Sundance Cinemas wouldn’t necessarily be the first place I would think of to go see an animated family movie, or a gruesome horror flick. Unless the animated film was in Japanese, or the horror flick focused more on the existential horror of middle-class suburban living.
But Sundance is opening both “Wreck-It Ralph” and “The Bay” this Friday, and both are getting strong review. “Ralph” aims to be a “Toy Story” for retro video games instead of toys, starring John C. Reilly as a classic video game baddie who wants to relocate to a new game and be a nice guy. “The Bay,” meanwhile, Is a clever found-footage horror film about a seaside town withstanding a mysterious and bloody ecological threat.
I would have thought “Flight” would be more Sundance’s speed, but it’s opening at the big cinemas in town. It’s a great film, with Denzel Washington giving one of his best performances as a heroic airline pilot with a deep secret. Meanwhile, I’m not sure what to make of “The Man with the Iron Fists,” a martial arts film starring Russell Crowe, Lucy Liu and RZA from the Wu-Tang Clan. Because who hasn’t expected the three of them to all be in the same movie at some point? It was inevitable.
The Union South Marquee Theater is hosting its terrific Reel Love LGBT Film Festival, featuring a mix of documentaries, dramas and comedies. Highlights include a “singalong” version of “Rent” at midnight Friday, which should be a blast; “How To Survive A Plague,” a documentary about the ACT UP movement that looks to be a surefire Oscar nominee, at 7 p.m. Saturday; and the popular “Queer Shorts” anthology at 1 p.m. Sunday. They’re all free; visit union.wisc.edu/film for the full schedule.
Looking ahead, the Marquee and the Havens Center are bringing a documentary that I heard a lot of buzz about at the Sundance Film Festival last January. “Detropia” looks at the decline and possible rebirth of Detroit through the eyes of a patchwork of residents. It screens at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the Marquee.
The Cinematheque continues its series of films by Japanese director Kenji Misumi with a double feature Friday night. “Destiny’s Son” (7 p.m.) is a rock ‘em sock ‘em samurai film, while “The Homely Sisters” (8:30 p.m.) is a drama about two sisters cairing for their ailing father.
On Saturday at 7 p.m., the Cinematheque will start a new fall series of films that will look at the films of Preston Sturges – but not his acclaimed films as a director like “Sullivan’s Travels,” but his earlier work as a screenwriter in Hollywood. The series begins with the fast-paced comedy “The Good Fairy,” directed by William Wyler, about an usher girl who tries to use the wealth of a lascivious rich man to help others. Those films screen at 4070 Vilas Hall and are free.
Last Sunday, I went to the Chazen to see the Cinematheque’s screening of Sergio Leone’s classic Western “Once Upon a Time in the West” and had a great time. This Sunday at 2 p.m., the Italian Classics series continues with “The Birds, The Bees and the Italians,” Pietro Germi’s fast-paced bedroom farce in the vein of his “Divorce, Italian Style.” Also free.