A hip and quirky Rom-Com
One of the most enduring staples of Hollywood — make that a Hollywood staple many have to endure — is the romantic comedy. All rom-coms hope to equal the box office achieved by Pretty Woman, but few aspire to move beyond the shopworn formula wherein two attractive people are stuck in preposterous plots designed to keep them apart for 90 agonizingly contrived minutes. Then, suddenly, over the horizon comes the hip and quirky Celeste and Jesse Forever, a rom-com that’s ideal for moviegoers who think they’re too smart for genre fare.
When we first meet Celeste (Rashida Jones, TV’s Parks and Recreation) and Jesse (SNL veteran Andy Samberg) the two are traveling in a car and carrying on with the intimate ease of sexy soul mates. Soon we’re startled to discover that six months ago they split up after several years of marriage, but have remained best friends — so much so that their buddies think it’s weird. There’s clearly tons of chemistry left, so shouldn’t these two be getting back together? With both of them wavering, and outside events conspiring against them, the plot pulls a few surprises while slowly clueing us in to the relationship dynamics that caused the breakup in the first place.
Jones does a terrific job playing a woman who falls short of being adorable because she’s a control freak who thinks she’s the smartest person in the room (she often is, but still . . .). Los Angeles provides a great backdrop for all the clever-young-thing shenanigans, and the dialogue and characterizations are both sharp and funny. In all, Forever goes down as nicely as a trendy cocktail. M
Celeste and Jesse Forever ★★★
Directed by Lee Toland Krieger
Starring Rashida Jones, Andy Samberg, Ari Graynor
R – 91 minutes
Opens Friday at the Odeon
Chase scenes usually play well in the movies, and Premium Rush lays on a doozy. Set on the ultra-busy streets of Manhattan, this amiable, low-tech thriller features a law school dropout who has turned his back on Brooks Brothers pinstripes in favour of casual threads and a job as a bike courier. Wilee (Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Inception) is an adrenaline junkie who rides a bike without brakes and is somehow able to anticipate safe routes through deadly streams of traffic while also avoiding suddenly opened cab doors . . . and the occasional bike cop who chases after him for terrorizing pedestrians and numerous other infractions.
Wilee suddenly needs all his skills when he picks up an envelope for delivery to Chinatown. For reasons unknown, a guy who turns out to be a corrupt cop wants that envelope and pursues Wilee with near-homicidal intent. Lots of extreme stunt riding ensues, interspersed with a series of flashbacks that gradually explain what is in the envelope and why Detective Monday (Michael Shannon, Oscar nominated for Revolutionary Road) is so desperate to get his hands on it. Gordon-Levitt is an impressive actor playing a likable hero. Add in a couple of decent supporting performances, some “Google map” route graphics, and a few special effects, and what could have been a one-note chase flick becomes a well-paced entertainment that, though forgettable, is just fine for the end of summer. M
Premium Rush ★★★
Directed by David Koepp
Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Dania Ramirez
PG – 91 minutes
Continues at the Capitol, SilverCity, & Westshore
Watching the cool kids of Los Angeles enjoying their hip lives may make you yearn for a cunning little cocktail (or three) so as to join in the fun. Happily, Victoria is well suited for fans of so-called artisan cocktails. Clive’s Classic Lounge has a fantastic menu of classic and contemporary tipples. And the Marriott has recently hired Solomon Siegel as their head bartender, so check out Fire and Water Lounge for everything from pre-prohibition era martinis to exotic elixirs you’ve never even heard of.
LAWLESS -(Odeon/SilverCity/Uni 4) This western-flavoured crime drama set during the Depression features a gang of bootleggers who don’t appreciate it when the new deputy wants a big cut of their profits. Starring Tom Hardy, Shia LaBeouf, and Guy Pearce. Starts Wed., Aug. 29.
