American President, The: I confess to having an uncharacteristic soft spot for this idealistic Michael Douglas flick about a single president whose personal and political lives get tangled. Screens (with English subtitles for those with hearing difficulties) at 1 pm Wednesday, Feb. 24, Willamalane Adult Center. Free.
Behind the Lens: Ongoing DIVA/LCC seminar begins its February series of the films of Frank Capra with 1939’s Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, which won just one of the 11 Academy Awards for which it was nominated. Starring James Stewart and Jean Arthur. 7 pm Tuesday, Feb. 23, DIVA. $3.
Crude: The latest from documentary filmmaker Joe Berlinger (Metallica: Some Kind of Monster) examines the lawsuit thousands of Ecuadorians have filed against Chevron over the contamination of their rainforest. Though effective and smart, the film on occasion leaves you wanting more hard facts — though the people who populate it are fascinating characters. Not rated. 105 min. Bijou. See review this issue.
Extraordinary Measures: Harrison Ford glowers! Brendan Fraser looks intense! Medical mysteries need solving! Trailers get cobbled together out of clichés! Also, this drama was filmed in Portland and is directed by Tom Vaughan, who made the sweet, underseen Starter for 10. PG. Movies 12.
Road, The: John Hillcoat (The Proposition) directs this adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Cormac McCarthy novel. Viggo Mortensen stars as a father trying to keep his young son (Kodi McPhee) alive after the planet is ravaged by disaster. R. Movies 12. (12/24)
Shutter Island: It’s a bit worrisome that Scorsese’s latest was bumped from last fall to now, but reviews are still good for his thriller (based on a Dennis Lehane novel) about two U.S. marshals sent to investigate an escape from an isolated prison for the criminally insane. Starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Ruffalo. R. Cinemark. VRC Stadium 15.
Three Idiots: Reportedly the highest-grossing Bollywood movie of all time, Rajkumar Hirani’s film concerns two friends on a quest to find a third, missing pal from college; their younger lives as the Three Idiots are shown in flashback. Movies 12.
Films open the Friday following EW publication date unless otherwise noted.
Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel: Annoying voices! Jason Lee! Girl chipmunks singing “Single Ladies!” Every time I have to watch this preview, God kills a kitten. PG. Movies 12.
Avatar: James Cameron’s latest multi-hundred-million gamble — a sci-fi tale about an ex-Marine whose consciousness is put into an alien body, leading to all kinds of conflict and realizations about the worlds — is so ideologically slippery, everyone who’s seen it has a convincing argument for why their take is the right one. It’s pretty, and it’s tired. Nine Oscar nominations, including Best Picture. PG13. Cinemark. VRC Stadium 15. Also in 3D. (12/24)
Blind Side, The: Sandra Bullock stars as a rich Southern lady who takes in a homeless African-American kid who becomes a star footbal player. Tell me you see the problems with this. “What The Blind Side offers is a kind of liberal Hollywood version of conservative values: all rock-solid valor, all the time,” said Entertainment Weekly. Oscar nominations: Best Picture; Sandra Bullock, Best Actress. PG-13. Cinemark. (1/7)
Book of Eli, The: Bring on the apocalypse, man. Between this, Legion and … some other movies about the end of the world, we’re clearly in the middle of a trendlike thing. Anyway. Denzel Washington kicks ass and carries a bible as the one man who carries a hope for the future. With Gary Oldman and Mila Kunis. R. Cinemark. VRC Stadium 15.
Brothers: Jim Sheridan (In America) directs this story about Grace (Natalie Portman), whose husband Sam (Tobey Maguire) is presumed dead in Iraq. His brother Tommy (Jake Gyllenhaal) steps in to help; a connection is made; Sam returns, and things get complicated. R. Movies 12.
Crazy Heart: Jeff Bridges stars as a worn-out, alcoholic country singer-songwriter. His former protégé (Colin Farrell) is a superstar, but he’s playing in bowling alleys. A sweet-faced, much younger journalist (Maggie Gyllenhaal) sparks changes in the ol’ feller; Robert Duvall has a nice turn as his best friend. Oscar nominations: Jeff Bridges, Best Actor; Maggie Gyllenhaal, Best Supporting Actress; Best Original Song. R. Bijou. Cinemark. (2/11)
Dear John: I’ve no idea why Lasse Hallström (My Life as a Dog) is directing this schmaltzy-seeming adaptation of a Nicholas Sparks novel. None. The becoming-ubiquitous Amanda Seyfried plays an idealistic college girl who falls in love with a soldier (Channing Tatum) when he’s home on leave. PG13. Cinemark. VRC Stadium 15.
