Tag Archives: whattowatch

Indie Weekend: ‘Amigo,’ ‘Circumstance,’ ‘Sector 7 3D’

'Amigo,' directed by John Sayles, now playing at The Texas Theatre.

Opening in Dallas today, Friday, September 16, 2011 (listed in order of priority):

  • ‘Amigo.’ The latest effort from stalwart indie filmmaker John Sayles is set in the Philippines in 1900, when the country was invaded by American military forces. ‘Amigo,’ which played at the most recent Asian Film Festival of Dallas, has received mixed reviews. But it’s John Sayles! And his films are always worth watching. (Texas Theatre.) Not previewed.
  • ‘Circumstance.’ Two young women struggle with their burgeoning sexual attraction to one another while living in the repressive, potentially dangerous youth culture of modern Iran. Advance word has been very positive. (Angelika Dallas.) Not previewed.
  • ‘Sector 7 3D.’ Creature feature from Korea in which men on an oil rig, stranded by a storm, discover they are not alone in the ocean. Looks like a heavy dose of ‘Aliens’ in the trailer. (AMC Grapevine Mills 30.) Trailer at Trailer AddictNot previewed.

Continuing in limited release:

  • Texas Theatre: ‘The Deer Hunter.’
  • Angelika Dallas: ‘Bellflower,’ ‘Chasing Madoff,’ ‘Higher Ground,’ ‘Senna.’
  • Angelika Plano: ‘Chasing Madoff,’ ‘The Guard,’ ‘Midnight in Paris.’
  • Landmark Magnolia: ‘The Guard,’ ‘Midnight in Paris.’
  • Highland Park Village Theater: ‘Sarah’s Key.’
  • Cinemark West Plano: ‘Higher Ground,’ ‘Sarah’s Key,’ ‘Senna.’

Opening wide across the Metroplex (listed in order of preference):

  • Drive.’ What immediately comes to mind is that ‘Drive’ is the bastard child of Walter Hill’s ‘The Driver’ and Michael Mann’s ‘Thief.’ And then director Nicolas Winding Refn unleashes a startling, violent rebel yell, and the film asserts its own twisted personality, featuring excellent performances by Ryan Gosling as the ostensible hero and Albert Brooks as the ostensible villain, with Carey Mulligan and Ron Perlman providing very good support. It’s a character study, writ in high style, with a banging soundtrack. Highly recommended.
  • ‘Straw Dogs.‘  Rod Lurie’s remake of Sam Peckinpah’s controversial home invasion thriller may not cut as deep or leave as sour a taste as the original, but it represents a good-faith, updated examination of the masculine mind and a muscle-clenching suspense film on its own. My review at TwitchRecommended.
  • ‘The Lion King 3D.’ My feelings are definitely mixed. The movie remains wonderful, both a good, galvanizing story and a beautiful work of art, with excellent voice acting, especially by Jeremy Irons. But I feel that the 3D changes the intent of certain scenes, and I don’t feel it adds enough to justify the 3D surcharge. It’s in limited release for two weeks before hitting home video. My ‘Hollywood Grind’ column at Twitch. Recommended with reservations.
  • I Don’t Know How She Does It.’ Sarah Jessica Parker, evidently in a would-be comedy. Help yourself. Not previewed.

Indie Weekend: ‘Higher Ground,’ ‘Shaolin,’ ‘Bellflower’

'Shaolin' at The Texas Theatre

Opening in Dallas today, Friday, September 9, 2011 (listed in order of priority):

  • ‘Shaolin.’ Mighty man of war Andy Lau must learn peace and understanding after he takes refuge in a Shaolin monastery. A broadly-entertaining historical action adventure, with Nicholas Tse and Jackie Chan in a supporting role as a kung fu cook; directed by Benny Chan. (Texas Theatre.) Recommended.
  • ‘Bellflower.’ A man, a woman, a muscle car, a flamethrower, a love story, a horror movie. Shots of brilliance before it self-destructs, but still a distinctive vision. (Angelika Dallas, Cinemark West Plano.) My Dallas Film Now review. Recommended with reservations.
  • ‘Chasing Madoff.’ The “ten-year struggle to expose the harrowing truth behind the infamous Bernie Madoff scandal.” A documentary, directed by Jeff Prosserman. (Angelika Dallas.) Not previewed.
  • ‘The Happy Poet.’ “When Bill, the title character, secures a very small loan to start his dream business–a health food stand–his struggles as an idealistic micro-business owner begin.”  (Texas Theatre, Saturday and Sunday only.) Not previewed.

