NO MAN CAN DEFINE ME
In celebration of the memory of the late Winnipeg filmmaker Winston Moxam, Cinematheque has programmed a free screening of his work Friday, Feb. 1. A selection of his short films (including From the Other Side, The Barbecue and Sand) starts at 7 p.m., followed by his feature film, Barbara James, at 9 p.m. The evening also sees the launch of an interpretive catalogue published by the Winnipeg Film Group with contributions by Scott Birdwise, Daniel Eskin and Matthew Rankin.
BULLET TO THE HEAD
St. Vital, Towne. 14A
A New Orleans hit man (Sylvester Stallone) teams up with a Washington fed (Sung Kang) to take revenge of the organization responsible for the deaths of their mutually murdered partners. Directed by Walter Hill.
McGillivray. 14A Al Pacino, Christopher Walken and Alan Arkin star as a trio of geriatric hoodlums determined to go on one last spree before one of them is scheduled to be eliminated.
STORIES WE TELL
Sarah Polley directed this documentary about the secrets of her own storytelling family with emphasis on her own paternity: the man she grew up calling "dad" was not, in fact, her biological father.
Kildonan Place, McGillivray, McGillivray VIP, Polo Park, St. Vital, Towne. 14A
In a post-apocalyptic world, a zombie who calls himself R (Nicholas Hoult) struggles to overcome his brain-eating ways when he falls for a plucky human survivor (Teresa Palmer).
Léos Carax (Pola X) offers a playful view of Paris as seen through the eyes of the mysterious Monsieur Oscar (Denis Lavant), a mysterious gent who rides all over Paris donning disguises to keep a series of odd appointments.
The following movies have been previously reviewed by Free Press movie critic Randall King, unless otherwise noted.
McGillivray, Polo Park, St. Vital. 18A
Quentin Tarantino's latest stars Jamie Foxx as a freed slave who joins up with a bounty hunter (Christoph Waltz) to rescue his wife (Kerry Washington) from the decadent plantation of a depraved southern gentleman (Leonardo DiCaprio). It's a runaway stagecoach of a movie, suspenseful, shocking and grimly funny. As always with Tarantino, it is wildly referential. (Hey, that zoom shot is right out of The Wild Bunch! Hey, I recognize that music from Two Mules for Sister Sara!) But as usual, the disparate references add up to something entirely unique. 'Ö'Ö'Ö'Ö
McGillivray, Polo Park, St. Vital. 18A
A noble cop (Josh Brolin) is tasked with taking on the spreading crime empire of Micky Cohen (Sean Penn) in this movie featuring Ryan Gosling as another cop dangerously courting Cohen's mistress (Emma Stone). It may look like a stylish exercise in L.A. noir, but it is merely a violent, stupid variant of The Untouchables, without any of the inspiration that made that movie great. 'Ö'Ö
HANSEL AND GRETEL: WITCH HUNTERS
Grant Park, Kildonan Place, McGillivray, McGillivray VIP, Polo Park, Polo Park Imax, St. Vital, Towne. 18A
The siblings of the classic fairy tale grow up to be vengeful anti-witch mercenaries (Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton) in this oddity directed by Norwegian filmmaker Tommy Wirkola (Dead Snow). The fairy tale-as-adult-horror-story could have been worse (see: Red Riding Hood), but the steampunk production design and gory violence can't elevate a lazily cobbled-together script. 'Ö'Ö1/2
THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY
Grant Park, Kildonan Place, McGillivray, Polo Park, St. Vital, Towne. PG
Director Peter Jackson revisits Lord of the Rings turf with another three-part epic, albeit one based on a much slimmer story than the first trilogy. Martin Freeman plays the young Bilbo Baggins and Ian McKellen returns as Gandalf who comes to the Shire with a mission to help restore a Dwarf kingdom to an heir to the throne. While it feels good to be back in Middle-earth, one can't help the niggling feeling that Jackson is padding out this story in a transparent attempt to duplicate LOTR's multi-billion-dollar box office. 'Ö'Ö'Ö
HYDE PARK ON HUDSON
This movie's odd double narrative follows President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (an urbane Bill Murray) forming a special (i.e. sexual) relationship with a distant cousin (Laura Linney) and another special relationship (i.e. non-sexual) with the visiting King George VI (Samuel West), when the embattled monarch solicited American help in the face of imminent war with Germany. The political relationship translates well, but the sexual relation waxes positively nostalgic about the days when a president could have a mistress or three without any fuss. But the power dynamic between the illicit lovers leaves a bad taste in a laboriously tasteful affair. 'Ö'Ö1/2
