Kitchen Stories (unrated) Bent Hamer. In Norwegian director Bent Hamer's appealing little comedy-drama, a team of Swedish "home scientists" traipses off to rural Norway in the early 1950s to chart the kitchen routines of single men. A mild-mannered bureaucrat named Folke (Tomas Norström) is assigned to observe, in silence and from a high chair that looks like a tennis referee's perch, a wary, long-faced farmer named Isak (Joachim Calmeyer). But before the study gets very far, the urges of human nature get the best of social engineering, and a friendship develops between two lonely men. Part Monty Python sketch, part bleak Samuel Beckett play, Hamer's carefully observed, beautifully acted gem deflates pomposity as it exalts the triumph of faith over logic and reveals the universal desires of the human heart. With Bjørn Floberg as Isak's bewildered neighbor Grant and Reine Brynolfsson as the kitchen study's frustrated director. Opens Friday, March 26. at the Tivoli. (Bill Gallo)
The Ladykillers (R) Ethan and Joel Coen. Opens Friday, March 26, at multiple locations. Reviewed this issue.
Never Die Alone (R) Ernest Dickerson. Opens Friday, March 26, at multiple locations. Reviewed this issue.
The Revolution Will Not Be Televised (unrated) Kim Bartley and Donnacha O'Briain. In this fast-paced, riveting and affecting documentary, directors Kim Bartley and Donnacha O'Briain set up shop in Venezuela to "get behind the layers of myth and rumor" surrounding the presidency of Hugo Chavez, the populist leader who encouraged literacy, decried globalization and promised to redistribute the country's oil wealth among all of the people. With nearly unlimited access to the presidential palace, the filmmakers trace the Chavez administration from the early days of jubilant rallies and heartfelt handshakes to the shocking coup d'etat that ousted the leader from power for two tense days in April 2002 -- and, capturing a breathtaking display of popular will, through the revolution that brought him back. The directors could not have anticipated this level of drama, but they immediately commit, placing themselves in harm's way to record the view from inside. As a result, the film cuts to the quick, demonstrating the awesome power of inclusive government. This revolution may not have been televised, but it was filmed, and it is a glorious thing. Opens Friday, March 26, at the Tivoli. (Melissa Levine)
Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed (PG) Raja Gosnell. Like its predecessor, this cartoon adaptation is a bit too all over the place for its own good, never entirely clear on whether to play as parody or homage, with a set design that seems to consist of way too much stuff all at once. The 'toon featured minimal drawing, remember? The upside of the scattershot approach is that at least some of the humor is likely to score -- a few jokes are surprisingly sophisticated for a kiddie movie. The kids'll love all the monsters, which are grotesque without being nightmare-inducing, and their parents may be amused by how faithfully they've been rendered from the old Hanna-Barbera drawings (one nitpick: the "Pterodactyl Ghost" is actually a pteranodon; common mistake though). The Mystery, Inc. gang bring some much-needed humanity to their two-dimensional characters this time out, with Matthew Lillard's Shaggy and Linda Cardellini's Velma the standouts, but Freddie Prinze Jr.'s actually not so bad either! Alicia Silverstone, Seth Green, Peter Boyle and Tim Blake Nelson round out the cast as possible villains. Opens Friday, March 26, at multiple locations. (Luke Y. Thompson)