Iron Man 2, Ajami, and more: A weekend movie guide
You've got 10 bucks and two hours, and you don't want to waste any of it. We can help. Here's our guide to the best and worst movies playing this weekend.
A contemporary crime drama edged with Greek tragedy, Ajami is set in a volatile, rundown quarter of Jaffa in Israel. The action--which involves multiple plots and unwieldy, mostly non-pro Arabs and Jewish actors--opens with a mistaken drive-by shooting and switches dizzyingly between time, place, and point of view. (Lagoon Cinema)
City Pages: "An untidy, despairing, oddly exhilarating joint venture by writer-directors Scandar Copti, an Israeli Arab, and Yaron Shani, an Israeli Jew. It teems with life, energized by fierce formal ambitions."
Star Tribune: 3 stars Pioneer Press: 2.5 stars RottenTomatoes.com: 96% positive
MAYBE: Iron Man 2
Robert Downey Jr. returns as billionaire Tony Stark, now out of the closet as the superhero Iron Man. His nemesis this time is Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke), a rogue Russian physicist whose lifelong grudge against the Stark family inspires him to weld together his own knockoff suit. (area theaters)
City Pages: "There's techie lifestyle porn, hot cars, hot guns, and three dozen comic books' worth of exposition girdled into two straining hours. The elements that made the first Iron Man a rather likable blockbuster have not entirely evaporated. Director Jon Favreau brings together interesting American movie stars and lets them actually play through scenes."
Star Tribune: 3 stars Pioneer Press: 2.5 stars RottenTomatoes.com: 68% positive
Babies follows four international infants from birth to toddling. Cutting from rural Mongolia to Tokyo and from the Namibian desert to San Francisco, director Thomas Balmes shows them as they nurse, sleep, poop, eat, crawl, and play. (area theaters)
City Pages: "Babies gets the job done, but other than the passage of time, there's not much of an organizing principle to Babies. It's pretty much just straight-up babies, all the way through."
Star Tribune: 2.5 stars Pioneer Press: 3.5 stars RottenTomatoes.com: 68% positive
MAYBE: Mid-August Lunch
An aging Italian slacker cares for his demanding mother in their decrepit Rome apartment. Forced to take in several other matriarchs to win a reprieve on his overdue rent, he finds himself caring for four spunky old dames. (Edina Cinema)
City Pages: "A lauded but fatally slight comedy of manners."
Star Tribune: 3 stars Pioneer Press: 2.5 stars RottenTomatoes.com: 87% positive
FLEE: The Good Heart
A rancorous NYC saloon owner meets a new trainee in a hospital, where the older man is recovering from his fifth coronary and the younger from a suicide attempt. (Lagoon Cinema)
City Pages: " With no concern for character, plot, tone, or purpose, Icelandic writer-director Dagur Kari is content merely to play Jacques's old-coot misanthropy against his protege's forbearance, resulting in a sloppy, desultory, depressive buddy comedy."
Star Tribune: 3 stars Pioneer Press: 1 stars RottenTomatoes.com: 30% positive
Next pages: Repertory, art house, and ongoing films
Promising a stupid good time and delivering it, this big-budget comedy from producer-director Ivan Reitman has action that could take Indiana Jones for a ride. Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, and Harold Ramis play a team of failed New York parapsychologists who set up a ghost-exterminating business. (Trylon Microcinema, Friday and Saturday at 7 and 9 p.m.)
SEE: The Human Centipede
Hard-core horror fans will want to take in Tom Six's torture-porn game-changer, about an evil German doctor who kidnaps a Japanese man and two vapid American girl tourists and imprisons them in his basement lab with a diabolical plan to surgically connect all three via their digestive tract. Never as explicit as a Saw or Hostel film, Centipede is definitive psychological horror. (Uptown Theatre, Friday and Saturday at midnight)
SEE: Kelly Reichardt: Off the Beaten Track
The Walker launches a two-week retrospective of the director's films. Known for her lovely, tender, beautifully crafted character studies of people at the margins of society, Reichardt's films include River of Grass (Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.), in which a suburban Miami mother of three meets a drifter, and the two go on the lam together; Wendy and Lucy (Friday at 7:30 p.m.) about a sad, pixie heroine in a long slide toward America's economic depths (and with a sensationally nuanced performance by Michelle Williams); and Old Joy (Friday at 9 p.m.), a beautiful, fragile film about two old friends who take one final camping trip together. (Walker Art Center, Wednesday through Friday, May 14)
SEE: Exit Through the Gift Shop
Not just the definitive portrait of street-art counterculture but a hilarious expose on the gullibility of the masses who embrace manufactured creative personas.
Tired of being mugged by high school thugs, the teen hero of Kick-Ass decides to become a real-life superhero, and learns the hard way that trying to intimidate thieves while wearing a ridiculous green wetsuit will get you a beat down. But through a turn of events and secret help from real crimefighters, his antics turn him into an internet phenomenon. (area theaters)
SEE: The Secret in Their Eyes
A hilarious comedy from Argentine director Juan Jose Campanella about a retired court investigator who wants to write a book about a murder case he once worked, which leads him to visits his foxy former superior with whom he once nearly had an affair. An Oscar-winning ending. (Edina Cinema)
SEE: The Secret of Kells
An enchantingly old-fashioned Irish animation about a medieval boy monk who dreams of illuminating sacred books, and the character-building journey he takes through a forest full of shape-shifting menace. (Edina Cinema)
An unforgettable sheep-herding documentary that records the last time, in the early aughts, that cowboys led their flocks up into Montana's Absaroka-Beartooth Mountains for summer pasture. Sweetgrass captures the arduousness and the awe of a vanishing way of life. (Edina Cinema)
MAYBE: A Nightmare on Elm Street
Freddy Krueger returns in a remake of Wes Craven's 1980s horror classic.
For more film ideas, capsule reviews, and showtimes, click here.
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