette Binoche) invites him to stop by her antique shop, where they talk about art, emotions, and if it matters whether or not something is real. There's an odd but knowing tension between them. During a stop at a café, James is mistaken for Binoche's husband, and soon the pair is not only acting like an estranged married couple; they're acting like they've played this game before. From this moment on, Certified Copy dares you to figure out what their relationship really is. (Bret McCabe)

The Conspirator (PG-13) — Mary Surratt, the owner of the boarding house where John Wilkes Booth and his co-conspirators stayed, was swept up in the dragnet following President Lincoln's assassination. But The Conspirator might as well be called The Defender, since it revolves more around the fresh law school grad who represented her; Robin Wright's Mary has little more to do than stoically await her fate. The story of her imprisonment, trial, and hanging (she was the first woman to be executed by the U.S. government) makes a solid if sometimes airtight courtroom drama, and Robert Redford's often bloodless, slow-grind direction works in his favor here. (Tim Hill)

Hanna (PG-13) — Secluded from mankind by design, teenager Hanna (Saoirse Ronan) has lived her entire life in the rigorous training program of her ex-CIA father (Eric Bana). She's fluent in many languages and has a Jason Bourne-like knowledge of martial arts. She's eager to leave home and take on her life's mission: to get revenge for the murder of her mother, apparently at the hands of a scheming research director (Cate Blanchett). Ronan is great, and Hanna's straitlaced, inventively visual style is always interesting, even if much of it is in service of a flimsy plot. (Justin Strout)

Hop (PG) — It's the story of two slackers with overbearing fathers. One (James Marsden) is a jobless human; the other (voiced by Russell Brand) is the future Easter Bunny, who'd rather play drums than deliver baskets. Their worlds collide when Fred the human hits E.B. the rabbit with his car and reluctantly agrees to take him in. This live-action/animation hybrid features a typically restless performance by Brand and a few clever visual gags. (Gallucci)

Insidious (PG-13) — Josh and Renai move their two boys into a hulking old house. When the older son falls into a mysterious coma, Renai becomes convinced that something is horribly wrong. The family flees to a new house, only to discover it wasn't the house that's haunted. Genre nerds will have a blast with Insidious, trainspotting the various borrowed genre staples and lifts from specific classics (Poltergeist, Psycho, The Haunting). (Lee Gardner)

Soul Surfer (PG) — This biopic about surfing champion Bethany Hamilton, a teen who lost an arm in a shark attack, is a hard sell. For one thing, you know what's coming. And while the cast isn't filled with big names, they are reliable ones, and AnnaSophia Robb, who plays Bethany, steals every scene she's in. Biopics often border on sappy, but Soul Surfer earns its feel-good-movie status. (Justin Brenis)

Source Code (PG-13) — When we first meet Army helicopter pilot Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal), he's on a Chicago-bound commuter train, disoriented and confused. Moments later an explosion tears through the train, killing everyone on board. Suddenly Colter is alone in a capsule, being quizzed via monitor. He's told Find the bomb and you will find the bomber who will strike again. Suddenly, he's back on the train, replaying the scene we just saw with slight variations — like a more ominous version of Groundhog Day. (Gallucci)

Sucker Punch (PG-13) — Zack Snyder's totally bonkers new action movie resembles live-action anime brought to vibrant but largely incoherent life. Committed to a maximum-security asylum where she's scheduled to receive a lobotomy in five days, Baby Doll (Emily Browning) unleashes her inner fantasy life. Her prison morphs into a tony brothel, where a thickly accented Polish madam (Carla Gugino) pimps out her young charges, and Babydoll does battle with Nazi zombies, fiery dragons, and other beasties in eye-popping video-game-style conflagrations. (Milan Paurich)

Win Win (R) — Paul Giamatti plays Mike Flaherty, a struggling New Jersey lawyer who coaches high school wrestling to help make ends meet. He's got a wife (Amy Ryan), two young daughters, and a growing mountain of debt. Against his better judgment, Mike appoints himself caregiver of Leo Polar (Burt Young), who's suffering from dementia. When Leo's teenage grandson Kyle (newcomer Alex Shaffer) shows up and turns out to be a wrestling prodigy (surprise!), Mike takes the kid under his wing. The Blind Side parallels are as unmistakable as they are ultimately meaningless: Win Win is a tougher, grittier, and less sanctimonious do-gooder fable in every way. (Paurich)

Your Highness (R) — This stoner comedy — about two medieval princes on a quest to rescue a beautiful princess — would utterly suck if Danny McBride and James Franco weren't so amiable and Zooey Deschanel didn't make such a fetching princess. Fabious and Thadeous battle traitorous knights, a five-headed beast, and topless female warriors to retrieve the stolen princess. Crass, bloody, obvious, and occasionally funny, Your Highness plays more like a series of in-jokes than an actual story. (Gallucci)

Latest in Film Capsules

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Calendar

Newsletters

Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Staff Pick Events

  • Bridgend @ Cleveland Cinematheque

    • Sat., July 2
  • Cape Fear @ Cedar Lee Theatre

    • Sat., July 2
  • My Golden Days @ Cleveland Cinematheque

    • Sat., July 2

Facebook Activity

© 2016 Cleveland Scene: 737 Bolivar Rd., Suite 4100, Cleveland, OH 44115, (216) 241-7550
Logos and trademarks on this site are property of their respective owners.


Website powered by Foundation