Who Goes There?

Yes, remakes of beloved ’80s movies are a dime a dozen, but what are the odds that we’d see two of them arrive in theatres on the very same day? And what are the odds on the “Thing” movie being any good?

I guess it’s a good day to buy lottery tickets.

“Benda Bilili!”: This African documentary — opening in a limited run at the Lightbox — aims to expose Western audiences to Kinshasa’s paraplegic-musican circuit. Rad thinks it deserves a shot.

The Big Year“: Mark Obmascik’s non-fiction study of competitive birders becomes an awkward but occasionally charming comedy in the hands of director David Frankel, thanks mostly to the chemistry of unlikely buddies Steve Martin and Jack Black. You may be relieved to learn that despite a few feints in the direction of “Planes, Trains” slapstickery, it never tips all the way over into farce. I certainly was.

“Dead Dreams”: A young man (Cory Sevier) wakes up to find his girlfriend murdered and his memory wiped in Josh Koffman’s indie thriller — which Phil hated, hated, hated.

“Footloose”: Craig Brewer, the director of “Hustle & Flow” and “Black Snake Moan”, drags the beloved ’80s chestnut into the present day. Sure, he missed a major opportunity by not casting Kevin Bacon in the Lithgow role this time around, but Dennis Quaid can pull off inflexible pretty well, so let’s not totally dismiss him or anything.

Revenge of the Electric Car“: Five years after “Who Killed the Electric Car?”, Chris Paine returns to the subject and finds American carmakers and consumers more comfortable with the concept of a car that runs on batteries. But it can be tricky making an underdog story about a $100,000 vanitymobile …

Take Shelter“: Michael Shannon and Jessica Chastain are riveting in Jeff Nichols’ intensely focused study of an ordinary man whose inexplicable visions of apocalyptic events threaten to alienate him from his family and his community. A terrific, terrifying film.

The Thing“: No, John Carpenter’s brilliantly paranoid 1982 thriller does not need to be remade, rebooted or otherwise franchised. But Matthijs van Heijningen finds a way to do exactly that without alienating the fans in this very clever prequel. I spend about a thousand words explaining how in my review, which will be up later today.

What, you want more? I dunno, there’s a Clouzot series at the Lightbox, that’d be pretty good.

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