Friday, May 01, 2009

Movies opening this week

Hear me chat about these movies with Roger Erik Tinch of CineVegas on this week's Josh Bell Hates Everything podcast, and check out a very wacky video segment this week on X-Men Origins: Wolverine.

Sugar (Algenis Perez Soto, Rayniel Rufino, Andre Holland, dir. Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck)
By the time I saw Boden and Fleck's narrative debut, Half Nelson, the hype had gotten so intense that I was a little underwhelmed. This one has flown much more under the radar, so I came in with fewer expectations, and I was really impressed. It's a quiet character study with a new take on both the sports movie and the immigrant narrative, and manages to subvert cliches almost the entire way. The supporting characters are a little underdeveloped, and the pacing in the final segment is a little off, but overall this is a lovely, affecting film that explores a completely under-represented aspect of sports in America, and does so in a respectful, honest and hopeful manner. Opened limited April 3; in Las Vegas this week

X-Men Origins: Wolverine (Hugh Jackman, Liev Schreiber, Danny Huston, dir. Gavin Hood)
I had a bad feeling on this one from the announcement of Hood, a total hack, as director, through the trailer, the bad buzz from the online leak and the early reviews. And going in expecting such a train wreck, I suppose I was relieved that it wasn't the worst cynical cash-in blockbuster ever, but it certainly was one of the most pointless. Any comics reader knows that there is a mountain of awesome Wolverine material to draw from, but here we get the most pedestrian, connect-the-dots account of his early days that adds nothing to the flashbacks already seen in X2. The new characters are either unrecognizable from their comics incarnations, or severely underused, and the connections to already established back story are often tenuous. Even the action, which could excuse the bad writing and uninspired direction, is dull. There's so much more potential in the X-Men franchise and Wolverine in particular that I hope this movie doesn't kill it off; they just need to find a clear vision for one of these movies other than the chance to make more money. Wide release

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