Weekend Movie Forecast: <em>Where the Wild Things Are</em> or <em>Black Dynamite</em>

<a href="">As you may have noticed</a>, this weekend marks the release of Spike Jonze's film adaptation of Maurice Sendak's classic <em>Where the Wild Things Are</em>. We caught an advance screening earlier this month, and the more we think about it, the more we appreciate Jonze's film. This is one that grows on you. Previously, <a href="">we wrote</a>, "Audience members who walk into the movie unaware of the book's skimpy narrative are excused for feeling a little let down. But is there anyone who didn't fall for <em>Where the Wild Things Are</em> as a child? The book casts a hell of a spell, and Jonze and Eggers miraculously succeed in recreating its elusive essence. Let's put it this way: This is a movie that makes you want to call your mother, and that's not something you can say about most studio pictures. Not even <em>Dr. Dolittle 2.</em><p></p>"Ultimately, <em>Where the Wild Things Are</em> stays interesting, despite its subdued narrative arc, because it's an unabashedly heartfelt meditation on the primal emotions that overwhelm us in childhood. It floats along on the strength of its raw sincerity and sharp wits, and if at times it verges on sentimentality, the sentiment is not unearned. <strong>It's rare for a big-budget movie to dare to be this melancholy without any bullshit, cloying contrivances."</strong>

<p>Director Scott Sanders's <em>Black Dynamite</em> is a raucous, absurdist homage to '70s blaxploitation films, starring Michael Jai White (<em>Tyson</em>) as shit-kicking former CIA agent Black Dynamite. After his kid brother is mysteriously murdered at the hands of a sinister drug cartel, BD's drawn out of retirement to crack skulls all the way from L.A. to D.C. But when he uncovers a twisted conspiracy involving malt liquor, genetic mutations and Little Richard, his bloodlust morphs into a higher, more hilarious calling. And Sanders lovingly captures all that gonzo action on high contrast Super 16 Color Reversal Kodak film stock, for that extra '70s feel.</p><p></p><em>Black Dynamite</em> premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in April. At that time <a href="">we interviewed White</a>, who co-wrote the screenplay. You can watch <a href="">the amusing red band trailer here</a>, and <a href="">here's the official website</a>.

<em>Law Abiding Citizen </em>stars Gerard Butler as a man whose wife and daughter were raped and killed during a home invasion. One of the assailants got off in a plea deal, but ten years later Butler kills him and lands in jail himself. From behind bars he promises "hot shot" prosecutor Jamie Foxx that if the justice system isn't fixed, government officials involved in the flawed trial will wind up dead. And they do! Can Foxx save them? Do you care? <p></p><a href=",1158534/critic-review.html#reviewNum1">Dan Kois at the Washington Post</a> sure doesn't: "A preposterous exercise in high-minded brutality, <em>Law Abiding Citizen</em> tries to pass itself off as a dialectic on justice betrayed, but instead plays like a snuff film with our nation's legal system as the victim...A movie devoted to baroque revenge would be, on its own terms, acceptable; what makes <em>Law Abiding Citizen</em> so risible is its humorless conviction that it's got Big Ideas at its core."

<em>New York, I Love You</em>, the follow-up to <em>Paris Je T'aime</em>, consists of short films by ten different directors, all shot quickly in NYC and all exploring themes of romance and heartbreak. <a href=",34162/">The Onion's Sam Adams</a> isn't loving it: "Rather than an all-star auteurfest, the movie is gathering of the second-rate—or, in the case of Brett Ratner, substantially lower. The segments don’t form anything like a coherent whole, but they aren’t distinctive enough to clash meaningfully with each other, either... <strong>There are eight million stories in the naked city, but none of these are any good."</strong>

<a href="">Mike Hale at the Times</a> calls documentary <em>Food Beware</em> "a cheerfully one-sided film mostly set in the town of Barjac, where the mayor decreed that the kitchen serving the local schools would go organic, with what the film portrays as entirely positive results. <p></p>"New Yorkers whose children attend schools with enrollments larger than Barjac’s population (1,400) might wonder how well it would work here. It’s easier to devote three hours to preparing fresh bone marrow when you’re serving only 200 meals a day (and when the students will actually eat bone marrow). <em>Food Beware</em> takes a pragmatic, health-based approach, buttressed by frightening statistics about cancer rates among children, that’s <strong>a refreshing change from the moral and high-cultural preening that sometimes enter this debate in America."</strong>

<p>Set in Palestine in 1947, <em>The Little Traitor</em> concerns an unlikely friendship between a British soldier, played by the amazing Alfred Molina, and Jewish boy in occupied Palestine. The Hollywood Reporter's <a href="">Lewis Beale writes</a>, "Despite this promising subject matter, the film runs out of steam two-thirds of the way through and becomes a sort of Palestinian <em>Porky's</em>, ending with a fast-forward 30 years into the future that is confusing and abrupt... The tale of this mismatched pair—the occupier and the occupied—is engaging enough and a nice little lesson in the common threads that bind us all. But by changing course and rushing its ending, Traitor' blows its message—and the audience's sympathy."</p>

<a href="">Critics are loving</a> Chilean movie <em>The Maid</em>, a "comedic drama about family, class and self-discovery." Scott Foundas <a href="">at the Village Voice</a> writes, "Cleanliness may be next to godliness, but for the title character of the pitch-black Chilean comedy <em>The Maid</em>, it's closer to infernal torment...As Raquel (Catalina Saavedra) celebrates her 41st birthday, her labors have taken their Sisyphean toll. Her unkempt curls droop down around a face wrought into a permanent scowl, and she suffers from painful migraines and sudden fainting spells. So the Valdezes propose hiring a second maid to relieve Raquel of some of her responsibilities, which she, in turn, takes as a declaration of war.<p></p>"In a remarkable performance that won her a special award from the world cinema jury at this year's Sundance Film Festival (which also gave Silva's film its Grand Jury Prize), Chilean television vet Saavedra goes through one of the most uncanny psychophysical transformations I've ever seen in a movie without the benefit of obvious makeup or other prosthetics."

<em>Adela</em>, from Filipino director Adolfo Borinaga Alix Jr., is screening <a href="">through Monday MoMA</a>, as part of the museum’s <a href="">ContemporAsian series</a>. It stars acclaimed Filipino actress Anita Linda in the title role, a former radio personality celebrating her 80th birthday in the slums of Manila. <a href="">Stephen Holden at the Times</a> calls it "a gem of contemporary neo-realism, the movie offers a ground-level view of a poor but vital community where many residents survive by scavenging bits of recyclable steel and plastic...Some of the film’s most extraordinary moments are scenes in which the stationary camera, observing the world through Adela’s eyes, surveys the teeming wasteland in which everything seems to be in motion."

Film Forum's three week Elia Kazan series continues this weekend with the director's 1961 film Splendor in the Grass, starring Warren Beatty and Natalie Wood as star-crossed teens in sexually-repressed 1920s Kansas. New York calls it, "Lush, almost operatic, this is one of Kazan's greatest features—a sensitive and powerful romantic tragedy that marks one final blast of old-school moviemaking before the New Hollywood."

On Sunday and Monday, Film Forum screens Kazan's classic adaptation of A Streetcar Named Desire.

<p>This weekend at midnight <a href="">the Sunshine screens</a> Tim Burton's 1988 winner <em>Beetlejuice</em>.</p>

<p>Also at midnight this weekend, <a href="">the IFC Center screens</a> the 1975 classic <em>Monty Python and the Holy Grail</em>.</p>