Opening in Chicago, Weekend of 05/18


Battleship (trailer)
Director: Peter Berg (The Rundown, Friday Night Lights, The Kingdom, Hancock)
Personal Interest Factor: 2
Already? I thought this was later in the summer. Good news, I guess, because in two weeks it’ll be forgotten and all the TV ads will have stopped. Berg has managed to make a film that appears to have accomplished a rare and seemingly contradictory feat – it looks both exceptionally stupid and like a completely generic CGIfest.
Metacritic: 41

Bernie (trailer)
Director: Richard Linklater (Bad News Bears, Fast Food Nation, A Scanner Darkly, Me and Orson Welles)
Personal Interest Factor: 6
The latest from the constantly underwhelming Linklater, featuring a cast (Black, McConaughey, MacLaine) that doesn’t really have a ton of appeal. But reviews are pretty strong, and this is, against all odds, shaping up to be a hugely strong year for McConaughey, so I might as well see it.
Metacritic: 75

The Dictator (trailer)
Director: Larry Charles (Masked and Anonymous, Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, Religulous, Brüno)
Personal Interest Factor: 6
This looks kinda funny yet kinda tiresome at the same time, which sums up Borat pretty well; years later, I think the funniest thing about that movie was the title (I skipped Brüno). Not sure whether or not I care all that much about seeing it. I might anyway if I’m bored.
Metacritic: 59

The Moth Diaries
Director: Mary Harron (I Shot Andy Warhol, American Psycho, The Notorious Bettie Page)
Personal Interest Factor: 5
Speaking of prolific directors … well, Mary Harron is not one of those. Her latest looks at the world of girls’ boarding schools and the vampirism therein. Easy to be skeptical, given the too-timely subject matter and poor reviews, but I’m inclined to give it a shot even though I kind of hated Harron’s previous stab (ahem) at horror, American Psycho.
Metacritic: 39

What to Expect When You’re Expecting (trailer)
Director: Kirk Jones (Waking Ned Devine, Nanny McPhee, Everybody’s Fine)
Personal Interest Factor: 1
I doubt anything in this movie has anything to do with what it’s like to actually be pregnant, and most likely it’s pure 100% unfiltered bullshit. But presumably there are still women out there who are excited to see it. And it got me wondering, what is the equivalent for men? The closest thing I can think of are car commercials – you know, the ones where some douchebag is driving 100 mph down a curved street to show off the car’s performance capabilities. I actually saw a commercial like this last night for (I think) a Ford Taurus, as if anyone driving a Taurus is ever going to have a driving experience like that.
Metacritic: 43

Where Do We Go Now? (trailer)
Director: Nadine Labaki (Caramel)
Personal Interest Factor: 6
Despite the title, it’s not a Guns N’ Roses documentary (and honestly, Where Do We Go Now? would be the perfect name for a GNR doc), but rather a film about religious strife in a Lebanese village.
Metacritic: 58

Also this week:
First Position (trailer) – ballet competition doc
Gerhard Richter Painting (trailer) – self-explanatory title
Mansome (trailer) – Spurlock doc about being a dude
Quill: The Life of a Guide Dog (trailer) – self-explanatory title
The Samaritan (trailer) – Samuel L. Jackson as an ex-con with a past


14 responses »

  1. You can find my review of Moth Diaries on my blog and here in the Brief Reviews. You pretty much nailed it, and I hated American Psycho, too, but it has its admirers.

  2. This is one of the more well-written Openings in a while.

    And I stand by my assertion that the funniest, most insightful, most excoriating comments of our society is the entire supermarket vignette and especially the three minutes he spends asking what each thing is….and they’re all cheese.

  3. Sorry.
    I stand by my assertion that “….the most excoriating comments of our society [in Borat] is the entire…”

  4. The Moth Diaries is really poorly written and directed, and aside from the two main characters, very poorly acted as well. I can’t say I hated it, but it’s a dud.

  5. Saw ‘The Dictator’ tonight – a real mixed bag.

    Moving on from the shock fake documentary style of Borat is probably a wise move as that had only limited possibilites. But as a traditional narrative film, this isn’t particularly well put together.

    That the director and several co-writers of the film come from ‘Seinfeld’ is noteworthy with the banter between Cohen’s character and scientist Nadal feeling like the banter Jerry and George did on the show.

    But that it’s directed by somebody with a sitcom background really comes through in a negative way as it’s poorly constructed as a narrative and the comic sections feeling like their own seperate bits, as opposed to connecting to the rest of the film. Even in a film that’s less than 90 minutes long, that makes itself felt.

    There’s enough laughs that I didn’t mind watching it, but I can’t really recommend it.

    Rating: C+

  6. The Moth Diaries is pretty terrible. As Brian noted: the two lead actresses are very good, but it’s a very messy, lazy film. The first 45 minutes or so really feel like a well-polished television pilot, which this might have been better suited for.

    First The Woods, now this: why can’t anyone make a horror movie, set an all-girls school, with lesbian overtones successfully?

  7. why can’t anyone make a horror movie, set an all-girls school, with lesbian overtones successfully?

    Begins scribbling furiously. I wanna try!

  8. The Woods was on IFC today and I enjoyed it a lot more than I did upon release. It’s not good, of course – but a hell of a lot better than The Fucking Moth Diaries.

    Funny how I used to think Lucky McKee had a classic in him. It’s pretty much been straight downhill since MAY.

    I came into this thread to mention how bad Battleship is, but I think you all know that.

  9. I came into this thread to mention how bad Battleship is, but I think you all know that.

    Can’t be any worse than The Avengers. Holy hell, that movie was shit.
    I will now commence to finishing and likely re-watching Sono’s twenty-some-odd-hour opus Love Exposure and then Battleship.

  10. Battleship would have been a fine, low-to-midrange naval action movie had it not been for 3 previous Transformers and the fact that it is called Battleship and based on a board game. Sure the aliens’ strengths, weaknesses and decisions are never explained but that’s standard action movie fare.

    Once they actually start playing Battleship (“E11…Miss!”) all hope is lost. I really wanted Liam Neeson to shout “You sank my battleship” but the closest we get is some old guy who shows up in the last 20 minutes saying “You’re not gonna sink this battleship.”

    Sorry Peter Berg, I think Mitt Romney using “Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose” should be the least of your worries…

  11. Saw ‘What to Expect When You’re Expecting’ the other night – had low expectations and pretty much met those.

    Has all the hallmarks of what passes for mainstream comedy these days: overly brightly lit, looks fake even when on real locations, scenes often so incoherently set up you have trouble following the dialogue, etc…

    As it is, WTEWYE isn’t a total write-off. It has some nice amusing and dramatic moments as you’d expect from a good cast, especially the likes of Anna Kendrick & Elizabeth Banks. But generally this is vacuous, phony and instantly forgettable.

    Also, seeing Cameron Diaz try really hard in her role (no one has ever pushed out a baby harder on screen) to little avail, this can be chalked up as yet another misguided film choice she’s made int he past 5 years. She really needs the Annie remake to be a hit for the sake of her career.

    Rating: C-

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