Weekend Movie Forecast: Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson Vs. Werner Herzog

<p>You have got to be kidding. Another <em>Fast and the Furious</em> movie? There were four of them already? Christ. <em>Fast Five</em>? Oh, that's original. For the love of Pete, who greenlights these movies? Wait...what's that? Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson's in it? SOLD. Say what you will about this ridiculous film franchise, but Vin Diesel and The Rock in the same frame is capable of producing enough energy to power a small village for a decade. There hasn't been collective body mass like this since <em>Predator</em>. Plot: High speed chase movie/souped-up car porn starring two large men named after a type of engine and the naturally occurring solid aggregate of minerals, respectively.<br/><br/>So get this: reviews have <em>not</em> been terrible, with actual praise coming from Scott Tobias at <a href=",55266/">The A.V. Club</a> who says: "Like a proper action sequel, it’s bigger, louder, and sillier than its predecessors, but it’s more streamlined, too, smartly dumping the tired underground racing angle in favor of a crisp, hugely satisfying <em>Ocean’s Eleven</em>-style heist movie.<br/><br/>"<em>Fast Five</em> may be lizard-brain escapism—and there’s something unsettling about how it lays waste to Rio’s desperately poor favelas—but nonsense this well-orchestrated is a rare and precious thing."</p>

<p>After months of press screenings and re-edits, Werner Herzog's first foray into 3D, <em>Cave of Forgotten Dreams</em>, is out for public consumption. The first 3D film officially approved by Roger Ebert, this is a documentary about the Chauvet cave in France that is home to the oldest cave drawings in the world, drawn over 30,000 years ago. Rather than using 3D in its typical, gimmicky fashion where things just pop out at you, this movie uses 3D to give audiences the sense of depth and texture of the uneven rock faces that are adorned with these drawings. As with all Herzog docs, you get a wonderful commentary by the man himself, complete with hypnotically thick accentuation and musings. The cave, which was closed off by rocks thousands of years ago, has been seen by only a handful of people. Herzog was the first filmmaker ever allowed access to the cave, so in a way 3D gives us the closest opportunity we're ever likely to have to see these works of art. Definitely an experience you won't want to miss.<br/><br/>Reviews have been very good, with Manohla Dargis <a href="">The Times</a> saying: "What a gift Werner Herzog offers with <em>Cave of Forgotten Dreams</em>, an inside look at the astonishing Cave of Chauvet-Pont-d’Arc — and in 3-D too. In southern France, about 400 miles from Paris, the limestone cave contains a wealth of early paintings, perhaps from as long ago as 32,000 years. Here, amid gleaming stalactites and stalagmites and a carpet of animal bones, beautiful images of horses gallop on walls alongside bison and a ghostly menagerie of cave lions, cave bears and woolly mammoths. Multiple red palm prints of an early artist adorn one wall, as if to announce the birth of the first auteur.<br/><br/>"The 3-D is sometimes less than transporting, and the chanting voices in the composer Ernst Reijseger’s new-agey score tended to remind me of my last spa massage. Yet what a small price to pay for such time traveling!" </p>

<p>Remember the Prom? Yeah, it sucked for us too, and we went to three. Well, if you're the type who actually looked forward to it and then rocked it hard, you might want to check out the new Disney tweentasy <em>Prom</em>! For everyone who hated the prom, you probably wouldn't be going to see a movie like that anyway, and probably don't have any kids, because that would mean you married your High School sweetheart, consummated it after the prom, and then pumped out some kids.<br/><br/>Reviews have been mixed, but there was actually a good one from Neil Genzlinger at—no foolin'—<a href="">The New York Times</a> who says: "Some moviegoers and critics will probably dismiss <em>Prom</em> as just another predictable offering from the Disney formula factory. Which is precisely what it is. But here’s the thing: There are new tweeners every year. To them, the characters and plot devices in this perfectly competent film might well seem fresh.<br/>"Lots of side plots about who’s going to ask whom to the big event propel things along, with Nicholas Braun making the best comic contributions as a hapless senior who has waited too long to snag a date. Anyway, in the end, tuxedos are rented, connections are made, and, of course, lessons are learned."</p>

