Smile Politely

What to Watch: December 9-12

Edward Scissorhands (The Art Theater Co-op): The story of this film is about a boy with a very special gift and how a suburban family takes him in.

Why to Watch: Tim Burton’s 1991 masterpiece makes a stop at The Art this week, and the one thing I can say about this film is that it’s a bizarre twist on the story of Pinocchio.  Johnny Depp makes himself a star in this film by transforming himself not only into an incredibly sympathetic protagonist but someone whose dreams we want to see become a reality. Vincent Price’s short but valuable cameo in the film adds so much dimension to the film as Edward’s father and defacto Gippetto. This is, in my mind, Tim Burton’s best film. (Yes, better than Batman.) Go see it!

Dallas Buyer’s Club (The Art Theater Co-op): This film based on a true story tells us about a man named Ron Woodruff (played by Matthew McConaughey) who after years of hard partying and drinking as a rodeo rider learns from the doctor that hehas AIDS. The doctors give him a few months to live, and Ron sets out to find medical miracles to help beat the virus.

Why to Watch: Let’s just get this out of the way: McConaughey lost a lot of weight to play Woodruff. This is something that is bound to get him Oscar buzz; and if his performance is good, it will happen. McConaughey’s performance in this film is virtually flawless because this film is ultimately about giving people hope when they feel like they have none. Talk about a Christmas message. Am I right? This struggle with AIDS allows Woodruff to take stock of his life and value every moment he gets with people, and that powers the already strong story. Jared Leto gives a strong supporting performance as a cross-dresser who is a support for Woodruff. See this film as it’s one that will make you value every moment a little more.

The Hunger Games-Catching Fire (Savoy 16 IMAX): After surviving the 74th Annual Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Malark are still reeling from the death that occurred in competition. How Katniss deals with her PTSD and being placed inan all-star version of the Hunger Games is when the stage is set.

Why to Watch: I saw The Hunger Games very recently. The first film, directed by Gary Ross, suffered from two major problems. The first problem was that I don’t think audiences were given enough time to invest in the other tributes involved in the games. The second issue was that the games involved far too much shaky cam. I personally couldn’t process the action going on around me when Katniss was inside the Games. Thankfully, both major problems have been addressed. Francis Lawrence directed the second film in this quadrology, and he shows a much steadier hand with the action scenes, which heightens the tension of every moment on screen. Jennifer Lawrence again gives an incredibly strong performance as Katniss, and the parallels between the expectations Katniss is supposed to live up to and the ones faced by Lawrence in her daily life seem to be emotionally present on Lawrence throughout the film. Phillip Seymour Hoffman is great as the new architect of the all-star Hunger Games. See this film for Lawrence’s dynamic performance, strong story, and better use of stillness throughout the film.

Oldboy (Carmike 13): This film tells the story of a man captured for 20 years without reason and then mysteriously released.  The man uses his newfound freedom to find the person responsible and exact vengeance.

Why to Watch: Oldboy is a remake of the 2003 film which is here directed by Spike Lee. I love the original film, and this version seems to follow the story closely but takes a few alternate routes which I am guessing is an attempt to keep the story fresh. I am not sure whether this remake will win over fans of the original, but I do have confidence that this could be a good film because Josh Brolin is the star. He brings a level of gravitas and brute strength to the role of Joe. Being able to root for this character is key, and Brolin will allow us to do that. See this film on its own merit because it will surprise you.

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