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Friday, August 8, 2008

This Weekend at the Movies

posted by on August 8 at 12:21 PM

These movies have been open for days:

Sorry, I neglected to do This Wednesday at the Movies, but here are the movies your cool friends have already seen:

Pineapple Express

Pineapple Express. Andrew Wright: “Aping the feel of ’80s action-comedies, Seth Rogen and Even Goldberg’s script follows an amiable process server (Rogen) and his pot dealer (James Franco), who are on the bleary-eyed run after witnessing a murder. Director David Gordon Green captures the appropriate air of bong ennui, but proves far less capable of accommodating the shifts to action.” I interviewed Green earlier this year for Snow Angels, which isn’t the best movie ever, though it does costar Olivia Thirlby. Have you guys seen George Washington, though? That is a fantastic film.

Speaking of fantastic films (kidding!), Wednesday also saw the release of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2. Me: “The plot of this movie remains a fantasy whipped up for the sole and express pleasure of 16-year-old girls. If the audible weeping and gasps of the preview audience I watched it with are any indication, the filmmakers have their demographic down.”

And then there’s Bottle Shock, the gagworthy closing night movie at SIFF this year. I still can’t stand it: “Never mind the ‘true story’ that inspired it: Bottle Shock is a jingoistic light drama, so crude and clueless it flirts with outright racism.”

Opening tonight:

Did you know that Zhang Yimou (Raise the Red Lantern, Hero) is directing the opening and closing night ceremonies for the Beijing Olympics? The New York Times has a front-page story about his transition from censor-ducking provocateur to state-endorsed director of nostalgic martial arts epics. The ceremony will be broadcast (delayed, obviously) on NBC starting at 7:30 pm tonight—or you can try to chase down one of the YouTube clips that are constantly being posted and taken down.

Man on Wire

If you’re looking for a slightly less ethically complicated emotional high, the best movie opening this week is Man on Wire, a riveting account of a tightrope walk between the Twin Towers. Me: “In August of 1974, a redheaded Frenchman with the perfectly precious nom de cirque Philippe Petit (along with a crew of coconspirators) sneaked into the newly erected World Trade Center, smuggled cables and equipment up to the unoccupied top floors, strung a tightrope from the roof of one tower to its twin in the dead of night, and then walked and knelt and saluted and lay supine between them for the better part of a morning hour. The feat sounds impressive on paper, but until you see this documentary, you won’t realize how hushed and beautiful the performance was, how completely it dazzled passersby and police.”

Or is the best movie Boy A? Brendan and I will have to fight it out. Brendan Kiley: “Boy A has an exquisitely melancholy mood, a dark brooding and a bruised sweetness. If it sounds like a drag, that’s because it is—but it’s a pleasant, aching drag.”

Also worth your time: Baghead, from Jay and Mark Duplass. Andrew Wright: “The combination of horror and emo-speak may sound precious, but it works like a champion here, with each element somehow diffusing and enriching the other: After the first few genuine scares, whenever the handheld camera drunkenly moves towards a window during the middle of a fumbling conversation it’s difficult not to shudder, on levels both ironic and otherwise. Those expecting a gorefest will most likely walk away perplexed, but viewers able to latch onto its wobbly wavelength will have a blast.”

Probably not worth your time: Elegy, an adaptation of Philip Roth’s The Dying Animal. Me: “In contrast to the book, which is told in the first person and explicitly concerns the impact of the sexual revolution on an essentially conservative man born in 1930, the film does very little to get inside the head of its protagonist. We’re left to wonder, uncomfortably, whether Consuela is indeed as one-dimensional as she seems, or if the professor is pressing her flat with the iron of his enormous ego. There’s no point dwelling on the problem. Between the ugly digital photography, the repellent characters, and the free-floating misogyny, Elegy is an unpleasant film.” I have a lot more to say about it in this Slog post, below.

And definitely not worth your time: Hell Ride. Paul Constant: “As Pistolero fights the villainous 666 motorcycle gang in an incomprehensible plot that involves—oh, God, no—a peyote trip, he and his gang drop wince-inducing puns and rhymes and alliteration with all the self-importance of a drunken poetry slam. It’s painful to watch the vanity and brain-dead ‘artistic’ flourishes.” Dennis Hopper is, if you haven’t noticed, in a frightening number of movies out in theaters this week: Swing Vote, Elegy, and this. Enough already.

As if that weren’t enough to keep you busy, I’ve got a bunch of littler releases to tell you about, too. There’s the unoriginal but juicy body-image doc America the Beautiful at the Uptown; a clumsy but fascinating Full Battle Rattle, about training Iraq war soldiers in the Mojave Desert at Northwest Film Forum; a lovely documentary about Tintin at NWFF next Thursday; and the live-action RPG doc Monster Camp and the homeless soccer league doc Kicking It at Grand Illusion. In repertory options: A Jean Renoir series kicks off with Boudu Saved from Drowning at Seattle Art Museum; a Jean-Luc Godard series at SIFF Cinema begins with a week of Contempt; Orson Welles’s celebration of all plots Falstaff (with Falstaff played, naturally, by Welles himself), Chimes at Midnight, is at NWFF through Sunday; the lovely 1993 adapation The Secret Garden is the kid’s movie at SIFF Cinema tomorrow; and Akira Kurosawa’s Ikiru is the Metro Classic (category: Axis) next Wednesday. Plus: Last week’s Varsity calendar show Chris & Don is extending through this week.

Use us for all your movie times needs.

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I'm looking forward to the Petit movie. I first heard about his high-wire act on the History Channel or somesuch and was riveted by an interview with a NY cop after Petit's walk The officer's mind was so blown by witnessing the event that he seemed close to tears.

Posted by Lloyd Clydesdale | August 8, 2008 12:47 PM

Apparently Seth Rogan's pants are traveling.

*thank you i'm here all night*

Posted by harold | August 8, 2008 1:02 PM

Boy A will forever remind me of that grainy cam store video of those two limey kids leading the little toddler to his death. i know that is loosely based on that horrific crime.

Posted by SeMe | August 8, 2008 2:23 PM

Bottle Shock was fun.

So, how come no mention that Juno is playing tonight at dusk at the SLU Denny location for only $5?

I'll be there.

Posted by Will in Seattle | August 8, 2008 2:31 PM

I laughed a lot at Pineapple Express - the sad action sequences are particularly hilarious, and I think that the scenes are intentionally sad.

Posted by Soupytwist | August 8, 2008 2:48 PM

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