We all saw Wall-E, right? OK. Imagine that instead of a cute robot making towers of scrap metal, it’s Tom Cruise patrolling for scary monsters. Instead of rotund, useless humans left on the mothership, it’s sleek HBICs Andrea Riseborough and Melissa Leo. And instead of one last cockroach as the hero’s only friend, there are actually a whole passel of survivors of the apocalyptic life-ending war that ruined Earth, and they need Jack’s help to make sure that drones don’t kill them all.
The basic problem with this movie, near as I can tell, is that making it through the apocalypse looks just terrible. Resources are scarce, you have to staple scraps of clothes together so that you and whoever else is left look like a bunch of Quasimodos got caught in some paper shredders, and your existence consists of nothing more than a fight to make it to the next day. By contrast, wherever Andrea Riseborough is hanging out looks pretty sweet! She has a wardrobe of stylish yet understated dresses that look like they come from the future’s answer to Jil Sander. She doesn’t have a hair out of place. Her skin is like a porcelain doll’s. I can’t lay claim to any of those things in a pre-apocalyptic world. I feel like a chump!
I guess what I’m saying is that at a certain point, people in movies should quit fighting for Earth, or for authentic life, and just enjoy the benefits of having a higher, possibly nefarious intelligence manage things for you. And frankly, I don’t know why sci-fi movies keep straining against this fairly obvious conclusion. I thought we all agreed on this back circa The Matrix!
New and Notable
The Place Beyond the Pines
Ryan Gosling reunites with his Blue Valentine director, Derek Cianfrance, for this story of a criminal and a cop whose feud ends up also embroiling their sons.
A couple of kids chance upon mysterious weirdo Matthew McConaughey and try to help sort out his life.
West of Memphis
Not that the story can be told too much, but this documentary covers the same ground as the Paradise Lost series on the legal battles of the West Memphis Three.
Four Australian Aboriginal girls form an R&B group with the help of manager Chris O’Dowd.
Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf’s
Now you can watch this sumptuous documentary about the history and evolution of the venerable New York department store while your browser is on eBay to try to find deals on all the past-season looks.
A rich playboy jerk travels to India, where a chance encounter moves him to help save a girl from human traffickers.
This documentary features eight Americans sharing their experiences with prescription drugs.
Cirque Du Soleil: Kooza
The story of this latest film from the famed Quebecois acrobats is something about a clown, but I recommend fast-forwarding those parts and just watching all the incredible things very highly trained bodies can do.
You thought band camps and theater camps were full of nerds? This documentary introduces you to a whole new class of teens pursuing their endearingly dorky hobby.
On vacation in the woods, a man loses track of his family and gets stalked by a murderer, which is a good reminder of why the woods are a terrible place to vacation.
This quirky family sure is dysfunctional, but underneath it all I bet they really love each other.
Do Not Disturb
This horror movie about a vengeful screenwriter costars the late Corey Haim. Meaning he … does not play the lead.
Blind author Tom Conti hires sighted assistant Daryl Hannah, but does she have her own agenda??? (Yes.)
“In Theaters” VOD Picks
This biopic of the Deep Throat star suggests that she may not have loved giving blowjobs as much as you might think.
Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch play highway workers spending a summer together on the road (literally) in the latest from David Gordon Green.
A bunch of hicks want to sacrifice a pregnant teenager in the local pit, but will she escape in time? Costarring Sean Young, not as the teenager. Nor as the pit.
Opportunistic Backlist Revival Theme of the Week: “Epic Fantasy”
Pegged, I suppose, to the new Percy Jackson movie, this week’s collection is a bunch of fantasy movies that keep getting shuffled up whenever fairies or dragons or enchanted mushrooms are called for: Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, the Narnia movies, the Harry Potter movies. (Bridge to Terabithia might be new.) Fantasy is not my thing, but I can give a partial endorsement to Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban — the one Alfonso Cuarón directed and therefore, in my opinion, the best of the series.
Weird Indie of the Week
The Deflowering of Eva Van End
A nerdy Dutch girl brings home a cute German exchange student, who changes the lives of everyone in her family, maybe by having sex with them? The trailer makes it seem like he’s capable of practically anything.
If you like movies that treat the elderly in as condescending a manner as possible, this movie is for you and you alone.