Weekend Movie Forecast

<p>In our culture, we put a lot of emphasis on youth. We want our artists to get what it is out of their system at a very early age so they can go off themselves and join the 27 club. If they don't, we secretly think they <em>should have</em>, for the sake of their careers or are immensely impressed that they can still put out things of value in their autumnal years. Well people, prepare to be impressed: Manoel de Oliveira, the oldest living director at the tender age of 102, has just finished his latest film <em>The Strange Case of Angelica</em>, and people are saying it's the best film of his ludicrously long career. The movie follows youngish photographer Isaac, who is hired by a wealthy family to take a picture of their dead bride daughter (they do this in other countries, look it up), when all of a sudden looking through his camera lens she appears to be alive! Of course this haunts little Isaac, as does the dead bride's beauty, and he apparently spends the rest of the movie attempting to get over it.</p><p></p>Reviews have been very positive, with A.O. Scott from <a href="">The Times</a> saying: "But whatever nostalgia might hover around this movie is subverted by its mischievous, inventive and entirely appropriate use of digital special effects. A modern ghost story requires such tools, after all, and Mr. Oliveira deploys them with an elegant and judicious hand.<p></p>"The charm of <em>The Strange Case of Angelica</em> lies in the way it balances this mysticism with a thoroughly secular sense of the business of everyday life. Not that any of the nonsupernatural occurrences that surround Isaac — the Greek-chorus chitchat among his landlady and her friends; the steady work in the fields and olive groves; the rise and fall of empires and economies — are exactly banal. The world as seen through Mr. Oliveira’s lens is as fresh as if it had just been discovered and as thick with secrets as if it had always existed."

<p>That purveyor of British bleakness Mike Leigh is back to make you cry and hate the world just a little bit more than you already do with his newest traged-Leigh <em>Another Year</em>. The film follows a happily married couple who are entertaining their lawyer son and work colleague as various close ups and loaded lines of dialogue complicate matters for the characters and the audience. The synopsis sounds pretty sunny for a Mike Leigh film but even <em>Happy Go Lucky</em> had its moments of realness.</p><p></p>So reviews have been pretty positive, but extremely negative reviews are the most fun to read so we'll link to a scathing review from Karina Longworth at <a href="">The Voice</a> who says: "In a film full of highly exaggerated performances that intermittently tip into caricature, Manville’s has been the most praised; it’s also the most grotesque. If this is good acting, then quantity and quality must be synonyms.<p></p>"I haven’t seen a film this year that so openly invited me to revile each and every one of its characters—and I reviewed <em>The Human Centipede</em>."

<p>Everyone's favorite Canadian star of <em>Are You Afraid of the Dark?</em> and <em>Young Hercules</em>, Ryan Gosling, is back, to make you cry your eyes out and drunk dial your exes, with his newest love on the rocks movie picture <em>Blue Valentine</em>. Gosling stars opposite the ex-wife of ex-alive Heath Ledger, Michelle Williams; the two play a young married couple making one last ditch effort to save their failing relationship. Will they fall back in love? Can their marriage be saved? You'll just have to go and see bozo.</p><p></p>Reviews have been very good for a film directed by the man behind <em>Black and White: A Portrait of Sean Combs</em>, with Nathan Rabin from <a href=",49502/">The A.V. Club</a> saying: "It’s an emotionally claustrophobic drama, played with frayed nerves and raw emotions, and it serves as an unrelenting glimpse into relationship hell. It could easily have devolved into sweaty, pretentious melodrama or ersatz John Cassavetes if Cianfrance and his actors didn’t maintain perfect control over the material.<p></p>"Though it wasn’t designed as such, the NC-17 is still considered a mark of shame to many, but <em>Blue Valentine</em>’s fearless candor and extreme emotional intensity should be a source of pride for everyone involved in this remarkable, utterly wrenching film."

<p>Hollywood's newest token "some-sorta-Spanish" actor Javier Bardem (after Antonio Banderas started voicing bees in commercials and Benicio Del Toro starred in <em>The Wolfman</em>) stars in the new film <em>Biutiful</em> directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu of the Mexican director triumvirate (the other two being Alfonso Cuaron and Guillermo del Toro). Inarritu made a great first impression with <em>Amores Perros</em> but has most recently made the frighteningly uneven <em>21 Grams</em> and <em>Babel</em>, so we'll have to see how this one turns out. When not reading the foreign film nominations at the Academy Awards, Bardem was filmed playing a father trying to provide for his family on the wrong side of the law in the dangerous streets of Barcelona. And he happened to win best actor at Cannes for his performance.</p><p></p>Not to sound elitist or anything, but the film got very mixed reviews in a very interesting way: Boxoffice Magazine, the Hollywood Reporter, and the Post loved the film while the Times, WSJ, Voice, and A.V. Club... not so much, just saying, draw your own conclusions. Again, there were some positive reviews, but this one is just too good to not quote; Melissa Anderson at <a href="">The Voice</a> says: "Though its structure may be whittled down in comparison with the earlier works, <em>Biutiful</em> is even more morbidly obese than Babel in terms of soggy ideas, elephantine with miserabilist humanism and redemption jibber-jabber.<p></p>"Through this relentless, manipulative muck, Uxbal tries to be a stable, loving parent to his two tykes, especially after Mom gives one of them a shiner. For all the hand-wringing hooey, Iñárritu says nothing more complex than this: Father feels worst."

