movies

Before saying anything about Big Eyes, the new Amy Adams movie, let me say something about her co-star, Christoph Waltz.

I can barely tolerate him.

I'll give him his Academy Awards for Django Unchained, in a part obviously tailored for him, but his other Oscar, for Inglourious Basterds, will ever be a mystery to me because he seemed like a pure slice of Teutonic ham, completely out of touch with everything else in the film.

The Imitation Game got top ratings from the two people I talked to in the lobby, but to me it seemed overburdened with subthemes and lacking a central spine.

  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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Citizenfour

January 11, 3:00 p.m.

Orpheum Theatre

Screening kicks off the Tallgrass Film Association's Indie at the Orpheum series.

 

Wild is the only movie I've reviewed that kept me so involved that I didn't finish my popcorn.

And all it's really about is Reese Witherspoon reenacting the true story of a woman who walked the 1000-mile Pacific Coast Trail from the Mojave Desert to Washington state to see if she could shake loose from the depression caused by a pretty shabby lifestyle and the death of the only worthwhile person in it-- her mother, played by Laura Dern.

Exodus: Gods and Kings is a rather peculiar version of the story of Moses.

It includes the 10 plagues, including the plague of crocodiles, and a really spectacular parting of the Red Sea, though Moses seems to have little to do with any of these things. But it doesn't totally dodge the supernatural-- it shows God Himself as a little boy who just sort of hangs around watching Moses write the Ten Commandments and never says much of anything.

Well, people kept asking about it, so I finally went and saw Interstellar and found it much better than I had expected.

Its science is pretty ridiculous, and the last hour does not fit too well with the first two, but if it is looked at as fantasy instead of science fiction, it holds up pretty well. And it certainly is never boring for its full three hours.

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.

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