blue valentine -(Odeon) Oscar-nominated Ryan Gosling (Half Nelson, Fracture) and Michelle Williams (Brokeback Mountain) are the protagonists in a frank, hard-hitting drama that shuttles back and forth in time to explain the breakup of a marriage. This one has been getting raves. Starts Fri.
the mechanic -(Capitol/SilverCity) Brit badboy Jason Statham (The Transporter) is an assassin teaching his lethal job skills to an apprenctice, in a high-voltage thriller based on the 1972 Charles Bronson flick. Starts Fri.
the rite -(Capitol/SilverCity) In what looks like a classier-than-usual horror film, we get a priest whose expertise with exorcisms lands him in the middle of a particularly nasty case of demonic possession. Starring Anthony (“I ate his soul with some communion wafers and a nice Chianti”) Hopkins. Say your Hail Marys starting Fri.
★★★½ barney’s version -(Odeon/Uni 4) Mordecai Richler’s last novel comes to the screen, starring Paul Giamatti as a curmudgeonly rascal of a romantic who struggles mightily with the vicissitudes of life and love — and his own outsize flaws. Co-starring Dustin Hoffman. Note: moves to the Uni 4 on Fri.
★★★★ black swan -(Odeon/SilverCity/Uni 4) Get ready for some brilliant and disturbing ballet noir from arty director Darren Aronofsky (Pi, The Wrestler) in an intense psychological thriller about two gorgeous dance rivals, played by Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis.
★★½ chronicles of narnia: voyage of the dawn treader -(SilverCity) British director Michael Apted returns to the allegorical realm of Narnia for some sea-based adventuring, in a long-winded epic that is short on the magic that made the original movie so much fun.
★★½ country strong -(Odeon) Gwyneth Paltrow plays a troubled country singer who has just gotten out of rehab and is taking a shaky run at reclaiming her once-great career (while trying to manage both a husband and a love affair with an up-and-coming songwriter). The music and performances are good, but the screenplay is as predictable as a hurtin’ hit from Nashville.
the dilemma -(SilverCity) Ron Howard directs Vince Vaughn, Kevin James, Jennifer Connelly and Winona Ryder in a comedy-drama about a guy who doesn’t know how to tell his best friend (and business partner) that his wife may be having an affair.
★★★½ the fighter -(Capitol/SilverCity) Nothing says Christmas quite like a boxing drama, as Mark Wahlberg stars in this well acted and wonderfully entertaining biopic about “Irish” Micky Ward, a blue collar boxer who overcame lots of personal challenges to get his shot at pugilistic fame. Co-starring Christian Bale and Amy Adams.
★★ the green hornet -(Capitol/SilverCity/Uni 4/Caprice) Seth Rogen (Knocked Up) is the unlikely star of this would-be quirky deconstruction of superhero movies. A few scenes are clever, but mostly it just gets louder and stupider. Directed by Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind).
★★★★ the king’s SPEECH -(Odeon/SilverCity/Uni 4/Caprice) There is deserved Oscar buzz around this historical drama about King George VI and his struggle to overcome a crippling stammer and lead his country into war against Germany. A fascinating story and exceptional performances make this crowd-pleaser a must-see. With Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush and Helena Bonham Carter.
★★ no strings attached -(Capitol/SilverCity/Caprice) Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher bring a little charm to an otherwise flabby and lacklustre rom-com about a couple who plan on keeping their relationship strictly physical but end up wanting something more. Directed by Ivan Reitman. See review.
★★★★ 127 hours -(Odeon) James Franco stars in this true-life outdoor adventure about a canyoneer who becomes trapped and has to take appalling measures in order to survive. This life-affirming drama is directed with exhilarating style by Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire, 28 Days Later).
★★★½ tangled -(Capitol) Here’s a fractured fairy tale telling a different, more rambunctious version of the classic Rapunzel story, complete with nifty characters and some gorgeous 3-D effects. With the voices of Mandy Moore and Ron Perlman.
★★½ tron: legacy -(SilverCity) The original TRON was a visionary sci-fi classic that never got the box office it deserved. Twenty years later we return to the inner world of a video game, with mixed results: the visuals are killer, but the plot is a mix of muddle and pretension.
