Weekly Film Listings – January 20-26

no strings attached -(Capitol/SilverCity/Caprice) Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher star in a romcom about a couple who plan on keeping their relationship strictly physical but end up wanting something more. Gee, haven't we seen this plot a few dozen times already? Directed by Ivan Reitman. Starts Fri.

Horse-lovers won't want to miss Horses: The Story of Equus at IMAX (see OPENING)

OPENING

no strings attached -(Capitol/SilverCity/Caprice) Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher star in a romcom about a couple who plan on keeping their relationship strictly physical but end up wanting something more. Gee, haven’t we seen this plot a few dozen times already? Directed by Ivan Reitman. Starts Fri.

arabia -(IMAX) The past and the present merge in this exploration of the rich history and present-day exoticism of Arabia. Starts Fri.

★★★ horses: the story of equus -(IMAX) The lives of three very different horses are portrayed in this charming film that will appeal to all eque-files. Starts Fri.

CONTINUING

★★★½ barney’s version -(Odeon) 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.

★★★★ 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 burlesque -(Roxy, 3:45 Sat.-Sun.) A neo-burlesque club is the setting for a classic tale of a young hopeful (Christina Aguilera) who heads to Los Angeles with dreams of becoming a star. Sure the plot is all cheesy cliché, but the dancing is full of razzle-dazzle energy and Aguilera sings up a storm. With Cher and Stanley Tucci.

★★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 -(Odeon/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).

★★½ harry potter and the deathly hallows, Part 1 -(Roxy, 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. But you gotta love all those great English actors, to say nothing of the nostril-challenged Lord Voldemort, more loathsome than ever.

★★ how do you know -(Roxy, 9:00) Cutie pie Reese Witherspoon finds herself in the middle of a romantic triangle with Paul Rudd and Owen Wilson. Despite being written and directed by Oscar winner James L. Brooks (As Good As It Gets, Broadcast News), this romcom is a flat-footed slog with disappointing performances.

★★★★ 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.

LITTLE FOCKERS -(SilverCity) Like with the earlier sequel, it seems all too likely that the best joke in this lowbrow comedy about family dysfunction may be the title. Starring Ben Stiller, Robert De Niro, Jessica Alba, Dustin Hoffman and many other shameless actors.

★★★½ megamind -(Roxy, 2:00) This hipster spoof of superhero movies is a witty and inventive piece of animation that is great for kids and parents alike. Tina Fey is fab voicing a cynical Lois Lane-style reporter, but it’s Will Ferrell who steals the show as a conflicted supervillain.

★★★★ 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).

★★★★ rabbit hole -(Capitol) Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhard are featured in this poignant and nuanced drama about grieving parents struggling and raging as they confront the death of their young boy. Kidman is superb. Adapted from the Pulitzer-winning play, and directed by John Cameron Mitchell (Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Shortbus).

★★ season of the witch -(SilverCity) Nicholas Cage stars as a 14th century knight in this cheesy supernatural thriller about a suspected witch who is believed to be the source of the black plague. Co-starring Ron (Hellboy) Perlman and Christopher Lee.

★★★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.

★★ the tourist -(Capitol) Johnny Depp is ensnared in the web of a sexy, mysterious woman (Angelina Jolie), as an elaborate thriller plot unfolds in picturesque Venice. Despite obvious efforts to deliver Hitchcockian style, this is a hollow and formulaic dud (although easy on the eyes). Co-starring Paul Bettany and Rufus Sewell.

★★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/Uni 4) Jeff Bridges, Josh Brolin and Matt Damon star in the Coen Brothers remake of the classic 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.

yogi bear -(Roxy, 12:30 Sat.-Sun.) In a mix of animation and live action, a classic 60s TV cartoon makes it to the big screen. Featuring the voice talents of Dan Aykroyd and Justin Timberlake.

leaving thursday

gulliver’s travels -(SilverCity)

★★★½ hubble -(IMAX)

★★½ ultimate wave tahiti -(IMAX)

★★★ van gogh: brush with genius -(IMAX)

IMAX

ARABIA -(11am, 3:00, 6:00). See Opening for description.

★★½ harry potter and the deathly hallows, Part 1 -(7:00) See Continuing for description.

★★★ horses: the story of equus -(10am, 1:00, 4:00). NOTE: no 10am show on Tues. See Opening for description.

★★★ legends of flight -(11am, 2:00, 4:00, 6:00) The creation of the “next generation” commercial jetliner is detailed in this fascinating documentary.

