11/11/11! Did you make a wish? I was writing this column at 11:11 a.m. and missed it by one minute. Oh well, I don't much go in for that superstitious stuff, but I hope all your 11:11 wishes and hopes and dreams come true. This weekend at the theater is a weird mix of prestige and flat out horrible crap. For every "J. Edgar," you get a "Jack and Jill;" for every "Melancholia," there's an "Immortals." What are you gonna do?!
This weekend's big prestige pic is Clint Eastwood's "J. Edgar" with Leo DiCaprio as the titlular G-Man. Armie Hammer stars as his longtime companion, with Naomi Watts as his secretary. Written by Dustin Lance Black, the film unfortunately ends up as "an exercise of stultifying blandness and dramatic inertia," and that "the uncertainty and unwillingness to commit to a point of view, creates an oddly objective and unemotional experience for a story about one of the most polarizing figures of the last century," according to our review. Rotten Tomatoes: 41% Metacritic: 59
I really really REALLY wish someone would yell "IMMMOOORRRTALLLS" Gerry Butler style in "Immortals" but I don't think Henry Cavill seems the type. The Superman-in-training plays Theseus in this Greek god tale, directed by fantastical imagist Tarsem. Freida Pinto, Mickey Rourke, Luke Evans, John Hurt and Stephen Dorff suit up in sandals and swords for this epic. Our review says in terms of the script, "no cliché of the genre is left unexplored," but that the imagery creates "a feast for the eyes that is constantly producing surprising visuals," so that "When it comes to at least one of the senses, 'Immortals' will stun you in ways you may never forget." RT: 39% MC: 46
Dear God. "Jack and Jill" subjects moviegoing audiences to Adam Sandler's nuanced drag performance this weekend (THAT WAS SARCASM BY THE WAY). I mean…what is there to say? Katie Holmes is in it. Al Pacino plays himself in love with Adam Sandler in drag as his twin sister. This is decidedly a new low, and no one thought it could get lower than "Grown Ups." I have to simply quote the title of our review, which calls it "Like A Telemundo Show From Hell." Beautiful. RT: 4% MC: 24
Lars von Trier's "Melancholia" hits theaters after its Cannes debut earlier this year, starring Kirsten Dunst, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Alexander Skarsgård, Kiefer Sutherland, Charlotte Rampling, John Hurt and Stellan Skarsgård. Dunst stars as the fragile Justine, battling depression even on her wedding night, and Gainsbourg is her sister Claire, who grows increasingly paranoid at the looming spectre of a planet on a collision course with Earth. Our review from Cannes says, "As a cinematic profile of profound psychological devastation, 'Melancholia' is a success, but the film never moves much beyond its unrelentingly grim tone," but what keeps it "from sinking into its own, at times, self-pitying mood is the standout performance by Dunst." RT: 79% MC: 82
"The Departed" screenwriter William Monahan makes his directorial debut, "London Boulevard," with Colin Farrell, Keira Knightley, Ray Winstone, David Thewlis, Eddie Marsan, Anna Friel and Stephen Graham. This London gangster flick had a great script that landed it on our most anticipated list, but what ended up on screen results in "a deeply unfulfilling film" and "is a road you don't really want to find yourself going down," according to our review. RT: 31% MC: 53
"Saw II-IV" and "Repo! The Genetic Opera" helmer Darren Lynn Bousman is back in theaters with "11-11-11" for this very day. This retro religious horror flick follows a horror novelist traumatized by the death of his wife and child, who begins to be tormented by the number 11 and various boogeymen demons descending upon the earth. Our review says the movie "feel[s] like it’s a waste of time," and that "when not piling on the scares, Bousman puts laughably expository lines in the mouths of these characters."
Everyone's favorite German director, Werner Herzog, has another doc in theaters this weekend. "Into the Abyss" is a true crime doc focusing on a young man on death row and his partner serving out a life sentence for the same burglary and triple murder. Our review says, Herzog's treatment of this genre creates "an absolutely worthy film, containing subtle insights into various facets of mortality," and that he develops "a very interesting tone by finding warm stories within a grim topic." RT: 88% MC: 78
Finally, if you want to have your awards season cake and your entertainment too, you can check out Brazil's Oscar contender, "Elite Squad: The Enemy Within." The sequel to the smash hit "Elite Squad," this film further continues the adventures Captain Roberto Nascimento who leads the tactical squad BOPE against corruption from within and without. We said the film is "like 'The Wire' [and] stays out of the nitty gritty of the streets, instead focusing on how Nascimento is watching both sides of the fight, even as things he implemented for good, like everything else in Rio, becomes corrupted and dirty." RT: 100% MC: 73
Also in theaters: "The Conquest," "The Greening of Whitney Brown," "Letters from the Big Man," "The Big Fix," "Dog Sweat," "A Novel Romance," "Pete Smalls Is Dead" and "God's Fiddler: Jascha Heifetz."