Unlikely Mentorships

Another busyLook, the 'Twilight' people didn't call, okay? Friday — with a surprising emphasis on impressionable youngsters and the older, wiser folks (in some cases, much older) who turn up to offer guidance. Weird.

“Amelia”: Hilary Swank plays Amelia Earhart in Mira Nair’s biopic, which Fox Searchlight is releasing with virtually no advance fanfare and just one last-minute screening. And these are the guys who screened “(500) Days of Summer” and “Adam” for months in advance. It smacks of damage control to me, but fortunately I’m not the one reviewing it.

Astro Boy“: I’ll be honest: I wasn’t expecting much from this CG feature based on the mildly charming 1960s TV show. But it’s a very solid and consistently entertaining little movie, filled to bursting with little bits of character business and dazzling visual design. I may be its most enthusiastic champion, though; some of the other reviews I’ve seen are suggesting it’ll be as unfairly dismissed as director David Bowers’ previous venture, “Flushed Away”. And that’s just not fair.

“An Education”: Set in England at the dawn of the Sixties, Lone Scherfig’s festival-circuit hit follows a teenager (Carey Mulligan) who falls into a charged relationship with a man twice her age (Peter Sarsgaard). It’s enjoyable enough, and Mulligan makes an impressive debut, but Nick Hornby’s script is awfully formulaic, and Sarsgaard is awfully weak as someone who’s supposed to be a charming Brit. Rad felt much the same way; Jason was a little less tolerant.

Saw VI“: More grotty mayhem from the franchise that’s proven considerably longer-lived than the maniac at its core. I’ll be seeing it this afternoon; in the meantime, you can enjoy my conversation with Tobin Bell, who once again returns as the infernal therapist known as Jigsaw, despite dying at the end of “Saw III”. UPDATE: Review’s up!

“The September Issue”: Is Anna Wintour an egomaniacal monster who no longer cares about the impact she has on her staff and colleagues, or is she just really, really dedicated to producing the best product she can? R.J. Cutler’s documentary explores the question, and concludes that the two theories may not be mutually exclusive.

Stan Helsing“: Bo Zenga’s insipid horror parody might be the worst movie you see this year … if you’re dumb enough to go and see it. Oh, and the DVD’s coming out on Tuesday, so consider yourself doubly cautioned.

Still Bill“: Some documentaries take their subjects and pick them apart, the better to get to the bottom of their thorny issues; other documentaries just don’t. This look at the present-day activities of essential 1970s soul singer Bill Withers — who vanished from the scene in the mid-1980s — is one of the latter. It’s not bad, exactly, but it is awfully disappointing that it never tries to find a way to provide the backstory (or even the context) that Withers himself refuses to offer.

“The Vampire’s Assistant”: I know absolutely nothing about this movie beyond what I’ve seen in the TV spots, which suggests that John C. Reilly plays a cranky carny vampire, and Willem Dafoe and Salma Hayek are goofing around in the supporting cast. And was that Kristen Schaal in there, too?

Like I said. Weird.

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