POMPEII -(SilverCity/Westshore) Paul W.S. Anderson (Resident Evil) goes from zombies to gladiators in this sword-and-sandals epic about an ex-slave who struggles to free his true love from a corrupt Roman senator. Oh, and Mount Vesuvius evidently has a bit of a cameo. With Connie Nielsen.
3 DAYS TO KILL -(SilverCity) Kevin Costner stars as a dying secret service agent who is offered an experimental drug that could save his life. The catch? He has to perform one last, very dangerous assignment.
★★★★ 12 YEARS A SLAVE -(Odeon) This harrowing, true-life tale of a free black man in 1840s America who was kidnapped and sold into slavery is this year’s Oscar front runner. Directed by Steve McQueen (Hunger, Shame) and starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Brad Pitt.
★★★½ AMERICAN HUSTLE -(Odeon) David O. Russell (Three Kings, The Fighter) looks good to be collecting Oscar Gold for this screwball crime dramedy, loosely based on the 1970s Abscam scandal, when an FBI sting ensnared a bunch of congressman on corruption charges. This devil’s brew of messy emotions and sneaky double-crosses features a great cast that includes Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Renner, and Jennifer Lawrence.
★★½ AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY -(Odeon) A wildly dysfunctional family has an acrimonious, often venomous reunion after a funeral. Meryl Streep acts up a storm as the family matriarch, but all the shrieking and anger and emotional messiness doesn’t have much of a point. The great cast includes Chris Cooper, Sam Shepard, Julia Roberts, Juliette Lewis, Ewan McGregor, and Dermot Mulroney.
ENDLESS LOVE -(SilverCity/Westshore) A privileged girl falls for a hunky, blue collar boy. But is it love or just an opportunity for a lot of reckless, parent-defying behaviour? The cast includes Bruce Greenwood and Joely Richardson.
FROZEN -(SilverCity/Westshore) As a prelude to winter comes this appealing Disney animated tale about a brave woman who sets out to rescue a kingdom trapped in eternal winter. Some of the other characters include a goofy snowman and his reindeer buddy. Based on the story by Hans Christian Andersen.
★★★HER -(Odeon) Most critics have loved the latest from the incomparably weird Spike Jonze (Being John Malkovich), which stars Joaquin Phoenix as a lonely writer who develops an intensely intimate relationship with his computer’s Siri-like operating system (voiced with beguiling sexiness by Scarlett Johansson). See review in the monthly Monday Magazine.
★★★ THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG -(SilverCity) Peter Jackson delivers three hours of fast-paced entertainment in this exciting, combat-filled and often funny account of Bilbo, Gandalf, and a bevy of bearded dwarves as they confront that terrifying, gold-hoarding dragon named Smaug (voiced by the suddenly ubiquitous Benedict Cumberbatch).
★★½ JACK RYAN: SHADOW RECRUIT -(SilverCity) A young Jack Ryan (Chris Pine, Star Trek) has to upshift from covert CIA analyst to kick-ass field agent in this high-octane thriller about a Russian plot to destroy the U.S. economy as part of a terrorist attack. Directed by Kenneth Branagh and co-starring Kevin Costner, Keira Knightley, and Colm Feore.
★★ LABOR DAY-(Odeon) The previously credible Jason Reitman (Up in the Air) directs Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin in a sudsy, occasionally laughable melodrama about a depressed single mom who has an encounter with a seemingly scary escaped convict, only to find herself falling for the hunky dude.
★★★ THE LEGO MOVIE -(Odeon/SilverCity/Landmark Uni 4/Westshore) An evil Lego tyrant plans to glue the entire universe together, and it’s up to an ordinary Lego mini-figure to save the day. This animated romp features the vocal talents of Will Arnett, Elizabeth Banks, Morgan Freeman, and Will Ferrell.
★★½ THE MONUMENTS MEN – -(Odeon/Landmark Uni 4/SilverCity/Westshore) George Clooney directs and acts in this corny and somewhat disappointing true-life tale of an American platoon during the Second World War tasked with retrieving European art masterworks pilfered by the Nazis. With Matt Damon, Bill Murray, Cate Blanchett, and John Goodman.
★★★½ PHILOMENA -(Landmark Cinema 4) Oscar-nomination speculation is already swirling around Judi Dench for her performance as a woman who was forced to give up her out-of-wedlock child 50 years ago and is now determined to track him down. This surprisingly funny dramedy co-stars Steve Coogan and is directed by the great Stephen Frears (High Fidelity, The Queen).
★★½ ROBOCOP -(Westshore/SilverCity) The classic sci-fi cautionary tale from 1987 about a cyborg cop with ultra-lethal capabilities gets a so-so remake at the hand of Jose Padilha (***Elite Squad). Starring Gary Oldman, Michael Keaton, Samuel L. Jackson, and Abbie Cornish. See review in the monthly Monday Magazine.
