Weekend Movie Guide 06/24: Two Cars & One Lucky Elephant

Cars 2 is in pole position to score truckloads of money this weekend!

The Pixar sequel (the first outside the Toy Story family) boasts the second highest theater count of the year & Pixar's highest to date. John Lasseter (Pixar's A1 creative driver) returns as director, while Owen Wilson & Larry The Cable Guy are back behind the wheel as Lightning McQueen & Mater. New to the series are Sir Michael Caine, John Turturro and for genre fans, character actors Bruce Campbell (The Evil Dead) & Franco Nero (Django).

The film leaves dusty Radiator Springs for the World Grand Prix in Japan, with McQueen racing for international glory while Mater takes the lead in a hapless spy caper. While the new venue is stimulating, critics find the story Tokyo drifts. But that won't keep kids from getting revved up, or parents from besieging stores for "the cars, you know, from the movie Cars".

It may not be the biggest film opening, but One Lucky Elephant certainly boasts the biggest star. The documentary (which premiered at last year's Los Angeles Film Festival) tracks the 26-year relationship between elephant Flora & showman David Balding; 16 years performing together in the circus, and 10 years searching for sanctuary from it. Director Lisa Leeman's film doesn't savage the circus (although sensitive viewers be warned: there's a few minutes of graphic elephant attack footage courtesy of PETA), but rather looks at the rich, loving & deeply complicated relationship between this man & beast. As David's physical health deteriorates, he's no longer able to care for a powerful & increasingly needy creature. Since Flora has spent her entire life around David, she's become a feral child who cannot relate to other elephants.

Each is so attached to the other that they are more like father & daughter than keeper & animal. Like many parents, David comes to realize that what he thought was best for Flora actually impeded her development. But does that justify outside forces barring him from her future? Shot over the last decade, One Lucky Elephant refuses to come down for or against David; both sides are sympathetic, and there's a fine balance of heartbreak & hope. The film opens exclusively at Laemmle's Music Hall, with director Lisa Leeman appearing for Q&A's after the 5:10 & 7:20 screenings all this weekend.

Do you trumpet more adventurous film-going? Then check out our weekly guide to the best of LA's repertory theaters, exclusive screenings & midnight movies. This week we continue our special coverage of the Los Angeles Film Festival.

Wide Release
Bad Teacher (Reviews) (Showtimes)
Cars 2 (Reviews) (Showtimes) (3D Showtimes) (IMAX 3D Showtimes)

Limited Release
The Best and the Brightest (Reviews) (Laemmle's Sunset 5)
A Better Life (Reviews) (The Landmark)
Conan O'Brien Can't Stop (Reviews) (Regent Theatre)
Double Dhamaal (Reviews) (Laemmle's Fallbrook 7)
Farmaggedon (Reviews) (Laemmle's Monica 4-Plex)
A Love Affair of Sorts (Reviews) (Laemmle's Sunset 5)
The Names of Love (Reviews) (Laemmle Theatres) (The Landmark)
One Lucky Elephant (Laemmle's Music Hall 3)
Page One: Inside the New York Times (Reviews) (Laemmle Theatres) (The Landmark)
Rejoice and Shout (Reviews) (Laemmle's Royal Theatre)
Strangers Online (Reviews) (Laemmle's Sunset 5)
Trollhunter (Reviews) (Nuart Theatre)
Turtle: The Incredible Journey (Reviews) (Laemmle's Music Hall 3)

That's all for this week. See you at the movies!