VICTORIA FILM FESTIVAL -(Odeon/The Vic) The big news this week is the opening of the annual Victoria Film Festival, showcasing several dozen feature films, compendiums of short films, plus symposiums and other special events. For details, grab a brochure or check out their easy-to-use website for full details.
THE MONUMENTS MEN -(Odeon/Landmark Uni 4/SilverCity/Westshore) George Clooney directs and acts in this rousing 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 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.
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!
★★★★ 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/Landmark Uni 4) 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.
★★★½ GRAVITY -(SilverCity) Sandra Bullock and George Clooney star in a harrowing, brilliantly-executed thriller about two astronauts aboard a space station who survive an accident only to find themselves drifting helplessly through space, with little hope of rescue or survival. Oscar loves this movie!
★★★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).
★ I, FRANKENSTEIN -(SilverCity/Westshore) Aaron Eckhart stars in a truly terrible special effects-driven fantasy thriller about how Mary Shelley’s legendary monster becomes mankind’s saviour as he teams up with angelic gargoyles (!) to battle demons ready to conquer humanity. With Bill Nighy.
★★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/Westshore) 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. See review online.
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).
★★RIDE ALONG -(Westshore) The jokes are raunchy and predictable in this action comedy about a fast-talking security guard who joins his cop brother-in-law-to-be on a ride along in order to prove himself worthy of marrying the man’s sister. With Ice Cube and Kevin Hart.
★★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 hook-up generation, that clumsily blends raunchy jokes with tender feelings. See review.
★★★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.
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.
MOVIE MONDAY – screens Bernie. Richard Linklater (Dazed and Confused, Before Sunrise) helmed this droll true-crime story starring Jack Black as a small-town Texas mortician who kills a wealthy widow, then goes to great trouble to create the illusion she’s still alive. This is a wonderfully entertaining slice of oddball Americana. 6:30 pm MONDAY in the 1900-block Fort. By donation. 595-FLIC. moviemonday.ca.
AWARENESS FILM NIGHT -is showing Kuper Island: Return to the Healing Circle. After the screening of the documentary about residential schools, two survivors of Vancouver Island residential schools will discuss their experiences. WEDNESDAY, 7 pm, Edward Milne Community School theatre, 6218 Sooke Road.
Cinecenta at UVic screens its films in the Student Union Building. Info: 721-8365. cinecenta.com.
★★★½ CAPTAIN PHILLIPS -(Fri.-Sat., Feb. 7-8: 3:00, 7:00, 9:30) Tom Hanks is superb in this harrowing and suspenseful account of a notorious piracy episode that took place off the coast of Somalia.
CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS 2 -(Sat.-Sun., Feb. 8-9: 1:00 matinees) The wacky animated comedy about an infamous machine that churns out scary food-animal hybrids was popular enough to merit a sequel. Consider yourself warned! With the vocal talents of Bill Hader, Anna Faris, and Will Forte.
WADJDA -(Sun., Feb. 9: 3:00, 7:00, 9:00 & Mon., Feb. 10: 7:00, 9:00) Saudi Arabia is the last place to look for feminist films, yet nothing but praise has greeted this smart and funny crowd-pleaser about a rebellious 12-year-old girl who never met a rule she couldn’t subvert.
★★★★2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY -(Tues., Feb. 11: 7:00) Stanley Kubrick’s visionary sci-fi epic remains a landmark of cinema. Before there was the NSA, HAL was eavesdropping!
MUSCLE SHOALS -(Wed.-Thurs., Feb. 12-13: 7:00, 9:15) Everyone from the Rolling Stones to Wilson Pickett have made music at this legendary Alabama recording studio, which created a unique sound that was both gritty and soulful.
THE VIC THEATRE
The Vic Theatre is located at 808 Douglas Street. Info: thevic.ca
VICTORIA FILM FESTIVAL -Our city’s annual film festival is off and running. Please check the VFF guide or go online to their website for film details. And many films are selling out, so buy your tickets early!