Woody Allen Learns Italian
Although Woody Allen is unlikely to ever match the charm (or the box office) of Midnight in Paris, all his recent jaunts to glamorous European cities have definitely inspired his muse. Allen’s latest, To Rome With Love, is a sunny comedy about adultery, false fame, and blind luck in the Eternal City that involves a large cast of Italians topped with a generous selection of A-list American actors.
The principals in Rome include an aspiring architect (Jesse Eisenberg) whose girlfriend (Greta Gerwing) has invited her pretty, sexy — and newly single — girlfriend (Ellen Page) to stay with them. There are the naïve just-marrieds from small-town Italy who have moved to Rome to find employment. Woody Allen returns in front of the camera as a retired opera director who, along with his psychiatrist wife (Judy Davis), has come to meet their daughter’s Italian boyfriend. Heading up the European contingent are Penelope Cruz as a high-priced hooker and Roberto Benigni as a nonentity who inexplicably gets lifted up to the highest level of celebrity status.
It’s all very silly and a little bit surreal — particularly when Alec Baldwin plays a one-man Greek Chorus who keeps inserting himself into the scenes with Eisenberg and Page. There’s not a lot at stake here — Allen does yet another variation on his fear of death, and the “famous for being famous” critique was stale a decade ago. Still, the acting is a treat, many jokes elicit guffaws, and Rome looks gorgeous. M
To Rome with Love ★★★½
Directed by Woody Allen
Starring Ellen Page, Alec Baldwin
R – 95 minutes
Opens Friday at the Odeon
Web Of Intrigue
Just when I was getting terminally bored with dashing superheroes and dastardly villains, along comes a Spider-Man reboot to reboot my interest in special-effects-driven cinema. The Amazing Spider-Man replays the basics of an orphaned Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield, The Social Network) who lives with his aunt and uncle (Martin Sheen, Sally Field) while attending high school. He’s got a different girlfriend — the smart and pert Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone, The Help) — and spends the first half of the film brooding about the mystery of his parents’ death while trying to get revenge on a murderer who took someone close to him. This is an emotionally rich coming-of-age story, and Garfield imbues Parker with a combination of nerdy chutzpah and teen angst.
Although initially a vengeance-seeking vigilante who is wanted by the cops, Spider-Man matures rapidly when he finds himself on a collision course with a rogue geneticist who used to be his father’s partner. Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans) is doing inter-species gene splicing to find a cure for all forms of human weakness; unfortunately, he manages to transform himself into The Lizard when some of his lab work gets a little sloppy. This leads to the typical blowed-up-real-good climax, albeit with lots of tasty spider-on-lizard mayhem.
Helmed by little-known director Marc Webb (500 Days of Summer), Amazing has a lot going for it, especially in the first half. The acting is first rate, there is the sweet sizzle of young love on the screen, and Denis Leary has fun playing the grumpy chief of police (who is also Gwen’s dad). Some of the action scenes are merely standard, but others show imagination and an awareness of the exaggerated perspective used in comic-booking drawings. Welcome to summer! M
The Amazing Spider-Man ★★★½
Directed by Marc Webb
Starring Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Denis Leary
PG-13 – 136 minutes
Continues at the Capitol, SilverCity, Uni 4, & Westshore
When love has an Italian accent, it’s time to pour a glass of Amarone, that gloriously rich red from the Valpolicella region. Made from grapes that have been dried to concentrate the flavours, Amarone typically has a thick mouth feel and seductive, raisiny flavours. This is a “special occasion” wine, especially if you’re drinking something on the order of Masi Costasera. Less expensive bottlings, such as Negrar, start at $36.
Victoria’s movie listings July 12-18:
★★★½ TO ROME WITH LOVE -(Odeon/Uni 4) 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. Starts Fri. See review.
ICE AGE: CONTINENTAL DRIFT -(Odeon/Uni 4/Westshore) After their continent is set adrift, Manny, Diego, and Sid have more of their patented crazy adventures. Starts Fri.
SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED -(Odeon) This award-winning comedy features three magazine writers sent out to interview a guy who sent in an ad looking for a companion interested in time travel. Starts Fri.
TAKE THIS WALTZ -(Capitol) The latest from actress-turned-director Sarah Polley is a bittersweet portrait of a young marriage that is threatened when one of the partners is dangerously attracted to someone else. Starring Michelle Williams and Seth Rogen. Starts Fri.
★★ ABRAHAM LINCOLN:VAMPIRE HUNTER -(Odeon) In this departure from strict historic truth, the 16th President of the U.S. discovers that vampires are planning to take over the country and decides to kill them. All of them. This silly and heavy-handed gorefest is from the Russian director of Night Watch, himself a noted vampire specialist.
★★★½ THE AMAZING SPIDER–MAN -(Capitol/Uni 4/SilverCity/Westshore) Little-known actor Andrew Garfield suits up as everyone’s favourite webslinger in what’s certain to be one of the summer’s monster hits. Co-starring Emma Stone.
★★★ THE AVENGERS -(Caprice) A mob of Marvel-ous superheroes comes together to help prevent a global apocalypse, in a decent but uninspired orgy of one-liners and special effects. The galaxy of greatness includes Iron Man (Robert Downey), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), and Captain America (Chris Evans).
