LABOR DAY -(Odeon/Westshore) Jason Reitman (Up in the Air) directs Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin in an adaptation of the novel by Joyce Maynard about a depressed single mom who gives a ride and shelter to a seemingly scary escaped convict, only to find herself falling for him.
THAT AWKWARD MOMENT -(SilverCity/Westshore) Three 20-something guys who are best friends all find themselves confronting a terrifying question: are their current dates just casual affairs . . . or something more? With Zac Efron and Michael B. Jordan.
★★★★ 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/Landmark Uni 4) 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.
DEVIL’S DUE -(SilverCity) A pregnancy takes a turn to the dark side in this critically-derided horror flick about demonic possession.
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/Landmark Uni 4) 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/Westshore) 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 special effects-driven fantasy thriller about how Mary Shelley’s legendary monster becomes mankind’s saviour as two demonic clans wage war on earth. With Bill Nighy. See review.
★★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.
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).
★★★LONE SURVIVOR -(SilverCity/Westshore) The title is a bit of a spoiler, but this true-life account of four SEALs dropped into Taliban territory in Afghanistan on a very dangerous mission is kinetic and stunningly brutal. Starring Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, Emile Hirsch, and Ben Foster.
★★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.
★★★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 My Father and the Man in Black. Nanaimo-based director Jonathan Holiff helmed a very personal film with this documentary chronicling the relationship between his estranged dad and country singing legend Johnny Cash. Saul Holiff was Cash’s manager during a turbulent phase of Cash’s career, and when a cache of memorabilia was unexpectedly unearthed by Jonathan he was inspired to make this film. 6:30pm MONDAY in the 1900-block Fort. By donation. 595-FLIC. moviemonday.ca.
INSIGHTS -shows Patient Voices, which is a collection of short and impactful video pieces that are deemed to be “inspiring teaching devices and an intro to several leaders in the MH recovery movement.” This is part of the Silver Screen Insights into Mental Health series that is run by the fine folk at Movie Monday. THURSDAY, 7pm, at the Royal Jubilee Hospital’s Patient Care Lecture Theatre – S169.
Cinecenta at UVic screens its films in the Student Union Building. Info: 721-8365. cinecenta.com.
★★★★ BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOUR -(Fri., Jan. 31: 7:00 & Sat., Feb. 1: 3:00, 7:00) This much-lauded French drama is the absorbing coming-of-age story of a high school girl who has an intense affair with a 20-something woman. Although notorious for its explicit sex scenes, the reason to see this film is because of the fantastic acting of the two leads (who were both awarded top prize at Cannes).
A LITTLE PRINCESS -(Sat.-Sun., Feb. 1-2: 1:00 matinee) Talented director Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity) helmed this tale of a young girl who has to rely on her wits after being sent to a strict boarding school.
BLOOD BROTHER -(Sun., Feb. 2: 3:00, 7:10, 9:00 & Mon., Feb. 3: 7:10, 9:00) The power of love is at the centre of an inspiring documentary about an American on a spiritual quest in India who visited a home for children with HIV . . . and has never left, having remained there as a volunteer.
A VERY DANGEROUS PASTIME: THE DANCEFILMS OF LAURA TALER -(Tues., Feb. 4: 7:00 only) Presented in conjunction with Dance Victoria as part of Dance Days, this is a series of amusing and inspirational short films by award-winning filmmaker Laura Taler, who reinterprets the physical characteristics of early cinema while remaining contemporary and innovative. Lara Taler will be in attendance to introduce the films and give an artist’s talk afterwards.
★★★ WHEN JEWS WERE FUNNY -(Wed.-Thurs., Feb. 5-6: 7:10, 9:00) The latest from documentary filmmaker Alan Zweig is an overview of Jewish comedy in the context of the history of America’s entertainment industry as much as being an inquiry into the nature of Jewishness itself. Included is some great archival footage and interviews with great comics such as Shelley Berman, Shecky Greene, and David Steinberg. See review.
THE VIC THEATRE
The Vic Theatre is located at 808 Douglas Street. Info: thevic.ca
GOOD OL’ FREDA -(Fri.-Sat., Jan. 31-Feb. 1: 7:00) Freda Kelly was a teenager from Liverpool when she was asked to work for a local band in the early 1960s. They became The Beatles, Freda stayed on as their secretary, and her “insider” stories are finally spilled in this popular documentary.
★★★★ BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOUR -(Sun.-Thurs., Feb. 2-6: 7:00) This much-lauded French drama is the absorbing coming-of-age story of a high school girl who has an intense affair with a 20-something woman. Although notorious for its explicit sex scenes, the reason to see this film is because of the fantastic acting of the two leads (who were both awarded top prize at Cannes).