Early Doldrums

The kid is not my son?Time was, the first weekend of December was a cinematic dead zone. Nothing of substance opened; the studios were waiting for their big Thanksgiving pictures to settle down, and it was too early to trot out the Oscar contenders.

This year, it’s still a dead zone … but there are seven movies opening anyway, since everything that opened last week has already had its chance to grab your movie dollar.

Factotum“: Matt Dillon is remarkably good as Charles Bukowski’s fictional alter ego, wobbling through a series of crappy jobs (and worse relationships) in the service of his art. It’ll be huge at campus film societies, just you watch.

Fuck“: It’s the most popular profanity in the English language, and Steve Anderson’s lightweight but engaging documentary allows several dozen celebrity talking heads to use it — or refuse it — at their pleasure. Kevin Smith, Billy Connolly and Drew Carey have the best anecdotes, of course.

“The Hamster Cage”: Larry Kent, the original bad boy of Canadian cinema — really, it’s in the press release — returns to filmmaking after a long absence with a dreadful DV comedy that tries to combine “The Celebration” and “Pet Sematary”. I think. Anyway, it’s atrocious. (Review not yet posted on Metro.)

The Nativity Story“: Catherine Hardwicke, the posturing hack behind “Thirteen” and “Lords of Dogtown”, reinvents herself as a provider of wholesome Christian haigiography. I thought politics was the last refuge of the scoundrel.

Turistas“: More cautionary sado-porn about American idiots in foreign lands, jazzed up slightly by the unquestionable professionalism of director John Stockwell, who took the gig because it offered him a couple of elaborate underwater sequences. Because, you know, that’s what people want to see in a torture movie.

“Unnatural & Accidental”: While Carmen Moore wanders the streets of Vancouver looking for her vanished mother, Callum Keith Rennie hits the bars encouraging Native women to drink themselves to death in his presence. Naturally, this is an indictment of us all, or something. (Review not yet posted on Metro.)

Number seven is “Van Wilder: The Rise of Taj”, which wasn’t screened for critics (huge shocker there), but I’ll be catching it later this afternoon.

You know, I could really use an Oscar contender right about now.