Reviews in Short

By Cole Smithey

Taking Woodstock. Ang Lee’s clumsy adaptation of Elliot Tiber and Tom Monte’s book "Taking Woodstock: A True Story of a Riot, a Concert, and a Lift" can’t decide if it wants to be a comedy, a drama or reflection on a small town community transformed by a cultural happening. Demetri Martin steps lightly around his closeted character, Elliot Teichberg, who lives with his parents at their ramshackle motel in the Catskills. Intent on protecting his parents from bankruptcy, Elliot seeks out music producer Michael Lang (Jonathan Groff) after hearing that an adjacent town has lost its permit to host his music and arts festival. There are flashes of inspiration here, but nothing to sustain a feature film’s worth of narrative import. (Focus Features) Rated R. 120 mins. (C)

The Time Traveler’s Wife. Adapted from Audrey Niffenegger’s novel, this sci-fi romance plays so loose with the parameters it lays out for Eric Bana’s uncontrollable time traveling in the role of Henry DeTamble that it’s like watching half a movie twice. Henry suffers from a bizarre genetic condition that causes him to disappear for years at a time. His true love, Clare (Rachel McAdams), waits patiently for him, working away as an artist in Chicago. McAdams and Bana are easy enough on the eyes to distract from the script’s Grand Canyon-sized plot holes. (Warner Brothers) Rated PG-13. 107 mins. (C-)

District 9. In spite of its waning efforts toward fulfilling a challenging allegory about the treatment of immigrant aliens, "District 9" settles into a gritty, spectacle filled, sci-fi movie that borrows liberally from films like "Robocop," "The Fly" and "Alien Nation." In a smog-filled 2010, a few million alien refugees have been imprisoned in Johannesburg, South Africa, for the last 20-years by a corporation called Multi-National United. Interested primarily in capitalizing on the alien weaponry that humans are unable to operate, MNU orchestrates a plan to relocate the aliens and installs Wikus Van De Merwe (Sharlto Copley) to obtain alien signatures for the illegal eviction while searching for their weapons. (Sony) Rated R. 112 mins. (B )

Ponyo. Anime maestro Hayao Miyazaki, best known in America for his 2001 film "Spirited Away," stays true to his common themes of nature, elderly people and polite children with an American-dubbed version of his Japanese mini epic "Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea." This beautifully animated film is set in a small, seaside village in Japan, where 5-year-old Sosuke discovers a goldfish trapped in a glass jar in the surf near his house. He names the unusual fish with a human face “Ponyo” (voiced by Noah Cyrus). Little does Sosuke realize that he holds the ability to transform the fish he adores into a little girl his own age, or that such a transformation could threaten the delicate balance of the global ecosystem. Rated G. 101 mins. (B )

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