Friday Flicks: New to Theaters 09/25/09

25 Sep


It’s another jam-packed movie weekend in Baltimore and the fall season is off and running. There’s a really great selection of films opening today and I’ve currently only seen one of them. With the four (count ’em–four!) new movies debuting at The Charles and three other high profile pics opening everywhere else, there’s more than enough to go around. Add in all the films already playing and it’s a smorgasbord of choices.

 Here’s what’s brand new for 09/25/09:


Bright Star (PG) Director: Jane Campion Cast: Abbie Cornish, Ben Whishaw, Kerry Fox, Paul Schneider, Thomas Sangster, Samuel Barnett Run Time: 1hr 59min

Showing at the Charles:
FRIDAY 1:40, 4:10, 7:00, 9:30.
SATURDAY 1:40, 4:10, 7:00, 9:30.
SUNDAY 1:40, 4:10, 6:50, 9:20.

As a huge fan of the poet John Keats there isn’t much that could keep me away from this Jane Campion directed period piece that recalls his romance with Fanny Brawne. Brawne and Keats were together only 3 years before his premature death at 25 separated them. Will it be a downer? It looks suitably dramatic but not overly wrenching. The cinematography is gorgeous, the set design flawless, and the costuming is right-on-the-money. With Abbie Cornish and Ben Whishaw in the lead roles and personal fave Paul Schneider playing back-up as Keat’s buddy (Charles Armitage Brown) this is at the very top of my weekend must-see list. Jen and I are already penciling this into tomorrow’s date night.


Lorna’s Silence (R) Director: Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne Cast:  Arta Dobroshi, Jérémie Renier, Fabrizio Rongione, Alban Ukaj, Morgan Marinne. Run Time: 1hr 45 min

Showing at the Charles:
FRIDAY 4:30, 7:30
SATURDAY 4:30, 7:30
SUNDAY 4:30, 6:30

 Attention all art-house junkies, this new one from the Belgian Dardenne brothers is another poetic homerun and one of the very best movies I’ve seen this year. My review of this is coming later today. Here’s the synopsis:

In order to become the owner of a snack bar with her boyfriend, Lorna, a young Albanian woman living in Belgium, becomes an accomplice to a diabolical plan devised by mobster Fabio. Fabio has orchestrated a sham marriage between her and Claudy. The marriage allows her to obtain Belgian citizenship and then marry a Russian Mafioso willing to pay a lot of money to acquire the same quickly. However, for this second marriage to be possible, Fabio has planned to kill Claudy. Will Lorna keep silent?

Thirst (R) Director: Chan-wook Park Cast:  Kang-ho Song, Ok-vin Kim, Hae-sook Kim, Ha-kyun Shin. Run Time: 2hr 13min

Showing at the Charles:
FRIDAY 1:30, 4:00, 6:50, 9:40.
SATURDAY 1:30, 4:00, 6:50, 9:40.
SUNDAY 1:30, 4:00, 6:40, 9:15.

Chan-wook Park’s vampire thriller Thirst has been a long time coming here in Baltimore. The film was honored with the Prix du Jury [Jury Prize] at the 2009 Cannes International Film Festival and played in limited release over the summer. I’m a fan of Park’s work, even the underrated and largely ignored I’m A Cyborg But That’s O.K., but lackluster reviews and the sense that it might be far sillier than it lets on have me waiting until it’s region 1 dvd release date in early November. However, foreign film fans and junkies looking for their next Park fix after the Vengeance trilogy are probably gonna want to hop on-board this crazy train.


The Baader Meinhoff Complex (R) Director: Uli Edel Cast: Martina Gedeck, Moritz Bleibtreu, Johanna Wokalek, Bruno Ganz, Heino  Run Time: 2hr 30min

Showing at the Charles:
FRIDAY 1:50, 4:50, 8:00
SATURDAY 1:50, 4:50, 8:00
SUNDAY 1:50, 4:50, 8:00

This is another compelling film that I’ll probably miss simply because I don’t have the time to check it out. For anyone who gets that eerie feeling of familiarity when they see Bruno Ganz: he played Hitler in Downfall and is currently enjoying a very healthy internet career doing all those ‘Adolph rages against (fill in the blank)’ clips. Here’s the synopsis:

An Academy Award and Golden Globe nominee for Best Foreign Language Film, The Baader Meinhof Complex dramatizes the history of the real-life West German terrorist group Red Army Faction (RAF), which rose to violent action against the German political status quo in the late 1960s. Led by Ulrike Meinhof (Martina Gedeck), a prominent journalist who forfeited her career and children to engage in anti-authoritarian and anti-capitalist acts of resistance, and Andreas Baader (Moritz Bleibtreu), the group’s youthful members went underground, sacrificing leading normal lives, to fight for a more human society—through terrorist bombings and bloodshed. These were the radicalized children of Germany’s Nazi generation and they were hell-bent on never allowing anything like Nazism to rise to power again. The man who understands them is also their hunter: the head of the German police force (Bruno Ganz). Written and produced by Bernd Eichinger (Downfall) and directed by Uli Edel (Last Exit to Brooklyn).