Wide across the Metroplex (listed in order of preference):

  • ‘Warrior.‘  Gavin O’Connor’s drama is ostensibly a fight flick, but it’s really a very strong drama with powerhouse performances by Tom Hardy, Joel Edgerton, and Nick Nolte. My review at TwitchRecommended.
  • ‘Creature.’ Teens collide with hillbillies and a legendary monster that eats people. An independent horror film with a very game cast is not able to salvage a script that lacks suspense or wit. My review at Twitch. Not recommended.
  • Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star.’ A comedy from the Adam Sandler dream factory. Help yourself. Not previewed.

Indie Weekend: ‘5 Days of War,’ ‘Sex and Zen,’ ‘Good Old Fashioned Orgy’

Sex and Zen Extreme Ecstasy
'Sex and Zen: Extreme Ecstasy' in 2D (China Lion Entertainment)

Opening in Dallas today, Friday, September 2, 2011 (listed in order of priority):

  • ‘5 Days of War.’ Director Renny Harlin still knows how to blow stuff up good, which doesn’t mean it entirely works with a scenario based on actual events . (Landmark Inwood.) My review at Twitch. Recommended with reservations.
  • ‘Sex and Zen: Extreme Ecstasy.’ Is it high-class art or low-class porn? The Chinese box office sensation arrives in America, sans 3D. (Angelika Dallas.) Not previewed.
  • ‘A Good Old Fashioned Orgy.’ Jason Sudeikis toplines a comedy about a summer bash that the organizers hope will get out of control. (AMC Mesquite 30, Stonebriar 24, Grapevine Mills, Parks @ Arlington.) Not previewed.
  • ‘Crime After Crime.’ The long legal battle to free a woman imprisoned for her role in the death of her abusive boyfriend. A documentary, directed by Yoav Potash. (Angelika Dallas.) Not previewed.
  • ‘The Whistleblower.’ Thriller stars Rachel Weisz as a Nebraska police officer who uncovers a sex-slave and human-trafficking scandal while working as a UN peacekeeper in Bosnia. (Angelika Dallas.) Not previewed.

Wide across the Metroplex (listed in order of preference):

  • Shark Night 3D.’ Fishy predators also come out in the daylight and prefer bikini-clad babes. Word from midnight screenings has been surprisingly positive, as long as you’re in “cheesy entertainment” mode. With the adorable Sara Paxton. Not previewed.
  • ‘The Debt.‘  Israeli security agents kidnap a Nazi war criminal in 1965 Berlin, only to have things go horribly wrong, with repercussions into 1997. A game cast (Jessica Chastain, Sam Worthington, Helen Mirren) cannot save a mediocre thriller. My review at Twitch. (Opened on Wednesday.) Not recommended.
  • Apollo 18.’ Found footage on the moon. Midnight viewers have described it as one of the worst films of the year. Not previewed.

Indie Weekend: ‘The Last Circus,’ ‘Senna,’ ‘The Man Who Fell to Earth’

The Last Circus
Carolina Bang in 'The Last Circus' (Magnet Releasing)

Opening in Dallas today, Friday, August 26, 2011 (listed in order of priority):

  • ‘The Last Circus.’ Director Alex de la Iglesia alternately confounded and delighted audiences at Fantastic Fest and the Dallas International Film Festival with his very personal story about a “sad clown,” a tragic figure used to symbolize the strife and oppression in the director’s native Spain. Along the way, he is entranced by a beautiful trapeze artist (Carolina Bang, pictured.) Not to be missed. (The Texas Theatre.) Highly recommended.
  • ‘Senna.’ The documentary follows the breakout of a Formula 1 race car driver from Brazil, who emerged in the 1980s as a star, engaged in a protracted rivalry with another driver, and faced international interoffice politics. Advance word has been extremely positive. (Angelika Dallas.) Not previewed.
  • ‘The Man Who Fell to Earth.’ Nicolas Roeg (‘Don’t Look Now,’ ‘Walkabout’) brought his fractured brand of artistic vision to the apparently simple tale of an alien from an advanced civilization (David Bowie) who finds great success and great horror as a businessman among human beings. With Candy Clark, Rip Torn, and Buck Henry. (Angelika Dallas.) Recommended.