★★★ CELESTE AND JESSE FOREVER -(Odeon) People bored with standard rom-com fare will savour this quirky, funny and insightful account of a divorcing couple who are still best friends. Is she really breaking up with him? Starring Rashida Jones (Parks and Recreation) and Andy Samberg (SNL). Starts Fri. See review.
ROBOT & FRANK -(Odeon) Set in the near future, this unusual comedy features an aged ex-jewel thief (Frank Langella) who gets a “robot butler” from his son. Initially indignant, the dad soon decides to go back into business — using his programmable robot as an obliging accomplice. Starts Fri.
THE POSSESSION -(Capitol/SilverCity/Westshore) And this week’s less-than-original horror flick features a young girl who buys an ornate box at a yard sale, unaware that it contains some form of Ancient Evil that’s about to put the hurt on her big time. The screams start Fri.
★★★½ THE AMAZING SPIDER–MAN -(Caprice) Little-known actor Andrew Garfield suits up as everyone’s favourite webslinger in a super hero movie that’s smart enough to be a great coming-of-age story. Co-starring Emma Stone.
THE APPARITION -(Capitol) In what looks like a standard-issue fright flick, a couple is haunted after an evil spirit is unleashed during a college experiment.
★★★½ THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL -(Caprice) A diverse group of British seniors seek out an affordable retirement hotel in India, only to find it in shabby disarray. But despite the initial disappointment, India’s exotic charms win them over. This heartfelt comedy-drama has a sensational cast that includes Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson and Judi Dench.
★★ THE BOURNE LEGACY -(Odeon/SilverCity/Westshore) The hyper-kinetic spy series gets a flaccid and disappointing reboot with a new director and new actor (Jeremy Renner). Co-starring Rachel Weisz and Edward Norton.
★★★ BRAVE -(Caprice) Billy Connolly and Emma Thompson provide the voices for Pixar’s animated tale that is set in ancient Scotland and tells of a headstrong young princess who must rely on her courage to undo a beastly curse. Decent entertainment, albeit occasionally a bit plodding.
★★½ THE CAMPAIGN -(Odeon/SilverCity) A veteran congressman (Will Ferrell) who is used to running for office unapposed is shocked to find himself facing an inexperienced but effective challenger (Zach Galifianakis). This gleefully crass comedy does a (mostly) good job of skewering obvious targets like political corruption, hypocrisy, and smug media participation in a shameless circus.
★★★ THE DARK KNIGHT RISES -(Capitol/SilverCity/Westshore) A diabolical terrorist named Bane poses a terrible threat to Gotham, as Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy comes to an exciting but rather bloated conclusion. With Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman and Anne Hathaway.
DIARY OF A WIMPY KID: DOG DAYS -(Caprice) Greg is totally ready for summer when suddenly his plans all fall apart. What’s the poor guy gonna do now?
★★½ THE EXPENDABLES 2 -(Odeon/Westshore/SilverCity) Expect lots of manly mayhem as a group of aging mercenaries (played by aging Hollywood mercenaries like Sylvester Stallone, Chuck Norris and Bruce Willis) go up against a very nasty adversary. This is good, cheesy fun.
★½ HIT AND RUN -(Capitol/SilverCity) This action-comedy-romance features a former getaway driver who risks his Witness Protection Plan status in order to get his girlfriend to L.A. In pursuit are the feds and members of the guy’s ex-gang. Other than for a few glimmerings of wit and style this is a mess.
HOPE SPRINGS -(Odeon/SilverCity/Uni 4) Meryl Streep can’t endure her boring marriage any more and drags her reluctant husband (Tommy Lee Jones) off to intensive couple’s counselling to try to revive intimacy and romance.
★★★ MADAGASCAR 3: EUROPE’S MOST WANTED -(Caprice) Those mouthy NYC zoo escapees are up to their usual colourful antics in a wittily entertaining animation romp.
★★★ MAGIC MIKE -(Caprice) Channing Tatum stars as a male stripper who takes a protege under his wing, then eventually has to rethink his lifestyle. Directed by Steven Soderbergh.
