Hello, In Theaters friends! I’m back (for a week)! Did you miss me? Doesn’t Emma take good care of you? She writes better headlines than I do. But I celebrate Cage’s Festival of Wigs more! Hope you all have your Oscar racing pants on because that one is underway! In fact, I will be giving out a few awards of my own… This week sees the release of TIFF darling “Argo,” Ben Affleck’s Iran hostage thrilla, the return of truly delightful twisted person Martin McDonagh with “Seven Psychopaths,” something called “Sinister,” Kevin James getting punched and falling down a lot in “Here Comes the Boom,” and Ayn Rand propaganda! Fun times to be had by all, even the psychopaths. There’s also a metric butt-ton of indie festival goodness making its way into local art houses and multiplexes so now might be time to catch up with the cool kids (by cool kids I mean film bloggers who go to all the festivals… whether or not they are cool is up to you!).
And the Oscar for Most Rideable Mustaches in an Ensemble goes to… “ARGO”! Sorry, had to do it, Chris Messina and his face make me say CA-razy things. No, but seriously, the mustaches in this cast: primo. It’s also a really good movie! Super fun for a movie about religious revolution, kidnapping, terror, etc. Directed by and starring Ben Affleck, this film sports a cast that is fully loaded with character actor goodness, including Alan “Arko” Arkin, Bryan “Cransto” Cranston, John “Goodo” Goodman, Scoot “Scooto” McNairy, (OK, I can’t keep doing this), Mr. Messina, the guy who played Glen Goolia in “The Wedding Singer,” CLEA DUVALL (!!), Vincent “Garbo” Garber, COACH TAYLOR, LUCAS from “Empire Records” (do you die!!), and a whole lot of “that guys” who will make you feel all happy and tingly inside. Our review says, “extraordinarily suspenseful, extremely well-told and effortless in its complex tonal balance, ‘Argo’ is a captivating and thoughtful true-life drama that boasts a story so astonishing, it could only be told in the movies.” Ye, we shall celebrate Affleck’s Festival of Mustaches! Rotten Tomatoes: 93% Metacritic: 87
Speaking of crazy awesome casts, Martin McDonagh’s black comedy “Seven Psychopaths” features Christopher Walken, McDonagh regular Colin Farrell, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell, Tom Waits, Abbie Cornish, and Olga Kurylenko in this tale of Shih Tzus gone stolen within a blistering satire of Hollywood. Maybe you’ve seen the viral marketing campaign masquerading as missing dog fliers? Our review says, “It's a constantly moving animal with violence usually played for laughs and dialogue and scenes not so much crafted, as swung and punched out wildly…But yes, when it does hit, it's quite funny." RT: 84% MC: 66
Illustrious thespian Kevin James returns to the screen a few pounds lighter in order to play a teacher turned mixed martial arts fighter in the flick “Here Comes the Boom.” Oh yippee, here comes my total disinterest in this film. Our review describes it as, “semi-watchable but excruciatingly dumb and schmaltzy.” Fun! Henry Winkler and Salma Hayek pick up some checks. RT: 47% MC: 41
Ethan Hawke stars as a novelist who receives a mysterious package of spooOOOooky clues leading to supernatural HORROR in “Sinister,” from the producers of “Paranormal Activity.” James Ransone co-stars! He’s great. So is Vincent D’Onofrio! RT: 61% MC: 55
Oh that? That’s just the sound of Paul Ryan furiously masturbating in the back of the theater while watching “Atlas Shrugged: Part II,” trying to erase the memory of his dismal performance last night.
In limited release:
Mary Elizabeth Winstead plays drunkie in the alcoholism drama “Smashed,” a Sundance darling this year, with “Breaking Bad” breakout Aaron Paul as her husband. Great movie, but alls I’m sayin’ is that her wardrobe could win Best Supporting Performance by a Frumpy Dress in a hot damn minute. Nick Offerman, Megan Mullally and Octavia Spencer (aka Trifecta of Awesome) co-star in the film directed and co-written by James Ponsoldt. Our review says, “all of the pain and problem-solving here feel human and natural, never forced or contrived…Ponsoldt, Paul and Winstead make a remarkably effective team for this film's points and purposes.” RT: 82% MC: 75
“3, 2, 1… Frankie Go Boom” stars our favorite imports from the British Isles, Charlie Hunnam and Chris O’Dowd. This film from Jordan Roberts also stars Ron Perlman in lipstick. Vurry alluring. Not to mention Chris Noth in a jockstrap and Lizzie Caplan in a sex tape. One please! Our review from SXSW says the film is “bright and warm with a stabbing-switchblade sense of flicker-fast folly.” RT: 42% MC: 52
Jonathan Lisecki’s “Gayby” is a romp in the sack with your gay BFF (in order to make a gayby, of course). Starring real-life friends Jennifer Harris and Matthew Wilkas and Lisecki himself as the outre bear, Nelson, our review says the film is “a slightly amusing, light-as-a-feather take on a well-trod tale. RT: 89% MC: 58
John Krasinski, Olivia Thirlby, and Rosemarie Dewitt star in the LA relationship drama “Nobody Walks” from director Ry Russo-Young and co-writer Lena Dunham. Our review from Sundance says it’s “an emotionally complex, acutely observed and sensual film." RT: 22% MC: 54
Documentary “Split: A Deeper Divide” takes a magnifying glass to the sociopolitical red/blue rift that has opened up in our nation, directed by Kym Nyks. Our review says it doesn’t quite pull off the astute commentary, explaining that “the picture creates a storybook-simple portrait of America as a country divided by ideals, but it’s one that some might not understand. As such, it’s ideal for classrooms and other similarly impressionable minds who do not truly see the violent disagreement that poisons our social discourse."
“Hotel Noir” is the latest from “Women in Trouble” and “Electra Luxx” filmmaker Sebastian Gutierrez, and his latest low-budget genre ensemble piece assembles Carla Gugino, Rufus Sewell, Malin Akerman, Kevin Connolly, Robert Forster, Rosario Dawson and Danny DeVito. Our review says this classic film noir riff “plays like an enjoyable little thriller” and “while it's very clear that Gutierrez is being indulgent and obsessive, it never acts to distance the viewer from the material." RT: 13% MC: 34
“Least Among Saints” features writer/director Martin Papazian in the starring role as an alcoholic just back from the war and dealing with his PTSD, and the troubled kid and social worker who cross his path. Our review says, “There are two films at war [here], and neither is very compelling." RT: 0% MC: 32
Korea’s highest-grossing film, “The Thieves,” hits American theaters this week. Directed by Choi Dong-hoon, this heist/revenge flick comes in at a blistering pace, with our review applauding its “crackerjack b-movie pace, and a satisfying multi-tiered ending that wraps up all loose ends with the nefarious twists native to the genre. You may have seen it all before, but there’s a lot of 'it all' to parse through in this effervescent heist actioner, a pleasurable romp with a savvy b-movie intelligence." RT: 100% MC: 77
More notable films in theaters include:
“Pusher,” the remake of Nicholas Winding Refn’s gritty Danish drug dealer drama, starring Richard Coyle as the titular pusher, model/actress Agyness Deyn as his girlfriend, and directed by Luis Prieto… RT: 61%