Arts + Scene » Screens

Hurt People

Baumbach and Stiller open emotional wounds, Freddy Krueger rips old ones




Opening at midnight Thursday pretty much everywhere is Iron Man 2, sequel to the 2008 summer blockbuster, with Robert Downey Jr. returning as gazillionaire Tony Stark, aka Iron Man, the guy with the really cool suit. This time director Jon Favreau (the guy from Swingers) has him cracking one-liners, wooing a cute new assistant (Scarlett Johansson), battling an evil Senator (Garry Shandling) and an evil arms manufacturer (Sam Rockwell) who's aided by a badass costumed superdude (Mickey Rourke with hair left over from The Wrestler, bad teeth and a worse Russian accent). Box office dominance guaranteed. Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence, and some language. Playing at the Broadway, Mill Creek, Minor and Fortuna.

For those of you who have difficulty diving thousands of feet into the depths of the sea, fear not. Directors Jacques Perrin and Jacques Cluzaud bring you Oceans, which claims to utilize the best and newest underwater filming techniques to bring you stunning images of the odd creatures that inhabit the deep. Rated G. 84m. At the Broadway.

On the much lower budget front there's the Arcata Theatre Lounge Sci-Fi Pint and Pizza Night Wednesday, May 12, featuring a pair of classic Roger Corman monster movies from 1959, The Wasp Woman and Attack of The Giant Leeches, along with sci-fi shorts, trailers, and "other psychotronic weirdness." The first is a tale of a cosmetic magnate who tries out her own product, a formula derived from wasps. Guess what happens. The title of Attack of the Giant Leeches pretty much says it all: Bloodsuckers are feeding on folks in the Florida Everglades. Did they supersize because of nukes at Cape Canaveral?

The concept of the Ocean Night Film Screening at the Arcata Theatre Lounge, presented the first Thursday of each month by Ocean Conservancy, Humboldt Surfrider and Humboldt Baykeeper, seems to be to lure them in with a surf flick, then educate 'em with something political. This time out they pair Thomas Campbell's Sprout, featuring hotshot surfers in exotic locations, with Farmed Salmon Exposed: The Global Reach of the Norwegian Salmon Farming Industry, a short by Canadian filmmaker Damien Gillis with a title that telegraphs its message. Doors at 6:30 p.m.; movies at 7 p.m. May 6.

This month's First Thursday Film Night at the Morris Graves Museum of Art is A Village Called Versailles, a documentary by S. Leo Chiang about a resilient community of Vietnamese refugees living on the east side of New Orleans and how they rebuilt after Katrina and unearthed a toxic landfill. The screening begins at 6 p.m. May 6, presented by KEET-TV and HSU and hosted by the Graves.


Nightmare on Elm Street: It's been 26 years and eight film bloodbaths since Wes Craven first introduced Freddy Krueger to our nightmares, and by golly, teenagers still think they can just sleep whenever they want to. Pff... kids. Thankfully, saintly blockbuster producer Michael Bay has bankrolled another gruesome anti-sleep public service announcement starring the knife-fingered horror icon. It's Friday night in America. Teens will die.

Let's be clear: The 2010 Nightmare is not a sequel but a reboot. What Batman Begins did for the Caped Crusader, this film is supposed to do for Fred, which might not be a bad idea. Seven of the eight previous Nightmares were released in the pre-Scream slasher-film dark ages and, since then, we horror moviegoers have greatly matured. Did I mention, this time around the horror gods hath blessed us with an Academy Award-nominated actor to disembowel the kiddies? Jackie Earle Haley, who received an Oscar-nod for 2006's Little Children, has replaced perma-Freddy Robert Englund as America's favorite murderous, supernatural burn victim. Also, Craven has handed over directorial duties to longtime music video master Samuel Bayer (Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" and Blind Melon's Bee Girl vid, to name a few.) Add nearly three decades of movie special effects advancement and this should be the hippest, sleekest, most-blood-splatteringest Nightmare yet. Right?

If only. While previous installments weren't exactly life-changing cinematic experiences, it's true what they say: You don't know what you've got 'til it's gone. I've seen most of Freddy's work at one point or another. Over time, Englund's Krueger became a campier self-parody, dishing out at-least-smirk-inducing one-liners as he chopped up young, scantily-clad blond things. But the new Krueger is so self-serious. Dude, we've got Jason Voorhees handling that department. Do we really have to wait until Nightmare on Elm Street XVI for Haley to settle in? Even though this film scared its way to the top of this weekend's box office, I doubt he'll get the chance. I mean, over 95 painful minutes, I counted three onscreen teen deaths (and one mom). This Freddy is phoning it in.

