Weekend Movie Forecast: British Anne Hathaway Vs. Conan

<p>Based on the popular novel, <em>One Day</em> follows Emma and Dexter from their initial meeting the night of their college graduation on July 15th, 1988 and checks in on them every July 15th for the next two decades. Emma is a working class gal with principles and big plans for helping this crazy world, while Dexter is a wealthy playboy looking forward to making us all his bitch. Although this device could end up being trite, it could also be very effective when in the right hands (we're not looking forward to the make-up aging effects though). In addition, the characters sound kind of stock cliche, but Anne Hathaway is likeable and the ladies seem to go for Jim Sturgess, so we'll see if they can add some depth and nuance to the roles. <br/><br/>Reviews have been mixed, mostly right down the center, with Karina Longworth at <a href="'">The Voice</a> writing: "'Sense of humor is overrated,' Emma says at one point, and while she means it ironically, the true irony is that <em>One Day</em>'s sense of humor is sorely lacking. Hathaway and Sturgess oversell the script's wan attempts at wisecracks, which are already broad enough. (When shagging a French girl makes him late for an appointment, Dexter winkingly explains that he was 'waylaid.')<br/><br/>"But for an entry in a genre of films that frequently work as guilty pleasures even at their most formulaic, <em>One Day</em> doesn't offer much pleasure." </p>

<p>In 1932, Robert E. Howard released the first <em>Conan the Barbarian</em> story in <em>Weird Tales</em> magazine and it captured the imaginations of pubescent boys throughout the nation. Actually considered to be fairly good pulp writing, the stories' titular star has since gone on to feature in plenty of testosterone-fueled cinematic excursions. Conan's visual iconography began with shoddy ink drawings before being fully fleshed out in the painting by Frank Frazetta and was recently brought to life by Arnie Schwarzenegger. Now Jason Mamoa takes the reigns in bringing Conan into the new CG-created, 3D interpretation of a mythic past world. Our awkward pubescent selves are very excited.<br/><br/>Reviews have been terrible, with a decent review coming from Keith Uhlich at <a href="">Time Out New York</a>, who says: "Director Marcus Nispel, whose <em>Texas Chainsaw Massacre</em> and <em>Friday the 13th</em> remakes were more aural-visual bludgeons than movies, proves surprisingly adept at the mix of militaristic machismo and beefcake camp: There’s an entertainingly gonzo battle every five minutes (Conan’s showdown with a group of sandmen assassins is best in show).<br/><br/>"And the film’s secret weapon proves to be Freddy Krueger–fingernailed witch Marique, whom Rose McGowan plays with the kind of fuck-it-all brio—imagine a cross between Madeline Kahn in <em>History of the World: Part I</em> and Lady Gaga—that should garner her a Razzie and an Oscar." </p>

<p>It seems that Robert Rodriguez has settled down nicely into both fatherhood and being the director of almost exclusively <em>Spy Kids</em> films. We guess <em>Machete</em> was his midlife crisis, where his character leaves his wife of many years in favor of the bad girl (ahem, Rose McGowan) in order to relive the folly of youth, only to realize he's getting too old, begs for his wife back, and then spends eternity making films like <em>Spy Kids: All the Time in the World</em> as penance. It's a real life sentence, especially considering he films all of these movies on his property. Anyway, for this installment he managed to get Jessica Alba, Jeremy Piven, and Joel McHale, and we really can't blame them because it must have been a lot of fun to film. No reviews at press time...shocker. </p>

