Attention Hollywood: the crummy weather is lasting extra long out here in the upper Midwest, so instead of cavorting outside in the spring weather, we’re staying inside. So please send us better movies. Thank you.
In the meantime . . .
“The Incredible Burt Wonderstone” (Point, Eastgate, Star Cinema, Cinema Cafe, Sundance) — Rival magicians (Steve Carell and Jim Carrey) try to outdo each other on the Vegas strip in this comedy. It could have been funnier, although Carrey commits himself fully to a role as a Criss Angel-like “street magician.” My full review is here.
“The Call” (Point, Eastgate, Star Cinema) — I really like director Brad Anderson, who can do horror (“Session 9”) or romantic comedy (“Next Stop Wonderland”) with equal effectiveness. So I’m hoping he elevates this mediocre-looking thriller starring Halle Berry as a 911 operator trying to catch a serial killer she has a history with.
“Barbara” (Sundance) — This week’s Screening Room offering is a quietly tense Cold War thriller, set in a small East German town in the early ’80s. Nina Foss plays a doctor torn between defecting to the West and caring for her patients. Highly recommended.
“Mindless Behavior: All Over the World” (Star Cinema) — The popular teen R&B group gets a concert documentary the same week that their album hits the streets. Yes, I’m completely out of my depth here.
“Portrait of Jason” (7 p.m. UW Cinematheque, 4070 Vilas Hall, 821 University Ave.) — A very special screening of independent filmmaker Shirley Clarke’s 1967 film about a black gay hustler, the film is as much about the power struggle between filmmaker and subject as it is about its subject. The film has been restored by Milestone Films, and not only will Dennis Doros of Milestone be on hand to talk about the film, but Shirley Clarke’s daughter, Wendy, will talk about her mother and present samples of her own filmmaking. Free!
“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” (8 p.m., Union South, 1208 W. Dayton St.) Unexpectedly long, maybe. Peter Jackson’s decision to stretch Tolkien’s nimble adventure yarn into three elephantine epics saps the story of much of its charm and momentum. My full review is here. Free!
“Hausu” (midnight, Union South) Listen carefully and closely when I tell you this — “Hausu” is completely and totally bananas, and a midnight screening definitely not to be missed. The phantasmagorically goofy 1977 Japanese horror film is like candy-coated Sam Raimi, as a group of teenage girls fight a vengeful spirit that manifests itself as a cat, a grand piano, a watermelon, and other forms. And even that description makes it sound like it makes more sense than it does. My full review is here. Free!
“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” (4:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., Union South) — See Friday listing.
“Face to Face” (7 p.m., UW Cinematheque) — The spaghetti Western series continues with this tale of a gentle schoolteacher’s transformation into a vicious outlaw. Free!
“Ong Bak” (midnight, Union South) — I don’t know what he’s up to now, but for a little while there Thailand’s Tony Jaa looked to be the next martial arts superstar. This action film showcases him at his best, with long takes to showcase all of Jaa’s incredible skills. And there’s a plot, too — something about a stolen idol. My full review is here. Free!
“Kiki’s Delivery Service” (2 p.m., Chazen Museum of Art) — The wildly popular “Cinematheque at the Chazen” series of Studio Ghibli films continues with Hayao Miyazaki’s lovely fable about a witch-in-training who puts her broomstick to good use. Free, but get there an hour early to ensure a seat.
“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” (3 p.m., Union South) — See Friday listing.
“Evil Dead 2” (7 p.m., Union South) — With “Oz: The Great and Powerful” in theaters, “Hausu” playing over the weekend and the trailer for an “Evil Dead” remake floating around, now is a perfect time to revisit Sam Raimi’s gonzo horror film, which splits the difference between the genuinely scary lo-fi horror of the first “evil Dead” and the campy comedy of “Army of Darkness.” Free!
“The Take” (7 p.m., Union South) — And now, a rare piece of good news from filmmaker, author and anti-globalization activist Naomi Klein. This documentary from Klein and Ari Lewis documents an incredible true story in which a group of Buenos Aires auto workers, laid off from their shuttered auto plant, break in and restart the machines. Their act of defiance sends reverberations into Argentina’s financial and political environment. Free!
“Half the Sky” (7 p.m., Union South) — If you enjoyed “Girl Rising” or the “Makers” documentary on PBS, continue your education of women’s rights worldwide with this powerful film inspired by New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, about women and girls fighting for change in 10 countries around the world. Free!
Video Art Screenings: Between Document and Fiction 2 (7 p.m., Union South) — This is the second of a three-part experimental film series that explores the thin and shaky line between what’s real on screen and what isn’t. Free!