Bruce Willis plays drunky, washed up cop Jack Mosley, who's supposed to transport petty thief Eddie (Mos Def) 16 blocks to the courthouse. That short trip turns into a long one when the two figure out that Eddie is the target of dirty cops who want to stop him from testifying. Though I wouldn't dare spoil the surprises to come, let's just say Jack has to put down the bottle and call forth some of the old stuff. 16 Blocks hearkens back to the great, gritty crime dramas of the '70s, and director Richard Donner captures that sweaty claustrophobia in a tight as a drum action flick that never disappoints. (Wm. Steven Humphrey) Regal Cinemas, etc.
2006 Academy Award Nominated Short Documentaries
A program of four Oscar-nominated shorts from 2005: The Mushroom Club, about 10 people whose lives were affected by Hiroshima; God Sleeps in Rwanda, a look at five women rebuilding their lives after genocide; A Note of Triumph: The Golden Age of Norman Corwin, about radio broadcast legend Corwin; and The Death of Kevin Carter: Casualty of the Big Bang Club, about photojournalist Carter. Guild
39 Pounds of Love
Ami Ankilewitz is a 34-year-old man whose battle with a rare form of muscular dystrophy has left him immobile except for the use of one finger that he uses to work as a 3D animator. Told he wasn't going to live past the age of six, Ami has taken life by the balls and lived life to the fullest; 39 Pounds documents how he fulfills his dreams by confronting the doctor that told his mother he wouldn't survive, makes peace with his brother, and rides a Harley. It's an inspiring story, so it sucks that it's so cheesily done—an excess of horridly sappy music is a serious deterrent. (Christine S. Blystone) Hollywood Theatre
Ask the Dust
In adapting John Fante's Depression-era book about a would-be Italian writer struggling in LA, legendary screenwriter/director Robert Towne (Chinatown, anyone?) has made the same serious error that many legendary filmmakers have made in recent years: casting Colin Farrell in the lead role. I was praying for this movie to end before it was halfway over. (Justin Sanders) Fox Tower 10
The Boys of Baraka
A compelling, moving documentary that follows 20 boys from inner city Baltimore as they're hand selected to attend an alternative school in Kenya—where they'll be miles away from any city, have giraffes walk past their windows at night, and hopefully be gifted a future that would never exist if they stayed in Baltimore. (Chas Bowie) Cinema 21
Breakfast at Tiffany's
Based on the book by Truman Capote, Audrey Hepburn plays Holly Golightly, and pretty much sets the standard for any actor who ever wanted to be tragic, whimsical, endearing, and classy all at once. It's a love story that includes champagne and a lot of really great outfits. Pix Patisserie (North)
Caché hinges on the idea that just underneath society, and deep within the lives of normal people, all sorts of vile and unspeakable things lurk in wait. In fact, the film's almost too nuanced to be the thriller it purports to be—in addition to the marital drama, it touches on class, voyeurism, childrearing, and some pretty heavy race-related subtext. Nope, not a hardcore thriller. But totally worth watching all the same. (Alison Hallett) Fox Tower 10, Lake Twin Cinema, Cinemagic The CeremonyNWFC's love-fest for Isabelle Huppert continues. Whitsell Auditorium
No, this is not that Dana Carvey comedy wherein he keeps losing his memory. This is some artsy French flick starring Isabelle Huppert, who the NWFC simply cannot get enough of. Whitsell Auditorium
Dave Chappelle's Block Party
Block Party's unbelievable roster goes like this: Talib Kweli, Mos Def, Kanye West, Common, Erykah Badu, the Roots, Dead Prez, and Jill Scott. And then there're the Fugees, and then there's host Chappelle, who liberally scatters his comedy throughout, and then there's Ohio's Central State University Marching Band. Is the music fucking amazing? Of course it is; to call this some of the best music of the past decade seems, weirdly, like an understatement. And is the comedy great? What do you think, Sherlock? (Erik Henriksen) Broadway Metroplex, Lloyd Mall
See review this issue. Cinema 21
Failure to Launch
Sarah Jessica Parker is a "professional interventionist," Paula, who's hired to date/cure men like Matthew McConaughey's Trip—who are unwilling or unable to move out of their parents' homes. Even though the central characters are more Sarah and Matthew than Trip and Paula—lord knows we'd hardly recognize SJP if she wasn't in an awkward dating situation—Launch manages to strike a fair balance between originality and familiar, sappy likeability. (Marjorie Skinner) Regal Cinemas, etc.
