- Last Song
Happily, The Ghost Writer is being held over and will play at the Broadway and Minor.
Opening Friday, April 9, is Date Night, a comedy starring Tina Fey and Steve Carell as a couple whose relationship has grown stale. Visiting a trendy Manhattan restaurant to add some zest, they are thrown into a madcap adventure when they impersonate another couple. Costarring Mark Wahlberg, James Franco, Ray Liotta and Mark Ruffalo. Rated PG-13 for sexual and crude content throughout, language, some violence and a drug reference. 88m. At the Broadway, Fortuna and Mill Creek.
Wynston Jones hosts Heaven Knows Mr. Allison (1957), the second in the Eureka Library John Huston series. The film stars Robert Mitchum and Deborah Kerr as a marine and a nun who form a relationship after being shipwrecked on a South Pacific island in 1944. The program begins at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 13.
Oldies-but-goodies at the Arcata Theater Lounge this week include the Nineteen Eighty-Four-ish film Brazil (1985) directed by Terry Gilliam showing on Sunday, Apr. 11 at 6 p.m. Also, ’50s B-sci-fi fans won't want to miss the chance to be horrified by both The Giant Gila Monster (1959) and The Killer Shrews (1959) on Wednesday, Apr. 14 at 6 p.m.
THE LAST SONG: The Last Song is basically a coming-of-age story with the familiar Nicholas Sparks emotional overload. Apparently, Sparks and a co-writer developed the film script before he wrote the novel, following negotiations with Disney, which wanted a vehicle for Miley Cyrus. In development, the film was known as "The Untitled Miley Cyrus Project."
Indeed, the story seems tailored for Cyrus, who gets to run the gamut of emotions through various story threads that include the estranged father/daughter, general teen alienation, summer romance, encounters with evil beach girls, saving turtle eggs, befriending an abused young woman with a poor self-image and coming to grips with mortality. This list just touches on the main lines.
The story begins with the heroine's mother (Kelly Preston) delivering Ronnie (Cyrus) and her younger brother Jonah (Bobby Coleman) to Georgia, where they will spend the summer with her father, Steve (Greg Kinnear). While Jonah is elated to see his dad, Ronnie -- just graduated from high school -- still blames him for the divorce and for deserting her. As a result, she spends the first part of the film scowling, an expression that carries over to the local beach scene.
Eventually though, over a night spent guarding turtle eggs from raccoons, one of the beach hunks, Will (Liam Hemsworth), breaks through her defenses, beginning the young romance.
Along the way, she has to deal with the possibility that her dad may be an arsonist and with unfriendly local natives and raccoons. In fact, Sparks throws in so many gut-wrenching situations that the story loses the intensity it might have had. I haven't even mentioned, for example, that although she is a piano prodigy, she rejects an offer from Julliard.
Cyrus is an appealing screen presence, although she brings a very limited palette to her character -- not that complexity or subtlety is needed for a Sparks character. Kinnear, as the father, is the only actor who brings welcome shades to his role, even if it is generally wasted in this sea of sentimental excess and predictability.
But so some disgruntled old codger couldn't get into this film. Fans of Miley Cyrus and Nicholas Sparks will no doubt love it, and that's how it should be. Rated PG for thematic material, some violence, sensuality and mild language. 107m. At the Broadway and Mill Creek.
CHLOE: Atom Egoyan, who was born in Egypt but was raised and lives in Canada, has always been an interesting filmmaker. The first film I remember from him was Exotica, released in 1994, where a man watches his girlfriend perform at a nightclub each evening.
Chloe is adapted from the 2003 French film Nathalie starring Emmanuelle Béart and Gérard Depardieu. The story idea is simple: Catherine (Julianne Moore) suspects her husband, David, of cheating on her. Catherine is feeling her age and she continually observes her husband David (Liam Neeson), who appears to be a very popular professor, flirting with female servers at restaurants or e-mailing his female students, one of whom had written "Thanks for last night." Meanwhile, their own relationship seems totally non-intimate and she can no longer communicate with her son, Michael (Max Thieriot).
