It's finally cold outside (sort of), so warm up this weekend at the movies. The new "in danger in the jungle" horror film Primeval has a vaguely ominous trailer, but only because it never tells the audience what exactly is hiding out there in the grass. Okay, it's not human but then what? Anaconda already did the giant snake and The Ghost and the Darkness dispatched a massive lion, what else could be out there waiting to eat the hapless Orlando Jones? $10.75 (or visiting the movie's IMDb page) will provide the answer but whether it's actually as horrific as it promises is still up in the air. Don't expect Stomp the Yard to break any genre molds--it's got fancy group dancing, it's got rivalries between warring groups and it's got hottie du jour Meagan Good, so all the elements of the formula are there. But hey, if you're a Black fraternity and sorority step dancing connoisseur you might enjoy it. The critics are saying the dance sequences are fun, even if the plot about a poor boy wooing a rich girl against the backdrop of a dance competition is old hat.
Closing out last year's Sundance Film Festival Nick Cassevete's Alpha Dog got a certain amount of buzz but then languished in the vault as the production dealt with legal troubles stemming from story input from the movie's real life subjects. This suburban white boys pretend to be gangsters story finally makes it to theaters this weekend, just in time for you to satisfy that Justin Timberlake on the big screen jones you've been developing. Word is that he steals the show but so far the reviews of the rest of the cute, young cast (Ben Foster, Emile Hirsch and Anton Yelchin, among others) have been mixed. Another movie that did the fest circuit but never made it to our theaters finally gets a release this weekend, the Thai Western Tears of the Black Tiger. A city girl falls for a country boy and they promise to meet again in a romantic open air structure called a sala. However, her engagement to the police captain and his new career as a marauding outlaw may get in the way of their true love. An electric, technicolor fantasy made to look like a movie from the '60s, Tears is so authentic looking the filmmakers even added scratches on the print to keep with the revival style.
Film Forum is screening this week two documentaries about leading women artists Kiki Smith and Agnes Martin in a double feature. Following the Friday screening of Squatting the Palace at 7:30 pm, Smith and authors Vivien Bittencourt & Vincent Katz will be on hand to sign books. Also on Friday night after the 8:00 showing of With My Back To The World, director Mary Lance will be answering questions in a Q&A session.
If you missed John Cameron Mitchell's love letter to New York Shortbus you can catch all the real sex action at one of the special midnight screening this weekend at the IFC Center. Friday through Sunday at 12:10 am, Mitchell, various cast members and other special surprises will be on tap.
If you read any of Dave Egger's most recent book, What Is The What, or any excerpts in The Believer, you know a little bit about the amazing journey of the Sudanese "Lost Boys and Girls," a group of young people forced to flee their homes to escape massacre. A new documentary, narrated by the dulcet tones of Nicole Kidman's voice, God Grew Tired of Us follows a group of these boys from their refugee camp to their sponsorship by aid groups in the States to emigrate. However, a promise of a home, some money and either education or employment in small town America isn't quite as idyllic as you'd imagine for the boys. Modern life in America can be bewildering stuff. How they learn to do the most basic things from shop in the grocery store or wash a load of dishes (one boy asks the startling question of whether all soap is green because this is the first bottle he's ever seen) makes for great documentary footage, and the racism and loneliness they encounter is heartbreaking. So when some of the boys do finally seem to be getting the hang of life in the U.S. it's particularly satisfying and uplifting. God Grew Tired of Us is a lovely little film and well worth seeing, no wonder it won last year's Sundance Grand Jury Prize for documentaries.