Film Clips for 4/12/2006 

Opening: Duck Season (R) Enrique Arreola, Daniel Miranda, Diego Catano, Danny Perea.

Opening: Duck Season (R) Enrique Arreola, Daniel Miranda, Diego Catano, Danny Perea. It’s Sunday and 14-year-old friends Flama and Moko expect to spend a typical day together. Unfortunately, the world has other plans, as their simple plans for a day of pizza and video games are turned upside down. An audience favorite on the festival circuit. 85 minutes. At Landmark’s Keystone Art Cinema. Joyeux Noel (Merry Christmas) (NR) Diane Kruger, Benno Furmann, Guillaume Canet, Gary Lewis. During World War I, it was not uncommon for the trenches separating warring soldiers to be so close (barely 100 kilometers) that the men could hear the raised voices of their opponents. Joyeux Noel takes us to the front lines on Christmas Eve, 1914, when British, French and German soldiers laid down their arms long enough to celebrate the holiday together, sharing songs and stories, food and drink — they even played a soccer game in the snow. Though uneven, the movie is a fascinating piece of work that manages to be moving without becoming maudlin. 115 minutes. At Landmark’s Keystone Art Cinema. —EJO Preaching to the Choir (PG-13) Darien Sills-Evans, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Tichina Arnold, Eartha Kitt, Ben Vereen, Patti LaBelle, Tim Reid. Drama set in Harlem about twin brothers that take divergent paths when they grow up. One becomes a minister, while the other becomes a gangsta rapper. The siblings’ relationship has been tenuous for years, but suddenly the rapper brother, Zulu, finds his life in danger due to a contract dispute with a record company owner, and he seeks his brother’s help. At the same time, the young minister’s church is losing membership and is becoming stale and steady as opposed to progressive. As a result, the two brothers begin to work through their issues so that they can help one another. 105 minutes. At Regal Shiloh. Scary Movie 4 (PG-13) Anna Faris, Regina Hall, Craig Bierko, Simon Rex. The fourth installment of the comedy series includes send-ups of War of the Worlds, The Grudge, The Village, Saw, Saw II and Million Dollar Baby. Look for appearances by Anthony Anderson, Chingy, Carmen Electra, Michael Madsen, Leslie Nielsen, Bill Pullman, Charlie Sheen, Shaquille O’Neal and Dr. Phil. 90 minutes. The Wild (G) Voices of Kiefer Sutherland, James Belushi, Greg Berg, Don Cherry, Greg Cipes. Computer-animated comedy-adventure from Disney (NOT Disney/Pixar, just Disney) that sounds a lot like a cross between Madagascar and Finding Nemo. When a lion cub (Cipes) is mistakenly boxed up and shipped from the New York Zoo to the wild, his father (Sutherland) and assorted animal buddies break out to rescue him. Janeane Garafalo, William Shatner and Eddie Izzard also provide voices. 85 minutes. Limited Run: Ellie Parker (R) Naomi Watts, Rebecca Rigg, Scott Coffey, Mark Pellegrino, Blair Mastbaum. Ellie Parker races around town from one audition to another, changing makeup, clothes and personality as she speeds along, barely attending to her whirlwind life as she strives to get cast in a movie. And her best friend Sam, her boyfriend Justin and her new fling Chris just don’t seem to help. As Ellie considers giving up after losing faith in the craft, her manager Dennis doesn’t exactly talk her out of it. One last insane audition for Ellie, and she’s back in the game — or is she? 95 minutes. At Key Cinemas Beech Grove for one week only. Little Shop of Horrors (Original 1960 Version) (NR) Jonathan Haze, Jackie Joseph, Mel Welles, Dick Miller. A very young Jack Nicholson contributes a riotous cameo as a masochistic dental patient in this cult favorite from director Roger Corman, King of the B movies, that decades later became a hit Broadway musical that was then adapted into a big-budget movie. Haze stars as a mild-mannered Greenwich Village assistant florist who innocently brings to his place of work a plant that grows very quickly and turns out to have a taste for humans. Corman regular Miller turns up as a flower-eating hepcat and Wally Campos plays a Joe Friday-style cop. Feed me! 70 minutes. At Key Cinemas Beech Grove for one week only. Monty Python’s Life of Brian (R) Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin. Just in time for Easter comes the notorious 1979 Monty Python comedy about Brian Cohen (Chapman), a reluctant messiah born on the same night as Jesus (and very close by as well). At the time of its original release, it upset a number of Christian groups that considered the film blasphemous and then some. As is typical with Python films, the comedy is uneven: When it works it’s a scream, when it doesn’t … well, patience is a virtue. 