Bright Leaves Ross McElwee. (unrated) Documentarian Ross McElwee (Sherman's March), who's fond of putting his own life on camera, returns to his North Carolina roots and discovers, via a second cousin, that his great-grandfather John Harvey McElwee might have been the inspiration for Gary Cooper's character in the 1950 drama Bright Leaf. Inspired by this notion, he takes a more in-depth look at the history of his home state in regard to tobacco, in the hopes of vindicating his family legacy and his ancestor, who Ross believes was unjustly ripped off and crowded out of the history books by James Buchanan Duke, originator of Bull Durham tobacco, Duke University and Duke Power. McElwee regular Charleen Swansea shows up again as a guide. Fans of the Tarheel state and the addictive leaf will likely find much to enjoy, but others may be bored -- unlike in Sherman's March, McElwee plays a passive role, and his steady monotone keeps the viewer at an emotional distance from his personal issues. Smoking certainly isn't glamorized in any way. Opens Friday, December 10, at the Tivoli. (Luke Y. Thompson)
The Inheritance Per Fly. (unrated) Carefree Christoffer (Ulrich Thomsen) is married to a stunningly sexy actress named Maria (Lisa Werlinder) who loves to get it on as much as possible. Christoffer's father (Ulf Pilgaard) is a dour drinker, and we learn that Christoffer used to work for the family business until he voluntarily left after a nervous breakdown. No sooner have we been introduced to Dad than he hangs himself, leaving the fate of his Copenhagen-based steel company up for grabs. Christoffer is reluctant but takes over when he hears that 900 employees are going to be downsized in a merger, hoping that he can figure out a way to keep them all on board. Gradually he has to start firing friends, and eventually he's betraying family and watching his marriage fall apart. It's nice to see a film from Denmark that actually uses tripods, lights, sets and a script; even nicer to see one that subverts the obvious clichés and gives the characters in its unfolding drama more than one emotion to play. Opens Friday, December 10, at the Plaza Frontenac. (Luke Y. Thompson) [Full review available here.]
The Machinist Brad Anderson. (R) Opens Friday, December 10, at the Tivoli. Reviewed in this issue.
Ocean's Twelve Steven Soderbergh. (PG-13) Opens Friday, December 10, at multiple locations. Reviewed in this issue.