The Glasgow Courier - Serving Proudly As The Voice Of Valley County Since 1913

By D.K. Holm
For The Courier 

Film Shorts: Valley Cinemas and More

 

Courtesy of Sony

One of the most significant changes in the history of motion pictures is the retreat from the big screen to increasingly smaller ones. Television wasn't the cause, though it predicted the idea of free moving images at home. Rather, the cause was the rise of the personal computer. As its power and memory increased, as it became portable and sharper, the big screen lost its potency. If you haven't been to a theater lately, try it, because the larger image and darkened room is still powerful. But you can't beat portability and the freedom to choose what you want to see when you want it. Here at the Courier, we are modern enough to endorse both ways of seeing movies.

Valley Cinemas is dropping the terrible Fantastic Four and the latest, entertaining Mission Impossible movie for two relatively new films.

Ricki and the Flash is the latest opportunity for Meryl Streep to chew some scenery. And this time she gets to do it in front of her kid, who also appears (as her daughter). Here she plays an unlikely low-rent L. A. rocker who, in that inevitable dull cliché turn, must "return home" for a death and a wedding. Only ex-rocker Rick Springfield, so good in True Detective on HBO, redeems this uninformed pabulum. Squaresville, man.

Vacation is the unfunny replication of National Lampoon's Vacation, written by John Hughes. This one is barely written, as it collects one obvious stunt and vulgar body joke after another, while hewing to the much better original. If you saw the trailer, you saw this movie. It looks like an off week for the VC2, but good movies are on the way.

The Worx (700 1/2 1st Ave N) is offering some new titles on DVD Tuesday. Look for Far From the Madding Crowd, an adaptation of one of Thomas Hardy's happier novels.

The 1967 version with Julie Christie and Terence Stamp remains better, but then that film luxuriated in a longer running time. This Carey Mulligan version is capable and contains the basics of its fascinating story. Though abbreviated, it still captures Hardy's romantic fatalism.

Actors take the helm in two more films for rent: Ride, written, directed and starring Helen Hunt as a New Yorker editor who takes up surfing to get close to her son. Luke Wilson plays her surfing guru. Alan Rickman directs and stars in A Little Chaos, starring himself and Kate Winslet. Rickman is Louis the XIV, and his star is a landscape architect installing a new garden when love happens.

Twisty and turny, Every Secret Thing with Diane Lane as the mother of a troubled teen, Dakota Fanning as the teen's pal, and Elizabeth Banks as the cop investigating a new murder which may have a connection with something the teens did way back.

Less successful are Hot Pursuit, the Hollywood hot air Reese Witherspoon – Sofia Vergara girl-buddy-cop knock-off, which has few laughs in its retread plot, and the Australian missing child drama Strangerland – with an oddball mom performance by Nicole Kidman but a good turn by Hugo Weaving as the local cop.

Meanwhile in the world of online streaming video, Redbox, Netflix and Hulu are unleashing several new films in August.

Your local Redbox service machine at 620 1st Avenue North near the Albertson's or the one at the Holiday Station Store at 108 1st St N, should be filling up soon with a few new fun movies. Among them is Police Story: Lockdown, the latest Jackie Chan Hong Kong cop film. He's starting to get long in the tooth, but the action still rarely lets up.

Danny Collins is an entertaining vehicle for Al Pacino, as an aging soft rock Vegas style singer who once wanted to be the next singer-songwriter. The plot develops when he receives a letter from John Lennon, sent 30 years earlier and only now delivered. He's inspired to flirt with a mature hotel concierge (Annette Bening), and track down his long lost son (Bobby Cannavale). It makes a salutary contrast to Ricki and the Flash, mentioned above.

At Netflix later this week, comes Lords of War, about an arms dealer (Nicholas Cage) on the run from an assassin (Jared Leto). Routine stuff, it seems, but the film is written and directed by Andrew Niccol, who wrote The Truman Show, and has done a number of fine science fiction films, such as Gattaca and In Time, and the recent anti-war film, Good Kill. Always look for the good directors.

Hulu is newly offering Monster, an Oscar winner for Charlize Theron as one of America's few female serial killers. Stars almost always get Oscars when they deglamorize themselves, but here the actress also embraces a tough, difficult, almost unappealing character with gravity and respect.

If you're upset that Straight Outa Compton didn't make it to town, Hulu also has Public Enemy: Welcome To The Terrordome (2014), a documentary about the 20-year career of the much more significant New York City based rap group. For Spanish speakers there is the low budget but effective revenge tale La Soga (2011), about a cop seeking the criminal who shot his dad in his youth.

And don't forget YouTube. Numerous public domain movies appear there and some are in high definition. One current treat is The 49th Parallel, Michael Powell's WWII epic picaresque set in the land of our neighbors to the North, which concerns a small team of stranded Nazi sub crew struggling to reach still-neutral America from Hudson's Bay. Along the way the group meets interesting, colorful characters not seen on the screen before, such as patriotic Eskimos, German Mennonites, and pessimistic hunters. Powell was one of England's greatest directors, along with Hitchcock.

 

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