HEREAFTER. Clint Eastwood directs a supernatural tale from British screenwriter Peter Morgan (Frost/Nixon, The Queen). Matt Damon stars as a factory worker who can channel the dead and serve as a medium. 129m. Rated PG-13 for mature thematic elements, including disturbing disaster and accident images and brief strong language. Opening at the Broadway and Mill Creek.
PARANORMAL 2. Sequel to the very profitable low-budget ghost movie from last year has Katie (Katie Featherston) and Micah (Micah Sloat) returning for more supernatural shenanigans, again captured on a surveillance camera. 91m. Rated R for some language and brief violent material. Opening at the Broadway, Mill Creek, the Minor and the Fortuna.
IT'S KIND OF A FUNNY STORY. Thoughtful comedy about life in a mental ward written and directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck (Half Nelson, Sugar), based on Ned Vizzini's semi-autobiographical novel. Depressed teen Craig (Keir Gilchrist) checks himself into a psych hospital, where he's befriended by Bobby (Zach Galifianakis) and meets Noelle (Emma Roberts). 101m. Rated PG-13 for mature thematic issues, sexual content, drug material and language. Opening at the Broadway.
CATFISH. Buzz-generating documentary about a New York photographer who meets a woman via Facebook, then travels to Michigan to meet her in real life. We'll just say there are surprises involved. 94m. Rated PG-13 for some sexual references. Opening at the Broadway.
Between the Twilight series and True Blood, bloodsuckers are in. North Coast Rep's benefit Vampire Film Festival and Masquerade Ball Saturday at the Eureka Theater taps the vamp fad with screenings of Dracula, the classic 1931 version directed by Tod Browning starring Béla Lugosi as the Count, and Love at First Bite, a 1979 spoof with George Hamilton as Drac relocating to New York to chase Susan Saint James. They follow with the Ball, a costume thing where they'll work out whether Humboldt will "be ruled by an all-powerful vampire master and his minions or by the vampire princess and her court of nobles." (Election commentary?) For extra fun, the Bloodmobile will be parked out front. For real.
The Arcata Theatre Lounge skips movies in favor of music this week, but Sunday's show with The Billy Nayer Show includes a screening of the immensely clever BNS musical space-western serial Stingray Sam. The story finds lounge singer/cowboy Stingray Sam (Cory McAbee, aka Billy Nayer) teaming with sidekick The Quasar Kid on a mission to save a young girl from the clutches of a rich GMO baddy.
The Eureka Library's "Based on the Book" film series for October concludes Tuesday with The Spy Who Came In From The Cold, a moody, labyrinthine Cold War tale directed by Martin Ritt, based on a novel by John le Carre, about a British agent (Richard Burton) on a complex mission in East Germany. Wynston Jones serves as host.
-- Bob Doran
JACKASS 3-D. When the czar of Jackassdom, Johnny Knoxville, revealed in an interview with The Daily Show's Jon Stewart that his crew's latest outing, Jackass 3D, would be screened later that evening at New York's Museum of Modern Art, Stewart, the reigning lord of satire, appeared tickled by the seeming absurdity of the pairing. But later in their discussion, Stewart, who himself was described by the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz as "an important cultural arbiter," relented and commented on the choice to show a film full of self-imposed testicle injuries in the most prestigious modernist art facility in the nation with "Yeah, I could see that."
And so, here we are, America. Like it or not, Knoxville and crew have been as influential to this generation as the Three Stooges or Saturday Night Live were to previous ones, if not more. At this point, the crew has 10 years of nut slaps and feces play under their belts. Sorry, this "fad" ain't passin'.
Add to the Jackass phenomenon that for this new film they have co-opted Hollywood's latest, most-profitable novelty: 3D! And what does that marriage equal, friends? Megabucks. The film raked in over $50 million opening weekend. When we got to the 9:40 p.m. screening opening night at Eureka's Broadway Cinema, we were asked by Coming Attractions staff to scoot together since this screening, as was true of every screening that day, had sold out. Movies don't sell out like that in Humboldt County. Only cultural events.
But what of the film itself? Did it meet the "high bar" set by the previous two Jackass films? Well, yes and no. Very few of the stunts in J-3D are as imaginative as their predecessors. "Beehive Tetherball," "Lamborghini Tooth Pull," "Gorilla in the Hotel Room," "Penis Peeing Cam," "Pin the Tail on the Donkey" and "Dildo Gun" are all perfectly fine and hilarious (and need no further description) but lack the unexpected reactions and plot twists of the best skits -- "Bee Limo" or "Terrorist Taxicab," for example -- in the last two movies. Think back to the pure human drama-coaster that was "Toy Car Up the Ass" in the first film. Priceless! Nothing in J-3D comes close.
But, in the end, none of that matters. Dude, the movie was in 3D. Since the Jackass experience is all about gimmick anyway, that alone sustains it. "Like." Rated R. 95m. At the Broadway, Fortuna, the Minor and Mill Creek.