94 minutes. At Key Cinema Beech Grove for one week only. First Run: ATL (PG-13) Clifford “T.I.” Harris, Lauren London, Albert Daniels, Keith David, Jackie Long. Coming-of-age story about four teens in a working-class Atlanta neighborhood where hip-hop music and roller skating rule. The acting is strong enough to more or less compensate for the routine storyline, which is loosely based on Dallas Austin and Tionne Watkins’ experiences growing up in Atlanta and hanging out at a local skating rink called Jellybeans. 100 minutes. —EJO Basic Instinct 2 (R) Sharon Stone, David Morrissey, Stan Collymore, Charlotte Rampling, David Thewlis. Except for Sharon Stone, who asked for this? Worthless and unnecessary sequel to the overrated original, which spawned a plague of bad Are-They-Guilty-Or-Not-Let’s-Shoot-Them-Anyway thrillers on TV, straight to video and in theaters. What does the sequel bring new to the table? Absolutely nothing. Big shocker, everyone’s a suspect, Stone gets naked again and picks up a bigger paycheck. No chemistry between a sleepwalking Stone and Morrissey (no one’s 20th choice). Stone’s ass-whuppin’ in Catwoman is more memorable than this smug junk. 114 minutes —Matthew Socey The Benchwarmers (PG-13) Rob Schneider, David Spade, Jon Heder, Jon Lovitz, Craig Kilborn, Tim Meadows, Molly Sims. Three dorky adults take on several obnoxious Little League baseball teams in a tournament. That’s really all there is to the story. I chuckled a couple of times. Fans of Schneider, Spade and Heder (reverting to his Napoleon Dynamite ways) will best enjoy the film, along with booger and fart joke aficionados everywhere. 80 minutes. —Matthew Socey Deep Sea 3D (G) Narrated by Johnny Depp, Kate Winslet. A corker, one of the best IMAX movies ever. Filmed over the course of a year, the production introduces viewers to an absolutely incredible array of undersea creatures. Remember the first time you saw the cantina scene in the original Star Wars? Welcome to the underwater version, only the life forms here are even weirder than the freaky denizens of that sci-fi gin joint. What you will see here is far more alien than anything George Lucas ever cooked up. And, thanks to some very effective 3D photography, these alien entities appear to be floating about as close to your face as this newspaper is right now. 40 minutes. At the IMAX Theater in the State Museum. —EJO Eight Below (PG) Paul Walker, Jason Biggs, Bruce Greenwood, Moon Bloodgood, Connor Christopher Levins. Disney film about a pack of snow dogs (sans Cuba Gooding, Jr.) left to survive in Antarctica. Inspired by a true story, the film has a March Of The Doggies feel as they survive in the frozen tundra, while the humans, who had to leave their research facility in Antarctica due to really bad weather, try to find them. Paul Walker’s performance is good, but he is still upstaged by eight little doggies. Also, these dogs don’t talk nor are there tired uses of pop songs with the word “Dog” in the title. Disney must be saving those for their Shaggy Dog remake. 112 minutes — Matthew Socey  Failure to Launch (PG-13) Matthew McConaughey, Sarah Jessica Parker, Justin Bartha, Kathy Bates, Zooey Deschanel. Harmless formulaic romantic comedy. Thirtysomething Tripp (McConaughey) is still living with his parents. In desperation, they hire Paula (Parker) to coax/seduce their son out of the house. Guess what happens. McConaughey and Parker can do this kind of stuff in their sleep, which they more or less do. Bradshaw and Bates make an enjoyable set of parents, though. 97 minutes. —EJO Find Me Guilty (R) Vin Diesel, Peter Dinklage, Ron Silver, Annabella Sciorra, Linus Roache. Diesel plays one of 20 mobsters on trial, but the only one who defends himself. He cracks jokes and gets under the skin of the witnesses, the judge and some of his fellow defendants. Directed by the brilliant Sidney Lumet, this doesn’t come close to his courtroom masterpieces (12 Angry Men, The Verdict), but it is Diesel’s best performance. It helps he’s directed by an artist, is surrounded by a strong supporting cast (Dinklage, Roache, Silver and the one-scene Sciorra) and it’s a film where he doesn’t shoot things, beat people up or get bitten by a duck. XXX fans will be pissed off by this film and that’s really OK. 125 minutes. —Matthew Socey Ice Age: The Meltdown (PG) Ray Romano, John Leguizamo, Dennis Leary, Queen Latifah. As far as sub-Pixar computer-generated cartoon features go, this is a perfectly serviceable little sequel. The filmmakers work in a steady stream of gags and some of them are quite funny. At the screening I attended, the kids seemed to enjoy themselves and the adults didn’t fidget much. But there is no story to speak of, just a series of episodes about three prehistoric animal buddies and their new acquaintances. Thankfully, Scrat, the twitching, bug-eyed acorn-pursuing hybrid of a rat and a squirrel from the first film, makes a welcome return here in riotous Looney Tunes-inspired vignettes spaced throughout the movie. 