Weekend Movies: You Have the ‘Rite’ to Stay Home

Another week in January… another absolutely awful new slate of movies. This December, when I’m listing all of the amazing things coming out week after week, and bemoaning the fact that people can’t feasibly see all of them, please remind me of the first few weeks of this year and how abysmal they were. I just took a peek at the calendar to see what we’re in for and, well, the forecast is stormy. So, let’s talk about this week’s cavalcade of misery!

First on the docket is Anthony Hopkins slumming it up in the goofy exorcism thriller ‘The Rite‘. I haven’t seen the movie. I’m only basing this on the never-ending loop of television commercials, but it seems rather grim. Hopkins plays an exorcist teaching a young Turk the ways of demon battling. Since this is a movie and things both dramatic and implausible have to occur, Hopkins gets taken over by a Satanic force and the young man has to exorcise him! Scary! Or, probably, tedious.

‘The Rite’ features a devilishly good supporting cast, which includes crush object Alice Braga and superb character actors Ciaran Hinds, Toby Jones, Rutger Hauer, and Franco Nero. It’s directed by underrated Swedish filmmaker Mikael Håfström, who made the genuinely creepy ‘1408‘ (one of the best, most nimble Stephen King adaptations ever, in my estimation). It should also be noted that Mikael Håfström filmed a movie in between ‘1408’ and ‘The Rite’, a period romance called ‘Shanghai’ starring his ‘1408’ leading man John Cusack which is currently stuck in some Weinstein Company quagmire. (It was supposed to be released in the fall of 2009.) Maybe Håfström should hire an exorcist to get his missing movie back.

In a similarly junky realm comes a remake of the middling 1972 Charles Bronson actioner ‘The Mechanic‘. This time, it’s Jason Statham (everyone’s favorite Is-he-an-actor-or-just-an-above-average-stuntman?) as a hired killer who seeks revenge… Or something. The remake has an able director in Simon West (‘Con Air‘) and a decent cast including the always-watchable Ben Foster and Tony Goldwyn. But this just looks blah. We’ll see soon enough, I suppose.

There’s not even anything interesting in the art house. ‘Kaboom‘, Gregg Araki’s newest film, takes its influence from recreational party drugs and science fiction films. I’m told that it comes up flat. ‘From Prada to Nada‘ is a Lionsgate comedy that barely has any advertising muscle behind it. You know that’s always a good sign…

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