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Pic of the Week

Each week we pick a recommended "Pic" from our archives. Below are our most recent picks.

Les Choristes

***1/22004, Christophe Barratier

The French confection Les Choristes is now available on a skimpy, movie-only DVD

Les Choristes is the kind of movie that could only come from France. It’s a charming tale about the power of culture over brawn, and it is as sweet as marzipan.

Muscle Shoals

***2013, Greg 'Freddy' Camalier

Even if the Muscle Shoals sound isn’t on your iPod, you’ll like seeing where it came from

I probably don’t have any songs on my iPod that were recorded in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. But most Americans will recognize — and like — just about every song featured in the documentary from first-time-director and Boulder resident Greg ‘Freddy’ Camalier.

Life of Pi

***1/22012, Ang Lee

Life of Pi is gorgeous filmmaking that slowly grows its appeal to the mind.

Life of Pi is gorgeous filmmaking that slowly grows its appeal to the mind while constantly pleasing the eye.

Dress Rehearsal

***2005, Nasser Taghvai

A window to a culture with which the United States has now become deeply involved

Dress Rehearsal: The Brave Hurr’s Ta’zieh is more instructive than it intends to be and it’s more important for a Western/European audience to watch than its cinematic content would warrant.

Apocalypse Now: Redux

****2001, Francis Ford Coppola

There are 10 reasons not to miss Apocalypse Now: Redux at the theater

By the grace of God, Francis Ford Coppola has decided to bring Apocalypse Now back to the big screen with an additional 49 minutes of footage. He pulls out all the stops by integrating an antiquated but beautiful printing process and including far more sex, political complexity, and general strangeness.

As if you need them, here’s ten damn good reasons to see the film, no matter how far you have to travel:

Jaffa

***1/2

Jaffa views the Israeli/Palestinian conflict through the lens of young love.

Jaffa is an effective drama that views the Israeli/Palestinian conflict through the lens of young love.

Operation Condor

***1990, Jackie Chan

Jackie Chan meets Indiana Jones

If Jackie Chan had written, directed and starred in Raiders of the Lost Ark, this would be the result.

Chan plays a secret agent named Jackie, also called Condor. His mission is to retrieve gold stolen by the Nazis during World War II and hidden in North Africa.

After this mercifully brief plot setup, Chan heads to the Sahara with two female sidekicks. Along the way they bicker, get themselves into several comic situations and encounter various bad guys for Jackie to fight off. The action sequences are fast and furious and always entertaining, including the finale in a wind tunnel.

The broad, slapstick humor is awfully silly at times but it’s part of the fun spirit of the movie. The female characters fill the usual role of women in action movies (give Jackie someone to rescue) but they do add to the many comic moments. The stereotypes of Arabs are not much better than those seen in American action movies, but the two who show up throughout the movie as comic relief at least have some humanity.

Like all of Chan’s movies I have seen, the appeal is Chan himself. There is a lightheartedness to his movies and the action is delivered with a wink to the audience. The anticipation of wondering what he’s going to try next overcomes any reservations about the formulaic plots and stilted dialogue. Chan’s screen persona coupled with his physical prowess and stunts never fail to thrill.

Prometheus

***1/22012

Ridley Scott retells an old story

Prometheus has the mix of science fiction and horror that young men of college age crave. It has the colorful cast of characters you’d expect to see in a war film. It has enough subtlety of plot to withstand multiple viewings (unless that “subtlety” is actually plot holes — I am not sure after only one viewing). And it has the weight and grand scope of a mythic journey. Even if it’s practically the same movie as Alien, what’s not to like?

London

***1994, Patrick Keiller

Requires patience from viewers, but thoughtful and interesting for those who care to listen

Like getting back into Shakespeare after a long separation, it takes some adjustment to get used to London’s unique pacing and style, but the effort is worthwhile.

Tomb Raider 2

***2003, Jan De Bont

Lara punches a shark, rides a motorcycle on the Great Wall of China, and dives off a skyscraper

In The Cradle of Life, Lara Croft returns to the big screen in a highly ambitious globetrotting romp. But, even with new writers and a new director, this cinematic escapade of one of pop culture’s leading ladies doesn’t always live up to its potential.

A Mighty Heart

***1/22007, Michael Winterbottom

In A Mighty Heart, Angelina Jolie finally proves her Oscar win wasn’t a fluke

In A Mighty Heart, Angelina Jolie finally proves her Oscar win wasn’t a fluke. This is her best performance and it’s now on DVD. Oscar voters, keep this one at the top of your stack.