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Weekend Movie Forecast: <em>Grown Ups</em> Vs. <em>Knight and Day</em>

<p>Five childhood friends, who happen to be played by five aging comics, are reunited 30 years later by the unfortunate death of their old basketball coach. The premise of <em>Grown Ups</em> is already unpromising, and takes a turn for the unbearable as the generationally irrelevant quintet of Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, David Spade, Kevin James, and Rob Schneider agree to vacation together with their families at the lake house where they celebrated their junior high championship (of course).</p><p></p>With a <a href="http://au.rottentomatoes.com/m/grown_ups/">13% on Rotten Tomatoes</a>, this trite <em>Happy Madison</em> addition is pretty much universally hated. Scott Tobias of the <a href="http://www.avclub.com/articles/grown-ups,42510/">AV Club</a> says: "Viewers who enjoy any single gag in the new Adam Sandler vehicle <em>Grown Ups</em> are in for a treat, as they’ll be able to experience it again five or 10 more times...The one-note performances and endlessly recycled gags—which run the gamut from jokes about Schneider’s sex-crazed geriatric wife to pop-culture-themed wisecracks about Rock’s mother-in-law’s grotesque toes—betray the toxic arrogance of coasting comic superstars who realize they can exert the least possible effort and still come away with a hit."<p></p>Most blunt of all is perhaps Gabe Toro of <a href="http://theplaylist.blogspot.com/2010/06/review-grown-ups-is-adam-sandlers.html">The Playlist</a>, who writes: "<em>Grown Ups</em> adds a dollop of class contempt to his fiery anti-intellectualism, multiplied by four listless Sandlerbots pitching the story to the cheap seats. You've had enough warnings, America. If you want to pay for <em>Grown Ups</em>, with its fart and fat jokes and complete contempt for women, the middle class and the elderly, you've given everyone proof you're someone of no value. We'd recommend you jump off a bridge instead this weekend."


<p>Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz, last seen together in the mindbender <em>Vanilla Sky</em>, reunite for <em>Knight and Day</em>—"a title which like everything else about it, is arbitrary and meaningless," writes <a href="http://emanuellevy.com/reviews/details.cfm?id=15840">Emanuel Levy</a>. Diaz plays ordinary girl June Havens (<em>riiight</em>), whose world is interrupted by Cruise's secret agent character, Roy Miller, as she finds herself being inexplicably pursued by other agents, a Spanish arms dealer, and a German assassin. </p><p></p>Levy continues in his <a href="http://emanuellevy.com/reviews/details.cfm?id=15840">review</a>: "Thematically, the adventure deals with false identities, double-crosses, arrests and close escapes, with a layer of forced eroticism poured over these largely unconvincing elements.Even by movie standards, Patrick O'Neill’s original screenplay does not make any sense. Worse yet, it does not make any effort to involve the viewers in the characters’ fate, because they know from the first scene that in this kind of picture there are no real risks to the protagonists, not even a chance that their meticulous make up and hairstyle will be messed up."


<p>Conceived and executed long before the Greek economic crisis, the 2009 Cannes winner<em> Dogtooth </em>seems like an eerie parable for our modern world. The matriarch and patriarch of a rich family teach their college-age "children" an alternate, nonsensical language to keep them from the dangerous, and tempting, world outside, at least until they lose their canine teeth (hence "Dogtooth"). But can the sparkly stickers rewarded for good behavior in this fascist regime beat the temptations of sex, free markets, and American pop culture? Apparently not. "How perfectly perverse," raves <a href="http://newyork.timeout.com/articles/film/86740/dogtooth-film-review">Time Out New York</a>. "In a summer crammed with sequels, remakes, ’80s nostalgia and the frustrated sense of “What else y’got?” comes the most original nightmare in years."</p>



<p>You may know Yasujiro Ozu's <em>Ohayo</em> ("Good Morning"), but do you know its also very popular predecessor? Charming and comedic, <em>I Was Born, But...</em> is a tale of two young brothers' travails, both the childlike ones they face in school (mean teachers, bullies, etc), and the grown-up ones they begin to face as they begin to realize their father's low social status. "The film retains a measure of tempered hope," writes the <a href="http://www.villagevoice.com/2010-06-22/film/children-seen-but-not-heard-in-i-was-born-but/">Village Voice's Nick Schager</a>, "born not simply from the father's command-cum-wish to his slumbering offspring ('Don't become a miserable apple-polisher like me, boys'), but also from a final act of youthful compassion that binds Ozu's intensely human characters in glass-half-full solidarity."</p>


