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Weekend Movie Forecast: <em>Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World</em> Vs. <em>Eat, Pray, Love</em>

<p>In New York City, movies such as <em>Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World</em> are released a week early as "limited releases," so a lot of people have already seen it. If you have a friend who watches a lot of Adult Swim and spends their extra cash on video games, chances are they saw this last Friday and loved it. Today the movie gets thrown into the whole of America, and we'll have to wait and see how it does. In case you don't know, the plot revolves around a wiener kid who somehow lands some hot chick and must battle her seven ex-boyfriends to keep her. Good news is it's directed by Edgar Wright (<em>Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz</em>), bad news is it stars Michael Cera, who, despite his good comic timing, has all the acting range of a high school drama student understudy.</p><p></p>Reviews have been pretty good, with some dissent coming from Keith Uhlich at <a href="http://newyork.timeout.com/articles/film/88142/scott-pilgrim-vs-the-world-film-review">Time Out New York</a>, who says: "It’s supremely annoying to see the ups and downs of romance reduced to archer-than-arch line readings and bloodless mortal kombat. What’s more frustrating is that the film, adapted from Bryan Lee O’Malley’s popular comic, is an endless visual delight.<p></p>"And the supporting cast certainly gives it their all—particularly Jason Schwartzman as big baddy Gideon, a music producer who seems partially modeled on Paul Williams’s maniacal Swan from <em>Phantom of the Paradise</em>. Whenever he’s onscreen, the movie’s obsession with childish things seems closer to pointed satire than willful submission. Otherwise, GAME OVER can’t come soon enough."


<p>So memoirs have become pretty big these days. People can't get enough of other people's self-indulgence, in book form anyway. Otherwise they probably wouldn't want to hear it. One of the best selling memoirs of the past few years has been Elizabeth Gilbert's <em>Eat Pray Love</em>, and it's <em>finally</em> been turned into a movie. The story follows Liz after she goes through a painful divorce and decides to travel in order to rejuvenate her life (who can afford to travel these days?). Reviews have been pretty mediocre, with one coming from Roger Ebert at <a href="http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100811/REVIEWS/100819999/1023">Chicago Sun Times</a>, who says: "I gather Gilbert's 'prose is fueled by a mix of intelligence, wit and colloquial exuberance that is close to irresistible' (New York Times Book Review), and if intelligence, wit and exuberance are what you're looking for, Julia Roberts is an excellent choice as the movie's star. You can see how it would be fun to spend a year traveling with Gilbert. A lot more fun than spending nearly two hours watching a movie about it. I guess you have to belong to the narcissistic subculture of Woo-Woo.</p><p></p>"The audience I joined was perhaps 80 percent female. I heard some sniffles and glimpsed some tears, and no wonder. <em>Eat Pray Love</em> is shameless wish-fulfillment, a Harlequin novel crossed with a mystic travelogue, and it mercifully reverses the life chronology of many people, which is Love Pray Eat."


<p>A few years ago on Henry Rollins' IFC talk show, Rollins and his guest Rob Zombie were discussing the sad state of action movies. They discussed how neutered the films had become and the pansies that had become "action stars," when they both simultaneously said "like Orlando Bloom." Luckily for us, Bloom hasn't been seen recently and this weekend sees the release of <em>The Expendables</em>, which features every awesome action star of the last two decades. We know, it's probably terrible, but the cast list is like a juiced-up 13 year old's wet dream. We're not even going to bore you with minor details such as plot when Stallone is directing and there's all that body mass.</p><p></p>Reviews have been pretty bad but anyone that's dying to see this movie can tell the critics where to stick their bad reviews. Keith Uhlich from <a href="http://newyork.timeout.com/articles/film/88137/the-expendables-film-review">Time Out New Yor</a> says: "Ruined faces dominate <em>The Expendables</em>, which gives Stallone the chance to milk every last drop of virile pathos. Mickey Rourke gets an expectedly moving 'This is why I retired' monologue, and Sly’s <em>Rocky IV</em> antagonist, Dolph Lundgren, does a great rueful drunk act. Yet all the potent man-boob yearning is undermined by the inept action scenes, which follow one character’s description of a particular plot twist ('That’s bad Shakespeare') by being all about sound and fury signifying nada.<p></p>"Another tossed-off line ('I like poetry') hints at the swaggering lyricism Stallone is after. Indeed, certain pieces of <em>The Expendables</em>—the way a fire trail gleams in Ross’s eyes, for instance—stick out like well-turned phrases in a failed sonnet. The definitive ode to our aged ’80s action star stable, though, has yet to be written."



