It is East Germany, 1989, and as Communism totters on the brink of collapse, young Alex (Daniel Brühl) is giddy at the changes around him. His poor mom, Christiane (Kathrin Sass), on the other hand, is a party loyalist who looks on what's happening to her homeland with nothing but horror. When she spots Alex at a demonstration, it's too much for the old girl, and she falls into a coma. She awakens months later, and her doctor warns Alex not to expose her to even the slightest shock. That's an especially tricky prescription, given that while Christiane was comatose when the Berlin Wall finally came tumbling down. But Alex, being a very loving, very clever and very desperate boy, dreams up a way to shield his mom from history.
Good Bye, Lenin gets plenty of comic mileage out of Alex's increasingly strained attempts to convince his mother that nothing has changed: enlisting the help of a pal, he creates bogus party newscasts with appropriately tatty production values, glues old labels onto canned goods, etc. It's funny stuff, but the laughs are grounded in sadness and fear. We sympathize with Alex, throwing himself into re-creating a system he hated, but we also feel for his mom, who never lost her faith in the ideals of Marxism and has legitimate reason to fear her country being infected with Western consumerism. It's a unique comedy of ridiculously complex deception (even Christiane has her secrets), cast against one of the most tragic backdrops of the 20th Century. Refreshments provided by Kochee Kabob are served at 6:30 p.m. UC Irvine Humanities Instruction Building, Room 100, Campus & W. Peltason drs., Irvine, (949) 824-5493. Thurs., July 27, 6:30 p.m. Free.
The Bridge on the River Kwai. William Holden and Alec Guinness star in David Lean's 1957 epic drama about a group of British soldiers who are captured by the Japanese during World War II and forced to build a bridge. Bay Theatre, 340 Main St., Seal Beach, (562) 431-9988. Sun., 5 p.m.; Mon., 6:30 p.m.; Wed., 6:30 p.m. $6-$8.
Chicken Little. It is perhaps rather telling that when this Disney CGI picture was released last year, all anybody was talking about was how the film's box-office receipts would affect Disney's negotiations with Pixar. Whether or not the movie was any good seemed beside the point. In the end, the movie did sorta kinda okay. It's a sorta kinda okay movie. But it's screening on the beach, so at least that should make for a nice family outing. Be sure to dress warm, and bring some comfortable chairs. Newport Dunes Resort, 1131 Back Bay Dr., Newport Dunes, (949) 729-DUNE. Fri., dusk. Free; parking, $10.
Flying Down to Rio. Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers were teamed for the first time (albeit in relatively minor roles—Dolores del Rio and Gene Raymond are the nominal stars) in this 1933 musical-comedy charmer about a roving American orchestra getting into hijinks in Brazil. Short subjects, cartoons and other goodies are also on the bill. Long Beach School for Adults Auditorium, 3701 E. Willow St., Long Beach, (562) 997-8000, ext. 7198. Fri., 7 p.m. $1 materials fee.
Heat. Al Pacino, Robert De Niro and Val Kilmer star in Michael Mann's crowded 1995 crime drama, with De Niro as a broody crook and Pacino as a twitchy cop (think they tossed a coin to see who got to play which role?). Although there was plenty of hype surrounding this team-up of two legendary screen actors, in the end, Al and Bobby D share but a single scene. Gyp! Edwards Rancho Santa Margarita, 30632 Santa Margarita Pkwy., Rancho Santa Margarita, (949) 888-3340. Tues., 9 p.m. $6; Edwards South Coast Village, 1561 W. Sunflower Ave., Santa Ana, (714) 540-1970. Wed., 9 p.m. $6.
Intellectual Property. Nicholas Peterson's new thriller follows a cold war-era inventor who becomes convinced the Ruskies are out to steal his latest project. Ah, the Cold War. Seems almost quaint. It's the latest film in the Orange County Museum of Art's Cinema Orange series, which resurrects entries from last April's Newport Beach Film Festival. Orange County Museum of Art, 850 San Clemente Dr., Newport Beach, (949) 759-1122. Thurs., July 27, 8:30 p.m. Free.
The Man Without a Past. UC Irvine presents Aki Kaurismäki's 2002 drama about a man who is struck during a mugging and must then rely on the kindness of others as he struggles to regain his memory. Refreshments provided by Kochee Kabob will be served at 6:30 p.m. UCI Humanities Instruction Building, Room 100, Campus & W. Peltason drs., Irvine, (949) 824-5493. Thurs., July 20, 6:30 p.m. Free.
Portrait of Imogen. Meg Partridge's 1988 documentary portrait of photographer Imogen Cunningham is preceded by a screening of Lip, a 1999 video collaboration between Australian artist Tracey Moffatt and Gary Hillberg that examines the narrow roles for Black women in Hollywood. It's the latest entry in Cal State Long Beach's Photography Film Series. Cal State Long Beach, University Art Museum, 1250 Bellflower Blvd., Long Beach, (562) 985-5761. Fri.-Sat., 2:30 p.m. Free.
Riding Giants.Stacy Peralta's surf documentary. That only makes, what, 65 screenings at various venues this summer? This Summer Flashback Film series features "classic surf and other related films that are rarely shown on the big screen today." Rarely! Rarely, they says! At least this week I ain't blurbing Big Wednesday again. Pierside Surfcity, 300 Pacific Coast Hwy., Huntington Beach, (714) 969-3151. Wed., 7 p.m. $5.
Star Wars: Attack of the Clones. The one in which teen Darth has his speech comparing Natalie Portman to sand. Even with that awesomely stupid scene, this thing is still better than The Phantom Menace. Be sure to dress warm and bring chairs. Newport Dunes Resort, 1131 Back Bay Dr., Newport Dunes, (949) 729-DUNE. Sat., dusk. Free; parking, $10.
Warning Shadows. Arthur Robison's influential, 1923 German Expressionist drama follows a baron, his wife and her rather-too-flirtatious man-friends, who are granted mysterious visions of the horrors that may befall them unless everybody settles down and knocks it off with all the grab-ass. The German title: Schatten—Eine nächtliche Halluzination. It's a musical language, isn't it? It screens with Käthe Kollwitz, a 1986 documentary portrait of the German artist. It's the latest entry in the German Expressionist Film Series. Cal State Long Beach, University Art Museum, 1250 Bellflower Blvd., Long Beach, (562) 985-5761. Fri.-Sat., noon. Free.
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