<p>In the vein of <em>Borat</em> and <em>The Yes Men</em>, the new documentary <em>The Red Chapel</em> follows a trio of Danish comedians who pretend to be regime sympathizers and mount an absurd variety show in North Korea. Movies like this do a great job of showing just how ridiculously awful people can be while still being really funny. If this doc is even half as funny as its set-up promises to be it's worth the ten-plus admission fee.</p><p></p>The movie is in very limited release so the only review comes from Karina Longworth at <a href="">The Village Voice</a>, who says: "A <em>Borat</em>-like performance experiment with considerably higher stakes than anything Sacha Baron Cohen has yet attempted, <em>The Red Chapel</em> is primarily a document of the Danes’ struggle to stay undercover once inside, a mission branded by a fellow Danish comedian as 'pure suicide jazz.'<p></p>"You get the sense that not even Brügger is sure how far this could go, until the first rehearsal of the group’s 'show' (a nonsensical pastiche of amateur tap dancing, fart noises, selected scenes from <em>The Princess and the Pea</em>, and a suspiciously sincere cover of 'Wonderwall'), when the North Koreans peg them not as spies, but bad performers. The double act increasingly wears on Simon and Jacob, and as Brügger insists that they barrel full steam ahead, <em>The Red Chapel</em> becomes an infectiously funny, gonzo glimpse into the sausage-making process of propaganda."

<p>Also opening today is the beautiful-looking new anime <em>Summer Wars</em>. The film follows teenage math prodigy Kenji, who after solving some overly elaborate math problem breaches the online world of Oz, which controls everything from traffic lights to nuclear bombs. Soon a malicious AI program called Love Machine begins hijacking Oz accounts and it's up to Kenji to save the day. This movie looks like a wet dream for many manga-reading teenage goth kids and a Netflix rental for anyone else.</p><p></p>Reviews have been fairly positive, with some praise coming from Nick Schager at <a href="">Time Out New York</a>, who says: "The reality of the online arena isn’t just virtual in this anime saga of avatar conflict, which pays sly homage to—and often surpasses—spiritual predecessors such as <em>Tron</em>. Like that recently rebooted franchise, Mamoru Hosoda’s film posits the pixelated and physical realms as parallel reflections of each other.<p></p>"<em>Summer Wars</em> surprisingly celebrates togetherness and bravery as much as binary-mathematics expertise, all helped along by a kick-ass synthesis of traditional hand-drawn scenes and fluid, rainbow-explosive CG artistry."

<p>In an increasingly godless culture it's sometimes refreshing to see a film that's about unbridled, blind devotion to a higher power. Then again, in a world with so much religious fanaticism around you might want to watch films for escapist purposes. If you don't, then check out <em>Hadewijch</em>, which follows a novice nun who's so ape shit for Jesus that she gets kicked out of her order and has to take her J.C. lust onto the streets of Paris. The film sounds like a bastardized modernization of <em>The Passion of Joan of Arc</em> and that's a lot to live up to, so you heathens will just have to go and see how the other half lives.</p><p></p>Reviews have been very positive, with Stephen Holden at <a href="">The Times</a> saying: "The film repeatedly seeks to evoke that contradictory sense of connection and alienation, not only in fervent Christianity but also in Islam, and it examines how the relentless pursuit of ultimate faith drives people to violent acts that are public manifestations of self-mortification. <p></p>"This cosmic view of humanity is so harsh and penetrating that it allows for little if any humor. And viewers who are not on Mr. Dumont’s wavelength tend to dismiss his work as pretentious, glum and boring. Those who follow him, however, will find themselves in the rarefied territory of Ingmar Bergman, Robert Bresson and Carl Dreyer."

<p>Have too many plans this New Year's Eve and don't feel like attending any of them? Why not head on down to the <a href="">Landmark Theater</a> where Sunshine at Midnight proudly presents the Adults Only X-Rated film <em>Lollipop Girls in Hard Candy</em>. Made in the '70s, this porn was a pioneer on the 3D porn front and will give you something to watch when you're trying to forget the passing of time. Go and enjoy yourself as you overhear the theater staff complain about people who go to the movies on New Year's Eve and how much it sucks to be working.</p>

<em>Apparently these are the best women Queens has to offer. Pick one and let's go home. </em><p></p>Tonight and tomorrow at midnight at the <a href="">IFC Center</a> they are showing the comedy classic <em>Coming to America</em>. Go remind yourself why Eddie Murphy still has a career, and laugh your ass off in the process.