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Weekend Movie Forecast: <em>Saw 3D</em> Vs. <em>Wild Target</em>

<p>Back in 1995, David Fincher followed his terrific debut atrocity <em>Alien 3</em> with a little film called <em>Seven</em>. It was a serial killer movie written by a guy who was working at Tower Records (true story), and as anyone who works retail can tell you, your opinion of humanity goes down the proverbial shitter. The film was very well-made and beautifully shot, choosing to show the grizzly aftermath of the murders and thereby forcing the audience to imagine it. The film was a success. Years later a bunch of people got together and threw Danny Glover and Cary Elwes into a room and started torture porn. Working off the model of <em>Seven</em> [(i.e. serial killer gives victims choice of an easy death, or a slow, painful torture they may or may not survive) also, opening next week is the movie <em>127 Hours</em>] <em>Saw</em> decided to explicitly show all of the sordid ordeals and little else, leaving behind the controlled restraint, intelligence, and plot of its predecessor. Sheeple loved it. So the powers that be decided to make another <em>Saw</em> film every year until it was totally beat into the ground. But <em>now</em> with 3D, any tired franchise can be revitalized for one last painful hoorah... in 3D. So with no further ado, <em>Saw 3D</em> comes out today, and it's probably just more of the same, but in 3D!</p><p></p>There have been no reviews. Either the studio was smart enough to not have press screenings or there's an shortage of ink and the press needed to conserve some.


<p>Human beings are a strange bunch. We usually require companionship of some sort, whether it's a friend, spouse, acquaintance, or even a well-wisher. Then sometimes we don't want another person within a hundred yards of us. And yet many of us have this sick fascination with crime and murder. How many movies come out every year that have the audience live vicariously through a person killing other people? Well, there's about to be one more today because the film <em>Wild Target</em> comes out and follows the foibles of a middle-aged assassin. A hitman is probably one of the worst jobs in the world but damn if Hollywood didn't make it look so cool. The film is directed by <em>the</em> Jonathan Lynn, we say <em>the</em> because he directed <em>Clue</em>.</p><p></p>Reviews have been mediocre, with Dan Kois from <a href="http://www.villagevoice.com/2010-10-27/film/how-to-explain-the-thing-that-is-wild-target/">The Village Voice</a> saying: "How else to get across how haphazard this whole enterprise is? Describe its incompetent action choreography? Mention the lame cameos by Rupert Everett, Eileen Atkins, and Martin Freeman? Post an Mp3 of the score, all honking saxophones and wheezing accordions?<p></p>"And then, near the end of the movie, there it was: Emily Blunt pushed a suitcase out the window of a country house. (Because she saw Victor pull the stuffed parrot—it doesn’t matter why!) Off-screen, I heard the suitcase crash to the patio, and then, after a beat, the yowl of an angry cat. <em>Wild Target</em> is the kind of movie that actually uses that angry-cat-yowl sound. That is the kind of movie that <em>Wild Target</em> is."


<p>So there appears to be an interesting little sub-genre of films slowly making its way into theaters: quasi-political alien films. This is really nothing new;after all, zombies were originally a representation of the mix between voodoo belief and the white man's fear of the Haitian revolution, which Romero then turned into commentary on consumerism. <em>Invasion of the Body Snatchers</em> was first a reaction to '50's conformity and then remade in the '80's as a reaction to AIDS. Nowadays, with the insanity that's going on in Arizona and all along the border, filmmakers have turned the dilemma of illegal aliens into literal ones. It started a year or two back with the promising but ultimately somewhat disappointing South African film <em>District 9</em> and continues today with <em>Monsters</em>. In the film, scientists discover that there is alien life in our solar system and decide to send NASA up there to check it out. On the way back the probe they sent up crash lands in Central America and alien life begins to grown. They quarantine the area as they figure out just want to do with these things. A U.S. journalist heads down there to help another person make it back to the U.S. border as a chance for the director to make comments on immigration.</p><p></p>Reviews have been fairly positive with Karina Longsworth from <a href="http://www.villagevoice.com/2010-10-27/film/paparazzo-boy-meets-idealistic-girl-in-alien-love-story-monsters/">The Village Voice</a> saying: "Borrowing the handheld lensing and easy pace of a low-budget character piece, director Gareth Edwards, a CGI artist by trade, has created a dystopian landscape that’s so naturalistic, it’s uncanny. As a writer, he’s a less successful realist, resorting to some pretty hoary contrivances to get and keep his boy and girl in the same space for the film’s duration, and the largely improvised post-mumble performances don’t add much depth.<p></p>"The film peaks, dramatically and creatively, with an alien mating dance of astonishing verisimilitude. It’s a cheap-shot plot device, but also visually spectacular."