Faux Film Festival 2006
The Faux Film Festival returns—and just like your creepy uncle who shows up every Thanksgiving with those goddamn Groucho Marx glasses, the Fest is again trying its damnedest to be wacky and crazy. With "spoofs, satires, parodies, and mockumentaries," they've got their bases covered. Things kick off Wednesday March 29, and continue through Sunday; Wednesday night's program has a block of mockumentary shorts, followed by a "feature mockumentary," Futile Action. Thursday, there're more mockumentary shorts, followed by satire shorts. Watch for more info in next week's Mercury, or hit fauxfilm.com. Hollywood Theatre
The Grandfather Trilogy - Allen Ross
In 1994, years after completing his The Grandfather Trilogy filmmaker Allen Ross disappeared and was found dead years later beneath a house in Cheyenne, Wyoming. It's widely believed that his now-dead wife Linda, who was a member of a Branch Davidian-like cult, delivered the bullets to Ross' skull. It's hard to shake this story from your mind while you watch The Grandfather Trilogy, a ghostly, horizontal portrait of Ross' Bowling Green Grandfather. Ross eschewed the viewfinder for the bulk of this project, and the results are tipsy, leaning investigations into aging, dying, and the eternal challenge they call portraiture. (Chas Bowie) Cinema Project @ New American Art Union
Why can't teenagers simply do what they are told? After a doltish teenage boy breaks every rule that he was told about his cuddly new pet, an army of devious and burpy muppets is unleashed into a small town. Ultimately, the cuddly 1984 horror film drove home the (very important) point about teenage irresponsibility 100 times better Nancy Reagan's "Just Say No" campaign. Broadway Metroplex
Mercy Corps presents this screening of Courtesans, a film about a rural Indian town's tradition of entering their oldest daughter into prostitution to help support their families and the local economy. Starring Ruben Studdard. Guild
The Hills Have Eyes
Much like the MTV-ized Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake from a few years ago, the new version of Wes Craven's 1977 desert mutants vs. dumbass tourists saga The Hills Have Eyes utterly trumps its source material on a technical level. When it comes to getting your primal ya yas out, though, the combination of state-of-the-art effects and actors who can actually act makes it somehow easier to shrug off—this re-imagining certainly amps up the unpleasantness, but that coveted nightmare vibe remains elusive. (Andrew Wright) Regal Cinemas, etc.
Ilsa: She Wolf of the SS & Ilsa: Harem Keeper of the Oil Sheiks
"Nazi-ploitation" at its most famous, She Wolf has Ilsa (Dyanne Thorne) working at a death camp, while Harem Keeper has her working for an Arab oil sheik. The power of cinema is a really beautiful thing. Video Verite
See review this issue. Regal Cinemas, etc.
IT (Independent Tuesdays)
Nocturnal's homemade film and video event—now at Acme! Acme
Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector
I've been staring at my computer screen for 10 minutes, trying to sort out and distill the vitriolic rage that swirls the bile in my belly when previews for this movie come on television. Here it is, folks—the source of all my pain and anguish: "Git 'er done!" This movie was not screened for critics. God is merciful. (Chas Bowie) Regal Cinemas, etc.
In The Libertine, Johnny Depp plays a syphilitic nobleman whose condition deteriorates until he is barely recognizable as human. Depp is malicious and delicious in the first half of the film, but the film's second half is devoted to painstakingly following his increasingly gross deterioration—the fun seeps out of the film like pus from Depp's oozing face, until all that's left are the tired, common sense reminders that too much drug use makes you ugly, and that you should always use a rubber if you're going to sleep with whores. (Alison Hallett) Cinetopia, Lloyd Mall
The Lords of Flatbush
1974's drama about a bunch of Brooklyn kids who form a gang. Featuring none other than Sylvester Stallone and Henry Winkler! Clinton Street Theater
Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome
"Remember where you are—this is Thunderdome, and death is listening, and will take the first man that screams." Laurelhurst
Madea's Family Reunion
Tyler Perry's creations—full of monstrous characters, plus-sized plots, and operatic gospel climaxes—are a genre unto themselves. Perry started out on the so-called "chitlin'" theater circuit, and his gun-toting grandma character, Madea, is a pure creature of the stage. Part drag queen, part sketch comic, and all Southern black rage, Madea has to be seen to be believed. This episode wasn't screened for the press—too many critics are ignorant white people, and all the reviews of Perry's last film (Diary of a Mad Black Woman) were just this side of hostile. (Annie Wagner) Lloyd Mall