Surrogates (PG-13) Director: Jonathan Mostow Cast: Bruce Willis, Radha Mitchell, Rosamund Pike, Boris Kodjoe, James Cromwell Run Time: 1hr 28min

Showing at area theaters: Click Here

I’ve been anticipating Surrogates for awhile in hopes that there will be some Philip K. Dick-esque goodness lurking under the shiny surface. Mostow has delivered two solid action thrillers with Breakdown and U571 and he did as well as one could expect with the Terminator 3 script.  I’m hoping to see this one tomorrow afternoon. Here’s what I wrote about it in May:

Jonathan Mostow’s film sits right at the precipice dividing the summer and the fall film slate, but the production looks like a summer blockbuster with a neat idea at its center. Human shut-ins use robotic replicas called Surrogates to interact in the real world. When humans connected to surrogates start dying, an ex-cop played by Bruce Willis starts investigating, both in person and with his surrogate. It sounds like I, Robot. Not being tied to a sci-fi classic and adding in the more compelling idea that the robots are only devices for their human masters’ impulses safely separates this one from that Will Smith vehicle. Also, it’s nice to see Willis tackling something a little more ambitious again.

Pandorum (R) Director: Christian Alvert Cast: Dennis Quaid, Ben Foster, Cam Gigandet, Norman Reedus Run Time: 1hr 48min

Showing at area theaters: Click Here

Horror in space is one of my many cinematic guilty pleasures. In fact, I’m not really sure I feel all that guilty about it. Some of these films have been darn good and others even great. This one wasn’t screened for critics but I had free passes for a sneak peek that I had to turn down in favor of the BSO Bloggers night. At this point, I’d like to believe that Pandorum offers good thrills and a worthwhile science fiction hook but nothing here offers that necessary bit of extra comfort. I suppose time will tell. Again, here were my thoughts a few months ago:

Creepy Ben Foster from 310 to Yuma and 30 Days of Night teams with Dennis Quad to take on the sci-fi chiller Pandorum which becomes the latest entry in the “haunted spaceship” genre. That genre’s best entry, Sunshine, turned out to be a hard sci-fi thriller wearing a horror mask in the last third. This one looks typically disorienting, and that’s appropriate since it seems to revolve around the effects of deep space on the mind. The Pandorum of the title appears to be some sort of disease. While it’s slightly disconcerting to see Paul W.S. Anderson’s name on the film, he only serves as a producer and his own film Event Horizon contained without a doubt the creepiest haunted starship I’ve seen. I have some hope for this one.

Fame (PG-13) Director: Kevin Tancharoen Cast: Naturi Naughton, Kay Panabaker, Megan Mullaly, Charles S. Dutton Run Time: 1hr 45min

Showing at area theaters: Click Here

The Fame reboot is the latest installment of ‘Hollywood remakes the 80s!’ There is some talent here in the cast, but really, what is the point? What exactly did the original film leave out or fail to cover? If you were a fan of it, what could possibly be changed to improve it? Based on the incoming reviews this film wasn’t able to answer that last question.

For anyone not in the know regarding Fame:   

This movie is based upon the 1980 film which follows NYC talent attending the New York City High School for the Performing Arts, (Known today as Fiorello H. Laguardia H.S.) students get specialized training that often leads to success as actors, singers, etc. In 1936, New York City Mayor Fiorello H. LaGuardia founded the High School of Music & Art in order to provide a facility where the most gifted and talented public school students of New York City could pursue their talents in art or music, while also completing a full academic program of instruction. In 1948, the School of Performing Arts was created to provide training in performance skills to students who wished to prepare for professional careers in dance, music or drama.

5 Responses to “Friday Flicks: New to Theaters 09/25/09”

  1. The Great Fatsby September 25, 2009 at 11:04 am #

    Great article! I had to make sure my hard earned ten bucks was going to something good, so I’ll pick the second to last quality-sounding movie, Pandorum. If I was in an area near an arthouse theatre, though, I’d be in line for The Baader Meinhoff Complex too.

  2. Cello September 25, 2009 at 12:08 pm #

    Surrogates of Pandourm…hmm decisions decisions….leaning towards Pandorum tomorrow but we’ll see.

  3. Cello September 25, 2009 at 12:09 pm #

    *of = or

  4. Nathan Bartlebaugh September 25, 2009 at 12:20 pm #

    I’m literally about to go check one out and I can’t decide. I’ll probably still be flummoxing at the ticket window. Surrogates looks like the better scifi, but neither was screened for critics. Im leaning towards surrogates.

  5. Xiphos September 25, 2009 at 10:46 pm #

    I don’t subscribe to the idea of guilty pleasures. Never apologize for liking something. Now with that being said the only thing that is sort of floating my boat is Pandorum. It has Dennis Quaid in it and he’s actor I’ve liked since Breaking Away. He’s reliable and even in bad movies he never phones it in.

    I’ve read a lot reviews saying Badder-Meinhof was really good. I’ll check it out on video since I need to practice my German anyways, I might as well get a decent movie out of the deal.

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