Movie Capsules: Now showing

Robert De Niro (left) and Jason Statham are shown in a scene from 'Killer Elite.'

Photo by Open Road Films, Dan Smith

Robert De Niro (left) and Jason Statham are shown in a scene from "Killer Elite."

Capsule descriptions by The Commercial Appeal movie writer John Beifuss.

OPENING FRIDAY

Abduction (PG-13, 106 min.) Taylor Lautner's on the run, and John Singleton's directing.

CinePlanet 16, Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, DeSoto Cinema 16, Forest Hill 8, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Majestic, Palace Cinema, Paradiso, Raleigh Springs Cinema, Stage Cinema, Studio on the Square, Summer Quartet Drive-In.

Dolphin Tale (PG, 113 min.) See review on Page 16.

CinePlanet 16 (in 3-D), Collierville Towne 16 (in 3-D), Cordova Cinema (in 3-D), DeSoto Cinema 16 (in 3-D), Forest Hill 8, Hollywood 20 Cinema (in 3-D), Majestic, Palace Cinema (in 3-D), Paradiso (in 3-D), Raleigh Springs Cinema, Stage Cinema (in 3-D).

Killer Elite (R, 116 min.) Jason Statham, Clive Owen and Robert DeNiro are globetrotting assassins.

CinePlanet 16, Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, DeSoto Cinema 16, Forest Hill 8, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Majestic, Palace Cinema, Paradiso, Raleigh Springs Cinema, Studio on the Square, Summer Quartet Drive-In, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

Moneyball (PG-13, 133 min.) See review on Page 12.

CinePlanet 16, Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, DeSoto Cinema 16, Forest Hill 8, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Majestic, Palace Cinema, Paradiso, Raleigh Springs Cinema, Stage Cinema, Studio on the Square, Summer Quartet Drive-In.

Terri (R, 105 min.) See review on Page 17.

Ridgeway Four.

SPECIAL MOVIES

Cars (G, 117 min.) The Pixar favorite returns, for a free outdoor "Screen on the Green" screening. The first one hundred attendees will receive a free wooden derby car to decorate.

6:55 p.m. Friday, The Avenue Carriage Crossing, Collierville.

Hubble: Narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio, this IMAX film explores the legacy of the Hubble Space Telescope and its impact on our understanding of the universe. Runs through Nov. 11. Tickets $8.25, $7.50 senior citizens, $6.50 children ages 3-12; children under 3 free.

IMAX Theater at Memphis Pink Palace Museum, 3050 Central. Call (901) 320-6362 for show times, tickets and reservations.

L'amour Fou (Not rated, 98 min.) This 2010 French documentary examines the elegant, decadent life and bold art of fashion superstar Yves Saint Laurent.

7 p.m. Thursday, Memphis Brooks Museum of Art. Admission: $8, or $6 for museum members. Visit brooksmuseum.org.

Louisa May Alcott: The Woman Behind Little Women (Not rated, 84 min.) Elizabeth Marvel stars as the famous 19th-century novelist in this well-regarded and somewhat experimental 2008 biographical film, which features documentary-style "interviews" with such historical figures as Alcott, Thoreau and Emerson. Dr. Lorinda Cohoon, an associate English professor at the University of Memphis, will lead a discussion after the movie.

5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library, 3030 Poplar. Admission is free. Call 415-2726.

Of Gods and Men (R, 122 min.) Sponsored by the Department of Foreign Languages and Literature at the University of Memphis, this year's edition of the annual Tournées French Film Festival begins by bringing back to Memphis one of the best movies of the year, a fact-based tale of French monks in Algeria who become doomed by the rise of extremist Islamic fascism.

7 p.m. Tuesday, University Center Theatre, University of Memphis. Admission: free. Visit frenchtennessee.org/filmfestival.

Prohibition (Not rated, 60 min.) WKNO-TV Channel 10 hosts an hour-long preview of the upcoming six-hour PBS documentary series by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick. Drinks and hors d'oeuvres will be served.

5:30 p.m. Thursday, WKNO Digital Media Center, 7151 Cherry Farms Rd., Cordova. Admission is free but seating is limited. E-mail wknopi@wkno.org.

Scandalous Impressionists (Not rated, 52 min.) This 2010 French documentary examines the controversy generated by the art of such then-radical painters as Monet, Pissaro and Degas.

3:30 p.m. Sunday, Memphis Brooks Museum of Art. Admission: $8, or $6 for museum members. Visit brooksmuseum.org.

