At The Movies
The Black Dahlia
Crime novelist James Ellroy and director Brian De Palma present a classic noir Hollywood period drama of a struggling actress who winds up a murder victim, her frozen grin mocking the detectives on the case. Josh Hartnett, Scarlett Johansson, Hilary Swank, Aaron Eckhart and Mia Kirshner star. Review on Page 15. (R)
A CGI-animated story about a boy who crosses the country to return a very special baseball bat to his hero, Babe Ruth, on the eve of the 1932 World Series. Review on Page 17. (G)
Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson stars as a true-life probation officer who coaches a football team made up of rival gangbangers in a youth detention camp. Review on Page 16. (PG-13)
The Last Kiss
"Scrubs" and "Garden State" star Zach Braff plays a young man struggling with commitment. He knows his pregnant girlfriend (Jacinda Barrett) is "the one," yet he's tempted by a younger, flirtatious beauty (Rachel Bilson). Review on Page 18. (R)
Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont
Dame Joan Plowright and newcomer Rupert Friend star in the story of a lonely London retiree who befriends a struggling young writer who conspires with her to act as her grandson.
A couple of disaffected Mexican American teenagers -- a pregnant girl, who will soon celebrate her 15th birthday, and her gay cousin -- come of age in a gentrifying community in the Echo Park district of Los Angeles. The film was a big hit at this year's Sundance Film Festival. Review on Thursday's Entertainment page. (R)
G | General audiences.
Director John Lasseter's latest feature is about a hotshot rookie race car (voiced by Owen Wilson) who learns about life in the slow lane when he finds himself unexpectedly detoured to the sleepy town of Radiator Springs.
PG | Parental guidance suggested.
Barnyard: The Original Party Animals
An CGI-animated movie about a free-wheeling cow named Otis and his misfit farm animals who live the high life when humans aren't looking. But when a pack of coyotes attack, sending the entire farm into fear and turmoil, Otis must reluctantly step up to the grown-up role he's been avoiding his whole life. This movie actually has a clever concept and handles such sensitive topics as birth and death with unexpected grace.
How to Eat Fried Worms
Based on the popular children's book about a new kid who bets the school bully that he can eat 10 worms in a day. It's a fine family movie with a message of tolerance and understanding and a good dose of humor -- plus gross worms!
An Inconvenient Truth
A documentary about former Vice President Al Gore's touring multimedia talk about the moral challenge of global warming. The film's not so much about Gore but mainly on his presentation on the alarming effect of carbon-dioxide emissions on the world's climate, a talk he's given many times over the last few years. For that, it's a necessary film.
Mark Wahlberg takes on the inspiring role of real-life zero-to-hero Vince Papale, a 30-year-old substitute teacher and part-time bartender who was plucked out of obscurity at an open tryout for the Philadelphia Eagles and won a spot on the team in 1976 as a wide receiver. The period detail is uncanny and the performances are solid all around.
John Tucker Must Die
When three popular girls from different cliques discover they've all been dating the school stud, they band together to seek revenge with the help of a new girl. While the movie has a dose of the cutes, it's still a cut above the typical adolescent farce.
Lady in the Water
A mystical water nymph lives under the swimming pool of a drab apartment complex. It's an intriguing premise, yet the mythology director M. Night Shyamalan builds around his main characters is forced, pretentious and outright silly at times. Strong performances by Paul Giamatti as the complex's melancholy manager, Bryce Dallas Howard as the nymph and a plucky supporting cast of amiable weirdos makes the fantasy occasionally palatable -- but just barely.
A group of kids suspect a creepy old house is really alive and dangerous. Can they save their neighborhood in time? This movie -- being shown in Digital 3D -- features the same blend of motion-capture and CG animation previously used in co-producer Robert Zemeckis' "The Polar Express," and has lots of fun to deliver. It makes for a great, scary film for youngsters.
Jack Black plays a Mexican cook who moonlights on the masked Lucha Libre wrestling circuit to funnel his prize money to needy orphans. Black cultivates an exaggerated accent that helps establish the character as an awkward fit in a life that was foisted upon him. But his wild persona cannot be contained, and director Jared Hess ("Napoleon Dynamite") doesn't seem to have been able to control his star. It's an interesting failure in a film that's a mix of Fellini-esque imagery and flatulence gags.
