12 Years a Slave
Solomon (the brilliant Chiwetel Ejiofor) is a free black man, living in the North, who is abducted into slavery in 1841. Twelve years later, he's released. During those 12 years, he is a slave, and something of a stand-in for the modern viewer: He's intelligent, he's educated, and most crucially, he's attuned to the horror and injustice that surrounds him. Our attempts to comprehend life under slavery parallel his own: We share his terror when he wakes up in chains after a night of heavy drinking with two friendly-seeming white men. We understand his urge to fight back against those who have separated him from his family. We chafe to find him at the mercy of men who are his physical and intellectual inferior. And, through his eyes, the utterly schizophrenic nature of slavery is revealed. ALISON HALLETT Various Theaters.
Jackass mastermind Johnny Knoxville dresses up like an old man and does things that old dudes aren't supposed to do, like perv on ladies and try to have sex with vending machines. And he's got a kid with him, and the kid does stuff that kids aren't supposed to do, like drink beer and say words like "asshole." And they do those things in front of unsuspecting passersby, who are horrified and amused and concerned, and some of it is funny and some of it is not. A fake penis is involved. A couple times. It isn't bad, exactly, but there's the thing: Johnny Knoxville is kind of old. His actual penis probably doesn't look so hot. And Bad Grandpa just seems a little tired. ALISON HALLETT Various Theaters.
The Best Man Holiday
A Christmas-themed sequel to 1999's The Best Man, starring Taye Diggs, Morris Chestnut, Nia Long, and Regina Hall. More importantly, the soundtrack features R. Kelly's beloved holiday ballad "Christmas I'll Be Steppin'." Various Theaters.
See review this issue. Cinema 21.
Dallas Buyers Club
In addition to being an electrician and a part-time rodeo bull rider, Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey) was also a career partier—a thorough user of drugs and a prolific fucker of women. When he contracted AIDS in 1986, the disease was still, in the public's eye, very much limited to the realm of gay men. Woodroof overcame not only his deeply ingrained homophobia but, for many years, the disease itself: He smuggled in non-approved medications from Mexico, Japan, and elsewhere, selling them to HIV-positive patients while the FDA remained in Big Pharma's thrall. The movie sputters at the end, as it attempts to draw tears from the audience while remaining true to the facts. It doesn't do either of those things very well, but for the first hour and a half, McConaughey's exceptional performance is riveting enough. NED LANNAMANN Various Theaters.
Dear Mr. Watterson
See review this issue. Living Room Theaters.
See review this issue. Various Theaters.
Nicolas Rey's 2012 "ethereal and expansive hand-processed film" inspired by the 1930 novel The Molussian Catacomb. Co-presented by Cinema Project; director in attendance. Whitsell Auditorium.
Doctor Who: The Day of the Doctor
It's the 50th anniversary special of Doctor Who! (Don't get too excited, ladies; that really is just a sonic screwdriver in his pocket.) Various Theaters.
"We ran everything. We paid off cops. We paid off lawyers. We paid off judges. Everybody had their hands out. Everything was for the taking. And now it's all over." Laurelhurst Theater.
Grindhouse Film Festival
See My, What a Busy Week! Hollywood Theatre.
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
See review this issue. Every Theater Ever.
"The Warren Commission thought they had an open-and-shut case. Three bullets, one assassin." Academy Theater.
The Last Unicorn
See My, What a Busy Week! Hollywood Theatre.
As we gaze upon lovingly shot close-ups of the Tennessee River, we hear a familiar voice intoning empty platitudes. "'Magic,'" the voice says, "is the word that comes to mind when I think of Muscle Shoals. It's about alchemy, it's about turning metal... into gold." Is that an Irish accent we're detecting? Oh, jesus chri—is that fucking Bono? NED LANNAMANN Hollywood Theatre, Kiggins Theatre, Living Room Theaters.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
This 1975 adaptation of the novel by Oregonian Ken Kesey was Miloš Forman's big splash in American mainstream cinema, and won about a bazillion Oscars. Filmed in Salem, it's an incredibly bleak satire dealing with distribution of power; Forman, an exiled Czech, is preoccupied with the oppression of the individual at the hands of those in control—in this case, the nurses and doctors at an insane asylum. But it's a comedy, isn't it? Everybody I know laughs at it. Jack Nicholson mugs it up as a con artist posing as a lunatic to avoid hard time; his skewed mindset and goofball antics inject some life into the other crazies. Sure, it doesn't end well, but the movie isn't afraid to entertain even as it asks tough questions. NED LANNAMANN Hollywood Theatre.
Old TV, including 1972's TV movie Terror on the Beach, "about a family on a cross-country RV trip terrorized by a gang of sadistic hippies ENTIRELY ON A BEACH!" Hollywood Theatre.
See Film, this issue. Whitsell Auditorium.
"This isn't just about typos, tapes, staples, and pencils, is it, Lee?" Screens as part of the Hollywood Theater's "Broad Spectrum" series, and featuring a "demonstration on BDSM presented by She Bop's Annamarie and Wyatt"! Hollywood Theatre.
Soviets Plus Electricity
Nicolas Rey's 2002 "journey across Russia that ends deep in Siberia at the port town of Magadan—in Soviet times, a place synonymous with deportation." Co-presented by Cinema Project; director in attendance. Whitsell Auditorium.
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
"I hope that was an empty bottle, George! You can't afford to waste good liquor—not on your salary!" Fifth Avenue Cinema.