Did You Hear About the Morgans?: Hugh Grant and Sarah Jessica Parker costar as a Manhattan couple whose troubled marriage is improved when the FBI sends them to a small town to hide from baddies after they witness a murder. Did this come out of a plot-generating website? PG13. Movies 12.
Edge of Darkness: The annual film about a tuff dad saving/avenging his daughter (no, it’s not Taken II) comes courtesy of Casino Royale dirctor Martin Campbell, who directs star Mel Gibson in this adaptation of Campbell’s BBC miniseries of the same name. Look, if you really need a cinematic version of a British show for your weekend viewing, might I suggest In the Loop? R. Cinemark.
From Paris With Love: Poor, pretty Jonathan Rhys Meyers plays James, who has a great life as an ambassadorial aide in France — until he gets promoted and paired with Charlie Wax (John Travolta), a “trigger-happy, wisecracking loose cannon” who might be the only way for James to survive being the target of a crime ring. Directed by the dude who made Taken. That explains a lot. R. Cinemark. VRC Stadium 15.
Hurt Locker, The: Director Kathryn Bigelow returns with an incredible, intense film about soldiers trained to defuse homemade bombs in Iraq. The L.A. Times’ Kenneth Turan said it’s “Overwhelmingly tense, overflowing with crackling verisimilitude.” Nine Oscar nominations, including Jeremy Renner, Best Actor; Best Picture. R. David Minor Theater. (9/3)
It’s Complicated: Nancy Meyers (Something’s Gotta Give) — recently the subject of a fawning and grating NYT Magazine profile — tells yet another story of the romantic problems of the rich and middle aged. Here, Meryl Streep is caught between her amorous ex (Alec Baldwin) and her architect (Steve Martin). R. VRC Stadium 15.
Leap Year: Amy Adam’s character wants to get married to the perfect guy, who, one suspects from the poster, is not the dude she’s is dating at the start of this film (Adam Scott), but Matthew Goode, last seen stiff and blonde in Watchmen. This romance-goes-to-Ireland romance is directed by Anand Tucker (Hilary and Jackie). PG. Movies 12.
New Moon: The Twilight saga continues with this adaptation of the series’ soggiest book, in which Bella, devastated by Edward’s departure, takes up with an old friend with a secret, and resorts to being an adrenaline junkie ‘cause it makes her hear Edward’s voice. Dakota Fanning and Michael Sheen join the cast as the creepy vampire Volturi; Chris Weitz takes the reins from Catherine Hardwicke. PG13. Movies 12.
Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief: High schooler Percy Jackson (Logan Lerman) has his life changed right up when he finds out Poseidon is his pops. At Camp Half Blood, he meets other demigods and winds up on quite an adventure. I mean, it’s no small potatoes when your nemesis comes from the Underworld. PG. Cinemark. VRC Stadium 15.
Planet 51: In this animated tale, Dwayne Johnson voices an astronaut who finds, after landing on a strange planet, that not only is he not alone — he’s not normal. He’s the alien to the alien creatures who live there, and who really fear alien invasion. PG. Movies 12.