<p>One of film's favorite dramatic tropes, right after single parents, are parents who lost a kid. Even if it's not the main point of the film, just something to haunt the character, there are a plethora of films that explore this particular grievance and today sees the release of another one: <em>Welcome to the Rileys</em>. James Gandolfini stars as a father estranged from his wife after the death of their teenage daughter. Things are looking pretty hopeless until he stumbles upon a runaway teen on one of his business trips. REPLACEMENT DAUGHTER!!! Things probably turn out alright in the end, but it's probably a real heart-smart journey along the way.</p><p></p>Reviews have been fairly positive, with some dissent coming from David Fear at <a href="http://newyork.timeout.com/arts-culture/film/448261/welcome-to-the-rileys">Time Out New York</a> saying: "The scene is set for an eventual round of three-way therapy, though it’s to Scott and screenwriter Ken Hixon’s credit that easy outs and tidy emotional tie-ups aren’t part of their plan. Still, sprinkling in a few ambiguities doesn’t make this let-the-healing-begin story any less formulaic, or take away the feeling that it was conceived more as an actor’s showcase rather than any sort of comment on the human condition. Everything else here just feels like another descent into mediocre Amerindie miserablism."


<p>Now we know that the Stieg Larsson trilogy has been out in Sweden much longer than in the States, but it's been pretty impressive how quickly the Swedes have been pumping out the movie adaptations. Today the third and final installment (final because Larsson went and died on us) <em>The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest</em> comes out and should make a lot of popular fiction readers very happy. Honestly, we just got the translation a couple months ago, so for most people reading the book, the movie is coming out just as they are finishing it. Meanwhile us slackers in the U.S. are splitting our final book series adaptation (i.e. Harry Potter and Twilight) into two, so we'll have to wait another couple years for them both to be put to rest. So anyway, the film follows a certain comatose goth girl who needs to wake herself up so she can go on trial for three murders and then kill the man who shot her in the first place. So if you're done waiting for Fincher to get the American version together, you can just finish the damn thing off and call it a night. </p>


<p>Most people have a carefree friend who travels the globe meeting people and just sharing their awesome happiness with the rest of the world. Then there are those of us who have a shit-ton of student loan money and hate people like that. Either way, if you care to spend your night with a 15 year old free spirit, then <em>Jolene</em> is the film for you. The film follows the wanderings and sexual exploits of Jolene as she makes her way around the world, marrying people and getting old. </p><p></p>Reviews have been terrible, with Lou Lumenick from <a href="http://www.nypost.com/p/entertainment/movies/it_below_average_jo_7lkzzaJt9mBOys1zpWDGxH">The Post</a> saying: "Like Doctorow's story, <em>Jolene</em> ends with her arrival in Hollywood, but not until we've seen nearly as much gratuitous nudity and over-the-top acting as in <em>Showgirls</em>.<p></p>"Fortunately for Chastain, <em>Jolene</em> is getting only a token release, three years after it was filmed. Few except critics will remember it when she appears as the female lead in the much-anticipated <em>The Tree of Life</em> in May."



<p>Opening today is the documentary <em>Waste Land</em> which follows artist Vik Muniz as he makes his way from Brooklyn to his native Brazil in order to create an artwork involving catadores, a group of eclectics who pick out recyclable material from a massive garbage dump on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro. The film was filmed over the course of three years and shows how Muniz worked with the catadores in creating images of themselves out of garbage.</p><p></p>Reviews have been very good, with Eric Hynes from <a href="http://www.villagevoice.com/2010-10-27/film/where-art-and-life-intersect-waste-land/">The Voice</a> saying: "A fascinating look at the complex intersections of art and charity, reality and perception, <em>Waste Land</em> follows celebrated New York artist Vik Muniz back to his native Brazil, where he’ll work with outer Rio garbage-pickers on an ambitious art project. Ostensibly called to “give back” to the impoverished region from whence he came—after the magnanimous collaboration, the plan is to auction off the art as a fundraiser—Muniz finds that the individual lives he encounters are far more complex than the morbid hordes he’d expected.<p></p>"The resultant art and film are uncommonly moving, but Walker keeps an eye on the messy pile of life that looms beyond the frame."


