Weekend Movie Forecast: <em>The Town</em> Vs. <em>Easy A</em>

<p>Ben Affleck takes his second shot at directing an all-star cast including <em>Mad Men</em>'s Jon Hamm, The <em>Hurt Locker</em>'s Jeremy Renner, and <em>Gossip Girl</em>'s Blake Lively in a Bahhhston crime movie. Equal parts gritty bank-robbing violence and harrowing love story, and a host of easily definable characters living in an insular Boston neighborhood, Affleck seems to be playing on Scorcese's Boston of yore in <em>The Town</em>.</p><p></p>Michael Phillips of the <a href=",0,6220128.column"><em>Chicago Tribune</em></a>, thought the shoot-'em-up scenes dragged and the characters were too one-dimensional although played well: "The best work comes in the smaller scenes. Blake Lively is exceptional in the role of a drug-addled single mother who represents the life Doug's trying to ditch. Everyone's effective, even when hamstrung by cliches." Sheri Linden at the <a href=""><em>Hollywood Reporter</em></a> was harsh about the insularity and provincialism that other critics praised saying, "BlackBerries and OxyContin show up, but otherwise this might be the '70s."

<em>Catfish</em> is ostensibly a documentary that follows a photographer, Nev, as he develops a Facebook relationship with a girl in Michigan. His brothers, the directors of the film, follow him around with a handheld HD camera. An 8-year-old prodigy named Abby paints to perfect likeness a photo he had published and, from there, he develops an online social network of Abby's friends and family, and meets his cyber-girlfriend, Megan. The trailer quickly turns from tech-age love story to a freaky horror mystery and unveils the creepy things we've learned about the internet from <em>To Catch a Predator</em>.<p></p><a href="">New York Magazine</a> writer David Edelstein says the movie develops a "<em>Blair Witch Project</em>-like vibe…And here I must stop…except to say that the last two words of the end titles (they are 'including Angela,' but you won't know what they mean without the context) had me sobbing with joy."

<p>Teenagers everywhere rejoice this weekend as <em>Superbad</em>'s Emma Stone, <em>Gossip Girl</em>'s Penn Badgley, and Amanda Bynes (didn't she have her own Nickelodeon show?) team up to take another jab at the timeless plight of the virginal high schooler with out-of-touch parents. Rife with Hester Prynne parallels, <em>Easy A</em> is about a self-conscious girl (Emma Stone) who helps out her gay best friend (and his friends and their friends) fake losing their v-cards, until bible-thumping Marianne (Amanda Bynes) begins spreading the usual cheap floozy rumors. Teenage Olive (Stone) embroiders an A on to scandalous outfits, spits some <em>Juno</em>-esque modern lines, and fights the angsty struggle while falling for Penn Badgley.</p><p></p>According to <a href=";cs=1"><em>Variety</em>'s</a> John Anderson, who viewed the movie like a work of classic literature, "For all it's edgy jokes and very funny dialogue, [it's] a very morally upright tale—and, though Marianne's ungenerous brand of Christianity is lampooned, a Christian story: Olive takes upon herself the supposed 'sins' of the world—homosexuality, nerviness, etc.—and delivers a form of redemption." Recognizing that biblical scholars aren't <em>Easy A</em>'s target audience, Anderson notes, "the Sept. 17 release could achieve some kind of wonderful among targeted teens."

<p>Omega (voiced by Justin Long), a scrawny low-status wolf, loves Alpha (Hayden Panettiere), a hot female wolf, but isn't able to catch her eye until they're conveniently carted off together to Idaho (?!) and have to find their way back to Canada (?!?!). <em>Alpha and Omega</em> tries to be the animated, 3D, animal version of what every love story since the inception of <em>Pride and Prejudice</em> has tried to be: boy wants girl, girl is of higher status than boy, boy and girl end up in an unlikely scenario where it's just the two of them, girl and boy fall in love. Except this time it's wolves. Awwww. </p><p></p>The problem, apparently, is that the wolves look more like <a href="">Crash Bandicoot </a> and <a href="">Sonic the Hedgehog</a> than any Pixar creation. The <a href=""><em>Flick Filosopher</em> </a>, Maryann Johnson, writes a particularly scathing review saying, "The CGI animation-pointlessly rendered in 3D—is plastic and cheap. The bizarre non-sequiturs that pass for jokes—such as the golf-playing goose who really, really hates cupcakes-make the poop jokes sound like wit…When it's not deeply unfunny, it's deeply creepy. It should have gone straight to DVD, where it could have been easily ignored."

<em>Never Let Me Go</em> is a coming-of-age tale meets apocalyptic sci-fi drama that focuses on three boarding school best friends—Kathy (Carey Mulligan), Tommy (Andrew Garfield), and Ruth (Keira Knightley)—as they fall in love and face impending doom, medical testing, and a fate that was never theirs to choose. <p></p>Okay, fine. Tears were shed during the trailer. It looks pretty heart-wrenching. The words that all of the critics seem to be using are "gorgeous" and "melancholy." And <a href=""><em>Rolling Stone</em></a>'s Peter Travers warns, "The melancholy attached to the impermanence of life and love suffuses this film, making it memorably haunting and hypnotic."<p></p>Plus, Gothamist has learned that Carey Mulligan HERSELF will be introducing the 7:10 p.m. screening of <em>Never Let Me Go</em> at the AMC Loews Lincoln Square tonight! Buy tickets in advance at <a href="">Fandango</a>.

