A Lull, By Design

2013-09-05-901082013185120_media1The Oscars are upon us, so this weekend’s studio offerings are specifically designed not to distract us from important cinema. I guess I can see the wisdom — and it’s not like they’re uniformly disposable. Except for the one about the time machine, that is.

The DUFF: Mae Whitman is no one’s idea of a Designated Ugly Fat Friend, which is why she’s perfect for the role of a high-school senior shocked to find herself described that way in Ari Sandel’s sharp-edged comedy.

Hot Tub Time Machine 2: Remember how those assholes went back in time and acted like assholes? This time, the assholes are acting like assholes … in the future! Uuuuuuugggghhh.

Matt Shepard Is a Friend of Mine: Michele Josue’s documentary looks at the young man who became a gay-rights martyr — and whose horrific death led his mother to reinvent herself as an activist. Susan finds it unexceptional — but still sadly necessary.

McFarland: Disney’s annual feelgood sports movie casts Kevin Costner as a white coach who formed a winning running team at a predominantly Latino high school in California. A good story, very conventionally told — not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Siddharth: Richie Mehta’s urgent Indian drama has spent a year and a half on the shelf; frankly, it’s a wonder it’s getting a theatrical run at all. It’s good; go see it. Rad agrees.

The Wrecking Crew: Denny Tedesco’s documentary on the Los Angeles session musicians who backed the great West Coast acts of the 60s and 70s has been knocking around since 2008, but the success of Twenty Feet from Stardom makes it marketable. Susan found it decent enough, assuming you dig the music.

And there you go. Keep an eye on my Twitter feed for Oscar commentary on Sunday night, and I’ll have a big wrap piece on the NOW site come Monday morning. And for the love of all that’s holy stay warm, would you?

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