Weekend Movie Forecast: <em>Howl</em> Vs. <em>Wall Street 2</em>

<p>I saw the best minds of my generation sitting in class with James Franco. In the past four years, Franco has taken classes at Columbia, NYU, Brooklyn College and is currently trying to get into Yale. Now, while the rest of his peers study poems like "Howl" in order to get ready for their retail/bartending careers, Franco was doing some studying for his role as Al Ginsberg himself in the film <em>Howl</em>. The narrative follows the strapping young poet in his earlier years as he struggles to come out, as well as fight the obscenity trial that his game-changing poem was facing.</p><p></p>The poem is arguably the most influential piece of poetry since Whitman, but the movie of the same name doesn't fare so well. Reviews have been decent with J. Hoberman from <a href="">The Voice</a> saying: "Most compelling by far is James Franco as Ginsberg, successfully nailing the poet's incantatory style, even while providing that voice with a movie star's glamorous vessel. Splendid as Franco's literal characterization and overheated line readings can be, art director Eric Drooker's literal-minded animated interpretation of Howl' (haunted vortex of lonely crowd alienation, 'what now little man?"' monochromatic fascist madness) are as sodden as a cold latke—as well as a distraction.<p></p>"Basically, Epstein and Friedman are feel-good filmmakers—their Ginsberg has one of the shortest, most successful bouts of psychotherapy in history. But is it really necessary to affirm the poem's ecstatic footnote ('Holy! Holy! Holy!') with a montage of smiling reaction shots?"

<p>A man once said: "Lunch is for wimps." That man was a character named Gordon Gekko and was intended to be, by the left-leaning director Oliver Stone, an evil villain. What he created however, was a kind of disturbing type of role model, one which is still looked up to and emulated to this day. Now the economy since the original <em>Wall Street</em> has been all over the map (i.e. crash of the late '80s, the .com bubble, the real estate bubble, the shitstorm we're currently in) but some people think it's time for another two plus hours of greedy Wall Street action! Today sees the release of <em>Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps</em> and if it's anything like the first one, it'll be cheesy awesome! Chances are, it won't be, and on a related note it stars Shia LaBeouf.</p><p></p>Reviews have been, let's just say, not as good as the original with David Edelstein from <a href="">New York Magazine</a> saying: "<em>Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps</em> might be the movie-TV crossover point, wherein the sequel to an influential eighties motion picture is so loaded with characters and crosscurrents that we wonder why it isn’t a thirteen-hour cable mini-series instead of an impacted two-hour mess. The film is like my portfolio: full of promise, with minuscule returns.<p></p>"As with many recent Stone projects, it’s hard to tell what the focus is supposed to be. Stone has said he wanted to prove definitively that Gekko’s 'greed is good' speech was wrong, but Douglas is nowhere near as devilish (or as vivid) this time around. Compounding the confusion is the Sheen cameo: He approaches Gekko at a party with a gorgeous woman on each arm, having gone on to make a fortune. The scene is a joke on Sheen’s persona, and it’s wonderful in all kinds of ways—except the one that matters."

