Film capsules, April 4

Film capsules, April 4


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.

AI WEIWEI: NEVER SORRY. (Monday) The inside story of a dissident for the digital age who inspires global audiences and blurs the boundaries of art and politics. First-time director Alison Klayman gained unprecedented access to Ai while working as a journalist in China. Her detailed portrait provides a nuanced exploration of contemporary China and one of its most compelling public figures. Rated R. SAV.

AMOUR. (Opens Thursday, April 11) The Palme d'Or winner from Cannes 2012 is a masterpiece from Michael Haneke ("Cache," "The White Ribbon") about the closing days of a great romance. 127 minutes. Rated PG-13. NOR.

AND EVERYTHING IS GOING FINE. (Opens Saturday) Steven Soderbergh's documentary on the life of monologist Spalding Gray is a compelling portrait of the artist as told in his own words as the director has culled together scenes from his various monologues that result in a melancholy autobiography. The film is a loving tribute to Gray as well as the refreshing brand of honesty he used to examine his life and the world around him. 4 stars (Chuck Koplinski) 89 minutes. Not rated. ART.

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. PRI, 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.

EVIL DEAD. (Opens Friday) Director Fede Alvarez's remake of the Sam Raimi cult classic is an unrelenting exercise in gore as he pushes this tale of five people terrorized by evil spirits in a remote cabin in the woods to the extreme. Thankfully, the filmmaker knows what he's doing as he expertly builds the tension throughout and is able to bring a fresh new take on Raimi's film. Special mention must be made of Jane Levy's performance as the actress succeeds in delivering a great performance despite the punishment she's put through. 3 stars (Chuck Koplinski) 91 minutes. Rated R. AMC, SAV.

EVIL DEAD 2 (1987). (Starts Friday) The sequel to Sam Raimi's 1981 horror cult classic takes a complete U-turn as far as tone and mood are concerned as the horror-driven plot is now played for laughs. Bruce Campbell returns as the ever-resourceful Ash, continuing the good fight against a horde of bloodthirsty zombies. His over-the-top performance, as well as Raimi's tongue-in-cheek take on standard genre conventions, makes this far more enjoyable than it has a right to be. 3 stars (Chuck Koplinski). 84 minutes. Rated R. ART.

EXHIBITION: GREAT ART ON SCREEN — MANET: PORTRAYING LIFE. (Thursday, April 10) "Exhibition: Great Art on Screen," a new theatrical series of events, brings the world's greatest art exhibitions to select U.S. cinemas. Each cinema event is hosted by art historian Tim Marlow. The series begins with a career-encompassing collection of the works of Adouard Manet on exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts in London. SAV.

G.I. JOE: RETALIATION. The elite military group of the title is set up and presumably killed by the nefarious terrorist group Cobra bent on taking over the world. Nonsensical, unoriginal and edited to cause seizures instead of thrills, this is a film for teens who love to play with guns and no one else. 1 star (Chuck Koplinski). 110 minutes. Rated PG-13. AMC, SAV.

THE HOST. Stephenie Meyer's tale of alien parasites and one teen's (Saoirse Ronan) efforts to maintain her humanity is a poorly written, ludicrous exercise that dumbs down some interesting themes. While the author's concerns of maintaining one's independence is worthwhile, its amateurish dialogue and sophomoric love story sink it in the end. 2 stars (Chuck Koplinski). 125 minutes. Rated PG-13. AMC, SAV.

HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA. (Saturday and Sunday) Dracula's (voiced by Adam Sandler) refuge for monsters and plans to protect his daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez) from humans are compromised the day before her 118th birthday when perpetual human tourist Jonathan (Andy Samberg) shows up and Mavis falls for him. Charming, funny, family oriented animated feature with a message of tolerance turns trite in its last 20 minutes, but remains worth a look. 3 stars (Richard J. Leskosky). 91 minutes. Rated PG. SAV.

JOHN DIES AT THE END. 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.

JURASSIC PARK 3D. (Opens Friday) With his remastering of the epic film into a state-of-the-art 3-D format, Steven Spielberg introduces the three-time Academy Award-winning blockbuster to a new generation of moviegoers and allows longtime fans to experience the world he envisioned in a way that was unimaginable during the film's original release. Starring Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Samuel L. Jackson and Richard Attenborough, the film based on the novel by Michael Crichton is produced by Kathleen Kennedy and Gerald R. Molen. Rated PG-13. AMC, SAV.

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 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. 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. SAV.

RESTLESS HEART: THE CONFESSIONS OF AUGUSTINE. (Tuesday) Presented by The Service & Justice Outreach — St. John's Catholic Newman Center. The first full-length feature movie on St. Augustine. Christian Duguay directed the film, and the cast includes Franco Nero, Johannes Brandrup, Monica Guerritore and Alessandro Preziosi. Not rated. ART.

SIDE EFFECTS. (Starts Friday) Director Stephen Soderbergh keeps us effectively off-balance in this tale of the dangers of achieving a better life through modern medicine. Anxious and depressed, Emily (Rooney Mara) agrees to be a part of a trial for a new antidepressant run by Dr. Banks (Jude Law). While things improve initially, her behavior changes dramatically with tragic results. What begins as an indictment of the pharmaceutical industry effortlessly morphs into an intriguing murder mystery. Engaging throughout, the film succeeds in being both a cautionary tale and a taut thriller. 3 stars (Chuck Koplinski). 115 minutes. Rated R. ART.

THE SOUND OF THE SPIRIT. (Sunday) Beautiful and precocious Rivka is a 12-year-old Jewish girl who believes in Jesus. She and her father attend a Messianic Jewish congregation in their community. But when her father suddenly dies, Rivka's life changes forever. She ends up moving in with her traditional Jewish relatives and attending their synagogue. "The Sound of the Spirit" is the never-before-told story of a young girl caught in the crossfire of strong feelings between two faith communities. It's told with humor, compassion, and grace. PRI.

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.

STARLET. (Starts Monday) From the Best of Key West Film Festival. The film explores the unlikely friendship between 21-year-old Jane (Dree Hemingway) and 85-year-old Sadie (Besedka Johnson), two women whose worlds collide in California's San Fernando Valley. Jane, an aspiring actress, spends her time getting high with her dysfunctional roommates, Melissa and Mikey while caring for her Chihauhua, Starlet. Sadie, a widow, passes her days alone, tending to her flower garden. After a confrontation between the women at Sadie's yard sale, Jane uncovers a hidden stash of money inside a relic from Sadie's past. Jane attempts to befriend the caustic older woman in an effort to solve her dilemma and secrets emerge as their relationship grows. SAV.

TELLURIDE MOUNTAIN FILM FESTIVAL. (Tuesday) Presented by Champaign Surplus. Showcases the very best of the annual Mountainfilm in Telluride Festival. Mountainfilm's mission is to educate and inspire audiences about issues that matter, cultures worth exploring, environments worth preserving and conservations worth sustaining. All proceeds go to support Illinois Operation: Military Kids. Not rated. ART.

TYLER PERRY'S TEMPTATION. 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 Perry. (Los Angeles Times). 111 minutes. Rated PG-13. AMC, SAV.

Topics (1):Film

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