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.
IN THEATERS NOW
There are certainly new movies to see this weekend. I’m not sure I’d really recommend “American Reunion,” but I have a feeling you know already if it’s something you’d enjoy or not. It is, in every way, an “American Pie” film. I did not make it to an early screening of Whit Stillman’s “Damsels In Distress,” but I’ll be catching up with it ASAP. I’ve also got “We Have A Pope” here in the house, and I’ll be seeing that this weekend at some point. Morgan Spurlock’s “Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope,” a documentary about geek culture and what draws people to San Diego in record numbers every year now, also opens in limited release, and it’s worth seeing. For my money, though, these are the three films in theaters this weekend most worth your attention:
If you’re not wired to enjoy martial arts films, this isn’t going to appeal to you, but I consider it one of the most exciting pure action films in recent memory. It is unrelenting, with a script that propels the characters directly into a near-perfect action set-up, and I would wager more bones are broken during the run time of this film than in every high school athletic program in America last year. It is a crowd-pleaser, and it marks Gareth Evans as one of the filmmakers worth paying attention, whatever he does next.
While Seann William Scott is in theaters this weekend playing Stifler, the character that first made him famous, but he’s also the star of this charming and profanely funny story about a hockey enforcer finding his place in the world. Canadian filmmaker Michael Dowse has several solid films under his belt, but “Goon” might be the best thing he’s made so far overall, and I hope it earns him some freedom on his next film. The film’s so good-natured about its bad behavior that even non-hockey fans should find themselves won over.
It’s “Titanic.” You know what you’re getting, and on the biggest screen you can find, it is still impressive. It’s also the most successful overall 3D conversion I’ve seen so far, so if you’re at all interested in that sort of thing, this is the best-case scenario.
ALSO NEW IN THEATERS THIS WEEK: “ATM,” “We The Party,” “Keyhole,” “The Hunter,” “Take Me Home,” “The Assault.”
“Corman’s World” (Amazon Prime exclusive)
This documentary looks back at the career of legendary indie filmmaker Roger Corman, and it’s both affectionate and comprehensive. In particular, you have to see it just to see the interview with Jack Nicholson, which is one of the warmest, most human things I’ve seen from him in decades. You see past the icon that he’s become, and you get a glimpse of the person he was at the start of his career, when he was still figuring himself out and Corman was one of the few people to believe in him.
“Knuckle” (new to Netflix Instant on 4/7)
This look at the world of the Travelers, the Irish gypsies who have been immortalized in films like “Snatch,” focuses specifically on the way bare-knuckle boxing is used to settle disputes. It is absorbing and interesting and pretty much qualifies as a foreign-language film even though they’re all speaking English. I love documentaries about subcultures I otherwise would never know, and this one benefits enormously from the access Ian Palmer had, and the even hand with which he paints this portrait.
“The Beguiled” – (new to Netflix Instant)
One of the most unconventional films in Clint Eastwood’s career, this is one of my favorite performances of his. He plays John McBurney, a Union soldier who finds himself wounded and on the run. He’s discovered by a girl from a local boarding school, and she takes him home so they can nurse him back to health. What unfolds is a creepy, high-stakes emotional game in which McBurney reaches out to these lonely women, using their own desires against them. It goes to some very dark and strange places, and it’s one of the most unusual films that Don Siegel ever made, as well as one of the best.
ALSO NEW TO STREAMING THIS WEEK: Amazon Instant Video – “Pina,” “Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope,” “God Bless America,” “Black,” “Continental Divide,” “A Little Bit Of Heaven,” “Madonna Truth or Dare,” “The Boy Friend,” “The Wagons Roll At Night,” “Serpico.” Netflix Instant – “A Very Long Engagement,” “Undocumented,” “Thief,” “Submarine,” “Oldboy,” “Risky Business,” “River’s Edge,” “Little Shop Of Horrors,” “Let It Ride,” “The Catechism Cataclysm,” “Creepshow,” “Days Of Heaven,” “Diner,” “The Fall,” “Frances,” “Tell No One,” “Ace In The Hole,” “Puncture.”
NEW TO HOME VIDEO
“We Bought A Zoo”
Cameron Crowe’s latest is unabashedly sentimental, but I thought it was expert in the way it tells its story of a family in crisis who finds an unusual way out of their depression. Matt Damon gives one of his great decent-guy performances, and the film absolutely punches the buttons it tries to push. Considering how the film did in theaters, now would be the opportunity for people to catch up with it, and I think people will be pleasantly surprised by it when they do.
This sweet-natured documentary looks at the career of Kevin Clash, who famously voices Elmo, and in doing so, also manages to paint a picture of the way Jim Henson worked. It’s a great portrait of a person who managed to make their fondest childhood dream come true, and by the end of the film, Clash comes across as a significant force in keeping the Muppets alive. This is about as feel-good as true stories get, and if they just barely dig into Clash’s personal life, it doesn’t matter, because you get the feeling he lives for his work.
Paddy Considine is one of my favorite working actors, but it turns out he’s also a pretty sensational writer/director as well. This film tells the story of an unusual relationship between a man who lives every day of his life positively clenched with rage, and a Christian charity worker who has her own anger-based problems to deal with. Peter Mullan and Olivia Colman are absolutely great in the film, and while it’s a very small movie, it packs a massive emotional punch.
ALSO NEW TO HOME VIDEO THIS WEEK: “Chasing Madoff,” “Eagleheart: Season One,” “Elvis Costello: The Return of the Spectacular Spinning Wheel,” “Torchwood: Miracle Day,” “War Horse,” “Chinatown” Blu-ray.
“The Weekend Watch” appears here every Friday.