Film listings Feb. 14 – 20

Robocop, Winter's Tale and Endless Love open; Victoria Film Festival continues

Film OPENING

ROBOCOP -(Westshore/SilverCity) The classic sci-fi cautionary tale from 1987 about a cyborg cop with ultra-lethal capabilities gets a remake at the hand of Jose Padilha (Elite Squad). Expect maximum carnage when this law-and-order guy suits up. Starring Gary Oldman, Michael Keaton, Samuel L. Jackson, and Abbie Cornish.

WINTER’S TALE -(Odeon/Landmark Uni 4/Westshore) There is romance in the air in this fantastical tale about a burglar (Colin Farrell) who falls for an heiress as she dies in his arms. When he discovers that he has the gift of reincarnation, the plucky fellow sets out to save her. Hey, wouldn’t you?

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.

CONTINUING

★★★★ 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/SilverCity) 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.

★★★½ DALLAS BUYERS CLUB -(Odeon) Matthew McConaughey has latterly gone from laughing stock to leading actor, and is currently an Oscar fave for his role in this true-life 1980s-era story of Ron Woodroof, a redneck, homophobic rodeo rider from Texas who finds out he has contracted AIDS from wild living. Given only weeks to live, Woodroof finds out about the experimental drug AZT and comes alive as a drug-smuggling AIDS activist, helping not just himself but many other sufferers. Co-star Jared Leto is also nominated, for best supporting actor.

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/Westshore) 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-(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. See review.

★★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.

THE NUT JOB -(SilverCity/Westshore) So-so reviews have greeted this animated romp about a curmudgeonly squirrel who gets banished from his park and has to learn to survive in the big city — so watch out, Maury’s Nut Store! With the vocal talents of Brendan Fraser, Liam Neeson, Katherine Heigl, and Will Arnett.

★★★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).

★★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.

VAMPIRE ACADEMY -(SilverCity) Peaceful and mortal vampires called Morols live discreetly amongst us humans, but are being hunted by nasty, immortal vampires. Luckily, the Morols have a sexy guardian named Rose. Let the biting begin!

★★★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.

IMAX

GREAT WHITE SHARK -(Fri.-Thurs., 10 am, 1 pm, 3 pm, 5 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 -(11 am, 2 pm, 4 pm: Fri.-Thurs.) Travel to the farthest reaches of the visible universe courtesy of the world’s most amazing telescopes.

★★★ SPACE JUNK -(noon, 6 pm) Hundreds of tons of junk are orbiting above the planet, and this fascinating doc tells you why you need to know about it.

SCREENINGS

MOVIE MONDAY screens The Big Lebowski. Everyone loves this classic Coen Brothers comedy about a doped-up slacker (Jeff Bridges) who gets involved with a bunch of gangsters and other lowlifes.  6:30 pm MONDAY in the 1900-block Fort. By donation. 595-FLIC. moviemonday.ca.

INSIGHTS shows Fetching Cody, which uses a “magic realist” style as it tells a tale about a drug addict on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. With Jay Baruchel and Jim Byrnes. This is part of the Silver Screen Insights into Mental Health series that is run by the fine folk at Movie Monday. THURSDAY, 7 pm, at the Royal Jubilee Hospital’s Patient Care Lecture Theatre – S169.

SOCIAL JUSTICE FILM NIGHT -presents The People Speak. Based on a pair of books of American oral history, this documentary features the words (in letters, songs, speeches, etc.) of rebels, dissenters, and other interesting folk ranging from Frederick Douglass to Muhammad Ali, and Susan B. Anthony to Bob Dylan. In all, a powerful celebration of the possibilities for creating social change. THURSDAY, 7 pm, 2994 Douglas Street (BCGEU Hall).

CINECENTA

Cinecenta at UVic screens its films in the Student Union Building. Info: 721-8365. cinecenta.com.

★★★½ DALLAS  BUYERS CLUB -(Fri., Feb. 14: 3:00, 7:00, 9:15) Matthew McConaughey has latterly gone from laughing stock to leading actor, and is likely in line for an Oscar nomination for his role in this true-life 1980s-era story of Ron Woodroof, a redneck, homophobic rodeo rider from Texas who finds out he has contracted AIDS from wild living. Given only weeks to live, Woodroof finds out about the experimental drug AZT and comes alive as a drug-smuggling AIDS activist, helping not just himself but many other sufferers.

★★★½ THE NEVERENDING STORY -(Sat.-Sun., Feb. 15-16: 1:00 matinees) A magical book takes a young boy into a fantastical world wherein he has to undertake a hero’s quest. Great stuff!

★★★ THE SOUND OF MUSIC -(Sun., Feb. 16: 3:00, 7:00) Five Oscars went to this classic musical which tells the true-life story of the Von Trapp family and their efforts to flee the Nazi takeover of Austria.

THE BROKEN CIRCLE BREAKDOWN -(Mon.-Tues., Feb. 17-18: 7:00, 9:10) This award-winning romantic drama from Belgium shows what happens after the love between a free-spirited tattoo artist and a gentle bluegrass musician is challenged when their young daughter becomes critically ill.

★★★½ THE HUNT -(Wed., Feb 19: 7:00, 9:15) The great Mads Mikkelsen (Casino Royale) stars in this bleak and absorbing Danish drama about how the people of a small town turn on a popular teacher once he is falsely accused of being a child molester.

THE ACT OF KILLING -(Thurs., Feb. 20: 7:00, 9:10) This Oscar-nominated documentary records the almost-unbelievable confessions of military thugs  from Indonesia who participated in mass killings dating back to the 1960s. What’s incredible is how the murderers willingly re-enact their crimes for the camera, almost as though they are stars in a Hollywood movie.

THE VIC THEATRE

The Vic Theatre is located at 808 Douglas Street. Info: thevic.ca

VICTORIA FILM FESTIVAL -(Fri.-Sun., Feb. 14-16) Our city’s annual film festival concludes this weekend. Please check the VFF guide or go to their website for details about what is playing at the Vic (and what may be sold out).

VISITORS -(Mon.-Thurs., Feb. 17-20: 7:00) From the director of Koyaanisqatsi comes a powerful portrait of humanity’s trance-like relationship with technology.

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