<p>And then there's Stephin Merritt. After 69 Love Songs came out the Magnetic Fields became an institution in indie rock. Merritt's grandiose take on love songs has made him one of the best musicians of the past two decades. Today sees the release of the documentary <em>Strange Powers: Stephin Merritt and the Magnetic Fields</em> and anyone who's a fan of Merritt won't want to miss it.</p><p></p>Reviews have been good, with Mike Hale from <a href="http://movies.nytimes.com/2010/10/27/movies/27strange.html?ref=movies">The New York Times</a> saying: "In her director’s statement for <em>Strange Powers: Stephin Merritt and the Magnetic Fields</em>, Gail O’Hara writes that “this one’s for the fans.” Rarely has that been more true. If you respond to the morose grandeur of Mr. Merritt’s music or are drawn to his downtown gay-bard persona — owlish yet waspish — then it’s likely that you’ll be engrossed by this documentary, directed by Ms. O’Hara and Kerthy Fix, which was more than a decade in the making and is sometimes uncomfortably intimate. If not, you might be better off picking up that Keith Richards memoir.<p></p>"Still, in <em>Strange Powers</em> she manages to show us, sometimes directly but more often between the lines, both the rewards and the costs of working, living or just hanging out with her highly gifted subject."


<p>And then there's the film <em>The Kids Grow Up</em> for those who raise kids or would like to and therefore watch a movie about it. It's a documentary by Doug Block who basically filmed his daughter's entire upbringing (that's healthy) and her departure to college. So yeah, there's this movie too.</p><p></p>Reviews have been mixed, with V.A. Musetto from <a href="http://www.nypost.com/p/entertainment/movies/the_kids_grow_up_vhXKOOCyavfzbAomXu4ELO">The Post</a> saying: "Block is so obsessed that he insists on sticking a camera in his wife's face while she is bed-bound with her fourth major bout of depression. Could it be that the constant surveillance contributes to her illness?<p></p>"Maybe being able to look back in time is comforting for Block and company, but what makes him think complete strangers give a damn about his not-especially-interesting family? I certainly don't."


<p>Also opening today is the film <em>Walkaway</em>, which follows four Indian-Americans in New York, dealing with love, relationships, work, and their families. This set-up has been done to death but it entirely depends on its execution, acting, directing, screenplay, etc... because that plot isn't going to get asses in seats.</p><p></p>Rachel Saltz from <a href="http://movies.nytimes.com/2010/10/29/movies/29walkaway.html?ref=movies">The Times</a> says: "<em>Walkaway</em>, a breezily schematic Indian movie about relationships in the big city — New York, that is — feels like a hybrid: a little Bollywood, a lot American indie from the let’s-talk-about-romance division. The film mostly eschews the pumped-up emotionalism of Hindi movies and very nearly dispenses with Hindi too. (English is mostly spoken here, with smatterings of French, Tamil and, yes, Hindi.).<p></p>"The director, Shailja Gupta, seems eager to explore the feelings and pressures that drive the characters’ romantic choices, though some of the conflict seems rigged. <em>Walkaway</em> is a pleasant enough time-pass, as they say in India, but stays too near the surface to be memorable."


<p>The movie masterpiece <em>Psycho</em> turns 50 this year and it's kind of amazing how much has changed. Movies have become insanely more violent, less well-crafted, and the entire style of acting seems to have changed altogether. Janet Leigh's daughter Jamie Lee has already seen the peak of her career and is currently doing yogurt commercials while <a href="http://gothamist.com/2007/12/04/elvis_perkins_m.php">Anthony Perkins's son Elvis</a> plays folksy music. Still, the movie has influenced almost every filmmaker working and was the absolute best according to some directors, such as Claude Chabrol, who has possibly made as many movies as Hitchcock. Chabrol's last film, finished about a month or so ago before he died, is the film <em>Inspector Bellamy</em> and it opens today. Gerard Depardieu stars as the title character whom on vacation with his wife, stumbles upon a potential murder case.</p><p></p>Reviews have been good, with J. Hoberman from <a href="http://www.villagevoice.com/2010-10-27/film/milestones-for-the-masters-of-suspense-psycho-s-50-th-inspector-bellamy/">The Village Voice</a> saying: "A serious entertainment that opens with the sound of someone whistling in the graveyard, it’s an ostensive crime film at once symmetrical, surprising, and knowingly cinephilic.<p></p>"Chabrol said that he conceived Inspector Bellamy as a portrait of Depardieu and—embodying the bluff, hearty Bellamy in every sense—the iconic actor has the confidence of his bulk; he’s a walking, if perpetually winded, Rock of Gibraltar, and his reassuring presence provides the movie its ballast."


<p>Also playing this weekend at the <a href="http://www.landmarktheatres.com/Market/NewYork/NewYork_frameset.htm">Landmark Theater</a> Sunshine at Midnight is the classic <em>Poltergeist</em>. Go and find out what happens if you try to build a house on an Indian burial ground, wait, Native American burial ground.</p>



<p>Playing till November 4th is Alfred Hitchcock's masterpiece <em>Psycho</em> at <a href="http://www.filmforum.org/films/psycho.html">Film Forum</a>. It is one of the best films ever made and deserves to be seen on the big screen. </p>