<p>Set in the eponymous 15-man army outpost, one of the most dangerous in Afghanistan's Korengal Valley, Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger's <em>Restrepo</em> is a nightmarishly immersive documentary masterpiece, with its mission to place viewers in the middle of a 90-minute deployment apparently achieved. And it's a timely film too: "As the war in Afghanistan returns to the front pages and the national debate, we owe the men in <em>Restrepo</em>, at the very least, 90 minutes or so of our attention," writes the <a href="http://movies.nytimes.com/2010/06/25/movies/25restrepo.html?ref=movies">New York Times' A.O. Scott</a>. "If nothing else, this film, in showing how much they care about one another, demands the same of us."</p>


<p>Oliver Stone's pan-American doc began as an investigation into the supposed anti-Americanism of Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez and eventually spread out to include conversations with no fewer than eight Latin American presidents and ex-presidents. As we see several countries breaking free of their colonial pasts and embracing social democracy, we also see Stone siding with many of the leaders. Not surprisingly, critics are polarized. "Good-humored, illuminating and without cant, Oscar-winning director Oliver Stone's documentary <em>South of the Border</em> is a rebuttal of what he views as the fulminations and lies of right-wing media at home and abroad regarding the socialist democracies of South America," <a href="http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/hr/film-reviews/south-of-the-border-film-review-1004009624.story">The Hollywood Reporter's Ray Bennett</a> writes. Meanwhile <a href="http://www.villagevoice.com/2010-06-22/film/oliver-stone-and-his-presidential-pals-team-up-in-south-of-the-border/">the Village Voice's Karina Longworth</a> is entirely unconvinced: "<em>South of the Border</em>'s subjects are masters at cooking bullshit, and Stone just eats it up."</p>



<p>A simple wallet lost and found creates a convergence of personalities (or maybe just a meet-cute) in Alain Resnais's <em>Wild Grass.</em> Returning the wallet to the police is no simple matter for Georges, as he is curious about the woman who lost it in the first place, and Marguerite is similarly intrigued by the man who has returned it. The question of how to give and acknowledge thanks hangs in the air. Critics have been praising the film for both its style and its content. "Wild Grass is an elegant vessel for outlandish thoughts and troubling impulses," writes <a href="http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=128007627">Mark Jenkins of NPR</a>. "In his rejection of cinematic naturalism, Resnais has made a movie that's both utterly contrived and compellingly lifelike."</p>


<p>Today marks the launch of the 2010 New York Asian Film Festival. This year its premises have moved uptown, but by all reports the NYAFF has nonetheless maintained its love for, as organizer Subway Cinema itself describes, the “crazed populist filmmaking going on all over Asia.” The films—which include a pair of action biopics about Wing Chun martial arts master Ip Man, the international premiere of the Japanese revenge film <em>Confessions</em>, and the Korean swordplay blockbuster <em>Blades of Blood</em>—run from June 25 to July 8 at the IFC Center, Japan Society, Anthology Film Archives, and Walter Reade Theater. For more information, visit <a href="http://www.subwaycinema.com/nyaff10/nyaff2010/index.php">the Subway Cinema website</a>.</p>


<p>Film Forum's 32-film <a href="http://www.filmforum.org/films/mann.html#625">Anthony Mann retrospective</a> runs the gamut of the director's oeuvre, from postwar Noir to '50s Western to '60s epic. This weekend they're screening a double feature of <em>The Naked Spur</em>, about a bounty hunter (James Stewart) "slugging it out with Man, Nature, Janet Leigh and himself to bring in chuckling psycho Robert Ryan," and <em>Winchester '73</em>, which also stars James Stewart as he "restlessly pursues both parricide brother Stephen McNally and the rifle of the title through shooting contests, Indian attacks, and the spectacular late entrance of guest villain Dan Duryea."</p>


<p>This weekend, Sam Raimi's <em>Evil Dead 2</em> creeps back to <a href="http://www.landmarktheatres.com/Films/films_frameset.asp?id=10100">the Landmark Sunshine Cinema</a> tonight and Saturday at midnight. </p>