movies

Much as I admire The Theory of Everything, the supposedly true movie of the life of scientific genius Stephen Hawking, I can't quite go along with the two women I talked with in the lobby, one of whom said she loved it and intended to see it again, and the other who said it was the best movie she'd ever seen and she wanted to see it several more times.

I'd certainly give it high marks for what it intends to be, but the material itself (especially when we learn in the closing credits that it is based on a memoir by the wife) properly precludes a complete story.

Back when I was in college, one of my classes happened to be talking about Christmas movies. A classmate was railing against everyone else’s favorites, because, he said, on some level, they all rewarded materialism. It wasn’t even that he thought Christmas movies should be a religious thing, just that a real Christmas movie shouldn’t about giving or getting some thing. Our instructor asked him if he thought there was such a thing as a real Christmas movie, and without missing a beat, my classmate said, "The Ice Storm."

It is a hard thing to have to review Part Three of a four-part series without having seen Parts One and Two. There is bound to be a certain unclarity as to what has happened before and how the characters relate to each other, because the beginning setups are not there, and since the movie ends when it is only three-quarters done, there can be no satisfactory closure. Even those who thought The Empire Strikes Back was the best of the Star Wars trilogy had to admit that.

Whiplash is one of the strangest and most gripping movies about showbusiness I've ever seen, in its exclusive concentration on two psychological studies-- one of character actor J.K. Simmons as a drill-instructor-type jazz trainer, and the other Miles Teller as a 19-year-old who is maniacally obsessed with becoming the greatest jazz drummer in the world.

Each week, Fletcher Powell finds the independent and non-commercial films showing in Wichita and the surrounding areas and brings them to you in this handy guide.

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Pride

November 19 & 20, 5:30 p.m.

Salina Art Center

 

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Birdman is a lot of things besides a story, with a variety of elements and genres-- comedy, drama, psychological study, internal action, external action, possible action, parody, maybe even touches of theatre history. The bit about the actor who goes through the wrong door and locks himself out of the performance teases my memory as something I read about many years ago, in real life.

http://www.rottentomatoes.com

Jake Gyllenhaal in Nightcrawler is almost an example of an old-fashioned American ideal.

He is certainly starting at the bottom of his chosen field, as Horatio Alger heroes are supposed to do. And he has absorbed the accepted rules to the extent that he is almost comical in his performance as a job candidate and, later, as a potential employer. There is hardly a cliché of self-help manuals that he doesn’t recite, with no apparent effort at parody.

St. Vincent is a rather quiet little movie made remarkable mostly, but not exclusively, by Bill Murray's performance in a basically non-comic role, as a man scraping by on the fringes of society who is suddenly confronted with situations requiring him to do the right thing, whether he feels like it or not.

I'm a little embarrassed to be giving such a rave review to a movie about which I have so little to say.

But The Book of Life fascinated me so much with its style that I took almost no notes on it and can't say much about its themes or even its plot. Its style is beyond my powers of description and I can think of only one movie I can compare it to-- and I'm not sure that one ever went into wide release, though it is available on DVD.

 

Each week, Fletcher Powell finds the independent and non-commercial films showing in Wichita and the surrounding areas and brings them to you in this handy guide.

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Young Frankenstein

October 23, 7:00 p.m.

Orpheum Theatre

 

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