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Weekend Movie Forecast: <em>Angels & Demons</em> or <em>Summer Hours</em>

<em>Angels &amp; Demons</em>, Ron Howard's <em>un</em>anticipated follow-up to the widely panned <em>Da Vinci Code</em>, again stars Tom Hanks as a Harvard scholar who gets in over his head investigating the Vatican. Or something. The sequel seems to be less reviled than the original, but not by much; <a href="http://movies.nytimes.com/2009/05/15/movies/15ange.html">A.O. Scott at the Times</a> says the "utter silliness of <em>Angels &amp; Demons</em> is either its fatal flaw or its saving grace, and in the spirit of compassion I suppose I’d be inclined to go with the second option. The movie all but begs for such treatment. 'When you write about us,' an erstwhile nemesis says to Langdon near the end, 'and you will write about us, do so gently.' <strong>It was as if he were looking right into my soul. And how could I refuse such a humble, earnest petition? Go in peace."</strong> And the Journal's <a href="http://online.wsj.com/article/film_review.html">Joe Morgenstern says</a>, "With a running time of 138 minutes, <em>Angels &amp; Demons</em> is a serious slog. <strong>Still, it's an odd kind of a slog that manages to keep you partially engaged, even at its most esoteric or absurd, despite an endlessly excitable choir and Hans Zimmer's pitiless score."</strong>


<a href="http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/summer_hours/">Critics are raving</a> about <em>Summer Hours</em>, a family portrait film from French director Olivier Assayas (<em>Boarding Gate, Irma Vep</em>). Starring Juliette Binoche, the movie concerns a group of siblings agonizing about what to do with the family estate as their mother nears death. Stephanie Zacharek at Salon <a href="http://www.salon.com/ent/movies/review/2009/05/15/summer_hours/index.html">swoons</a>, "The whole movie is like that last sliver of sunlight on a late-summer day, a slice of gold that you can't hang onto forever, as much as you wish you could. Even the image flickering behind the movie's opening-credit sequence is a token from a time long past: It's a faded but vivid vignette of a house nestled amid the flowers and the greenery of the French countryside, a pretty-as-a-postcard vision from another century... The magic of <em>Summer Hours</em> is that even in its elusiveness, it gives us something to hang onto."


<p>In <em>The Brothers Bloom</em>, directed by Rian Johnson (whose movie <em>Brick</em> was stellar), Adrien Brody and Mark Ruffalo star as sibling con men scheming to fleece a bored heiress, played by Rachel Weisz. But things get complicated when one of the grifters falls in love with his mark! If that plot "twist" made you groan, you're not alone. Here's Robert Abele <a href="http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/news/la-et-bloom15-2009may15,0,4140416.story">at the LA Times</a>, "You can see the bulging vein of forced creativity throughout <em>The Brothers Bloom</em>, a romp meant to evoke an Old World dream of steamships, elegant deception and moneyed eccentrics but that mostly recalls—with ever-diminishing returns—the arch playgrounds of Wes Anderson movies... The irony is that outside of the manufactured oddities, Weisz's performance is the best thing in the movie: an old-school screwball turn of hypercurious pep. When she chirps 'Let's be smugglers!' in a burst of devilish glee, you feel her thirst for adventure more easily than Johnson's overwrought blueprint for fun can muster."</p>



<p>Sergei Loznitsa's <em>Revue</em>, screening at <a href="http://www.anthologyfilmarchives.org/">Anthology Film Archives</a>, is a sort of visual time capsule of the Soviet Union in the '50s and '60s, as seen through old television clips, archival footage from labor camps, and other communist ephemera. The Times's <a href="http://movies.nytimes.com/2009/05/13/movies/13revu.html?partner=Rotten%20Tomatoes&amp;ei=5083">Jeannette Catsoulis calls it</a> "luminous...Commentary-free yet slyly evocative — an imposing portrait of Lenin presides over a ballot box at a local election — <em>Revue</em> is at its most chilling in the dissonance between public message and private experience. As an unidentified playwright describes his work as 'a lyrical comedy about life on a collective farm,' the movie’s bleak, frosty landscapes and hungry, callused workers suggest that finding something to laugh about was a great deal easier in fiction than in reality."</p>


<p>Mockumentary <em>Big Man Japan</em>, a parody of cheap sci-fi monster movies, concerns a middle age slacker whose job involves being shocked by bolts of electricity that transform him into a giant entrusted with defending Japan from a host of bizarre monsters. <a href="http://www.nj.com/entertainment/tv/index.ssf/2009/05/review_big_man_japan_is_a_midl.html">Stephen Whitty at the Star-Ledger</a> writes, "Remember, for a moment, <em>Hancock</em>. (Sorry—it gets better.) Now imagine it without Will Smith or that lousy third act. Now imagine it set in Japan and actually funny. Now imagine watching it under the influence of several experimental psychotropics, and you've almost got a handle on the new Asian comedy, <em>Big Man Japan</em>."</p>


<a href="http://www.filmforum.org/films/con.html#515">Film Forum's Con Film Festival</a>, boasting two weeks of double feature prison flicks, continues this weekend. Saturday's double feature is two by Don Seigel; 1954's <em>Riot in Cell Block 11</em> and <em>Alcatraz</em>, which stars Clint Eastwood as a hardcore prisoner, in a 1979 film based on the only successful escape attempt from the Rock. Time Out London says, "It’s closer to Bresson than to the Hollywood prison escape movie. An austere depiction of the tedious routines of prison life, and of the courage and strength of spirit needed in coping with unpleasant warders, tough fellow-inmates, and a life sentence."



