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Weekend Movie Forecast: <em>The Social Network </em>Vs. <em>Let Me In</em>

<p>Although we reported on the <em>The Social Network</em> in last week's forecast, we thought we should remind y'all that it's now in wide release as opposed to just being the opening film at the NYFF (where only cultured people with disposable income and subscriptions to the New Yorker can attend). Last time we reported that it had a 100% on metacritic, which considering it was only seen by 8 critics, it was bound to go down. After 28 other critics saw the movie, the score did go down...to effin' 98%. Heralded foreign films and darling indies don't even get that, and this was a studio film, so you should probably see it...now. </p><p></p>It's usually more fun to quote the scathing reviews because of how clever and witty they are, but there really aren't any bad reviews for this movie, so we'll quote a positive one. Joshua Rothkopf from <a href="http://newyork.timeout.com/articles/film/89436/the-social-network-film-review">Time Out New York</a> says: "It’s a grandly entertaining reminder of everything we used to go to the movies for (and still can’t get online): sparkling dialogue, thorny situations, soulful performances, and an unusually open-ended and relevant engagement with a major social issue of the day: how we (dis)connect. Forget about damage control—if I were billionaire site exec Mark Zuckerberg, I’d be down on my knees in gratitude for an origin story this brainy, suggestive and, yes, flattering. Sort of.<p></p>"Sex, money, Jewish paranoia, algorithms—this is merely the movie’s first half hour. <em>The Social Network</em> zings along like nothing attempted since the heady days of Paddy Chayefsky. (We might be looking at the heir to his darkly dazzling <em>Network</em>.) Splitting into deft complexity, Sorkin’s tale toggles to ominous legal conference rooms, developing a pair of shoulder angels for Mark to hear out: his betrayed cofounder, Eduardo (Garfield, the heart of the film); and larky Napster flirt Sean Parker (Timberlake), inviting him to dream bigger. Never preachy, the film becomes a referendum on pushy ambition, both in business and private matters, that’s the signature of Facebook itself, turning a nation of users into self-promoters. These characters will, one day, be us: alienating our 'friends' while linking with the world. Do movies ever attempt to analyze the entire weave of life? Now they do."


<p>So one way you can tell the intellectual worth of our country (what does that even mean?) is that we still insist on dubbing movies. Populist sensibility in this country is all about not having to read subtitles, they rather see extremely jarring dubbing than actually having to read anything. The only thing better than that is just to remake the movie in our language, which we do <em>all</em> the time. The next foreign victim is <em>Let the Right One In</em> which has been turned into <em>Let Me In</em> from the guy who directed <em>Cloverfield</em>. It tells the story of a young boy who befriends a young girl who happens to be a vampire. If it's anything like the original it's a poignant, somewhat strange portrait of a young friendship.</p><p></p>Reviews have actually been pretty good, which is nice because the original was just so damn original. Some dissent comes from Nick Pinkerton at <a href="http://www.villagevoice.com/2010-09-29/film/more-vampire-ya-in-let-me-in/">The Voice</a> who says: "Reeves adopts the International-style flatness of Alfredson’s film, a mixture of “philosophical” long shots, brittle scoring, slowed-pulse performances, and blankness passing as clarity. In an opening that assigns Elias Koteas’s cop to investigate the killings, it’s clear this will be a movie with lots of dialogue pitched as if there’s a colicky infant sleeping in the next room.<p></p>"There’s a human tragedy somewhere here—but aggrandized puppy-love romance and stylish revenge fantasy is all that lingers."


<p>So this is how Renee Zellweger decides to pump up her career, a scary-kid horror movie. In <em>Case 39</em> Zellweger plays social worker Emily Jenkins, who finds your typical girl called "it" (i.e. getting beat, yelled at, and your run of the mill terror), and does what any good social worker does, peddles her on another evil family. Soon, Zellweg finds out that maybe it's not the parents' fault at all, maybe this kid is a creepy kid who whispers in a British accent.</p><p></p>Reviews have been abysmal, from the two brave souls who actually saw it (one was Variety, who is required to watch schlock like this) so there is not much point in even quoting them. Wait and watch it drunk on Showtime at 3 in the morning.



