Weekend Movie Forecast: <em>Inception</em> Vs. <em>The Sorceror's Apprentice</em>

<em>Inception</em> is not <em>The Dark Knight</em>. The latter was a superhero action film injected with a dark, clinical sensibility that made it startlingly effective. <em>Inception</em> is a cold, convoluted, logic puzzle that has elements of an action film thrown into it after the fact. It is a good, not great film, but one that might have trouble finding an audience. Some of the teens who lined up for last night's IMAX midnight screening wearing their Joker T-shirts might have been faced with a coiled maze they had no desire to solve. For those who don't know the plot, Leonardo DiCaprio plays Dom Cobb, a skilled dream thief who has been hired to plant an idea into the mind of the son of a business mogul (played by the always engaging Cillian Murphy). The mission is a dangerous one and requires Cobb to assemble a ragtag group of brilliant criminals (cf. any well-made heist flick and you get the idea).<p></p>It is very reassuring to know that there is a director like Christopher Nolan who is working within the Hollywood system and has the ability to dabble in dangerous subjects with a large budget, but after this film, we're not sure if he's going to get as much money. The special effects are great but it seems like they showed all of their "wow" centerpieces in the commercials, so don't expect anything beyond what you've already seen on television. DiCaprio is good at replicating his role from <em>Shutter Island</em>, Joseph Gordon-Levitt just looks great dressed to the nines and charmingly smirking every now and then, Michael Caine is nearly non-existent, Marion Cotillard just looks pouty and gorgeous, and Ellen Page seems like she wandered onto the set from a teen detective movie. The acting isn't amazing but it is more than enough to sustain an action movie where the entirety of emotional baggage is placed squarely on DiCaprio and Cotillard, who, for her part, helps humanize the film late in the game by filling the frame with a surprisingly sublime tenderness. <p></p>If you're looking for an exploration of dreams in style of Bunuel or Lynch you're going to be disappointed. If you're looking for an action movie in the style of <em>The Dark Knight</em> you're going to be let down. But, if you're looking for a very entertaining, albeit overly thought-out, summer film, well, you're in luck.

<p>For the love of Pete, when was the last time Nic Cage was in a good movie? [Ed.: <em>Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans!</em>] The man has dabbled in enough mediocrity to have ended three acting careers and yet he continues to get work. Maybe it's his familial ties to the Coppola dynasty or that films like <em>National Treasure</em> actually get more butts in seats than some people think. Either way, Cage and Bruckheimer (Brucks for short) are at it once again in the movie <em>The Sorcerer's Apprentice</em>. The film follows master sorcerer Balthazar Blake (Cage) in modern-day Manhattan as he fights his arch-nemesis Maxim Horvath, with the help of a new apprentice.</p><p></p>Reviews have been mixed with Tasha Robinson from <a href=",43076/">The A.V. Club</a> saying: "While both actors [Cage and Molina] have been hammier and more hilarious, and neither one overdoes things enough to be notable, they at least seem to be having loads of flailing fun as they conjure up CGI scenery to chew on. And when Apprentice limits itself to their battle, it’s generally fitful dumb fun.<p></p>"Unfortunately, their contest of wills largely serves as backdrop to a standard-issue hero’s-quest/Chosen One narrative of the type that was old when Merlin was a kid, but has been rolling into theaters with staggering frequency since Harry Potter hit it big."

