Friday, August 29, 2008

Flickers #8: Weekend movies; and Let's Make Movies Film Fest

American Teen, a documentary focusing on stereotypes, archetypes and cliques at a high school in the American heartland (Indiana), promises to be the most genuinely provocative movie opening this week.

"The players are timelessly familiar in American Teen," Lisa Schwarzbaum writes in Entertainment Weekly. But filmmaker Nanette Burstein tells their stories with a distinctly 21st-century pop and audacity (yes, of hope) that makes this latest version of Fast Times at My So-Called Happy Days High a timely pleasure.

Second most intriguing is Tell No One, a well-reviewed French thriller, starring Francois Cluzet as a children's doctor at the center of a murder mystery. High praise from Stephen Holden in the New York Times: "This French adaptation of Harlan Coben’s 2001 best seller is the kind of conspiracy-minded mystery almost no one seems capable of creating anymore, except David Lynch in his surreal way. Watching it is like gorging on a hot- fudge sundae in the good old days when few worried about sugar and fat. There are no bogus geopolitics weighing it down with a spurious relevance. Beautifully written and acted, “Tell No One” is a labyrinth in which to get deliriously lost." Tell No One is scheduled to play Tampa Theatre through Sept. 11.

Also opening (or opened Wednesday):

Hamlet 2, with Steve Coogan as a hopelessly untalented high-school drama driven to directing his students in a loopy musical sequel to Shakespeare's drama; cast includes Catherine Keener as his mean wife, David Arquette as a freaky-deaky roommate, Amy Poehler, and Elisabeth Shue as a version of herself.

College, an R-rated, raucous campus comedy starring Drake Bell of television's "Drake and Josh."

Disaster Movie, from the folks who brought us Scary Movie.

Babylon A.D., a sci-fi vehicle for Vin Diesel, directed by Mathieu Kassovitz (Gothika); also in the cast are Michelle Yeeoh and Charlotte Rampling.

Don't forget the 007 marathon at Beach Theatre and The Kite at UT (see posts below).

And silent film Wings (1927), the first-ever movie to win an Oscar for Best Picture, is the final film in the Summer Classic Movie series at Tampa Theatre, Sunday at 3 p.m. Clara Bow stars, and Gary Cooper makes a cameo. Rosa Rio will provide accompaniment on the theater's might Wurlitzer. Admission is a rather steep $11.50 for adults, $10 for students with ID, and $9 for seniors and military. For more information, go here.

Continuing this weekend, and not because it particularly deserves to stick around, is The Rocker, with Rainn Wilson (Dwight in television's "The Office") giving a second-hand performance in a movie entirely derivative of the far superior School of Rock. I took my son, an aspiring 12-year-old drummer and movie fan, to see this would-be comedy, and we'd like our 102 minutes back.

Yes, we laughed a bit here and there, and The Rocker was mildly entertaining, but I can't say as I'd ever want or need to catch it a second time through. The movie is generally unfunny, and Wilson is simply miscast - we're clearly supposed to sympathize with and root for Fish, his washed-up drummer character, but the guy isn't at all likable. The hair-metal parody is old and obsolete. And the emo-like band that Fish helps take to the top of the charts is rather insufferable. Nice turn by Christina Applegate as the sexy, no-nonsense mom of the group's lead singer. And nice exterior shots of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.

The Rocker notched a 53 (failing) score at MetaCritic. Wrote David Edelstein in New York magazine: "It's depressing when the best thing you can say about a comedy is that its second-rateness is pleasantly in sync with its unmagnetic hero."

Heads up on the 2008 Let's Make Movies Film Festival, a showcase for the short films made by the kids (including my son and daughter) who attended this summer's Tampa Theatre film camp.

The marathon of kid flicks, many again featuring themes related to ghosts and, uh, haunted theatres, is slated for Saturday, Sept. 13 from 9 a.m. to about 12:30 p.m. Admission is free. Come on out and support the kids (and the program).

1 comment:

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