Blade Runner (US, 1982/2007)
Ridley Scott's sci-fi film stars Harrison Ford as Rick Deckard, a former cop recruited to terminate earthbound androids in 2019 Los Angeles. Cleveland Institute of Art Cinematheque. At 9:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 16. Brideshead Revisited Why anyone thought it necessary to make another Brideshead Revisited is a mystery. The fondly regarded 1981 British television miniseries should have been the last word on Evelyn Waugh's elegy to friendship, art, aristocracy and religion in Edwardian England. The new adaptation, directed by Julian Jarrold (Kinky Boots, Becoming Jane) and written by Jeremy Brock and Andrew Davies, is anything but magical. It's a flat-footed, CliffsNotes condensation that strips every last bit of wit from Waugh's novel and leaves the bare bones to rattle about onscreen for two-and-a-quarter hours. It's like a bad term paper by a student who only skimmed the book. (Pamela Zoslov)
Dance in the Rain (Yugoslavia, 1961)
A New Wave-influenced drama focusing on the long relationship between a painter and an actress who turn to fantasies in order to escape their dull and lazy romance. Cleveland Institute of Art Cinematheque. At 8:40 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 17.
The Dark Knight
Writer/director Christopher Nolan took over the Batman franchise with 2005's Batman Begins, giving the character back the dignity he had lost in Joel Schumacher's execrable Batman and Robin. As the story begins, Batman/Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) has been making some real headway in cleaning up Gotham City, thanks in part to the help of policeman Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman) and new district attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart), who has more than just a working relationship with Wayne's ex, Rachel Dawes (Maggie Gyllenhaal). But with this success comes unintended consequences. The Joker (Heath Ledger), a dangerous new criminal, offers to help Gotham's crime bosses get rid of Batman. But perhaps the most interesting story arc belongs to the character of Harvey Dent. Dent is exactly the kind of decent man the Joker wants to corrupt, and Aaron Eckhart makes the most of the part. Co-writing the screenplay with his brother Jonathan, director Christopher Nolan has crafted a complex and thematically rich story that will bear up to repeated viewings long after the CGI thrills of lesser movies have dissipated. (Robert Ignizio) The Great Dictator (US, 1940) Released on the eve of World War II, Charlie Chaplin's humanist comedy epic still packs a wallop, even as it gloriously satirizes long-dead fascists like Hitler, Goebbels, Goering and Mussolini. Charlie plays the goose-stepping, pip-squeak European tyrant of Tomania, spouting mock-German double-talk ("Schtonk!"), who persecutes the Jewish ghetto to take the citizens' minds off their economic troubles. Chaplin also Êplays the dictator's Little Tramp-type double, a slapstick-prone but gentle, nameless Jewish ghetto barber (and, significantly, WWI hero). This was the first time mass audiences heard Chaplin speak, and his lengthy, passionate sermon at the finale has the critics divided; does it ruin a masterpiece or not? But it sure had urgency in 1940, and it speaks to the mind-sets of certain other despots and fearless leaders we could name, right up to the minute. Cleveland Museum of Art Lecture Hall. At 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 13. and 6:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 15. (Charles Cassady Jr.)
Hell Ride is the cinematic equivalent of constipation. There's a great deal of grunting and straining, and much energy is expended, all in the service of producing a turd. Writer/director/star Larry Bishop is the guy putting forth all that effort, and in front of the camera he makes for a compelling screen presence in the lead role of Pistolero. But once Bishop steps behind the camera, he starts straining again with unnecessary nonlinear storytelling, obnoxious editing and dialogue that thinks it's hip but just comes across as unnatural and pretentious. Somewhere at the heart of this movie is a decent homage to '70s biker flicks. If you were going down the checklist, everything you'd want in such a film is here - gratuitous violence and nudity, a cool fuzz-guitar soundtrack, Dennis Hopper, and lots of hairy, filth-encrusted guys riding Harleys. ÊUnfortunately, Hell Ride is too self-conscious to be any fun. Opens Friday areawide. (Robert Ignizio) Henry Poole Is Here When he can't purchase the home he grew up in, Henry Poole (Luke Wilson) settles for the next best thing - a place on the same block. But why he's come back to his old Southern California 'hood is a bit of mystery for the first half of this slow-moving film. Things start to come together as he opens up to the single mother (Radha Mitchell) living next door, telling her he might not have long to live because of a terminal illness. When a neighbor sees what appears to be an image of Christ on the wall of his home, nosy neighbors he'd rather have nothing to do with start to bombard him. And when strange "miracles" occur to those who touch the impression, Henry begins to question even his own skepticism. Ultimately sentimental (there are some cheesy flashback scenes), this film takes too many predictable turns in imparting its message about hope and the strength of the human spirit. Opens Friday area-wide. (Jeff Niesel) Monsieur Verdoux (USA, 1947) In this celebrated dark comedy, Charles Chaplin directs and stars as a Parisian unemployed banker who murders rich widows in order to obtain money for his family. Cleveland Museum of Art Lecture Hall. At 6:45 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 20, and 6:45 p.m. Friday, Aug. 22.