<p>Many months ago when "the facebook movie" was announced, no one was really that excited. Ben Mezrich's book that it would be based on, "The Accidental Billionaires," sold, but didn't sell <em>well </em>, by most standards. For many people, the idea of seeing a movie about the founding of a website they frequent daily, and depicting "that weird guy" in the top right corner who wants to be your friend when you have no friends, was not too appealing. Then Aaron Sorkin got involved and people started to wonder. Then, after David Fincher took the helm, people were just confused. Is this a film we should actually care about? A movie about Facebook? But once the trailer was released, it was official: this might actually be a great film, and judging from the 100% score on <a href="">metacritic</a> we should probably be buying tickets right after Zuckerberg's on Oprah.</p><p></p>The amount of good press this film has been getting is astounding. It's being compared with everything from <em><a href="">American Graffiti</a></em> to <em>Citizen Kane</em>. Those who thought the trailer looked so good because of the manipulative gospel "Creep" cover, might have to think again. For pete's sake, even Manohla Dargis from <a href="">The Old Gray Lady</a> says: "What makes Mark Zuckerberg run? In <em>The Social Network</em>, David Fincher’s fleet, weirdly funny, exhilarating, alarming and fictionalized look at the man behind the social-media phenomenon Facebook — 500 million active users, oops, friends, and counting — Mark runs and he runs, sometimes in flip-flops and a hoodie, across Harvard Yard and straight at his first billion. Quick as a rabbit, sly as a fox, he is the geek who would be king or just Bill Gates. He’s also the smartest guy in the room, and don’t you forget it. <p></p>"The movie opens with a couple in a crowded college bar and ends with a man alone in a room repeatedly hitting refresh on his laptop. In between, Mr. Fincher and Mr. Sorkin offer up a creation story for the digital age and something of a morality tale, one driven by desire, marked by triumph, tainted by betrayal and inspired by the new gospel: the geek shall inherit the earth."

<p>So, let's face it, the education system in this country sucks. If you even make it through the sometimes horrific public school system, you're still faced with the ultimate pyramid scheme of higher education (meaning either pay off student loans with retail jobs or get a PhD. and begin teaching in the system that ruined you). So it's always nice to see a documentary like <em>Waiting for Superman</em> come out, because it means that some people are as aggravated with the system as they should be. This documentary follows a bunch of kids through the inhibiting world of public school and attempts to dissect why it's so awful.</p><p></p>Reviews have been pretty good with some indifference coming from Melissa Anderson at <a href="">Time Out New York</a>: "Davis Guggenheim's call-to-arms documentary on the failures of the U.S. public-education system—thoroughly laudable in intention if maddening in its logic and omissions—originated with his own guilty conscience. An Academy Award winner for 2006's <em>An Inconvenient Truth</em>, the director—whose debut doc, 2001's <em>The First Year</em>, heralded the dedication of five public-school teachers—now drives his own children (mother: Elisabeth Shue) past three crumbling public schools on their way to an expensive private one. 'I'm lucky—I have a choice,' Guggenheim, who narrates throughout, admits, before asking an important question: What is our responsibility to other people's children?<p></p>"Will heartbreaking scenes like this drive an audience (or Academy voters) to action, as Al Gore's global-warming presentation, supplemented by a cartoon polar bear, seemed to in <em>An Inconvenient Truth?</em> 'Great schools won't come from winning the lottery. They will come from YOU' the final credits announce, before exhorting us to text 'POSSIBLE' to 77177. For a crisis so dire, this palliative comes across as absurdly glib."

<p>Wise men say beware any film which has the phrase "crazy comedy" in its summary. Crazy comedys are specially reserved for rentals or Sunday afternoon movies, definitely not for the theater. In any case, today the crazy comedy <em>You Again</em> comes out, and we're all adult enough to make our own decisions on how we spend our weekend. The plot consists of two generations of arch nemeses who come face to face at a wedding. Crazy.</p><p></p>Reviews have been abysmal with Stephen Holden from <a href="">The New York Times</a> saying: "There is not a laugh to be found in this rancid, misogynistic revenge comedy, directed by Andy Fickman from a screenplay by Moe Jelline. Every female character — including Marni’s mother, Gail (Jamie Lee Curtis), and grandmother Bunny (Betty White), and Joanna’s Aunt Ramona (Sigourney Weaver) — is a recovering mean girl or a victim of one, or both.<p></p>"Like so many Disney movies, <em>You Again</em> exalts shallow, materialistic values, then tries to camouflage its essentially poisonous content with several layers of sugar coating and weepy reconciliation. Once you’ve consumed its empty calories, expect a sickly aftertaste. "

