“The Help” Held Over; “Another Earth” Opens 8/19; “The Wild Bunch” This Week’s Wednesday Classic

Opening Friday, “Another Earth” is quietly and movingly out of this world. Director Mike Cahill has woven sci-fi imaginings and quantum physics theories of parallel universes into a provocative meditation on the prospect of rewriting your life history. It is no simple task to spin such abstract notions into smart (versus cheesy) entertainment, but there is such a strong creative voice stirring in Cahill’s first feature that it’s easy to forgive the shortcomings. trailer

“If they move, kill ’em!” Beginning and ending with two of the bloodiest battles in screen history, Sam Peckinpah’s classic revisionist Western ruthlessly takes apart the myths of the West. Released in the late ’60s discord over Vietnam, in the wake of the controversial Bonnie and Clyde (1967) and the brutal “spaghetti westerns” of Sergio Leone, The Wild Bunch polarized critics and audiences over its ferocious bloodshed. One side hailed it as a classic appropriately pitched to the violence and nihilism of the times, while the other reviled it as depraved. After a failed payroll robbery, the outlaws, led by aging Pike Bishop (William Holden) and including Dutch (Ernest Borgnine), Angel (Jaime Sanchez), and Lyle and Tector Gorch (Warren Oates and Ben Johnson), heads for Mexico pursued by the gang of Pike’s friend-turned-nemesis Deke Thornton (Robert Ryan). Ultimately caught between the corruption of railroad fat cat Harrigan (Albert Dekker) and federale general Mapache (Emilio Fernandez), and without a frontier for escape, the Bunch opts for a final Pyrrhic victory, striding purposefully to confront Mapache and avenge their friend Angel. ~ Lucia Bozzola, Rovi trailer

“The Help” held over and drawing strong responses from audiences. A great film for middle and high school students.

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