Weekend movie guide: See it or flee it?

Categories: Film
extraordinary measures.jpg

"What do you wanna see?"
"I dunno. What do you wanna see?"
Don't let this happen to you! Here's our guide to the best and worst films playing this weekend.

OPENING

MAYBE: Extraordinary Measures
A businessman and his wife (Brendan Fraser and Keri Russell) team up with an unconventional scientist (Harrison Ford) to develop a cure for their children's rare disorder. (area theaters)
City Pages: "Extraordinary Measures works according to its terms. Fraser is open and appealing, and Ford does well enough with a secondary part."
Star Tribune: 2.5 stars Pioneer Press: 3 stars RottenTomatoes.com: 27% positive

MAYBE: The Private Lives of Pippa Lee
Devoted helpmeet Pippa (Robin Wright Penn, in near-permanent Stepford Wife mode), approaching 50, is comfortably married to a publishing powerhouse (Alan Arkin) 30 years her senior. But a midlife crisis erupts when she meets a young, charismatic convenience store clerk (Keanu Reeves). (Lagoon Cinema)
City Pages: "Immediately recognizable as the millionth iteration of a sheltered suburban housewife who has a slight crack-up and decides she better get her ya-yas out."
Star Tribune: 2 stars Pioneer Press: 3 stars RottenTomatoes.com: 68% positive

FLEE: Tooth Fairy
A paint-by-numbers family comedy about a washed-up hockey player (Dwayne Johnson) who tells his girlfriend's daughter that the tooth fairy isn't real and ends up summoned to Fairyland (run by Julie Andrews and Stephen Merchant), where he's forced to become a tooth fairy to learn the importance of believing in something. (area theaters)
City Pages: "With its broader-than-broad comedy and trite inspirational messages, Tooth Fairy requires little of your higher brain functions. Johnson seems perfectly happy coasting through bland mediocrities."
Star Tribune: 2 stars Pioneer Press: 2.5 stars RottenTomatoes.com: 18% positive

SCREENING

SEE: The Ninth Gate
Roman Polanski's devilish 1999 mystery is a hugely enjoyable Hitchcockian hoot, with Johnny Depp as an unscrupulous book dealer hired to travel Europe trying to authenticate a rare book that supposedly conjures dark supernatural powers. (Trylon Microcinema, Friday and Saturday at 7 and 9:35 p.m.)

MAYBE: Expanding the Frame
The Walker presents its annual series dedicated to works that expand our ideas of what film and video can encompass. These are generally challenging, experimental films for the true cineast. The series kicks off with the local premiere of the Finnish film Where Is Where? (Saturday at 7:30 p.m.), a dreamlike evocation of death, politics, and philosophy based on a 1950s killing of a French boy by two of his Algerian friends. (Walker Art Center, through February 28. Visit www.walkerart.org for films and show times.)

MAYBE: Bronson
A hard-to-watch portrait of a mad-dog prison inmate (played with insane brio by Tom Hardy) whose goal in life seems to be to hone his reputation as "Britain's most violent prisoner." (Uptown Theatre, Friday and Saturday at midnight)

ONGOING

SEE: Avatar
The money is on the screen in James Cameron's mega-3-D, mondo-CGI, more-than-a-quarter-billion-dollar baby, about a group of Sky People (Americans) who launch a military operation to strip-mine a precious element on the planet of Pandora. (area theaters)

SEE: Crazy Heart
Jeff Bridges has become an Oscar favorite for his performance as Bad Blake, a washed-up honky-tonk hero who travels the country playing low-pay, low-turnout gigs with pickup bands half his age. But Bad's life starts getting better when a small-time journalist and single mom (Maggie Gyllenhaal) meets him for a rare interview. (Uptown Theatre)

SEE: Up in the Air
Jason Reitman (Juno) directs a snappy but surprisingly substantial story about a corporate downsizer who takes pride in his jet-setting and emotionally unencumbered life--until self-doubt begins to creep in. George Clooney has never been more human. (area theaters)

MAYBE: The Book of Eli
It's 31 years after the scorched-earth apocalypse. On the road since Year Zero, Denzel Washington's Eli has become an expert at using his wickedly quick machete to ward off roving bands of highwaymen from his precious cargo: the last copy of the Bible. Eli has gotten decidedly mixed reviews, from "awful" to "enthralling," but all agree it's visually stunning. (area theaters)

MAYBE: The Lovely Bones
Cults collide as Peter "Lord of the Rings" Jackson tackles Alice Sebold's bestselling New Age gothic, a horrific yet cloying, sometimes poignant story of a rape-murder-dismemberment and its aftermath, narrated by its 14-year-old victim from heaven. (area theaters)

For more film ideas, capsule reviews, and showtimes, click here.


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