Movie DopeMovies

Movie Dope

21 JUMP STREET (R) Another update of an ’80s TV show, 21 Jump Street stars Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum as two cops assigned to go undercover at a high school to break up a synthetic drug ring. Series star Johnny Depp allegedly drops by for a cameo. Directors Chris Miller and Phil Lord previously wowed audiences with Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, but Hill, who cowrote (with Scott Pilgrim’s Michael Bacall) and produced, is the driving creative force. With Ice Cube. ACT OF VALOR (R) At times, Act of Valor betrays its humble origins as a military recruiting tool (think of the National Guard/Three Doors Down video for “Citizen Soldier†expanded to feature length), but at its high-octane best, this action experiment rivals its bigger-budgeted, star-laden competitors. What really sets Act of Valor apart from its action brethren is its non-professional acting troupe, an elite team of active duty Navy SEALs playing an elite team of Navy SEALs. Understanding the soldiers’ dramatic limitations, the movie tends to focus on the military tasks at which they excel, and it is rare for an action movie to feel as real. The plot feels like excised hours from one of Jack Bauer’s day-long terrorist battles on “24,†but separating the truth from the fiction becomes difficult once the fighting starts. What could have just been Call of Duty: Modern Warfare—The Movie exhibits technical prowess and a singular, successful gimmick that elevates the military flick above today’s stock action movie. Act of Valor cannot deliver the emotional payoff of The Hurt Locker, but it does not dishonor our fighting men and women.

ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS: CHIPWRECKED (G) Come on, Fox! If you’re going to keep releasing new Chipmunks entries each holiday season, the least you can do is make a Christmas-themed movie featuring the furry trio’s classic holiday tunes. Instead, Alvin, Simon, Theodore, the Chipettes and Dave (poor, paycheck-cashing Jason Lee) start out on a cruise ship and wind up on a deserted island.

THE ARTIST (PG-13) Films today do not come as precious or charming as Michel Hazanavicius’ Best Picture winner. A silent film that is all about talking, The Artist of title refers to matinee idol George Valentin (Academy Award winner Jean Dujardin, who absolutely must be a silent film star Hazanivicius recently thawed from ice), who finds it difficult to transition from silent films to talkies, unlike rising star Peppy Miller (Academy Award nominee Bérénice Bejo). But Miller has a crush on Valentin that predates her stardom and will do everything she can to help the despondent, one-time star. Like an unearthed gem, a long-lost silent relic, The Artist is at once wholly familiar yet completely foreign. Who knew a trifling eccentricity would wind up 2011’s most daring film?

BENVENUTI AL SUD (NR) 2010. Director Luca Miniero’s award winning comedy, Benvenuti al sud (Welcome to the South), remakes the French film, Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis. A northern Italian postal worker (Claudio Bisio) is assigned to the south, where he soon finds his prejudices may not be all that accurate. Nominated for 10 Davids, including Best Film, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress (the only award the film won) Part of Cinecitta 4, the Italian film series sponsored by UGA Romance Languages.

BLOOD IN THE MOBILE (NR) 2010. Apparently, the materials used to build that mobile phone in your pocket come from the Eastern Congo, a place ravaged by civil war that has claimed more than five million lives. Filmmaker Frank Piasecki Pouson reveals that there is blood in all our mobiles; now what can we do about it? The screening will be followed by a discussion with professors from the UGA Departments of Forestry and Natural Resources, Anthropology, and Geography. Part of the 2012 EcoFocus Film Festival.

BUCK (PG) 2011. Real horse whisperer Buck Brannaman gets the documentary treatment in this film from Cindy Meehl. Even the cinematic horse whisperer, Robert Redford, appears to talk about this Zen cowboy’s way with equine animals. The film has been a hit with festival audiences and opens the fourth annual EcoFocus Film Festival alongside short film, Anna, Emma and the Condors about two sisters and their birds of prey. Filmmakers Toby Shimin and Joy Reed (Buck) and Katja Torneman (Condors) will host a Q&A.

THE CITY DARK (NR) 2011. In his award winning documentary, filmmaker Ian Cheney asks the question, “Do we need the dark?†The City Dark competed at the 2011 South by Southwest Film Festival where it won the prize for Best Score/Music. The screening will be followed by a discussion with local scientists and night sky advocates. Screening with The City Dark is Our Tomorrow, Sarah Jackson’s partially animated attempt to understand whether or not we are living in “The End Times.†Part of the 2012 EcoFocus Film Festival.