90 minutes. —EJO Inside Man (R) Denzel Washington, Christopher Plummer, Clive Owen, Jodie Foster, Willem Dafoe, Chiwetel Ejiofor. Spike Lee’s new movie about a bank robbery is an utterly forgettable retread full of great actors doing very little with very little. Dafoe is in it and he does nothing! Yet, people seem to love this flash-filled film. Maybe it’s because the story, written by a first-time screenwriter, has the advantage of being more original than a remake of the Pink Panther. —Jim Walker Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector (PG-13) Larry the Cable Guy, Iris Bahr, Eric Esteban, Tom Hillmann, Bruce Perkins. Vermin jokes. Fart jokes. Butt crack jokes. Ladies and gentlemen, we are talking comedy with a capital “C” here! Larry the Cable Guy is a health inspector assigned to investigate a series of food poisoning incidents at the city’s top restaurants. 89 minutes. Lucky Number Sleven (R) Josh Hartnett, Lucy Liu, Ben Kingsley, Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman. This slightly off-kilter crime/suspense drama is an enjoyable ride, even if you’re an armchair detective like me, and you figure out the surprise ending during the first 10 minutes. The dumbed-down story isn’t a deal breaker as Hartnett, Kingsley and Freeman make it a pleasure to watch. Beautifully shot, this film is not the new Pulp Fiction, but it’s certainly worth seeing. —Jim Walker Roving Mars (G) A giant-screen IMAX visualization of an amazing story that is still going on. On the surface of the planet Mars right now — right this very second — there are two manmade robotic vehicles capable of navigating the rocky surface. Powered by solar panels, they explore the red planet, sending information back to eager scientists on Earth. Steve Squyres, lead science investigator at the NASA/Jet Propulsion laboratory, provides commentary for the 40-minute Disney film, recounting the fascinating story of the building, launching, landing and tasks of the space rovers Spirit and Opportunity. The film uses extensive computer animation to present the travels of the separately-launched rovers. Especially fascinating are segments depicting the separation stages following the launches and the complicated — and quite cool — landing procedures. 40 minutes. At the IMAX Theater in the Indiana State Museum through June 8. —EJO Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont (PG) Joan Plowright, Rupert Friend, Zoe Trapper, Anna Massey. Sweet and touching film about a widow (Plowright) who asks a young writer (Friend) to pose as her grandson and visit her and the other aging residents of an English hotel. A friendship blossoms and no, not like Harold and Maude. However, the theme of embracing life to the fullest is still there. Wonderful chemistry between Plowright and Friend. Throat lumps are possible at the film’s climax. 108 minutes. At Landmark’s Keystone Art Cinema. —Matthew Socey Phat Girlz (PG-13) Monique “Mo’Nique” Imes, Godfrey Danchimah, Joyful M’Chelle Drake, Jack Noseworthy, Eric Roberts. Starring Mo’Nique as Jazmin Biltmore, a smart-mouthed aspiring fashion designer, Phat Girlz is a comedy about two frustrated plus-size women obsessed with their weight while struggling to find love and acceptance in a world full of “hot bodied” babes. The Phat Girlz are thrown a major curve ball when they meet the men of their dreams in the most unexpected of ways. 99 minutes. The Shaggy Dog (PG) Tim Allen, Kristin Davis, Robert Downey, Danny Glover, Zena Grey, Spencer Breslin, Jane Curtin. Tim Allen transforms back and forth between father to family dog in this update of the Disney 1959 comedy of the same name. The original wasn’t very good and neither is this one. Want to see Allen hoist his leg at the urinal? Want to see dogs sniff his butt? Me neither. 