A rebel in trouble with the law becomes the dance partner of a beautiful ballet student at a prestigious performing arts school in Baltimore. It's a thoroughly formulaic but mildly enjoyable dance movie.
PG-13 | Parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate from children under age 13.
Justin Long plays a guy rejected from every college he's applied to, so he and his friends start their own fake and functioning university. The movie has a certain subversive élan that keeps it light on its feet -- until the very end when it turns self-righteous and takes itself way too seriously.
Adam Sandler's latest comedy overflows with the juvenile hijinks that initially made him a star and ventures into the serious adult territory of his later, more thoughtful films. He stars as a harried architect who stumbles upon a universal remote that allows him to perform TiVo-like functions on his life. The first hour is often so tiresomely sub-moronic that it's surprising that Sandler and director Frank Coraci are able to pull out a movie that shows real heart at the end.
It's studly teenage warlocks trying to destroy each other at an elite New England boarding school! Hack director Renny Harlin serves up a dreary movie that lacks genuine supernatural thrills.
Two friends with different goals in life team up to compete in a high-stakes underground street basketball game. The charismatic actor Anthony Mackie is, unfortunately, drained of all his natural magnetism thanks to flat writing and the movie's low-budget look. All it is trash talkin' b-ball, hoochie mamas, and a couple of dramatic plot points that come and go with the speed of a fast break.
The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift
A young American street racer, living in Japan, gets caught up in the underworld arena of drift racing. Trouble ensues when he falls for the girlfriend of the Drift King, a local champ with Yakuza ties. This is the perfect movie for adolescent boys. The thin story and thinner characters are just setups for the race sequences.
While fine technical wizardry went into this period film set in early 20th-century Austria, it lacks the magic of romance, drama, longing and faith you think would be generated in a tale about a love triangle involving a magician (Edward Norton), a noblewoman (Jessica Biel) and the heir to the throne (Rufus Sewell). Their supposed ardor is as illusory as the title character's stage magic.
Brothers Marlon and Shawn Wayans' latest screwball comedy is about a short-statured criminal who poses as an adopted baby to recover a stolen diamond from an unsuspecting couple. While big on gross-out humor and slapsticky sight gags that appeal to the lowest common denominator, the movie is small on genuinely clever laughs.
My Super Ex-Girlfriend
Veteran comedy director Ivan Reitman is back with a tale of an architect (Luke Wilson) who breaks up with his clingy girlfriend (Uma Thurman), only to find out she's a superhero out for payback. It's a silly film with so-so CGI effects. the main selling point is the delightful self-effacing quality of Thurman's performance, making her character appealing no matter how erratic and destructive her behavior.
Pirates of the
Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
Johnny Depp, Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom reprise their roles in the swashbuckling sequel to the immensely popular 2003 movie. This time, Capt. Jack Sparrow discovers he owes a bloody debt to the legendary Davy Jones (Bill Nighy) of the ghostly Flying Dutchman. It's a darker tale than the first, but director Gore Verbinski has spun a rollicking and well-paced yarn nevertheless.
Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby
The "Anchorman" duo of Will Ferrell and director Adam McKay return with the tale of a NASCAR driver who must face his own demons and fight to retain his place at the top when he is challenged by the arrival of a flamboyant French Formula One star. Like the sport it spoofs, the movie has its thrilling moments but mostly feels repetitive -- it's constantly moving but never really goes anywhere.
The Wicker Man
Indie fave director Neil LaBute presents his take on the 1970s horror movie about a cop (Nicolas Cage) who investigates the disappearance of a girl on a remote island inhabited by a dangerous matriarchal cult. A deliriously delightful weird streak runs through the film before it spirals into irretrievably ridiculous territory toward the end. It might be the greatest bad movie of the year, with its clunky writing resulting in some surprisingly entertaining kooky moments.
World Trade Center
Oliver Stone retells the harrowing true story of the last two first-responders to be rescued after the 9/11 attack, John McLoughlin (Nicolas Cage) and Will Jimeno (Michael Peña). For a lightning rod like Stone, this movie stays grounded in facts, not opinions or paranoia, and fights to remain even-handed. It stays smartly rooted in the day-to-day, going between the trapped men and the women at home (powerfully played by Maggie Gyllenhaal and Maria Bello), hoping for the best, watching the minutes tick by.
R | Restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.