<p>Also coming out today for you Kung Fu aficionados is the film <em>Ip Man</em> which follows Ip Man, the grand master of Wing Chun style of martial arts, as he fights to the death during the Japanese occupation. The film takes an actual event and turns it into an hour or so of badassery. People who will see this film probably already know Bruce Lee's trainer, but for the rest of us you might want to rent it.</p><p></p>Reviews have been pretty good with Noel Murray from <a href="http://www.avclub.com/articles/ip-man,45817/">The A.V. Club</a> saying: "As a slice of history, Ip Man is disappointingly simplistic. Yip, Wong, and Yen never develop any real tension between Ip’s true story and the exaggerated myth-making of a martial-arts movie. But as an exaggerated, myth-making martial-arts movie, Ip Man is often thrilling. <p></p>"Sammo Hung’s fight choreography is clever and exciting, with sequences that have Ip felling a sword-wielding rival with a feather-duster, or holding off two men with a 10-foot pole. It’s too bad the rest of the movie doesn’t do what the fight scenes do: use everyday objects to demonstrate where a hero’s true strength lies."


<p>Look at the passion in the image above! If that does it for you, then maybe you should check out the film <em>Leaving</em> tonight and vicariously live through the man or woman shown above and hope that some cutie is sitting in the darkened theater waiting for you to say something. The film follows a married woman who begins getting bored in her stale marriage (what!? never!) and falls for some hunky ex-con who works on her property. She tells her husband about her feelings (what was she thinking!?) and the expected drama ensues.</p><p></p>Reviews have been alright, with Keith Uhlich from <a href="http://newyork.timeout.com/articles/film/89473/leaving-film-review">Time Out New York</a> saying: "This trashy Kristin Scott Thomas vehicle is never less than a hoot—an unintentional one, if we’re to take the film’s lugubriously solemn tones at face value. The parody-ready opening sees French-English housewife Suzanne (Scott Thomas)—a look of utter, I say, utter despair on her face—rise from her bed, walk dejectedly into another room and, supposedly, shoot herself. Cue titles! Cowriter-director Catherine Corsini composes the images so staidly that they scream 'seriousness!' even as they inspire snickers.<p></p>"Otherwise, <em>Leaving</em> is a tawdry potboiler slathered riotously in portent, complete with a lamebrained detour into vengeance that only Claude Chabrol would be able to pull off."


<p>Also coming out today is the documentary <em>Freakonomics</em>, based on the book by the same name. The segments are all unrelated and focus on a interesting social dilemma such as why crime went down in the '90's, and are all directed by different doc folk. We're not sure how this could coalesce into an actual film instead of a series on PBS, but who knows.</p><p></p>Reviews have been very ambivalent with Stephen Holden from <a href="http://movies.nytimes.com/2010/10/01/movies/01freak.html?ref=movies"> The Times</a> saying: "The jocular screen adaptation of the 2005 best seller <em>Freakonomics: a Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything</em> is a shallow but diverting alternative to the book, whose authors, Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, supply small talk between its four chapters. Their banter, as they sit side by side, has the same tone of cheerful certainty as a pair of movie critics batting opinions back and forth on TV between clips of the week’s new releases.<p></p>"<em>Freakonomics</em> has on its side the popularity of a book whose premises — that incentives matter, that conventional wisdom is often wrong — are entertainingly illustrated by several well-known documentarians. Their reputations burnish this breezy and loosely connected anthology of Cliffs Notes."



