The arrival of October typically means we get a more thoughtful round of offerings from the Hollywood Industrial Complex. Yet even a cursory glance at this week's batch of high-profile releases reveals options more in line with the stuff we get during the summer months: a lame-looking comedy (The Big Year) filled with actors who have seen better days; a prequel of a remake of a horror classic (The Thing) directed by a curious-named newcomer and featuring a largely unknown cast; and a remake of a 1980s staple (Footloose) that is so of its time that it's hard to image it being updated for contemporary consumption (tt stern-enzi's review below reveals that to be an accurate assumption).
As is often the case, The Esquire Theatre has come to the rescue of those with more discerning cinematic tastes, this week dropping a pair of intriguing documentaries on topics that couldn't be more disparate (auto racing and feminist art).
And as is also often the case, Cincinnati World Cinema is screening fare that would otherwise never see a big screen around here: The British Arrow Awards, a collection British television commercials (or, as they're called across the pond, adverts) that put their American counterparts to shame.
In fact, there is often more creative energy in one of these 90-second British adverts than in a two-hour Hollywood effort. Among the best of the Arrow Award-winning shorts: a refreshingly straightforward but oddly subversive Puma spot featuring a bunch of beer-swilling football (soccer for those in the States) fans/blokes singing in unison; a wall-breaking, first-aid-guide-promoting spot that brings to mind Woody Allen's The Purple Rose of Cairo; and a T-Mobile spot that features a seemingly spontaneous flash mob that turns a London Heathrow Airport terminal into a joyous scene that would be right at home in a Broadway musical.
CWC screens the adverts 4:30 and 7:30 p.m. Sunday, 7:30 p.m. Tuesday and Oct. 19 at the Carnegie in Covington (1028 Scott Blvd.). Tickets are $10 in advance, $13 at door. For more information, call 859-957-FILM or go to www.cincyworldcinema.org.
THE BIG YEAR — Inspired by Mark Obmascik's fascinating nonfiction book, The Big Year follows three avid birders trying to identify the most individual bird species in North America over the course of one calendar year: divorced computer programmer Brad Harris (Jack Black); wealthy soon-to-retire businessman Stu Preissler (Steve Martin); and relentless "Big Year" record-holder Kenny Bostick (Owen Wilson). (Read full review here.) (Opens wide today.) — Scott Renshaw (Rated PG.) Grade: C
FOOTLOOSE — Director Craig Brewer (Hustle & Flow, Black Snake Moan) seemingly buffs over his jagged edges, prettifying the ugly pit and back stains that funked up his previous joints in this unnecessary remake. (Read full review here.) (Opens wide today.) — tt stern-enzi (Rated PG-13.) Grade: D+
SENNA — Even if you couldn't give a damn about fast cars chasing their tails around a track, this British-made documentary about F1 racing legend Ayrton Senna is still undeniably gripping stuff. (Read full review here.) (Opens today at Esquire Theatre.) — Kimberley Jones (Rated PG-13.) Grade: B+
THE THING — Director Matthijs van Heijningen Jr. makes his big-screen debut with this prequel to John Carpenter's remake of Howard Hawk's sci-fi classic. Mary Elizabeth Winstead stars as a paleontologist dispatched to Antarctica who finds an alien frozen in ice. Joel Edgerton, Eric Christian Olsen and Ulrich Thomsen round out the cast. (Opens wide today.) — Jason Gargano (Rated R.) Review coming soon.
WOMEN ART REVOLUTION — Lynn Hershman-Lesson’s documentary makes the case that the feminist art movement has been more influential than is generally acknowledged and sets out to correct the historical record via intimate interviews and rarely seen archival film footage. (Opens today at Esquire Theatre.) — JG (Not Rated.) Review coming soon.