<p>So there was this somewhat obscure (to Americans, anyway) Italian comic book from the '80s, which took place in London and followed a paranormal investigator/vampire killer called <em>Dylan Dog</em> (they just translated it and released it in the States, and it's worth checking out). Anyway, the comic is considered to be one of the best, with Umberto Eco famously saying: "I can read the Bible, Homer or Dylan Dog for days on end without ever feeling bored." <br/><br/> Sometime last decade, Marvel comics declared bankruptcy. One guy in their copy editing department thought it might be a good move for them to license out their characters. They did, then Disney bought them, and now we have three superhero movies coming out this summer. A little after that, some flashy commercial director turned Frank Miller's <em>300</em> and then Moore and Gibbons <em>Watchmen</em>, into successful films. The powers that be decided that every popular comic ever must be turned into a Hollywood film. Which brings us to today, when the Italian comic that maybe a hundred people in this country have read sees an American Hollywood movie release. No press screenings, no reviews. The comic is great and the movie is probably atrocious. If you're interested, check it out. Otherwise, you can probably catch it on the This network in twenty years. </p>

<p>One of the most interesting directors working today, by far, is Takashi Miike. He's the auteur of not seeming like an auteur. His movies are so drastically different you'd swear they were made by different directors. He'll make one of the most notoriously effed-up movies of the decade (see <em>Ichi the Killer</em>) and then go on to direct family films. Since 1991, he has directed over 70 movies and shows. Critics are blown away that he's simultaneously making more accessible works and more disturbing works back to back. Today he releases <em>13 Assassins</em>, and it's Miike's take on a samurai picture. Let's just say it culminates in a forty-five minute battle scene that puts all others in the genre to shame.<br/><br/>Reviews have been very good, with an absolutely glowing review from Joshua Rothkopf at <a href="">Time Out New York</a> who says: "A samurai movie, yes—which you could probably tell from the title alone. But there are throwbacks and then there are glorious ones. A classically structured rampage (based on an obscure 1963 B pic by Eiichi Kudo) that bears serious comparison to the definitive greats of Akira Kurosawa, <em>13 Assassins</em> will floor connoisseurs of action, mood and the dignity of a pissed-off scowl.<br/><br/>"Of <em>13 Assassins</em>’ final 45 minutes of elegant, Shaw Brothers–style mayhem (never confusing or difficult to follow), little should be said, other than 'Wow, wow, wow.' Also, 'Wow.' If Miike had to make all of his other flicks to get to this brilliant catharsis, it was worth it."</p>

<p>Being released to absolutely stellar reviews is the uncategorizable film <em>The Arbor</em>. Rather than being a straight-forward staging of Andrea Dunbar's play, <em>The Arbor</em> has hired actors lip-syncing interviews that director Clio Barnard conducted with Dunbar's friends and family. In addition to this is staged productions of the play itself performed on The Arbor, the street where Dunbar lived. Part documentary, part biographical film, part experiment, this will be one of the most interesting films you are likely to see this year.<br/><br/>Reviews have been, as we said, stellar, with Jeannette Catsoulis from <a href="">The New York Times</a> saying: "Sure enough, within seconds we’re immersed in a sad, sorry tale of terrible choices, brightened not at all by the brief flare of fame. Ostensibly a biopic of the British playwright Andrea Dunbar — whose writing vividly chronicled life on a primarily white and profoundly racist council housing estate in West Yorkshire — this multidimensional collage explodes our expectations of the form.<br/><br/>"Like a Ken Loach drama stripped to bare bones, <em>The Arbor</em> springs to life in the bright bitterness of Dunbar’s prose, showcased in alfresco performances of contentious scenes from the play. And at the end, when we hear Lorraine describe estate residents as 'going down a big steep hill into a big black hole,' we know that her mother bequeathed more than just hurt, fury and a gift for self-destruction." </p>