-- Andrew Goff
RED. Based on the trailer, I had very negative expectations for this film. In fact, I already had a tentative lede for the review having something to do with geezers and guns. But shortly after Red began, Mary-Louise Parker appeared on the screen and all of my resistance melted away.
As it turns out, thanks to Parker and the rest of the talented cast, along with director Robert Schwentke, who never lets the story lag, Red is enjoyable if mindless entertainment. Firmly in spy/romance send-up mode, the film is along the lines of the recent release Salt but takes itself even less seriously.
The particular gimmick here is a collection of retired over-50 CIA agents who find themselves the target of an in-house elimination team, which provides the narrative reason for them to become a team again themselves. In a nice touch, it's set in motion by a romance established as the film opens. Retired agent Frank Moses (a solid Bruce Willis) talks on the phone to Sarah Ross (Parker) in Kansas City about his missing retirement checks (which we see him tear up). When Frank travels to Kansas City to see Sarah, the attempted assassination of both makes for a unique first date.
For my taste, Parker is the best comic film actor around, as the TV series Weeds has demonstrated. She and Willis have competent help from Karl Urban, Rebecca Pigeon, Helen Mirren, Morgan Freeman and others. "Red" is an acronym for "retired extremely dangerous" which, of course, describes me. As if. Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of action violence and brief strong language. 111m. At the Broadway, Mill Creek and Fortuna.
-- Charlie Myers
LET ME IN. Let Me In is an American remake of the 2008 Swedish film Let the Right One In, from the novel by John Ajvide Lindqvist. I was not one of the approximately 3 million viewers in this country who saw the original, probably because I don't live in New York or Los Angeles. In any case, I thought this film from writer/director Matt Reeves (Cloverfield) was rather effective.
Set in 1980s New Mexico, the story centers on the relationship between 12-year-old Owen (a very good Kodi Smit-McPhee, The Road) and Abby (an equally effective Chloe Moretz, Kick-Ass) who is, we soon discover, a vampire. In this regard, the film is as much a coming-of-age story as it is the usual vampire film. In fact, it is the development of the relationship between Owen and Abby, even after he realizes her true nature, that makes it interesting. The vampire stuff is fairly standard fare; its main contribution is to nicely complicate matters between the two.
Owen is generally ignored by his divorcing mother (his father is only an infrequent phone presence) and spends his time looking at a neighbor woman from his bedroom through a telescope. Bullied at school, he meets Abby, who tries to warn him off. But the course of true love is not to be deterred as the film wends its way to a very satisfying conclusion. Richard Jenkins has a nice turn as Abby's father. Let Me In is well worth seeing. Rated R for strong bloody horror violence, language and a brief sexual situation. 116m. At the Broadway.
-- Charlie Myers
DEVIL. Based on a story by M. Night Shyamalan and adapted for screen by Brian Nelson, Devil provides a nice challenge for director John Erick Dowdle and the cast -- not to mention the camera operator, as the core story takes place inside a disabled elevator stuck between floors in a high-rise building. It is presumably the first of a trilogy entitled The Night Chronicles.
The genre might best be described as a religious-themed horror thriller. Beginning with an apparent suicide when a worker jumps out a window of the building, the story soon centers on five strangers caught in the elevator along with the detective (Chris Messina) called in to investigate and Ramirez (Jacob Vargas), who tells the detective that the Devil is present.
Of course, all five of the trapped individuals (Bokeem Woodbine, Jenny O'Hara, Geoffrey Arend, Logan Marshall-Green and Bojana Novakovic) have suspicious backgrounds. When very strange and dire things begin to occur inside the elevator, the situation becomes increasingly tense. The film is reasonably effective without being particularly distinguished and it is clearly rooted in Old Testament sensibility. Rated PG-13 for violence and disturbing images, thematic material and some language including sexual references. 80m. At the Broadway.
-- Charlie Myers
EASY A. A teenager's white lie about losing her virginity hurts her social standing. Mega bummer. Rated PG-13. 93m. At the Garberville.
LEGENDS OF THE GUARDIANS: THE OWLS OF GA'HOOLE. CGI-animated owl wars -- in 3-D! Rated PG. 90m. At the Broadway, Garberville, Fortuna and Mill Creek.
LIFE AS WE KNOW IT. An unlikely couple have to put their differences aside to care for their shared goddaughter. Adorable. Rated PG-13. 115m. At the Broadway, Mill Creek and Fortuna.
SECRETARIAT. This is a different movie than Seabiscuit. Barely. Rated PG. 123m. At the Broadway, Fortuna and Mill Creek.
THE SOCIAL NETWORK. You'll want to click "Like." Rated PG-13. 121m. At the Broadway, Mill Creek and the Minor.
THE TOWN. Ben Affleck stars as a bank robber who becomes romantically involved with one of his victims. That's when you know you're irresistable. Rated R. 112m. At the Broadway.