At The Movies

The Kids Are Alright

Directed by Lisa Cholodenko • Review by Jennifer Chaussee
Whenever I see a movie at the beloved Tower Theatre I stew in contemplation for a few hours afterwards. This can make dates slightly awkward but I don’t mind. It’s nice to see real cinema hasn’t died yet, that movies can still be thought-provoking and artistic. (Just a side note: I sincerely hope this doesn’t change when the Tower goes under new ownership.)

After going to see “The Kids Are Alright” on opening night this past Friday, I left in contemplation. But this was no deep-hearted contemplation like “Vera Drake,” the soggy gray abortion movie. This was more like a sun-drunk contemplation, well-earned after almost two hours of watching gorgeously natural-looking hipsters run around with Riedel goblets of local Petite Sirah, plucking heirloom tomatoes from their vines and messing up their previously contented lives in a very charming and good-humored way, as though life were just another faded T-shirt in need of a good wash and an ironing. It might have been subtitled: “But Nobody Was Ever Really in Grave Danger, Anyways.”

Jules (Julianne Moore) and Nic (Annette Bening) are married and ever-so convincingly in love. Everything is light and loving until their two kids, Jodi (Mia Wasikowska) and Laser (Josh Hutcherson) contact the sperm donor their mothers kept on file for both their pregnancies.

Enter Paul (Mark Ruffalo), who spends a lot of time smirking into the sun and crunching into freshly picked bell peppers before straddling his BMW motorcycle and riding down some narrow road framed in wisteria. Think of the clips of Brad Pitt cruising through an open market in “Benjamin Button,” minus the melodrama, and you’ve got the image.

Despite his carefree innocence, Paul’s presence in the family causes some conflict in the catalog family which they must all try to work out over a series of beautiful, home-cooked dinners and several, several more glasses of that wine (How much did Fiddlehead Winery pay for that product placement? I wonder).

Jodi remains amazingly self-possessed through most of the story, yet Wasikowska manages to balance in just enough of the awkward coming-of-age mannerisms and mishaps that make her character one of the more intriguing ones.

The ending is slightly more conventional but this film is not built for surprise, anyhow, so it doesn’t detract. Rather, it seems more focused on individual characters and fleshing out their reactions and interpretations of conflicts centered on family.

Anyone looking for a gay marriage rights crusade won’t necessarily find it here, but a lively and light hearted conversation on the issue is certainly provoked, especially by the outcome of the un-welcomed presence of a male father figure in a predominately female dynamic.  

Sacramento Film & Music Festival – Final Weekend and Special Guests

By Tony Sheppard
As detailed last week, Sacramento artist David Garibaldi performs on Thursday, July 29th, followed by a rare charity auction of his works. But that’s just the beginning of a final Festival weekend filled with premieres and special programs and guests.

On Friday evening at 10p.m. and Saturday at 1p.m., two programs showcase some of the top talent in film schools around the country. These Sony-sponsored student film programs are an invaluable introduction to the prevailing standards of filmmaking for any young people who have an interest in studying film production, acting, or screenwriting.

Saturday evening includes two premiere screenings: “Weeding Out” at 6 pm and “Rogue River” at 8 p.m. “Weeding Out” is the story of a young man trapped in a small condo, under house arrest, who has to make his rent payment despite only being permitted to go outside for 30 minutes each day. Director Georgy Kao and lead actor K.T. Tatara (who performed stand-up at Sacramento’s Punchline comedy club for four evenings last weekend) will attend the screening. “Rogue River” is the latest thriller from Roseville-based KeJo Productions (“Sensored”) and the screening will be attended by multiple cast members, including director Jourdan McClure, and the film’s producers, including Zachary Ty Bryan (“Home Improvement”).

The final feature film of the Festival is Sunday’s 3 p.m. screening of “Harvest,” a powerful family drama about the imminent death of a patriarch. Director Marc Meyers and lead actor Arye Gross will attend the screening.  Mr. Gross also appears in one of the Friday 10 p.m. student films (“Midlife”) and is expected to attend both screenings.

More film and schedule information can be found at

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