Asylum. (R) Reviewed in this issue. PF
Bob Smith, U.S.A.. (Not Rated) Opening titles announce that over 81,000 American men share the common name Bob Smith. Given these statistics, it's staggering that director Neil Abramson chose these seven peculiar, even sophomoric individuals to document instead of intriguing, insightful subjects. The seven Bobs' professions vary as much as the geography. They live in Boston and Queens, California and New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Texas. Their professions include photographer, graphic artist, septic-tank repairman, jazz musician and clown. This latter Bob teaches Clown Ministry Workshops. Photographer Bob shoots an embarrassing, unappealing stripper while Yogi Bob spouts fifth-grade philosophy. Graphic artist Bob, painted like a red devil complete with horns, wanders New York proclaiming his atheism, handing out "God Is Fake" cards. But Bob Smith offers no one sufficiently thoughtful to be thought-provoking. Documentaries about weird people are not always compelling or interesting -- sometimes they're just annoying. Screens at 8 p.m. Friday, August 19, through Sunday, August 21, in the Moore Auditorium on the campus of Webster University. Director Abramson will lead a Q&A after Friday's and Saturday's shows. Call 314-968-7487 for more information. (Diane Carson) WFS
The Edukators. (R) Peter (Stipe Erceg) and Jan (Daniel Brühl) case the neighborhoods of the well-to-do, figure out what kind of alarm systems are in place, then disable them in order to break in and . . . rearrange the furniture in creative ways. It's their form of anti-capitalist protest, and it works well until a woman inevitably comes between them. Jule (Julia Jentsch) is Peter's girlfriend, in tremendous debt as a result of a car accident (her fault) that left her owing 94,500 Euros to a businessman named Hardenberg (Burghart Klaussner). When Peter goes away for the weekend, leaving Jule alone with Jan, she finds out about their night trips and insists on doing one herself -- to Hardenberg's house. Things start to spiral out of control from there. Unlike in, say, Fight Club, director Hans Weingartner does not hedge his bets on the notion of whether simple-minded anarchy is any better than societal conformity -- his heart is with the Edukators, period. The only moral ambiguity comes from Hardenberg, who turns out to be an ex-radical himself . . . or does he? (Luke Y. Thompson) TV
Grizzly Man. (R) Environmental advocate Timothy Treadwell had filmed many of his expeditions into the Alaskan national parks to hang with bears prior to his death at the claws of a grizzly in 2003. German director Werner Herzog came across a documentary project on Treadwell already in progress and volunteered himself as director; in the process, as he says in voice-over narration, "I discovered a film of human ecstasy and darkest inner turmoils." While it initially seems like standard nature documentary stuff, Herzog plays movie critic with it, and ends up analyzing the work the way a film-school professor might scrutinize Tarkovsky. In life, Treadwell invoked extreme reactions in people, and he still does in death. Was he a great pro-wildlife crusader? A nutcase who did more harm than good? Herzog is primarily interested in Treadwell the filmmaker, but you'll likely be fascinated with him as a human being. (Thompson) PF
Red Eye. (PG-13) Lisa Reisert (Rachel McAdams) is a workaholic, constantly making arrangements via cell phone for the hotel she manages. When she gets in an argument with a rude fellow traveler at the airport, another passenger by the name of Jackson (Cillian Murphy) comes in on her side. Soon enough, Jackson and Lisa are sitting side by side on the plane, when he reveals that their meeting was no coincidence: Her father (Brian Cox) is under surveillance by an associate ready to shoot him at a moment's notice, and she must call her hotel and change the reservation for the Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security (Jack Scalia) and his family from his usual suite to another room, where an assassination will be arranged. It is much to the credit of all involved that the bulk of the movie is taut, compelling, and consists simply of two people talking to each other. After that, it becomes a more conventional actioner, but it stays fun. (Thompson) ARN, CGX, CW10, CC12, DP, EG, EQ, GL, J14, MR, NW, OF, RON, STCH, STCL, WO
Supercross. (PG-13) Former motocross rider and Hollywood stuntman Steve Boyum's glimpse into the "second-fastest-growing motorsport in the U.S." is anything but a dramatic masterpiece. But it features enough dirt-eating, bone-jolting, face-planting race action to send the audience directly from the popcorn stand to the chiropractor's office. TV transplants Steve Howey (Reba) and Mike Vogel (Grounded for Life) star as a pair of fatherless Southern California brothers scuffling along as pool boys and do-it-yourself weekend motocross riders. When one of them gets a shot at a big-time ride, sibling rivalry sours into hostility. Throw in a pair of girlfriends (Cameron Richardson, Sophia Bush) and some on-track rivalries, and you've got the usual racing-movie package. Forget all that: The real attraction here is knobby-tired motorcycles and their flashy riders sailing through the air, jumped up by a thunderous rock score. If you love Kawasakis, Hondas, and Yamahas, and don't mind tin-eared writing, get down to the multiplex. (Bill Gallo) ARN, CC12, DP, J14, KEN, MR, NW, OF, RON, STCH, WO
Valiant. (G) Carrier pigeons were vital to the British during the Second World War, flying messages across the English Channel for troops fighting behind enemy lines. Disney's latest computer-animated film concerns a young pigeon named Valiant (voiced by Ewan McGregor) who volunteers for the Royal Homing Pigeon Service and, despite his small size, becomes a hero. While British kids grew up listening to stories about the London Blitz and the hardships their parents and grandparents endured, American children would be hard-pressed to tell you what nations fought on which side. Given that, it's unlikely they'll understand -- much less relate to -- this film. The voice acting is adequate, but it fails to convey the diversity or personality of Chicken Run or Shrek. The backstory is far more interesting: 54 British animals -- 32 pigeons, 18 dogs, 3 horses, and a cat -- were awarded medals for "conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty" during the war. If only they'd all been featured here. (Jean Oppenheimer) ARN, CW10, CC12, DP, GL, J14, MR, NW, OF, RON, STCH, STCL, WO
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