Our critics recommend...

Posted: May 29, 2011

Movies

City of Life and Death See Steven Rea's preview on H2.

Midnight in Paris See Steven Rea's preview on H2.

Spork A bullied 14-year-old hermaphrodite (Savannah Stehlin) sees a chance to brighten her dreary life when her school sponsors a dance-off.

X-Men: First Class See Steven Rea's preview on H2.

Reviewed by critics Carrie Rickey (C.R.), Steven Rea (S.R.), and David Hiltbrand (D.H.).

The Double Hour A beautiful, head-spinning mystery set in Turin, Italy, where a Slovenian hotel maid falls for an ex-cop and trouble ensues. Leads Ksenia Rappoport and Filippo Timi won the top acting prizes at the Venice Film Festival for their efforts. Tricky, in all the best ways. 1 hr. 42 No MPAA rating (violence, sex, nudity, adult themes) - S.R.

13 Assassins Takashi Miike's sublime swordfest, set in feudal Japan, is, like so many samurai stories (and American westerns), about brotherhood, justice, and sacrifice. By turns thrilling and funny, visually exquisite and emotionally charged. 2 hrs. 06 No MPAA rating (violence, adult themes) - S.R.

Cave of Forgotten Dreams Werner Herzog ventures into southern France's Chauvet caves, sealed for eons by a rockfall and discovered only in 1994, where the glistening rock faces turn out to house humankind's first art gallery: paintings of horses and mammoths, lions and reindeer, put there 32,000 years ago by a budding Picasso or two. Amazing. 1 hr. 30 No MPAA rating (adult themes) - S.R.

Everything Must Go Will Ferrell gives an unexpectedly poignant performance as an Arizona ad exec who loses his job, his wife, and his house all on the same day - you can feel the guy's pain, but there's humor here, too. A first film by writer-director Dan Rush, adapted from a Raymond Carver short story. With Rebecca Hall, Laura Dern, and a beautifully unself-conscious turn by a young actor, Christopher Jordan Wallace. 1 hr. 36 R (profanity, adult themes) - S.R.

Incendies A powerful meditation on how the past reverberates in the future, how family secrets come back to haunt the living. Switching between modern-day Montreal and a Middle Eastern state not unlike Lebanon now and 30 years ago, the film jolts like Greek tragedy. A 2011 foreign-language Oscar nominee. 2 hrs. 10 R (violence, adult themes) - S.R.

The Robber An exhilarating and ultimately haunting thriller, based on a true story, about a champion Austriam marathon runner compelled to rob banks. Run, moolah run. 1 hr. 37 No MPAA rating (violence, nudity, sex, adult themes) - S.R.

Bridesmaids *** A hybrid. Part female friendship flick, part gross-out gagfest, this comedy of terrors cowritten by and starring Kristen Wiig is about a singleton afraid of losing her best friend (Maya Rudolph) to a rival bride attendant (Rose Byrne). With Chris O'Dowd, and Jon Hamm. 2 hrs. 05 R (sex, potty mouths, and potty humor) - C.R.

Fast Five *** Defying laws of physics, laws of acting, and the law of diminishing returns, the fourth sequel in the Fast and Furious franchise delivers a ridiculously fun mix of motorized macho mayhem and multicultural bonding. With vintage muscle cars and special-purpose monster trucks, over-the-top stunts, heist jobs, and rescue missions, all set in colorful Rio de Janeiro. 2 hrs. 10 PG-13 (violence, intense action, profanity, adult themes) - S.R.

The Hangover, Part II ** Todd Phillips' overfamiliar sequel to his unexpected 2009 hit is a Bangkok-and-bull story, virtually a scene-for-scene clone of the first - this time in Thailand. With Ed Helms, Bradley Cooper, and Zach Galifianakis. 1 hr. 41 R (frontal nudity, sexual candor, profanity, drugs, general raunch) - C.R.

Kung Fu Panda 2 *** There's an ancient Chinese saying: The sequel is never as good as the original. Still, the further adventures of Po are fast and a little furious, combining tumbling chopsocky with witty wisecracks and kernels of koan. 1 hr. 30 PG (intense images, cartoon violence) - S.R.