★★★★ TRUE GRIT -(Odeon/SilverCity) Jeff Bridges, Josh Brolin and Matt Damon star in the Coen Brothers remake of the famed revenge western that originally starred a grizzled John Wayne as aging U.S. Marshall Rooster Cogburn. Dark and mythic, this is a classic western and classic Coen Brothers.
★★★½ ARABIA -(11am, 3:00, 6:00) The past and the present merge in this exploration of the rich history and present-day exoticism and complexity of Saudi Arabia. Note: no 11am on Sat.-Sun. See review.
★★½ harry potter and the deathly hallows, Part 1 -(7:00) After a great start, the latest installment of the Potter franchise bogs down with a dull quest and lots of squabbling between Harry, Ron and Hermione.
★★★ horses: the story of equus -(10am, 1:00, 4:00) The lives of three very different horses are portrayed in this charming film that will appeal to all eque-files. Note: no 10am on Sat.-Sun. or Tues.-Wed.
hurricane on the bayou -(10am, Tues. only)
★★★ legends of flight -(11am, 2:00, 4:00, 6:00) The creation of the “next generation” commercial jetliner is detailed in this fascinating documentary.
van gogh: brush with genius -(FRENCH VERSION) (10am, Wed. only)
Cinema Politica – Screening El Contraro. The film Teodoro Bello Martinez, a poverty-stricken father of four living in Central Mexico, and several of his countrymen as they make an annual migration to southern Ontario. 7pm THURSDAY in Camosun’s Young Building, rm 216. By donation. cinemapolitica/org/victoria.
Movie Monday – Screening Baseball Girls. In honour of women-in-sports week, Movie Monday is showing this affectionate documentary look at the rich history of women in the largely masculine realm of baseball and softball. 6:30pm MONDAY in the 1900-block Fort. By donation. 595-FLIC. moviemonday.ca.
Chasing Legends – touches on the rich history, passion and true grit of the Tour de France, as seen through the eyes of Team Columbia-HTC. 7pm WEDNESDAY at SilverCity. $14.50.
Cinecenta at UVic screens its films in the Student Union Building. Info: 250-721-8365. cinecenta.com.
★★★½ carlos -(Wed.-Thurs., Jan. 26-27: 7:15 only) Cut down from a European TV miniseries, this is a compelling — although somewhat speculative — portrait of Carlos the Jackal, who was the world’s most feared terrorist for 20 years.
★★★ conviction -(Fri.-Sat., Jan. 28-29: 3:00, 7:00, 9:10) This true-life drama stars Oscar-winner Hilary Swank as a single mom who puts herself through law school in a desperate bid to prove the innocence of a brother (Sam Rockwell) serving a life sentence for a murder he may not have committed. Great performances lift this out of TV-movie territory.
★★★★ fantastic mr. Fox -(Sat.-Sun., Jan. 29-30: 1:00 matinee) Wes Anderson (Rushmore, The Life Aquatic) takes his first foray into animation as the director of this utterly delightful and intriguingly stylized tale of a sly fox who is the bane of all the nearby farmers. Written by the fantastic Roald Dahl and featuring the vocal talents of George Clooney, Bill Murray, Meryl Streep and Willem Dafoe.
★★½ hereafter -(Sun., Jan. 30: 3:00, 7:00 & Mon., Jan. 31: 7:00 only ) Clint Eastwood directs Matt Damon in an introspective drama where three very different people share an interest in life after death. This is well directed, well acted and full of interesting detail, but manages to be surprisingly dull.
★★★★ the last waltz -(Tues., Feb. 1: 7:00, 9:15) Martin Scorsese directed this delightful rock-doc chronicling the farewell 1976 performance of The Band, alongside numerous guest stars ranging from Joni Mitchell and Neil Young to Dr. John and Van Morrison.
countdown to zero -(Wed.-Thurs., Feb. 2-3: 7:10, 9:00) Even the terminally blasé may be rattled by this documentary about the various forms of nuclear peril, whether it’s the number of times that a nuclear conflagration was imminent due to superpower misunderstandings or else the ease with which weapons-grade uranium can be purchased on the black market.