02-19-2017  8:00 pm      •     
McMenamins

BIG BUDGET FILMS

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters (PG-13 for violence) Revenge-fueled sequel, set 15 years after the conclusion of the Grimm Brothers' classic fairytale, finds Hansel (Jeremy Renner) and Gretel (Gemma Arterton) perambulating the planet as bloodthirsty bounty hunters hell-bent on exterminating witches wherever they can be found. With Famke Janssen, Zoe Bell and Peter Stormare. 



Movie 43 (R for violence, drug use, pervasive profanity, graphic sexuality, frontal nudity, crude humor and coarse dialogue) A dozen directors collaborated on this raunchy series of short films chronicling three kids' internet search for the most banned movie in the world. A-list ensemble features Academy Award-winners Halle Berry and Kate Winslet, along with Oscar-nominees Uma Thurman, Naomi Watts, Hugh Jackman and Terrence Howard.

Parker (R for nudity, sexuality, pervasive profanity and graphic violence) Jason Statham plays the title character in this adaptation of Flashfire, the Donald Westlake revenge thriller about a thief who enlists the assistance of a real estate agent (Jennifer Lopez) to get even with the gangsters who had double-crossed him. Supporting cast includes Michael Chiklis, Nick Nolte, Patti LuPone, Bobby Cannavale and Wendell Pierce.

INDEPENDENT & FOREIGN FILMS

Happy People: A Year in the Life of the Taiga (Unrated) Aborigine documentary, narrated by co-director Werner Herzog, anthropological examination of the 300 remaining Bakhtia, a Siberian coastal people whose cultural traditions have remained preserved for centuries. (In English and Russian with subtitles)

John Dies at the End (R for gore, nudity, profanity, drug use and graphic violence) Horror comedy based on the David Wong novel of the same name about a couple of college dropouts (Rob Mayes and Chase Williamson) called upon to save the day when Earth is invaded by aliens. With Paul Giamatti, Glynn Turman and Daniel Roebuck.  

Knife Fight (Unrated) Strange bedfellows drama about a political strategist (Rob Lowe) who comes to be haunted by the dark side of his profession while running interference for a trio of seedy political candidates (Eric McCormick, David Harbour and Carrie-Anne Moss). Support cast includes Shirley Manson, Jamie Chung and Richard Schiff.

Noobz (R for profanity and crude sexual references) Road comedy about four friends (Jason Mewes, Matt Shively, Moises Arias and Blake Freeman) who travel to L.A. to compete in a video game championship. With Casper Van Dien, Jon Gries and Carly Craig.

The Pirogue (Unrated) Seafaring saga about some Senegalese peasants who set out for Spain in a flat-bottomed sailboat in search of a better life. Starring Laity Fall, Balla Diarra, Souleymane Seye Ndiaye and Salif Jean Diallo. (In French with subtitles) 

Race 2 (Unrated) Bollywood sequel revolving around a mobster (Saif Ali Khan) who ventures from India to Turkey to avenge the murder of his moll (Bipasha Basu) With Anil Kapoor, Deepika Padukone and John Abraham. (In Hindi with subtitles)

Supporting Characters (Unrated) Meandering Mumblecore, set in NYC, about a couple of film editors' (Tarik Lowe and Alex Karpovsky) struggle to juggle their demanding jobs and romantic relationships with impatient girlfriends (Melonie Diaz and Sophia Takal). Support cast includes Lena Dunham, Arielle Kebbel and Kevin Corrigan.

Yossi (Unrated) Bittersweet sequel to Yossi and Jagger, set a decade since the Yossi's (Ohad Knoller) life mate perished in a military ambush, finds him now a cardiologist but still in mourning until he's coaxed out of the closet by a handsome hitchhiker (Oz Zehavi). With Meir Golan, Amir Jerassi and Lior Ashkenazi. (In Hebrew with subtitles)

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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