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Thumbnails Dec 13

by Tony Medley

Narco Cultura (9/10): Shaul Schwarz has created a shocking documentary on the narco culture of Sinaloa, extending to Juarez, Mexico and into Los Angeles. Juarez went from 600 murders a year in 2006, when the drug war in Mexico began, to over 6,000 per year now, making it the murder capital of the world (El Paso, across a border line that cuts the town, has 6 murders a year). He contrasts narco corrida, songs that glorify drug use, violence, murder, and torture, the avaricious people who create it, and the vacuous fans who grovel to joyously celebrate it (many of them Angelenos), with the tears, pain, and sorrow of actual people in Juarez who have had family members as victims of the torture, mutilation, and death. This is a hard film to watch, but it certainly captures the state of the world in which we live, of which most of us have only the fleetingest of knowledge. Opens Dec. 6.

About Time (8/10):

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens;

Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens;

Brown paper packages tied up with strings;

These are a few of my favorite things.

Oscar Hammerstein

You may add Rachel McAdams and time warp movies to my list, Oscar. This romantic comedy has both, along with a scintillating performance by romantic lead Domhnall Gleeson. Although far too long (over two hours) for a romantic comedy this is still a charming movie that also features a touching performance by writer/director Richard Curtis-movie veteran, Bill Nighy, as Gleesonís beloved father. Also in top form is Tom Hollander as Gleesonís foul-tempered landlord. Adding to the pleasure is a wonderful sound track with a lot of great songs, including Andrea Grant singing Dolly Partonís I Will Always Love You (which was written about Dollyís 1974 professional break with Porter Wagoner).

Enderís Game (7/10): The point of the book upon which the film is based, that the future of the earth is in the hands of pre-pubescent children, is basically destroyed by the casting because all the characters were 15 years old and older when the film was shot, and look it. Writer/director Gavin Hood (whose credits include the outstanding, but little seen, Tsotsi, one of the best films I saw in 2006) gets excellent performances from his cast. Even though I got tired of it all, itís an entertaining film. The special effects are terrific, especially the floating around in a gravity-free environment, and thereís a lot of that. Further, if you see this in IMAX, that is worth the price of admission all by itself because the visual is so big and beautiful and clear.

Oldboy (0/10): Itís hard to single out only one part as the most reprehensible thing about director Spike Leeís nauseating remake of a South Korean movie, but, if pressed, I would nominate the segments that show the children who are victims of incest as enjoying and looking forward to the sex, though itís a close call with all the other scenes in the film. Based on a Japanese manga about a man who is suddenly imprisoned in solitary confinement for many years and then released after which he must then find out who imprisoned him and why, one woman ran out of my screening after about a half hour because it is so unremittingly depressing and irresponsibly violent. My guest finally bolted after about 45 minutes. The film is replete with physical and psychological torture with the physical torture taking second place to the psychological creepiness of the story. Shame on the MPAA for not giving this debasing obscenity an NC-17 rating.

 

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