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Pixie dust: handy stuff

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Think of all the times, back when you were a kid, that you hid in the closet, cried about how much your life sucked, and wished, just wished, you could be old and cool.

Of course the closet got kind of stuffy, the tears dried and we all eventually realized that wishing is a waste of time. Well in the poorly titled 13 Going On 30 , opening this week at the Village 8, all the wishing finally pays off. After a crappy birthday party 13-year-old Jenna, with the help of some pixie dust (handy stuff, pixie dust) and a strong-willed wish, wakes up in the body of herself 17 years later. Now she’s a full-grown woman running a big-city, Cosmo-style magazine and getting tapped by a New York Ranger. Obviously she’s surprised, at the size of her boobs more than the fact that she’s lost 17 years of memory. Afraid, she searches out her old dorky buddy, whom she’s apparently lost touch with. They have a cute bit of sexual tension, she kids around and in the end realizes that being cool isn’t all there is to life and she should have just been herself all along.

Jennifer Garner ( Daredevil) plays the grown-up Jenna and does a bang-up job, bringing a youthful, wide-eyed goofiness to the role. Yeah, I know it sounds a lot like the classic Tom Hanks movie Big , but whatever, Hollywood’s running low on ideas and there’s a whole new generation of kids that have never seen Big , or have forgotten it.

13 Going On 30 is a good movie for teenagers and the elderly. The kind of thing I’d take my grandma and little cousins to. Not a bad flick really, and with some good moral lessons. Don’t expect it to change your life. But check it out, if only to relive the teenage emotions of "I don’t want to be original. I want to be cool." The movie is neither, but it’s not trying to be so I guess that’s okay.

The best movie opening this week is Touching the Void , a true story recounting perhaps the most epic survival tale ever. Directed by Englishman Kevin MacDonald (a solid documentarian), Touching… tells of how Joe Simpson dragged his mangled body out of a crevasse after a mountaineering accident in the element-torn Andes Range and survived. Not through a miracle from God, or a healthy dose of pixie dust, but because he looked into the dark void of death and decided to keep on living. With broken leg bones driven up into his knee, Simpson had to literally crawl for days in high alpine conditions even the optimistic Whistler-Blackcomb Snowphone would have to call "adverse."

Shot as a variety of documentary interview footage with the actual climbers involved as well as strikingly real re-enactments, Touching the Void is simply an astonishing tale of a man who just didn’t feel like dying. It’s nice to see the climbing film live up to the book it was based on. In less capable hands this could have ended up being another Cliffhanger, or worse, Vertical Limit.

And if after Kill Bill Vol.2 and The Punisher you’re still craving more shoot outs and revenge check out Tony Scott’s latest, Man on Fire starring Denzel Washington as a killer-for-hire who’s had all the fun drain from his life and is hired to protect a little wealthy girl in Mexico City, a place where kidnapping little wealthy girls is a standard occupation and a viable way to make a living. The little girl convinces her surly professional to enjoy life a bit and then she gets kidnapped, forcing soldier of fortune Washington to go on a rip-roaring bloodbath/manhunt.

Tony Scott can make a decent movie ( True Romance, Top Gun) or a crappy one ( The Fan, Last Boyscout) but he’s never made a terrible one and he’s not about to start now. Man on Fire is high on testosterone and overly knowledgeable little-kid wisdom but it entertains, and that’s good enough for me.

Also, and this is important, go to the Longhorn Thursday, April 29 and watch a bunch of the movies that didn’t go to the big show in the 72 hour Filmmaker Showdown. Billed as Second Cut, the event costs only 10 bucks and you get two beers and a burger with that. Plus the proceeds go to the Zero Ceiling Foundation.

Completing a movie for the 72 hour showdown is a ridiculous amount of work and it’s great that these movies are being screened publicly. So check it out; support our local film scene. Bring all your friends and if you happen to have any pixie dust laying around, bring that too. You never know when you’ll need it.

At Village 8 April 23-29: Touching the Void, Man on Fire, 13 Going on 30, Kill Bill Vol. 2, Whole Ten Yards, Hellboy, Girl Next Door, The Punisher, Scooby Doo 2, Dawn of the Dead, Starsky and Hutch.

At Rainbow Theatre April 23-29: Ladykillers, Secret Window.

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