<p>Not to be confused with a section of an amusement park, <em>Animal Kingdom</em> is a film about a 17 year-old named J, who navigates his survival amongst his family of criminals as a good-spirited detective (Guy Pearce) attempts to get him out. The film will probably do as well as any independent/foreign crime movie can do, but it's apparently pretty good.</p><p></p>The worst review (2 stars) comes from Michael Atkinson at <a href="http://www.villagevoice.com/2010-08-11/film/an-epic-in-training-animal-kingdom-suffers-for-its-ambition/">The Village Voice</a> who says: "The movie maintains a low boil, marbled up with a portentous liturgical score, but meanwhile, eggs do get cooked: Michôd's portrait of Melbourne's low-rent outlands is convincing, Mendelsohn's flabby jerk emerges as a fresh kind of sociopathic menace (not the kind that announces his madness with bulk physicality or glaring eyes), and Weaver's bubble-headed mom morphs into a back-stabbing Ma Barker.<p></p>"Michôd wants a Greek epic but doesn't have the material. <em>Animal Kingdom</em> is a work of obvious ambition, and seeing a debut filmmaker swing for the fences like this is its own kind of moviehead satisfaction. Maybe he could redo it down the road, pull a <em>Mean Streets</em> on this <em>Who's That Knocking at My Door</em>."


<p>Hey, guess what!? There's a new Miyazaki movie out! Oh wait...scratch that. It's Hayao's son Goro, and it's not looking too good. It's animated, it's called <em>Tales from Earthsea</em> and it's based on an Ursula K. Le Guin story. Plot: A wizard investigates a kingdom where the citizenry begins seeing dragons. </p><p></p>Reviews have been bad, with Michael Atkinson from <a href="http://www.villagevoice.com/2010-08-11/film/like-father-not-like-son-goro-miyazaki-s-tales-from-earthsea/">The Voice</a> saying: "Miyazaki movies (<em>Howl's Moving Castle, Spirited Away</em>) are always bewitched by dream logic, but this cookie-cutter fantasy saga—a good wizard and bad wizard battle over the karmic "balance" of the titular kingdom, with a troubled prince caught in the middle—is slack and often incomprehensible, full of vague magical rules and eruptions of nonsense without explanation.<p></p>"And despite the Willem Dafoe–whispered, androgynously evil mage and the incongruous presence of Cheech Marin dubbing the villain's head lackey, Earthsea seems to be a stupendously dull place. It would try the patience of any kid."


<p>Despite the fact that <em>Slumdog Millionaire</em> won best picture, Bollywood never really caught on in this country outside of a few select circles. Perhaps it was because <em>Slumdog</em> was only a watered down British export of Bollywood, or that real Bollywood is far too scary. Today the film <em>Peepli Live</em> comes out, a real Bollywood export, and boy howdy does it sound like a gas. The film follows two poor farmers who, under the suggestion of a local politician, consider offing themselves in order for their family to cash in on some "family of a deceased farmer" law. Local news gets wind of this and rush over to see if they'll actually go through with it. </p><p></p>The film has, for some reason, been getting a huge push from the studio and has also been getting good reviews, with Eric Hynes from <a href="http://newyork.timeout.com/articles/film/88139/peepli-live-film-review">Time Out New York</a> saying: "Unlike satires that coast on winking self-satisfaction, Anusha Rizvi’s debut is both a heartfelt and a genuinely funny skewering of India’s convoluted caste-consciousness.<p></p>"Compared with the paraded bloat of most Bollywood imports, Peepli Live is surprisingly restrained, patiently matching Manikpuri’s slack-jawed deadpan. Rizvi’s disaster pastoral directly recalls Billy Wilder’s accelerated descent into modern hell, <em>Ace in the Hole</em>, but she’s much more of a pragmatist than Hollywood’s legendary cynic. Her film mercifully stops short of sanctifying the poor or fully scorning the privileged, maintaining enough real-world complexity that all sides can recognize the mess."