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides **1/2 Somewhat more buoyant than its two immediate predecessors, the fourth installment in Disney's billions-o'-doubloons franchise finds Johnny Depp teamed with Penelope Cruz in a quest for the Fountain of Youth. Geoffrey Rush is back as Jack Sparrow's rival, and a school of CG mermaids bring pre-Raphaelite Victoria's Secret action to the proceedings. 2 hrs. 07 PG-13 (violence, intense action, scares, adult themes) - S.R.

Thor ** Chris Hemsworth stars as the Norse god of comic-book fame in this handsome but vacuous action film. With Anthony Hopkins and the ubiquitous Natalie Portman. 1 hr. 54 PG-13 (intense action and violence) - D.H.

Theater

Reviewed by critics Wendy Rosenfield (W.R.), Howard Shapiro (H.S.), and Toby Zinman (T.Z.).

The Belle of Amherst (Hedgerow Theatre) Penelope Reed returns as Emily Dickinson. Previews Friday-June 10, opens June 11.

The Great American Trailer Park Musical (11th Hour Theatre Company) A coproduction with Montgomery Theater features mayhem and music in Armadillo Acres. Opens Friday.

In a Daughter's Eyes (InterAct Theatre Company) New play about the daughter of a murdered white policeman and the daughter of the Black Panther imprisoned for the killing. In previews, opens Wednesday.

Lost in Yonkers (Plays & Players) Neil Simon won a Pulitzer for this play about two young brothers. Previews Thursday and Friday, opens Saturday.

Peter Pan (Village Productions, Pottstown) A recasting of a musical version by the creators of "Mary Poppins." Preview Thursday, opens Friday.

Two Into One (Hedgerow Theatre) This year's Ray Cooney summer farce puts MPs and the PM through their paces. Preview Thursday, opens Friday.

Art (Act II Playhouse) Three-way dysfunctional bromance. Art purchase, talk ensue. Fun cast and swift direction keep you listening. Through June 12. - W.R.

The Bridge Club (Society Hill Playhouse) The world premiere of Richard Raskind's intriguing new one-act play is set on the Golden Gate Bridge, where someone's about to jump. Or maybe more than someone. Ends Sunday. - H.S.

Dividing the Estate (People's Light & Theatre Company) Horton Foote's drama about a dysfunctional family facing financial ruin despite owning 5,000 acres of Texas. Excellent

cast. Through next Sunday.

- T.Z.

The Flea and the Professor (Arden Theatre) Hans Christian Andersen's wisp of a weird final tale is refashioned into this colorful, fun world-premiere musical for kids. Through June 12. - W.R.

Miss Saigon (Walnut Street Theatre) An engrossing if sometimes schlocky production of this long-running musical tragedy about betrayal - political and personal - during the Vietnam War. Through July 17. - T.Z.

My Way: A Musical Tribute to Frank Sinatra (Walnut Street Theatre Independence Studio on 3) More nightclub show than theater, it's two hours of pure entertainment, showcasing 53 Sinatra songs. Four appealing singers make it happen. Through June 26. - T.Z.

My Wonderful Day (Wilma Theater) From Alan Ayckbourn, the story of a little girl who sees more than she should. Through June 19.

Playing Leni (Madhouse Theatre Company) Third Reich filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl reinvents herself. In previews, opens Wednesday.

Ruined (Philadelphia Theatre Company) Lynn Nottage's powerful Pulitzer-winning play about what war does to women, delivered inside a tavern/brothel by a superb cast. Through June 12. - H.S.

Sleeping Beauty Wakes (McCarter Theatre) Clever, sweet musical twist on a very old tale, set in a sleep-disorder clinic. Through next Saturday. - H.S.

Vigil (Lantern Theater Company) Misogynistic nephew hounds rich old aunt deathward. She's not buying. Through June 12.

Video

Biutiful ***1/2 Javier Bardem in the (rightly) Oscar-nominated role of a Barcelona street criminal trying to put his life in order, take care of his kids, and make peace with the world, and himself, in his final days. Haunting, powerful stuff from the director of Amores Perros, 21 Grams and Babel. 2 hrs. 28 R (disturbing images, violence, profanity, drugs, sex, nudity, adult themes) - S.R.

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