Movies This Week: October 12-18, 2012


Man on a Mission

Attention, fans of Kevin James or Ayn Rand (or both!): This is your week at the movies! Enjoy your moment, for the rest of us -- at least those who aren't into action or horror films -- must settle for a middling group of new releases. (Question of the day: Is Atlas Shrugged Part II a horror film? Discuss.)

As always, there are some interesting alternatives. The Texas Independent Film Network presents Man on a Mission (pictured above), a terrific documentary about Austin billionaire Richard Garriott's 2008 trip to the International Space Station on a Russian rocket. This inspiring film by Austin filmmaker Mike Woolf -- which the Austin Chronicle calls "a first-class seat to stargazing" -- screens at the Violet Crown on Tuesday.

Also on Tuesday, The Austin Film Society presents a film that's a bit more down to Earth: the 1939 classic Ninotchka, featuring Greta Garbo as a Russian woman sent to Paris on official business. While falling for a man who represents the decadence of Western luxuries, she also falls for the Western luxuries. The film screens at the Alamo South Lamar as part of the AFS Essential Cinema series.

Looking for something with a bit more action and impressive hardware than a 1930s romantic comedy? On Sunday and Wednesday, the Alamo Village presents a film rather unlike Ninotchka: Robocop. Now 25 years old -- and still one of my favorite sci-fi movies -- the Dallas-made Robocop is the classic dystopian story of a terminally wounded cop who returns to the Detroit force as a cyborg haunted by violent memories of his former life. (We should be thankful that 25 years after Robocop's release, there still are no cyborg cops.)

Also on Sunday, Alamo Drafthouse brings the second meeting of the Sprocket Society, at 1:45 pm at Ritz. This month's theme is "Monster Mayhem" and features 16mm unearthed goodies plus a special guest. The last event drew a nearly full house, so buy tickets now.

Movies We've Seen

Argo -- In this Ben Affleck-directed action thriller based on a true story from the Iranian revolution, a CIA operative plans to free six Americans hiding at a Canadian diplomat's home by claiming they are filmmakers considering Iran as a setting for a sci-fi film. In her review, Elizabeth calls Argo a very intense movie: "Even though I knew how things were going to come out (it is based on a true story, after all), I was still biting my knuckles through a large part of the film." (wide)

Here Comes the Boom -- This comedy is the story of a biology teacher who becomes a mixed-martial arts fighter to raise money for extracurricular activities at his high school. Two words of warning: Kevin James. Look for J.C.'s review this weekend. (wide)

Seven Psychopaths -- This crime comedy follows a struggling screenwriter who becomes entangled in the underworld of Los Angeles organized crime when his friends kidnap a gangster's Shih Tzu. The cast (Colin Farrell, Woody Harrelson, Christopher Walken and Sam Rockwell) looks promising, as does the preview. Look for Mike's review this weekend. (wide)

Sinister -- Ethan Hawke stars in this horror film about a novelist who uses found footage to discover why a family was murdered in his new home. Sometimes knowledge is a dangerous thing -- the novelist's findings invoke the wrath of a supernatural being. J.C. has high praise for the film in his SXSW 2012 review: "What seems like a simple plot has much more under the surface. The brilliance of Sinister is that it isn't built on jump-scares and even has almost no gore. Best of all, it's a found footage film done right." Look for Jette's review this weekend. (wide)

Other Movies Opening in Austin

Atlas Shrugged: Part II -- Part two of this saga based on Ayn Rand's doorstop-length novel finds the global economy on the brink of collapse in the face of an energy crisis. (So, what else is new?) To save the world, very important industrialist (and job creator!) Dagny Taggart must find the designer of a motor that draws energy from static electricity. Sorry, but I must editorialize here: Is this film -- and the philosophy of sociopathic selfishness it espouses -- really necessary? (wide)

English Vinglish -- Filmed mostly in Manhattan, this Bollywood film is the story of an insecure Indian woman who gains self confidence when she enrolls in an English language class. (Tinseltown South)

Wake In Fright -- In this rediscovered 1971 Austrailian import, a schoolteacher's overnight stay in an outback mining town turns into a living hell at the hands of the town's violent, sociopathic residents. The Austin Chronicle's Marc Savlov describes this long-lost gem as a gritty nightmare: "Wake in Fright is an unflinching portrayal of modern man's moral disintegration in the face of the collective mob, and his ensuing culpability in the ever-widening ripples of despair that dissolution engenders." (Alamo South Lamar)

No sociopathic selfishness

Editorial license is a given, but that's drunk driving. : ) There's no sociopathy in Rand - just a very original take on life and morals. And art.