Don’t Miss the New Film at the Crest, Plus Reviews of Argo and Cloud Atlas
by Chris Narloch
Americans are obviously in love with sequels. I guess the idea is that if you saw it and liked it the first time, then why wouldn’t you enjoy “Taken 2” or “Paranormal Activity 4”?
Unfortunately, both those sequels are dunderheaded and inferior -- they exist only to squeeze a few more dollars out of franchises that were never that great to begin with.
Despite their ineptitude, both “Taken 2” and “PA4” claimed the number one spot at the box office their first weekends of release.
In case you were one of the unlucky souls who wasted their money on those movies, here are some other better films I can recommend you see this weekend.
Yes, “Argo” really is as good as they say. It’s a shame that this fine, fact-based film was not able to top the box office, but it did hold on to the number two spot for the first two weeks of its domestic release.
That’s not bad for a political thriller that some potential moviegoers may dismiss as a boring history lesson. “Argo” is anything but boring; in fact, it’s a far more exciting adventure than the fictional goings-on in the big budget fantasy film “Cloud Atlas,” which I review below.
Ben Affleck, looking very handsome with longish hair and a full beard, is the star and the director of “Argo,” which details the now-declassified story of six U.S. Embassy employees who were secretly rescued from Iran during the height of the 1979 hostage crisis.
Affleck does dynamite work here, both as an actor and a director, and he surrounds himself with an excellent cast that includes Alan Arkin, Bryan Cranston, Victor Garber, and John Goodman.
The script cranks up the suspense unnecessarily and somewhat fictitiously at the climax of the movie, but the rest of “Argo” is funny, informative, and fascinating.
If violent and bloody dark comedies are more your cup of tea, “Seven Psychopaths” is a strangely satisfying brew with an eclectic cast that includes Colin Farrell, Christopher Walken, and Tom Waits, among others.
Walken is especially fun as a deadbeat “dognapper,” and Woody Harrelson chews the scenery enjoyably as perhaps the most psychopathic of the seven. Colin Farrell just has to stand there and look hot, something he excels at.
You could also check out “Pitch Perfect,” a brainless popcorn movie that plays like a feature-length, big screen episode of “Glee.” A searing expose (just kidding) about the world of acapella college choirs, the film boasts a predictable storyline, many familiar songs, some entertaining musical sequences, and a very talented cast of comic actresses – including the adorable Anna Kendrick and the uproarious Rebel Wilson – that deserves better.
Documentaries are alive and well at Sacramento’s Crest Theatre, and that midtown movie palace has been showing some great ones this year, including “The Queen of Versailles” and, most recently, “Detropia.”
Don’t miss one of the most important docs to reach Sacramento this year, when “How To Survive A Plague” opens at the Crest on Friday, October 26.
There’s no guarantee that the movie will play for more than a week so don’t wait. Every gay person in Sacramento should see this riveting, important film.
“How To Survive A Plague” is the story of two coalitions -- ACT UP and TAG (Treatment Action Group) -- whose activism and innovation helped turn AIDS from a death sentence into a manageable condition.
Despite having no scientific training, these self-made activists infiltrated the pharmaceutical industry and helped identify promising new drugs, moving them from experimental trials to patients in record time.
The outspoken queer writer Larry Kramer and many other brave men and women, both gay and straight, who took to the streets to protest the silence surrounding the crisis during this period were some of the bravest allies the LGBT community has ever seen.
Those warriors deserve our respect, and with this powerful documentary film directed by David France, they are at last receiving the recognition they deserve.
With unlimited access to a treasure trove of never-before-seen archival footage from the 1980s and '90s, France puts the viewer smack in the middle of the controversial actions, the heated meetings, the heartbreaking failures, and the exciting breakthroughs.
Also at The Crest, for one night only, the Trash Film Orgy folks celebrate Halloween with “A Nightmare on Trash Street,” happening October 31. TFO will present the original film in the “A Nightmare on Elm Street” franchise, in glorious 35 mm, plus games, contests, prizes, candy, beer, and much, much more.
For more information, visit www.thecrest.com.
If you haven’t seen “Searching For Sugar Man” yet, get thee to the Tower before that dynamite documentary leaves town. The film is an extremely moving puzzle about Sixto Rodriguez, a very talented singer-songwriter who never quite made it in the ‘70s but became a hero to the South African anti-apartheid movement without even knowing it. This is a fascinating true story with a lot of lovely music.
Next up at The Tower is “Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has To Travel,” another acclaimed documentary about one of the most influential women of the 20th century.
During her fifty-year reign as the “Empress of Fashion,” Vreeland launched Twiggy, advised Jackie O., and was the fashion editor of Harper’s Bazaar and the editor in chief of Vogue.
The Esquire IMAX
I have a soft spot for directors who dream big and seek to wow audiences with large-scale, fantastical entertainments – movies like Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey,” Steven Spielberg’s “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” and James Cameron’s “Avatar.”
So I was very much looking forward to the latest epic film from the Wachowski’s, the directing duo responsible for “The Matrix” movies. Co-directed with the great Tom Tykwer, of “Run Lola Run” fame, “Cloud Atlas” is, alas, an extremely ambitious failure made by very talented people whose hearts were in the right place, even if their good sense was not.
Based on an acclaimed novel of the same name, “Cloud Atlas” is almost three hours long and feels even longer, with actors such as Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, and Susan Sarandon playing up to six different characters in multiple storylines that take place all around the globe during various time periods.
The storyline involving a same-sex love between a poor, young composer and another man in 1930s England and the one about a female replicant in futuristic Seoul have moments of real power, but the film, despite a great deal of heavy lifting by its three visionary directors, never really comes together as it should.
Cinemark Classic Series
The Cinemark movie theater chain continues to show classic movies, back on the big screen and digitally restored. On Halloween, you can see Mel Brooks’ classic horror spoof “Young Frankenstein;” on November 7, it’s “The Great Escape,” starring sexy Steve McQueen; and “The Sting,” with Robert Redford and Paul Newman, screens on November 14. Visit www.Cinemark.com.