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Zydeco dreams pay off for ‘Schultze’ 

‘Robots’ ratchets up the excitement.

NO MORE POLKA: Schultze takes up zydeco.
  • NO MORE POLKA: Schultze takes up zydeco.
Literature and art — not to mention the streets — are full of elderly characters who have squandered their lives on a job, pursuit, ambition or obsession that amounts to pretty much doodly squat in the grand scheme of things. What, then — exactly — is the measure of a “well-lived life”? Is it something you must pursue from birth? Or can you make up for a milquetoast existence with one final, daring act? Such concerns are the meat and potatoes of the German film “Schultze Gets the Blues,” now playing at Market Street Cinema. An overwhelmingly quiet movie, though one shot through at every turn with music and the way it informs and brightens our lives, “Schultze” is not for everyone. Beyond a few dazzlingly poetic shots, it’s not even great cinema. It is, however, a film that everyone should see before they get too old to do anything about the creep of regret, the thing that is really what kills most of us in old age. Here, Horst Krause plays Schultze, a recently retired German miner with a passion for the accordion. A slow, slow lead-in is nearly as boring as retired life must be for someone like Schultze, a man who doesn’t really know what to do with himself if he’s not working. Schultze is flipping around on the radio dial one night when he happens upon a DJ playing zydeco music (the image of Schultze raising his eyebrows quizzically, turning the radio off and then shuffling on to bed — only to shuffle back into the frame and turn it back on again, transfixed — is one of the many scenes where director Michael Schorr uses the unspoken to show so much more than he could ever say in dialogue). After some experimentation with Zydeco on his accordion, Schultze gets close to a woman at his mother’s nursing home who encourages his new style of music. Her unexpected death sets him off on a voyage of self that will eventually end with him going to New Braunfels, Texas, to represent his village at an Octoberfest, stealing a clapped-out fishing boat, and striking out by water to Louisiana’s bayou country. Though “Schultze Gets the Blues” is an unlikely tale, one that is almost at an end by the time it gets really rolling, it is still a haunting and hopeful little piece. Though it ends — very literally — with a funeral dirge, this is still a film full of light, joy and the belief that even a week of living our dreams might be enough to balance a life spent doing what we ought instead of what we want. — By David Koon “Adrenaline Rush: The Science of Risk” is a smart enough film for the adults while being a thrill ride that a child as young as 3 can enjoy. The newest film at the Aerospace Education Center’s IMAX theater examines those ungrounded folks that the more timid of us refer to as “crazy.” Well, says “Adrenaline Rush,” they’re crazy for a reason: Too little MOA in the brain to carry that serotonin to the millions of receptacles that would make them think twice about free-falling off a straight faced mountain, or trying to see if Leonardo da Vinci’s vision of a parachute would really work. That’s about all the cluttered science the film throws at the unsuspected, as the rest of it is glorious aerial footage of skydivers, base jumpers (the guys who do those jumps off the straight-faced mountains) and the folks who aren’t content to fly only in an airplane, but outside it. The film even attempts to put the viewer right in the boots of a base jumper to see if it can cause an adrenaline rush. That was sort of the goal in the beginning of IMAX movies, with the 60-foot-by-70-foot screens and surround sound, though some we’ve seen lately have come up short. Not “Adrenaline Rush.” It’s a risk you can afford to take. — By Jim Harris “Robots,” the newest Disney computer animation wonder, seems geared mostly toward the 8- to 20-year-olds, particularly with its hip-hop-style soundtrack and simple-as-can-be storyline. But the directors, Chris Wedge and Carlos Saldanha, who also brought us “Ice Age,” also realize the adults accompanying those kids need laughs, and those are provided mainly by the voice of the manic Robin Williams as the character Fender in this futuristic cartoon. The continued improvements in the animation — which looks so life-like now — call for more goofy story ideas to put it on film. This one is about a robot world and a young genius robot, Rodney Copperbottom (voice of Ewan McGregor), who dreams of leaving Rivetville and journeying to Robot City to work for the robot kingpin, Bigweld (voice of Mel Brooks), who he’s seen for years on TV. When Rodney arrives in Robot City, and is taken with Fender on an incredible, whirlwind romp through town, he discovers that Bigweld has gone missing — no one seems to know his whereabouts — and Bigweld Industries is being run by the arrogant Ratchet (voice of Greg Kinnear). With his evil mother’s prodding, Ratchet plans to do away with all the inferior robots and upgrade everyone else, thus turning a big corporate profit. Naturally, Rodney must save the day. He gets help from Cappy (Halle Berry), who works for Ratchet but despises him, as well as Williams’ Fender and a bunch of other misfit robots. It’s nothing too scary for the little ones, and there’s the typical teen-age humor and a few inside gags for the old folks. Things seem a little over the top with the various robot characters, each one different and funny in its own way, and action happens at breakneck pace for the film’s first half. “Finding Nemo” it’s not, but it’s still impressive animation worth seeing. — By Jim Harris
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