Having observed a woman outside her window who appears to be a high-class "escort," Catherine approaches her with a business proposition. The woman is Chloe (Amanda Seyfried), and Catherine wants her to try to seduce David to see how he reacts. As any viewer instantly suspects, Catherine gets a lot more than she bargains for and the situation becomes increasingly complex and eventually dangerous.
Chloe initially reports that David kisses her. When Catherine continues to pay her to approach her husband, Chloe reports in detail an increasing sexual relationship, the relating of which appears to turn on Catherine, as Chloe notes. To say more would be a spoiler.
Chloe is not Egoyan's best film. To no small degree, it is soft-core porno with an artsy overlay (and Egoyan is expert at classy compositions and lighting). Furthermore, the plot ends up becoming something of a melodrama.
Despite these reservations, Chloe is a lot more interesting than most of the films I see these days. In large part, this is due to some very fine performances, particularly that by Seyfried as the title character. Seyfried has an incredibly expressive face and she uses that quality to give complexity and interest to her character. She is the main reason to see the film. Nathalie may have been a better film (the French seem to thrive on these situations) but the acting in Chloe makes it worth a visit. Rated R for strong sexual content including graphic dialogue, nudity and language. 96m.
CLASH OF THE TITANS: There has been a lot of time travel in films lately, so when I went to Clash of the Titans I imagined I had closed my eyes and awakened back in the 1950s. Unfortunately, it did not prove to be a pleasant trip.
Clash invokes all of the mechanics of the ’50s historical spectacles without any of the pleasures. I should note that I skipped the 3-D version, having been completely disappointed with my only experience with that gimmick so far with the recent Alice in Wonderland. (At any rate, the effects in Clash were added after the fact.)
Even the 1981 film, which also featured a toney cast (including Laurence Olivier, Claire Bloom and Maggie Smith), had a sense of its own ridiculousness. This version, directed by Louis Leterrier, takes itself very seriously. As Perseus, Sam Worthington, looking like a college quarterback, adopts a grim and determined look. Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes as Zeus and Hades barely show up. And Gemma Arterton as Io looks like she wandered by accident into a fraternity theme bash.
When I think that a lot of people are going to plunk down money to see this trash in 3-D, I sort of get depressed. But then I think of possible future hologram productions and I get all hopeful again. Rated PG-13 for fantasy action violence, some frightening images and brief sensuality. 118m. At the Broadway (2D/3D), Mill Creek, Minor and Fortuna.
ALICE IN WONDERLAND. Johnny Depp and Tim Burton's very public love affair takes a journey down the rabbit hole. Rated PG. 101m. At the Broadway and Mill Creek.
AVATAR. Military forces attempt to control and exploit a region and its people, which they know little about. Rated PG-13. 162m. At the Broadway.
BOUNTY HUNTER. A professional bounty hunter gets his dream assignment when he is called on to track down his bail-jumping ex-wife. Rated 111m. At the Broadway, Mill Creek and Fortuna.
DIARY OF A WIMPY KID. A young boy in middle school deals with the horrors of adolescence. Based on the best-selling illustrated novel by Jeff Kinney. Rated PG. 101m. At the Broadway, Fortuna and Mill Creek.
THE GHOST WRITER. A successful British ghostwriter agrees to complete the memoirs of a former Prime Minister. Rated PG-13. 128m. At the Broadway and the Minor.
HOT TUB TIME MACHINE. It's a not your average hot tub. ’Nuff said. Rated R. 99m. At the Broadway, Fortuna and Mill Creek.
HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON. A Viking teenager has trouble fitting in with his tribe until he gets a dragon. Rated PG. 98m. At the Broadway, Mill Creek, Fortuna and the Minor.
SHE'S OUT OF MY LEAGUE. Nerd is a TSA agent at the airport. Babe loses her phone in his line. Nerd helps babe get her phone back. Commence unlikely relationship. Rated R. 105m. At the Broadway.
TYLER PERRY'S WHY DID I GET MARRIED TOO? Four couples convene in the Bahamas and enjoy wedded bliss. Or not. Rated PG-13. 124m. At the Broadway.
THE WOLFMAN. Benicio Del Toro has a bad hair day. Rated R. 102m. At Garberville.