The Perfect Weekend Of Movies

Opening April 27th:

A weekend of movies is when you go to your local multiplex for the whole day Saturday and the entire day Sunday. If you start with a matinee you should be able to get in four movies each day (and, if you are lucky, your multiplex will let you just stay inside and see all four movies with just the one ticket). That is eight movies in 48 hrs. Now, normally a weekend of movies only works in the middle of the summer or during the holiday season if you haven’t gone to the movies for a couple of weeks. That way there is a significant backlog of films you want to see. What’s great about this week’s new releases is that, while it may not have an Avengers of Hunger Games-like conquer the universe movie, it does have eight (maybe even nine) movies that you should be excited to see. Hence, your weekend of movies.
The important thing about making a weekend of movies work (and yes, I have done this a few times, although only once two days in a row for the full-blown weekend of movies) is the order. Don’t start with your favorite and work your way down. You won’t make it past three. You’ve got to spread stuff out, change gears and leave carrots dangling in front of you to keep you going. If you are planning out your weekend, here is the order I would suggest.

First movie on Saturday. We need to start with something some mindless fun. Something safe that we know won’t disappoint. Something like…
Interest Level: 6
When you need mindless fun you need look no further than a Jason Statham action flick. This one is like a higher octane version of Luc Besson’s The Professional (tough guy has to protect girl and therefore find he really has a heart). This movie, like the rest of Statham’s movies, will be fast paced, he’ll loose his shirt at some point during a fight sequence, it will feature a lot of running and he will kill the big bad guy in some strange and implausible way at the end of a protracted fight. A great way to start your weekend of right.

After a brief lunch, snack and/or restroom break we go looking for movie #2. If there is a movie that requires reading (e.g. has subtitles) now is when we want to see it. Let’s not wait until we are tired to have to pay attention. Still, we don’t want to go ploddingly dramatic, so the obvious answer is…
Interest Level: 8
This is a film that has been bouncing around, gaining international momentum for a year and is finally being released here in the U.S. Headhunters was touted as Noway’s answer to The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (they are even making a U.S. version) as the story of an accomplished corporate headhunter who moonlights as an art thief to keep up with his extravagant lifestyle does so many of the things we love about scandinavian films (moody, overtly flawed humans, unlikeable protagonists and did I mention moody?). This movie looks awesome (but many of my ancestors are from scandinavia, so clearly I like dark and moody).
If you didn’t grab lunch in between Safe and Headhunters now is a good time to go for some dinner (you also may want to go out and stretch your legs). Now that we went moody, cool and foreign we need to ease our way back to more mainstream fare. Well, maybe instead of mainstream we go for weird, little indie stuff with big hollywood stars attached. Something like…
Interest Level: 6
Richard Linklater’s success rate: 61.5% successful (8 out of 13)
Richard Linklater re-teams with his two most successful acting collaborators, Jack Black (whom he directed in School of Rock) and Matthew McConaughey (whom he directed in Dazed and Confused) in this truly bizarre sounding dark comedy about a mortician who kills a wealthy widow and then goes to great lengths to make her look alive (I told you it sounded bizarre). Any movie like this is going to play as genius to some and just stupid to others, but Jack Black is getting a lot of praise for his mortician, as is McConaughey and Shirley McLaine (who plays the murdered widow). And, like my note above said, Richard Linklater gives us a better than 50% shot at something really good.
Let’s be honest, we are a little tired and frankly we are beginning to question how solid the weekend go movies plan is. We need something fun. We need something mainstream, adult, mindless and above all funny. We need…
The Five-Year Engagement
Interest Level: 8
Odds of this being the “raunchy” early summer comedy that becomes a sleeper hit: 50/50
This is the annual Judd Apatow produced R rated comedy that is released in late April or early may and may or may not be the sleeper comedy hit of the year (Bridesmaids, Get Him To The Greek, Forgetting Sarah Marshall). Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. What is consistent is Jason Segel in this kind of man-child role. Emily Blunt too is very strong in comedies (and weak in dramas, which is why it is confusing that she keeps getting cast in dramas and not in comedies). We know what this will be, don’t we? We saw Forgetting Sarah Marshall and I Love You Man and we watch How I Met Your Mother. If you liked those you will like this.
Day One is in the books. Are we wiped out? Absolutely. But this is when we realize how clever we were to leave the movie we are most excited about out of our day one rotation. So, as we awake on Sunday we are pumped up, because now we get to go see…
The Pirates! Band of Misfits
Interest Level: 9
Once again, if you have been a frequent visitor to over the last few months you know how crazy excited I have been for this movie. I love Wallace and Gromet. I love Chicken Run. And this looks like it should be better than either. The trailers and clips have universally been hysterical and my son and I have been incessantly quoting lines from them for weeks (a day does not go by where my son doesn’t yell “fire things that go bang”). And if you don’t believe me look at the other reviews. Everyone is saying how good this movie is.
Now we are pumped up again. We just spent 88 minutes having a ton of fun and our batteries are recharged. Now we can roll the dice on something different. We’ve got two options.