<p>For you horror fans out there who may or may not hate Renee Zellweger, there's another film coming out today that you might be interested in: <em>Hatchet II</em>. For those not in the know of obscure indie horror films Hatchet followed the bayou butcher Victor Cowley as he went around, killing peeps with a hatchet (how appropriate). Anyway, the sequel follows a sassy dame Marybeth, who escaped from the hatchetman, but wants to go back and show what <em>she's</em> made of. </p><p></p>Reviews have been all over the place, with Chuck Wilson from <a href="http://www.villagevoice.com/2010-09-29/film/back-to-the-bayou-and-horror-cliches-in-hatchet-ii/">The Voice</a> saying: In the first film, director Adam Green poked loving fun at the storytelling conventions of the genre, including those long first-act stretches that require each would-be victim to yammer on about his or her respective carnal desires and/or inner angst before being indiscriminately gutted like a fish. This time out, Green is not as self-aware, devoting a solid hour of his film’s 90-minute running time to pre-mayhem character development so witless and dull that <em>Hatchet II</em> might as well be <em>Friday the 13th, Part 14</em>.<p></p>"Perhaps that was the filmmaker’s intention—let’s give him the benefit of the doubt—but by the time Crowley begins literally ripping Marybeth’s posse apart, one is too numbed-out to cheer the gruesome ingenuity of the old-school special effects. Die, Victor, die. Please."


<p>Opening today is the wonderfully titled <em>Douchebag</em>, which follows estranged brothers Sam and Tom, who are driving around on a road trip trying to find Tom's old flame from the 5th grade and dealing with the shit that made them estranged to begin with. It sounds like a dramedy to us.</p><p></p>Reviews have been alright for a film called <em>Douchebag</em>, except for A.O. Scott from <a href="http://movies.nytimes.com/2010/10/01/movies/01douchebag.html?ref=movies">The New York Times</a> who says: "It may be true — or at least closer to true now than in the past — that anyone can make a movie. But whether everyone should is another question. <em>Douchebag</em> is the second feature directed by Drake Doremus, and the best that can be said about it is that it shows reasonable technical competence.<p></p>"Of course it is not necessary for characters in films to be likable. It may be old-fashioned of me, but I do think they have some obligation to be interesting, and nobody in <em>Douchebag</em> lives up to this minimal standard."


<p>Michael Imperioli, who played Tony Soprano's cousin Christopher Moltisanti on <em>The Sopranos, </em>makes his directorial debut with The Hungry Ghosts, which is screening at T<a href="http://www.quadcinema.com/">he Quad Cinema</a> in the Village. Mike Hale at the Times doesn't pull any punches: "You almost hate to say it, but the thought is unavoidable: If Christopher Moltisanti had ever managed to write and direct his own film, it might have been very much like <em>The Hungry Ghosts</em>, written and directed by Michael Imperioli... [Imperioli] has concocted an ensemble drama that applies the <em>Crash</em> formula to New York and steeps it in Eastern religion, therapeutics and addiction while exhibiting a giggly suburban take on Manhattan kink.</p><p></p>"Imperioli, who does not appear in the film, has recruited fellow Sopranos actors like Steven R. Schirripa, Sharon Angela, John Ventimiglia and Vincent Curatola for his cast. What he needed was David Chase, or another of the better Sopranos writers, to shape the story, punch up the action and weed out the mystical-psychological mumbo jumbo, no matter how heartfelt it might be."


<p>Film Forum's <a href="http://www.filmforum.org/films/heist.html#101">three week series of classic "heist" movies</a> kicks off this weekend with a double feature: <em>The Taking of Pelham One Two Three</em> and <em>Charley Varrick</em>. The original "Pelham" is a dry, slightly stylized glimpse of gritty 1970s Manhattan, seen though the eyes of a grew of subway highjackers and the transit cop (Walter Matthau) on their tail. This isn't the original <em>Taking of Pelham One Two Three</em>, it's the ONLY version, as far as we're concerned. <em>Charley Varrick</em> also stars Matthau as the eponymous crop duster and smalltime crook who pulls off "a piece of cake bank job" in a two-bit Southwestern town.</p>


<em>Jesus, did I say that? Or just think it? Was I talking? Did they hear me?</em> <p></p>Terry Gilliam's underrated comic adaptation of <em>Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas </em>really comes alive on the big screen. If you've never seen it wide, don't miss it. The Sunshine <a href="http://www.landmarktheatres.com/Films/films_frameset.asp?id=10741">is screening it at midnight</a> this weekend.