A 'Thor' Point

Article excerpt

A 'Thor' point

Kenneth Branagh's "Thor" hammered the competition at the box office last week. When I finally saw the superhero film (I was at Ebertfest in Champaign at the time of the press screening), I wish I had been hammered.

That way, I might have been able to buy into the laughable, passionless romance that supposedly takes place between the God of Thunder (Chris Hemsworth) and astrophysicist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman).

"I saw the way you looked at him!" Stellan Skarsgaard's Dr. Selvig tells Jane.

Yeah, she looks at Thor as if he were a petri dish, an oddity to be observed and studied. Portman's scientist emanates no romantic vibes whatsoever.

When she finally kisses Thunderlips, it's one of the least convincing, most clinical romantic moments witnessed on the silver screen. How could romance be so one-dimensional in a three-dimensional movie? (The 3-D image in Auditorium 19 at the Streets of Woodfield in Schaumburg was so dark I had to work to make things out.)

Meanwhile, Thor's backup quartet -- one female and three male warriors from Asgard -- wipes out legions of frost giants, yet suffers not a single casualty, beyond a superficial chest owie. (Just because "Thor" is based on a comic book doesn't mean it should be comical.)

Another "Thor" point of confusion occurs when the God of Thunder refers to humans as "mortal," suggesting Asgard's citizens are immortal. Why then does King Odin (Anthony Hopkins) fall into a coma and everyone worries he will die?

Then again, why does King Odin age, just like mortals?

Reel Life mini-review:

'Double Hour'

Debuting director Giuseppe Capotondi's Italian thriller "The Double Hour" is a cinematic cocktail of genres and styles, delightfully shaken up and served with a proper twist at just the right time.

In Turin, Italy, an immigrant hotel maid named Sonia (Kseniya Rappoport) tries speed dating, and establishes an instant rapport with a former cop named Guido (Filippo Timi). He works as a security guard at a mansion filled with treasures and priceless artwork.

Guido invites Sonia on to his job site, just when a highly organized team of bandits shows up and threatens to kill Sonia if he doesn't let them into the compound.

Nothing more should be said of the plot, except that Capotondi (who created rock videos for the Spice Girls, if you can believe it) nimbly leaps from romance to crime drama to ghost story to psychological thriller back to crime drama and romance in a single bound.

Rappoport (think of her as a really sexy upgraded version of Shelly Long) radiates enough sheer charisma to plaster over any confusion about the unfolding story while her co-star Timi quietly basks in scruffy Italian sexuality.

BTW, Guido explains that the title refers to when watches and clocks post the same minutes and hours, such as "12:12." Boyd van Hoij, a clever critic at Variety, noted that the movie's big twist occurs exactly one hour and one minute into the running time: 01:01.

"The Double Hour" opens at the Century Centre, Chicago and the Renaissance Place in Highland Park. In Italian with English subtitles. Not rated, but contains adult language, sexual situations and violence. 96 minutes. . . . 1/2

Reel Life mini-review:


He goes by the single name of Hesher. He can't stand authority. He apparently hates shirts. He has no friends, parents or history. And he looks like the oldest student ever to attend a high school.

In "Hesher," Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays the title character as an unknowable, unstoppable force of nature, and that's our first clue that Spencer Susser's movie veers from realism to tell its sad, strange story of picking yourself up and going on.

The pot-smoking, porn-loving Hesher lives out of his trashed van, until he invades the home of a fellow student TJ (Devin Brochu) and his depressed father Paul (Rainn Wilson), immobilized by the recent accidental death of his wife. …