<em>Picture Me</em> follows supermodel Sara Ziff through her young adult years, documented by a boyfriend while she is en route to international fame. In the trailer she says, "Why be a prop in someone else's story, when you can tell your own?" as she details the trials and tribulations of getting attention only for being beautiful, which she finds degrading, shallow, and increasingly unappealing.<p></p>Glenn Heath, Jr. of <a href="">Slant Magazine</a> decides it's pretty poor filmmaking and that it's all been done before: "The intention is apt: empowering young women to transcend the dangerous jargon of modern pop culture hysteria to find something personal possibly singular in purpose. But <em>Picture Me</em> forces the issue in such broad, often clumsy strokes, that the message grows stale with each passing frame."

<p>Sigh, another movie that at first condemns than reaffirms the double-edged sword of yuppie suburban life as a married couple. In Freebie, Darren (Dax Shepard) and Annie (Aselton) have been married for 7 years and don't have sex anymore, so they agree to be unfaithful to each other for one night—a freebie (wink, wink)—to see what happens.</p><p></p>Critic Eric Hynes from <a href="">Time Out New York</a> denounces its lack of originality and progressiveness: "Writer, director, and star Katie Aselton offers an indecent proposal of a story that initially suggests an honest reconsideration of monogamy-then quickly, steadily devolves into a moralizing fable…As scolding as a pro-life video, <em>The Freebie</em> grimly reaffirms the status quo, concluding it's better to have no sex at all than to forsake the Ikea-furnished domestic dream."

<p>Playing off of the success of cooking shows that let us common folk live vicariously through Top Chefs, <em>Kings of Pastry</em> follows French chef Jacquy Pfeiffer as he makes all sorts of extravagant sweets to get "the collar," the marker of elite chefs in the exclusive Meilleurs Ouvriers de France. There are, no doubt, tears shed over crumbled chocolate sculptures and tales of triumph in the man's world of cooking.</p><p></p>Mike Hale of the <a href=""><em>New York Times</em></a> says it gets even better: "There is unintentional pastry-chef humor-'There's no law about nougatine'; 'Your table is a mess, horror'-and, once the competition begins, nerve-racking suspense and bittersweet resolution. You'll be surprised by how devastating the collapse of a chocolate tower can be."

<p>In the Swedish film <em>The Girl,</em> the unnamed, not more than 10-years-old protagonist is left for the summer with her drunken aunt. Whilst her parents are off saving Africa, the little girl must learn to save herself from sex-obsessed older teens and creepily repressed adults.</p><p></p>Ella Taylor of the <a href=""><em>Village Voice</em></a> describes the film, which will only be released in LA and New York, thus: "The Turner-esque beauty of the landscape at harvest time only adds to the creepiness as the Girl makes do, makes friends, and then unravels i the most creative ways. As in all quality fairy tales, a handsome stranger rides to the rescue on a rather unusual steed-though by now, one is braced for child molestation at the very least."

<p>In black and white film and plenty of sexy scenery, <em>The Temptation of St. Tony</em> discusses the hedonism and emptiness of the nouveau riche in a 1930s cabaret-style setting. While it's unclear exactly what the Temptation of St. Tony's plot entails, we do know what <a href=""><em>Time Out New York</em></a>'s David Fear tell us: "It's as if someone perfected the chemical combination of Beckett-like absurdism and Béla Tarr's Eastern European dourness. In a funk after his death, Tony (Eelmaa) questions whether his middle-management job at an Estonian factory and its accompanying middle-class luxuries are spiritually fulfilling. An encounter with a mysterious woman (Kurkova) sends the yuppie on a quest for salvation…"</p>

<p>Showing this week in restored 35 mm at <a href="">The Forum</a>, Lionel Rogosin's 1956 film <em>On the Bowery</em> is considered a pioneer of the documentary-hybrid genre. Through a compilation of hidden camera footage and staged scenes, amateur actors tell the story of a railman looking for work and getting drunk on, yes, the Bowery.</p><p></p>The film's look at the mid-fifties Bowery bar scene is "an invaluable New York time capsule and a searing piece of celluloid journalism... <em>On the Bowery</em> remains a definitive portrait of the nation's down-and-out in their natural habitat. More than a half century later, the film still hits you in the gut like a shot of two-bit hooch," according to <em>TONY</em>'s <a href="">David Fear</a>.

<p>Written and directed by filmaker and sometimes-Palm Springs-crooner Duke Mitchell, the 1976 indie flick <a href=""><em>Gone With the Pope</em></a> is <a href="">The Sunshine</a>'s midnight movie this week. The film was uncompleted at the time of Mitchell's death in 1981, and Academy Award-winning film editor Bob Murawski spent 15 years piecing it together. Re-released this year by <a href="">Grindhouse Releasing</a>, the film tells the story of two thugs "out to kidnap the vicar of Christ himself and to charge a ransom of a dollar and a half from every Catholic in the world."</p>