Movies in Theaters on Friday, September 30th 2011
A comedy about cancer, the flick that hooked up Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz, an all-star ode to Japanese puppet theatre and a look at how to survive (and freak out about) the apocalypse make up this weekend's cinematic offerings. Which will get your final September moviegoing moolah?
National treasure Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays a 28-year-old who's suddenly diagnosed with cancer, an unexpected turn of events in his life's journey (to say the least) that affects everyone close to him -- including his best friend (Seth Rogen), girlfriend (Bryce Dallas Howard) and mother (Angelica Huston) -- in radically different ways. For a comedy, this is pretty serious stuff, and an extremely difficult tightrope act in juggling both tone and content is required to truly make it work -- but if anyone's up for carrying such a heavy burden on his shoulders and coming out winning, it's definitely JGL, who can just be in every single movie that comes out at this point as far as we're concerned. That A-list supporting cast should have his back, too, and as long as director Jonathan Levine stays true to the heart and soul of Will Reiser's semi-autobiographical script without going for too many cheap tension-relieving laughs, 50/50 could be the year's, well, ballsiest comedy -- and one of the best.
The trailer made it very clear that there are plenty of twists and shocking revelations awaiting us in this absurd-looking thriller featuring real-life couple Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz as doting parents, their cute (though also probably eventually creepy) kids and their really swell home, an idyllic family portrait that splinters and cracks when it's revealed that Craig might be cuckoo and just imagining all of this nice-ness. Or maybe he's dead and experiencing some sort of tortuous purgatory. Or maybe everyone, including his mysterious hottie neighbor (Naomi Watts), is just messing with him, and at the end, after the poor guy's completely lost his mind, they'll all turn on the lights and yell "Surprise!" Whatever ends up happening, it's probably going to be ridiculous, and the fact that Dream House isn't being screened for critics brings up even more red flags. Is it us or is Craig stumbling a bit as he waits for his next James Bond gig?
For the record, Bunraku looks bad -- like, as in The Spirit bad, but we're hoping there's some sort of inspired lunacy going on in the full-length product that makes it transcend its cheap-looking trailer. Characters with stock names like "The Drifter" and "The Bartender" traverse through an old-school Cabinet of Dr. Caligari kind of set that's supposed to pass for some dystopian alternate reality in which weapons are outlawed -- in theory, the style is an ode to the "bunraku" form of Japanese puppet theatre, though we have a feeling something's going to get lost in this "translation." The cast is fun as all get-out, though, with Josh Hartnett still giving it the old college try, Woody Harrelson and Demi Moore reuniting 18 years after Robert Redford gave them a million bucks in Indecent Proposal and, of course, Ron Perlman looking like a refugee from Battlefield Earth as the crime lord who must be taken down.
This tale of apocalyptic paranoia is allegedly so intense and convincing that it may inspire you to just drop everything and build your own bomb shelter. Michael Shannon, who not surprisingly is getting raves for his performance, plays a seemingly normal husband and father who's suddenly plagued with nightmarish visions of an approaching destructive storm -- interpreting these ghastly sights as prophetic warnings, he goes to seemingly unreasonable extremes to protect his family from the supposed end of days. Take Shelter hits a nerve with its portrait of a dangerous world in which we feel increasingly unsafe, and exploring the obsessiveness and psychosis of the concept (and practice) of fear itself always makes for rough road -- this one won't make you feel good, but we have a feeling it won't be soon forgotten.