Film Clips: Oct. 1
An Honest Liar Not Rated
Inspired by The Great Houdini, The Amazing Randi became the most celebrated escape artist of the second half of the 20th century after helping stage Alice Cooper’s beheading and guest starring on “Happy Days.” Like his hero, Randi eventually embarked on a campaign to debunk psychics and faith healers. He duplicated Uri Geller’s spoon-bending tricks and exposed the duplicity of evangelist Peter Popoff. As this fascinating documentary reveals, Randi, who publicly championed truth above all else, was willing to employ deception in his crusades against the deceitful; his private life was full of surprises, even to himself. (David Luhrssen)
7:15 p.m., Friday, Oct. 3 and 4:15 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 5, Downer Theatre as part of the Milwaukee Film Festival.
Shortly after a husband purchases a vintage doll for his pregnant wife, bad things begin to happen. A frightening, tragic home invasion, accidents and other phenomena soon persuade the couple that something evil possesses the doll. In order to protect themselves and their new baby, the couple seeks help from both a priest and a medium. The film’s trailer contains several satisfying jolts and surprises—let’s hope there are plenty more where those came from. (Lisa Miller)
Gone Girl R
In David Fincher’s latest, Ben Affleck appears as Nick Dunne, a young husband arriving home to discover his wife Amy (Rosamund Pike), missing. Noting broken furniture and other irregularities, Nick calls police and is visited by detectives Boney (Kim Dickens) and Gilpin (Patrick Fugit), who begin their meticulous investigation. Flashbacks seen and narrated from both Nick’s and Amy’s perspectives reveal a marriage beginning happily five years earlier, then deteriorating to match the downward spiral of the couple’s worsening circumstances. Set against the present day recession in a fictional Midwest hamlet, the town’s vacant stores and darkened homes emphasize a general feeling of hopelessness. Taking more twists and turns than a bowtie pretzel, the film keeps viewers guessing right to its bitter end. (L.M.)
The Notebook R
War is not ennobling in Hungarian director Janos Szasz’s The Notebook. With calamity approaching as the end game of World War II begins, a pair of 13-year-old twin boys is sent for safety to the country to live with the grandmother they had never met. The woman is bitter and beastly, despising her daughter and her grandchildren. Acutely aware of the intimacies and terrors of family, The Notebook is superbly filmed and composed, a darkly beautiful tale of cruelty and survival as the boys learn to be as hard as the world they confront. The vicious grandmother becomes a pillar of stability amidst the Nazi occupiers, their local lackeys and the Soviet “liberators.” (D.L.)
Opens Oct. 3, Oriental Theatre.