02-19-2017  3:28 pm      •     

BIG BUDGET FILMS
 
"The Hangover" (R for sexuality, nudity, drug and alcohol abuse and pervasive profanity) "What Happens in Vegas" comedy about three friends (Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis) of the groom-to-be (Justin Bartha) who throw a wild bachelor party in a suite at Caesar's Palace only to have their pal disappear without a trace the day before the wedding. With Heather Graham, Mike Tyson, Jeffrey Tambor and Dr. Ken Jeong.  
 
"Land of the Lost" (PG-13 for profanity, sexuality, crude humor and a drug reference) Sci-fi comedy abut a trio of explorers (Will Ferrell, Danny McBride and Anna Friel) forced to survive by their wits after being sucked though a space-time vortex into a parallel universe filled with dinosaurs and other strange creatures. Cast includes Jorma Taccone, Douglas Tait and Bobb'e J. Thompson.
 
"My Life in Ruins" (PG-13 for sexuality) My Big Fat Greek Vacation. Nia Vardalos stars as a jaded, middle-aged American of Greek ancestry who gets her groove back while working as a tour guide in Athens when she falls in love with a local bus driver (Alexis Georgoulis). Cast includes Richard Dreyfuss, Rachel Dratch and Ian Ogilvy.
 
 
INDEPENDENT & FOREIGN FILMS
 
"24 City" (Unrated) Modernization mockumentary, set in Sichuan Province, shot from the diverse perspectives of nine interviewees representing three generations of Chinese whose lives are affected in different ways by the demolition of a military factory in Chengdu to make way for a complex of luxury apartments. Cast includes Joan Chen, Tao Zhao and Liping Lu. (In Mandarin and Shanghainese with subtitles)
 
"The Art of Being Straight" (Unrated) Homoerotic comedy about a ladies man (Jesse Rosen) who breaks up with his girlfriend only to end up in bed with his boss (Johnny Ray) after taking an entry-level position at an L.A. ad agency. With Jim Dineen, Rachel Castillo and Jared Grey.
 
"Away We Go" (R for profanity and sexuality) Road comedy chronicling the misadventures of an expecting couple (Maya Rudolph and Jon Krasinski) traveling around the country to find the perfect place to put down roots and start a family. Ensemble includes Maggie Gyllenhaal, Allison Janney and Catherine O'Hara.  
 
"Ball Don't Lie" (Unrated) Hoop dreams drama about a 17 year-old White kid (Grayson Boucher) raised in the 'hood by a prostitute (Rosanna Arquette) whose only hope of escaping the ghetto rests with making it to the NBA with the help of his cute girlfriend (Kim Hidalgo). Cast includes Nick Cannon, Melissa Leo, Harold Perrineau and Ludacris for street cred. 
 
"Downloading Nancy" (Unrated) Romantic thriller about a suicidal housewife (Maria Bello) who hires a hit man (Jason Patric) over the Internet to kill her, only to fall in love with the handsome stranger when she meets him in person. With Rufus Sewell as the odd man out.    
 
"Herb and Dorothy" (Unrated) Salt-of-the-Earth bio-pic about the Vogels, a modest married couple with an eye for art who stupefied the experts by amassing a priceless contemporary collection containing over 4,000 pieces on the salaries of a postal clerk and a librarian. 
 
"Kassim the Dream" (Unrated) Boxing documentary chronicles the career of Junior Middleweight Champ Kassim Ouma who was pressed into service as a child soldier by rebels in his native Uganda from the age of 6 until he finally sought political asylum in the U.S. at the age of 18. 
 
"Seraphine" (Unrated) Warts-and-all bio-pic based on the life of Seraphine de Senlis (Yolande Moreau), the French maid-turned-folk artist who came to fame between the First and Second World Wars before dying friendless and penniless in obscurity on the psychiatric ward of an old folks home in 1942. (In French and German with subtitles)
 
"Sugisball" (Unrated) Ensemble drama, set in Estonia, explores the lonely existence of six jaded souls all living in the same impersonal housing development built during the Soviet Era. Cast includes Rain Tolk, Taavi Eelmaa, Juhan Ulfsak, Maarja Jakobson, Iris Persson and Mirtel Pohla. (In Estonian with subtitles)
 
"Tennessee" (R for profanity) Dysfunctional family drama about two brothers (Adam Rothenberg and Ethan Peck) who pick up a truck stop waitress (Mariah Carey) with an abusive husband (Lance Reddick) while en route from New Mexico to Tennessee where they hope to reconcile with their long-estranged father.
 
"Unmistaken Child" (Unrated) "Hello Dalai" documentary, set in 2001, retraces the worldwide search of a Buddhist monk for his new master, a boy under 4 years of age born with the reincarnated soul of his dearly-departed guru. (In English, Tibetan, Nepali and Hindi)

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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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