★★★½ THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL -(Odeon/Uni 4) 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 great cast that includes Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson and Judi Dench.
★★★ BRAVE -(Capitol/SilverCity/Uni 4/Westshore) 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.
Jatt & Juliet -(Capitol) This Punjabi-language romantic comedy was filmed in Surrey. I’m guessing Bill Shakespeare should have gotten a partial writing credit.
KATY PERRY: PART OF ME -(Odeon/SilverCity/Caprice) This documentary chronicles the onstage and offstage life of the perky pop princess.
★★★ MADAGASCAR 3: EUROPE’S MOST WANTED -(Capitol/SilverCity/Westshore) Those mouthy NYC zoo escapees are up to their usual colourful antics in a wittily entertaining animation romp.
★★★ MAGIC MIKE -(Capitol/SilverCity/Westshore) Channing Tatum stars as a male stripper who takes a protegé under his wing, then eventually has to rethink his lifestyle. Directed by Steven Soderbergh. See review.
MEN IN BLACK III -(Caprice) Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones reprise their roles as alien-bashing crime fighters in a third outing for this wacky sci-fi comedy series. And thanks to a time travel aspect, Josh Brolin has fun playing the younger version of Jones’ character.
★★★½ MOONRISE KINGDOM -(Odeon) 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. The great cast includes Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Edward Norton, and Frances McDormand.
★★★½ PROMETHEUS – (SilverCity) Ridley Scott returns to his sci-fi roots with a creepy, visually stunning prequel to the classic, still-terrifying Alien. Starring Michael Fassbender and Noomi Rapace.
★★ ROCK OF AGES -(Caprice) Tom Cruise stars in a flabby and unfunny rock musical paying tribute to the over-the-top world of 1980s heavy metal music.
★★★ SAVAGES -(Odeon/SilverCity) Oliver Stone is in brutally fine form with this hyper-violent tale involving a pair of SoCal pot dealers who fall afoul of nasty Mexican gangsters and turn murderous in order to get back their kidnapped girlfriend.
SNOW WHITE & THE HUNTSMAN -(SilverCity/Caprice) Supposedly Charlize Theron steals the show as the evil queen, in an exotic retelling of the classic fairy tale. With Kristen Stewart of Twilight fame.
★★½ TED -(Odeon/SilverCity/Westshore) 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!
PEOPLE LIKE US -(Odeon)
★★★ THE PIRATES! BAND OF MISFITS -(Caprice)
★★★ CHIMPANZEE -(Caprice)
★★½ THE HUNGER GAMES -(Caprice)
DINOSAURS: GIANTS OF PATAGONIA -(11 am, 2 pm, 5 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 -(noon, 3 pm, 7 pm) Here’s a patriotic account of the many daunting challenges behind building the CPR railway: part history lesson, part glorious travelogue.
TORNADO ALLEY -(4 pm, 8 pm) Take an incredible trip into the violent heart of tornadoes via never-before-seen footage collected by a fearless (crazy?) storm chaser.
TO THE ARCTIC -(10 am, 1 pm, 6 pm, 9 pm)
MOVIE MONDAY – Screening Loving Lamposts. A very different look at autism is presented by this documentary, which delves into the “neurodiversity movement” that believes that autism is not something to be cured but is in fact a valid alternative way of being that should be supported. By donation. 595FLIC. moviemonday.ca.
CROOKED ARROWS -The Vic Film Fest people present this feel-good sports flick about an out-gunned aboriginal high-school lacrosse team who must dig deep if they hope to defeat their better trained and better equiped rivals at an elite prep school. FRIDAY, 7 pm, Vic Theatre, 808 Douglas Street.
QUOTE–ALONG CLASSICS -Returns with Office Space, the delirious account of ignoble labour in a soulless office. SATURDAY, 8 pm, Vic Theatre, 808 Douglas Street.
Cinecenta at UVic screens its films in the Student Union Building. Tickets are available 40 minutes prior to showtime. Info: 721-8365. cinecenta.com.
MY PERESTROIKA -(Wed.-Thurs., July 11-12: 7:10, 9:00) An American who spent eight years in Russia pulls off the neat trick of capturing both the Russian soul and all the complexities of what happened during and after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
HYSTERIA -(Fri.-Sat., July 13-14: 7:10, 9:15) Expect an unusual — but accurate — bit of sex education in this droll account of the doctor who invented the vibrator during the Victorian Era. Too, too shocking! With Maggie Gyllenhaal and Hugh Dancy.
MARLEY -(Sun.-Mon., July 15-16: 7:00 only) Reggae fans will savour this epic, behind-the-scenes biopic of the iconic Rasta master. By the director of Last King of Scotland.
THE STORY OF FILM: AN ODYSSEY -(Tues., July 17: 7:00, 9:20) Cinecenta continues its own 15-hour odyssey with the segments 11 and 12 of filmmaker and historian Mark Cousins’ epic history of cinema artistry (which has a global moreso than a Hollywood perspective).
DR. ZHIVAGO -(Wed.-Thurs., July 18-19: 7:00 only) The great David Lean directed this adaptation of the beloved Russian epic that spans 50 years full of political turmoil and great, often unfulfilled romantic passion. Starring Omar Sharif and Julie Christie.