<p>In our opinion, there aren't enough comic horror films these days. After the whole torture porn wave, we noticed that films of the genre started taking themselves way too seriously. We're not necessarily looking for the gore camp of Troma films or <em>Re-animator</em>, but something more like <em>They Live</em> or <em>An American Werewolf in London</em>. Anyway, a remake of the great <em>Fright Night</em> comes out today, and we're really hoping it's as funny and good as the original. The remake doesn't appear to have the public access horror show host sidekick (we guess cable has officially taken over), but the story is more or less the same: a geek-turned-popular-kid notices strange activity happening at his neighbors' house. He finally figures out that his neighbor is a vampire but no one will believe him, so he takes matters into his own hands. Considering the original, it's going to be really interesting to see how they update it.<br/><br/>Reviews have been good, with Keith Phipps from <a href=",60588/">The A.V. Club</a> saying: "Directed by Craig Gillespie (<em>Lars And The Real Girl</em>) from a screenplay by Marti Noxon, a <em>Buffy The Vampire Slayer</em> veteran, <em>Fright Night</em> works reasonably well as a scary movie. Though some of his work gets muddied in 3-D, Gillespie knows how to stage shocks, gore, and action sequences—including a long car chase that borrows liberally from a famous scene in <em>Children Of Men</em>. But the film’s greatest pleasures come from Noxon’s script—which puts the sexual chaos created by Farrell’s attractive bloodsucker front and center—and from the performances.<br/><br/>"Farrell delivers his lines with a Matt Dillon-like flatness, but his eyes tell another story: Beneath the surface, he’s all coiled hunger and pitiless manipulation, doing what he has to do to get close to victims who, against their better judgment, want to get close to him. He creates almost unbearable tension by doing virtually nothing at all, and though <em>Fright Night</em> eventually reveals him as the vampire equivalent of the fucking shark from <em>Jaws</em>, it’s never better than when it lets him poke his fin just above the surface." </p>

<p>Another beloved novel has been adapted into a movie. Opening today: Muriel Barbery's bestseller The Elegance of the Hedgehog is now The Hedgehog, directed by Mona Achache. The film follows an ignored-by-her-family 11-year-old who befriends her Parisian building's grumpy concierge, Renée Michel (Josiane Balasko), and then a new tenant, Mr. Ozu. And Mr. Ozu is the one who realizes that concierge Renee has hidden depths (she reads Tolstoy to her cat!). The <a href="">Christian Science Monitor's Peter Rainer writes</a>, "This is a film that starts out cynically and gradually morphs into sentimentality of a particularly high gloss."</p>

<p>The Spanish Civil War meets clowns—for real. Alex de la Iglesia's <em>The Last Circus</em> is <a href="">summed up thusly by Salon's Andrew O'Hehir</a>: "Maybe you feel like you've seen too many ultra-violent Spanish Civil War-related vengeful-clown horror-romance-comedies, and you're just bored to death with that whole genre. It's also possible, I suppose, that a movie as deranged and grotesque and spectacular as Álex de la Iglesia's near-masterpiece "The Last Circus," an overcooked allegory that's been dialed to 11 in all directions, simply doesn't appeal to you. But if you like your baroque sex and violence with a side dish of heavy-duty symbolism, and if the idea of an unholy collaboration between, say, Guillermo del Toro, Federico Fellini and William Castle appeals to you, then put <em>The Last Circus</em> on your must-see list right now."</p>

<p>After writing a doorstop of a book <em>A Moment in the Sun</em>, released by McSweeney's, John Sayles, one of the quintessential independent film directors in this country, releases his 17th film <em>Amigo</em>. The film follows the mayor of a small Filipino village during the Philippine-American war who is being ordered by an American officer to hunt down a group of Filipino guerilla fighters—which happen to be led by his brother. Sayles has a knack for illuminating and reminding us of our sordid past (<em>Matewan, Eight Men Out</em> etc...) and is indispensable for doing so. Any movie he releases, whether good or not so good, is an important addition to our cinematic canon. Even if you just wait around to rent it, be happy that it exists.<br/><br/>Reviews have been pretty good, with A.O. Scott from <a href="">The New York Times</a> saying: "Though Mr. Sayles’s eye is on the present, his storytelling methods are sturdy and old-fashioned. <em>Amigo</em> is a well-carpentered narrative, fast-moving and emphatic, stepping nimbly from gravity to good humor.<br/><br/>"All in all, he is a pretty good history teacher, the kind who knows how to make even difficult lessons entertaining and relevant." </p>

<p>Jeff Warrick's documentary about subliminal messages in America (and our vulnerability to it), <em>Programming the Nation</em> <a href="">disappoints the Star-Ledger's Stephen Whitty</a>: "[It's] Fascinating because its rich topic is subliminal messages — the use of barely audible words, glimpsed images and reverse-recorded lyrics to supposedly influence American consumers. [It's] Infuriating because its agenda is so obviously partisan, and its approach frustratingly haphazard."</p>

