Weekend movie guide: See it or flee it?

The Nightmare on Elm Street

The Nightmare on Elm Street

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.


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. Most of the footage is from Thierry Guetta, an eccentric French expat in Los Angeles who began videotaping his cousin, the mosaic artist Invader, and gradually earned the trust of DIY art notables Banksy, Swoon, and Shepard Fairey. (Uptown Theatre)
City Pages: "Too clever to dismiss as another recycled-joke on the inanity of modern art, Exit is strangely inspirational."
Star Tribune: 3.5 stars Pioneer Press: 3.5 stars 95% positive

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 visit his foxy former superior with whom he once nearly had an affair. (Edina Cinema)
City Pages: "Campanella overconfidently takes his time, but the big reveal--a secret burden, naturally, to end all secret burdens--ends the movie with Oscar-winning ridiculousness."
Star Tribune: 4 stars Pioneer Press: 3 stars 90% positive

MAYBE: The Cartel
This union-busting documentary uses New Jersey as Exhibit A in its case against this country's crooked education system. Though it is first in education spending, New Jersey has an abysmal dropout rate and testing scores. Director Bob Bowden cites budgetary corruption and a self-interested teachers' union as the culprits. (Lagoon Cinema)
City Pages: "Bowden pulls together a familiar repertoire of talking heads, man-on-the-street interviews, remedial graphics, and stilted B-roll, and ultimately this information-packed indictment plays like a feature-length 'in-depth' news segment."
Star Tribune: 2.5 stars Pioneer Press: 1 stars 50% positive

MAYBE: A Nightmare on Elm Street
Freddy Krueger returns in a remake of Wes Craven's 1980s horror classic. The story is unchanged: Krueger, the guilty secret of Springwood, Ohio's parents, menaces their teenaged children's sleep: "If you die in your dreams, you die for real," "One, two, Freddy's coming for you," and so on. (area theaters)
City Pages: "Its first half-hour is devoid of the most basic sense of timing, showmanship, and atmosphere, but Nightmare gets a grip after a couple of bad dreams winnow the focus down to two nice-looking goth-y kids. The Krueger makeover is good, but director Samuel Bayer is mostly content to record cover versions of Craven's analog nightmares."
Star Tribune: 1.5 stars Pioneer Press: 2.5 stars 13% positive

MAYBE: The Warlords
This gory melodrama follows the tender bonding and tragic split of a trio of 19th-century bandits turned warlords. Yes, a "beautiful courtesan" is partly to blame. (Lagoon Cinema)
City Pages: "An impressively gargantuan Chinese battle epic that generously accommodates director Peter Chan's talent for jerking tears."
Star Tribune: 2.5 stars Pioneer Press: 2 stars 62% positive

The Birds

The Birds

FLEE: Furry Vengeance
The simple thesis is very much made for the six-year-old set: People do bad things to the planet. Brendan Fraser plays a pudgy schnook who uprooted his family (including Brooke Shields) to the wild in order to tear it down. When the animals--chiefly a raccoon and a squirrel--catch wind of the developers' plans, they revolt. (area theaters)
City Pages: "The animals here don't talk; that's the movie's one saving grace. Fraser is put through the wringer though--I've never felt sorrier for an actor."
Star Tribune: 1.5 stars Pioneer Press: 3 stars 3% positive

Next page: Repertory and art house screenings, and ongoing films


SEE: The Birds
Hitchcock's 1963 shocker (his followup to Psycho) begins as a typical romantic comedy about a handsome, privileged couple (Tippi Hedren and Rod Taylor). When the bird attacks begin, the shock lies in the abrupt realization that the couple's familiar circumstances are no more than a thin facade built on the assumption of a benevolent--or at least benign--natural world. (Riverview Theater, Monday at 7 p.m.)


SEE: City Island
A low-key comedy about an Italian Bronx family in which everyone has something to hide. Andy Garcia and Julianna Margulies star. (Edina Cinema)

SEE: Kick-Ass
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: Red Riding Trilogy
A 305-minute triptych film based on the novels of David Peace, each episode tells a story of crime and punishment (rarely of the guilty), each handled by a different noteworthy U.K. director. The best freestanding film of the three is 1980, which takes place during the last at-large days of the Yorkshire Ripper, who held North England in suspense over five years and 13 murders. (Lagoon 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)

SEE: Sweetgrass
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)

FLEE: The Back-Up Plan
Jennifer Lopez muddles through a painful-to-watch story about a single, financially comfortable, baby-craving pet-store owner who, the same day she receives artificial insemination, meets a potential lifemate, from whom she tries to hide her pregnancy. (area theaters)

For more film ideas, capsule reviews, and showtimes, click here .