Dance Flick There are so many Wayans family members listed in the credits of the parody film Dance Flick it's got to be a joke. It's a fitfully funny spoof of the subgenre of urban hip-hop/R&B dance melodramas satirizes Stomp the Yard, How She Move, Roll Bounce, Step Up 2 the Streets. Not that such dancerz-n the-hood programmers don't deserve it or are somehow beyond parody. But there just isn't much sport in knocking Honey off its perch. Main achievement for the Wayanses would seem to be delivering their lampoons within the confines of a PG-13 rating (they nearly got an NC-17 for their original cut of Scary Movie). Flick mainly burlesques 2000's Save the Last Dance, with shoutouts to Fame, Hairspray, Dreamgirls, Halle Berry's driving mishaps etc. After family tragedy, would-be ballerina Megan (Shoshana Bush) attends a showbizzy inner-city Musical High School and strikes up interracial romance with Thomas (Damon Wayans Jr.), a classmate whose "crew" participates in dance-offs at the nearby Club Violence. Team Wayans have some fun with the cliches, like one young thug so at-risk he literally has guns for hands. Fans who wait for home-video they can freeze-frame on gags like the acceptance letter to "Jus' Community College." Still, sticking to hip-hop seems to have left a number of potential juicy targets out in the cold; no mocking Footloose, Shall We Dance, Dirty Dancing, not even Rent. Nor is there any poking fun at the painfully-obvious use of body doubles for the overblown dance numbers, as Keenan Ivory Wayans once did with stuntmen in his breakthrough blaxploitation mockery I'm Gonna Git You Sucka. For the Wayans at their best, check out the archived episodes of the In Living Color TV show on DVD. **(Charles Cassady Jr.)
Medicine for Melancholy (US, 2008) Shot in digital video in San Francisco, the first feature by 29-year-old writer/director Barry Jenkins is an affecting, beautifully played African-American spin on Richard Linklater's epochal Before Sunrise. After what they both assumed was just a one-night stand, urban hipster Micah (Daily Show correspondent Wyatt Cenac) and boho beauty Jo' (Tracey Higgins) spend the day getting to know each other while taking a (mostly walking) tour of the city in all its funky, eclectic glory. Similar in affectless sensibility and no-frills, DIY style to the mumblecore school of indie cinema, Jenkins' tiny jewel of a film is equally indebted to the French New Wave and early Spike Lee (particularly She's Gotta Have It). Cleveland Museum of Art Lecture Hall. At 7 p.m. Friday, May 22. ***(Milan Paurich)
Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian The original Night at the Museum basically ran on the premise of “What happens at the museum after the doors are locked for the night?” Apparently, it’s some wacky stuff. Lock Ben Stiller in there with all the historic artifacts, and you’ll get even more wackiness. This CGI-heavy and pop- culture-speckled sequel to the 2006 hit is more of the same. This time, Stiller’s former night watchman Larry — now a successful entrepreneur behind a bunch of infomercial crap, including a glow-in-the-dark flashlight — must save his old natural history museum pals from an evil resurrected pharaoh (played by a lisping Hank Azaria) who’s stolen the magic tablet that brings them to life. Adding to that otherworldly problem, most of the museum’s artifacts have been packed away and shipped to the Smithsonian for storage. All of the first film’s characters return: Owen Wilson’s cowboy, Robin Williams’ Teddy Roosevelt, the talking Easter Island statue, the monkey. The Smithsonian adds a bunch of new historical and pop-culture icons to the mix, including Amelia Earhart (a peppy and excellent Amy Adams), General Custer, Ivan the Terrible, Darth Vader and Oscar the Grouch. This Museum is also loaded with cameos by various Office stars, Saturday Night Live alum and Jonah Hill, who plays an overzealous guard who squares off against Larry in one of the movie’s funniest scenes. But a few new twists — classic paintings and photographs now come to life — can’t hide the blah plot, which is pretty much an excuse to trot out some clever sight gags. Some of them are funny; some of them are spectacular in a CGI kinda way. Too bad the story is neither. ** 1/2 (Michael Gallucci)
The Red and the White (Hungary/USSR, 1967) Miklós Jancsó's film commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution. Cleveland Institute of Art Cinematheque. At 7 p.m. Friday, May 22, and 5:30 p.m. Saturday, May 23.
