Film capsules, March 21

Film capsules, March 21

From e3 magazine

  • AMC = AMC Village Mall, Danville.
  • ART = The Art Theater, Champaign
  • NOR = The Normal Theater, Normal
  • ONA = The Onarga Theater, Onarga
  • PRI = Princess Theatre, LeRoy
  • SAV = Savoy 16, Savoy

ADMISSION. (Opens Friday). Tina Fey stars as a Princeton admissions officer who has to come to terms with newfound maternal feelings when a school teacher (Paul Rudd) introduces her to a young man who may be the son she gave up for adoption years ago. It comes as no surprise that the two principals pull off the film's comedic moments, but the real surprise is the serious tone the movie takes as it examines the joys and frustration of parenthood. Not what you might expect, but worth checking out. 3 stars (Chuck Koplinski). 100 minutes. Rated PG-13. SAV.

THE CALL. Halle Berry stars as a Los Angeles 911 operator who sets out to save a young woman (Abigail Breslin) who's been kidnapped. As a procedural about how this emergency response system works, the film is quite interesting. However, the tension is defused when the two leads are required to act stupidly to keep the film moving toward its shocking conclusion. 2 stars (Chuck Koplinski). 96 minutes. Rated R. AMC, SAV.

CHASING ICE. (Monday) If you know someone who needs convincing that global warming is a legitimate threat, make them sit through this documentary that chronicles the efforts of James Balong and his fellow researchers as they set out to bring back conclusive evidence that things are heating up on planet Earth. They do so by setting up cameras pointed at various icebergs and mountains that take pictures over an extended period. What they document is sobering and alarming and should be seen by anyone who contends that global warming is nothing more than "junk science." 3 stars (Chuck Koplinski). 76 minutes. Rated PG-13. SAV.

CITIZEN KANE. (Starts Friday) Arguably the greatest film ever made, Orson Welles' tour de force moved cinema forward by leaps and bounds, both technically and narratively, as he recounts the tale of communications magnate Charles Foster Kane, a man who comes into great riches but ends up morally and emotionally bankrupt. From cinematographer Gregg Toland's revolutionary deep focus technique to Welles' use of theatrical lighting, radical camera placement and gorgeous matte paintings, the film is a constant visual delight. But it's the story, the mystery surrounding what meant the most to the lonely, reclusive title character, that gives the film its power and continues to make it vital some 70 years after its release. Not to be missed. 4 stars (Chuck Koplinski). 120 minutes. Not rated. NOR.

THE CROODS. (Opens Friday) This surprising animated feature follows the trials of Eep (voice by Emma Stone), a teenage cave-girl who's trying to free herself from her overprotective father (Nicolas Cage). She gets the chance when their home is destroyed in an earthquake and the family is forced to trust a newcomer (Ryan Reynolds) who can lead them to safety. Though the film could use some trimming, its 3-D visuals are among some of the best yet done and its focus on the importance of being able to adapt in order to survive is well-told and poignant. 3 stars (Chuck Koplinski). 98 minutes. Rated PG. AMC, ONA, SAV.

A DEEPER SHADE OF BLUE: THE GREATEST SURFING STORY EVER TOLD. (Thursday, March 28) A special premiere of a Sir Paul McCartney/Jack McCoy video collaboration and a panel discussion with director Jack McCoy and world-renowned surfing legends. The story of the evolution of modern surf culture. Told in 11 chapters, "A Deeper Shade of Blue" combines innovative underwater cinematography techniques with a unique narrative structure to uncover the art of surfing and the spirit of Aloha like never before. 150 minutes. SAV.

G.I. JOE: RETALIATION. (Opens Wednesday) The G.I. Joes are not only fighting their mortal enemy Cobra; they are forced to contend with threats from within the government that jeopardize their very existence. Stars include Channing Tatum, Dwayne Johnson and Ray Park. (Internet Movie Database). 110 minutes. Rated PG-13. SAV.

HIMMATWALA. (Sunday) "Himmatwala" is an new Bollywood action romance film directed by Sajid Khan — a remake of the 1983 classic. The film stars Ajay Devgan and Tamannaah in the lead roles. In Hindi, with English subtitles. 150 minutes. Not rated. ART.

IDENTITY THIEF. Jason Bateman is a financial manager who has to travel to Florida to track down a sociopath (Melissa McCarthy) who has stolen his identity and run up a mountain of debt in his name. Meandering and unfocused, this feature can't figure out if it wants to be a comedy, a buddy movie or a low-rent action movie. The film's lack of tone is bad, but what's worse is the shameless bit of pathos it tries to tack on the end. A misguided effort for all involved. 1 stars (Chuck Koplinski). 112 minutes. Rated R. AMC, SAV.

THE INCREDIBLE BURT WONDERSTONE. Steve Carell takes on the title role as a self-absorbed Vegas magician whose life disappears when he has a falling out with his partner (Steve Buscemi). However, redemption is possible when a veteran performer (Alan Arkin) mentors him, though he has to contend with a charlatan (Jim Carrey) in order to get back on top. Not all of the gags work, but enough do to keep the film moving at a brisk comic pace. More importantly, it reminds us of the importance of giving ourselves over to being amazed in our cynical, jaded world. 3 stars (Chuck Koplinski). 100 minutes. Rated PG-13. SAV.

INAPPROPRIATE COMEDY. (Opens Friday) In this comedy film, a computer tablet full of the world's most hilariously offensive apps breaks through the borders of political correctness, stirring up cultural anarchy. Stars include Adrien Brody, Lindsay Lohan and Michelle Rodriguez. (Internet Movie Database). 84 minutes. Rated R. SAV.

