Hey, everybody! It’s Friday, and you know what that means — a clogged megaplex, a despairing population and the promise of a blockbuster comic-book movie! Last week, that was “Fast Five”; this week, say hello to a frickin’ Norse god. Shall we jump right in?
“The Bang Bang Club”: Not exactly embraced at TIFF last year, Steven Silver’s drama about adrenaline-junkie South African photojournalists lands in theatres just as star Ryan Phillippe announces his retirement from acting. Which is too bad, because he was great in “Macgruber” and Susan thinks he’s pretty solid here, too.
“The Beaver”: Jodie Foster’s bleak drama about a depressive who reconnects with his family through a hand puppet falls well short of masterpiece status — a big chunk of Kyle Killen’s script plays like “American Beauty” redux, with Anton Yelchin reprising his conflicted-weasel “Charlie Bartlett” role — but Mel Gibson really does knock it out of the park, reminding us once again that he’s spent most of the last decade wasting his gift.
“Even the Rain“: The ads for Iciar Bollain’s Bolivian issue picture may reference Terrence Malick, but it’s a pretty facile comparison — okay, we see conquistadors running through some grassy fields, but that’s about it. The more appropriate connection is Ken Loach, since this socially conscious tale of capitalist exploitation springs straight from the pen of his usual screenwriter, Paul Laverty. Didactic, but with moments of genuine dramatic power.
“Jumping the Broom”: All I know about this movie is that there are standees at the AMC telling me it’s the most talked-about movie of the summer. Of course, it’s not summer yet, and no one’s talking about it … wait, is there a subliminal message embedded in the film that plants a post-hypnotic suggestion urging people to overthrow the government? Because sure, that would get people talking.
“POM Wonderful Presents The Greatest Movie Ever Sold“: Morgan Spurlock sells himself in the name of public enlightenment in this advocacy documentary, which crams his movie with lots of products so we can learn about the evils of cramming movies with lots of products. Of course, Morgan Spurlock’s biggest product has always been Morgan Spurlock, so “disingenuous” doesn’t even begin to cover what he does here.
“Something Borrowed“: Walking chick-lit stereotype Ginnifer Goodwin revives her winsome wallflower of “He’s Just Not That Into You” to play a lawyer who discovers that her best friend’s fiance actually is that into her, and steals him in the name of True Love. Fortunately, the best friend is played by Kate Hudson, so you kind of want her to get hit by a bus even before she opens her mouth. And that’s the only time I’ll ever use the word “fortunately” in conjunction with this film. In short, THIS A TERRIBLE MOVIE AND IT WILL PROBABLY GIVE YOU CRAMPS.
“Thor“: Kenneth Branagh takes two Oscar winners, a bajillion dollars of CGI and a very silly idea and comes out the other side with a goofy superhero adventure that actually makes a Thor movie seem like kind of a good idea. He also solves the problem of casting the wee Natalie Portman as a crack astrophysicist by giving her Kat Dennings as a wacky research assistant. Maturity by proxy!