No local film product to speak of this week, but there are some interesting cinematic offerings nonetheless.
Monday, Aug. 19 - Thursday, Aug. 22: Blackfish plays at the Downer
5:05 p.m./7:30 p.m./9:30 p.m. @ the Oriental Theatre (2230 N. Farwell Ave.) tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for students with valid ID, $7.50 for seniors (62+) and children (-12), and $7.50 for all shows before 6 p.m.
Filmmaker Gabriela Cowperthwaite’s Blackfish, a thought-provoking documentary that showcases the plight of killer whales held in captivity, opened in Milwaukee last Friday. Having played in competition at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year to great acclaim, the film utilizes a combination of frank interviews with former trainers, animation and archival footage to make its case against the longstanding practice holding wild animals in captivity for entertainment purposes.
Did you know that since the 1970s there have been over 70 SeaWorld trainers seriously injured or outright killed while on the job? Chances are you didn’t because the company has actively taken steps to keep that information out of the public forum. Not surprisingly, when trainers employed by SeaWorld are involved in what the company coins “accidents,” they routinely fault the trainers. Suffice it to say, the documentary pulls no punches in its denouncement of SeaWorld and its practices.
According to the film, for SeaWorld and other animal parks it’s oftentimes more about the bottom-line than the safety of its employees and nurturing of its animals. These animals are big business. As one of the former trainers says about the film’s most haunting figure, Tilikum, a male killer whale and one-time main attraction, responsible for the deaths of three park employees over the years, “his sperm’s worth a lot of money.”
Cowperthwaite’s film, made in response to the death of Tilikum’s trainer Dawn Brancheau following a live performance, after SeaWorld claimed that the whale was enticed because Brancheau wore her hair in a ponytail the day of the fatal attack.
Tuesday, Aug. 20: Amour & Scary Movie V debut of DVD and Blu-ray
Check local retail stores for prices and availability.
Austrian filmmaker Michael Haneke’s Oscar-winning masterpiece Amour was nominated for a total of five Oscars including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay (for Haneke), and Best Actress for 85-year-old Emmanuelle Riva. Haneke took home the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. Had Riva won, she would have unseated Jessica Tandy and become the oldest actress in Oscar history to win Best Actress. Tandy was 80 years old when she won for Driving Miss Daisy (1989) in 1990.
Amour is about an elderly French couple, Anne (Riva) and George (Jean-Louis Trintignant), who’ve been married for decades and are both retired piano teachers. Their union is severely tested when after promising not to put her in a home, George takes care of Anne after she suffers two consecutive strokes which leave her partially paralyzed, unable to speak and in a catatonic state. Haneke takes his time letting the story unfold, and the film is all the better as a result. Riva and Trintignant’s performances are superb. If you haven’t seen Amour, by all means do so. The film is in French with English subtitles.
And Scary Movie V, co-written by Shorewood native David Zucker, debuts this week as well. That’s the only notable thing I can say about the film, really. There’s no real plot to speak of, just a series of consistently mindless and uninspired set pieces in search of cohesion. And the “cast” as it were, is a virtual who’s who of has-beens, troubled celebrities and reality stars.
Wednesday, Aug. 21: Mortal Instruments: City of Bones opens in theaters nationwide
Check local listings for showtimes and ticket pricing.
Based on the first in a series of six young adult novels by Cassandra Clare, five of which have been published, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones casts Lily Collins (Phil’s daughter) as Clarissa “Clary” Fray, a young teenage artist in contemporary New York City who thinks she’s a mundane, ordinary person. Following the disappearance of her mother, it’s revealed that she’s a descendent of a race of warriors who protect the world from demons. She joins forces with others in her brethren to find out what happened to her mother, and ends up in an alternate New York City filled with unusual and sinister characters you often find in fairy tales and horror stories. Jamie Campbell Bower co-stars as Jace Wayland, a fellow warrior and Clary’s love interest.
Friday, August 22: The Spectacular Now opens in theaters nationwide
Check local listings for showtimes and ticket pricing.
Shailene Woodley (The Descendants) and Miles Teller (Rabbit Hole) star in the big screen adaptation of Tim Tharp’s best-selling novel of the same name. In the film, Teller plays Sutter Keely, a hard-drinking high school senior with a unique, philosophical take on life. As he sees it, he lives in “the spectacular now” and doesn't think or worry about what lies ahead. After being dumped by his girlfriend, he gets hammered and wakes up on a lawn with “nice girl” Aimee Finicky (Woodley) observing him. Unlike Sutter, boyfriend-less Aimee doesn’t have a budding substance abuse problem and has goals and dreams for her future. Despite their philosophical differences, or perhaps because of them, these two complete opposites are somehow drawn together.
Directed by James Ponsoldt (Smashed) and written for the screen by (500) Days of Summer’s Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, the film played in competition earlier this year at Sundance where Woodley and Teller both won a special jury prize for acting. The jury said of their performances, “Shailene Woodley and Miles Teller are both awarded the Special Jury Prize for Dramatic 'Acting' because these two young actors showed rare honesty, naturalism and transparency in performance, and brought out the best in each other.”
Emmy winner Kyle Chandler ("Friday Night Lights"), Jennifer Jason Leigh, Brie Larson, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and Bob Odenkirk co-star.
Saturday, Aug. 23 and Sunday, Aug. 24: Galaxy Quest plays the Times
10:30 a.m. @ Times Theater (5906 W. Vliet St.) Tickets ($4)
Screening as part of the Times’ “Alien August” matinee screening series, this Tim Allen/Sigourney Weaver sci-fi comedy has garnered a loyal cult following since its 1999 theatrical release. The two play former cast members of a cult sci-fi series that are called upon to inhabit their old onscreen roles when an alien race asks for their help.
Alan Rickman, Sam Rockwell, Emmy winner Tony Shalhoub ("Monk"), Enrico Colantoni, Missi Pyle, Justin Long, and Daryl "Chill" Mitchell co-star.