THE CLEAN BIN PROJECT (NR) 2010. The Athens-Clarke County Recycling Division is sponsoring a free screening of Grant Baldwin’s The Clean Bin Project, in which partners Jen and Grant compete to answer the question, “Is it possible to live completely waste free?†Watch the film and see who produces the least garbage in an entire year. Screening alongside The Clean Bin Project is Song of the Spindle, Drew Christie’s animated conversation between a man and a sperm whale. Part of the 2012 EcoFocus Film Festival.

DECLARATION OF WAR (NR) 2011. A young couple copes with each other and tries to keep hope when their infant son is diagnosed with brain cancer. Part of the French Film Series.

THE DESCENDANTS (R) Is The Descendants the best film of 2011? If not, the bittersweet dramedy starring Academy Award nominee George Clooney is among the top two or three. Filmmaker Alexander Payne sure took his time following up his 2004 Oscar winning smash, but the delay was worth it. After a tragic accident leaves his wife in a coma, lawyer and owner of the last parcel of virgin land in Hawaii, Matt King (Clooney), struggles to raise his two daughters, come to peace with revelations about his dying wife and decide what to do with his important land. Clooney is this generation’s Paul Newman, a cool cat who can pull off anything he’s asked to do on screen. Here, in his tucked-in Hawaiian shirts, he epitomizes the suburban dad. Still, he drops comic gems and dramatic bombs with ease, often punctuated by his terrific reaction shots, Payne again proves himself a master of tone, perfectly balancing the humor of an incredibly bleak, emotionally complex situation.

DR. SEUSS’ THE LORAX (PG) Released on Dr. Seuss’ 108th birthday, this pleasant animated adaptation of the beloved children’s author’s environmental fable fails to utterly charm like the filmmakers’ previous animated smash, Despicable Me. The Lorax may visually stun you, and Danny DeVito’s brief time as voice of the Lorax could stand as his greatest role, one that will go unrecognized by any professional awards outside of the Annies. Unfortunately, the movie spends a lot less time with the fascinating, entertaining forest fighter than it does with Ed Helms’ The Once-ler (I’m usually a big Helms fan but his zany naïf felt incongruously calculated here) and bland Zac Efron’s bland protagonist, Ted. On the bright side, the film excels as a traditional movie musical, where characters naturally transition into songs that deepen their character or advance the plot without some silly justification via subjective dream sequences or glee club memberships. The songs they sing could be more memorable; I cannot recall a single one a day later. The Lorax is not the year’s best animated feature (imagine what Pixar could do with Seuss), but the childishly funny film does not pander to its audience, young and old, even if it does preach a bit.

ECOKIDS SHORT FILMS (NR) The list of films to screen as part of this year’s EcoKids Short Films include Amazonia, Animal Beatbox, Don’t be a Trashcan!, India Explains Solar Power to Rudy, On the Beat—Soata (No Baque—Soata), Papiroflexia, Ride of the Mergansers, Shark Riddle, The Last Sun and Timber. The EcoKids Short Films are appropriate for kids 4 and up. Stick around for a snack and hands-on EcoKids activities. Kids get in free! What better way is there to spend a Sunday afternoon? Part of the 2012 EcoFocus Film Festival.

AN EVENING OF BIKE FILMS (NR) Do you like to ride? If so, An Evening of Bike Films is for you. The three films screening are Riding Bikes with the Dutch, The Okra Planter (O Plantador de Quiabos) and With My Own Two Wheels. After the movies, stick around for a discussion with Riding Bikes with the Dutch filmmaker Michael Bauch, Mary Fortson Harwell and Davis Harwell of Bicycles for Humanity, Brent Buice of Georgia Bikes!, Jean Crow Crowther of globalbike and Anna Gore of Bike Athens. Your ticket will also get you in free to an after party at Little Kings featuring Hope for Agoldensummer. Part of the 2012 EcoFocus Film Festival.

THE FATHER OF MY CHILDREN (NR) 2009. A successful film producer loses the comfort of his safe family life when his career starts to falter. Part of the French Film Series.

THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO (R) Stieg Larsson may have created Lisbeth Salander, but David Fincher and the bold Rooney Mara have made her a big-screen icon. (No offense to Noomi Rapace’s Lisbeth, but Mara’s movie is loads better.) Fincher dangerously retains Larsson’s wicked, violent, European sexuality for Hollywood’s adaptation of the first book in the Millennium Trilogy. Journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) enlists the help of the titular tattooed (and multiply pierced) girl, a ward of the state who might be a psychopath but is certainly a genius, to solve a decades old murder. Readers of the novel will marvel at how smartly screenwriter Steven Zaillian jettisons the novel’s clunky points to streamline the central mystery (who killed Harriet Vanger?) and posit a new one (who is Lisbeth Salander?). Top-notch performances, red slashes of humor and Fincher’s masterful control of style (the stunning opening credits imply some twisted mix of Bond and bondage) propel the film with a badass energy, fed by Academy Award winning composers, Trent Reznor and Atticus Rose. Much like The Silence of the Lambs, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo weds the ghettoized thrills of genre with a larger cinematic ambition. Pop literary filmmaking gets no better than this.

GOOD DEEDS (PG-13) Good Deeds is another average melodrama from the entertainment juggernaut that is Atlanta’s Tyler Perry. Perry stars as Wesley Deeds, the uptight CEO of a software company who befriends a struggling widowed mother, Lindsey Wakefield (Thandie Newton), on the virtual eve of his wedding. Naturally, his relationship with Lindsey and her cute daughter, Ariel, awaken the spark of life that’s been lying dormant in Deeds for the bulk of his adult life, a course charted by his domineering mother (Phylicia Rashad). Perry has two tonal modes: the headspinning comic/dramatic combo of his Madea movies and the grindingly humorless melodrama of his non-Madea flicks. (Why Did I Get Married? remains his best movie, as it retained a sense of humor and drama without Perry donning a dress.) Good Deeds is planted squarely in the latter camp. Lighter moments are so hard to come by you will yearn for Madea to drop in to say “hur-lo.†Supporting characters, such as Wesley’s fiancee, Natalie (Gabrielle Union), and his brother, Walter (Brian White), are infuriatingly one-dimensional. Good Deeds is duller than most of the 11 movies directed by Perry since 2006 (!); it’s also superior to the bulk of them.

HUGO (PG) Oh, to be an orphan living in an early-20th-century clock! Despite its near perfection, this 3D family film—Martin Scorsese’s first—may be the loveliest wide release to struggle to find its audience this year. Yet it’s no wonder Scorsese, himself a film historian as well as a film lover, decided to adapt Brian Selznick’s The Invention of Hugo Cabret, whose central mystery revolves around an early cinematic master. Parisian orphan Hugo (Asa Butterfield), who lives inside the clocktower of the train station, seeks the answer to a mysterious automaton, left unsolved by his late father and clockmaker (Jude Law), with the help of a toymaker named Georges (Ben Kingsley) and his charge, Isabelle (Chloe Grace Moretz). Knowledgeable cinephiles will be enthralled by Selznick’s story, wonderfully adapted by Oscar-nominated scribe John Logan, which I refuse to spoil, and enchanted by the legendary filmmaker’s gorgeous imagery, which conjures memories of Amelie and was awarded with Oscars for cinematography, visual effects and more.

THE HUNGER GAMES (PG-13) Let the Games begin! Suzanne Collins’ age-defying Young Adult series is poised to be the next Harry Potter (how many times have we said that?), but can Seabiscuit’s Gary Ross deliver? Is Jennifer Lawrence the right gal to play series heroine Katniss Everdeen? Are Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth the right Peeta and Gale to make Katniss swoon? This we know; the previews are exciting. If you haven’t read the first book yet, your pre-movie opportunities are growing slim.

INTO THE ABYSS (PG-13) In the legendary Werner Herzog’s newest film, his 25th documentary, the German filmmaker interviews death row inmate Michael Perry to understand why people and the government chooses to kill. Convicted of triple homicide, Perry was executed eight days after Herzog conducted his interviews; his accomplice, Jason Burkett, who was treated to the lesser sentence of life in prison, is also interviewed. A festival hit, Into the Abyss won awards from the British Film Institute and the National Society of Film Critics. The sneak preview on 3/22 also features Athens native Jeff Reynolds’ short documentary, Jerry, and a teaser trailer for his upcoming feature, Corpus: The Case of Justin Wolfe.

