Do you have plans this weekend that will keep you from going to the movie theater? Cancel them. Three new films deserve your attention. I make no promises for the others, though.
The widest and best of this week’s new releases is Ben Affleck ‘Argo‘. On more than 3,200 screens, the film portrays the unbelievably true story of six Americans who hid out in Iran during the hostage crises that began in 1979. The story of their attempted escape remained sealed in government files until the late ’90s. The film focuses on a CIA agent’s insane plan to rescue them by entering the country in disguise as a Canadian film crew. Affleck not only stars, but once again sits at the director’s seat. He’s directed the hell out of ‘Argo’. Don’t miss it. The movie has “Oscar” written all over it.
You literally couldn’t pay me to watch the second widest release of the weekend. On 3,000 screens is ‘Here Comes the Boom‘. I decided to devote myself to seven-plus hours of reviewing ‘Prometheus‘ special features rather than watch Kevin James fall down for two hours. James is one of the least funny comedians working today; I have no idea how he’s made a ten-year career out of falling down and making fat jokes. ‘Here Comes the Boom’, which is about a broke school teacher who has to take to the MMA cage to make money, sounds like an ‘SNL’ sketch spoof of ‘Warrior‘. My prediction: Like the ‘Kung Fu Panda‘, James will have to ultimately embrace is heftiness/clumsiness and fall on people in order to win the grand prize.
Summit Entertainment is back to ruining theatrical experiences with ‘Sinister‘, a horror movie with a lot of potential that capsizes under the pressure. Ethan Hawke returns to the mainstream big screen as a father who puts his writing career ahead of his family when he moves them into the home where a family was murdered, all for the sake of getting close to the roots of the killings so that he can write a book that will make him famous. The first two-thirds of the movie work, but the last third fails miserably. Somehow, Summit has convinced theater owners that this R-rated horror flick deserves to run on 2,500 screens. That’s a damn tragedy considering how few screens our next release will appear on.
The second movie that I highly recommend this week is ‘Seven Psychopaths‘. From the director of ‘In Bruges‘, this wild ensemble gangster comedy is only opening on 1,475 screens. In the same vein as ‘Snatch‘, this story follows a handful of psychos in a witty, creative and original tale only fit for their off-their-rocker characters. The all-star cast includes Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson, Christopher Walken, Michael Stuhlbarg, Abbie Cornish, Olga Kurylenko, Gabourey Sidibe and Tom Waits. Trust me – go see this movie. It’s going to be the next indie cult classic.
Opening on 1,000 screens, barely enough to be considered a “wide” release, is ‘Atlas Shrugged: Part II‘, the second part to a $20 million movie whose first half only grossed $4.6 million at the box office in 2011. My wife loves the book, but the made-for-TV look of these movies has completely killed any desire that I might have to see them. How something like this ends up playing nationwide is beyond me. I wouldn’t watch it if it was playing commercial-free on TNT this weekend, let alone would I pay to see something so cheap-looking projected on the silver screen.
So, what’s the third of the great movies I mentioned? ‘Smashed‘ was one of my favorites from the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. The movie stars Mary Elizabeth “Ramona Flowers” Winstead and Aaron “Jesse Pinkman” Paul as a young married couple with serious alcohol addictions. From a writer who actually watched couples go through this experience, ‘Smashed’ portrays the harsh and realistic effects that sobering-up has on a couple where one person is on-board for the change and the other is not. Paul has already received awards for his acting abilities, but Winstead is about to show the world that she’s worthy of the accolades too. (Not to be confused with that NBC melodrama ‘Smash’. Eww.)