Weekend Movie Forecast: <em>The Wrestler, Seven Pounds, Yes Man</em>

<p>Mickey Rourke makes his big comeback this weekend in<em> The Wrestler.</em> Directed by Darren Aronofsky (<em>Requiem for a Dream</em>), the movie stars Rourke as Randy Robinson, a ruined pro wrestler hobbling through the miserable end of his "career." <a href="">Anthony Lane at the New Yorker</a> admits that "for some years, Mickey Rourke was just about my favorite movie star. This was not an easy stance to take." But now, Lane says, he's back in a big way: <strong>"What Rourke offers us, in short, is not just a comeback performance but something much rarer: a rounded, raddled portrait of a good man. </strong>Suddenly, there it is again—the charm, the anxious modesty, the never-distant hint of wrath, the teen-age smiles, and all the other virtues of a winner. No wonder people warmed to Randy Robinson twenty years ago. I felt the same about Mickey Rourke, and I still do."</p>

<p>If you’re looking for a mindless movie to enjoy this weekend, <em>Seven Pounds</em> isn’t it. From the director of <em>The Pursuit of Happyness</em> and starring the same leading man, <em>Seven Pounds</em> opens today with a compelling story about Ben Thomas, (Will Smith) an IRS agent who drastically changes the lives of seven strangers after his own life has suddenly been turned upside down.</p><p></p>That said, it becomes the viewer’s job to figure out what the hell is really going on. The story begins with Ben in inexplicable turmoil, struggling to dial 911 to report his own suicide – which makes very little sense for the next hour, considering that he then goes around playing Jesus, selecting seven people in whose lives he intends to play the hero. An early scene with supporting actor Woody Harrelson, who flawlessly plays a blind concert pianist, turns out to be one of the more gripping scenes of the film, forcing you to wonder which side of good vs. evil Ben is actually on.<p></p>From there, you slowly begin to sympathize with Ben as flashbacks and the ever-informative newspaper clippings begin to spell it all out for you. About halfway in, all that was mysterious becomes quite obvious and anyone in the theater would be hard-pressed not to write the ending for themselves. Still, with all the twists and turns and a great cast, particularly the always alluring Rosario Dawson, it nevertheless manages to be a film worth seeing.<p></p>But consider yourself warned. <em>Seven Pounds</em> has received some poor reviews, with <a href="">The Times' A.O. Scott</a> writing that it “may be among the most transcendently, eye-poppingly, call-your-friend-ranting-in-the-middle-of-the-night-just-to-go-over-it-one-more-time crazily awful motion pictures ever made” and <a href="">Scott Foundas of the Village Voice</a> saying that <strong>“Ben Thomas suffers all right, but the audience suffers more.”</strong> – <em>Amanda Spurlock</em>

<em>Yes Man</em> stars Jim Carrey as a sad-sack low-level banker who turns his life around after a New Age motivational speaker (played deliciously by an over-the-top Terence Stamp) persuades him to say "Yes!" to literally every opportunity. Hi-jinks, and a love affair with the lovely Zooey Deschanel, ensue. It would all be breezy and harmless enough – it's not an <em>insulting</em> movie – but Christ, where the hell did Jim Carrey go? Had he summoned half the normal, human tenderness he discovered in<em> Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind</em>, the thing would at least be worth renting. <p></p>But there's something disturbing, impersonal and alien about Carrey's performance here, as if he doesn't even know how to pretend to have actual feelings anymore. He's just a vanilla hole sucking all the air out of the movie, and not even Deschanel can escape the vacuum. Carrey's recent appearance on Larry King <a href="">has at least one blogger wondering</a> if Scientology is to blame, which would explain a lot. Xenu simply won't rest until all our actors are glazed over shells packed with sci-fi dogma where their feelings should be, or so it is written. <p></p>For a second opinion, Joe Morgenstern <a href="">at The Wall Street Journal</a> says it's "enjoyable enough for what it is, a clever idea developed by fits and starts. And once the premise is established -- rather laboriously -- it works up a head of steam that could pass, albeit briefly, for inspiration."

<p>Who's up for another movie with animated mice? If you've got kids, you don't much say in the matter, do you! You're seeing <em>The Tale of Despereaux</em>, about a brave little mouse cast out by the other mice for "not following the rules that society expects of a mouse." If that sounds familiar, that's because it is! But at least Matthew Broderick's in it? Also too, it's "one of the most beautifully drawn animated films I've seen, rendered in enchanting detail and painterly colors," <a href="">according to Roger Ebert</a>. The bad news: <strong>"I am not quite so thrilled by the story."</strong></p>

<em>The Class</em>, from French director Laurent Cantet, won the Palme d’Or at Cannes and is currently rocking an impressive 100% critical approval <a href="">rating on Rotten Tomatoes</a>. The story concerns a would-be innovative junior high teacher in Paris struggling against an ever-rising tide of mediocrity and anti-intellectualism. François Bégaudeau, an actual teacher, plays the lead role, and he also adapted the script from his book chronicling a year in a Paris public school. <a href="">The New Yorker's David Denby writes</a> that <strong>"The day-to-day difficulties and occasional exhilarations of urban multi-ethnic education have never been dramatized with half the power or the humor that the director Laurent Cantet brings to them in <em>The Class.</em>"</strong>

<p>Documentary <em>Scott Walker: 30 Century Man</em> looks at enigmatic British singer and experimental composer Scott Walker, who, as lead singer of the Walker Brothers, enjoyed some mid-sixties success in England with songs like "The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore." It's okay if you've never heard of him, he's never been "big" in America, and that's part of what the film seeks to correct, with archival footage and testimonials from the likes of David Bowie, members of Radiohead, and even Walker himself. <a href=";ei=5083">Stephen Holden at the Times</a> writes, "In a movie that avoids examining Mr. Walker’s personal history, there are hints of a man struggling with chronic depression and problems with alcohol, but they are only hints. No major personal relationships are mentioned or even alluded to. <strong>The music speaks for itself. And the fragments offered from Mr. Walker’s albums 'Tilt,' from 1995, and 'The Drift,' from 2007, accompanied by abstract visual designs, are, in a word, haunting."</strong></p>

<p>In Rod Lurie's banally titled new movie, <em>Nothing But the Truth</em>, Kate Beckinsale plays a Washington DC reporter who writes an "explosive story about a government scandal in which she reveals the name of a covert CIA agent." Matt Dillon is the special prosecutor to whom she reveals her source. If the name Valerie Plame rings any bells, you'll know what the story is riffing on. <a href="">J. Hoberman at the Voice</a> doesn't mind it so much: "Lurie isn't Larry Cohen, let alone Sam Fuller, but give him points for working the same tradition of engagé tabloid filmmaking... In the spirit of its title, <em>Nothing but the Truth</em> pivots on a plot twist that's both good and fair. And kudos to the ever-earnest Beckinsale for surviving a prison brawl as splatterific as anything Mickey Rourke had to endure in <em>The Wrestler.</em>"</p>

<a href="">The Sunshine is screening</a> 1974 holiday slasher flick <em>Black Christmas</em> this weekend at midnight. Here's all you need to know: "For one ordinary, remote sorority house, the holiday season is going to bring an unwanted visitor, and many of the girls will be going home for Christmas—dead."

<a href="">The IFC Center is screening</a> Joe Dante's 1984 classic <em>Gremlins </em>this weekend at midnight. <em>Don't bring any food!</em>