The Ultimate Wave Tahiti: Viewers will learn how waves influence and shape our planet while they ride alongside champion surfer Kelly Slater as he challenges Tahiti's toughest wave. Runs through March 2, 2012. Tickets $8.25, $7.50 senior citizens, $6.50 children ages 3-12; children under 3 free.

IMAX Theater at Memphis Pink Palace Museum, 3050 Central. Call (901) 320-6362 for show times, tickets and reservations.

NOW SHOWING

Apollo 18 (PG-13, 86 min.) Like 'Paranormal Activity,' but with astronauts.

CinePlanet 16.

Bad Teacher (R, 89 min.) Cameron Diaz, Justin Timberlake.

Bartlett 10.

Captain America: The First Avenger (PG-13, 124 min.) Chris Evans, Hugo Weaving.

Stage Cinema.

Colombiana (PG-13, 108 min.) Cat-like Zoe Saldana is Cataleya (named for an orchid), a vengeful Bogota orphan turned coldblooded unstoppable killer in the latest saga of female kick-assery from the action-movie assembly line of producer/co-writer Luc Besson ("The Professional," "Nikita"). Directed by the appropriately named Olivier Megaton, the film might have been a classic, but the promise of the borderline-priceless early scenes with Amandla Stenberg as the 10-year-old Cataleya aren't quite fulfilled by the more predictable if clever and nicely staged set pieces with the adult assassin. (The highlight: a "Mission: Impossible"-worthy jailhouse hit.)

CinePlanet 16, Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, DeSoto Cinema 16, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Majestic, Palace Cinema, Paradiso, Stage Cinema, Summer Quartet Drive-In.

Conan the Barbarian (R, 112 min.) Jason Momoa, Rose McGowan.

Hollywood 20 Cinema (in 3-D).

Contagion (PG-13, 106 min.) A plague threatens the Earth and an all-star cast -- Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Laurence Fishburne, Kate Winslet and many more -- in director Steven Soderbergh's creepy cautionary tale in which the "viral" menaces include Internet rumors as well as deadly diseases. Shot with documentary grimness, the film crosscuts among several interconnected stories, as Centers for Disease Control researchers, World Health Origanization investigators and others seek a vaccine against the easily contracted infection, which spreads death through such common public vectors as elevator buttons and casino chips. The pro-government, pro-science perspective is refreshing, but Soderbergh and writer Scott Z. Burns tax the story's credibility with their pulpish depiction of an irresponsible British blogger (Jude Law) who seems to have wandered from a Roland Emmerich or Michael Bay set. Ultimately, the movie's relative realism is less dramatically persuasive than the go-for-broke B-movie hysteria of such hydrophobic predecessors as George Romero's "The Crazies" and David Cronenberg's "Shivers."

CinePlanet 16, Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, DeSoto Cinema 16, Forest Hill 8, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Majestic, Palace Cinema, Paradiso, Stage Cinema, Studio on the Square.

Cowboys & Aliens (PG-13, 118 min.) Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford.

Majestic, Stage Cinema.

Crazy, Stupid, Love. (PG-13, 118 min.) Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling.

Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

The Debt (R, 113 min.) The good news is director John Madden's film has nothing to do with the national economy. The bad news is that the movie's deficiencies begin with its uninformative name; granted, "Nazi Gynecologist" would have been problematic, but shouldn't a movie that casts Helen Mirren as a scar-faced secret agent bear a more interesting title? A remake of "Ha-Hov," a 2007 Israeli film, this decades-spanning story of political intrigue and moral crisis concerns a trio of Israeli spies charged with capturing a Mengele-like Nazi war criminal who has reinvented himself as an East Berlin gynecologist. In the 1960s, the young Mossad agents are played by Jessica Chastain, Sam Worthington and Marton Csokas; in 1997, they are Mirren, Ciarán Hinds and Tom Wilkinson. The characters are haunted by their ethical compromises and the lies they told in support of what was supposed to be a good cause, Israeli morale; we can sympathize, and we can all agree that government honesty is important, but I couldn't help finding the suggestion of moral equivalency between the sins of a Mossad coverup and the crimes of the Nazi to be specious and even offensive.

