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Weekend Movie Forecast: <em>Predators</em> Vs. <em>The Kids Are Alright</em>

<p>Perhaps attempting to replicate the success of the second, more action-packed <em>Alien</em> film entitled <em>Aliens</em>, the <em>Predator</em> series is hoping that plural, rather than numerical, equals popular with its new installment <em>Predators</em>. The "s" is all well and good, but the film seems to be missing something that was essential to the success of the first film, namely: Body Mass. Instead of the bulging, pulsating musculature of Arnie, Carl and the sexual Tyrannosaurus, we have Adrien "physique of a holocaust victim" Brody. Even with the green-screen madman Robert Rodriguez producing, the film is already about 700 pounds of muscle too light. The film follows Brody and a bunch of other mercenaries, death-squad members, and degenerates as they fight an impossible battle on another planet against a platoon of predators. If Arnie could barely kill one, the odds are pretty bad for these fellows.</p><p></p>Reviews have been all right for an action movie, with Stephen Holden from <a href="http://movies.nytimes.com/2010/07/09/movies/09predators.html?ref=movies">The Times</a> saying: "This genre-savvy film, directed by Nimrod Antal (<em>Control</em>) from a screenplay by Michael Finch and Alex Litvak, stuffs Mr. Brody’s mouth with handfuls of sticky verbal popcorn.<p></p>"Noisy, overstuffed with special effects and embellished with pretentious visual quotations from <em>Apocalypse Now</em>, <em>Predators</em> might be taken as a karmic morality tale whose human predators finally get their comeuppance. But as its momentum accelerates, and its special effects transform it into a pulpy cartoon, <em>Predators</em> loses its judgment and turns into a frantic, clichéd chase film. This chaotic stew of fire, blood, mud and explosives is so devoid of terror and suspense that any metaphorical analysis is rendered moot."


<p>If <em>Predators</em> isn't your cup of tea and you rather spend your two hours of air-conditioned bliss thinking about shit instead of seeing shit blown up, than you might enjoy <em>The Kids Are Alright</em>. The film takes the familiar indie bildungsroman routine of tracking down biological fathers and spins it slightly by making the father not some irresponsible no-goodnick but rather a sperm donor who gave his little guys to a lesbian couple in order to create two little scamps. The scamps grow up and track this unsuspecting fella down and haul him back to their family where modern family antics ensue.</p><p></p>Reviews have been extremely positive, with some disgruntled negativity about the acting coming from Anthony Lane at the highbrow <a href="http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/cinema/2010/07/12/100712crci_cinema_lane">New Yorker</a>, who says: "Not long ago, in <em>Mother and Child</em>, Annette Bening played a controlling, easily angered woman who worked in a hospital and found her status as a parent challenged by unforeseen events. Now, in <em>The Kids Are All Right</em>, she opts for a complete change of tack, playing a controlling, easily angered lesbian who works in a hospital and finds her status as a parent challenged by unforeseen events.<p></p>"It leads her to contact a guy named Paul, who, years ago, was the anonymous sperm donor picked by Nic and Jules to be the father of both children. Paul, a bearded restaurateur, turns out to be randy but unthreatening, warm to the touch but cool about stuff, with a dash of smugness in his easy smile, all of which is a way of saying that he is played by Mark Ruffalo. One of these days, someone should cast Ruffalo as a quarterback, or a Cistercian monk, just to see what happens."


<p>You know what we haven't seen in way too long (about three weeks)? A whimsical French film! If you agree, then you better buckle up Spanky because this weekend you'll have whimsy coming out the yin-yang after watching <em>Around a Small Mountain</em>. The film follows a stuffed shirt Vittorio who gallantly helps a woman named Kate with her stalled car. Kate doesn't say a word, like whimsical girls should, but instead peels away. Vittorio finds out that she has returned after a mysterious absence to rejoin her family's circus, where he soon becomes engrossed with both Kate and the godlike existence of circus performers.</p><p></p>Reviews have been like those of most French films by American critics (divisive), with Joshua Rothkopf from <a href="http://newyork.timeout.com/articles/film/87054/around-a-small-mountain-film-review">Time Out New York</a> saying: "Slender and insubstantial, Around a Small Mountain takes place mainly in a single-tent circus, where clowns enact a dull routine involving dinner plates and a gun. The sparse audience, which we see only rarely, is not impressed; should we be, though?<p></p>"Never is the material excited into the kind of playful uncertainty that Rivette all but trademarked; the inertness of the performances robs the movie of spirit. There’s some metacommentary spoken to camera, a young woman eating rum-raisin ice cream and a taste of onstage bravado involving a bullwhip, but these elements no more add up to Rivette than they do Fellini, Wenders or memorable entertainment."



<p>Isn't it funny when Michael Scott on <em>The Office</em> makes a funny voice for a couple of seconds? How about for 95 minutes? Test his limits yourself <em>Despicable Me</em>, which comes out today. The film tells the tale of a lovable supervillain Gru who takes in three orphaned girls and attempts to raise them as his own.</p><p></p>The film has actually been getting some pretty decent reviews with a nice, patronizing pat on the back from A.O. Scott at <a href="http://movies.nytimes.com/2010/07/09/movies/09despicable.html?ref=movies">The New York Times</a> who says: "The difference between inspired creation and frantic pretending is the difference between magic and mediocrity, between art and junk, or to cite a conveniently available example, between <em>Toy Story 3</em> and <em>Despicable Me</em>.<p></p>"<em>Despicable Me</em> cannot be faulted for lack of trying. If anything, it tries much too hard, stuffing great gobs of second-rate action, secondhand humor and warmed-over sentiment into every nook and cranny of its relentlessly busy 3-D frames."