<p>Remember that awful story a year or two ago about the Olympic-trained runner who would run after couples and either mug or rape them in Prospect Park? Well, someone made a movie about a similar (but, thankfully, less disturbing) runner who robs banks and runs from the cops, aptly titled <em>The Robber</em>. This champion marathon runner leads a double life as both champion and crook, and embodies what psychologists refer to as pathological compulsion.<br/><br/>Reviews have been good, with Melissa Anderson from <a href="">The Voice</a> saying: "What makes Johann run—and rob? Benjamin Heisenberg’s second feature is as taut, lean, and fleet as its title character, played by Andreas Lust and based on the real-life Johann Kastenberger, who was both Austria’s most-wanted bank robber of the 1980s and a champion marathoner. Writing the script with Martin Prinz, who adapted his own 2005 novel about the notorious criminal, Heisenberg forgoes backstory and psychological explanation, structuring his film as a series of adrenaline spikes.<br/>"Heisenberg paces his film like a strenuous yet exhilarating session of interval training; Johann’s criminal activities and his sprinting from the polizei reach maximum cardiovascular exertion when he robs two banks within five minutes. Following these high-intensity bursts, the scenes of Johann’s diligent physical conditioning become almost trancelike, similar to the effect of running a long, flat stretch of road. His behavior never explained and thus never romanticized—particularly notable when he commits more grievous crimes later in the film—highly self-sufficient Johann remains a study of pure motion, of energy that must simply be expended. " </p>

<p>Remember a couple months back when Joaquin Phoenix either went insane, or pretended to go insane and become a rapper, all the while being filmed by "the better Affleck", Casey? Well, we're still not sure what that was about, and we don't know many people who actually saw <em>I'm Still Here</em>, but another sorta-well known actor has directed a film about a crazy musician, and it's called <em>Sympathy for Delicious</em>. Made by Mark Ruffalo, the movie follows a recently paralyzed DJ who starts delving into the strange world of faith healing when he finds himself in over his head. Yeah, that's actually the plot, but hey, Ruffalo seems like a likable guy, so who knows?<br/><br/>Reviews have been down the middle, across the board, with Michelle Orange from <a href="">The Voice</a> saying: "An urban parable in the underlit indie tradition, <em>Sympathy for Delicious</em> treats sketchy, moribund storytelling as divine inspiration. First-time director Mark Ruffalo has assembled an exceptional cast—Juliette Lewis, Orlando Bloom, Laura Linney, um, Mark Ruffalo—to surround writer and star Christopher Thornton, but a script that favors incident over story and direction that crowds scenes instead of letting them breathe make for curiously rough going.<br/>"But in this L.A., hurt people heal people, and soon Father Roselli is pimping out Dean’s magical, health-restoring hands—a neat trick discovered by accident, they help everyone but Dean—to fill the church coffer. Disillusioned, Dean joins a band fronted by Bloom in slinky, sexy Jesus mode, and helps turn the band’s club sets into revival meetings, with a fame-hungry healer as the central attraction. Without Lewis, who pockets the few scenes she’s in with her absurd, exotic-bird dignity and Quaalude drone, not even 'Delicious D' can save the film from its anti-climactic moral reckoning." </p>

<p>Tonight at <a href=";month=04&amp;year=2011#showing-37184">Anthology Film Archives</a> they're not only showing Peckinpah's <em>Pat Garrett &amp; Billy the Kid</em>, but they're showcasing screenwriter Rudy Wurlitzer's career. Wurlitzer also wrote <em>Two Lane Blacktop</em> in addition to some very well respected novels. Tonight Bonnie "Prince" himself, Will Oldham, will be reading selections from Wurlitzer's new book, accompanied by the hyper-talented guitarist/singer Ben Chasney (Six Organs of Admittance). That's an insane amount of talent in one spot. Don't miss! </p>

<p>Tonight at the <a href="">Landmark Sunshine Theater</a>, Sunshine at Midnight is showing Alejandro Jodorowsky's absolutely mind-blowing <em>Sante Sangre</em>. If you thought <em>El Topo</em> or <em>Holy Mountain</em> was whacked, you need to do yourself a favor and see this film, which follows a man through his experience in a mental institution. A flashback reveals that as a boy, he watched his carny dad cut the arms off his carny mom. He then goes back to see his mother, to "become her arms" and the two go on a spree of murder and revenge. Yeah, who knows what he was smoking to come up with that scenario. Like all Jodorowsky films, it's visually stunning and chock full of mystical and religious imagery. </p>