Collierville Towne 16, Palace Cinema, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

Don't Be Afraid of the Dark (R, 100 min.) Director Troy Nixon's remake of a famously spooky 1973 ABC Movie of the Week is an effective if overthought horror tale about the creepy "little things" that scuttle along baseboards, under beds and through air ducts -- not rats and roaches, in this case, but evil ugly fairies with a literal hunger for children's teeth. Leaving teethmarks of his own is producer/co-writer Guillermo del Toro; as in "Pan's Labyrinth," he connects a vulnerable child's yearnings to the attractions-turned-terrors of the supernatural realm. Bailee Madison stars as a little girl with issues whose stories of goblin-like imps are disbelieved by her architect father (Guy Pearce) and his new girlfriend (Katie Holmes), who are trying to restore a creepy old mansion in Rhode Island. As Peter Jackson did with "King Kong," del Toro is attempting to make a beloved influence as spectacular in fact as it appeared to have been to his childhood imagination, but this very impulse diminishes the power -- the mystery -- of the source material. By the end of this film, the impressively realized creatures have been revealed in so much detail that we recognize them as assignments from an artist's workshop, not escapees from a nightmare.

CinePlanet 16, DeSoto Cinema 16, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Majestic, Raleigh Springs Cinema, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

Drive (R, 103 min.) A movie with style and rubber to burn, Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn's action-suspense stunner is a candidate for the best film of the year, even when it becomes too pleased with its own remorseless coolness -- with the action-painting blossoms of blood and the acousticophiliac squish of heel to face that characterize its ultraviolent final act. The title is an an imperative, an action verb that describes momentum and movement, and a word that becomes flesh in the paradoxically calm person of Ryan Gosling as the story's antihero, a namless Hollywood stunt driver and underworld wheelman -- "I drive," he explains -- whose professional security and personal safety become compromised when he allows sentiment to enter his life by showing interest in a new neighbor (Carey Mulligan) and her young son. A marvel of elegant photographic composition and mesmerizing, purposeful sound design, the movie -- which owes a debt to Walter Hill and Michael Mann -- was adapted from a novel by Helena-born neo-noir author James Sallis; the supporting cast includes Ron Perlman, Bryan Cranston and an Oscar-worthy Albert Brooks as a wry but ruthless gangster.

CinePlanet 16, Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, DeSoto Cinema 16, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Majestic, Palace Cinema, Paradiso, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

Final Destination 5 (R, 92 min.) Contrary to rumor, Death never takes a holiday, as demonstrated yet again in this ultra-gory exercise in audience manhandling that begins with a spectacular high-tension bridge collapse that totally justifies the 3D surcharge. (See David Koechner enveloped by hot liquid asphalt!) Directed by feature newcomer Steven Quale, the film is little more than a series of nail-biting, sadistic set pieces, as invisible omnipresent Death (symbolized by series returnee Tony Todd, the "coroner") contrives a series of Rube Goldberg-like lethal coincidences to wipe out the demographically diverse and mostly photogenic young people who somehow missed their original dates with destiny. Repetitious? Yes, but so what? The "Final Destination" franchise is the Ramones discography of horror cinema: There's not a lot of variety, but if you liked the first release, there's no reason not to like the rest.

Hollywood 20 Cinema (in 3-D), Majestic.

Fright Night (R, 106 min.) Anton Yelchin, Colin Farrell.

Majestic, Summer Quartet Drive-In.

Green Lantern (PG-13, 114 min.) Ryan Reynolds, Peter Sarsgaard.

Bartlett 10.

The Guard (R, 96 min.) Dropping casual F-bombs and calculated insults with an Irish brogue and an invisible wink, bearish character actor Brendan Gleeson is not just the title policeman but almost the entire justification of this extraordinarily entertaining film from writer-director John Michael McDonagh. Shot and set in County Galway, Ireland, the movie contains murders and shoot-outs but is more interested in painting a portrait of "the last of the independents" in the twilight of his career than in outlining corpses in chalk. Don Cheadle is the FBI agent who teams with Sgt. Boyle (Gleeson) to track down $500,000 in cocaine; the Yank-baiting Boyle seem more interested in offering racial slurs than assistance. The dialogue occasionally lapses into post-Tarantino glibness, but the movie's nuanced focus on the sly Boyle, its loose approach to the mechanics of the plot and its insistence on the guard's stubborn integrity in a world of insincerity and corruption represent a welcome novelistic approach to genre material.

Ridgeway Four.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (PG-13, 130 min.) Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson.

Hollywood 20 Cinema, Palace Cinema, Stage Cinema.

