Weekend Movie Forecast: <em>The Help</em> Vs. <em>30 Minutes Or Less</em>

<p>Based on the uber-bestselling novel of the post-Oprah book club world, <em>The Help</em> is coming out today, and it's sure to turn the multiplex into Hankytown, U.S.A. The story follows Skeeter, a Southern society girl, who returns home from college with the aspirations of becoming a writer (she didn't move to Broooklyn?). She begins interviewing her best friend's maid for material, much to the chagrin of the community. Well, you could probably see where this goes based on all the "feel-good" postbellum race relations movies you've seen before. We imagine friends become enemies, enemies become friends, and everyone learns something on their heartsmart journey towards equality. The book has been compared to <em>To Kill a Mockingbird</em>, but the movie being released today does not star Gregory Peck, so we're not holding our breath.<br/><br/>Reviews have been very mixed, with Scott Tobias from <a href=",60213/">The A.V. Club</a> saying: "The civil-rights movement might have ended segregation and beat back centuries of slavery and oppression, but let’s save a slow clap for well-meaning white folks with the moral courage to put themselves at the center of the narrative. Based on the bestest-seller by Kathryn Stockett, <em>The Help</em> joins <em>Glory, Cry Freedom, Driving Miss Daisy</em>, and many other noble adaptations in filtering the black experience through the white experience, but credit Stockett (and the film) for conceiving a sneaky end-around.<br/><br/>"Shot like an inductee in the Hallmark Hall Of Fame, <em>The Help</em> covers an ugly era in superficial gloss that’s only punctured by the particulars of Mississippi race law or hiring practices that are a mere hairsbreadth away from slavery. The whole thing is rigged for crowd-pleasing payoffs—a bit about chocolate pie gets more mileage than a Prius—and those payoffs are about honoring white viewers for not being horrible racists. Kudos to them." </p>

<p>When <em>The Squid and the Whale</em> came out all those years ago, few of us suspected that Jesse Eisenberg's career would take off like it has. Following up with some pretty solid work (<em>The Social Network, Adventureland, Zombieland</em>) he's actually become quite likable. Today he teams up with the hysterical Aziz Ansari and the Kenny Powers (uh, we mean Danny McBride) in the film <em>30 Minutes of Less</em>. The narrative follows a small-town pizza delivery boy Nick, who gets involved with two criminals who force him into robbing a bank. In order to figure a way out of the whole mess, Nick recruits his ex-best friend Chet for help. The film has got a lot of funny people in it, we can only hope the writer is half as talented.<br/><br/>Reviews have been very mixed, with Seth Colter Walls from <a href="">The Village Voice</a> saying: "Despite its broad resemblance to a true-crime story, there are nearly 1 million logical leaps made in the course of setting up this Rube Goldberg device of a plot—but watching the film clear each one becomes its own goofy pleasure. Like his latest, Fleischer's <em>Zombieland</em> borrowed plenty of genre tropes, but paid them back with a self-aware wink. <em>30 Minutes or Less</em> just takes the money and runs." </p>

<p>If any of you out there still care, <em>Final Destination 5</em> comes out today, and it'll probably be a lot more of the same. The beyond-trilogy film franchise was great when we were growing up and could watch six of them in a row on television, but seeing each one being released in theaters is kind of lame. The only plot detail being given out by the studio is that you apparently can't cheat death. Who knew?<br/><br/>Reviews have been mixed, with Mike Hale from <a href="">The New York Times</a> (who reads horror reviews in the Times?) saying: "Few horror cycles are as consistently true to their formulas, and <em>Final Destination 5</em>, directed by Steven Quale, hits all its marks: dream, escape, official suspicion, theme song ('Dust in the Wind' this time) and Tony Todd , who returns as Bludworth, the voice of cheated death, after taking the fourth movie off.<br/><br/>"A new wrinkle in how the killings spool out actually makes the film even more predictable, and the deaths, which tend to be squirmy rather than explosive (a scene in an eye doctor’s office could be a deal breaker for some), are so perfunctory and lazily jokey that they leave a decidedly bad aftertaste." </p>

<p>For all you unashamed Gleeks out there, get psyched, today's your day to gleek out in public, because <em>Glee: The 3D Concert Movie</em> comes out. It goes without saying that this probably is a movie for fans of the show. We're not sure how someone unfamiliar with it would take a full-length concert video, but you never know—there's a lot of enthusiasm going on in that cast.<br/><br/>Reviews have been mixed (of course), with Tasha Robinson from <a href=",60241/">The A.V. Club</a> saying: "Director Kevin Tancharoen (Fame) takes a few odd tacks with this concert film of the <em>Glee</em> live-performance tour. Even during the scant behind-the-scenes footage, the <em>Glee</em> cast remains in character, referring to each other solely by their names from their hit TV show, and dropping awkward role-appropriate one-liners, even though there’s no frame story or premise to explain why those characters would be in concert or a documentary, and even though the performers’ perspective would be far more intimate and relatable.<br/><br/>"It’s a high-gloss, high-impact, extra-shiny production that fits the <em>Glee</em> dynamic to a T: While the show’s characters perpetually angst over the haters, the show itself ignores them, keeps grinning and counting the revenue streams, and sings out for everyone who’s drunk the Kool-Aid. There are worse philosophies." </p>

