New Reviews

Let's Go to Prison; Sweet Land

We recommend:

  

CASINO ROYALE
See "Betting on Bond." (Countywide)


FUR
See "Freakshow." (Mann Rancho Niguel, Laguna Niguel; Art Theatre, Long Beach)


FAST FOOD NATION
See "There's the Beef." (Countywide)


LET'S GO TO PRISON
One doesn't feel too optimistic about a film that titteringly names its protagonist Lyshitski, especially when all the trailers would have you believe the story's a one-joke riff on the fear of a black penis. So perhaps it's just a case of low expectations at work here, but Let's Go to Prison is much funnier and weirder than you think. Directed by Mr. Show's Bob Odenkirk, who doesn't have much of an eye for cinematography or editing but knows a good joke when he hears one, it involves a hare-brained revenge scheme conceived by a perpetual screw-up (Dax Shepard) against the judge who regularly incarcerated him. Since the judge has died, our anti-hero plots to get the judge's pompous son (Arrested Development's Will Arnett) thrown in jail, then have himself sent back so he can make prison life even more miserable for the son. Michael Shannon (last seen as World Trade Center's heroic former Marine) shines as a white supremacist with a fork fetish, cannily mocking the obsessive zeal he's shown in other roles. But Let's Go to Prison is Shepard and Arnett's show, and if they weren't on everybody's comedic radar before, they will be after this. (Luke Y. Thompson) (Countywide)
 

 
SHUT UP & SING
See "Radical Chick." (Edwards University, Irvine; Mann Rancho Niguel, Laguna Niguel)


SWEET LAND
A plot-driven Days of Heaven set mostly in rural Minnesota circa 1920, this gorgeously realized romance by first-time feature-maker Ali Selim follows a German mail-order bride (Elizabeth Reaser) and her intended, a Norwegian immigrant farmer (Tim Guinee); the two slowly fall for one another while working on the land and against their insular Lutheran community's ample prejudices in the wake of World War I. But Sweet Land—which debuted locally at April's Newport Beach Film Festival and screened again in July as part of NBFF's Cinema Orange Summer Film Series with Orange County Museum of Art—is equally the story of a filmmaker in love with his actors and his material. Directing with a light comic touch and a palpable affection for the characters, Selim draws pitch-perfect acting from a large cast (John Heard, Ned Beatty, Alan Cumming, Alex Kingston, and Lois Smith) and achieves breathtaking levels of color and clarity from old-fashioned 35mm, whether focusing on his spirited heroine's alabaster skin or framing the couple's tiny farmhouse against an expanse of blue sky and gently swaying grain. The film's penny-pinching period recreation convinces so fully that Selim seems to turn back the clock on the regional American indie, too. And yet the tale of economic stratification and postwar intolerance is nothing if not timely. (Rob Nelson) (Edwards University, Irvine)


VOLVER
See "The Man Who Loved Women." (Opens Wed. at Edwards South Coast Village, Santa Ana)


also showing:

AFTER DARK HORRORFEST: 8 FILMS TO DIE FOR
It's just what the title implies except, according to our listing service, there are actually NINE indie horror flicks being screened (unless they are saying one of 'em isn't to die for). The victims: The Abandoned, Dark Ride, The Gravediggers, The Hamiltons, Penny Dreadful, Reincarnation, Snoop Dogg's Hood of Horror, Unrest and Wicked Little Things. (Countywide)

COPYING BEETHOVEN
See "Tone Deaf." (Mann Rancho Niguel, Laguna Niguel)

HAPPY FEET
See "Dance of the Penguin." (Countywide)


wednesday openings:

DECK THE HALLS
Reviewed next week. (Countywide)

DEJA VU
Reviewed next week. (Countywide)

THE FOUNTAIN
Reviewed next week. (AMC at the Block, Orange; Cinema City, Anaheim)

TENACIOUS D IN THE PICK OF DESTINY
Reviewed next week. (AMC at the Block, Orange; Cinema City, Anaheim)

 
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