99 minutes. —EJO She’s the Man (PG-13) Amanda Bynes, James Kirk, Channing Tatum, David Cross, Alex Breckenridge. Just about everything and everybody in this teenybopper movie is cute. Turns out, that’s not so bad. While formulaic and sophomoric, She’s the Man — which was inspired by Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night — makes good points about girls being able to accomplish what they want and offers a great message about how boys and girls should look past their assumptions and stereotypes of the opposite sex and see everybody as an individual. This is a good film for parents to take their adolescent or teen kids to on a family outing. It’s bearable for adults and fun for teens. —Jim Walker Slither (R) Nathan Fillion, Elizabeth Banks, Michael Rooker, Gregg Henry, Tania Saulnier. The sleepy town of Wheelsy could be any small town in America. But just beneath the surface charm, something unnamed and evil has arrived … and is growing. No one seems to notice as telephone poles become clogged with missing pet flyers, or when one of the town’s richest citizens, Grant Grant (Rooker), begins to act strangely. But when farmers’ livestock turn up horribly mutilated and a young woman goes missing, Sheriff Bill Pardy (Fillion) and his team, aided by Grant’s wife Starla (Banks), uncover the dark force laying siege to their town … and come face-to-face with an older-than-time organism intent on absorbing and devouring all life on Earth. 96 minutes. Stay Alive (PG-13) Jon Foster, Samaire Armstrong, Frankie Muniz, Sophia Bush, Adam Goldberg. After the mysterious, brutal death of an old friend, a group of teen-agers find themselves in possession of Stay Alive, an ultra-realistic 3-D videogame based on the chilling true story of a 17th century noblewoman, known as “The Blood Countess.” The gamers don’t know anything about the game other than they’re not supposed to have it ... and they’re dying to play it. Not able to resist temptation, the kids begin to play the grisly game but soon make a chilling connection — they are each being murdered one-by-one in the same way as the characters they played in the game. 85 minutes. Take the Lead (PG-13) Antonio Banderas, Rob Brown, Yaya DaCosta, Alfre Woodard, John Ortiz. Family drama inspired by a true story. The film revolves around internationally acclaimed ballroom dancer Pierre Dulane (Banderas), who volunteers to teach in the New York City public school system. But when his classic methods clash with his students’ hip-hop instincts, he teams up with them to create a new style of dance and becomes their mentor in the process. 117 minutes. Thank You for Smoking (R) Aaron Eckhart, Maria Bello, Cameron Bright, Adam Brody, Sam Elliott, Katie Holmes, David Koechner, Rob Lowe, William H. Macy. Smart, snappy R-rated comedies that aren’t about overgrown frat boys trying to get laid do not come along very often, so please take note of Thank You for Smoking, an exceptional satire for grown-ups. Based on the novel by Christopher Buckley, the story of Nick Naylor (Eckhart), a charismatic lobbyist for the tobacco industry, is focused and very funny. Eckhart is wonderful as a master of the art of persuasion who truly loves his work. “The beauty of an argument is that if you argue correctly, you’re never wrong,” he tells his son, and he almost makes us believe him. 92 minutes. —EJO Tsotsi (R) Presley Chweneyagae, Mothusi Magano, Terry Pheto, Percy Matsemela, Jerry Mofokeng. Winner of the 2005 Best Foreign Film Oscar. A teen-age thug in South Africa learns about redemption after he discovers a baby in the car he just jacked. Simple tale very well-executed. A moving film, which doesn’t take a sugary path. The film’s climax should put lumps in throats. An excellent acting debut from Chweneyagae. 94 minutes. At Landmark Keystone Art Cinema. —Matthew Socey V for Vendetta (R) Natalie Portman, Hugo Weaving, Stephen Rea, John Hurt, Roger Allam, Stephen Fry. Moderately entertaining, highly stylized mystery/drama with impressive art direction and a muddled, overly talky script that is reminiscent of 1984 and Batman Begins. V (Weaving, Neo’s most bothersome adversary in The Matrix), his identity hidden beneath a Guy Fawkes mask and, I think, a Cleopatra wig, sets out to topple the fascist government of future-England with bombs and murder and poor Evey (Portman) gets dragged into his crusade. An adaptation of the acclaimed graphic novel by Alan Moore and David Lloyd (Moore had his name removed from the film), V for Vendetta offers bold visuals, sweeping movement, but little that will linger after you leave the theater. 131 minutes. —EJO The World’s Fastest Indian (PG-13) Anthony Hopkins, Christopher Lawford, Bruce Greenwood, Paul Rodriguez, Diane Ladd. Set in the early ’60s, this film follows motorcycle enthusiast Bert Munro (Hopkins) as he travels from his New Zealand home to the Bonneville Salt Flats to compete for a land speed record — one of which endures to this day. The story jumps through all the predictable hoops, yet is enthralling because of the extraordinary performance by Hopkins. 127 minutes. At Landmark’s Keystone Art Cinema. —Jim Poyser

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