Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

MOVIES

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AI WEIWEI: NEVER SORRY

Cinematheque. PG

Ai Weiwei is one of China's foremost artists and also one of its most effective dissidents. This documentary portrait by Alison Klayman examines his successes and the brutal ways the Chinese government pushed back against him, in a portrait of not only creativity but impressive fortitude. 'Ö'Ö'Ö1/2

ARGO

Grant Park, Kildonan Place, McGillivray. 14A

Ben Affleck doesn't let facts get in the way of a good story with this based-on-fact tale of a CIA agent sent to rescue six American embassy workers trapped in the Canadian consulate during the hostage crisis in Iran by posing as a film producer scouting for Persian locations for a science fiction movie. The film shifts the focus of heroism away from the Canadians and onto American intelligence operatives who ... ahem ... kind of caused the mess in the first place. But as long as you remember that "based on a true story" is not the same things as "a true story," Argo is a fun ride. 'Ö'Ö'Ö1/2

CLOUD ATLAS

Globe. 14A

A film adaptation of the challenging novel by David Mitchell in which events and characters from the past, present and future are all tied together by invisible bonds. Stars Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Sturgess, Jim Broadbent and Hugh Grant each play multiple roles in multiple plot strands. If you're 20 years old and high in your dorm room with your friends, the platitudes presented here may seem profound. Anyone else in his or her right might should recognize it as a bloated, pseudo-intellectual self-indulgent slog. 'Ö'Ö (Reviewed by Christy Lemire)

FLIGHT

Grant Park, Kildonan Place, McGillivray, Polo Park, Towne. 18A

Denzel Washington stars as an airline pilot who has to fight for his professional career after an accident threatens to expose his secret as a prodigious substance abuser. Director Robert Zemeckis paces with the momentum of a thriller but Washington's presence adds the gravitas of a gritty character drama. 'Ö'Ö'Ö1/2

HERE COMES THE BOOM

St. Vital, Towne. PG

Raising cash to save his friend's job, a tubby high school teacher (Kevin James) becomes a mixed martial-arts sensation. Yes, it is every bit as ridiculous as it looks. That's not such a bad thing for the movie, whose makers embrace the fact that they're essentially doing a live-action cartoon. 'Ö'Ö1/2 (Reviewed by David Germain)

HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA

Kildonan Place, St. Vital, Towne. G

This animated comedy posits a protective dad Dracula (voiced by Adam Sandler) whose hideaway resort for monsters has kept humans from the vicinity of his innocent daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez), until a goofy human (voiced by Andy Samberg) blunders onto the property. This is mostly fun, except for a few moments that might terrify the very young. Considering most of the voice cast also starred in Grown Ups, this represents a vast improvement, comedy-wise. 'Ö'Ö1/2

INESCAPABLE

Globe. 14A

Adib (Alexander Siddig), a former intelligence officer must return to Damascus to attempt to retrieve his missing daughter in this film by Ruba Nadda. When Adib does spring into action, it's not very impressive action. You'll see more satisfying chase/fight scenes on episodic television. But Nadda does capture a sense of the madness that comes in the international spaces where tyranny and bureaucracy intersect. And Siddig is a sympathetic hero, albeit one more capable of delivering the required emotional beats than he is capable of delivering roundhouse kicks and bullet hailstorms. 'Ö'Ö

LINCOLN

Grant Park, Polo Park. 14A

Steven Spielberg examines American icon Abraham Lincoln from the perspective of his singular genius as he negotiates the passing of the 13th amendment banning slavery, an effort that required prodigious political skill. Starring Daniel Day-Lewis in a sure-thing Oscar contending performance.

THE MAN WITH THE IRON FISTS

Polo Park, Towne. 18A

This hyper-violent martial arts movie from novice director The RZA starring Russell Crowe is a wildly whirling martial arts spectacle with an endless array of exotic knives, a penchant for Zen philosophizing and an unquenchable thirst for blood; this may just be one of the best bad movies ever. But when it goes for camp, it falls short. When it edges toward serious, it slips. There is such a twinkle in Crowe's eyes when he turns up you get the feeling he's in on a joke the rest of us aren't privy to. 'Ö1/2 (Reviewed by Betsy Sharkey)

