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Weekend Movie Forecast: <em>The Road</em> or <em>Me and Orson Welles</em>

<p>Adapted from Cormac McCarthy's bleak post-apocalyptic novel,<em> The Road</em> concerns a father (Viggo Mortensen) and son struggling to survive after an unspecified catastrophe eradicates civilization. <a href="http://www.villagevoice.com/2009-11-24/film/viggo-mortensen-s-the-road-takes-path-of-least-resistence/">J. Hoberman at the Village Voice</a> thinks "perhaps only a visionary genius like Andrei Tarkovsky or a heedless schlockmeister like Michael Bay could have handled the book's combination of visceral terror and mystical reflection. Ultimately, [director John] Hillcoat's <em>The Road </em>is less a disaster (or post-disaster) flick than a sort of global death trip—<strong>intended possibly as an audience ordeal in the tradition of<em> The Passion of the Christ,</em> complete with redemptive ending and regularly articulated life lessons.</strong> All meetings on the road are potential parables, every repetitive exchange between The Man and The Boy is presented as a mantra, and the appearance of a rheumy, putrid Old Man provides a gabby cameo for guest star Robert Duvall."</p>


<p>Directed by Richard Linklater and set in 1937, <em>Me and Orson Welles</em> concerns a teenage actor (Zac Efron) who lucks into a role in<em> Julius Caesar</em> as it's being radically re-imagined by a young Orson Welles at his newly-founded Mercury Theater. <a href="http://movies.nytimes.com/2009/11/25/movies/25orson.html?ref=movies">A.O. Scott at the Times</a> raves, "This movie is much more than an exercise in nostalgia for those storied old days, when Harold Ross edited The New Yorker, Orson Welles bestrode the boards of the Mercury Theater and Brooks Atkinson reviewed plays for The New York Times.</p><p></p>"Instead, <em>Me and Orson Welles</em> pays tribute to youthful creative ambition where and whenever it may thrive. The story of a teenager’s sometimes uncomfortable brush with greatness, it is necessary viewing for anyone whose imagination has been seduced by the charms of art...Disenchantment is part of the magic, and <em>Me and Orson Welles </em>strikes a persuasive balance between naïveté and cynicism, both of which are necessary to the theatrical enterprise.<strong> Art is a fairy tale we choose to believe in, and this movie, a fiction confected about real people, is too good not to be true."</strong>


<p>The long-delayed and hotly-dreaded release of<em> Old Dogs</em> is upon us. The, um, <em>comedy</em> stars John Travolta and Robin Williams as friends and business partners who "have their lives turned upside down when they're unexpectedly charged with the care of six-year-old twins while on the verge of the biggest business deal of their lives." <a href="http://www.boston.com/ae/movies/articles/2009/11/25/old_dogs_lacks_a_plot_purpose/">Ty Burr at the Boston Globe </a>doesn't pull punches: "If <em>Old Dogs</em> isn’t the absolute worst movie either star has appeared in, it’s close enough to count. No crotch goes unpummeled here, no supporting actor misused.</p><p></p><strong><strong>"You get a sense of how long the movie has been sitting on the shelf when Bernie Mac, dead these 15 months, shows up as a magician</strong></strong>. The studio, Disney, may have delayed the release of <em>Old Dogs</em> out of respect for the deceased comedian, or out of respect for Travolta after the death of his son earlier this year. That’s very sensitive. If they had any respect for audiences, they might never have released it at all."



<p>The self-explanatory <em>Ninja Assassin</em> stars Korean pop star (and Stephen Colbert-nemesis) Rain as a ninja who turns on his evil ninja cohorts after they kill his best friend. The Onion's <a href="http://www.avclub.com/articles/ninja-assassin,35745/">Nathan Rabin contends</a> that "if <em>Ninja Assassin </em>boasted sexual content equivalent to its level of violence, it would be rated NC-17 and repulse even the most dedicated perverts. However, the MPAA is much more accommodating when it comes to wall-to-wall bloodshed than consensual relations between loving adults. </p><p></p>"So while the ratings board might go into conniptions over an art film in which a woman receives oral sex, it has no problem with a protagonist who spends most of his time vivisecting enemies with a sharp chain that tears through flesh like a knife through butter. <em>Ninja Assassin</em> is ostensibly a vehicle for Korean pop star Rain, but <strong>the real star is the blood that gushes and spurts from the wounds of an army of interchangeable bad guys."</strong>


<p>Disney's <em>The Princess and the Frog </em>puts "a modern twist" on a classic tale, turning a beautiful black princess into an amphibian after she kisses a frog prince desperate to be human again. Then they go on a "hilarious adventure" through the "mystical bayous" of Louisiana. <a href="http://movies.nytimes.com/2009/11/25/movies/25frog.html?ref=movies">Manhola Dargis at the Times</a> writes, "It’s not easy being green, the heroine of <em>The Princess and the Frog </em>discovers. But to judge from how this polished, hand-drawn movie addresses, or rather strenuously avoids, race, it is a lot more difficult to be black, particularly in a Disney animated feature... </p><p></p>"That finale, like the story itself, represents progress of a kind, I suppose, even if this princess spends an uncommonly long time splashing around as a frog. A frog whose green hue suggests that, if nothing else, Disney finally recognizes that every little girl, no matter her color, represents a new marketing opportunity."


<p>Well, there isn't a<em> literal </em>connection to Thanksgiving here, but the Coen Brothers' comic masterpiece <em>The Big Lebowski</em> is being <a href="http://www.landmarktheatres.com/Films/films_frameset.asp?id=38497">screened at the Sunshine</a> at midnight tonight through Sunday. </p>



<p>Starting tonight and continuing through Sunday, the <a href="http://www.ifccenter.com/films/brazil/">IFC Center is screening</a> Terry Gilliam's 1985 film <em>Brazil </em>at midnight.</p>