The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor
The O'Connells (Brendan Fraser reprising the role of Rick and Maria Bello stepping into Rachel Weisz's shoes as Evelyn) find themselves bored in post-WWII England. But when their son Alex (Luke Ford) unwittingly unearths the immortal Emperor Han (Jet Li), they get all the excitement they can handle. Michelle Yeoh and Isabella Leong provide support as an immortal mother/daughter team, and John Hannah returns from the first two films to provide comic relief as Evelyn's brother Jonathan. The mix of action and comedy we've come to expect from this series is here, and Fraser is his usual heroic self. There are also some pretty cool monsters, including a group of yeti and a three-headed dragon. On the downside, the movie takes too long to get started, Jet Li's character is mostly CGI, Maria Bello doesn't have any chemistry with Fraser and Luke Ford's Alex is just annoying. It's probably best for all concerned if the Mummy franchise stays buried after this. (Robert Ignizio) Paper Planes (Yugoslavia, 1967) A love story surrounding a disillusioned photographer and a younger, glorified dancer. Cleveland Institute of Art Cinematheque. At 7 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 17.
Dale Denton (Seth Rogen) has got it good. He might drive around in a beater car and wear a dingy, decidedly unfashionable brown suit, but he dates a hot high-school chick (Jeanetta Arnette) and holds down a job that doesn't require too much effort (he serves subpoenas). Hell, he spends half his day getting stoned. So when his drug dealer, Saul (James Franco), offers him a blend of weed called "pineapple express," he goes for it. It's at this point that the trouble begins in Pineapple Express, a stoner caper produced by the ubiquitous Judd Apatow (Knocked Up, The 40-Year-Old Virgin). In the end, the chemistry between Rogen and Franco overcomes the movie's flaws, bringing to life the quips and banter (Rogen co-wrote the script) in such a way that the film's likely to become the kind of thing you'd watch again and still find something worth laughing at. (Jeff Niesel) The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 Lena (Alexis Bledel), Tibby (Amber Tamblyn), Carmen (America Ferrera) and Bridget (Blake Lively) reunite for this surprising but most welcome follow-up to 2005's Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. Based once again on the novels of Ann Brashares, the sequel picks up the sisterly quartet's individual and collective stories a year after the first movie ended. Tibby and Lena have elected to take summer classes (at N.Y.U. and the Rhode Island School of Design, respectively), and Bridget is headed off to Turkey for an archaeological dig. To avoid helping her pregnant mom (Rachel Ticotin) and stepdad move into their new house, Carmen decides to enroll in a Vermont theater camp. Nothing goes quite according to plan for the girls. Like Traveling Pants 1, there's nothing particularly subtle or even original about the soapy, schematic plot. What makes the films special, though, is the delicacy of emotions so vividly and movingly conveyed by these four wonderful young actresses. (Milan Paurich)
Bud (Kevin Costner) is your everyday delinquent single father. Most of the time, he's so hungover, he can't even get his daughter Molly (Madeline Carroll) to school on time. But in a presidential race where the outcome rests on a single vote, he becomes the center of national attention after his ballot is negated by a computer glitch. As a result, he gets to vote again, and since he will decide the fate of the candidates, the national media descends upon the tiny New Mexico town he calls home. The outcome of Swing Vote is predictable, but it sure does take a long time to get there. You know that Bud will come to understand the significance of the election process, and you know the two presidential candidates (Kelsey Grammer and Dennis Hopper) will flip-flop on the issues just to secure his vote, yet they too will have a change of heart. And despite all this, you can't help rooting for Bud and his precocious young daughter, who is the mouthpiece for everything a democracy should be. (Jeff Niesel)
It's unfortunate that this dark, futuristic satire directed by Joshua Seftel isn't better, because its indictment of U.S. imperialism and war profiteering and its illustration of Naomi Klein's "shock doctrine" are so timely. John Cusack plays Brand Hauser, a troubled, hot-sauce-guzzling hit man hired to assassinate the CEO of a competitor to Tamerlane (read Halliburton), a private corporation headed by a Cheney-like former VP (Dan Aykroyd), which is running the war-ravaged country of Turaquistan (read Iraq, et al.). He crosses paths with Yonica Babyyeah (Hilary Duff), a sexy Central Asian teen pop star with a mysterious background, and pursues an attractive, idealistic left-wing journalist (Marisa Tomei). The satire is obvious, vulgar, cartoonish and too muddled to hit its mark, despite good intentions and appealing performances by Cusack and his sister, Joan, who plays his assistant. (Pamela Zoslov)
The X Files: I Want to Believe
The good news about the latest movie spin-off of the once-hot X Files TV show is also the bad news. Even with original creators Chris Carter and Frank Spotnitz at the controls, there are no flying-saucer conspiracies. No black oil, no Smoking Man, no Lone Gunman. There's just a creepy, slow-moving, small-scale mystery/ICU thriller with borderline psychic elements and some of the heavy Catholic angst that infused the show. Ex-FBI agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully are a cohabiting couple (but still haven't warmed up enough to start calling each other by their first names), haunted by the loss of their son. Scully is now a surgeon in a grim hospital called Our Lady of Sorrows; Mulder is unshaven and unemployed until he gets a summons from the FBI to find a missing agent in snowy West Virginia. Enigmatic clues derive from an outcast pedophile priest (Billy Connolly), now suddenly afflicted with visions. Scully doesn't hide her disgust for the clergyman or her annoyance at her common-law spouse plunging into the case as though he can discern the very fingerprints of God in it. Plotline ends up being a hair too gruesome for prime time -- a cross between Robin Cook's medical thrillers and the lighter side of torture porn. Conceivably, utter strangers to the TV mythos will enjoy the flick's mood and grown-up drama more so than fanboys expecting Incredible! UFO! Revelations! In any case, sit through the closing credits for a nice closing shot. (Charles Cassady Jr.)