You’ve got a lot of options for what to watch and how, and we want to help you plan your weekend with a new column where we’ll highlight three things you can see in theaters, three things you’ll find streaming, and three titles new to home video. Appropriately enough, we call this The Weekend Watch.
It’s hard to believe that this is really summer. “The Avengers” pulled all the oxygen out of the room, so the rest of the month has just felt like a typical spring, a warm-up for the main event. That’s starting to change this weekend, though, and even so, it’s the smaller films hitting theater screens that I’m most intrigued by.
IN THEATERS TODAY
“The Loved Ones”
It’s taken quite a while for this film to make it into theaters, but this weekend, Sean Byrne’s unnerving high school horror film about Lola, the most disturbingly spoiled teenage girl in film history, and her own special version of the senior prom will finally make it to theaters in special midnight bookings. Paramount has been good about selling horror films the last few years, and when they manage to turn an unflushable turd like “The Devil Inside” into a hit, they deserve some credit. I wish “The Loved Ones” was opening wider, but if you like horror that pulls no punches, this one’s worth the effort to track it down and check it out.
You might think I’m kidding about this one, but I’m not. Chris Stokes is a titan in the world of R&B, and as a filmmaker, he proved that he understands the dance genre with “You Got Served,” a movie that absolutely follows a formula, but does it with remarkable energy and style. These movies seem to serve a particular hunger in the audience, and it all comes down to how well the dance scenes are shot and choreographed. Whatever you think of Stokes as a filmmaker, he knows how to nail the musical numbers, and he has enough pull in the industry to put together a soundtrack that will shake the house.
The first “Piranha” was shameless fun, completely ridiculous and gratuitous, and the title for this one suggests they’re going to turn it up, if anything. Our Geoff Berkshire did not care for the film at all, but I can’t help myself. I’m going to have to see it for myself, and with it now available on iTunes and Amazon Instant Video as well as theatrically, it looks like I’ve got plenty of options for how to do that.
ALSO OPENING IN THEATERS THIS WEEK: “Snow White and the Huntsman,” “High School,” “Apartment 143,” “Hide Away,” “For Greater Glory”
ON STREAMING THIS WEEK
“Bel Ami” (iTunes)
Robert Pattinson stars as a “cunning and manipulative journalist” and the film charts his “corrupt rise to power by seducing a series of powerful and wealthy mistresses.” In other words, someone has finally made a movie of my life. Pattinson is joined by Christina Ricci, Uma Thurman, and Kristin Scott Thomas, and I’m willing to be that when the film is an erotically themed drama with Pattinson starring, his fans are going to be perfectly happy to have some alone time with it.
“Americathon” (Amazon Instant Video)
One of the things that I find fascinating about streaming video is the idea that studios might dig deeper into their catalogs to make movies available that they might never spend the money to release on DVD. A good example is “Americathon,” which just arrived on Amazon Instant Watch. This is one of those films that I wouldn’t buy, but that I’ve always wanted to see just to satisfy my own curiosity. It came out when I was nine, and that was an age where I would pour over the movie section in the newspaper every day, memorizing ads, staring at posters for things I couldn’t go to, determined to one day catch up on every single film. When I can push a button and have the film show up on my hard drive about ten minutes later, it makes it very tempting and very easy. There’s a reason my Netflix queue always has 500 movies in it, and that’s because there is always something I still need or want to see, and in a world where you have giant streaming libraries, it’s very easy to over-indulge.
“The Magic Of Belle Isle” (iTunes; Amazon Instant Video)
You know the landscape has shifted dramatically when the new Rob Reiner film makes its debut on VOD before it heads to theaters. This film, starring Morgan Freeman and Virginia Madsen, looks like a big ol’ slice of cheese, with Freeman playing an author trapped in a wheelchair who learns to live and love again from a single mom and her kids when he moves to their small town to try to write a book. I’m fascinated by the way companies are starting to redefine the way a release works, and this is one of those signs that everyone is dealing with this, not just first-time indie directors.
ALSO NEW TO STREAMING THIS WEEK: iTunes: “The Tortured,” “The Pact” Amazon Instant Video: “Sexual Chronicles Of A French Family,” “Piranha 3DD,” “Coriolanus,” “A Little Bit Of Heaven,” “Ghost Rider: Spirit Of Vengeance,” “Gone,” “Goon,” “Hide Away,” “Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Love Never Dies” Netflix: “The Killer Inside Me,” “Lost In Translation,” “South Park Season 15,” “The Heir Apparent: Largo Winch,” “Henry’s Crime”
ON HOME VIDEO THIS WEEK
I’m very excited to see what sounds like it was a painstaking restoration of the original elements of this film, and Blu-ray should be a lovely way to do so. My sons are excited because, even though we play “Beatles: Rock Band” together and they are both Beatles fans, they had no idea there was a Beatles cartoon. That news was huge for them, and so they both eagerly check every envelope or package arriving in the house, determined to see this the moment it arrives.
“We Need To Talk About Kevin”
Lynne Ramsey’s upsetting film about a mother trying to make sense of a tragic action by her son was one of my favorite movies last year. I was having a conversation with someone recently who said that they felt like parts of the film weren’t meant to be literal, and I offered up that I don’t think any of the film is meant to be taken as literal. The entire movie is told from the perspective of Tilda Swinton’s character, and so what we’re seeing is filtered through her feelings. It is hyperreal, highly stylized, and altogether devastating, and I suspect that on Blu-ray, it’s going to be a knockout.
“True Blood: Season Four”
This is a ridiculous television show. It is also more fun than it should be, especially if you hand yourself over to the lunatic world it has created. Basically, it’s “Twilight” for people who have actually had sex, and the show’s focus on the carnal combined with a great cast that knows how to play the preposterous adds up to a show I’m not sure I like, but that I have a hard time ignoring. I’d rather see spirited trash like this than 90% of what’s on TV, and the show’s best moments make up for the silliest. Plus HBO does fantastic work on their home video releases, packing their box sets with extra value.
ALSO NEW TO HOME VIDEO THIS WEEK: “Coriolanus,” “Gone,” “Goon,” “In The Realms Of The Unreal,” “Man On A Ledge,” “Maverick: The Complete First Season,” “A Necessary Death,” “The Aggression Scale,” “Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Love Never Dies,” “Strange Love Of Martha Ivers,” “”Traveller/Tellings Lies In America.”
“The Weekend Watch” appears here every Friday.