<p>Marlene Rhein's <em>The Big Shot-Caller</em> concerns a down-in-the-dumps Manhattan accountant whose whole life turns around when his sister (played by Rhein) gets him into salsa dancing. The Village Voice's <a href="http://www.villagevoice.com/2009-05-13/film/marlene-rhein-s-self-involved-the-big-shot-caller/">Aaron Hillis says</a> this "limp, self-mythologizing debut was 'inspired by true events,' the opening credit boldly shimmers, as if trying to deepen its significance. Casting her dweeby, severely-nearsighted salsa dancing sibling as a dramatized version of himself, Rhein—who directed Amy Winehouse's 'Fuck Me Pumps' video and Tupac's last—has made an overaffected, preachy drama starring brother David as a milquetoast, creepily asexual accountant whose real-life ocular disorder causes his iris-less eyes to shake uncontrollably, sometimes getting him mistaken for a junkie."</p>


<a href="http://www.anthologyfilmarchives.org/">Anthology Film Archives</a> is also screening <em>Anaglyph Tom (Tom With Puffy Cheeks)</em>, a 3D head-trip of a film from famous avant-garde filmmaker Ken Jacobs. <a href="http://movies.nytimes.com/2009/05/15/movies/15anag.html?ref=movies">Nathan Lee at the Times</a> says it "conjures otherworldly abstractions whose vertiginous depth of field makes <em>Monsters vs. Aliens</em> in 3D look as flat as an episode of <em>South Park</em>... Even the least of Mr. Jacobs’s efforts illuminate a rare imagination — or what Mr. Greenspan calls an ideology: 'a conceptual framework with the way people deal with reality.'"


<em>Jerichow</em>, from German director Christian Petzold, is getting good reviews for working the old love triangle story to its fullest. Inspired by both a true story and the classic noir <em>The Postman Always Rings Twice</em>, <em>Jerichow</em> takes place in a small town in northeastern Germany where a soldier back from Afghanistan finds work harvesting cucumbers for a wealthy entrepreneur, who happens to have a bored, gorgeous blond wife. The Voice's <a href="http://www.villagevoice.com/2009-05-13/film/love-is-a-battlefield-in-postman-rethink-jerichow/">Melissa Anderson says</a> "the tight twists and turns of <em>Jerichow</em> suggest that Petzold has become a far more robust storyteller" since his last film, <em>Yella.</em>


<p>The new romantic comedy <em>Management</em> stars Jennifer Aniston, Steve Zahn and Woody Harrelson. For anyone who's still reading after seeing "romantic comedy" and "Jennifer Aniston" in the same sentence, you may be interested to know that the movie's been getting some good reviews, with Zahn getting high praise for the awkward loser who falls for Aniston, a successful businesswoman. Elizabeth Weitzman <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/movies/2009/05/15/2009-05-15_jennifer_aniston_has_a_winner_with_management.html">at the Daily News</a> says "the script has just enough sweet-natured quirkiness to keep us interested, both in what he has already made, and what he might be working on next... Your first thought upon watching <em>Management</em> will undoubtedly be, 'Jennifer Aniston and Steve Zahn? Who thought that would be a good match?' So it's to everyone's ­credit that by the time the ­movie is over, you'll wonder why they were never paired together before."</p>


<p>George Gershwin, Mariel Hemingway, Diane Keaton, Wallace Shawn, Meryl Streep, late '70s New York rendered in gorgeous black and white... if there's an NYC comedy more romantic than Woody Allen's 1979 film <em>Manhattan</em>, we haven't seen it. And if you haven't seen it in the cinema, you really ought to catch one of this weekend's <a href="http://www.landmarktheatres.com/Market/NewYork/NewYork_Frameset.htm">screening at the Sunshine</a> at midnight. </p>


<p>"I <em>am</em> in a world of shit." Stanley Kubrick's unflinching, ever-quotable Vietnam masterpiece<em> Full Metal Jacket</em> <a href="http://www.ifccenter.com/films/full-metal-jacket/">screens at the IFC Center</a> this weekend at midnight.</p>



<p>On Saturday night BAM is hosting a sneak preview screening of <a href="http://www.filminfocus.com/focusfeatures/film/away_we_go/"><em>Away We Go</em></a>, a forthcoming movie co-written by <a href="http://gothamist.com/2008/04/01/dave_eggers_cur.php">Dave Eggers</a> (McSweeney's) and his wife Vendela Vida (The Believer). Directed by Sam Mendes, the hipster breeding comedy stars John Krasinski (<em>The Office</em>) and a pregnant Maya Rudolph as a couple who travel around the US to find the perfect place to start their family. <a href="http://www.826nyc.org/news/calendar/events/away_we_go.html">The screening</a> will be followed by a Q&amp;A session with Eggers and Vida, moderated by <a href="http://gothamist.com/2007/08/21/sarah_vowell_au.php">Sarah Vowell</a>, and then a cocktail party with the writers (and, rumor has it, Krasinski). The whole shebang's a fundraiser for the <a href="http://www.826nyc.org/">826NYC</a>, a non-profit that helps students by cultivating their creative and expository writing skills. <a href="http://www.826nyc.org/news/calendar/events/away_we_go.html">Tickets here</a>.</p>