See "Fly Me to the Moon" (Countywide)
DAYS OF GLORY (INDIGENES)
As much a political as an aesthetic event, Rachid Bouchareb's drama about the plight of Algerian soldiers who fought for France in World War II has been compared to Edward Zwick's Glory. Structurally, though, the movie recalls earnest, period war movies like William Wellman's 1945 Story of G.I. Joe., as it follows the brutal attrition of a single Algerian army unit fending off Nazis from Morocco through Italy and on into France, where their sacrifices for the "motherland" are rewarded with discrimination on every front. Days of Gloryis as moving as it is ingenuous, with each doomed character symbolizing a different response to the collective dilemma these men face as Arabs with divided loyalties. Given their treatment, and the fact that the movie was made in part to shame the French government into restoring pensions it had cut when the former colony got its independence (the ploy worked), one has to wonder just how unalloyed Algerian loyalty could ever have been to its occupier. For the answer to that, look back, and forward, to The Battle of Algiers. (Ella Taylor) (Edwards University, Irvine)
STARTER FOR TEN
At its best, this 1980s-set Brit import about a working-class Essex lad (a charming James McAvoy) who dreams of becoming "clever"—a goal he equates with leaving home for college and achieving success on the long-running U.K. quiz show University Challenge—channels the scrappy, outsider charm of its own protagonist. At its worst, it proffers a reductively classist world view in which our bright young man of ideas is necessarily strung along and betrayed by a beautiful, upper-crust WASP goddess (Alice Eve), only to find solace in the arms of an earthy (and no less beautiful) Jewess protest chick (Rebecca Hall). In his debut feature, the young Scottish director Tom Vaughan (working from a script by David Nicholls) consciously strives for the offbeat mix of comedy, romance, and small-town eccentricity that once distinguished the films of his countryman, Bill Forsyth. The result is something altogether more formulaic, but Starter for Ten nonetheless goes down easy, thanks in large part to the smorgasbord of up-and-coming talent from across the pond (especially newcomers Eve and Hall) and a steady infusion of The Cure, Wham!, and Tears For Fears on the soundtrack that any child of the '80s will find impossible to resist. (Scott Foundas) (Countywide)
A punishing dose of zombie Chekhov for lifetime Fangoria subscribers, the first feature by Spanish splatter maven Nacho Cerda traps an American movie producer (Anastasia Hille) in the decrepit Russian farmhouse where she was abandoned 40 years before as an infant. Her only company is the fraternal twin (Karel Roden) she never knew she had—oh yeah, and their pasty-faced ghost-world doppelgangers, part of an endless-loop nightmare that has sucked the siblings back to the site of a grisly family tragedy. The relatively tame horrors on display here—mostly of the blip-in-the-night variety, accentuated with a tooth-rattling soundtrack of drones, moans, creaks, and shrieks—may disappoint fans of the director's gut-spelunking short Aftermath, which made him an underground hero on the abra-cadaver circuit. Worse, though, is that Cerda's striking creep-show atmospherics, desaturated palette, and off-kilter editing rhythms are a style in search of a movie: The muddled Twilight Zone payoff here is hardly enough to justify a sluggish two-character round-robin of "Don't look in the basement!" The last thing a filmmaker named Nacho needs is more cheese. (Jim Ridley) (Countywide)
See "Behind the Music"(Countywide)
THE NEW YORK METROPOLITAN OPERA: TCHAIKOVSKY'S "EUGENE ONEGIN"
American soprano Renee Fleming joins with Russian baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky for this cinema-cast of Tchaikovsky's lyrical opera. (Edwards "Big One" Megaplex, Spectrum, Irvine)
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THE NUMBER 23
See "17 + 6 - 5 + 1 - 3 + 7" (Countywide)
RENO 911!: MIAMI
Norbit has nothing on Niecy Nash, who proudly parades her prosthetic ass along Miami Beach, lowering oceanside property values with each thunderous step. The joke here is that the snooty pastel metropolis needs to be taken down a few rungs by Nash and her law-enforcement crew from the Comedy Central show Reno 911! (basically a lampoon of Cops, only dumber, if that's possible). The series regulars—including director Robert Ben Garant, Thomas Lennon, and Kerri Kenney-Silver—accomplish this task with signature incompetence. They are levelers whose fathom-line never hits bottom. With the city's regular police force trapped inside a quarantined convention, our gang from Reno confronts backyard gators, a bad Scarface imitator (Paul Rudd), and even Dwayne "the Rock" Johnson in a good-natured cameo. Stretched out (barely) to 84 minutes, these vignettes seem more like an assault on filmmaking than municipal probity. The show excels with its short squad-car bursts of random inanity; here, the plot—somehow involving Patton Oswalt's corrupt city official—feels like a dime bag tossed aside by a fleeing perp. Fans won't mind, though the material would've worked better on TV, with blacked-out breasts and bleeped-out dialogue. Garant does attempt one ambitious long-take sequence along a motel breezeway, each window a sad tableau of lovelorn off-duty cops. It's like Jacques Tati with drunken, desperate masturbation. (Brian Miller) (Countywide)
7:30 p.m. Sat. (Countywide)