May 5 – 7: True Grit (Red Vic)
The Old Western setting is finely crafted to be believable, the characters are fully developed, and the plot feels natural. In other words, the Coen Brothers once again display their mastery of film form. It is not their masterpiece, but it is a worthwhile addition to their pantheon and a fine film and Western in and of itself. (Click here for full review)
May 6: Meeks Cutoff (Landmark)
There is nothing like a western to get my juices flowing. Though I loved this film, fans of the traditional story structure in Hollywood films might absolutely hate it. This is not a glorified western with shootouts and outlaws, it’s about getting from point A to point B in an unknown and unforgiving landscape.
May 6 Cave of Forgotten Dreams (Kabuki)
Cave of Forgotten Dreams is basically Herzog being given permission by the French government (a rare honour which will likely not be repeated for a long time) to spend a few days filming the most ancient, delicate cave paintings known to man, created during the last Ice Age and twice as old as the next oldest set we have discovered. Using 3-D is Herzog’s acknowledgment of the enormity of a privilege he was granted by this, and his desire to share this experience with everyone else in the fullest capacity.
May 8: The Godfather Part’s I and II (Castro)
“Luca Brasi sleeps with the fishes.“ “A man who doesn’t spend time with his family can never be a real man.” “Leave the gun. Take the cannoli.” “Some day, and that day may never come, I will call upon you to do a service for me.” “I know it was you, Fredo. You broke my heart. You broke my heart!” – Is there really anymore to say? For those who haven’t seen The Godfathers yet, what better way to be introduced to two classics then in The Castro!
May 13: Hesher (Kabuki)
I’ve been anxiously awaiting this film’s arrival ever since its premiere last year at Sundance and now it is finally here. Oh rapture! It stars a greasy long-haired crudely tattooed pot smoking Joseph Gordon-Levitt and has completely sold me with its trailer, which the director made himself and features “Battery” by Metallica (before they started to suck). After watching the preview several times I can honestly say I still have no idea as to how exactly this film is going to play out, but I have high hopes that it’s not going to let me down.
May 13: True Legend (Landmark)
Judo chop! With no less than 29 martial arts films under his belt Woo-ping Yuen is no stranger when it comes to filming classic kung-fu cinema. Aside from serving as fight choreographer on The Matrix series, both Kill Bills and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon he has also directed such classics as Drunken Master (1978), Magnificant Butcher (1980) and Iron Monkey (1993), just to name a few. Point being, anyone who is looking for an old school Shaw Brothers type action flick and is familiar with the movie titles I just named in the previous sentence, especially the last three, has some idea of what a special occasion this film is going to be.
May 14: Leone Herzog Double-feature: The Good The Bad and the Ugly/Aguirre: The Wrath of God (Castro)
Whether The Good, The Bad and the Ugly is or isn’t Sergio Leone‘s best film is debateable, what isn’t is the tremendous influence on the Italian/American Western genre and iconic pop culture status to which Clint Eastwood was thrusted into as his role as a badass, cigar smoking, gun toteing, man with no name. Oh yeah, as for the soundtrack, do-do-do-do-do-wah-wah-wahh.
Being the highly prolific director that Werner Herzog is, one can not be blamed for having not seen his entire filmography. You will however be shunned from your fellow film nerd peers if you have failed to see one of his best films, Aguirre: The Wrath of God. Starring the extremely talented late acting stylings of Klaus Kinski, Aguirre is the 16th Century period piece about one man’s insane Spanish expedition in search of El Dorado. Expect lots of unique Herzog framed shots and brilliant over-the-top acting from Kinski.
May 20: 13 Assassins (Landmark)
Takashi Miike‘s homage to Kurosawa (complete with a Toshiro Mifune-based character and loving shots of rain) with his modern, ultraviolent twist, an enjoyable period piece with a tried and true jidaigeki formula, and some quiet social commentary underneath it all.
May 27: Kung Fu Panda 2 (Major)
So action fans, you were upset upon learning that Jackie Chan and Jean-Claude Van Damme weren’t involved with Stallone’s action herogasm film The Expendables? Well, luckily for you both of these cinematic fighting legends can be found in the follow-up to one of my personal top 20 animated films of the last decade, Kung-Fu Panda. With the back story of Panda’s rise already told I’m expecting a lot more action with the same, if not more, attention to actual fighting styles as seen in the first installment. Also, Jean-Claude Van Damme as a crocodile! That last sentence deems repeating. Jean-Claude Van Damme as a crocodile!
May 27: Midnight in Paris (Landmark)
Another year = another Woody Allen movie = another $6.00 from my pocket (I always go to the matinée) = another potential Allen classic or, at the very least, = an entertaining comedy of average quality bound to be at least 10 times better than most of the comedies that have been coming out recently. This one stars Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams and Kathy Bates and judging from the preview, which previous experience has taught me never to do, it looks like Mr. Allen might have rediscovered his comedy footing.