★★THAT AWKWARD MOMENT -(SilverCity/Westshore) Three 20-something guys who are best friends find themselves confronting a terrifying question: are their current dates just casual affairs . . . or something more? Zac Efron stars in an uninspired romcom, set amidst the hookup generation, that clumsily blends raunchy jokes with tender feelings.
★★★½ THE WOLF OF WALL STREET -(Odeon/SilverCity) Revered director Martin Scorsese reunites with Leonardo DiCaprio for this electrifyingly debauched, true-life tale of Jordan Belfort, a sleazy Wall Street stockbroker at the centre of a massive financial scandal in the 1990s. With Matthew McConaughey, Jonah Hill, and Jon Favreau.
★½ WINTER’S TALE -(Odeon/Landmark Uni 4/Westshore) Despite some good intentions (and good actors like Colin Farrell and Russell Crowe) this fantastical tale of time travel, romance and spirituality is astonishingly bad and phony.
GREAT WHITE SHARK -(10 am, 1 pm, 3 pm, 6 pm) The ocean’s most iconic predator gets star billing in a documentary exploring the myth and the reality of the great white shark and the scientists who study it.
★★★ HIDDEN UNIVERSE -(noon, 5 pm) Travel to the farthest reaches of the visible universe courtesy of the world’s most amazing telescopes.
★★★ THE HOBBIT: DESOLATION OF SMAUG -(Sun.-Thurs., 7 pm) Peter Jackson delivers three hours of fast-paced entertainment in this exciting, combat-filled and often funny account of Bilbo, Gandalf, and a bevy of bearded dwarves as they confront that terrifying, gold-hoarding dragon named Smaug (voiced by the suddenly ubiquitous Benedict Cumberbatch). NOTE: Starts this Sunday.
★★½ HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE -(Fri.-Sat. only, 7 pm) In the middle movie of this dystopic future-world trilogy for teens, the oddly-named Katniss Everdeen (Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence) gets caught up in some deadly schemings after a rebellion outrages Panem’s despotic ruler (Donald Sutherland). This is predictable stuff, but boy is it popular! NOTE: Ends on Saturday.
PENGUINS -(11 am, 2 pm, 4 pm) Narrated by David Attenborough, this doc focuses on one King Penguin as he struggles to find a mate and fulfill his destiny while struggling against predators and a hostile environment.
MOVIE MONDAY – screens Here One Day. This touching documentary features the efforts of a grieving daughter to understand and forgive her mother, a sufferer of bipolar disorder who took her own life many years earlier. 6:30 pm MONDAY in the 1900-block Fort. By donation. 595-FLIC. moviemonday.ca. 6:30 pm MONDAY in the 1900-block Fort. By donation. 595-FLIC. moviemonday.ca.
Cinecenta at UVic screens its films in the Student Union Building. Info: 721-8365. cinecenta.com.
★★★★ BLUE JASMINE -(Fri., Feb. 21 3:00, 7:00, 9:00) Cate Blanchett is a leading Oscar contender for her role as an emotionally fragile woman struggling to recover after her life as a glamorous socialite gets turned upside down. Complete with a great cast, this is one of Woody Allen’s best films. Ever.
THE CROODS -(Sat.-Sun., Feb. 22-23: 1:00 matinees) A prehistoric family taking an unexpected “road trip” into a magical land is the plot of this whimsical animated charmer (which got great reviews). With the vocal talents of Emma Stone, Nicolas Cage, and Ryan Reynolds.
★★★★ 20 FEET FROM STARDOM -(Sat., Feb. 22: 3:00, 7:10, 9:00) The lives of talented but nearly anonymous back-up singers in some of the biggest bands in the world are explored in a marvellous, Oscar-nominated documentary that includes archival footage and interviews. Featuring Darlene Love, Merry Clayton . . . and slightly more famous performers like David Bowie, Sheryl Crow, Mick Jagger, and Ray Charles. Anyone who enjoys Motown and R&B will love this ravishing showcase of full-throttle singing.
THE GREAT BEAUTY -(Sun., Feb. 23: 3:00, 6:30, 9:10 & Mon.-Fri., Feb. 24-28: 6:30, 9:10) Nothing but raves have greeted this Oscar-nominated Italian film that celebrates the city of Rome in a complex and artistic manner that has earned comparisons with Rome, Open City and La Dolce Vita.
THE VIC THEATRE
The Vic Theatre is located at 808 Douglas Street. Info: thevic.ca
PUSSY RIOT: A PUNK PRAYER -(Fri.-Thurs., Feb. 21-27: 7:00) The court cases involving the feminist anti-Putin punk-rock protesters who were sent to jail under barbaric circumstances are portrayed in this HBO documentary.
VILLAGE AT THE END OF THE WORLD -(Fri.-Sat., Feb. 21-22: 9:00 & Sun., Feb. 23: 4:00 matinee) A tiny village in northwest Greenland is the setting for this film about Lars, a teenage boy who is the only person in a community of hunters who doesn’t want to hunt.