The Week in Film: Gentlemen, Start Your Engines edition


In Theaters

(Universal Pictures)

The Frost/Nixon team of director Ron Howard and writer Peter Morgan reunite for Rush, based on the real-life ’70s rivalry between Formula One racers James Hunt (played here by Thor himself, Chris Hemsworth) and Niki Lauda (Inglourious Basterds‘ Daniel Brühl).  Howard has some atonement to pay for the fourth season of Arrested Development (you heard me!), and even though he has a reputation for being somewhat of a soft-boiled filmmaker, he’s  nonetheless managed to deliver solid action and suspense over the years.  Outside of the pure thrills of Ransom, he had me riveted to Apollo 13 despite knowing the ending.  (The less said about the The Da Vinci Code…well, I’ve already said too much.)  With Rush also based on true events, I have a feeling he’ll likewise deliver the goods and, if the early reviews are to be trusted, quite possibly the best auto racing film since 2011’s Senna.

Enough Said
(Fox Searchlight Pictures)

Enough Said is getting a lot of attention for being the late James Gandolfini’s penultimate film.  If that allure will pull viewers toward this funny, thoroughly pleasant comedy, that’s fine by me.  Gandolfini and Julia Louis-Dreyfuss play L.A. divorcees who fall for one another in the summer before their daughters go off to college.  The two bond over small life details and writer/director Nicole Holofcener mostly just lets them be.  That works far more than it doesn’t and the chemistry keeps the film together when a mutual acquaintance complicates matters.  This one is definitely worth your time.

Don Jon
(Relativity Media)

Don Jon marks the directorial debut of one Joseph Gordon-Levitt.  The actor also wrote the script and stars as Jon, a young New Jersey man whose friends dub him the titular nickname for his luck with the ladies.  He’s also addicted to internet porn.  (I guess late September is National Sex Addiction Fortnight?)  Enter Barbara Sugarman (Scarlett Johansson), who may have the power to change Jon’s ways.  (Are we sure this isn’t a Thanks For Sharing remake?)  Julianne Moore, the suddenly ubiquitous Brie Larson, Rob Brown (Jamal from Finding Forrester) and Tony Danza round out the cast of this Sundance alum.

Storm Surfers 3D
(XLrator Media)

As has been The Carolina’s habit, the month’s ActionFest selection will get a week’s release.  And so, last week’s documentary Storm Surfers 3D gets thrust into the spotlight, sans Ninja Porter, popcorn, and Homeward Bound donation…all of which one may still do a la cart.  Hopefully the film does better than last’s month’s I Declare War, which was last seen sleeping behind Krispy Kreme on Patton Avenue.

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2
(Columbia Pictures)

I did not see Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.  I’m a huge fan of the source material, but after Where the Wild Things Are proved that slim picture books don’t exactly make the best feature films, I steered clear.  (I still live in daily fear that Goodnight Moon will be next.)  Anyway, the animated original made enough dough to spawn a sequel, in which inventor Flint Lockhart (voiced by Bill Hader) learns that his water-to-food invention is now churning out food/animal hybrids and brings some friends back home with him to investigate.  I admit to chuckling at the trailer’s visual food puns (namely a cry of what sounds like “There’s a leak in the boat,” followed by a cut to a leek in the boat), but an entire film of this humor?  I don’t know.

Baggage Claim
(Fox Searchlight Pictures)

The beautiful block of wood known as Paula Patton returns in Baggage Claim, playing Montana, a flight attendant set on getting married before her little sister’s wedding.  Adam Brody plays a fellow attendant who convinces Montana to use her co-workers to snag her ex-boyfriends and recruit other potential suitors who happen to fly.  (OK…)  Taye Diggs, Trey Songz, Djimon Hounsou, and Derek Luke are just a few of the fellas in this rom-com from David E. Talbert, written by David E. Talbert, and based on the novel entitled Baggage Claim by…you guessed it, David E. Talbert.  Bad as it sounds, as long as Patton’s hair isn’t “modestly” draped over her breasts, it has to be better than her last film, 2 Guns.

(The Weinstein Company)

I realize it’s not fashionable to say this, but J.D. Salinger is very likely my favorite author and The Catcher in the Rye my favorite novel.  I’m nearly finished reading the biography by Shane Salerno and David Shields (in which an article co-written with my college professor/mentor Dr. George Cheatham is cited) and have been looking forward to Salerno’s tandem documentary since it was announced nearly four years ago.  If you’d have asked me whether Salinger would have been my most anticipated film of the week as late as this past Sunday morning, I’d have wholeheartedly agreed.  Once the sabbath a.m. critics screening was over, however, I had a far different reaction: I don’t imagine there will be a worse film this week.

Fleeing the Scene

The healthy influx of newbies means room must be made in the form of a high quality indie (The Spectacular Now), a middle-to-high quality indie (The Way, Way Back), a surprisingly good mainstream comedy (We’re The Millers), a cult-ish British comedy that’s more of a missed opportunity (The World’s End), a pretty indie with a sound problem (Ain’t Them Bodies Saints), and your standard Vin Diesel fare (Riddick).


Here we have a collection of films that I wanted to like a lot more than I did.  In the case of The Kings of SummerRoom 237, and In The House, I still found plenty to enjoy.  Sadly, that wasn’t the case with Iron Man 3, which I now wish I’d somehow avoided, as has been the case so far with the horror anthology V/H/S/2 and the latest Jason Statham film-in-a-box, Redemption.

On Netflix Instant

Steven Soderbergh’s Side Effects was the year’s best film from early February until mid March when John Dies At The End knocked it off the throne.  It’s available for home streaming and would make an excellent double feature with the Scandinavian thriller The Silence.

Other new options include the “fan’s dream” documentary Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey; the star-studded but poorly received 8 1/2 musical Nine; the Kirsten Dunst interplanetary romance Upside Down; and season 2 of Fox’s acclaimed Zooey Deschanel comedy New Girl.


Tim September 25, 2013 - 2:56 pm

I know it’s crazy, but that crumby Salinger documentary is the only thing I really want to see. I know it’s crazy.

Really though, I’m hugely disappointed to keep hearing that this thing is such a train-wreck. Fashionable or not, Salinger is among my most beloved writers as well. I could read about curb marbles and pitchers of Tom Collinses all day. But with so many promising or at least intriguing movies opening (or hell, leaving… I’m a bit behind) I may just wait for Netflix.

Pleasure to meet you at the Darjeeling screening last night!

Edwin Arnaudin September 25, 2013 - 3:10 pm

What really kills me is that the new biography is so damn good! I realize it’s tough to turn 700 pages of interviews and information into a concise two-hour film, but they really flopped here. (Full review will be up Friday morning.)

Wonderful meeting you as well and I look forward to more film chats. I’m a Tenenbaums and Rushmore man myself, but Darjeeling gets richer and more personally relevant with each view.

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