By Alan Scherstuhl
By Amy Nicholson
By Charles Taylor
By Stephanie Zacharek
By Brian Feinzimer
By CAROLINA DEL BUSTO
By AMY NICHOLSON
By Amy Nicholson
A movie beloved by most who have seen it, William Goldman's screenplay (based on a fake fairytale epic he created under a pen name) is constantly charming and frequently hilarious. Cary Elwes' performance as the Farmboy is a knowing reference to swashbucklers of films past such as Errol Flynn, and the backing cast are uniformly excellent. So many iconic quotes, it's hard to know where to begin. Robin Wright, Andre the Giant, Wallace Shawn, Mandy Patinkin, Billy Crystal, Carol Kane and even Dog Day Afternoon's Chris Sarandon turn in solid comedic performances, and the drama and romance are genuinely touching and believable. Anyone with a child who has not yet shown them this movie should make an effort to come change their young lives. After seeing the movie as a child, I embarked upon a futile quest to find the unexpurgated novel by S. Morgenstern, only to be constantly thwarted by the availability of a version "edited" and added to by William Goldman. Only later did I realize that Goldman had written the thing entirely, in a postmodern move that presaged Charlie Kaufman's later explorations of the author's role in his art. One of the rare movies just as enjoyable for adults as for children, I can't recommend this enough. Regency South Coast Village, 1561 W. Sunflower Ave., Santa Ana. Wed., 7:30 p.m. $6.
Absolute Mexico.Captured in high-definition video, this film explores what happens when the world's best surfers descend on a small Mexican community during a perfect swell. Sheer magic! Witness insane tube rides, interviews with top pro surfers, Mexican locals and one of the biggest days ever filmed at Puerto Escondido. Huntington Beach Art Center, 538 Main St., Huntington Beach, (714) 374-1658; www.surfcity-hb.org. Fri., 7:30 p.m. Free.
High School Musical 2.What surprises could the sequel possibly hold? The press release declines to inform me. Courtyard outside Krikorian Metroplex 18 Theatres, 8308 On the Mall, Buena Park; www.radiodisney.com/losangeles. Fri., 7 p.m. Free.
Hope and a Little Sugar.In New York City in 2001, two Indian men—a young Muslim photographer and a Sikh colonel retired from the Indian army—are set on a collision course by the primal forces of religious hatred. Consumed by anger and grief, having just lost his son to 9/11, Colonel Oberoi focuses his hatred of Muslims on Ali Siddiqui, a young man whose only crime is falling in love with the colonel's widowed daughter-in-law. Here is a story about the triumph of love in the heart of tragedy. Orange County Museum of Art, 850 San Clemente Dr., Newport Beach, (949) 759-1122; www.ocma.net. Thurs., Aug. 23, 8:30 p.m. Free.
La Jetée andVertigo.In La Jetée, a man is held prisoner of an institution set to discover methods of time travel. Sent back in time, the man is haunted by his own memories, a past love and a past trauma. In this surreal, spiralling film, the repetitions of time manifest in traumatic memory and become an unavoidable traumatic experience even time travel cannot cure. In Vertigo, James Stewart plays a retired police detective who becomes infatuated with an old friend's wife after he is asked to investigate her odd behavior. The film, despite being less classically entertaining than some of Hitchcock's blockbusters, has come to be regarded by many critics as one of his greatest works. Humanities Instructional Building 100, Campus & Peltason drs., Irvine, (949) 824-5493; www.summer.uci.edu. Thurs., Aug. 23, 7 p.m. Free.
My Country My Country.Laura Poitras' Oscar-nominated documentary provides an inside look at war-torn Iraq from the perspective of a Baghdad citizen. The film follows Dr. Riyadh, a physician who serves the people of his community both as a health-care provider and as an advocate in numerous areas of their lives. A critic of the U.S. occupation, Riyadh nonetheless supports democracy in Iraq and decides to run as a candidate in the tumultuous 2004 elections. Irvine Fine Arts Center, 14321 Yale Ave., Irvine, (949) 724-6880. Tues., 7 p.m. Free.
North By Northwest.Classic America-trotting Hitchcock film about a man mistaken for a government agent and targeted for assassination. Featuring Cary Grant's classic run through a cornfield while pursued by a malevolent crop duster. Granada Beach (look for the large movie screen), Long Beach. Tues., 7 p.m. Free.
Sleuth.Laurence Olivier plays English detective novelist Andrew Wyke; Michael Caine plays Milo Tindle, the hairdresser who is sleeping with Wyke's wife. When Wyke invites Tindle to his house to discuss the possibility of a mutually beneficial arrangement, both parties attempt to screw each other over to disastrous results. The Friday Film Forum will present a preshow program of shorts, cartoons and surprises. Long Beach School for Adults, 3701 E. Willow St., Long Beach, (562) 997-8000. Fri., 7 p.m. $1 materials fee.
Terminator 2."If you want to live, come with me." Big-budget sequel to the comparatively low-key original, featuring what were, at the time, mind-blowing special effects. Still an excellent example of the dystopic killer-robot action-movie genre. Featuring a future California governor. Edwards University Theater, 4245 Campus Dr., Irvine, (949) 854-8818. Tues., 9 p.m. $6.
Xanadu.Greek muses, Olivia Newton-John, Gene Kelley and disco roller rinks. Electric Light Orchestra contributes to the soundtrack, and cocaine contributes to the mise en scène. Well-intentioned, perhaps, but greeted with critical raspberries upon its release, Xanadu features Kelley's final cinematic dance numbers. As lead actor Michael Beck once said regarding his career, "The Warriors opened a lot of doors in film for me, which Xanadu then closed." Like Rocky Horror, you probably already know if you'll like this film or not, but with the right mindset, it can be quite an experience. Guests will watch the the film projected against the side of Segerstrom Hall and can bring blankets, chairs and picnic fixin's, provided you don't set up on the community plaza before 5:30 p.m. Community Plaza at the Orange County Performing Arts Center, 600 Town Center Dr., Costa Mesa, (714) 556-2787; www.ocpac.org. Mon., 8:30 p.m. Free.