JACK THE GIANT SLAYER. Director Bryan Singer delivers a rousing, romantic adventure in this retelling of the tale of an adventure-seeking boy, some magic beans and a stalk in need of trimming. Told with humor and sincerity, the film moves at a brisk pace, employs solid special effects (the giants are a scary crew) and benefits from a veteran cast, including Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci and Ian McShane, and two vibrant young leads in Nicholas Hoult and Eleanor Tomlinson. Far better than you might expect. 3 stars (Chuck Koplinski). 114 minutes. Rated PG-13. AMC.

OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN. (Opens Friday) When the White House (Secret Service code: "Olympus") is captured by a terrorist mastermind and the president is kidnapped, disgraced former presidential guard Mike Banning finds himself trapped within the building. As our national security team scrambles to respond, they are forced to rely on Banning's inside knowledge to help retake the White House, save the president and avert an even bigger crisis. Antoine Fuqua ("Training Day") directs an all-star cast featuring Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman, Angela Bassett, Melissa Leo, Ashley Judd and Rick Yune. (http://olympusmovie.com) 120 minutes. Rated R. AMC, SAV.

OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL. Sam Raimi's prequel to the 1939 classic suffers from some questionable casting choices but survives to tell the tale of Oscar Diggs (a very good James Franco), a con man who is swept away to the land of Oz, where he's told he has been fated to save its citizens from a wicked witch. At times visually stunning, the film's strong suit lies in its humor and conviction of all involved to make a film worthy to stand alongside the Judy Garland vehicle. For the most part, they succeed as Franco carries the film with his charm while its theme is a worthy one worth repeating. 3 stars (Chuck Koplinski). 130 minutes. Rated PG. AMC, SAV.

A PLACE AT THE TABLE. (Opens Saturday) A powerful and alarming documentary about hunger in America. Advocacy journalism at its best, lining up its facts, illustrating the widespread problem with a few trenchant, compelling cases, and offering solutions, too. 3 stars. (Steven Rea, The Philadelphia Inquirer). 84 minutes. Rated PG. Food drive: Every person who brings in canned goods for donation gets $1 off the cost of admission. All donations will be given to the Eastern Illinois Foodbank. ART.

QUARTET. Dustin Hoffman's directorial debut centers on a home for retired English music artists where old rivalries blossom once more amid the production of a revue. As the film's title singing ensemble, screen veterans Maggie Smith, Billy Connolly, Pauline Collins and Tom Courtenay strike the proper tone in taking a low-key approach to what could easily have become a maudlin exercise. 3 stars (Chuck Koplinski). 98 minutes. Rated PG-13. ART.

RISE OF THE GUARDIANS. (Saturday, Sunday). Santa, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy and the Sandman do battle with the Boogeyman in an effort to stop him from instilling fear in all the children of the world. They recruit Jack Frost to help out, but there's no guarantee he will in this delightful and surprisingly poignant film that has incredible visuals and surprisingly funny moments with the voice talents of Alec Baldwin, Hugh Jackman, Jude Law and Chris Pine. 3 stars (Chuck Koplinski). 97 minutes. Rated PG. SAV.

SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD. (Starts Friday) Slacker Scott (Michael Cera) tries to juggle romantic involvements with 17-year-old Knives (Ellen Wong) and mysterious Ramona (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). Things get weird when Ramona's seven evil exes challenge him to real battles to the death in order to continue dating her. A pitch-perfect adaptation of an award-winning series of graphic novels. Funny, touching and surreal. 4 stars (Richard J. Leskosky). 112 minutes. Rated PG-13. ART.

SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN. (Starts Thursday, March 28) This incredible resurrection story charts the rediscovery of Sixto Rodriguez, a Detroit folk singer who was set to be the next big thing in the early 1970s but disappeared after his first two albums failed to catch fire. How his music was rediscovered and became the rallying cry for a nation as well as the effort to find Rodriguez today make for a fascinating and inspirational documentary that will have you rushing to buy the artist's music. 3 stars (Chuck Koplinski). 86 minutes. Rated PG-13. NOR.

SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK. Director David O. Russell ("The Fighter," "Three Kings") brings Matthew Quick's novel to the big screen with equal parts comedy, drama and poignancy. Bradley Cooper, showing more on screen than he has before, is Pat, a teacher who has suffered a mental break and is trying to get back to his old life. On a collision course with him is Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), an angry young widow wrestling with her grief over the sudden death of her husband. The antagonistic chemistry between the two stars leaps off the screen, while the subplot involving Pat and his father (Robert De Niro) is a piercing, poignant look at a dysfunctional family attempting to right itself. A winner in every way, this is my favorite film of the year. 4 stars (Chuck Koplinski). 122 minutes. Rated R. AMC.

SPRING BREAKERS. (Opens Friday) Four bored college girls set off for a spring fling in Florida that erupts into a bacchanal of booze, drugs and violence. With James Franco, Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens. Written and directed by Harmony Korine. (Los Angeles Times). 92 minutes. Rated R. SAV.

TIME ZERO: THE LAST YEAR OF POLAROID. (Opens Monday) Showcase of the best films from the Best of Key Film Festival plays Mondays and Thursdays at select theaters. In February 2008, Polaroid announced it was ceasing production of instant film. This documentary tells the story of the last year of Polaroid film in three acts. Act I introduces the "magic" of Polaroid through the perspective of Polaroid artists and former employees of the corporation. Act II begins with the discontinuation of instant film and covers the grass-roots movement to keep it alive. Act III centers on "The Impossible Project" and follows their against-the-odds effort to reinvent instant film. 95 minutes. Not rated. SAV.

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