<p>Fans of <em>300</em> and the <em>Watchmen</em> better buckle up, because director Zack Snyder is about to melt your face off! With the delightfully whimsical <em>The Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole</em>! We'd watch out though, it's rated PG for "some scary action." The film follows the exploits of two budding young owletts who end up getting kidnapped by "Pure Ones" (probably the first time the phrase has been used outside of the recreational drug set and in a kids movie) and must escape in order to save all of owlkind.</p><p></p>Reviews have been alright, with Keith Uhlich from <a href="">Time Out New York</a> taking it down a notch: "Zack Snyder’s films have some of the best opening-credits sequences in cinema; the unfortunate thing is that there’s always a movie after them.<p></p>"Snyder once again indulges his off-puttingly fetishistic love of silky slo-mo and gleaming weaponry, though the low point has to be the training montage scored to Owl City’s cringeworthy 'To the Sky.' The soul-shattering track is even reprised over the animated closing credits, which, no surprise, are friggin’ dope."

<p>Much like buying a complete <em>The Simpsons</em> DVD box set (if the show ever ends), buying any recent complete Woody Allen box set is a precarious purchasing venture. Sure, with both you have hours and hours of brilliant comedy, but you also have the dreadfully uneven later works. Today Allen releases <em>You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger</em>, and it looks like it's going to be one of the clunkers you never take out of the box. The film follows the marriages of a mother and father and their daughter and son-in-law as their eyes and hearts wonder elsewhere. That scenario would probably play out brilliantly in Allen's more youthful hands (think <em>Husbands and Wives</em>) but he apparently drops the ball on this one.</p><p></p>Reviews have been tepid, with Scott Tobias from <a href=",45535">A.V. Club</a> saying: "The lovelorn fusspots in <em>You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger</em> certainly sound like characters in a Woody Allen movie, and they get themselves in various romantic entanglements, but damned if the sum of their mixed-up lives amounts to anything in particular. Like the worst of late-period Allen, the film recycles character types from his previous work without inventing new reasons to summon them into existence. They’re left stranded, seven characters in search of an author.<p></p>"The cast seems lost: Brolin isn’t the most natural Woody Allen surrogate, and Hopkins appears positively victimized by the Sydney Pollack role of an intelligent, sophisticated older man who fumbles through a relationship with a vulgar, money-grubbing minx. And by the looks of it, Allen simply decided against shooting the last 20 pages of script, because most of the subplots end with a shrug or a question mark. It’s all loose ends, signifying nothing."

<p>Those of you this weekend who are just plain sick and tired of open air and sunshine, and just happen to love Ryan Reynolds, should head into the darkened theater this weekend and see the movie <em>Buried</em>. The film follows Paul (Reynolds), a truck driver in Iraq who awakens to find himself buried alive in a coffin with nothing but a lighter and cell phone (wait...doesn't fire use up oxygen?). He is told by his captors that he must get five million dollars before the movie ends or else he's dead. </p><p></p>This concept is ballsy, and almost impossible to pull off, unfortunately for us, it sounds like they didn't. Karina Longsworth from <a href="">The Village Voice</a> says: "Reynolds, an actor best appreciated for his all-Canadian good looks and light comedic charisma, is tasked with carrying <em>Buried</em> without the help of either—director Rodrigo Cortes keeps the action bound to the box, limiting his lighting to naturalistic approximations, so that much of Reynolds's performance consists of him grunting and heaving in the dark.<p></p>"Fair enough as long as <em>Buried</em> is a movie about being, uh, buried, but not so great when it tries to comment on bureaucracy and foreign policy. 'I didn't know it was going to be like this here,' Paul wails to a British hostage-situation-fixer guy, who responds, somberly, "I don't think any of us did." That sentiment might have been easier to take seriously if the voice of Iraqi terrorism wasn't played by a Spanish actor whose double-accented, stunted English calls to mind a very, very angry Taco Bell spokesdog."