<p>Say what you will about Nascar (and there's plenty to be said), but Formula 1 is something people can sincerely defend, even those above the Mason Dixon. F1 is less about making left turns over the course of a few hours and more about engineering and design. One of the most famous drivers and the subject of a new documentary was Ayrton Senna. <em>Senna</em> follows the man's hellbent obsession with perfection that ultimately led to his untimely death ten years after making his debut. His life is an interesting one and could certainly provide the makings of a very interesting documentary.<br/><br/>Fortunately for us, his life story does apparently make a compelling documentary, which is garnering nearly unanimously great reviews and a rave one from Joshua Rothkopf from <a href="">Time Out New York</a> saying: "Opening to somber orchestral strains, the phenomenally sad yet exhilarating <em>Senna</em> tips its hand early. A proud father and mother stand next to their handsome son, a race-car driver. A 1983 sports interview is in progress. 'We’re a little worried,' the dad says, 'because he will probably race in Formula One.' Tight-lipped, he doesn’t elaborate. If such grace under pressure weren’t enough, Mom adds, 'I want to thank him for being such a great son.' The opening titles haven’t even finished yet.<br/><br/>"You couldn’t script a more satisfying tale—<em>Senna</em> knows this, and gets out of the way of the onrushing emotions attached to speed, fame, victory and disaster."</p>

<p>For the next two weeks, <a href="">Film Forum</a> is screening a retrospective of the absolutely great Robert Ryan. Ryan grew up in Chicago at the beginning of the 20th century, went on to attend Dartmouth, and graduated right at the beginning of the Great Depression, when he worked a series of blue-collar jobs until becoming an actor at the age of 30. This mix between Ivy League graduate (where he made friends with the likes of James Joyce and Eugene O'Neill) and hardened Black Irish worker made him one of the most attracting actors to ever work in film. Ryan worked with everyone from Nicolas Ray, Fritz Lang to Sam Peckinpah, playing bigots, boxers, writers, and everything in between. Check out the site and figure out which movies sound interesting, but you don't have to think too hard, because they're all good. </p>

<p>Frank Sinatra is a polarizing figure. Mythic to Italian uncles everywhere, kind of an asshole to people who came of age in the '90s during his "cranky phase," and a staple of weddings and commercials for decades to come, people absolutely love him or think of him as background noise. One aspect of his career that doesn't get as much attention is his work in over 60 films and television shows. Well, the people over at <a href="">The Museum of the Moving Image</a> are looking to change that, with a retrospective of his acting career. Sinatra starred in some pretty great films, including <em>Guys and Dolls, The Manchurian Candidate</em> and Otto Preminger's <em>The Man with the Golden Arm</em>. We're certain there's at least one movie playing that you'd do well to see, so don't miss out! </p>

<p>Celebrated New Yorker, viral star, Vietnam vet, former porn actor, stripper, auto-tuned Renaissance man, and gubernatorial hopeful Jimmy McMillan is the subject of the appropriately titled documentary <em>Damn!</em> which comes out today. McMillan and filmmakers Aaron Fisher-Cohen and Kristian Almgren <a href=""> stopped by our office</a> to talk about the film, and if the interview is any indication, it's going to be ridiculous. The filmmakers started filming McMillan immediately after his infamous debate, so this provides an interesting look at the sudden media fixation on McMillan. The film's subject is certainly interesting enough, and we can't imagine him ever being boring, so it will probably turn out to be a fun night at the movies.<br/><br/>Reviews have been mixed, with a rave review coming from Neil Genzlinger at <a href="">The New York Times</a> who writes: "It would be easy to be lulled into thinking that <em>Damn!</em>, a documentary about a fringe New York gubernatorial candidate, is just a mindless profile of a quirky guy. But by the end of this smart, subtle film by Aaron Fisher-Cohen, you realize that it’s actually a deft look at flash-in-the-pan fame and the emptiness at the heart of it.<br/><br/>"Mr. Fisher-Cohen captures Mr. McMillan’s transformation from a guy with a funny look and line into someone who believes his own hype and misconstrues his Warholian 15 minutes for widespread popularity and influence. It’s a dismaying portrait and, here in the YouTube age, a direct hit." </p>

<p>Starting today at <a href="">IFC Center</a> is the 15th annual <em>DocuWeeks 2011</em>. The series has grown considerably over the years and is easily one of the best annual film series in NYC. There are far too many docs to list now, so we recommend going to IFC Center's website or checking out this nice quick summary at <a href="">The Voice</a>. This is definitely one of the better festivals to go into blind; because they're docs you can usually choose what interests you by the topic, rather than the people in it or behind it. There's plenty to see and it will definitely make some interesting afternoons and evenings. </p>

<p>When we were in high school we tried to get our hands on all the films that we shouldn't see. We're not talking porn; more like movies banned in various countries or never released because they were too controversial. Other than going to Kim's Video, the easiest way to get a hold of these films (i.e. <em>Sante Sangre, Eraserhead,</em> etc...) was to get bootlegs of them on VHS off of eBay. Living in the city, however, gives you the opportunity to see some of them on the big screen, and you know what? One is playing tonight! <br/><br/>Tonight at the <a href="">Landmark Theater</a>, Sunshine at midnight screens the notorious <em>Cannibal Holocaust</em>. Long before <em>The Blair Witch Project</em>, <em>Holocaust</em> used the found footage of student gimmicks to its ultimate horrifying potential. In 1979, four documentary filmmakers and their guide went into the jungles of South America to shoot a film about cannibalism. They never returned. Six months later, New York University along with the Pan American Broadcasting Corporation sent in a search team, looking for the filmmakers. What they found is the gory video that you'll be watching either tonight or tomorrow at midnight! No one under the age of 18 will be admitted, so you know it's got to be good!</p>