Weekend movie guide: See it or flee it?
The best movie opening this week was made 60 years ago (Kurosawa's classic Rashomon). You'll take your chances with the others, though there's one movie to avoid this Valentine's Day: Valentine's Day.
SEE: Rashomon The Lagoon unwraps a new print of this 1950 Kurosawa classic, which remains the definitive big-screen statement of the relativity of truth--as well as the best-known Japanese movie ever made. The story is simple: In 12th-century Kyoto, a ruthless bandit (Toshiro Mifune) ambushes a samurai warrior (Masayuki Mori) and his wife (Machiko Kyo), tying the man to a tree and raping the woman. But how exactly does the samurai die and the wife disappear? The bandit, wife, an eyewitness, and even the dead samarai all have different versions of what happened. (Lagoon Cinema)
MAYBE: Creation City Pages was kinder than other critics to this film about Charles Darwin's writing of On the Origin of Species. It's not just a treatise on evolution, but a human story of Darwin's grief over the death of his favorite daughter and his somewhat distant love for his wife. (Edina Cinema) City Pages: "Creation commits the sin of thoughtfulness, and is quite moving in the process. ... A visually lovely, solidly tasteful period piece. ... Paul Bettany is note-perfect as Darwin." Star Tribune: 1.5 stars Pioneer Press: 1 star RottenTomatoes.com: 44% positive
MAYBE: Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief A modern-day teenager (Logan Lerman) discovers that he is the son of the Greek god Poseidon, and that the Olympian gods are in an uproar because someone has stolen Zeus's lightning bolt. Pursued as a suspect, he embarks on a cross-country trip with his friends to track down the lightning thief and find his mother, who has mysteriously disappeared. (area theaters) City Pages: "The film doesn't have any traits that qualify as having an actual personality. Even so, as long as the kiddies aren't too upset by the major liberties reportedly taken with the source material, it might be enough to distract them until Harry returns." Star Tribune: 2.5 stars Pioneer Press: 3 stars RottenTomatoes.com: 54% positive
MAYBE: The Wolfman It's got Benicio Del Toro, lush atmospherics, and chilling special effects, so it's probably on your list, but don't be surprised if you come out less than blown away. After acclaimed actor Lawrence Talbot (Del Toro) receives a letter from his brother's fiancee (Emily Blunt) informing him of his sibling's disappearance, he hightails it to the sprawling home of his estranged family, only to be bitten by the creature who did in his brother. (area theaters) City Pages: "The Wolfman is full of sound, fury, and unintentional camp--and it's still bafflingly inert." Star Tribune: 3 stars Pioneer Press: 2 stars RottenTomatoes.com: 31% positive
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) City Pages: "With so many stars and only so much celluloid to fill, each boldface name has barely more than a cameo's worth of screen time--hardly enough for even the Oscar winners (Jamie Foxx, Julia Roberts) to fully flesh out a character." Star Tribune: 2.5 stars Pioneer Press: 1.5 stars RottenTomatoes.com: 16% positive Next pages: Special screenings, art houses, and ongoing films
SEE: Gaslight Many movie fans prefer this 1940 version (starring Anton Walbrook, Diana Wynyard, and Frank Pettingell) to the more famous 1944 remake with Charles Boyer and Ingrid Bergman. A woman is persuaded by her husband to move back into the abandoned house where she lived as a child with her aunt, who was murdered there. The woman is unsettled by mysterious goings-on in the house, and her husband tries to convince her she is having a nervous breakdown. Meanwhile, a former detective in town believes that the woman's husband looks a lot like the aunt's nephew from years before, and he begins to investigate. (Heights Theatre, Monday at 7:30 p.m.)
SEE: Rebecca Alfred Hitchcock's first Hollywood film and his only picture to receive an Academy Award. Hitchcock treats Daphne du Maurier's gothic page-turner with all the heady importance of a psychological thriller, while at the same time smirking just a bit at the naive characters and the occasionally gushy dialogue. A young woman (Joan Fontaine) marries elegant, older widower Maxim de Winter (Laurence Olivier), but when she moves into her husband's estate, one of the servants, a bone-chilling woman who preferred Maxim's first wife, is determined to drive her away. (Heights Theatre, Sunday at 7:30 p.m.) MAYBE: 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her Cinephiles (but maybe only cinephiles) will drool over this 1967 Jean-Luc Godard masterpiece that uses the skeleton of a story about a suburban housewife who works in Paris as a prostitute to flesh out a wide range of musings about contemporary culture, human nature, and consumer society. (Trylon Microcinema, Friday and Saturday at 7 and 8:50 p.m.)
SEE: Avatar The money is on the screen in James Cameron's mega-3-D, mondo-CGI, more-than-a-quarter-billion-dollar baby, about a group of Sky People (Americans) who launch a military operation to strip-mine a precious element on the planet of Pandora. (area theaters)
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 www.smm.org 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)
FLEE: From Paris With Love Travolta, in all his compellingly horrible, jivey splendor, plays a loose-cannon American field agent who teams 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)
For more film ideas, capsule reviews, and showtimes, click here.
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