Weekend movie guide: See it or flee it?

If you're looking for an intense movie-going experience this weekend, try Martin Scorsese's Shutter Island or the climbing saga North Face. If you want a few laughs, the Oscar-nominated animated short films at the Lagoon could be just the ticket.


SEE: Shutter Island
Martin Scorsese's florid art shocker, about a U.S. marshal (Leo DiCaprio) and sidekick (Mark Ruffalo), who investigate a disappearance on an island prison for the criminally insane. (area theaters)
City Pages: "A length of 138 minutes is dangerously epic for a talky thriller, but since more attention has gone into filigreeing details into each scene than worrying about the way they'll fit together, the rattletrap engages you moment-to-moment."
Star Tribune: 2.5 stars Pioneer Press: 3 stars 67% positive

SEE: North Face
A dramatization of an epic, real-life attempt to scale the fearsome north face of the Eiger mountain, which became a Nazi obsession during the 1930s. (Uptown Theatre)
City Pages: "Shot on location, the film is slow, realistic, and excruciating in its latter stages. Benno Fürmann's stoic performance reduces the story to its harsh, true fundamentals."
Star Tribune: 3 stars Pioneer Press: 2.5 stars 86% positive

SEE: Oscar-Nominated Short Films 2010
These round-ups are always a mixed bag, but usually entertaining, and this year's Oscar nominees are no exception. In live action, look for The Door, a bruising true-life account of a Russian family's attempt to survive the Chernobyl disaster and save their ailing daughter; and the pick of the litter, the sublimely goofy, immensely funny Instead of Abracadabra, a "loser comedy" about an inept magician who dreams of wooing his lovely neighbor. Among the animated films, Granny O'Grimm's Sleeping Beauty is a one-joke bit about a cranky grandmother; the French Logorama is a visually arresting, very clever political commentary; and A Matter of Loaf and Death is Nick Park's latest crowd-pleasing Wallace and Gromit adventure. (Lagoon Cinema)

MAYBE: District 13: Ultimatum
Less a sequel than a remake of the exhilarating 2006 action flick that introduced parkour, the French run-and-jump urban obstacle sport, to American audiences. David Belle returns as the endlessly inventive ghetto acrobat who teams with an equally idealistic policeman to save the local ghetto from destruction by a greedy government security agency and evil corporation. (area theaters)
City Pages: "Ultimatum only works when at full sprint. The heroes aren't given enough stunts to enliven the talky intrigue."
Star Tribune: 2.5 stars Pioneer Press: 2 stars 72% positive

Next pages: Special screenings, art houses, and ongoing films

Flags of Our Fathers

Flags of Our Fathers


SEE: Contempt
Film geeks may be the primary audience for Jean-Luc Godard's 1963 masterpiece, a movie about the making of a movie and the unmaking of a marriage. Contempt maps out the gulfs between two squabbling pairs: a writer (Michel Piccoli) and actress (Brigitte Bardot) on the one hand, and a director (Fritz Lang, playing himself) and producer (Jack Palance) on the other. (Trylon Microcinema, Friday and Saturday at 7 and 9:05 p.m.)

SEE: Flags of Our Fathers
This first part of Clint Eastwood's diptych about the battle of Iwo Jima is also the biggest physical production of his career, and one of his best. The film's chief concern is the iconic AP photograph of six U.S. soldiers planting an American flag atop Iwo Jima's Mount Suribachi, and how the lives of the three who survived the battle (played by Ryan Phillippe, Jesse Bradford, and Adam Beach) were irrevocably altered by their newfound celebrity. (Followed by discussion with veterans of the battle for Iwo Jima.) (Pepito's Parkway Theater, Friday-Sunday at 2:30 p.m.)

SEE: The Room
The only reason to fork out your money it is to find out why this 2003 "black comedy" has earned a cult reputation as one of the most hypnotically awful movies ever made. The Room follows the relationships of five people, centered on a successful banker (Tommy Wiseau, who also directed and produced this vanity project) and his conniving fiancée. But audiences and critics agree that the acting is so jaw-droppingly wretched and the writing so laughably inept that the movie may be the apotheosis of "so bad it's good" filmmaking. (Uptown Theatre, Friday and Saturday at midnight)

Next page: Ongoing films


SEE: Crazy Heart
Jeff Bridges has become an Oscar favorite for his performance as Bad Blake, a washed-up honky-tonk hero who travels the country playing low-pay, low-turnout gigs with pickup bands half his age. But Bad's life starts getting better when a small-time journalist and single mom (Maggie Gyllenhaal) meets him for a rare interview. (area theaters)

SEE: Omnifest 2010
The Science Museum of Minnesota's annual extravaganza of giant-screen nature and cultural films runs through March 11. Each day the Omnitheater will show a rotating lineup of five films: on African elephants, a California kelp bed, Van Gogh's paintings, extreme skiing, and a visit to seven spectacular landscapes, from the Amazon River to Greenland icebergs. Visit for show times. (Science Museum of Minnesota)

SEE: The Last Station

This lushly scenic drama tells a story of the last days of Leo Tolstoy (a suitably grumpy Christopher Plummer), who apparently was a rich and randy old geezer who fought a love-hate war with his bipolar wife (Helen Mirren). (Edina Cinema)

SEE: That Evening Sun
First-time writer-director Scott Teems has given 84-year-old master actor Hal Holbrook a dream role in Abner Meecham, a Tennessean who walks out of a nursing home and returns to the remote farm where he spent his life. But when he to discovers that his son has rented the place to a local bad apple, he takes up residence in a rundown cabin nearby, triggering a volatile feud between the two men. (St. Anthony Main)

SEE: The White Ribbon
Critics have routinely called it a great film, and one of last year's best. But it's also severe and demanding. Set on the eve of World War I in a Protestant, still-feudal German village, it's a dark fable that presages the rise of Nazism--a story of the town's sullen children and an escalating series of inexplicable accidents recounted by the village schoolteacher 40 or 50 years later. (Uptown Theatre)

MAYBE: The Wolfman
It's got Benicio Del Toro, lush atmospherics, and chilling special effects, so it's probably on your list. But despite all the sound, fury, and unintentional camp, it's still bafflingly inert. (area theaters)

FLEE: From Paris With Love
Travolta, in all his compellingly horrible jivey splendor, plays a loose-cannon American field agent who teams up with a personal assistant to the U.S. Ambassador to France (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) to save the U.S. by blowing up France. (area theaters)

FLEE: Frozen
Three annoying skiers face death when they are trapped on a ski lift during a blizzard. The resort has closed, and a pack of wolves are circling below. (area theaters)

FLEE: Valentine's Day
Garry Marshall's embarrassingly star-studded stiff--an ensemble film of intertwining love stories--is long on talent but short on entertainment. (area theaters)

For more film ideas, capsule reviews, and showtimes, click here.