Lars Von Trier seems to be losing fans on a daily basis, thanks in no small part to 2003's Dogville, which eschewed locations and scenery for an enormous soundstage with minimal props. Manderlay is shot in the same style, replete with John Hurt as a Masterpiece Theatre-sounding omniscient narrator. When a white woman, Grace (Bryce Dallas Howard), stumbles upon an active slave plantation in the 1930s, she emancipates the slaves by locking up their white, tyrannical owners. What follows is a complex and challenging (if imperfect) look at race relations in America: The slaves don't know what to do with their freedom, so Grace shepherds over them in a liberal guilt version of the White Man's Burden. Every attempt to help the former slaves is portrayed as a misguided form of colonialism, even when Grace has the their best interests at heart. Although Crash was supposed to be 2005's cinematic opus about the complexities of race, it hardly scratches the surface of Manderlay's discomforting probing. (Chas Bowie) Cinema 21
In his first straight-ahead drama in quite some time (and arguably his best), Match Point finds Allen traversing the previously uncharted waters of modern Britain. He's also dropped most of his patented, Bergman-esque pretenses in favor of an admirable stab at Hitchcock—and a healthy, if unexpected, dollop of Dostoyevsky. (Zac Pennington) Fox Tower 10, Cinemagic
A French movie even your dad could sit through—which, depending on the father, is either a slight nod to the film's crowd-pleasing mediocrity or a serious condemnation. Either way, rest assured that the film—though largely stomachable—is scarcely more than heartwarming, frog-fashioned schlock. Based around the now mythical 1914 Christmas Eve ceasefire and fraternization between French, British, and German forces in the trenches of WWI, Merry Christmas also has the unique distinction of being only French film I've ever seen that might actually have more English dialogue than French—which should at the very least make your dad happy. (Zac Pennington) Fox Tower 10
From Night Watch's opening battle, which could be mistaken for a scene in The Two Towers, to the familial plot twists and the inner good versus evil turmoil of the Star Wars saga, this Russian fantasy action film is full of familiar themes—but it presents them in an unmistakably post-Communist Russian light. But best of all, the movie actually has a soul—it's refreshing to see an effects-driven movie that has moments of humor as well as compelling characters. (Steven Lankenau) Fox Tower 10
The Piano Teacher
NWFC's love-fest for Isabelle Huppert continues. Whitsell Auditorium
NWFC's love-fest for Isabelle Huppert continues. Whitsell Auditorium
She's the Man
A pretty retarded riff on Shakespeare's already-retarded Twelfth Night, with lame slapstick and PG-13-appropriate plot developments—but Man's star, the unexpectedly likeable WB sitcom actress Amanda Bynes, makes things a bit less painful and a bit more funny than one would expect. If anyone asks, though, I didn't even see this movie, alright? In fact, I don't even know who Amanda Bynes is. Leave me alone. (Erik Henriksen) Regal Cinemas, etc.
So you've been gettin' all nostalgic for Eddie Vedder? Who hasn't! Take a time warp way back to '92 with Cameron Crowe's rom-com about twentysomethings in grunge-era Seattle. Clinton Street Theater
A horror film about some kids who get sucked into a videogame... a videogame that kills! Not screened for critics; watch for our film short next week. Regal Cinemas, etc.
The Story of Women
NWFC's love-fest for Isabelle Huppert continues. Whitsell Auditorium
The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada
I hate to say this kind of thing in print, and I rarely do, so maybe you'll forgive me: The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada is the closest thing to a perfect movie you'll ever find. (Justin Sanders) Fox Tower 10
Transamerica—despite the buzz surrounding it—isn't so much a "transsexual movie" as it is something far less innovative: a totally conventional road movie. (Will Gardner) Fox Tower 10
Troop 1500: Girl Scouts Beyond Bars
The Girl Scouts in Texas' Troop 1500 all have mothers that are incarcerated, which is sad. Then again, it's a good bet that Girl Scout cookies serve as valuable currency in women's prisons, so maybe it all works out okay. Except when someone gets shivved for a box of Thin Mints. Guild
This captivating look at the life of American Indian activist/poet/speaker John Trudell reminds us that civilization is not so civilized. Trudell is smart, witty, and real—if everyone could see the world the way he does, maybe we wouldn't be making complete asses out of ourselves by killing each other and destroying the planet. (Christine S. Blystone) Hollywood Theatre
See review this issue. Fox Tower 10
Emir Kusturica's critically lauded drama/comedy from 1995. Video Verite
V for Vendetta
Based on Alan Moore and David Lloyd's dark, powerful comic book series, V's the story of a terrorist who wears a stylized Guy Fawkes mask as he sows dissent in a fascist Britain. The cynical, deceptively simple story—which is adapted here via a screenplay by the Wachowski Brothers, recovering nicely from their Matrix sequel stumbles—was impressive when published in the '80s, and has only gained more relevance—a thought that's at once terrifying and enlightening. (Erik Henriksen) Regal Cinemas, etc.