<p>Well, now that we know that David Fincher is attached to direct an American version of Stieg Larsson's uber-successful <em>The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo</em> we can probably expect an American version of <em>The Girl Who Played with Fire</em> shortly after, and, knowing Americans, they now no longer will feel the need to go to some weird little theater and read the subtitles to the Swedish version. For those of you who are diehards or are members of a mystery book club, you may still be interested in seeing <em>The Girl Who Played with Fire</em>, which opens today. Two reporters are killed the day before their expose on a Swedish-Eastern European sex trafficking ring sees print, and everyone's favorite goth Noomi Rapace—and her partner—are on the case.</p><p></p>Reviews have been pretty good except for a few reviews like Tasha Robinson's from <a href="http://www.avclub.com/articles/the-girl-who-played-with-fire,42919/">The A.V. Club</a> who says: "It’s impossible to predict what Larsson might have ultimately done with these books, but it’s hard to miss how they get longer, drier, and more diffuse as the series progresses, and it’s impossible to miss how that dynamic affects the second film adaptation in the series, which feels simultaneously crowded and perfunctory.<p></p>"More disappointingly, the entire cast seems less committed than they were the first time out. Nyqvist has little to do here, while Rapace, who was riveting in <em>Dragon Tattoo</em>, seems to be going through the motions. Alfredson repeatedly hones in on potentially fatal face-offs, yet in most cases, the participants seem somewhere between vaguely upset and marginally interested. There’s an unsatisfying casualness to <em>Girl Who Played With Fire</em>, as though all concerned feel like the groundwork has been laid, the ticket sales are assured, and just showing up is good enough. "


<p>Before getting physical and Thetan meters, there was <em>Grease</em>. Love it or hate it, this '70s musical bastardization of 1950s greaser culture is unavoidable. For those of you beauty school drop-outs who can't get enough of it, you need to get to <a href="http://www.google.com/movies?hl=en&amp;near=nyc&amp;sort=1&amp;ei=TUU3TMuBOIKB8gbGy9SDDA&amp;tid=9fd5b2b2e39bb802">AMC Loews Village 7</a> tonight for a <em>Grease</em> sing-along. We imagine they'll have the lyrics to the songs at the bottom of the screen, but it'd be impressive if anyone actually even needed them. </p>



<p>The World Karting Association isn't the most exciting sounding organization in the world but then again, most people don't realize that these "karts" pull about 70 mph. Opening today is the documentary <em>Racing Dreams</em>, which follows three 12-13 year-old kids as they compete in the organization's National Pavement Series.</p><p></p>The film has been getting pretty great reviews, with Marshall Curry from <a href="http://newyork.timeout.com/articles/film/87058/racing-dreams-film-review">Time Out New York</a> saying: "No longer just a weekend amusement, go-karting has become the Little League of NASCAR driving, complete with nifty jumpsuits and pro techniques. Marshall Curry’s sleek documentary captures the second-hand thrill of watching tweens hurtle at 70 mph around a blacktop, as it follows three potential superkarters over the course of a single season.<p></p>"These young racers aren’t the only ones with a need for speed: Curry and his team of editors keep things moving at a breakneck pace, and the more the movie methodically rotates through its story lines, the less it settles into a spontaneous, lifelike rhythm. Yet poised between childhood and adolescence, arrogance and insecurity, the kids still make for compelling subjects."


<p>This Saturday at <a href="http://www.elmuseo.org/en/event/la-cuerda-floja-tightrope">El Museo</a>, Rooftop films presents the documentary <em>La Cuerda Floja</em> (The Tightrope). The film documents a family who is attempting to keep their under-attended, old-fashioned circus going because they believe in the transcendence of their art (quite a rare bird these days). It sounds like an interesting documentary and if you haven't been to El Museo, it's definitely worth the trip uptown.</p>


<p>And now for the Cinema Event of the Year: Tonight and Tomorrow at the <a href="http://www.landmarktheatres.com/Market/NewYork/NewYork_frameset.htm">Landmark Sunshine Theater</a> for one weekend only is the premiere of the award-winning documentary <em><a href="http://winnebagoman.com">Winnebago Man</a></em>! At 7:30 tonight a 40 ft. RV will pull up to the theater (and probably have to double park) with one Jack Rebney inside, that's right, the Winnebago Man himself will be in attendance (if you're not excited for this then you should probably look him up on youtube). Introducing this artifact of viral greatness tonight is Michael Moore, who has called the film "one of the funniest documentaries ever made!” </p>


<em>Oh my God, what a horrible photograph. My first wanted poster and I look just awful. </em><p></p>Tonight at the <a href="http://www.landmarktheatres.com/Market/NewYork/NewYork_frameset.htm">Landmark Theater</a> Sunshine at Midnight presents John Waters's masterpiece of bad taste <em>Pink Flamingos</em>. This movie is really something to see and one not easily forgotten.