Wide across the Metroplex (listed in order of preference):

  • ‘Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark.‘ Guillermo del Toro produced and co-wrote this adaptation of a 1973 television movie about a little girl who moves with her family into a spooky old house and starts hearing strange sounds in the night. My article at Twitch. Recommended with reservations.
  • Our Idiot Brother.’ Paul Rudd headlines a fabulous cast in a comedy that seeks to illuminate the (dys)function of his three sisters (Emily Mortimer, Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Deschanel). Amusing and lightly likable. My article at TwitchRecommended with reservations.
  • Colombiana.’ Zoe Saldana kicks butts and doesn’t take names in the latest iteration of the Luc Besson action-movie formula. Advance word has been mixed to negative. Not previewed.

Indie Weekend: ‘Attack the Block,’ ‘The Future,’ Original ‘Conan’ and ‘Fright Night’

Attack the Block

Opening in Dallas today, Friday, August 19, 2011 (listed in order of priority):

  • ‘Attack the Block.’ Funny and thrilling creature feature from director Joe Cornish imagines aliens landing in a UK housing project, leaving a gang of kids to save the world. The film fuses elements of horror, science fiction, humor, into an action suspense flick that consistently delights and surprises. (AMC Northpark.) Highly recommended.
  • ‘The Future.’ Miranda July’s long-awaited follow-up to ‘Me, You, and Everyone We Know’ follows a couple who loses their cat. (Landmark Magnlia.) Not previewed.
  • 80s Originals, in 35mm. Great idea! With the remakes opening wide, the Texas Theatre presents the original versions of ‘Conan the Barbarian’ and ‘Fright Night.’ If you only have time and/or money for one, choose ‘Fright Night,’ a lovable horror-comedy with a great cast (Chris Sarandon, Roddy McDowell, William Ragsdale, Amanda Bearse) having a good time; written and directed by Tom Holland. (The Texas Theatre.) Recommended.

Wide across the Metroplex (listed in order of preference):

  • ‘Fright Night.‘ Colin Farrell is a vampire who moves next door to Anton Yelchin, bringing terror to his mother (Toni Collette), girlfriend (Imogen Poots), and former best friend (Christopher Mintz-Plasse). My review at Twitch. Recommended.
  • Conan the Barbarian.’ Marcus Nispel directs the remake of John Milius’ original, with Jason Momoa stepping in for Ah-nuld. Advance word has not been pretty, but suggests that fans of relentless ultra-violence may be in for a treat. Not previewed.
  • One Day.’ Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess star in a bittersweet romance about two friends and their very intimate relationship over 20 years. The bitter outweights the sweet. My review at Twitch. Not recommended.
  • Spy Kids 4D: All the Time in the World.’ Robert Rodriguez’ latest sequel stars Jessica Alba. Not shown in advance to the press, but the first few reviews have been quite negative. Not previewed.

Indie Weekend: ‘The Guard,’ ‘Names of Love,’ Doc Weekend

The Names of Love
'The Names of Love' (Music Box Films)

Opening in Dallas today, Friday, August 12, 2011 (listed in order of priority):

  • ‘The Guard.’ Brendan Gleeson and Don Cheadle star as a tough Irish cop and a wily FBI agent, respectively, teamed up to deal with international drug smugglers in Ireland. (Landmark Magnolia, Angelika Plano.) Not previewed. John P. Meyer reviews at Pegasus News.
  • ‘The Names of Love.’ Young French woman sleeps with right-wing men to convert them to left-wing politics … until she falls in love. It looks darling, and Dallas loves sexy French-language romantic comedies. (Angelika Dallas.) Not previewed.
  • Doc Weekend. Documentaries that have not received local releases are showcased all weekend. Tonight: ‘Memphis Heat,’ ‘Transcendant Man,’ and ‘Echotone.’ (Details at Texas Theatre.) Not previewed.

Wide across the Metroplex (listed in order of priority):

  • ’30 Minutes or Less.‘ Pizza delivery driver Jesse Eisenberg gets a bomb strapped to his chest, forcing him to rob a bank with the help of best friend Aziz Ansari. Fast, furious, and funny. My review at Twitch. Recommended.
  • Final Destination 5.’ The latest installment in the series is the best since the first sequel, which means it’s rowdy fun for the hardcore horror crowd. In very agreeable 3D at select theaters. My review at Twitch. Recommended.
  • The Help.’ Well-meaning and well-acted comedy / drama about race relations in Jackson, Mississippi, in 1963. The crowd-pleasing premise implies that black people depended upon white people leading the way to win liberation from racial segregation. My review at Twitch. Recommended, with reservations.
  • Glee: The 3D Concert Movie.’ The cast from the hit TV show takes to the stage to sing songs of empowerment and cut up backstage. Help yourself. Not previewed.