JOHN CARTER (PG-13) Civil War veteran John Carter (“Friday Night Lightsâ€â€™ alum Taylor Kitsch, whose career is poised to blow up or implode in 2012) is transported to Mars, where 12-foot-tall barbarians rule. WALL-E director Andrew Stanton becomes the latest Pixar filmmaker to make the jump from animation to live action. I’d love to see his film be as successful as Brad Bird’s Mission: Impossible—Ghost Protocol. With Bryan Cranston, Mark Strong, Ciaran Hinds, Willem Dafoe and Thomas Haden Church.

JOURNEY 2: THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND (PG) Journey 2: The Mysterious Island’s biggest problem might be time. Many of the young people who enjoyed its 2008 forebear, Journey to the Center of the Earth, might have outgrown the Brendan Fraser/Dwayne “The Rock†Johnson brand of family adventure movie. Sean (Josh Hutcherson, soon to be Peeta in The Hunger Games) and his future stepdad, Hank (the always appealing Johnson), travel to the mysterious island to find Sean’s granddad (Michael Caine). Along for the ride are a goofy helicopter pilot (Luis Guzman, being as Guzman-y as ever) and his gorgeous daughter (Vanessa Hudgens). The island’s giant, 3D-tastic flora and fauna make for a movie that’s fun to look at for an hour and a half, especially on the big screen, but does not create the sort of lasting impression needed to survive in today’s oversaturated entertainment market.

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE—GHOST PROTOCOL (PG-13) Mission: Impossible is that rare franchise that has actually gotten better with each new installment and in inverse proportion to its megastar’s popularity. Tom Cruise had few peers in 1996 when the weak, original M:I opened; now he’s more often a punchline, albeit a badass punchline who does many of his own death-defying stunts, like climbing the outside of the world’s tallest building. What sets the Mission: Impossible franchise apart from any other existing action series is its star-producer’s knack for finding the best, new behind the camera talent. First-time live-action feature director Brad Bird is known to be an animation auteur (The Iron Giant, The Incredibles), and he apparently doesn’t realize action of the live variety has limitations. Now he’s the guy who can still make a Tom Cruise stunt spectacular stand out like it’s the late ’90s. Cruise’s Ethan Hunt and his new team (the gorgeous Paula Patton, stalwart Jeremy Renner and A-1 comic relief Simon Pegg) must clear IMF’s name after a bombing decimates the Kremlin. From Moscow to Dubai to Mumbai, the action doesn’t let up from scene one.

MISS REPRESENTATION (NR) 2011. Director Jennifer Siebel Newsom’s documentary looks at America’s failure to allow women the equal opportunity to attain influential, powerful positions and the media’s misrepresentation of powerful women. Interviewees include Margaret Cho, Katie Couric, Geena Davis, Rosario Dawson, Dianne Feinstein, Jane Fonda, Lisa Ling, Rachel Maddow, Nancy Pelosi, Condoleezza Rice, Gloria Steinem and Catherine Hardwicke, the director of Twilight. Part of the Women’s History Month film festival sponsored by the Institute for Women’s Studies at UGA.

PARADISE SAVED (NR) 1982. For the first time, the EcoFocus Film Festival reaches into the George F. Peabody Awards Collection housed at the UGA Special Collections Library to screen this documentary produced by WAGA-TV in Atlanta. Should allowed attendance at the Cumberland Island National Seashore be increased? What could happen as a result? The post-screening discussion with Dr. Gary Green, associate professor of Natural Resources, Recreation, and Tourism in UGA’s Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, should enlighten audiences as to what has happened since 1982.

POINT BLANK (R) 2010. A nurse’s assistant saves the life of a wounded professional criminal, whose associates kidnap the hospital worker’s pregnant wife to ensure carte blanche for their fallen man. Part of the French Film Series.

PROJECT X (R) This teen “greatest party ever filmed†flick could use a more descriptive title, preferably one that doesn’t get as many children of the ’80s’ hearts racing at the thought of a remake of the Matthew Broderick, Helen Hunt and a monkey movie. As a responsible adult, I lament how this teen comedy, produced by The Hangover’s Todd Phillips, condones the Internet era’s hedonism as teenage rite of passage. Three unpopular high schoolers—Thomas (Thomas Mann), Costa (Oliver Cooper) and JB (Jonathan Daniel Brown)—throw a party so wild (sex, drugs, alcohol, fire, a midget; it’s like the boys go to Bret Easton Ellis High) that not even the cops can stop it, a conceit that play rights into teenagers’ already overinflated egos. As a former teenager, I wish I’d been invited. The appeal of Project X truly depends on the perspective—adult or teen—from which you view it as the party supplies few surprising acts of debauchery. It does add a novel running gag about two overzealous, overmatched teen security guards. Their misadventures had a sense of freshness from which the rest of this slightly tired party flick could have benefited.