The plot (if you care) is virtually the same as the original 1984 film. They took some creative liberties -- Freddy's character now has its beginnings as a pedophile instead of simply an endearing child murderer -- and the teenagers on Elm Street have traded in their corded phones for cellular ones. But you know the story. The shape-shifting, dream-wrecking Krueger has returned to get his revenge on the children of parents who locked him in a building before setting it on fire. He picks off the young'uns one-by-one until the kids figure out the loophole by which they can drag him into the real world where he is no longer invincible. Oh, oops, spoiler alert. Whatever. You can't spoil milk that's been sitting on the radiator for 26 years any more. To quote Curtis Mayfield, Freddy's dead. Rated R for strong bloody horror violence, disturbing images, terror and language. 95m. At the Broadway, Fortuna, Minor and Mill Creek.

-- Andrew Goff

Greenberg: If I had to put a label on Greenberg I guess I'd call it a depressing comedy or, perhaps, a comedy about depression. At any rate, the viewer is unlikely to have any fuzzy feel-good thoughts when the film is over. In other words, this is my sort of romantic comedy/drama: The romance stalls hopelessly, the comedy is dark and the drama turns to therapy.

When we first see Roger Greenberg (a fine Ben Stiller), he has lost his job and isn't looking for a new one, unless you count building a dog house for his brother Phillip (Chris Messina) as gainful employment. He has just gotten out of a short stay in a mental institution due to some sort of breakdown, and after 15 years in New York he returns to Los Angeles to baby-sit Phillip's house (Phillip goes off to Vietnam with spouse and children for a vacation).

The house comes replete with a dog, thus the dog house. It also sort of comes with Florence Marr (an excellent, quirky Greta Gerwig), his brother's personal assistant who normally takes care of everything. Besides light carpentry, Greenberg's other main pursuit is hand-writing angry letters to Starbuck's and other corporate offenders.

A musician when younger, Greenberg looks up former band member and friend Ivan (Rhys Ifans). Their attempt to regain the closeness they once had is one of the two key relationships the film explores. It is during a conversation with Ivan that Greenberg's inner soul is revealed. "Youth is wasted on the young," invokes Ivan while the two are at a bar. Greenberg replies, "I'd go further. I'd go: life is wasted on people."

Exactly. So it is somewhat of a surprise that Greenberg and Florence, who sees herself as an upbeat person despite being dumped by a recent one-night stand, begin a relationship. It's not exactly a Hollywood romance. Greenberg is an old, narcissistic 40 while Florence is 25, sings occasionally at a bar and hangs out with friends at art galleries.

The "pursuit" on Greenberg's part seems less than half-hearted. He calls her when he needs someone to talk to (about himself, of course) and their physical relationship is fumbling, awkward and anything but passionate. In fact, the viewer may be puzzled as to why Florence bothers with Greenberg, who insults her casually and unknowingly.

His motivation is clear though: As with Ivan, he needs someone with whom he can attempt to define himself. He has no intrinsic interest in the person he is with. This attribute is well-known by ex-girlfriend Beth (Jennifer Jason Leigh in a brief but worthwhile appearance), who dismisses Greenberg without a second thought when they meet for lunch.

Director Noah Baumbach (The Squid and the Whale; Margot at the Wedding), who gets screenwriting credit as well from a story by spouse Leigh, takes a chance with this film. Greenberg, for the most part, is an out-and-out unlikable character ("Hurt people hurt people," he tells Florence after wounding her emotionally). But distasteful characters often tell us more about ourselves than the candy-coated stereotypes that commercial films usually deliver, and such is the case here.

Those expecting the usual comic performance from Stiller will be disappointed. But he seems to inhabit the character of Greenberg here. As for Gerwig, her performance is beautifully nuanced and fully formed.

Perhaps in the end, I enjoyed this film because in response to the question, "Is your glass half full or half empty," I normally reply, "It's completely empty." Greenberg would understand even if he couldn't empathize. Rated R for some strong sexuality, drug use, and language. 107m. At the Minor.

-- Charlie Myers


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.

THE BACK-UP PLAN. Jennifer Lopez decides that waiting for Mr. Right is taking too long and gets artificially inseminated. Rated PG-13. 104m. At the Broadway, Fortuna and Mill Creek.

CLASH OF THE TITANS. Release the Kraken! Rated PG-13. 118m. At the Broadway, Garberville, Mill Creek and Fortuna.

DATE NIGHT. Married couple portrayed by Steve Carrell and Tina Fey are reminded why they live in the suburbs, Rated PG-13. 88m. At Broadway and Mill Creek.

DEATH AT A FUNERAL. Chris Rock and Martin Lawrence mourn their father's death as wackiness ensues. Rated R. 91m. At the Broadway.

FURRY VENGEANCE. A real estate developer faces of with a band of angry animals. Brendan Fraser strikes again! Rated PG. 90m. At the Broadway 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 and Fortuna.

KICK-ASS. A teenaged comic book fanboy aspires to be a superhero. One problem. No superpowers. At the Broadway and Mill Creek.

**THE LOSERS.** Members of an elite U.S. Special Forces team are sent into the Bolivian jungle to find a really bad dude who wants to incite global war. Rated PG-13. 98m. At the Broadway and Mill Creek.


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