Opening Friday, Oct. 9, Vince Vaughn leads a group of married friends to a tropical island resort in Couples Retreat. They soon discover that participation in the hotel's couples therapy is not optional. It could be a horror movie plot, but it's Vince Vaughn, so let's guess comedy. Rated PG-13 for sexual content and language. 108m. At Broadway and Mill Creek.
CAPITALISM: A LOVE STORY: Michael Moore strives to live up to the logo for Fox News: "fair and balanced." As such, his documentaries are unapologetically partisan and his humor only adds to the sting. In a series of films about aspects of American society, he has always had his "bad guys." In Roger & Me it was GM, in Bowling for Columbine our love affair with guns, in Sicko the health industry, and now with Capitalism: A Love Story he takes on what may be the root cause of the disease eating away at our country.
The film begins with clever interspersed archival images of past aspects of our history with images from the recent economic meltdown. This is not a careful, detailed examination of the causes of the financial collapse, the bailouts or repossessed houses. Rather, it is a call to action for "ordinary" Americans to rise up and overthrow the evil that is called capitalism.
No one gets excited by flow charts or dissertations on derivatives. What does arouse people are pictures of families being evicted from their homes combined with the news that bailout money is being used to give out bonuses to top executives of collapsed institutions, and the humorous depiction of "experts" trying and failing to explain the concept of derivatives. And even though the film only skims the surface of the complex situation, I did learn at least one thing I had never heard of before: companies buying insurance policies for their employees and making themselves the beneficiaries. Wal-Mart called such deceased employees "dead peasants."
Growing up in a working class family, I have always had a perhaps unreasonable bias against the wealthy. Once when running with a group, I remarked that rich people did more harm to the world than anything else I could think of, causing one runner to speed up and leave the group. This was no doubt a gratuitous and ill-considered remark, but Moore's film is equally negative toward the rich. From my experience, our society has always been about class warfare, and the same class keeps winning.
A bonus for me in Capitalism was the images of the recently departed Bush; every time I get disappointed in Obama, I'll conjure them up and give our President another chance.
Like a less subtle Bertolt Brecht, Moore calls upon viewers at film's end to follow him and don't wait too long. Maybe it will happen before we all become dead peasants. Rated R for some language. At Broadway and Minor.
-- Charlie Myers
WHIP IT: For Drew Barrymore's first feature as a director, she surprises with a funny and endearing film. Hilarious characters like the team coach, played by Andrew Wilson, older brother of Owen and Luke, and the bout announcer, Jimmy Fallon, are just a small sample of the characters that make this an appealing low-budget style flick, that bypasses the typical stereotypes for a more fun and accurately depicted set of roller derby individuals.
When we first meet Bliss Cavendar (Ellen Page) she is an awkward girl, hiding behind glasses and a quiet voice. Strangely enough, she also dons contacts and a fancy dress to reluctantly follow in the footsteps of her beauty queen mother (Marcia Gay Harden). She and her best friend Pash (Alia Shawkat) work as waitresses at a local BBQ joint with a giant pig on top and a special called the squealer. Their friendship goes through some memorable moments, like their rendition of the White Stripes song "Jolene," changed to Bodeen, the name of the tiny nowhere Texas town they live in.
Bliss finds a way of dealing with her small-town misery after she discovers a roller derby league in nearby Austin. After going to her first bout, she is hooked. Mingling in the crowd after, she approaches Maggie Mayhem (Kristen Wiig) and tells her that the derby girls are her new heroes, at which point Maggie Mayhem tells her to be her own hero and try out for the team. Bliss answers with, "The last time I wore skates, they had Barbies on them." She goes home inspired and the next day digs those skates out.
After trying out in her "Barbie" skates, she joins the Hurl Scouts and we meet the producer Drew Barrymore in her actress role as Smashley Simpson. Along with Smashley are many other characters inspired by the memoir of Shauna Cross, a Los Angeles Derby Dolls member who also wrote the script. Representative of derby are the unique and often creative names the players have, along with the hard-hitting action. Derby women are tough, confident athletes who can hit and get hit on the track, and then compare bruises over beers afterward. They come from all walks of life and the movie certainly represents that.
