Weve been talking about The Art Theater Co-op's continued screenings of plays from the National Theatre of London quite a bit lately, and for good reason. These productions are of exceptionally high quality, and they offer people all over the world (including right here in Champaign-Urbana) the chance to see brilliant theatrical works interpreted by some of the best actors, designers, and directors of our time.

This past weekend, The Art has been showing—in addition to its ongoing SHOCKTOBER! offerings--a powerful version of Shakespeare's tragedy Othello. This run will end this week with two final shows. Yes, it's three hours long. Yes, the actors "talk Shakespearean." And yes, dear readers, it's pretty amazing.

Do yourself a favor: go to the movies and see a play.

Here's this week's What to Watch.


Othello (The Art Theater Co-Op): This is a live theater version of the Shakespeare classic starring Adrian Lester of BBC’s Hustle and Rory Kinnear, who is probably best known Stateside for hiswork in the film Skyfall.

Why to Watch: Aside from the fact that you’re watching a live theater performance of Othello from the National Theatre of London (which is cool all by itself), the performances are top notch; Lester and Kinnear both do some of their best work. The surprising thing about this adaptation is that it has been modernized and it works incredibly well. Go see this before it leaves the Art.

Showing Monday @ 7 p.m. and Wednesday @ 1 p.m.

Carrie (Savoy 16 IMAX): A bullied teenage misfit gets the ultimate revenge in this update of the Stephen King classic.

Why to Watch: Chloe Grace Moretz stars in the role made legendary by Sissy Spacek, and Julianne Moore takes over for Piper Laurie as the titular teenager’s domineering mother. These two ladies never turn in less than stellar performances, and the topic of school bullying couldn’t possibly be more relevant in today’s social culture. There has been a lot of hype about this modern-day remake, and I’m hoping it’s as good as its impressive cast.

Showing @ 11:50 a.m., 12:25 p.m., 2:15 p.m., 2:45 p.m., 4:35 p.m., 5:05 p.m., 6:55 p.m.,  7:30 p.m., 9:15 p.m., and 9:45 p.m.

Short Term 12 (The Art Theater Co-op): This film follows a social worker named Grace (Brie Larson) who struggles to make sense of her complicated past whileasking those in her care to open up to her about their difficult issues in life. An event occurs that changes her life and forces her to question why she can’t confront her own demons while she continues to help others with theirs.

Why to Watch: This film could very well be one of the films that defines actress Brie Larson’s career.  She’s known for playing the object of men’s affection in most of her filmography, but this film allows her to show a dramatic side that I believe could make audiences fall in love with her instead of assuming she is a one-note actress. I also like the fact that this film focuses so much attention on the occupation of social work. The idea that audiences can finally have a look inside such a demanding and often challenging profession is something I think viewers could enjoy.

Showing Tuesday @ 8:30 p.m., and Wednesday & Thursday @ 5 p.m.

Romeo and Juliet (Savoy 16 IMAX): Let’s pretend you don’t already know the premise. The story of Romeo, a Montague and Juliet, a Capulet--the children of two rival families who fall in love and see their love torn asunder by the enmity of theirparents.

Why to Watch: English teachers will probably love their students a bit more if they choose to see this. (That’s a guess; no promises.) This is--by my count--the third major theatrical adaptation of the Shakespearian classic in the past three decades. What separates this film from the other readily available versions is a man named Julian Fellowes. Fellowes is the creator of the popular TV costume drama Downton Abbey, and he has a glowing reputation for developing well-scripted costume dramas. Plus, with actors like True Grit’s Hailee Steinfeld and Homeland’s Damien Lewis in the cast, this film has the pedigree to rise above other “Hollywood” adaptations.

Showing @ 6:40 p.m. and 9:20 p.m.

Mother of George (The Art Theater Co-Op): The film stars Isaach de Bankolé and The Walking Dead’s Danai Gurira as a recently married African couple who arehaving trouble conceiving a child while living in Brooklyn.

Why to Watch: Films like Mother of George are wonderful just for the fact that, when done correctly, they can expose us to a culture we never knew existed. I like the story this film tells because it’s a complicated tale of whether to choose love or family with the backdrop being this African culture and their views on society. See this film for its gripping story and outstanding cinematography.

Showing Tuesday @ 6 p.m., Wednesday @ 7:30 p.m., and Thursday @ 2:30 p.m.

STILL PLAYING

Gravity (Savoy 16 IMAX): Scientist/astronaut Sandra Bullock must survive in space after a catastrophic event during a routine mission.

Why to Watch: Alfonso Cuaron's visually stunning trip to outer space stars GeorgeClooney as a seasoned astronaut and Sandra Bullock as a scientiest rookie. The two-person crew is sent on a relatively simple mission (if there is such a thing in zero-gravity) when, naturally, Something Goes Wrong. From there on, the film follows Bullock's character as she attempts to save herself and return to earth. Early buzz on the film is that Bullock's work is tremendous and that the film's look and effects are very much worth seeing on the big screen. I will be shocked if Bullock's performance isn't heavily touted at Oscar time. If you have the chance to see it in 3D, do it.

Showing in 2D @ 2:15 p.m. and 6:45 p.m. Showing in 3D @ 12 p.m., 4:30 p.m., and 9:05 p.m. Showing in IMAX 3D @ 11 a.m., 1:10 p.m, 3:20 p.m., 5:30 p.m., 7:45 p.m., and 10 p.m.

Captain Phillips (Savoy 16 IMAX): A real-life drama about real-life people under the gun when confronted with piracy.

Why to Watch: Aside from its riveting premise, there is the presence of Tom Hanks. Hanks is such an interesting fellow... So well known for playing “good guys” and yet so unafraid of challenges and darkness. Hot on the heels of the extremely ambitious Cloud Atlas, Hanks leaps into this gritty, high-stakes hostage drama and will likely emerge with another Oscar nomination for Best Actor. I've chafed at the idea of Hanks as the modern-day successor to Jimmy Stewart, but then I think about what it would be like to see Jimmy Stewart held at gunpoint by pirates, and it doesn't seem so far off.

Showing @ 12:15 p.m., 12:50 p.m., 3:10 p.m., 3:40 p.m., 6:05 p.m.,  6:35 p.m., 9 p.m., and 9:30 p.m.

SHOCKTOBER! (The Art Theater Co-op): Hey, fans of American Horror Story: Coven! This week, The Art's cinematic ramp-up to Halloweencontinues this week with showings of the 90s teen witch thriller The Craft (Wednesday @ 10 p.m.)! Also, check out showings of Escape From Tomorrow (Thursday @ 7:30 p.m.), and The Rocky Horror Picture Show (Thursday @ 10:00 p.m.). Plus, coming this weekend, the original House on Haunted Hill, and two showings of The Wicker Man! (No, the version of The Wicker Man being shown is not the Nicolas Cage version; that would be scary for different reasons.)

COMING SOON

The Counselor (Savoy 16 IMAX): Brad Pitt. Penelope Cruz. Cameron Diaz. JavierBardem. And that's the supporting cast. Michael Fassbender gets the big-movie-star spotlight in a film written by Cormac McCarthy and directed by Ridley Scott. The premise is pretty straightforward (a drug deal goes spectacularly wrong), and the cast couldn't be splashier. The trailer doesn't give away much of the plot, but that's OK. I'm already there.

Dangerous Docs Festival (The Art Theater Co-op): Look for more details about this upcoming event at The Art later in the week. In the meantime, check out The Art's website for titles and showtimes, and open your brain areas for some knowledge.