02-19-2017  8:46 am      •     
McMenamins

BIG BUDGET FILMS

Frankenweenie (PG for scary images, mature themes and action sequences) Oscar-nominee Tim Burton (for Corpse Bride) directed this animated horror comedy about a young boy (Charlie Tahan) whose scientific experiment to bring his beloved pet dog (Frank Welker) back to life results in unintended consequences. Voice cast includes Winona Ryder, Robert Capron, Catherine O'Hara, Martin Landau and Christopher Lee. 

The Paperboy (R for violence, profanity and graphic sexuality) Oscar-nominee Lee Daniels (for Precious) directed this crime thriller revolving around a big city reporter (Matthew McConaughey) who returns to his tiny Florida hometown to try to exonerate a Death Row inmate (John Cusack) with the help of his brother (Zac Efron), a colleague (David Oyelowo) and a sultry groupie (Nicole Kidman) With Macy Gray, Ned Bellamy and Scott Glenn. 

Taken 2 (PG13 for sensuality, action sequences and intense violence) Principal cast reunites for this adrenaline-fueled sequel which finds retired CIA Agent Mills (Liam Neeson) vacationing with his ex-wife (Famke Janssen) in Istanbul where they end up abducted by a revenge-minded gang of Albanian sex traffickers. With Maggie Grace, Rade Serbedzija, Leland Orser and Luenell. 

INDEPENDENT & FOREIGN FILMS

Bel Borba Aqui (Unrated) Reverential biopic chronicling the career of Bel, the Brazilian artist whose oversized, outdoor sculptures dot the landscape of his beloved hometown of Salvador. (In Portuguese with subtitles)

Butter (R for profanity and sexuality) Social satire, set in small-town Iowa, about a young, adopted girl (Yara Shahidi) who squares-off against an ambitious housewife (Jennifer Garner) in the annual butter-carving competition. Cast includes Hugh Jackman, Olivia Wilde and Alicia Silverstone.

Escape Fire (PG-13 for mature themes) Medical crisis documentary addressing the question of whether the broken, American healthcare system can be fixed. Featuring appearances by Dr. Andrew Weil, Dr. Dean Ornish and insurance executive Wendell Potter.

Fat Kid Rules the World (R for sexuality, drug use and brief violence) Coming-of-age comedy about an overweight, suicidal 17 year-old (Jacob Wysocki) who forms a rock band with the street musician (Matt O'Leary) who saved his life by stopping him from jumping in front of a bus. With Billy Campbell, LILi Simmons and Jeffrey Doombos. 

The House I Live in (Unrated) War on Drugs documentary takes a penetrating look at the human rights implications of the American criminal justice system's incarceration of over 45 million non-violent, narcotics offenders since 1971. 

Now, Forager (Unrated) Marital crisis drama about a counter-cultural couple (Tiffany Esteb and Jason Cortlund), subsisting by selling wild mushrooms to Manhattan restaurants, whose relationship is tested when the wife tires of living hand to mouth. With Almex Lee, Gabrielle Maisels and Marty Clarke.

The Oranges (R for profanity, sexual references and drug use) Romantic comedy, set in suburban N.J., about the strain placed on two couples' close friendship  when one husband (Hugh Laurie) has a scandalous affair with the other's (Oliver Platt) daughter (Leighton Meester). With Catherine Keener, Allison Janney, Alia Shawkat and Adam Brody.  

Pitch Perfect (PG-13 for sexuality, profanity and drug use) Musical comedy about a college freshman (Anna Kendrick) who overhauls the repertoire of her all-girl singing group in preparation for a big showdown on campus with an all-male rival ensemble in an a cappella competition. Featuring Brittany Snow, Rebel Wilson and Skylar Astin.

V/H/S (R for gory violence, graphic nudity, explicit sexuality, drug use and pervasive profanity) Found footage horror flick about a gang of crooks who get the surprise of their lives after agreeing to break into a dilapidated house in the middle of nowhere to find a videotape for an anonymous third party. Starring Calvin Reeder, Lane Hughes and Adam Wingard.  

Sister (Unrated) Class-conscious drama, set in Switzerland, about a 12 year-old mountain urchin (Kacey Mottet Klein) who supports himself and his big sister (Lea Seydoux) by stealing from wealthy guests at a posh ski resort. With Gillian Anderson, Martin Compston and Simon Guelat. (In French and English with subtitles)

Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You (Unrated) Introspective character study about a Brown university-bound high school grad (Toby Regbo) who spends a summer of discontent talking about his troubles to his grandmother (Ellen Burstyn) and psychotherapist (Lucy Liu). Support cast includes Marcia Gay Harden, Peter Gallagher and Deborah Ann Woll.

Trade of Innocents (PG-13 for mature themes and violence) International thriller about a couple (Dermot Mulroney and Mira Sorvino) grieving the death of their daughter who venture to Southeast Asia to rescue young girls caught up in child prostitution. With John Billingsley, Trieu Tran and Kieu Chinh.

WutheringHeights (Unrated) Screen adaptation of the Emily Bronte classic about the love which blossoms between an orphan (James Howson) and the teenage daughter (Kaya Scodelario) of the Yorkshire farmer (Paul Hilton) who adopts him, much to the chagrin of the girl's overprotective brother (Lee Shaw). With Solomon Glave, Shannon Beer and Simone Jackson.

