I’m using both my columns this morning to wish my sister a happy birthday, and I wish it was a weekend where I had something that I felt compelled to tell her to go see as part of her weekend fun.
Which is not to say that I’m slamming this week’s movies. I wish there were more 3D screens so that “Jonas Bros: The 3D Concert Experience” wouldn’t poach “Coraline” screens this weekend, but that’s just the cold hard truth in terms of how many digital 3D screens are available. One of my very favorite films last year was “U2-3D,” and I would imagine for a non-fan, it would be a less pleasant or less visceral overally experience. Since I’m not a Jonas Bros. fan, there’s no compelling reason for me to go sit through this. Still, I’m sort of a shameless digital 3D junkie, so even this tempts me on that level. I would be shocked if this did poorly this weekend. There are a lot of ticket-buyers who are excited about this, and more power to them. I hope it gets them in the habit of seeking out 3D screens for anything that’s playing in the format, and I hope that leads to more theaters putting in the right equipment and screens. Soooooon.
I thought “Doom” was decent fun for one sit in a free screening in the theater, but if I’m being honest, I can’t say that’s really enough to justify it as a movie. Its biggest flaw was being dull, overly familiar. When you’re approaching material like this, the best you can hope to do is jolt the audience with something new, something that makes them wake up because there’s that charge of the new. Andrzej Bartkowiak has a short filmography as a director (“Romeo Must Die,” “Exit Wounds,” “Cradle 2 The Grave,” and the aforementioned “Doom”), but he was a cinematographer for a long time, and a pretty damn good one. Guy shot “Prince of the City,” “Speed,” and “Prizzi’s Honor,” for god’s sake. I’ll sit through his “Street Fighter: The Legend Of Chun Li” at some point while my family’s out of town and I’m realizing how much I miss them and I’m hiding out at the theater to avoid my empty house, which should be next weekend and the week after. That’ll be the perfect way to see that one. I’ll be extra forgiving.
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I missed a screening last week of Wayne Kramer’s “Crossing Over,” but it’s at the top of my list of things to see in the theater now. It seems to have been a tumultous process for Kramer, whose earlier films “The Cooler” and “Running Scared” both have their fans. Of the two, make mine “The Cooler,” which is a sort of charming sad little adult love story. I’ve always regretted that Harrison Ford dropped out of “Traffic,” and this seems like he’s making up for it, like when he did “Regarding Henry” after feeling so bad about dropping out of “Big.” Sean Penn’s work is entirely gone from the film, evidently, at Penn’s request, and I think that’s part of what held this one up for so long. Even with all the backstage drama, I’m rooting for Kramer, and I’ll be checking this out ASAP. It’s a big multi-character multi-storyline picture about “immigrants of different nationalities struggling to achieve legal status in Los Angeles. The film deals with the border, document fraud, the asylum and green card process, work-site enforcement, naturalization, the office of counter terrorism and the clash of cultures,” according to Kramer. Ashley Judd, Ray Liotta, Jim Sturgess, Cliff Curtis, Alice Braga… and of course, definitely not Sean Penn all co-star.
I thought Shane West gave a magnetic performance in last year’s “What We Do Is Secret,” and I am curious to see if anyone else figures out what to do with him. He’s not one of those guys who can play just anything… he’s sort of a goofy beefy thug. He’s starring in a paranoid thriller this week called, appropriately enough, “Echelon Conspiracy.” about a guy who gets sent a cell phone that leads him into a conspiracy and on the run. Yeah, I know. Still, I liked Greg Marcks’s first film, and I hope this is an under-the-radar pleasure when I do catch up to it.
And just like that, we’re done for this week. I haven’t skipped ahead, but I’m pretty sure something comes out next Friday. I just… I wish I could remember what…
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