★★★★ pulse: a stomp odyssey -(10am, Tues. only) Rhythm is the global heartbeat in this toe-tapping delight from the IMAX back catalogue.

SCREENINGS

SOcial Justice Film Night – Screens South of the Border, Oliver Stone’s exploration of the social and political movements as well as the mainstream media’s misperception of South America while interviewing seven of its elected president. 7pm THURSDAY at the BCGEU Hall (2994 Douglas). By donation. 250-743-2994.

Southern American Folk Art Documentaries – An evening of outsider art documentary shorts by Dave Seahausen. This will be a casual evening of watching films, looking at art and conversation. Beverages and snacks will be served. 7pm THURSDAY at the View Art Gallery (104-860 View). $10, reservations recommended. 250-891-1901, info@victoriafineartfestival.org

Exit Through the Gift Shop – The story of how an eccentric French shop keeper and amateur film maker attempted to locate and befriend the graffiti artist Banksy. 7pm THURSDAY at Camas Book and Infoshop, 2950 Quadra. Free. 250-381-0585.

Library of the Early Mind – This new documentary by filmmakers Edward J. Delaney and Steven Withrow is an exploration of the art and impact of children’s literature on our kids, our culture, and ourselves. 7pm THURSDAY in the David Lam Auditorium, MacLaurin Building, UVic. Free, but donations of gently used children’s books appreciated. 250-721-7878.

Including Samuel – The award-winning documentary by photojournalist Dan Habib about the educational inclusion of people with disabilities, which was inspired by his son Samuel’s diagnosis with cerebral palsy. Part of the opening celebrations for the Faculty of Education’s new Centre for Outreach Education (CORE). 7pm FRIDAY in the David Lam Auditorium, MacLaurin Building, UVic. Free, but donations of gently used children’s books appreciated. 250-721-7878.

Despicable Me – An immensely entertaining story of a supervillain who plans to use three orphan girls as pawns for a grand scheme, only to find that their innocent love is profoundly changing him. A fundraiser for Esquimalt Neighbourhood House volunteer, Kate Day, going to get M.S. treatment that is not yet available in Canada. 7pm SATURDAY in the 1900-block Fort. By donation. 595-FLIC. moviemonday.ca

HollyWood: Single Beds and Double Standards – Victoria Secular Humanist Assn. presents Lexi Ratz of Women in Need Co-operative plus a film, Hollywood: Single Beds & Double Standards: Sin and Prudery in the Movies’ Golden Age. 10:30am SUNDAY in the Banquet Room, Executive House Hotel, 777 Douglas Street. Free. 250-744-3652.

Movie Monday – Screening ★★★ Mao’s Last Dancer. Notwithstanding its schmaltzy narrative this true-life account of a brilliant young ballet dancer who defected from Communist China in 1980 is inspiring and entertaining (and the dance sequences are fabulous). 6:30pm MONDAY in the 1900-block Fort. By donation. 595-FLIC. moviemonday.ca

CINECENTA

Cinecenta at UVic screens its films in the Student Union Building. Tickets are available 40 minutes prior to showtime. Info: 721-8365. cinecenta.com.

★★★★ inside job -(Wed., Jan. 19: 7:00, 9:10) Matt Damon narrates a must- see documentary about what really happened behind the scenes on Wall Street (and in Washinton) to precipitate the 2008 economic meltdown. Less angry and smarter than something by Michael Moore, this indictment of greed and corruption is nothing less than stunning.

★★★ tamara drewe -(Thurs., Jan. 20: 7:00, 9:15 & Fri., Jan. 21: 3:00, 7:00 & Sat., Jan. 22: 3:45, 7:00) Adapted from the popular graphic novel (which was loosely based on Thomas Hardy’s Far From the Madding Crowd), this comedy of manners sends up a variety of people with much to learn about life and love. Directed by Stephen Frears (The Grifters, The Queen). See review.

chitty chitty bang bang -(Sat.-Sun., Jan. 22-23: 1:00 matinee) Dick Van Dyke stars in this classic 1968 comedy about an eccentric inventor who invents a revolutionary flying car.

★★★½ winds of heaven -(Sun., Jan. 23: 3:45, 7:10, 9:00 & Mon.-Tues., Jan. 24-25: 7:10, 9:00) This biopic of renowned painter Emily Carr is a sophisticated and thoughtful portrait of a visionary artist, endearing eccentric, and great champion of aboriginal culture.

★★★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. See review.

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