At the movies: Feb. 8, 2013

Posted Online: Feb. 07, 2013, 10:29 am
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New in theaters

Regal 14 Stadium Cinemas, Moline:

-- "Identity Thief" (R)
-- "Side Effects" (R)
Rave Motion Pictures 53, Davenport: -- "Identity Thief" (R)
-- "Side Effects" (R)
-- "Top Gun: An IMAX 3D Experience"
Nova 6 Cinemas, Moline:
-- "The Last Stand" (R)
-- "This is 40" (R)
Central Theater, Geneseo:
-- "Les Miserables" (PG-13)

Aledo Opera House:
-- "The Guilt Trip" (PG-13)
These are mini-reviews of some of the movies currently playing in the Quad-Cities area.

"Stand Up Guys" (R, 95 minutes). Al Pacino, Christopher Walken and Alan Arkin were in the same gang, and after Pacino is released following a 28-year prison sentence, they unite for a long day and night as an implacable deadline approaches. Comedy, chase scenes, some tension and, above all, the acting of the Stand Up Guys. Rating: Three and a half stars. "Bullet to the Head" (R, 92 minutes). Directed by the veteran Walter Hill, this ersatz buddy film is filled with cheesy stop-motion zooms, rapid-cut fight scenes with insanely loud sound effects for every bone-cracking punch, racially insensitive one-liners, window-dressing female characters and wall-to-wall carnage. It's the kind of brainless action movie Sylvester Stallone would have starred in circa 1985. That it stars a Stallone who's pushing 70 is just weird. Rating: Two stars (Richard Roeper).
Following are Roger Ebert's mini-reviews of new video releases.

Coming to video Tuesday, Feb. 12:
"Bully" (Not rated; a PG-13 version has some vulgarities removed, 106 min.). An interesting and often touching documentary about several victims of bullying, two driven to suicide, and the parents and teachers who often had no idea what was going on. But it is episodic, and we're not sure what we learn from these personal stories except that they are sad. Rating: Three stars.
"The Sessions" (R, 95 min.). Mark (John Hawkes) is 38 years old and after contracting polio, he has spent most of those years in an iron lung. He believes his time is running out. He would like to experience sexual intercourse with a woman at least once before he dies. He contacts Cheryl (Helen Hunt), a sex surrogate who explains the ground rules to Mark: They will have six meetings, no more. They are not working together in order to fall in love, but to achieve a specific physical purpose. She is kind and tactful, and so is Mark's parish priest (William H. Macy), who guides him with compassion through this process. Astonishing performances, and not without humor. Rating: Three and a half stars.
"The Perks of Being a Wallflower" (PG-13, 103 min.) Logan Lerman stars as an alienated freshman in high school who sees himself as a chronic outsider, and is befriended by a group of older kids who embrace their nonconformist status. The group is led by half-siblings Sam and Patrick, played by Emma Watson in her own coming-of-age after the Harry Potter movies, and Ezra Miller, who was remarkable as an alienated teenager in "We Need to Talk About Kevin." They're artsy outsiders and teach Charlie it's OK to be who he is. Written and directed by Stephen Chbosky, based on his own novel. Rating: Three and a half stars.
"Robot and Frank" (PG-13, 90 min.). The story of a retired burglar and a household appliance more relentless than an alarm clock. Frank Langella stars as a retired jewel thief whose worrywart son supplies him with a robot caregiver (voice by Peter Sarsgaard). Frank begins to explore the robot's abilities in lock-picking and safecracking, and the movie sweetly deals with his affection for the local librarian (Susan Sarandon). But the movie could have benefitted from more irony and complexity, and at the end was too easily satisfied. Rating: Two and a half stars.
"Skyfall" (PG-13, 143 min.). "Skyfall" triumphantly reinvents 007 in one of the best Bonds ever made. This is a full-blooded, joyous, intelligent celebration of a beloved cultural icon, with Daniel Craig taking full possession of a role he earlier played unconvincingly. The film at last provides a role worthy of Judi Dench, returning as M, who is one of the best actors of her generation. She is all but the co-star, with a lot of screen time, poignant dialogue, and a character who is far more complex and sympathetic than we expect. In this 50th year of the James Bond series, with the dismal "Quantum of Solace" (2008) still in our minds, I don't know what I expected in Bond No. 23, but certainly not an experience this invigorating. If you haven't seen a 007 for years, this is the time to jump back in. Rating: Four stars.
"Celeste and Jesse Forever" (R, 91 min.). Rashida Jones and Andy Samberg star as an appealing couple, married six years, who decide to stop living in the same house. To be sure, he only moves into his backyard studio and they remain "best friends." Their own best friends are deeply upset by this change in a relationship they all thought was stable. The couple gets along smoothly in their new lifestyle, until they receive an unexpected jolt of reality. Good-hearted romantic comedy, avoiding the usual formulas. Rating: Three and a half stars.
"Flight" (R, 138 min.). After opening with one of the most terrifying flying scenes I've witnessed, in which an airplane is saved by being flown upside-down, Robert Zemeckis' "Flight" segues into a brave and tortured performance by Denzel Washington -- one of his very best. Not often does a movie character make such a harrowing personal journey that keeps us in deep sympathy all of the way. Washington plays a veteran commercial pilot who has built up a tolerance for quantities of alcohol and cocaine that would be lethal for most people. Rating: Four stars.



Local events heading

  Today is Tuesday, Sept. 16, the 259th day of 2014. There are 106 days left in the year.

1864 — 150 years ago: A fine lumber mill is on the course of erection at Andalusia. A flouring mill at that location is doing a fine business.
1889 — 125 years ago: J.B. Lidders, past captain of Beardsley Camp, Sons of Veterans, returned from Paterson, N.Y., where he attended the National Sons of Veterans encampments.
1914 — 100 years ago: President Wilson announced that he had received from the imperial chancellor of Germany a noncommittal reply to his inquiry into a report that the emperor was willing to discuss terms of peace.
1939 — 75 years ago: Delegates at the Illinois Conference of the Methodist Church in Springfield voted to raise the minimum pay of ministers so that every pastor would get at least $1,000 annually.
1964 — 50 years ago: An audience of more than 2,600 persons jammed into the Davenport RKO Orpheum theater with a shoe horn feasted on a Miller-Diller evening that was a killer night. Phyllis Diller sent the audience with her offbeat humor. And send them she did! It was Miss Diller's third appearance in the Quad-Cities area.
1989 — 25 years ago: A few years ago, a vacant lot on 7th Avenue and 14th Street in Rock Island was a community nuisance. Weeds grew as high 18 inches. Today, the lot has a new face, thanks to Michael and Sheila Rind and other neighbors who helped them turn it into a park three weeks ago.

(More History)