Weekend Movie Forecast: <em>Extract</em> or <em>All About Steve</em>

<p>Mike Judge, director of the 1999 cult comedy <em>Office Space</em>, is back on the big screen with <em>Extract.</em> It stars Jason Bateman as the owner of a food flavoring factory whose wife (Kristen Wiig) won't have sex with him and whose best friend (Ben Affleck) is a druggie bartender. His employees are worse, and ultimately his plans to sell the company "are threatened by a strange, unexpected event" involving [SPOILER] testicles. Reviews are not so glowing, and the <a href=",1158044/critic-review.html#reviewNum1">Washington Post's Dan Zak</a> couldn't hold his thumbs down lower: "<em>Extract</em> may be the most disappointing American comedy of the decade, partly because it's jokeless and joyless but mostly because it squanders an all-star cast of superb comic talent.</p><p></p>"Everyone in this movie is pathologically moronic, obnoxious without also being funny, and every scene exists only to irk or infuriate Bateman's character. This worked in 'Arrested Development' because the characters had at least one other dimension besides 'moronic' (usually that dimension was 'funny'). Here, Bateman has nothing to work with... <strong>Judge seems to have either a careless disregard for his characters or a stunning lack of imagination. Jeepers, it's bad."</strong>

<p>Rom-com <em>All About Steve</em> stars Sandra Bullock as a lovestruck crossword puzzle creator hot on the trail of the titular Steve, an indifferent TV cameraman, played by Bradley Cooper. <a href="">Manohla Dargis at the Times</a> says, "It seems incredible, but the grimly unfunny comedy <em>All About Steve</em> might just be the worst movie on Sandra Bullock’s résumé... Unlike movie stars of the classical studio system, who were contractually obliged by their bosses to sometimes play insulting, trivializing roles, Ms. Bullock, or more likely her representatives, actually tapped people to make her look this bad. <strong>She’s the mistress of her own misfortune</strong>... The concept of an intelligent woman is apparently so exotic to Ms. Bullock and her director, Phil Traill, that they frantically kook the character up, as if female smarts were a kind of disability. This being a contemporary big-studio release, I suppose it is."</p>

<p>Heh, looks like producers of <em>Gamer </em>didn't bother screening their flick for the mainstream media, but, like <em>GI Joe</em> before them, they did invite some fanboy bloggers. But they can't all be trusted to drool on command! UGO Movie Blog's <a href="">Jordan Hoffman says</a> <em>Gamer</em>, which concerns a dystopian society in which prison overcrowding is solved by letting video game players remotely control inmates in multi-player death battles, belongs in "the bad movie hall of fame."</p><p></p>But he does concede that "the directorial team of Neveldine/Taylor (the Powell and Pressburger of 21st Century exploitation cinema) are nothing if not sharp guys. They pay just enough lip service to heady philosophy, Fringe-esque pseudo science and basic ethics (what would you do to save someone?) to grant them the capital to go absolutely bananas with the crazy-ass explosions and sleazy perversions. <strong>To put it in Pink Floyd terms, if you spend a few scenes eating your meat, you get to eat your pudding."</strong>

<p>Documentary <em>American Casino</em> uses a gambling analogy to examine how and why over $12 trillion vanished into global financial collapse. <a href=",32506/">The Onion's Scott Tobias</a> calls it "passable," but says it's no 'Giant Pool Of Money,' the <em>This American Life</em> episode from May 2008 "that immediately became the impossible standard by which all subprime mortgage overviews should be judged." For Tobias, <em>American Casino</em> <strong>"doesn’t come to life until too late in the game</strong>, when it takes the original tack of exploring the housing crisis through abandoned backyard swimming pools, which become natural breeding grounds for mosquitoes, and an environment where rodents and snakes can thrive. If you’re searching for a metaphor, look no further."</p>

<em>Amreeka</em> concerns a single mother from the West Bank named Muna who emigrates to the U.S. with her teenage son, with dreams of an exciting future in Illinois. Instead, she finds dissapointment in a job at White Castle, and her son is caught on the wrong side of jingoistic fervor as the Iraq War escalates. The Wall Street Journal's <a href="">Joanne Kaufman says</a>, "Writer-director Cherien Dabis shot <em>Amreeka</em> in a gritty documentary style that reflects the often grim reality of the characters' situation. But he also knows how to mine the comic situations that are often part of the immigrant experience. 'Occupation?' demands the U.S. agent at passport control. For a moment Muna is puzzled, then her brow clears in sudden understanding. 'Yes,' she replies. 'We have been occupied for 40 years.' Most important, Dabis knows that home—what a fraught place!—is, in equal measures, where the hurt is and where the heart is."