Grant Park. PG
Maria (Naomi Watts) and Henry (Ewan McGregor) are the parents of a British family on vacation in Thailand who find themselves fighting for their survival when a tsunami hits. Spanish director Juan Antonio Bayona has crafted an intimate disaster movie, terrifying in its veracity, but inspiring in its story arc, particularly with respect to Maria's eldest son (Tom Holland), who experiences a rough road to empathy. 'Ö'Ö'Ö1/2
LIFE OF PI
Grant Park, Kildonan Place, Polo Park. PG
Ang Lee adapts the bestselling novel by Yann Martel about a young man who finds himself adrift on a lifeboat with a man-eating tiger. Lee crafts one of the finest entries in his eclectic resume with this gorgeous, ruminative film that is soulfully, provocatively entertaining. 'Ö'Ö'Ö1/2 (Reviewed by David Germain)
Grant Park. 14A
Steven Spielberg succeeds at getting under the skin of American icon Abraham Lincoln from the perspective of his singular genius as he negotiates the passing of the Thirteenth Amendment banning slavery, an effort that required prodigious political skill. Daniel Day-Lewis offers a sure-thing Oscar quality performance. 'Ö'Ö'Ö'Ö
Kildonan Place, Polo Park, St. Vital, Towne. PG
A couple (Jessica Chastain and Nicolaj Coster-Waldau) take custody of a pair of long-lost feral sisters, only to find they have been accompanied by a spectral protector in this thriller produced by Guillermo del Toro. Expectations for a ghost story released in January may be minimal, but this particular thriller boasts inspired touches of visual poetry along with the terror. 'Ö'Ö'Ö1/2
Grant Park, Polo Park, St. Vital. PG
The hit musical finally gets its big-screen treatment as Victor Hugo's tragic novel comes to life with the help of Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe as, respectively, the fugitive Jean Valjean and the relentless Inspector Javert. While this may not be a feel-good movie, it's doubtful there has been any movie so invested with such raw feeling, especially a musical. Anne Hathaway's performance of I Dreamed a Dream is one for the ages. 'Ö'Ö'Ö1/2
McGillivray, Polo Park, Towne. 14A
A compilation of off-colour comedy shorts produced by Peter Farrelly and starring the likes of Kate Winslet, Richard Gere, Naomi Watts, Liev Schreiber and an especially hilarious Gerard Butler as a malicious leprechaun. (Not reviewed)
Polo Park, St. Vital, Towne. 18A
Jason Statham is the titular crook with a strict code of ethics in this adaptation of the Richard Stark (a.k.a. Donald E. Westlake) novel, co-starring Jennifer Lopez as Parker's opportunistic confederate. Parker's literary roots made the titular callous crook a breed apart, but this film adaptation is just another Jason Statham cinematic knuckle-duster. 'Ö'Ö
Grant Park. PG
Maggie Smith stars as a former opera diva who stirs things up at a retirement home for retired musicians, whose numbers include her own embittered ex-husband (Tom Courtenay) in this tasteful, safe drama directed by, of all people, Dustin Hoffman. 'Ö'Ö'Ö
SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK
Grant Park, McGillivray, McGillivray VIP, Polo Park. 14A
Bradley Cooper plays an unemployed bipolar school teacher who moves back in with his parents (Robert De Niro and Jacki Weaver) planning to reunite with his estranged wife, only to be distracted by a young widow (Jennifer Lawrence) with issues of her own. Director David O. Russell returns to the same eccentric/blue-collar milieu as The Fighter but a climactic dance competition doesn't have the same impact as a prize fight, and Bradley Cooper doesn't have the same impact as Mark Wahlberg. 'Ö'Ö'Ö
THIS IS 40
St. Vital. 14A
This semi-sequel to Knocked Up focuses on the married couple Pete and Debbie, played by Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann. As they enter their fourth decades the same week, they negotiate sex, parenting, careers and frayed relationships with their own parents in this raucous but relatable comedy from writer-director Judd Apatow. 'Ö'Ö'Ö1/2
ZERO DARK THIRTY
McGillivray, McGillivray VIP, Polo Park, St. Vital. 14A
Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker) directs this dramatic chronicle of the decade-long hunt for al-Qaeda terrorist leader Osama bin Laden through the eyes of an obsessive CIA agent (Jessica Chastain). It may seem shapeless compared to the average war/espionage movie, but the gist of this compelling drama is that war has changed and war movies must change accordingly. 'Ö'Ö'Ö'Ö