MOVIE NEWS BELL TOLLS FOR AMC CASTLETON ARTS AND KEY CINEMAS For years, Castleton Arts and Key Cinemas have brought Indianapolis an extraordinary array of independent, foreign and classic films. But in just a few days, one theater will close and the other will change to a low-cost mainstream format, both facilities replaced by a new theater in an upscale mall. So what’s going on? Friday, Dec. 9 will bring the opening of the seven-screen Keystone Art Cinema & Indie Lounge, part of the Landmark Theatres chain, located in the Fashion Mall at the intersection of 86th Street and Keystone Avenue on the Northside. The Indie Lounge will feature live music, a full-service bar and the option to take your drinks into the movies with you.
Landmark Theatres has a very good reputation nationally and the new complex will likely be a fine addition to the city. Unfortunately, its arrival spelled doom for two Indianapolis institutions in progressive cinema. Castleton Arts goes first, closing its doors for the last time this Sunday night. The three-screen theater, which had a lively spirit all its own despite being part of a chain — General Cinemas initially and AMC in recent years — is not closing voluntarily. They are getting the boot from their landlords at the Simon Property Group, which owns both Castleton Square and Keystone at the Crossing.
Key Cinemas, Ron Keedy’s scrappy two-screen Southside venue, will change formats effective Dec. 2, becoming Key Cinemas Beech Grove, a discount house (with deli fare and pizza) screening second-run mainstream movies. The change is not voluntary — film companies that had booked high-profile art house films with Keedy pulled their titles, preferring to run them at the snazzy new Northside facility. Regulars at Castleton Arts should be comforted in knowing that several members of its staff have taken jobs at other area theaters — at least three of them have taken positions with the new Keystone Art Cinema. And if you appreciate the Herculean efforts of Ron Keedy to support progressive films on the Southside, why don’t you drop by Key Cinemas Beech Grove and catch a flick? The price is right and I hear the food is pretty good. —Ed Johnson-Ott
NEW IN STORES
The Beat That My Heart Skipped (NR) Romain Duris, Niels Arestrup, Linh Dan Pham, Aure Atika. Gritty psychological drama set in the dark, dank streets of Paris. The film is based on James Toback’s cult favorite Fingers, in which Harvey Keitel played a tortured soul trapped between his love of the piano and his involvement with the mob. In this remake, Romain Duris stars as Tom, a n’er-do-well who works with two scheming real estate men who have little or no morals. While struggling to regain his mastery of the piano — which he gave up after his virtuoso mother’s tragic death — Tom is called upon by his partners to participate in shady deals. 107 minutes. DVD INFO: Widescreen.
King Kong: Collector’s Edition (NR) Fay Wray, Bruce Cabot, Robert Armstrong, Frank Reicher. Twas beauty killed the beast. The 1933 classic is finally available on DVD. Before you see the new super-sized version, check out the glorious original. 105 minutes. DVD INFO: Collector’s Edition includes audio commentary by legendary visual effects magician Ray Harryhausen and others; collectible tin packaging; 20-page reproduction of original 1933 souvenir program; King Kong memorable scenes postcards and loads of documentaries and featurettes. —EJO
The Polar Express: Two-Disc Widescreen Edition (G) Tom Hanks, Eddie Deezen, Nona Gaye, Peter Scolari, Michael Jeter. Tom Hanks and director Robert Zemeckis (Forrest Gump, Cast Away) reunite for a computer-animated adventure based on the children’s book by Chris Van Allsburg. When a young boy doubts the existence of Santa Claus, an extraordinary train arrives to take him to the North Pole. The intent of the film is to take the children’s book illustrations and bring them to life, but in too many scenes the eyes on the characters look dead, like something off a doll. Creepy. And is it just me, or do some of the voices of the children sound like adults trying to sound like kids? 97 minutes. DVD INFO: Two separately packaged single-disc DVDs and two separately packaged double-disc DVDs are available: Some preserve the film in the anamorphic widescreen format, while the others hacks off nearly a third of the picture for the fullscreen (aka pan & scan) versions. Shop carefully. The two-disc versions include never-before-seen Smokey and Steamer song; “You Look Familiar: The Many ‘Polar Faces’ of Tom Hanks”; “True Inspirations: An Author’s Adventure — Profiling Chris Van Allsburg”; Josh Groban at the Greek performing the Academy Award-nominated original song “Believe”; behind the scenes of “Believe”: bringing a hit song to life in the recording studio; Polar Express challenge; and “Meet the Snow Angels,” the moviemakers’ Christmas memories. —EJO
Seinfeld: The Complete Season 5 and the Complete Season 6 (R) Jerry Seinfeld, Jason Alexander, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Michael Richards. You may have heard a few words about these releases lately. Sure, the hype has been incessant, but don’t direct your annoyance at the show, which remains one of the finest sitcoms ever made. Season 5: 498 minutes. Season 6: 550 minutes. DVD INFO: Both box sets contain loads of bonus materials. Those with an abundance of disposable income might consider the Seasons 5 and 6 Giftset, which includes a puffy shirt collectible and a reproduction of a handwritten script from Jerry Seinfeld. —EJO
War of the Worlds: Two-Disc Limited Edition (PG-13) Tom Cruise, Justin Chatwin, Dakota Fanning, Tim Robbins. Steven Spielberg’s contemporary adaptation of H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds is a harrowing, extraordinarily well-filmed adventure that follows one family trying to escape from a brutal alien invasion. Once the grim action kicks in, the first half of the movie is unrelenting. The second half allows a few moments to breathe, but only a few. Some critics are complaining that the ending of the story is overly abrupt and “too Hollywood.” I can only ask, “Well, how else could you wrap it up?” The special effects are outstanding. Keep your eyes peeled — that older couple standing together in one of the film’s few happy scenes is Gene Barry and Ann Robinson, the stars of the 1953 version of the story. 117 minutes. DVD INFO: Several versions of the film are available separately, single and two-disc, as well as widescreen and fullscreen. Shop carefully. The two-disc limited edition includes “Revisiting the Invasion,” introduction with Steven Spielberg; featurette “The H.G. Wells Legacy”; “Spielberg and the Original War of the Worlds”; characters: “The Family Unit”; production diaries; four featurettes; “Designing the Enemy: Tripods and Aliens”; “Scoring War of the Worlds”; “We Are Not Alone”; production notes; plus galleries. —EJO
TV on DVD LEAVE IT TO BEAVER: SEASON 1, THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW: SEASON 4, BARBARA STREISAND: THE TELEVISION SPECIALS, AMERICAN IDOL: BEST AND WORST OF SEASONS 1-4, CSI MIAMI: SEASON 3, EXTREME MAKEOVER HOME EDITION: SEASON 1, GOLDEN GIRLS: SEASON 3, HOME IMPROVEMENT: SEASON 3 and KING OF THE HILL: SEASON 5. NOTE: Some studios are marketing box sets of TV series containing episodes that were trimmed down by several minutes each for airing in syndication. Before laying down your money, make sure the box set includes the words “original and uncut.”