The Room (US, 2003) Among film hipsters on the West Coast, cult notoriety has been conferred upon writer-director-producer-star-mogul Tommy Wiseau's tragic psychodrama. Wiseau, who kinda seems (in more ways than one) like Fabio crossed with Ed Wood, plays the lead role (no surprise there) of Johnny, a nice-guy San Francisco banking exec whose idyllic life starts to fall apart a month before his planned nuptials. Fiancée Lisa secretly doesn't love him anymore (we are told this about four or five times) and is carrying on an affair with Mark, Johnny's "best friend" (we are told this about 400-500 times). With English-as-a-second-language dialogue, characters who awkwardly entrez and exeunt, laughable love interludes and from-hunger acting, the world may now be laughing at Mr. Wiseau, not with him. But grant The Room this much: It's not an amateur Tarantino/Lucas/Spielberg/Romero genre clone, like so many turkeys, but bravely blazes its own way, à la Wood's singular Glen or Glenda. Cleveland Institute of Art Cinematheque. At 9:10 p.m. Saturday, May 23. ** 1/2 (Cassady)
Shall We Kiss? This foreign film might be stereotypically French, but don't hold that against it. The story revolves around Gabriel (Michaël Cohen) and Emilie (Julie Gayet), who meet by chance one afternoon. After Gabriel gives Emilie a lift, he senses the two have connected and offers her a "kiss without consequences." She turns him down, maintaining that innocent exchanges don't exist and proceeds to tell him a story about her friend Judith (Virginie Ledoyen), who thought she'd kiss her pal Nicholas (Emmanuel Mouret) and nothing would come of it. Told in a series of flashbacks, Judith's story is both romantic and tragic, causing Gabriel to rethink his offer, even though he's even more attracted to Emilie after he spends several hours listening to her story. Like a Woody Allen movie, Shall We Kiss? is well-acted and -directed, even if its European sensibilities aren't likely to connect with mainstream American viewers. Cedar Lee Theatre. ***(Jeff Niesel)
Tokyo! (France/Japan/Germany/S. Korea, 2008) The first long(ish)-form auteur-driven omnibus project since 2004's Eros, this colorful anthology film mixes and matches the disparate helming styles of Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), Leos Carax (Lovers on the Bridge) and Bong Joon-ho (The Host) to surprisingly complementary effect. Gondry's Interior Design is the subtlest of the bunch, a typically idiosyncratic, über-Gondrian look at a young couple (Ryo Kase and Ayako Fujitani) whose move to the big city dooms their relationship. Carax's raucously funny Merde scores major laughs thanks to its Wild Man of Borneo protagonist (Denis Lavant), a sewer-dwelling urban terrorist with a passing resemblance to Godzilla. Shaking Tokyo, Bong's concluding episode, tells the quirkily charming story of a hermit-like shut-in (Teruyuki Kagawa) who ventures outside the house for the first time in 10 years to pursue a nubile pizza delivery girl (Yû Aoi). The most surprising thing about Tokyo! is how remarkably consistent it is in terms of overall quality. Cleveland Institute of Art Cinematheque. At 8:50 p.m. Friday, May 22, and 7 p.m. Sunday, May 24. ***(Paurich)
Valentino: The Last Emperor In a documentary spiced with unimaginable glamour, no single image speaks to wealth's fantasyland on Earth quite as powerfully as the sight of a pack of five pugs being led onto a private jet. These pampered pets proceed to take up two seats on the plane, compelling the flight crew to politely ask couturier Valentino Garavani if the dogs can be moved to make room for human passengers. Valentino — the single name has branded his image, line and lifestyle since 1960 — doesn't comply himself, but the situation is handled. And, as captured in Vanity Fair special correspondent Matt Tyrnauer's documentary debut, Valentino: The Last Emperor, it is the strategy by which most of the Italian designer's life and career has been maintained. ***(Bret McCabe)