Whether you're looking for beautiful photography or depraved horror, hyperbolic satire or rare experimentation, this week's theatrical releases and repertory series have a little bit for everyone. Here are the Weekly's critics on ten of them:
10. It seems unlikely that two more bizarrely sexual films will open theatrically in Los Angeles this year than Love Exposure and A Serbian Film, and Karina Longworth finds that they're both miles away from your parents' dirty movies: "Both are set in a time and place where porn is pervasive but still branded as taboo, and both use the making of dirty pictures as the gateway to the darkest recesses of the soul, their panicked depictions of sexuality worlds away from the playful soft-core of traditional sexploitation."
9. Things kicked off last night with a packed house for Badlands, but LACMA's complete Terrence Malick retrospective still has screenings of The Thin Red Line, Days of Heaven and The New World on deck. Michael Joshua Rowen says that "Malick consistently aims for what few filmmakers dare even try: the full range of cinematic possibility, from visceral, sensual imagism to ontological and epistemological verbal inquiry."
8. The Orphan Film Symposium returns for another round of forgotten gems from the far reaches of the cinematic world. Michael Atkinson offers up a sampling of some of their finest discoveries, as well as a look at the films of Bill Brand, who's in town to present films at the Symposium and will have a show of his own work at Los Angeles Filmforum.
7. Karina Longworth reviews Bridesmaids, the first female-centric offering from the Apatow camp, and finds it to be a mixed bag: "Bridesmaids successfully dismantles both romantic and bromantic comedy formulas, when not bending over backward to prove that girls can play on the same conventional comic field as boys. This supposed great experiment in femme-com bears the distinct scars of having been "fixed" -- out of fear or financial imperative -- by and for dudes."
6. A much less comprised bit of female filmmaking comes in the form of Clio Barnard's The Arbor, which J. Hoberman calls "a compelling story, delivered...after the fashion of British 'verbatim theater,' which takes trial transcripts, diaries and other documents as the basis for factual dramas."
5. J. Hoberman looks at Everything Must Go, "an ambitious if enervated vehicle for Will Ferrell" based on Raymond Carver's short story "Why Don't You Dance", that "has a generic resemblance to broken-heartland movies like Up in the Air and Cedar Rapids, although [its] suburban meltdown is more depressed than either."
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4. Mark Holcomb reviews Hesher, which "introduces an engimatic stranger into a fractured family with equivocally redemptive results."
3. Michelle Orange reviews The Big Bang, an apocalyptic neo-noir from Mulholland Drive producer Tony Krantz, and notes that "though the setup is pure Raymond Chandler (Farewell, My Lovely, specifically), the film's bleary, neon glamour and penchant for the bizarre suggests an attempted and wayward homage to David Lynch."
2. Karina Longworth reviews The People vs. George Lucas, "an exhausting airing of nerd grievances, the monolithic arguments leavened only slightly by counterpoints seemingly inserted for comic relief."
1. I look at Peter Mullan's Neds, one of a handful of films opening at the Sunset 5 following screenings at the Tribeca Film Festival, and find that "the abruptness with which [its central character] John shifts from star student to one violent thug among many faceless others removes all of the drama from the story and gives it a sense of fatalism that's the film's main point of interest."