 

Recently Published by The Skanner News

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  • WASHINGTON (AP) — One month after the inauguration, the stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue in front of Donald Trump's White House still is a hard-hat zone. Skeletal remains of the inaugural reviewing stands poke skyward. Random piles of plywood and cables are heaped on the ground inside crooked lines of metal fencing. The disarray outside the president's front door, though not his fault, serves as a metaphor for the tumult still unfolding inside. Four weeks in, the man who says he inherited "a mess" at home and abroad is presiding over a White House that is widely described as itself being a mess. At a stunning pace, Trump has riled world leaders and frustrated allies. He was dealt a bruising legal blow on one of his signature policies. He lost his national security adviser and his pick for labor secretary to scandal. He's seen forces within his government push back against his policies and leak confidential information. All of this has played out amid a steady drip of revelations about an FBI investigation into his campaign's contacts with Russian intelligence officials. Trump says his administration is running like a "fine-tuned machine." He points to the rising stock market and the devotion of his still-loyal supporters as evidence that all is well, although his job approval rating is much lower than that for prior presidents in their first weeks in office. Stung by the unrelenting criticism coming his way, Trump dismisses much of it as "fake news" delivered by "the enemy of the people" — aka the press. Daily denunciations of the media are just one of the new White House fixtures Americans are adjusting to. Most days start (and end) with presidential tweets riffing off of whatever's on TV talk shows or teasing coming events or hurling insults at the media. At some point in the day, count on Trump to cast back to the marvels of his upset of Democrat Hillary Clinton in the November election and quite possibly overstate his margins of support. Expect more denunciations of the "dishonest" press and its "fake news." From there, things can veer in unexpected directions as Trump offers up policy pronouncements or offhand remarks that leave even White House aides struggling to interpret them. The long-standing U.S. policy of seeking a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Trump this past week offered this cryptic pronouncement: "I'm looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like. I can live with either one." His U.N. ambassador, Nikki Haley, the next day insisted, "We absolutely support a two-state solution." Trump's days are busy. Outside groups troop in for "listening sessions." Foreign leaders call or come to visit. (Or, in the case of Mexico's president, cancel out in pique over Trump's talk about the planned border wall.) After the president signed two dozen executive actions, the White House was awaiting a rush order of more of the gold-plated Cross pens that Trump prefers to the chrome-plated ones used by his predecessor. Trump hands them out as souvenirs at the signing ceremonies that he points to as evidence of his ambitious pace. "This last month has represented an unprecedented degree of action on behalf of the great citizens of our country," Trump said at a Thursday news conference. "Again, I say it. There has never been a presidency that's done so much in such a short period of time." That's all music to the ears of his followers, who sent him to Washington to upend the established order and play the role of disrupter. "I can't believe there's actually a politician doing what he says he would do," says an approving Scott Hiltgen, a 66-year-old office furniture sales broker from River Falls, Wisconsin. "That never happens." Disrupt Trump has. But there may be more sound and fury than substance to many of his early actions. Trump did select Judge Neil Gorsuch to replace the late Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court, a nomination that has drawn strong reviews from conservatives. But the president is regrouping on immigration after federal judges blocked his order to suspend the United States' refugee program and ban visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries, which had caused chaos for travelers around the globe. Some other orders on issues such as the U.S.-Mexico border wall and former President Barack Obama's health care law are of limited effect. Trump says his early actions show he means to deliver on the promises he made during the campaign. "A lot of people say, 'Oh, oh, Trump was only kidding with the wall,'" the president told a group of police chiefs recently. "I wasn't kidding. I don't kid." But the Republican-led Congress is still waiting to see specifics on how Trump wants to proceed legislatively on top initiatives such as replacing the health care law, enacting tax cuts and revising trade deals. The messy rollout of the travel ban and tumult over the ouster of national security adviser Michael Flynn for misrepresenting his contacts with Russia are part of a broader state of disarray as different figures in Trump's White House jockey for power and leaks reveal internal discord in the machinations of the presidency. "I thought by now you'd at least hear the outlines of domestic legislation like tax cuts," says Princeton historian Julian Zelizer. "But a lot of that has slowed. Trump shouldn't mistake the fact that some of his supporters like his style with the fact that a lot of Republicans just want the policies he promised them. He has to deliver that." Put Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in the camp of those more interested in substance than style. "I'm not a great fan of daily tweets," McConnell said Friday, referring to the "extra discussion" that Trump likes to engage in. But McConnell was quick to add: "What I am a fan of is what he's been actually doing." He credits Trump with assembling a conservative Cabinet and taking steps to reduce government regulation, and promised: "We like his positions and we're going to pursue them as vigorously as we can." The challenge may be to tease out exactly what Trump wants in the way of a health care plan, tax changes and trade policy. At his long and defiant news conference on Thursday, Trump tried to dispel the impression of a White House in crisis, squarely blaming the press for keeping him from moving forward more decisively on his agenda. Pointing to his chief of staff, Reince Priebus, Trump said, "You take a look at Reince, he's working so hard just putting out fires that are fake fires. I mean, they're fake. They're not true. And isn't that a shame because he'd rather be working on health care, he'd rather be working on tax reform." For all the frustrations of his early days as president, Trump still seems tickled by the trappings of his office. When New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie visited the White House last week to discuss the national opioid epidemic over lunch, the governor said Trump informed him: "Chris, you and I are going to have the meatloaf.'" Trump added: "I'm telling you, the meatloaf is fabulous." ___Follow Nancy Benac on Twitter at http://twitter.com/nbenac
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