MIDNIGHT'S CHILDREN

McGillivray. 14A

Deepa Mehta's film adaptation of Salman Rushdie's novel traces the history of a boy born at the fateful moment of India's partition in August of 1947. The cast is strong here, but the sheer length of the film is a little exhausting, doubtless a result of Rushdie's inability to edit himself for the film medium. Also, Mehta proved in her last film Heaven on Earth that doesn't have a gift for magic realism, and she proves it again here. 'Ö'Ö1/2

PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 4

Polo Park. 14A

The fourth instalment of the perennial horror franchise follows a suburban family whose abode starts to show signs of haunting after the family takes in an apparently abandoned little boy named Robbie from across the street. Fairly mild in tone and riffing on horror classics such as The Shining, Rosemary's Baby and Poltergeist, both the franchise's premise and its execution nevertheless remain rudimentary, with the narrative and character backstories representing more of a sketch than a fully realized vision of the supernatural world. 'Ö'Ö (Reviewed by Justin Lowe)

PITCH PERFECT

Polo Park, St. Vital. PG

A raucous comedy about a troubled college girl (Anna Kendrick) who joins an a cappella singing group at the insistence of her father, only to bond with a collection of musical oddballs. As an attempt to revive the magic of the femme comedy Bridesmaids, it's lacking, but the music and the supporting cast do pitch in to deliver a modestly fun time. 'Ö'Ö1/2

SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN

Globe. PG

Malik Bendjelloul's movie about a little-known folk singer named Rodriguez is easily the feel-good movie of the summer and promises to surprise even the most jaded cynic with its heart, humour and historical significance. I'd tell you more, but I'd spoil the sweet sense of surprise. 'Ö'Ö'Ö'Ö (Reviewed by Katherine Monk)

THE SESSIONS

McGillivray VIP. 18A

A drama based on a true story about a man (John Hawkes) in an iron lung who wishes to lose his virginity contacts a professional sex surrogate (Helen Hunt) with unexpected assistance from his friend (William H. Macy), a priest. Perhaps it's a function of director Ben Lewin's chronological maturity (he's 65), or the fact that he's a polio survivor himself, but Lewin has managed to keep the film from succumbing to every conceivable trap, creating a movie that brims with spiky humor, indefatigable resolve and profound emotional truth. 'Ö'Ö'Ö'Ö (Reviewed by Ann Hornaday)

SILENT HILL: REVELATION

Polo Park, Towne. 18A

In this hallucinogenic horror sequel, a young woman (Adelaide Clemens) who has spent most of her life evading the malevolent forces of the hellish, haunted community of Silent Hill must finally go there when her adoptive father (Sean Bean) is kidnapped. This shot-in-Canada production shares a trait with a lot of Canadian dramas: It's joyless and dour and just no fun. 'Ö'Ö

SKYFALL

Grant Park, Kildonan Place, McGillivray, McGillivray VIP, Polo Park, Polo Park IMAX, St. Vital, Towne. 14A

The 24th James Bond movie pits Daniel Craig's secret agent against a former agent (Javier Bardem) intent on destroying the British Secret Service, and M (Judi Dench) in particular. In the 50th year of the franchise, Bond manages to be realpolitik-pertinent while paying discreet homage to the films of the past. Director Sam Mendes also brings unexpected dramatic heft but manages the action stuff very well too. 'Ö'Ö'Ö'Ö

THE TWILIGHT SAGA: BREAKING DAWN PART II

Grant Park, McGillivray, McGillivray VIP, Polo Park, St. Vital. PG

The very last chapter of the Twilight franchise has Bella (Kristen Stewart) and Edward (Robert Pattinson) defending their vampiric daughter Renesmee against a threat by those bloodsucking hoodlums, the Volturi. Whatever happens before it, the finale is a doozy, almost certain to be satisfying to fans and impressive even to the casual Twilight viewer. But so much of what comes before that payoff is mundane, dull ... all talk and no action. 'Ö'Ö (Reviewed by Roger Moore)

WRECK-IT RALPH

Grant Park, Kildonan Place, McGillivray, Polo Park, St. Vital, Towne. G

A video game villain (voiced by John C. Reilly) in a primitive arcade game goes rogue when he escapes his game to prove his mettle in other, more sophisticated games in this funny, inventive Disney adventure. This riff on the realm of video games past and present may lack Pixar prestige, but it blasts out fun as relentlessly as a Low Orbit Ion Cannon. 'Ö'Ö'Ö'Ö

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 18, 2012 A11

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