SAFE HOUSE (R) For Safe House’s target fans of Denzel Washington, whizzing bullets and car chases, the action flick is critically bulletproof; for me, it was competently boring. Former CIA operative turned rogue asset, Tobin Frost (Washington), goes on the run with green agent Matt Weston (Ryan Reynolds, in the thankless role anyone could have filled) hot on his heels. Washington remains the laziest talent in Hollywood. What draws him to waste his chops on these action-filled scripts with such obvious plot trajectories? You can tell which CIA bigwig (the suspects being Sam Shepard, Vera Farmiga and Brendan Gleeson) Weston shouldn’t trust from the trailers, and try as they might to imply otherwise, one can easily presume Washington’s Frost hasn’t gone rogue for sheer psychopathic thrills or mere greed. The predictable action is delivered with the workmanlike craftsmanship (quick edits, handheld camerawork, etc.) one expects from a production that is clearly influenced by Washington’s work with Tony Scott, but lacks his more artful eye. Safe House should make enough money to keep Washington’s rep as a box office draw undiminished, but won’t make much of an impression in his increasingly inconsequential filmography.

SEMPER FI: ALWAYS FAITHFUL (NR) 2011. Jerry was a loyal marine, but when his world was shattered by the death of his nine-year-old daughter, Janey, to a rare form of leukemia, Jerry uncovered a conspiracy to cover up one of the largest water contamination incidents in U.S. history. After the screening, meet Jerry Ensminger and Mike Partain, whose stories are recounted in the movie. Screening with Semper Fi is the animated Russian short, Leonid’s Story, about the Chernobyl disaster from director Rainer Ludwigs. Part of the 2012 EcoFocus Film Festival.

A SEPARATION (PG-13) This year’s Academy Award winner for Best Picture is also the first Academy Award winner from Iran. A married couple faces one of life’s toughest decisions. Should they leave the country to improve life for their child or should they stay in Iran to care for a parent suffering from Alzheimer’s? Writer-director Asghar Farhadi’s film won the Berlin International Film Festival’s Golden Bear, the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film and the Independent Spirit Award for Best International Film.

SILENT HOUSE – Elizabeth Olsen stars in a thriller remake of a 2010 Uruguayan film about the relationship between psychological and physical spaces.

SOLARTAXI (NR) 2010. In the summer of 2007, Louis Palmer attempted to go around the world in his solartaxi, which is powered completely by the sun. Showing at the same time as the EcoKids Short Films, Erik Schmitt’s Solartaxi—Around the World with the Sun is great for older kids (10 and up). Screening with Solartaxi is Daniel Kuipers’ The Last Sun, in which a Norwegian girl travels by dogsled to witness the last sunset of the year. Part of the 2012 EcoFocus Film Festival.

SOME LIKE IT HOT (NR) 1959. Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis and Marilyn Monroe star in Billy Wilder’s classic, cross-dressing comedy. (Unfortunately, it birthed the Wayans Brothers turd, White Chicks.) Curtis and Lemmon must dress as women in an all-girls band to hide from the mob; hilarity and complications ensue. Hollywood really does lack respect for comedy. What is possibly the greatest comedy ever made may have been nominated for six Academy Awards (including Best Director, Best Actor and Best Writing), but Best Picture was not one of them.

THIS MEANS WAR (PG-13) They might as well have ponied up for the “Spy vs. Spy†license and made a truly misguided adaptation of the old “Mad†comic strip. Two of the CIA’s top agents/besties, FDR (Chris Pine) and Tuck (Tom Hardy), wind up dating the same girl, Lauren Scott (Reese Witherspoon). You know the drill. FDR and Tuck’s friendship is tested, as both fall for Lauren, but it’s more important that the player of the duo falls in love than the already sensitive one with a kid. Poorly edited early on—not much makes sense in what should be a pretty straightforward first act—This Means War never really finds a groove. This action romcom hybrid has a few fleeting moments, thanks to the bromantic chemistry between beefcake stars Pine and Hardy. Unfortunately, neither man shares that same spark with third lead, Witherspoon. Director McG, whose career hasn’t really gone anywhere since the first Charlie’s Angels (his entry in the Terminator franchise has blissfully been forgotten), gets the unnecessary action right; the required rom and com could use some work. This Means War would be an early pick for worst of 2012, but no one will remember it come year’s end.