<p>Park Jungbum's <em>Journals of Musan, which was the best new narrative director award at the Tribeca Film Festival, opens this week and it follows a North Korean defector's culture shock in South Korea. Park plays a defector whose one friend is a cute white puppy. The <a href="">NY Times' Mike Hale says</a>, "Park’s screenplay, pedestrian direction and stolid performance don’t set us up to care. Using the plight of the refugee to expound on a familiar South Korean theme — the soullessness and lack of human connection fostered by breakneck modernization and rampant capitalism — he doesn’t do much more than rub our faces in Seung-chul’s moral superiority to Seoul’s glittering consumer culture."</em></p>

<p>Want to check out what the Daily News' Elizabeth Weitzman calls a <a href="">"whimsical Australian" superher romantic comedy</a>? <em>Griff</em> stars True Blood's Ryan Kwanten as a shy man who an awkward office worker during the day and fights crime at night.</p>

<p>Director Renny Harlin (and <a href="">aspiring Curb Your Enthusiasm actor</a>) brings us <em>5 Days</em>, which is set during the 2008 conflict between Russia and Georgia. It stars Rupert Friend, Andy Garcia and Emanuelle Chriqui, <a href="">and Variety's John Anderson gave it a mixed review</a>, saying it's a "a hell-on-earth thriller that makes valiant gestures toward geopolitical savvy but gets bushwhacked by vet helmer Renny Harlin's weakness for the Rambo-esque... the drama has some exhilarating moments, but they're dampened by concessions to conventionally bloviating music, overly theatrical dialogue and inadvertently comic slo-mo."</p>

<p>The NY Times' Manohla Dargis swoons over <em>Mozart's Sister</em>, a French look by director René Féret at, uh, Mozart's sister Maria Anna Walburga Ignatia Mozart. "Mr. Féret paints a speculative, intimate portrait of a family bound by love, genius and ambition and almost undone by the same."</p>

<p>Justin Frimmer's documentary portrait of young boxers in Los Angeles, <em>Born and Bred</em>, gets praise from the <a href="">Village Voice's Nick Schager</a>: "Shot and edited with the same clean efficiency displayed by its fighters, the film eschews didacticism in favor of non-judgmental empathy for athletes and trainers attempting to transcend class barriers, capturing over the course of five years a stinging sense of lost childhoods spent in service of a brighter future."</p>

<p>One of the great things about living in the city is that we have the opportunity to discover films, art and music that the rest of the country is totally unaware of. Even us cultured city-dwellers are ignorant to a lot of great things that have been done in the past, but at least we live in a place that gives us the opportunity to discover them by merely hopping on a subway. This weekend at the <a href="">BAM Rose Cinemas</a>, BAMcinematek presents two films by Milton Moses Ginsberg, a name that many of us have never heard of. The highlight of the two films, which includes an introduction and Q &amp; A with Ginsberg, is his 1969 film <em>Coming Apart</em>. The film is comprised of 110 minutes that take place in one East Side room with an almost entirely static camera. People fortunate enough to have seen the film champion it as being one of the great cinematic explorations of voyeurism ever made. The film stars Rip Torn in a bravura performance as a psychiatrist who puts a hidden camera into his estranged girlfriend's apartment in order to experiment on the sexuality of his female clients. One by one, patients enter the room, only for things to get increasing heated and then finally violent. It sounds like a helluva film, and one definitely worth checking out. There's nothing better than discovering a favorite film that has always been there waiting for you. Don't miss it! </p>

<em>One cannot behold the face of the gorgon and live!</em><br/><br/>This weekend at <a href="">The Landmark Theater</a>, Sunshine at Midnight presents arguably the most influential sci-fi film ever made, <em>Forbidden Planet</em>! One of the best of its kind, the film follows a starship crew that goes to a planet to investigate the silence of the planet's scientific colony, only to find two survivors and the secret that one of them has about its native inhabitant. It's cheesy, yes, but it was also majorly ahead of its time. If you like sci-fi films and haven't seen this, go and find out how much of your favorite movies ripped directly off of this original masterpiece.