How Bliss deals with lying to her family about roller derby and meeting her new derby family is heartwarming and surprisingly refreshing. There is some teenage "first love" that weaves in here and there (the pool scene being a bit awkward), but it leads to a great talk between mother and daughter after boy breaks girl's heart. Father Earl (Daniel Stern) delivers throughout the movie and as he and Bliss learn more about each other, a great father-daughter bond is formed leading to some good laughs. The younger sister gets a great derby makeover and even one of the beauty contestants benefits from Bliss joining derby.
Iron Maven (Juliette Lewis) perfectly portrays the part of Bliss' nemesis. Eventually this comes to a head when the Hurl Scouts get themselves into the championship game against the undefeated Holy Rollers. The action is nonstop and if after leaving the movie you find yourself craving more, don't forget to support your local roller derby league. The next bout is Oct. 24. So, if you like hard-hitting action, or you just dug out that old pair of skates, or maybe you feel the need to referee the action, check out humboldtrollerderby.com.
Whip It delivers a solid three stars out of four. A feel good film that touches the heart strings and makes you want to watch it again to get all the good quotes. Rated PG-13. 111m. At Broadway.
-- Stacey "Exstacey" Campbell, Humboldt Roller Derby
9. In a post-apocalyptic world, a group of like beings takes on the machines intent on their extinction. Rated PG-13. 79m. At Broadway, Mill Creek.
ALL ABOUT STEVE. Sandra Bullock makes crosswords for a living and is set up on a blind date with cameraman Thomas Haden Church. Hilarity ensues. Rated PG-13. 99m. At the Movies and Mill Creek.
CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS. Based on the beloved children's book where it rains food. The cure for the recession? Rated PG. 90m. At Broadway, Fortuna and Mill Creek.
DISTRICT 9. What will humanity do with the aliens of South Africa? Rated R. 120m. At the Movies.
FAME. Musical remake about high school students who want to "make it big." Lots of singing. Rated PG. 107m. At Fortuna, Broadway and Mill Creek.
INFORMANT! Matt Damon gains weight and plays a whistleblower who exposes his company's price-fixing scheme to the FBI. Rated R. 108m. At Broadway and Mill Creek.
ICE AGE: DAWN OF THE DINOSAURS. The gang makes a rescue mission for Sid that takes them into a mysterious underground world where they have close encounters with dinos and generally run amuck. Rated PG. 87 m. At The Movies.
INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS. A special unit of Jewish-American soldiers is sent behind enemy lines to spread shock and awe among German troops in Nazi-occupied France in Quentin Tarantino's latest film. 153m. At Broadway.
INVENTION OF LYING. In a world where no one has ever lied, someone starts lying. Hilarity ensues. Rated PG-13. 88m. At Broadway and the Minor.
JENNIFER'S BODY. Megan Fox stars as a demon-possessed high-schooler with an insatiable appetite. Rated R. 103m. At the Movies.
JULIE & JULIA. Two chicks for the price of a flick! N. Ephron intersperses Julia Child biopic with tale of bored 30-something New Yorker seeking inspiration. Rated PG-13. 123m. At the Movies.
LOVE HAPPENS. Jennifer Aniston and Aaron Eckhart jump on the romantic-comedy train. Rated PG-13. 109m. At Fortuna and the Movies.
PANDORUM. Astronauts awaken on their spaceship unsure of their whereabouts and mission but become aware of a deep rumbling emanating from somewhere aboard. Rated R. 106m. At the Movies.
PONYO. "The Little Mermaid" through the lens of Japanese animation Rated G. 103m. At the Movies.
SURROGATES. Bruce Willis is an FBI agent with a murder to solve in a future utopia where people are represented in society by robotic representations. Rated PG-13. 89m. At Broadway, Mill Creek and Fortuna.
TOY STORY & TOY STORY 2 IN 3D. Double-feature. How much Pixar can you handle, folks? Test your limits. Rated G. 183m. At Broadway and Fortuna.
ZOMBIELAND. Woody Harrelson hilariously blows peoples heads off. Kinda like Natural Born Killers except they're already dead. Rated R. 88m. At Broadway, Mill Creek, the Minor and Fortuna.