Citizen Gangster
Interest Level: 5 or 6
First time director Nathan Morlando’s festival winner (it won an award at the Toronto Film Festival) about a WWII vet who is torn between providing for his family and pursuing his hollywood dreams (then he finds a solution that lets him do both, which inevitably leads to all sorts of danger and tragedy) is filled with impressive technical prowess and inventive cinematography. The actors have to work extra hard to sell the script (not uncommon for a first film), but the word is it is definitely worth seeing.
or, if we decide we don’t want to roll the dice with a first time director, we could always checkout…
The Broken Tower
Interest Level: 5 or 6
James Franco’s biography of American poet Hart Crane who committed suicide at the age of 32 by jumping off the steamship SS Orizaba. Surreal, depressing, an arty showcase for both James Franco the director and James Franco the leading man and James Franco the screenwriter.
OK, let’s be honest with ourselves. Most of us will want nothing to do with either of those movies and they both run the terrible risk of killing our mood with half a day left in our weekend of movies. Maybe we just of check out Cabin in the Woods. That would be a better lead in to…
Sound of My Voice
Interest Level: 8
A journalist and his girlfriend (why do they always bring their girlfriends along?) get pulled in while they investigate a cult whose leader claims to be from the future! This got lost at Sundance 18 months ago when Another Earth and Red State both drowned it out. If you talk to people who saw all three, many say this was the best one (since Red State was, along with Hanna, my “movie of the year” last year I doubt it, but Sound of My Voice sure looks good). Watch out for Brit Marling in the future, who is the cult leader and co-wrote the movie. This could really be one of those “I saw her way back when” kind of movies.
We made it! We made it through seven movies in two days and now we just want to put a bow on the whole thing. We need something hollywood. Something that feels like a Sunday night viewing kind of a thing. Something with a big star. Something like…
The Raven
Interest Level: 8 and rising
When a madman begins committing murders inspired by Edgar Allen Poe’s works, a young Baltimore detective joins forces with Poe himself to stop the killer from making more stories a reality. John Cusak seems like perfect casting for Poe (a little crazy, all innocence long since lost) and Luke Evans hasn’t really had the chance to show what he is all about, but he is definitely one of those guys that always caught my eye in small parts in things like Clash of the Titans and The Three Muskateers. The actor who is getting the most raves though is Alice Eve (she was the star of She’s Out Of My League and she was Vince’s girlfriend on the last season of Entourage) proving she is apparently more than just another pretty face. The movie is also the first directing effort by James McTeigue, who was the second unit director for the Wachowski brothers during the Matrix series. I will freely admit I am a sucker for a good serial killer movie, and to my surprise (I wasn’t thrilled when I originally heard the premise, it seemed like way too many potential pitfalls) this may just be one.
So there we are. Our weekend of movies is complete (should we call it a WOM or is that just stupid?). Not many weeks could we even get close to pulling a good one off, but I think we may have here (except for when we had to cheat with Cabin in the Woods). We did mercifully skip three other movies. They are…
Interest Level: 3
Juliette Binoche (who I have long loved) stars in this vapid tale of a reporter who immerses herself in a prostitution ring run by college students. If you couldn’t guess by the description the NC-17 rating should give you all the hint you need about what happens next. Ms. Binoche apparently gives her all (and I don’t mean that as scandalously as it sounded) but the plot is trite and feels like an exec use to show pretty naked girls (and women).
The Giant Mechanical Man
Interest Level: 4
By my count this is the third “quirky” comedy to come out in the last month starring sitcom stars who are trying to show they have indie comedy chops. This is about a silver-painted street performer and the zoo worker who falls for him (like I said, quirky). Jenna Fisher developed the story with her husband, Lee Kirk, who directed this misguided venture. I’m sure it is harmless and forgettable and truthfully probably not all that quirky.
96 Minutes
Interest Level: 3
This is one of those intersecting lives movies where four seemingly disconnected stories are hurtling toward and unseen and inevitably life changing event that is only, you guessed it, 96 minutes away. Two obvious problems. First, the movie is supposed to take place in real time, but only has a running time of 93 minutes. Second, the consensus is this movie is about 90 minutes too long.
For the sake of argument, let’s say you don’t want to spend 20 hours in a movie theater this weekend, or you have things to do (like church on Sunday) making the weekend of movies a little less than feasible. If that is the case, go see The Pirates! (good for anyone), if you like those man-child R-rated comedies than you don’t need me to tell you that The Five-Year Engagement is for you, and I really thing The Raven may be quite good. Also, maybe on VOD or something, but try to find Headhunters, it is supposed to be spectacular.
But hey, what do I know, I’m fat.