The Gilded Bucket

You call me Leaf again, I'll punch you right in the mouthBreaking news: Al Gore has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. I fully expect Stephen Colbert to turn this into another Manilow-scale feud.

Movie-wise, there’s plenty of stuff opening in Toronto today … and if you live elsewhere in Canada, there’s plenty more stuff expanding out to your neck of the woods.

Of course, the only important question is whether all that new stuff is worthy of your time. It mostly isn’t, but there are a couple of exceptions.

If “Into the Wild” is playing near you — and by now, it should be — go see it. This is one of those movies that will be diminished on DVD, no matter how wide an image your projector throws. (“Michael Clayton“, on the other hand, will probably be improved on the small screen.) And I’m still disproportionately fond of “The Jane Austen Book Club“, even if a number of the online ads misspell the author’s name.

“But what about the new new stuff?” you ask. Okay, here we go:

Death at a Funeral“: I wanted to like this movie, I really did — it’s got actors of whom I am very fond, like Alan Tudyk and Peter Dinklage and Matthew Macfadyen, who always seems to be on the verge of a sharp comic turn. But it just doesn’t come together; instead, I was left to wonder, once again, how Frank Oz lost his way after the perfection of his 1980s work. I mean, “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” is precisely what this film is not: Pointed, cruel and hysterically funny. Tudyk aside, it’s a dud.

Elizabeth: The Golden Age“: If you thought Shekhar Kapur’s first look at the life of the Virgin Queen was a little on the hyper side, you’re really gonna hate the sequel, in which the camera spins around Cate Blanchett so often I thought she’d been granted an extra life, or something. Also, the script is kind of a mess, and they didn’t do nearly enough to make Blanchett look like she was in her fifties, which Elizabeth most certainly was when she faced down the Spanish armada. (And which, I note quietly, would have given her flirtation with Walter Raleigh an extra tinge of melancholy. But I am a picker of nits.)

Weirdsville“: “Intentionally ragged” or “half-assed”? It’s all in your definiton of terms. I have no doubt that Allan Moyle directed this junkie comedy with his entire ass — that’s not an insult — but it simply doesn’t work, despite the very game efforts of burnout stars Scott Speedman and Wes Bentley. When you’re actively hoping one of the characters will overdose, that can’t be a good thing.

We Own the Night“: Wow. I mean, just, wow. James Gray finally delivers the solid, classical character drama he’s been claiming to have made for years now … yeah, my apologies to fans of “Little Odessa” and “The Yards”, but they’re affected, clumsy and dull. This one, with “Yards” co-stars Joaquin Phoenix and Mark Wahlberg reuniting as brothers caught up in the early years of New York’s crack epidemic, is not.

Also opening today: “American Venus”, which Rick reviews here, and “King of California”, which Chris reviews here. Oh, and “Why Did I Get Married?”, which is opening precisely nowhere in the city, and playing exclusively in suburban markets, and which Maple declined to screen for the press.

But we will find it. Oh, yes, we will find it.