<p>Alright, so Gasper Noé is probably the most effed up director working today (umm...maybe tied with Lars von Trier). Anyway, after the depressing <em>I Stand Alone</em> and then the absolutely horrific <em>Irreversible</em>, Noé earned himself quite a reputation in the world of film as our token nihilist. Today his newest atrocity to humanity <em>Enter the Void</em> comes out, and it should be interesting to see all us sick people who go to attend it. The film is a hallucinogenic trip through Tokyo's night club scene and follows a bunch of drugged out twenty somethings as they engage in debauchery and violence. Considering who directed it and what its loosely based on (the Tibetan Book of the Dead), it's probably much more punishing than we can imagine.</p><p></p>Reviews have been really polarized in an interesting way. Most of the populist periodicals (i.e. Box Office Magazine, Variety, The Hollywood Reporter) HATED the film, while most of the more "artsy" or "highbrow" ones loved it. Karina Longworth from <a href="">The Voice</a> says: "If that all reads like a lame fusion of stoner lifestyle, sexual fetish, and philosophical inquiry, well, it is—but as a technical achievement and aesthetic experience, <em>Enter the Void</em> can't be as easily dismissed. Despite the necessarily long plot summary above, Void is not particularly story-heavy, and at times lapses into non-narrative pure cinema.<p></p>"Noé simulates the passivity of a drug trip—to watch <em>Enter the Void</em> is to be along for the ride, so to speak—while creating one image after another that forces you to contemplate the trip's composition. For long stretches, he creates the illusion of unbroken takes, replicating both the constancy of real-world vision and the run-on flow of memory. Even its detractors—and there were many when Void premiered at Cannes in 2009—agree that when it's over, the film feels like something that happened to you, rather than something you saw."

<p>Also being released today is the documentary <em>A Mother's Courage: Talking Back to Autism</em>, which follows the mother of a highly autistic son as she scours the globe attempting to learn anything about this extremely complex condition. Autism is sadly widespread, so this might actually do pretty good in the mothers of autistic children set.</p><p></p>There haven't been many reviews but the few who have seen it seem to like it, like Billie Cohen from <a href="">Time Out New York</a> who says: "Don’t let the unsexy subject, the pseudo-poignant vistas or the heavy-handed Sigur Rós score dissuade you: This documentary is undeniably fascinating. As Icelandic mom Margret meets U.S. families and international experts (including Simon Baron-Cohen, Sacha’s cousin), and then samples teaching methods in an effort to connect with her nonverbal ten-year-old son, Keli, the error of the title becomes obvious.<p></p>"The stars here are not the moms, but the kids—and they are truly amazing. Dismissed as unreachable even by their devoted parents, they prove to be incredibly fast, eager learners who simply needed to be guided to connection and communication."

<p>Opening today is the documentary <em>Tibet in Song</em> which attempts to document the dying art of traditional Tibetan folk music while simultaneously showing the countries political strife with China over the past 50 odd years. Reviews have been decent, with Andrew Shenker from <a href="">Time Out New York</a> saying: "In the middle of tracking down remnants of traditional folk music in occupied Tibet, Ngawang Choephel—a Tibetan exile and musicologist—was arrested for spying. He ended up spending six and a half years in prison, an experience he documents in this intriguing, and at times too dispassionate, chronicle of injustice.</p><p></p>"Though the movie is a testimony to one man’s will to survive and a testament to a vanishing art form, <em>Tibet in Song</em>’s greatest achievement may be the way it shows how China recast traditional songs as modern pro-Communist propaganda—an eradication of an invaded country’s culture through insidious co-option."

<em>OH NO LET'S GO</em><p></p>Tonight and tomorrow at the <a href="">Landmark Theater</a> Sunshine at Midnight presents the Rock musical classic <em>Purple Rain</em>. This movie was a lot of fun to watch at Prospect Park last summer and we imagine it should be good times at the theater. Go watch Prince's Superbowl performance a couple dozen times and head to the theater.