THIS WAY OF LIFE (NR) 2009. Amid the mountains and beaches of New Zealand, Peter and Colleen Karena raise six kids and fifty horses. An official selection of several film festivals, This Way of Life won a Crystal Bear from the Berlin International Film Festival. Screening with Sarah Ginsburg and Sarah Berkovich’s This Way of Life is 10,000 Trees about eighty-five-year-old Victor Kaufmann’s dream to plant a new forest in Lyle, Washington. Part of the 2012 EcoFocus Film Festival.

A THOUSAND WORDS (PG-13) An Eddie Murphy family comedy, directed by Brian Robbins (Meet Dave and Norbit), that’s been in the can since 2008? Nothing in this sentence implies anything good (or funny). A literary agent, Jack McCall (Murphy), is taught a lesson on truth by a spiritual guru via the Bodhi tree that appears on his property. Every word Jack speaks leads to a fallen leaf; when the last leaf falls, so does Jack. With Cliff Curtis, Kerry Washington, Allison Janney, Jack McBrayer and Clark Duke.

TOMBOY (NR) 2011. A young girl moves with her family to a new neighborhood, where she is mistaken for a boy and upholds the misconception. Part of the French Film Series.

THE TWILIGHT SAGA: BREAKING DAWN—PART 1 (PG-13) 2011. I really wanted to actively dislike the penultimate Twilight movie. I certainly don’t feel kindly about the book upon which it’s based. Yet somehow, between the page and screen, Stephenie Meyer’s loopy final novel morphed into a bit of a horror movie. Director Bill Condon (Dreamgirls) provides the best looking Twilight movie to date, but he’s still saddled with Meyer’s poorly motivated characters and her desperate rewriting of her universe’s own rules in order to escape narrative jams. Thankfully, Meyer’s teen girl fairy tale-turned-pro-life screed will be over after one more movie.

URBAN ROOTS (NR) 2011. Detroit is not dead yet. A group of dedicated citizens, environmentalists and academics have started an urban environmental movement that can revitalize the rusting hulk of the Motor City. Screening with Urban Roots is the short film, Chasing Water, where director Pete McBride follows the Colorado River from source to sea. Urban Roots filmmaker Mark MacInnis, Dr. David Berle and a representative from the Athens Land Trust will participate in a post-film discussion. Part of the 2012 EcoFocus Film Festival.

VEGUCATED (NR) 2010. Speak Out for Species at the University of Georgia sponsors a screening of the guerrilla-style documentary, Vegucated. Filmmaker Marisa Miller Wolfson follows three meat (and cheese) loving New Yorkers as they pledge to go vegan for six weeks. How is Morgan Spurlock not somehow involved with this production? It sounds right up his alley. An official selection of the Toronto Independent Film Festival and the Show Me Justice Film Festival, Vegucated won the Chris Award for the Columbus International Film + Video Festival.

THE VOW (PG-13) Nicholas Sparks has to be kicking himself for not coming up with this plot first. A young couple, Paige and Leo Collins (Rachel McAdams and Channing Tatum), struggle to fall in love again after a car accident erases all of Paige’s memories of Leo and their marriage. As these plots are wont to do, Paige’s rich parents (Sam Neill and Jessica Lange) and her ex-lover (Scott Speedman) use her tabula rasa to rewrite their past wrongs, while Leo must cope with the realization that his wife might never remember him. The Vow climbs out of the romantic drama pits mostly due to its two charming leads, McAdams and Tatum, who must overcome some spotty dialogue, obvious plot developments and weak supporting players (not a lot of recognizable faces outside of those five already mentioned). Director Michael Sucsy, who won an Emmy and a Golden Globe for Grey Gardens, transitions to the big screen with surprising success considering the tear-soaked tissue of a true story with which he had to work. The Vow won’t make romance fans forget The Notebook, but it is better than most of the fake (and genuine) Sparks Hollywood’s been peddling.

YERT: YOUR ENVIRONMENTAL ROAD TRIP (NR) 2009. Think you could follow the following three rules in a year-long road trip across all fifty states? 1. Create less than one shoebox of garbage each month. That includes recyclables. 2. Never turn on an incandescent light (except car lights). 3. Use approximately 25 gallons of water per person per day. Three friends did it, in this award winning documentary that kicks off EcoFocus 2012. Bring your appetite; this free screening includes pizza and drinks.