<p>Set not in the titular home of the Beatles but in the Argentine port of Ushuaia, <em>Liverpool</em> concerns a drunkard who returns home to his mother and father after two decades to find his domestic role obsolete. <a href="">Time Out's Keith Uhlich</a> says, "At first glance, <em>Liverpool </em>appears to be a languorous, landscape-heavy character study... The journey to his snowbound hometown is slow and taxing, punctuated by a night or two spent in drunken stupors. And when he arrives, he discovers a new person, Analía (Irrazabal), has more or less taken over his role in the family. Nothing concrete is assured, not even Farrel’s continued presence in what is ostensibly his own story. <em>Liverpool</em>’s revelatory final shot—in which an object akin to <em>Citizen Kane</em>’s Rosebud is presented for our contemplation—adds one last mysterious layer. <strong>Like everything else in this enigmatic masterpiece, the image resonates with myriad metaphorical possibilities."</strong></p>

<p>Writer-director Jeremy Davidson may be known from his acting on Lifetime's <em>Army Wives</em>, but his debut feature <em>Ticking Leo</em>, about a young man returning to see his estranged father in the Catskills is attracting some good reviews. The <a href="">Village Voice's Ella Taylor writes</a>, "Davidson weaves deeper questions of who a Jew is into this powerful tale of a clan shredded by the rage and hatred passed down through three generations. Shot in digital video, <em>Tickling Leo</em> gradually reveals a secret about one of those terrible wartime bargains with the Third Reich that saved a few Jews while sealing the fate of an entire community. Davidson handles the material with candor, sensitivity, and a goodness and mercy that's entirely absent from the showy self-pity of Boaz Yakin's recent <em>Death in Love</em>." And <a href="">Newsday's John Anderson</a> says Lawrence Pressmann's performance as the father "isn't easy, but like a long line drive, it's a great thing to watch."</p>

<a href="">Anthology Film Archives</a>' rock-fan documentary series, Mondo Fandom, continues this weekend, ending Sunday. <a href="">The L has compiled</a> a funny glossary to help the viewer navigate the various forms of obsession he can expect to encounter, and Zach Baron at the Village Voice <a href="">has filed a feature</a> on the series. Pictured here is <em>For the Love of Dolly</em>, which according to Baron concerns "two desperately unhappy best friends, a prim gay couple, and a young, developmentally disabled obsessive who make awkward annual pilgrimages to Dollywood. One fan imagines Dolly Parton as a surrogate for the mother she doesn't speak to; another re-creates the country star's childhood Tennessee shack in her backyard. <strong>In Uhlmann's version, fandom is compensation for some essential lacking—if not Dolly, they'd fill it with drugs, alcohol, or Christ, maybe."</strong>

<p>In <em>Unmade Beds</em>, two European immigrants—a man from Spain, a woman from France—pass through each others' lives as they share a London warehouse flat with other squatters. <a href=";jump=review&amp;id=2478&amp;reviewid=VE1117939453&amp;cs=1">Variety's Justin Chang was smitten</a>, "<em>Unmade Beds </em>has a lively, romantic spirit that recalls the playfulness and spontaneity of the French New Wave," while the <a href="">NY Times' Manohla Dargis said</a> it's "a lovely, somewhat messy movie about lovely, messy young lives, cross paths only twice... Axl is looking for someone, and Vera wants to lose someone else, though of course because this is about a pair of fledglings, they are also looking for themselves. That’s an agonizingly familiar refrain, but one that the young Argentine director Alexis Dos Santos relates with such tenderness and with so much ethereal beauty that it feels like something fresh."</p>

<p>This weekend <a href="">the Sunshine screens</a> Ivan Reitman's 1984 hit <em>Ghostbusters</em>, in which Bill Murry utters the immortal line, "Yes, it's true. This man has no dick."</p>

<p>The Coen Brothers 1998 masterpiece <em>The Big Lebowski </em><a href="">screens at IFC</a> this weekend. If you don't go, they're going to kill that poor woman. </p>

<p>Carol Reed's 1947 noir thriller <em>Odd Man Out</em> stars James Mason as an injured ex-con on the run in Belfast; the movie <a href="">closes out Film Forum</a>'s Brit Noir series. James Duesterberg <a href="">at Interview Magazine</a> calls it "recognizably noir, yet equally subtle in its execution. The film... has all the genre standards: haggard and world-weary protagonist, doomed lover, a robbery, shootouts, chase scenes through dark alleys, sweaty men smoking cigarettes. But instead of detectives, smoky brunettes, bank raids, and LA back alleys, we get IRA operatives, fair-haired maidens, mill hold-ups, foggy dirt roads, and the consumption of heroic amounts of brandy. <strong>The film's ending is classic noir weltschmerz, and Reed's stylized directing rivals that of the best American noir directors."</strong></p>