Well, it's that time again: time once more to look out over the empty wasteland that composes this weekend's new releases. As we struggle through even more out-of-season horror pictures and dumb-looking romcoms, we grin and try to bear it until something worth seeing shows up. In the meantime, though:
First up this week is the Renee Zellweger vehicle "New in Town" which also stars Harry Connick, Jr. as a bland and handsome love interest of some sort. The plot concerns Zellweger's character who moves to a tiny town in the middle of nowhere from Miami for a business opportunity. It goes without saying that hilarity ensues. Unless you're a gigantic RZ fan, you should probably steer clear of this one--the pathetic 11% rating at Rotten Tomatoes is a flagging red signal that this flick is godawful.
The critics have been somewhat kinder to "Taken," directed by Pierre Morel (B13). The film stars Liam Neeson as a sort of Jason Bourne-minus who decides to kill every criminal in France after his daughter, played by Maggie Grace ("The Fog"), is kidnapped while vacationing in France. Neeson plays a former CIA agent who exacts a brutal revenge on the traffickers who hope to sell his daughter into the sex trade. A pretty thin premise, but the 56% RT score suggests it might not be a total waste. Still it's assumed this will top the box-office as the herd generally takes in the biggest spectacle when given half an option.
If you're lucky enough to live in a city where it will open this weekend, your best bet will probably be "Serbis," the Filipino film that chronicles a family-run pornographic theatre where the clientele often arrange their own sexual adventures. The movie offers a number of alternately beautiful and grotesque vignettes that chronicle the lives of each member of the family. We saw this at NYFF and loved it--if you're near a theatre where you can take it in, you should definitely give it a shot.
Finally, there's "Medicine for Melancholy," a pluckly little romance set in San Fransisco. Helmed by first-timer Barry Jenkins, it tells the story of two young black "indie" folks who wake up together after a one-night stand and begin a 24-hour romance. Tracey Heggins and Wyatt Cenac ("The Daily Show") star as the couple who explore the politics of being black in a pasty-white city and each other as they do the same with the West Coast. The picture currently has a 89% on the Tomatometer and as usual, we didn't really have time for a review, but we would consider this number grossly overrated. We need to spit out that review soon. We did do a piece on the ghostly-white indie music in this film about disconnected black hipsters. Yes, it's placed there specifically to hammer home the dichotomy, but we still felt it was ill-suited and the filmmaker simply showed too much affection for it.
New York Centric Repertory:
But if you're in New York, there's a Douglas Sirk/John Stahl retrospective at Anthology Film Archives and Al Pacino's debut role in "The Panic In Needle Park" (good ol' Schatzberg) is playing at Film Forum. Thank god for those places. Oh AND, Paul Schrader's very underrated and overlooked, "Blue Collar" with Harvey Keitel and Richard Pryor (not a comedy, a film we love) is playing at Walter Reade starting tonight. Go see this if you're in town.