The Help (PG-13, 137 min.) This adaptation of Kathryn Stockett's phenomenally successful best-seller about "colored" maids and their white employers in early 1960s Jackson, Miss., is not only superior to the novel but it may be the most surprising movie of the year: a wide-release studio film about race relations that adopts a liberation rather than plantation mentality by suggesting that nothing good can come of a system in which one race controls the destiny of another. It's also one of the funnier movies of the year, with more than a dozen indelible, distinctive characters, played by relative newcomers (Bryce Dallas Howard, Jessica Chastain) and Oscar-validated veterans (Sissy Spacek, Cicely Tyson). The ensemble is so delightful, it recalls the 1930s heyday of Hollywood women's pictures, such as "Stage Door"; the comedy is the movie's saving grace, and it prevents "The Help" from becoming pretentious or sanctimonious. Emma Stone plays "Skeeter," a socially conscious young Ole Miss grad so disturbed by the casual racism of her former classmates that she encourages the maids Aibileen (Viola Davis, the movie's emotional center) and Minny (scene-stealing Octavia Spencer) to share with her, in secret, "the truth" of their experiences working for white women, so she can publish these stories in book form. Unlike in many similar films, Skeeter is not presented as the black race's white savior (the film's ending is hardly upbeat); and while the book had three narrators, the movie reserves the voiceover for Aibileen, making this more her story than Skeeter's. The recurring "bathroom" theme, however, is problematic; it sometimes seems to strip the maids of the dignity the film otherwise insists upon. Directed by Stockett's longtime friend, Tate Taylor, and shot mostly in Greenwood, Miss., with several Memphians in the cast and crew.

CinePlanet 16, Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, DeSoto Cinema 16, Forest Hill 8, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Majestic, Palace Cinema, Paradiso, Studio on the Square, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

Horrible Bosses (R, 98 min.) Jason Bateman, Jennifer Aniston.

Bartlett 10, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

I Don't Know How She Does It (PG-13, 90 min.) A romantic comedy with Sarah Jessica Parker and Pierce Brosnan.

CinePlanet 16, Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, DeSoto Cinema 16, Forest Hill 8, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Paradiso, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

Kevin Hart: Laugh at My Pain (R, 89 min.) A comedy concert and documentary.

DeSoto Cinema 16, Majestic, Paradiso.

Kung Fu Panda 2 (PG, 90 min.) Voices of Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman.

Bartlett 10.

The Lion King (G, 89 min.) The animated Disney classic returns, rejiggered for 3D.

CinePlanet 16 (in 3-D), Collierville Towne 16 (in 3-D), Cordova Cinema (in 3-D), DeSoto Cinema 16 (in 3-D), Hollywood 20 Cinema (in 3-D), Paradiso (in 3-D), Stage Cinema (in 3-D).

Mr. Popper's Penguins (PG, 95 min.) Jim Carrey, waterfowl.

Bartlett 10.

Monte Carlo (PG, 109 min.) Selena Gomez, Leighton Meester and Katie Cassidy have a dream vacation.

Bartlett 10.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes (PG-13, 105 min.) "Curious George" meets "Splice" (with a dash of "The Yearling" and "Born Free") in this seventh "Apes" film and franchise reboot, which casts James Franco as a big pharma researcher whose retrovirus would-be cure for Alzheimer's transforms lab-born chimpanzee Caesar into the simian genius who foments the title anthropoidal rebellion.

CinePlanet 16, Cordova Cinema, DeSoto Cinema 16, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Majestic, Paradiso, Stage Cinema, Summer Quartet Drive-In.

Seven Days in Utopia (G, 98 min.) Lucas Black, Robert Duvall and Melissa Leo star in an inspirational golf drama.

Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema.

Shark Night 3D (PG-13, 91 min.) "Huge Teeth and Teenie-Weenie Bikinis," summarized the headline on the New York Times review; unfortunately, there's not quite enough of either in this nonetheless diverting genre fishing expedition from director David R. Ellis, who certainly has a flair for titles with bite: He also helmed "Snakes on a Plane." Sort of what a "Friday the 13th" movie might be like if Crystal Lake were stocked with cartilaginous rather than serial killers, the movie strands a cast of photogenic Tulane undergrads at a Louisiana private vacation home, where they are menaced by snaggle-toothed rednecks as well as razor-toothed fish. The film becomes oddly ambitious during its final act: I was expecting the man-eating hammerhead, but not the lecture on "moral relativism" from the local sheriff (Donal Logue).

CinePlanet 16 (in 3-D), Collierville Towne 16 (in 3-D), DeSoto Cinema 16 (in 3-D), Hollywood 20 Cinema (in 3-D), Majestic, Paradiso (in 3-D), Stage Cinema (in 3-D), Summer Quartet Drive-In.

The Smurfs (PG, 103 min.) "Who smurfed in here?" That question -- uttered by one of the cheerful cerulean homunculi of Hollywood's latest 3D money grab -- is likely to be echoed in auditoriums across America as parents escort their offspring to this adaptation of the inexplicably popular 1980s Hanna-Barbera cartoon series.

CinePlanet 16, Hollywood 20 Cinema (in 3-D), Majestic, Palace Cinema (in 3-D).

