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Film Capsules

In theaters this week

The Chagrin Documentary Film Festival

The second-annual Chagrin Documentary Film Festival runs through Sunday at various locations throughout the town, loading up on almost a hundred movies from two dozen countries. Subjects range from toy makers (Toyland, pictured) to hitchhiking to music legends. Also count on plenty of documentary staples, like environmental awareness and the plight of Third World countries. "Documentaries can tell so many stories that are inspiring or educational," says fest director Mary Ann Ponce. "They offer brand-new perspectives you may never have thought of before." Ponce and a selection committee made up of more than 30 local filmmakers and movie lovers weeded through tons of submissions. Several homegrown films made the cut, and more than a third of the films are making their world premieres. "These filmmakers are making these movies on such a small budget," says Ponce. "They're so driven." Passes are available for the entire fest or single screenings; learn more at chagrindocumentaryfilmfestival.org. — Michael Gallucci

50/50 (R) — Adam (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a 27-year-old news radio producer, finds out that his persistent back pain is actually a rare spinal tumor with a 50 percent survival rate. With the help of a sweet but inexperienced therapist-in-training, he begins the steps to dealing with his cancer. The people around him deal with it differently — especially his best friend (Seth Rogen), who uses his pal's illness to get laid. Gordon-Levitt gets to show off what a great actor he's become. One of the year's best movies. (Gallucci)

I Don't Know How She Does It (PG-13) — Doug McGrath's retro-feeling romantic comedy could have been made back in the mid-'60s with Natalie Wood. It leans a bit too heavily on Sarah Jessica Parker's Sex and the City persona, but likable performances and a breezy 90-minute run time make this more painless than you'd think. (Milan Paurich)

Moneyball (PG-13) — This low-key, somewhat downbeat movie, based on Michael Lewis' book about Oakland A's general manager Billy Beane's pioneering effort to build a winning team using statistical analysis, is an engrossing if overlong view of the back-office deals and clashing ideals of America's pastime. The emphasis is not on exciting on-field action, but on the frustrations of dealing, trading, and cutting. (Pamela Zoslov)

Real Steel (PG-13) — Its metaphors are shallow and its plot is predictable, but Real Steel is still fun in a fighting-robots-movie kinda way. In the near future, robot boxing has replaced human boxing. Fans wanted more carnage, as former fighter Charlie Kenton (Hugh Jackman) points out. Still, Charlie's wallet takes a beating, until he and his estranged son Max (Dakota Goyo) find salvation in a junk robot named Atom. The movie's bots may be steel, but the humans are cardboard. At least the fights are solid: Atom is as underdog as they come, making it impossible not to root for him. And the father-son bonding eventually grows on you, landing a surprising blow to the heartstrings. (Ben Gifford)

Restless (PG-13) — Gus Van Sant's latest is just as relentlessly whimsical and calculated as it sounds: A morose loner (newcomer Henry Hopper, son of Dennis), who likes to attend funerals and converse with his imaginary WWII kamikaze pilot ghost friend, meets a quirky, terminally ill girl (The Kids Are All Right's Mia Wasikowska). But the big surprise is just how dreadfully acted, written, and directed this clunker truly is. When Hopper's Enoch is nearly outed as a tourist at a stranger's funeral, he's saved by Wasikowska's Annabel, and a budding romance is born. But not one scene pops off the screen. (Justin Strout)

Weekend (NR) — Weekend is a bit like a gay Before Sunrise set in London, but more emotionally and intellectually challenging if not as conventionally romantic. Reserved Russell (Tom Cullen) lives alone in a small highrise flat, where he brings chatty Glen (Chris New) after picking him up at a club. What both assumed is a one-night stand becomes something else the next morning, when Glen pulls out a recorder to interview Russell about life, love, and everything in between. What's modestly revelatory about writer and director Andrew Haigh's movie is how comfortable it is with being mundane, a candid snapshot of that moment when two people realize their feelings for each other run deeper than desire. (Bret McCabe)

What's Your Number? (R) — This movie has all the requisites of a modern romantic comedy: giggly girls planning a wedding, a womanizing bad boy poised for reform, copious drinking and vulgarity, and a retrograde message that relationships are all that matter in a woman's life. After losing her job, Ally (Anna Faris) reads in a magazine that women who have had more than 20 sex partners are doomed to spinsterhood. So with 19 notches on her belt, she decides to stop sleeping around and, rather than look for work, revisit former flames — one of whom may be "the one." The leads are likable and the story has some funny lines, but What's Your Number? never fully explores the possibilities of the old-boyfriends premise. (Zoslov)

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