<p>So here's a fun movie that recalls the glory days of early '90s indies about women who enjoy sex and promiscuity so much that they need to document that shit on film. <em>The People I've Slept With</em> follows one liberated woman, Angela Yang, who sleeps with so many guys she makes baseball cards of them in order to remember who they were. This is all well and good until she gets knocked up and goes on a quest to find out who the baby daddy is so she can become an honest woman (talk about conflict).</p><p></p>Reviews have been non-too-flattering, with Jeannette Catsoulis from <a href="http://movies.nytimes.com/2010/08/13/movies/13peopl.html?ref=movies">The Times</a> saying: "<em>The People I’ve Slept With</em> is a raunchy romantic comedy that, like its heroine, rarely has both feet on the ground. When morning sickness puts the kibosh on Angela’s recreations, there are five likely fathers — including her gay BFF, Gabriel (Wilson Cruz) — three of whom are standard-issue rom-com nightmares. Bachelor No. 1, however, a lawyer and aspiring politician (Archie Kao), is handsome, sexy and available. Or maybe not.<p></p>"Mildly amusing and completely ridiculous, Angela’s journey of self-discovery unfolds in TV-friendly frames and sitcom-stale setups. As she embarks on a quest to collect DNA samples from the possible daddies, the film attempts to squeeze laughs from a corpse mourned by a roomful of pregnant exes and a used condom bulging with purloined semen."


<p>Also coming out today is the film <em>Salt of This Sea</em>, which if you don't get a chance to see will probably be on Starz 6 at two in the morning sometime next month. The film follows Brooklyn-born Palestinian Soraya, who heads back to Israel to reclaim her grandfather's house and property, you see where this is going? Reviews have been pretty, uniformly negative with Ella Taylor from <a href="http://www.villagevoice.com/2010-08-11/film/the-naive-drama-of-west-bank-story-salt-of-this-sea/">The Voice</a> writing: "Annemarie Jacir, who was raised in Saudi Arabia, directs with flair and loving attention to the wild, damaged beauty of the contested landscape. But Soraya's rebellious bursts of rage come off more like the tantrums of a spoiled princess than the legitimate anger of an emerging activist.</p><p></p>"<em>Salt of This Sea</em> is a sexy, good-looking, intelligently paced drama, but, politically, it is a loaded dice that—pausing to stomp with close to equal contempt on the Israeli peace movement and (as Jacir sees it) the passive fatalism of the Palestinian old guard—moves inexorably backward to perpetual victimhood."


<em>It's the Second Law of Thermodynamics: sooner or later everything turns to shit. That's my phrasing, not the Encyclopedia Britannica.</em><p></p> Tomorrow night at the <a href="http://www.bam.org/view.aspx?pid=2409">BAM Rose Cinema</a> is Woody Allen's painful masterpiece <em>Husbands and Wives</em>. The movie is a lot sicker than <em>Annie Hall</em> and sort of depressing, so it should be interesting to see who comes out of the woodwork for this one.


<em>Illinois Nazis. I hate Illinois Nazis.</em><p></p>This weekend at the <a href="http://www.landmarktheatres.com/Market/NewYork/NewYork_frameset.htm">The Landmark Theater</a>, Sunshine at Midnight presents the comedy classic <em>The Blues Brothers</em>. They really don't make comedies like they used to so go take in some nice '80s comedy nostalgia.