Friday, August 08, 2008

Movies opening this week

Encounters at the End of the World (documentary, dir. Werner Herzog)
I haven't seen very many of the incredibly prolific Herzog's films, but I do appreciate the prickly, extreme personality he's cultivated, and this movie is as much about Herzog being Herzog as it is about the scientists and technicians who live and work in Antarctica. He offers his observations on the awesome beauty of nature and humanity's doomed future in an often deadpan-hilarious voiceover, and sort of wanders through Antarctica chatting with whomever he encounters. It's an unfocused, sometimes rambling film, and it lacks the impact of something like Grizzly Man. But it's fun to watch and full of beautiful scenery, and a nice way to pass 100 minutes inside the mind of a fascinating eccentric. Opened limited June 11; in Las Vegas this week

Hell Ride (Larry Bishop, Michael Madsen, Eric Balfour, dir. Larry Bishop)
My review in Las Vegas Weekly
This movie proves that there really is a skill to making enjoyable trash, and that thinking "How could any movie full of topless women, graphic beheadings and badass bikers not be enjoyable?" is a lot different from having to sit through one as inept as this one. There's a reason that those fake trailers in Grindhouse were only three minutes long; if they were actual movies, they might look like this. Limited release

Pineapple Express (Seth Rogen, James Franco, Danny McBride, Gary Cole, dir. David Gordon Green)
I'm getting close to burned out on Rogen and the Judd Apatow factory, and this mediocre comedy isn't going to get my enthusiasm back. It's perfectly fine, predictable but mostly entertaining, and more successful as a low-key comedy than an action movie. The filmmakers seem inordinately proud of the action elements, but really they're pretty sloppy and uninteresting; a movie just about two stoners hanging out would probably have been more enjoyable. Wide release

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