This weekend serves up a veritable Pu-Pu platter of cinematic tastes. It has everything from heist thrillers to high concept horror to questionable documentary to teen sex comedy – and, probably, everything in-between. I haven’t seen a whole lot of the movies opening this weekend, but I have seen a couple, and look forward to the rest. It’s been a long, long time since I’ve been able to say that! Let’s have a look now, shall we?
The biggest release this week is probably Ben Affleck’s sophomore directorial gig ‘The Town,’ a bank heist thriller set in a small section of Boston that has more bank robberies per year than anywhere else in the world. (This is a true factoid.) Boasting a ridiculously good cast including Jon Hamm, Rebecca Hall, Jeremy Renner, Blake Lively, Chris Cooper, and Affleck himself, it looks like a lively, well crafted bit of pulp goodness. The movie is based on the novel ‘Prince of Thieves’ by Chuck Hogan. (I’ve never read a solo Chuck Hogan book, but I read the first vampire novel he did with Guillermo del Toro last year, and it read like a Freshman writing exercise.) Affleck’s first movie, the sorely overlooked ‘Gone Baby Gone,’ was a wonderful debut and I’m really excited about this one. The trailers have had me jazzed and the cast can’t be beat. If there’s one thing I truly love, it’s genre done right.
Speaking of genre, the first in a series of M. Night Shymalan-conceived movies (under the pretentious banner of “The Night Chronicles”) opens this weekend. Entitled ‘Devil‘ and, rather suspiciously, not screened for critics, the movie has a classically ‘Twilight Zone‘-like premise about a cluster of strangers trapped in an elevator – and one of them is the devil! BUM… BUM… BUMMMMMMM!! I know the trailer got catcalls when it was played over the summer, but I think there’s enough of a hook to the premise that it could be a good bit of cheesy fun. Plus, it’s only 80 minutes, so you won’t waste your whole life on it.
In the less spooky department, we have ‘Easy A,’ a teen comedy by the guy that directed the so-so cheerleading comedy ‘Fired Up!‘ Starring the magnetic Emma Stone, it’s a modern take of on ‘The Scarlet Letter.’ I must admit that the trailer has a jazzy energy that seems appealing. I haven’t seen it, although the studio’s been screening the hell out of it the last few weeks which indicate that the studio does have some faith in it. (It also played at the Toronto International Film Festival, which lends it some arty cred.)
In limited release there are a pair of worthwhile titles – Mark Romanek’s austere sci-fi picture ‘Never Let Me Go,’ and the is-it-or-isn’t-it? documentary ‘Catfish.’ Also in limited release is Philip Seymour Hoffman’s ‘Jack Goes Boating.’ It’s the actor’s directorial debut and it looks intriguing, if a bit glum. Personally, I’d rather take the elevator with the devil or chase bad guys in Boston.