2013.11.29 Now Playing

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2013.11.29 Now Playing

Lazy Hitchhikers’ Tour de Europe (12)

Documentary / 106 / Korean

Director Lee Ho-jae and three friends quit school and decide to spend a year traveling around Europe with just one camera and barely any money among them. The results are “Lazy Hitchhikers’ Tour de Europe,” the story of Ho-jae, Hwi, Habby, Hyun-hak and their strange trip, doing whatever they have to get by.

At one point, they barter with a youth hostel to make a promotional video in exchange for a place to sleep. Another time they try making a music video for an indie band. But, as you would expect, it wasn’t easy.

Despite the difficulties the four friends face, they gain something very precious - a chance to do whatever they want and just waste time.

It’s a pro-slacker message that’s more important than ever in our hyper-competitive, go-go-go world.

Don’t expect groundbreaking special effects or incredible production value; its the sloppiness of this documentary that creates its charm.

Tumbleweed (19)

Drama / 104 / Korean

Chang-su (Im Chang-jung) is about as low as you can go. The closest thing he has to a “job” is being some kind of substitute prisoner, serving prison sentences for others in exchange for money. Other than that, he gambles and drinks.

All that changes, however, the day he meets Mi-yeon (Son Eun-seo). Chang-su falls in love and for the first time has something to live for. Unfortunately, Chang-su also has another prison sentence coming up that he has already agreed to take, serving time for the kind of person you do not cross - not without very bad things happening.

“Tumbleweed” is mostly a vehicle for actor and singer Im, showcasing his acting skills in a variety of melodramatic situations. It’s not exactly subtle, but Im has received some strong reactions by critics for his great acting.

But aside from Im’s performance, the story is rather artificial, and most of the characters are not well thought out. It’s a one-note movie, only recommended for the most die-hard fans of Im.

Riddick (15)

Sci-fi, Action / 118 / English

Vin Diesel is back as his signature character, Richard Riddick, the toughest warrior in the whole universe. Rather than the space opera of “The Chronicles of Riddick” (2004), this movie returns to the character’s down-and-dirty roots, like we first saw in “Pitch Black” (2000).

This time, Riddick is betrayed by a colleague and stranded on a deadly planet. With some giant storms and mud demons on their way, these dangers might even be too much for an injured Riddick. In a devious bid to survive, he intentionally lets himself be discovered by some bounty hunters, ordering them to leave him their spaceship or else be killed.

Director and writer David Twohy once again is at the helm, as in the first two Riddick movies. Twohy promises to further develop his deadly character and explore his psyche, but let’s face it, this is mostly an exercise is slick violence. But if that’s your thing, “Riddick” might be for you.

Mud (15)

Drama / 130 / English

Travel down to the swamps of Arkansas where teenagers Ellis (Tye Sheridan) and Neckbone (Jacob Lofland) are exploring an islet on the Mississippi River.

The boys discover a broken boat washed high into the treetops from a flood, but quickly realize that its occupied by Mud, a strange and scrappy runaway played by Matthew McConaughey.

Although wary of the stranger, the two boys soon befriend Mud, bringing him food and helping him rebuild the boat. Yet there’s a dark side to Mud; he’s not just a homeless man, he’s a wanted man. Mud reveals that he killed the man who impregnated his girlfriend Juniper, played by Reese Witherspoon, and pushed her down the stairs, making her lose her baby. Now, not only the police but also the murdered man’s family is after Mud. Back in town, the two boys start meddling in Mud’s life and soon find themselves interconnected with the fugitive. The meet Juniper and even help her fight back an abusive man.

When an accident threatens one boy’s life, Mud reappears back in town, exposing himself to the outside world. It isn’t long before the police and the revenge-seeking family hunting Mud come looking for him.

Written and directed by Jeff Nichols, who is from Arkansas, the film received rave reviews after its debut at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This coming-of-age tale more about trust and devotion, with Huckleberry Finn overtones, rather than violence.

Gambit (15)

Comedy, Crime / 89 / English

Harry Deane is your ordinary company man, although one with an out-of-the-ordinary boss. As a lowly art curator, Harry (Colin Firth) must deal with his eccentric and arrogant boss, Lord Lionel Shabandar (Alan Rickman), a billionaire art collector who verbally abuses Harry any chance he gets.

Yet Harry knows his boss’s weakness: Monet’s “Haystacks at Dusk.” To get back at the Lord, Harry decides to forge the painting and elicits the help of Texan cowgirl PJ Puznowski (Cameron Diaz) to trick Lionel into squandering his millions on a rip-off. To do so, Harry must pits Lionel against the bubbly blonde PJ, who might not be as invested in the revenge plot as Harry is.

It soon becomes apparent that PJ is more than Harry can handle, especially as Lord Lionel grows more interested in PJ. His original plan in shambles, Harry is going to have to scramble to come up with an alternative.

This 2012 film is a remake of a movie of the same name from 1966. It’s boasts an all-star cast, with Firth and Rickman playing off each other admirably.

Journeyman director Michael Hoffman does better than usual thanks to a script by the Coen Brothers, giving the story a wit and energy it needed. Despite the all-star cast and the Coens’ involvement, audiences and critics this move gave lukewarm reviews, and it made barely $10 million at the box office in the United States.

Cloudy With a Chance

of Meatballs 2 (ALL)

Comedy, Crime / 89 / English

After the edible apocalypse swept through the island of Swallow Falls in the first “Meatballs” movie, Flint (voiced by Bill Hader) had to destroy his incredible invention, the “Flint Lockwood Diatonic Super Mutating Dynamic Food Replicator” (or FLDSMDFR for short). Or so he thought.

It turns out that the machine was not destroyed, and has been continuing to churn out new “foodimals.” Under the evil scheme of Chester V (voiced by Will Forte), who wants the machine for himself, Flint returns to the island with his friends and father to get the FLDSMDFR back.

This is another upbeat, animated movie for the whole family. With its plethora of cute monsters and a relatively short running time, younger children should enjoy the film, too.

It is funny how the food gets transformed into cute creatures, even when the world gets threatened by a “spaghetti hurricane.”
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