Spy Kids: All the Time in the World (PG, 89 min.) In "4D," or "Aroma-Scope": Viewers will be given scratch-and-sniff cards so they can follow their noses throughout the "scentsational" film.

Hollywood 20 Cinema, Majestic, Palace Cinema (in 3-D), Stage Cinema.

Straw Dogs (R, 110 min.) It's Ole Miss vs. Harvard, Jaguar vs. pickup, classical music vs. Molly Hatchet and Southern California egghead vs. Deep South redneck in this redundant remake of Sam Peckinpah's 1971 masterpiece by writer-director Rod Lurie, who transplants the action from the Cornish countryside to rural (and fictional) Blackwater, Mississippi: The name rhymes with "backwater," and also alludes to the global military security company that makes millions through forms of legalized violence that dwarf the primitive, unprofitable brutalities of Lurie's smalltown villains. James Marsden is the bespectacled Hollywood screenwriter whose manliness is impugned by the resentful and macho local yokels (led by Alexander Skarsgrd of "True Blood") who covet his sexy wife (Kate Bosworth); when their hostility erupts into deadly violence in the final act, the intellectual must tap into his animal instincts to survive. Lurie (who shot his previous movie, "Nothing But the Truth," in Memphis) tries to eliminate the more controversial elements of Peckinpah's film, particulary in reference to the wife character, but in the process he loses what made the original such a transgressive, unsettling, mysterious and necessary landmark of screen violence; what's left is a poorly motivated glossy rape-assault horror-suspense-revenge movie, with no more claim to the public imagination than the remake of "The Last House on the Left."

CinePlanet 16, Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, DeSoto Cinema 16, Forest Hill 8, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Majestic, Paradiso, Stage Cinema, Summer Quartet Drive-In.

Super 8 (PG-13, 112 min.) Joel Courtney, Elle Fanning.

Bartlett 10.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon (PG-13, 157 min.) Shia LaBeouf, John Turturro.

Bartlett 10, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Majestic, Palace Cinema.

The Trip (Not rated, 107 min.) A sort of improv-comedy travelogue in the form of a mock documentary, this simple yet irresistible film follows British actors Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon, portraying somewhat fictionalized versions of themselves, as they ramble about the north of England, supposedly on assignment to review restaurants for The Observer, a British newspaper. The friends/rivals visit historic sites associated with Coleridge and Wordsworth, consume expensive and pretentiously prepared plates of rabbit and pigeon, and trade hilarious impersonations of Michael Caine and Woody Allen. To acknowledge yet discount their relationship, the men -- Coogan is a vain, insecure womanizer, Broydon a guileless family man -- refer to themselves as "bondless chums," yet they are hardly Bondless: Agent 007 seems always with them, as they imitate Sean Connery, reference Roger Moore, and quote Scaramanga. The film is not just funny but beautiful, thanks to the stunning landscape photography that connects the vignettes of comic bickering; it was edited from a six-episode BBC television series of the same name and directed by Michael Winterbottom, who first introduced viewers to the self-lampooning Coogan/Brydon comedy show in his 2006 masterpiece, "Tristam Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story."

Ridgeway Four.

Warrior (PG-13, 139 min.) Estranged brothers -- Tommy (Tom Hardy) is the antisocial ex-Marine, Brendan (Joel Edgerton) is the cash-strapped family man and schoolteacher -- become mixed martial arts competitors in this unlikey but compelling allegory of family love and loyalty expressed through bone-crunching public violence, inspired by the biblical story of Jacob and Esau by way of "Rocky" and Bruce Springsteen. Essentially a boxing film for a desensitized era that has embraced the bloody brutality of a new style of cage fighting, the movie is shamelessly, operatically emotional (Nick Nolte plays the recovering alcoholic father who craves his boys' love) but gritty-indie in style; the disconnect is somewhat dishonest, as director Gavin O'Connor ("Miracle," "Pride and Glory") relies on the graininess of his dimly lighted shaky-camera shots rather than on the integrity of his narrative to convince viewers the film is more artful than cornball.

Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, DeSoto Cinema 16, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Palace Cinema, Paradiso.

X-Men: First Class (PG-13, 132 min.) James McAvoy, Kevin Bacon.

Bartlett 10.

Zookeeper (PG, 101 min.) Kevin James, Rosario Dawson.

Bartlett 10.

© 2011 Go Memphis. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Comments » 0

Be the first to post a comment!

Want to participate in the conversation? Become a subscriber today. Subscribers can read and comment on any story, anytime. Non-subscribers will only be able to view comments on select stories.