<p>Starting tonight at <a href="">The IFC Center</a> is a little treat for you Cineastes out there, the documentary/recovered film <em>Henri-Georges Clouzot's Inferno</em>. Those not familiar with Clouzot's masterpieces <em>Wages of Fear</em> and <em>Diabolique</em> no longer have the excuse of not wanting to deal with the Comic-Book-Guy-types at Kim's and should immediately add them to their queue. <em>Inferno</em> was going to be Clouzot's magnum opus and gave him a ridiculous amount of creative control and an endless supply of money to get it made. Unfortunately, three weeks after he started, Clouzot stopped production and made it one of the best films never made. Apparently two jokers just found the footage and assembled it with some storyboards and talking heads and turned it into a documentary! Why not, right? If you had found that footage you'd probably have done something to get a directing credit too. </p>

<p>Opening today in limited release is the film <em>Kisses</em>, which follows two Dublin ragamuffins who run away from their miserable homes and head to the big city. Sounds like our life story.</p><p></p>Reviews have been fairly positive, with some dissent from Noel Murray from <a href=",43175/">The A.V. Club</a> who says: "Ever since Morris Engel and Ruth Orkin’s 1953 charmer <em>Little Fugitive</em>, indie filmmakers have gotten a lot of mileage out of the premise of children out on their own in a big city, confronting its wonders and dangers. Lance Daly’s <em>Kisses</em> lands squarely in that pre-teen runaway genre, though writer-director Daly is more preoccupied with the danger than the wonder.<p></p>"Compared to movies like <em>Little Fugitive</em> or <em>The 400 Blows</em> or Shane Meadows’ recent <em>Somers Town</em>—all of which balance the harsher realities of life with a strong sense of the individual human spirit—<em>Kisses</em> is dreary to a fault. It looks fantastic, with its shadowy Dublin alleys illuminated by the heroes’ light-up Heelys. But the writing doesn’t have that same glow."

<p>Now this is the real winner this weekend: <em>Standing Ovation</em>. No, you haven't heard of it, and by no means should you have. The film follows a band of peppy high school girls who form a singing group called "The 5 Ovations" (amazing), who compete in a national singing competition against a group of 5 peppy girls who the film convinces us not to like. Oh, and it's a musical! Either this is cashing in on <em>High School Musical</em> way too late (Efron's already making dramas) or the new craze around <em>Glee</em> but either way this movie sounds like an epic Fail at 24 frames per second.</p><p></p>Reviews have been abysmal, with some gent named Mick LaSalle from <a href="">The San Francisco Chroncicle</a> saying: "<em>Standing Ovation</em> is an innovative film in the sense that every minute or so it comes up with a different way of being annoying. Moreover, it often goes for a layered effect, in which it's annoying in two or three ways simultaneously. In such moments you might say that instead of striking individual notes of annoyance, it produces complex chords that resonate in the mind and reverberate through the skin until it starts to crawl.<p></p>"But the most striking thing about <em>Standing Ovation</em>, and the most noticeable thing - noticeable from the movie's first minutes and impossible to ignore throughout - is that the acting is simply terrible across the board. Now this is a musical, and it features a lot of kids, so no one goes in expecting to see the National Theatre of London. But the acting in this film is amateurish, in the sense that scenes are spoken as they would be in a high school play. And the adult performers are no better than the kids."

<p>Don't let the Superfund status worry you, the Gowanus canal is still the place to be. Tonight <a href="">Rooftop Films</a> presents the documentary <em>We Don't Care About Music Anyway</em> which documents the avant garde music scene in Japan. Even if that's not your thing, the shit's being shown on the Old American Can Factory. There is live music and various other activities to keep you busy. It should be fun times.</p>

<em>Before we start, I'd just like to say the campers you're about to see suck dick! But nevertheless, please welcome them.</em><p></p>You can take that disc of <em>The State</em> out of your DVD player tonight because at the <a href="">Landmark Theater</a> Sunshine at Midnight presents <em>Wet Hot American Summer</em>! Chances are, if this interests you, you've already seen the movie, so we don't need to tell you how amazing it is.

<em>You are seven years old. You are a man. Bury your first toy and your mother's picture.</em><p></p>Don't think that just because <em>El Topo</em> was finally released on DVD that there's no reason to see it in theaters. Jodorowsky's midnight masterpiece is beautifully filmed and the big screen is where it's meant to be seen. Assemble the crew and head over to <a href="">The IFC Center</a> tonight and experience one of the most unique films ever made.