Home » Special Farewell Screening Tonight at the Crest – Plus Three New Films Opening
Arts Film Review

Special Farewell Screening Tonight at the Crest – Plus Three New Films Opening

 

Singin’ in the Rain – Crest Theatre
Friday, October 17th at 7:30pm.

If you’ve been living under a rock, you might not have heard that the long time managers of the Crest Theatre, CSLM Inc., led by the incomparable Laura “Sid” Garcia Heberger have lost their lease on the building. And so 28 years of success and consistent championing of the arts in Sacramento will come to an end on October 31st when they vacate the building.

For many of those years, the Crest was the only business of any size alive in the middle of K Street. As others came and went, some quite quickly, CSLM stayed afloat, restored the building and renovated the fabulous landmark marquee – not once but twice. During tough times, on a blighted street, and through a recession it was truly an amazing run and the building couldn’t have had better stewards.

They even survived changes in the industries they relied on, re-consolidating as a single space venue (as they had been originally) after closing the two additional movie screens they had added years earlier. As Sacramento’s only truly independent movie theater, the Crest had been dependent on a relatively small number of distributors at the same time as those distributors experimented with new forms of digital distribution. These included films that went to video on-demand services as quickly as they reached theaters – with some films even going to airlines and hotel rooms (or outlets such as iTunes) before theaters like the Crest had a shot at screening them. Fortunately, the folks at CSLM had had the good sense to add those theaters in extra space, and the Crest never suffered the fate of so many art houses that were sub-divided internally. They continued to show films and host multiple annual film festivals, in addition to the diverse concerts, lectures, comedy shows, and live theatrical events they had hosted for decades, but that change ended many years of daily first-run film scheduling.

Now they’re going out in the same way they started – with a screening of “Singin’ in the Rain” in the suddenly rare format of true 35mm film. There’ll be some reminiscing and probably a few tears – after all this may be a screening to celebrate 28 years of one of downtown Sacramento’s most enduring enterprises but it’s also a sad farewell to an extraordinary group of people.

The rest of the month has a few additional special moments in store, including a mini-French Film Festival on Sunday as the Sacramento French Film Festival says thanks and goodbye to CSLM. Similarly, the last Trash Film Orgy event will take place on the 24th with another 35mm screening of “Beetlejuice.” And ukulele virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro returns to the Crest on the 25th. The full calendar of remaining events can be found at www.thecrest.com.

 

Other film openings this week are a mixed bag – here’s a moviebriefs roundup:

Fury
Directed by

The best film of the week is an intimate portrayal of a tank crew during the last push across Europe towards the end of WWII. I’ve always enjoyed these smaller scale war movies in which you see a small number of people up close and personal rather than the grand sweeping scope of war movies that most folks on the ground would never have seen.

Brad Pitt stars as the veteran in command of a tank named “Fury” – a man who’s doing what he needs to keep himself and his men alive. As we join the crew (with Pitt being supported by Shia Labeouf, Michael Peña, and Jon Bernthal), their fortunes have shifted and they’ve lost their front gunner in a massive battle we only see the aftermath of. But the rest of them are alive and they intend to keep it that way and so they aren’t thrilled to be saddled with the greenest of the green new recruits (played by Logan Lerman) and it soon becomes apparent that he needs to be broken in if he’s going to be any use to them.

“Fury” is a harsh film that doesn’t paint these men as angelic heroes – it’s too honest for that. It’s the kind of film that demonstrates why many people come back from wars unable to speak about their experiences. But it’s also a good film with solid performances from these five actors depicting a group of five men who don’t especially like each other, but who depend on each other for a chance to get out of this brutally violent environment.

 

St. Vincent
Directed by

I desperately wanted to like “St. Vincent” and it’s a film that came very close to working for me – but not quite close enough. It’s essentially the grumpy old man version of “About a Boy” as if Hugh Grant had grown up to be a very crabby version of Bill Murray.

Murray plays Vincent, the world’s worst neighbor – a drunk, betting addict who crashes into his own fence and then conveniently blames the new arrivals next door when their moving guys coincidentally do damage nearby. Those new neighbors are a separated mother (Melissa McCarthy) and her young son Oliver (played wonderfully by newcomer Jaeden Lieberher) and before long Oliver needs Vincent’s help after getting locked out of the house.

The relationships actually work pretty well – Murray and Lieberher build some admirable chemistry for actors over five decades apart, and McCarthy is good in a role that doesn’t make her the butt of every joke or rely on her physicality for cheap laughs. She’s primarily the straight character here and it’s a refreshing performance. Naomi Watts is also neat as a Russian prostitute and Vincent’s closest friend.

However, “St. Vincent” goes off track in the second act as Vincent suffers a setback and Murray is asked to shift gears accordingly. It’s not that Murray is incapable of the role, it’s that it never feels quite together and the storyline being followed at this point seems out of place anyway. It’s an awkward plot development that conveniently throws out multiple other characters as it shifts gears to focus on the main four. It’s primarily a problem in the writing but even realizing that while watching doesn’t stop the film from collapsing in on itself for a while. Things pick up again but by then it’s too little, too late and too much of the momentum has been lost.

 

The Best of Me
Directed by

“The Best of Me” is easily the worst of the films I watched that are opening this week. And it’s not a problem with the type of film – I’ve enjoyed many other films like this, including previous adaptations of Nicholas Sparks’ books. But this one is so awfully cheesy and predictable from scene to scene that it seems almost like a parody of the genre.

On top of that, and for no immediately apparent reason, the filmmakers went with perhaps the most stupendously awful miscasting of two actors who don’t look remotely like each other despite playing the same character at different ages. Short of a missing storyline about a disfiguring accident and resultant plastic surgery, James Marsden and Luke Bracey don’t even look like they’d be members of the same family.

It’s the kind of fatal flaw that would drag a movie down even if it wasn’t already on a downhill slope. Here, instead, it just makes the nosedive more precipitous.

About the author

Tony Sheppard

Tony is a Professor at Sacramento State, Co-Director of the Sacramento Film & Music Festival and a long-time writer, primarily on topics related to film and the film industry. He is an active supporter of the local arts community, an amateur photographer, and has an interest in architecture and urban planning topics. He is currently designing a 595 sq.ft. house on a very small infill lot in Sacramento.

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