Princess and the Frog, The: The latest princess film from Disney sets the classic “Frog Prince” in New Orleans, where hardworking waitress Tiana (Anika Noni Rose) meets a frog (Bruno Campos) who, on his less green days, is a penniless, lazy, music-loving prince. G. Movies 12. (12/17)
Serious Man, A: The latest from Joel and Ethan Coen is arguable one of their best yet; it’s the set-in-1967 story of professor Larry Gopnik (Michael Stuhlbarg), who looks to three rabbis for help dealing with an unfaithful wife, a couch-surfing brother and two problematic children — as well as a gorgeous, sunbathing neighbor. “Hauntingly original,” said New York magazine. R. Oscar nominations: Best Picture; Best Original Screenplay David Minor Theater. (10/29)
Sherlock Holmes: Guy Ritchie (Snatch) turns out what’s said to be a steampunky Sherlock (Robert Downey Jr.), in which Holmes is kind of a badass and has a hot Watson (Jude Law), an entertaining nemesis (Mark Strong) and a mystery to solve — that threatens all of England, of course. With Rachel McAdams. Oscar nominations: Art Direction, Original Score. PG-13. Cinemark. VRC Stadium 15. (12/31)
Single Man, A: Colin Firth has rightly been showered with praise for his superb, subtle performance as George Falconer, a fiftyish English professor wrestling with his existence after the death of his longtime lover. Julianne Moore is his boozy, dramatic best friend; Nicholas Hoult plays the student who starts to snap George out of it. The drama and the beauty are in the details in fashion designer Tom Ford’s directorial debut. Bijou. Cinemark. (2/5)
Tooth Fairy, The: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson gets dolled up as the magical creature who trades kids money for their teeth. And he’s all skeptical and stuff. And he plays hockey. With Julie Andrews, for some reason. Does anyone else suspect that this entire script was built around the phrase “You can’t handle the tooth?” PG. Cinemark. VRC Stadium 15.
2012: Roland Emmerich continues his series of films in which the world is destroyed (Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow) with this disastertastic absurdity starring John Cusack as a dad trying to keep his family together while the word dissolves around them. (This summary entirely based on conjecture from the preview.) Look, it’s just there for the special effects and we all know it, right? Why are you going? PG13. Movies 12. (11/25)
Valentine’s Day: People in L.A. live crazily overlapping lives. I learned that from Short Cuts and Crash. Here comes Valentine’s Day, in which couples experience the ups and downs of love, to reiterate this fact! The cast of Garry Marshall’s film includes Julia Roberts, Anne Hathaway, Patrick Dempsey and his Gray’s Anatomy costar Eric Dane, Queen Latifiah, Taylor Swift and more. PG-13. Cinemark. VRC Stadium 15.
When in Rome: There are just too many dudes in love with Veronica Mars! Er, I mean Kristen Bell. I don’t really understand this plot. Something about coins in a love foutain in Rome, and a journalist (Josh Duhamel) who really likes Veronica. Kristin. Whatever her character’s name is. Oh, wait: Lee Pace is in this? OK, I’ll watch it. PG. Cinemark. VRC Stadium 15.
Where the Wild Things Are: Spike Jonze adapts Maurice Sendak’s beloved children’s book into something more complicated and more elaborate than expected — yet it’s also decidedly handmade, unexpedtedly difficult and sweetly unsentimental, for the most part. With Max Records, Catherine Keener and the voices of James Gandolfini, Paul Dano, Catherine O’Hara and Lauren Ambrose. PG. Movies 12. (10/15)
Whip It: Ellen Page is a Texas beauty pageantgoer who does pageants for her mom (Marcia Gay Harden). A flyer for roller derby — and Kristen Wiig as a friendly derby girl — change her life entirely. Page is a charmer, as is Alia Shawkat (Arrested Development) as her best friend, but it’s slightly amazing how a film about this alternative sport manages to get so dressed up in Hollywood predictability. Directed by Drew Barrymore. PG13. David Minor Theater.
Wolfman, The: At long last, we get to see Benicio del Toro as the Wolfman — though he starts a normal guy who reunites with his father (Anthony Hopkins) and his missing brother’s fiancée (Emily Blunt) to figure out where his bro has gone. Hugo Weaving costars as a suspicious inspector. (The man owns suspicious.) R. Cinemark. VRC Stadium 15.
Zombieland: Jesse Eisenberg (Adventureland) goes back to the amusement park (OK, so the films aren’t related, but it is kinda funny) in this zombie flick that costars Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone (Superbad) and … Abigail Breslin? Little Miss Sunshine fights zombies? I’m in. R. David Minor Theater. (1/7)
Bijou Art Cinemas
Bijou Theater 686-2458 | 492 E. 13th
David Minor Theater
David Minor Theater and Pub 762-1700 | 180 E. 5th
VRC Stadium 15 342-6536 | Valley River Center
Movies 12 741-1231 | Gateway Mall
Cinemark 17 741-1231 | Gateway Mall