The comedy troupe Broken Lizard's latest movie is about a couple of American buddies who stumble upon a secret centuries-old beer-drinking championship in Germany. When they assemble a team of top drinkers to try to win the title the following year, the training takes a toll on all of them. But out of the pain comes off-color and puerile jokes a-plenty. It's all the fun you want -- without the hangover.
Director Kevin Smith checks back in with the slackers from his indie breakout film to find out what they're up to a dozen years later. Even though the movie goes disastrously awry in the third act, when the insults are flowing and the graphic banter is crackling, "Clerks II" frequently achieves a rhythm that's hilariously infectious.
Action star Jason Statham plays a hitman who wakes up one morning and finds himself juiced with a poison that'll stop his heart unless he can keep his adrenaline extremely high. The filmmakers play up the manic, pointless rage for a gleefully violent romp, stomping on anything and everything along the way, including the reputations of its cast that includes Amy Smart and Efren Ramirez.
The real-life suicide of former TV Superman George Reeves sets off a torrid investigation of inside-Hollywood sleaze. Made in a classic studio style, Ben Affleck plays Reeves in a fine performance that's long overdue, and Oscar winner Adrien Brody is the fictional and cocky private eye who doesn't believe Reeves' death was a suicide. Diane Lane and Bob Hoskins round out the excellent cast.
OutKast's Antwan "Big Boi" Patton and André "André 3000" Benjamin play childhood friends who run a Southern speakeasy in this Prohibition-era musical. Some patches of the movie are invigorating and fresh -- especially the musical numbers and vibrant choreography -- while the rest is predictable and dull.
Little Miss Sunshine
A hit at this year's Sundance Film Festival, the film follows an oddball clan as they race across three states to get their 7-year-old daughter to a beauty pageant. It's a sunny, prefabricated charmer of a comedy, looking at the all-American obsession with winning and chortles darkly.
Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx star in director Michael Mann's updated version of his popular action-crime TV series of the '80s. While the film looks fantastic, the story -- the duo infiltrates a drug cartel to determine the source of an intelligence leak -- is simultaneously convoluted and forgettable.
Martial arts superstar Tony Jaa plays a Thai fighter who must battle his way across Australia to recover stolen elephants, and in doing so protect a traditional way of life that has been ruined by outsiders. Ah, forget the plot, and just watch the thrilling Jaa in full-tilt action.
The arrival of an adopted deaf goddaughter delivers a blow to a popular cheerleader's idyllic social life and triggers the unraveling of her family's darkest secrets. It's a movie with some good performances and a smart visual style, but the story is ugly and fake. It's dysfunction repackaged with sarcasm and hip irony.
Snakes on a Plane
Samuel L. Jackson cusses up a storm as an FBI agent trying to protect a mob murder witness from hundreds of nasty serpents (real and CGI-generated) while trapped in an airliner hurtling across the Pacific 30,000 feet in the air. With all the Internet hype surrounding its pre-release, the movie delivers on its promise of reptilian fun, with a camp mix of comedy, horror and suspense.
Art House | Revival
THE DORIS DUKE THEATRE,
HONOLULU ACADEMY OF ARTS
900 S. Beretania St.; $7 general; $6 seniors, students and military; $5 Academy members (532-8768):
GiRL FeST Hawaii Film Festival
See story and calendar on Pages 6 and 7.
Fanaa (Destroyed in Love)
At 7:30 p.m. Sept. 18, and 1 and 7:30 p.m. Sept. 19 to 21.
3566 Harding Ave.; $5, $4 members; reservations recommended due to limited seating (735-8771):
Lucky Number Slevin
At 2, 4, 6 and 8 p.m. Friday.
At 2, 4, 6 and and 8 p.m. Saturday.
At 12:30, 3, 5:30 and 8 p.m. Sunday.
Always -- Sunset on Third Street
At 12:30, 3, 5:30 and 8 p.m. Sept. 18.
The Death of Mr. Lazarescu
At 1, 4 and 7 p.m. Sept. 21.
BEYOND OIL: ALTERNATIVE ENERGY SOLUTIONS
Spalding Hall Auditorium, University of Hawaii at Manoa; $5 general and $3 UH students/faculry:
Wind Over Water / Velocity: Exploring Sustainability Through Wind Power
At 7 p.m. Wednesday.