THE ODD LIFE OF TIMOTHY
GREEN -(Uni 4/SilverCity) Disney Studios produced this rather fantastical family-friendly tale about a childless couple who end up with a young boy under distinctly magical circumstances. Starring Jennifer Garner.
★★½ PARANORMAN -(Capitol/SilverCity/Westshore) In an amusingly morbid slice of family animation, a misunderstood boy who can talk to the dead is the only hope to save his town from an army of zombies and ghosts activated by a centuries-old curse.
★★★ PREMIUM RUSH -(Capitol/SilverCity/Westshore) The always interesing Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Inception, 500 Days of Summer) stars in a zippy, low-tech thriller about a bike courier in NYC who picks up a mysterious package and starts getting chased all over the city by a dirty cop. This is a kinetic and fun night at the movies. See review.
★★★ RUBY SPARKS -(Odeon) This charming and offbeat romcom features a nerdy, lovelorn novelist who writes about the girl of his dreams — only to find her happily living with him one day.
★ SPARKLE -(Odeon) The late Whitney Houston is one of the stars of this dreadful musical melodrama about three sisters who form a Motown girl group, only to see fame begin to erode their close-knit family.
★★½ TED -(Caprice) Mark Wahlberg stars in a twisted — and sometimes laboured — comedy about a young man whose best friend is a foul-mouthed teddy bear that is a very bad influence on him. Written and directed by Seth MacFarlane, most famous for the TV satires Family Guy and American Dad!
★★★★ BEASTS OF THE
SOUTHERN WILD -(Odeon)
★★★ ICE AGE: CONTINENTAL
★★★ INTOUCHABLES -(Odeon)
MOVIE MONDAY – Gets to take a well-deserved night off in honour of Labour Day. By donation. 6:30pm MONDAY in the 1900-block Fort. 595FLIC. moviemonday.ca
Cinecenta at UVic screens its films in the Student Union Building. Info: 721-8365. cinecenta.com.
★★★ PATANG / THE KITE -(Wed.-Thurs., Aug. 29-30: 7:00, 9:00) India’s largest annual kite festival provides the backdrop for this lyrical and occasionally dramatic look at a semi-dysfunctional family when the patriarch returns from Delhi.
★★★½ TO ROME WITH LOVE -(Fri.-Sun., Aug. 31.-Sept. 2: 7:00, 9:15 & Mon., Sept. 3: 7:00 only) Woody Allen’s winning streak with glamorous European cities continues with his latest comedy, which takes a sly look at adultery, fame, and self-delusion. The great cast includes Penelope Cruz, Ellen Page, Judy Davis, Jesse Eisenberg and Alec Baldwin.
★★★½ MOONRISE KINGDOM -(Tues.-Thurs., Sept. 4-6: 7:00, 9:00) The ever-quirky Wes Anderson (Rushmore, The Fantastic Mr. Fox) is in fine form as he tells a tale about two very young lovers who run away, thus sparking an unusual search. Featuring Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Edward Norton, and Frances McDormand.
AIR RACERS -(11 am, 2 pm, 6 pm) Paul Walker narrates this pulse-pounding documentary about the world’s fastest race, as amazingly nimble planes negotiate a tricky course at 500 MPH.
★★★½ THE AMAZING SPIDER–MAN -(8 pm, Thurs.-Sat. & 7 pm, Sun.-Wed)
DINOSAURS: GIANTS OF PATAGONIA -(noon, 3 pm) Those “terrible lizards” come back to life in a feature that complements the fascinating dinosaur exhibit currently on at the RBCM.
★★★½ ROCKY MOUNTAIN EXPRESS -(10 am, 4 pm) Here’s a patriotic account of the many daunting challenges behind building the CPR railway: part history lesson, part glorious travelogue.
TO THE ARCTIC -(1 pm, 5 pm, & 7 pm -— Thurs.-Sat. only) NOTE: No 7 pm show on Fri., Aug. 31.