Have we all recovered from the Oscars? I'm still steamed about Billy Crystal's blackface, but really, it's the horrible, groan-inducing jokes that were the most offensive of all. I just like to fantasize about the Tilda/Charlize/Fassbender crazy Oscar party they must have had together. That would be the place to watch! But now it's March, so awards season is over, and we must move on to new and greener pastures. You know what they say about March, in like a "Lorax" out like a lamb. Right? Something like that. This weekend, "The Lorax" ushers in spring with a little ecology lesson, and "Project X" ushers in SPRING BREAK, WOO! We've also got curiosity "Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie," somehow being released in theaters, Jafar Panahi's house arrest doc "This Is Not A Film" and plenty of other selections in our First Weekend of March Cornucopia.
You've heard of this "Lorax," he speaks for the trees! This latest Dr. Seuss adapation is in theaters this weekend, starring the voice talents of Zac Efron, Taylor Swift, Ed Helms, Betty White, Rob Riggle, and of course, Danny Devito as the diminuative title character. Our review says the film "is decent and charming, it's very true indeed. It's got bears that look like Ewoks and songs and something called a Thneed. But you can't help but wish that the filmmakers took some liberties, too. It's good to be respectful, but it can also make you blue." Rotten Tomatoes: 57% Metacritic: 49
The Todd Phillips-produced, Nima Nourizadeh- directed teen found footage party movie "Project X" hits theaters this weekend, with all the hormone-drenched profanity it can muster. Will it be the "Animal House" or the "Can't Hardly Wait" of the 2010s? Our review says "for all the flashy visuals, attractive women, and explosions that litter the increasingly preposterous climax too, it all felt a bit – boring," and the project "is a frequently hilarious, wickedly seductive thrill, but the paper-thin premise tires itself out to exhaustion, taking a morally irresponsible film into the realm of just irritating." RT: 25% MC: 49
What to make of the absurdity that is "Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie"? Their bizarre Cartoon Network series "Tim and Eric Awesome Show Great Job!" is a surreal riff/metatextual commentary on the nature of televisuality– how might this translate to the big screen? Our heros, Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim, find themselves in a billion dollars worth of debt after blowing their moviemaking budget, and turn to rehabiliting a mall in order to make the money back. Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, Will Forte, Jeff Goldblum, Robert Loggia, and Ray Wise jump on the crazy train too. Our review says it, "is a toss-off, a trifle, a doodle; but, with their bouillabaisse approach and emphasis on editorial gamesmanship, it might just be the next phase of American comedy," and "its adherence to some narrative conventions, coupled with its gentle surrealism, especially on a larger scale, allows it to come across as oddly charming." RT: 42% MC: 39
Robert De Niro, Paul Dano, and Olivia Thirlby star in "Being Flynn," the adaptation of Nick Flynn's memoir "Another Bullshit Night in Suck City," directed by Paul Weitz. Our review says, "Weitz isn't interested in exploring the conflicts and issues that spring from the heart of 'Being Flynn' as much as he's concerned with placing them at strategic checkpoints, to eliminate any necessary audience questioning in favor of revelation as a narrative technique; it's the equivalent of a tour guide who mistakes himself for a magician."RT: 45% MC: 49
1920s set Chinese Western-inspired flick "Let the Bullets Fly" stars Chow Yun Fat, Ge You, and director Jiang Wen in this story of gangs fighting for control of land and ahem, letting bullets fly (at each other, naturally). Our review says, "Jiang is a talented helmer and this film demonstrates a very dark wit to go with set pieces that hit familiar beats while remaining enjoyable due to the clean camerawork," and the film "revels in breathtaking, breakneck pacing but still manages to feel like an absolute slog at 132 minutes, the middle weighing the film down to the point of viewer exhaustion." RT: 76% MC: 63
The title of Jafar Panahi's latest work, "This Is Not A Film" refers to the fact that the Iranian filmmaker is banned from making films for the next 20 years, not to mention under house arrest and awaiting his appeal on a six-year sentence for voicing his support for the Iranian opposition movement. This "film," shot on an iphone and DV cam, follows a day in the filmmaker's life as he hangs out with his friend and collaborator Mojtaba Mirtahmasb. Our review says the film (if we can call it that) "demonstrates how ingrained the need to make films is in Panahi — it's not just his vocation, it's part of his very nature," and "beyond the politics, beyond the ideas on art and how it reflects and informs outside life, beyond the embittered but tongue-in-cheek commentary on the terrible absurdity of the situation, 'This Is Not A Film' portrays the fear of being forgotten when you can't speak for yourself, when you've been removed from the public eye." RT: 100% MC: 91
"Gomorrah" co-writer Gianni De Gregorio triple threats (writes, directs, and stars) in "The Salt of Life," about a bored older man facing the realities of aging. Our review says the film, "has the right amount of sweet and sour, able to entertain while it candidly explores its characters. Dare we say, it’s a film for adults made by adults, and it’s a great time." RT: 86% MC: 64
Carice Van Houten and Rutger Hauer star in "Black Butterflies," the story of South African poet Ingrid Jonkers and her politician, antagonistic father, Abraham. This story of "the South African Sylvia Plath," is directed by Pamela van der Oest, and our review says 'Butterflies' is "an intense, mostly effective approach, but the film simply can't decide whether it's the passion for the pen, or the hunger for the flesh that properly motivates Jonker, trapping the film in an endless loop of melodrama."RT: 73% MC: 69
"Last Days Here" documents the life of aging wayward rocker Bobby Liebling, the lead singer for metal band Pentagram. Our review says directors Don Argott and Demian Fenton "manage to craft a redemption movie that surprisingly doesn't feel by-the-numbers, a difficult feat that even seasoned non-fiction filmmakers consistently fall into." RT: 91% MC: 68
French action flick "The Assault," directed by Julian Leclerq, hits U.S. theaters this week. The 90s set film takes on a documentary realist approach, and our review says, "misinterprets post-Greengrass shaky-cam action as a levelling of the idealist playing field, a chance to allow all opinions to find simultaneous voice in the rush of onscreen action, when in fact it's about the chance to allow, and crave, the order and humanity out of the chaos of widespread violence. There may be plenty of propulsive action in 'The Assault,' but there is little humanity.
Also, arriving is Taika Waititi's box office smash (in New Zealand) and Sundance hit "Boy." The film chronicles the coming of age and troubled relationship between a young boy and his father. RT: 81% MC: 65