Film capsules, March 28

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. 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 ADVENTURES OF PRISCILLA, QUEEN OF THE DESERT. (Opens Friday). Plus Late Night Drag Show hosted by Ms. Veronica Bleaus! "Priscilla" tells the story of three drag queens (Terrance Stamp, Guy Pearce, Hugo Weaving) who leave Sydney and travel halfway across Australia to put on a show at a resort. See the film that inspired the hit Broadway musical. From a 35mm print. (http://www.thecuart.com). 104 minutes. Rated R. ART.

ANY DAY NOW. (Starts Monday). Showcase of the best films from the Best of Key West Film Festival plays Mondays and Thursdays at select theaters. Solid performances by Alan Cumming and Garret Dillahunt flesh out the bare-bones script of this period piece about gay lovers who petition for custody of a Down syndrome teen while his mother serves time for drugs. 3 stars (Carrie Rickey, The Philadelphia Inquirer). 101 minutes. Rated R. 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. SAV.

THE CROODS. 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, PRI, SAV.

THE GATEKEEPERS. (Opens Friday). Dror Moreh's fascinating documentary features six former leaders of the Shin Bet, Israel's security organization charged with stopping terrorist attacks since 1967. Compelling and insightful, the film provides a fresh perspective on Israel-Palestinian relations and the degree of futility that has dogged them in the 20th century. 3 stars. (Chuck Koplinski). 101 minutes. Rated PG-13. ART.

G.I. JOE: RETALIATION. 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. AMC, HAR, SAV.

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

THE HOST. (Opens Friday). On a future Earth occupied by alien parasites that take over human bodies, one of humanity's last survivors fights to protect her loved ones. With Saoirse Ronan, Max Irons, Jake Abel and Chandler Canterbury. Written and directed by Andrew Niccol. (Los Angeles Times). 125 minutes. Rated PG-13. 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.

JOHN DIES AT THE END. (Opens Thursday, April 4). A new sci-fi/horror/comedy about the effects of a hallucinogenic drug called Soy Sauce that leaves some users no longer human. Stars Paul Giamatti. 99 minutes. Rated R. NOR.

MADAGASCAR 3: EUROPE'S MOST WANTED. (Saturday, Sunday). Alex, Marty, Gloria and Melman (voices by Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, Jada Pinkett Smith and David Schwimmer, respectively) return, still trying to return home to New York City. An errant trip to Monte Carlo finds them hiding out with a traveling circus that's home to a bevy of misfit acts that the quartet decides to whip into shape. A subplot with a superhuman French police officer who's chasing them bogs down the film, but the circus setting and new characters make for a hilarious, rousing adventure. 3 stars (Chuck Koplinski). 93 minutes. Rated PG. SAV.

METROPOLITAN OPERA: ZANDONAI'S FRANCESCA DA RIMINI LIVE. (Starts Wednesday). Encore presentations of the March 16 performance. Zandonai's compelling opera, inspired by an episode from Dante's Inferno, returns in the Met's ravishingly beautiful production, last seen in 1986. Dramatic soprano Eva-Maria Westbroek and tenor Marcello Giordani are the doomed lovers. Marco Armiliato conducts. 240 minutes. SAV.

MONSIEUR VERDOUX (1947). (Opens Saturday). Charlie Chaplin's darkest film features him as a Bluebeard-like killer who marries rich women only to kill them in order to support his own family. The filmmaker stacks the deck by making his family overly sympathetic while those his character kills are truly detestable. The manipulation that results from the kill-the-rich-to-help-the-downtrodden conceit may leave some viewers cold, but there's no question that this remains daring filmmaking as Chaplin is criticizing the materialism that drives our society. 3 stars (Chuck Koplinski). 124 minutes. Not rated. ART.

OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN. This glorified B-movie is nothing more than "Die Hard at the White House," but for the most part, it works. This is primarily due to Gerard Butler's turn as a former Secret Service agent who tries to save the president (Aaron Eckhart) after the White House has been taken by a group of North Korean fanatics. Though the film runs a bit long, it's a competent flag-waving crowd-pleaser. 3 stars (Chuck Koplinski). 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, HAR, SAV.

SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN. 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.

SPRING BREAKERS. There's far more than meets the eye in Harmony Korine's film about four bored college girls (Vanessa Hudgens, Selena Gomez, Ashley Benson and Rachel Korine) who go to great lengths to go to Florida for spring break and get far more than they bargain for. Korine pulls no punches in examining this generation's sense of entitlement and the disconnect they have between reality and fantasy. James Franco delivers another good performance as a hustler who takes the quartet under his wing and envelops them in his sordid lifestyle. Thoughtful and hard-hitting. 3 stars (Chuck Koplinski). 94 minutes. Rated R. SAV.

TABU. (Opens Friday). A gorgeous, unique new film from Portugal, "Tabu" looks at one aging woman's memories of colonial Africa. Shot in gorgeous black and white and featuring a surprising Phil Spector soundtrack. "Charming, witty, beautifully shot and inexplicably captivating." (Nikola Grozdanovic, The Playlist). In Portuguese, with English subtitles. 118 minutes. Not rated. ART.

TYLER PERRY'S TEMPTATION. (Opens Friday). A marriage counselor throws her own marriage and career into chaos when she falls for her newest client, a handsome young billionaire. With Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Lance Gross and Robbie Jones. Written and directed by Tyler Perry. (Los Angeles Times). 111 minutes. Rated PG-13. AMC, SAV.

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