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Weekend Watch: Manifest Destiny…. Pick the Trail of Meek’s Cutoff

Feminists everywhere can rejoice that Hanna’s Saoirse Ronan proves that girl power is more about kicking ass than shaking it (hear that Zak). Fernando Santos gives Tootsie a run for her/his money in To Die Like a Man. Venice/TIFF/NYFF Meek’s Cutoff turns Manifest Destiny on its collective head in Kelly Reichardt’s third film starring Michelle Williams.

We can’t blame you for feeling a bit nostalgic this weekend. With the horrendous update of 1981’s mediocre Arthur (featuring a rather annoying Russell Brand) and the Krull inspired Your Highness coming out, you’d think we were rocking Body Glove and shoulder pads again. But all’s not lost my feathered-haired friend. Feminists everywhere can rejoice that Hanna‘s Saoirse Ronan proves that girl power is more about kicking ass than shaking it (hear that Zack). Ceremony shows great promise from its director and is a must for Wes Anderson fans. Fernando Santos gives Tootsie a run for her/his money in the item To Die Like a Man. Venice/TIFF/NYFF Meek’s Cutoff turns Manifest Destiny on its collective head in Kelly Reichardt’s third film starring Michelle Williams.

U.S Indie 

Ceremony – Max Winkler – Magnolia

The Bride Wore Out. Again we find Uma donning a wedding dress for the third/fourth time since Kill Bill, and clearly she’s not giving up without a fight. Instead of assassins, she’s dodging a love-sick Michael Angarano (wearing Rushmore garb) who’s determined to break up her impending nuptial to a pompous documentarian played by Lee Pace. This clunky May-December storyline from first time helmer made its debut at TIFF last year (see our coverage) with many critics tagging him to Wes Anderson. But don’t be fooled. He’s Anderson-lite. NY/L.A 

: 41% : 34.3%

Hanna – Joe Wright – Focus Features

Wright proves his action chops with this violent sugar rush about a young girl trained to kill. Raised in isolation in the wilds of Finland by her mysterious father played by Eric Bana, the real mystery is Hanna’s origins, which becomes the focus of a menacing CIA operative played by Cate Blanchett. A weird fairytale tinged sci-fi film, Hanna will definitely appeal to fans of The Professional. Highly recommended. Wide.

: 67% : 70.2%

Henry’s Crime – Malcolm Venville – Moving Pictures

Wanna see the impossible? Watch Keanu Reeves pretend he’s an actor pretending to be a crook who’s pretending to be an actor. If that doesn’t leave you confused, then Venville’s off-beat crime caper will. This premiered at TIFF and was picked up by a Movie Magazine turned disturb. NYC/L.A

: 45% : 46.5%

Meek’s Cutoff – Kelly Reichardt – Oscilloscope Laboratories

Set in the earliest days of the Oregon Trail, Reichardt’s third film tells the story of a wagon team of three families who get lost after their guide Stephen Meek played by Bruce Greenwood decides to take them on a shortcut over the Cascade Mountains. Facing hunger, strife and growing distrust, the team is furthered tested when their Native captive claims to know a way out. Hopefully the critical buzz will translate to bigger numbers than her previous pair put together. Here’s our sit-down with supporting thesp, Zoe Kazan. Show the love people. NYC.

: 88% : 83%

Meet Monica Velour – Keith Bearden – Anchor Bay

Napoleon Dynamite meets Linda Lovelace. A young dork sets out to meet his favorite 1970’s porn star, and instead, finds Kim Cattrell sans makeup. Skip it. NYC/L.A

: 53% : 42.5%


No Eres Tu, Soy Yo – Alejandro Springall – Lionsgate

Lionsgate continues to tap into the Latin market with 200plus screens receiving this romantic comedy about a young man searching for true love after the woman of his dreams dumps him, is as worn as a used condom. Throw it out.

: 00% : 00.0%

To Die Like A Man – João Pedro Rodriguez – Strand Releasing

Preemed in 2009 at the Cannes Film Fest, Joao Pedro Rodrigues’s film about an aging Portuguese drag queen pressured by her younger drug addicted boyfriend into getting a sex-change is an intriguing mixture of ideas and styles which often clash than mesh. Despite its melodramatic tendencies it’s still worth a look.

: 78% : 59.7%


American: The Bill Hicks Story Matt Harlock and Paul Thomas – Variance

Patriot. Provocateur. Performer. With its distinguishing use of photo-animated, collages-in-motion Bill Hick’s controversial life is practically overshadowed by the visuals. Therefore, we, the viewer, must rely on a handful of talking heads to the fill in the blanks. NY/L.A 

: 54% : 47.8%

Blanket City – Celine Danhier

The original DYI filmmaking. Danhier’s No Wave documentary captures the desolate grittiness of the late 1970’s early 80’s New York which spawned the underground music and film scene that Jim Jarmusch and his ilk would expound on. More a history of film for those who weren’t around, it still offers a fascinating portrait of a bygone era when experimental video ruled. – Started Wednesday in NYC. 

: 71% : 68.8%

Born to Be Wild – David Lickley – Warner Bros.

Wild tells the unique story of two remarkable women saving orphaned elephants and baby orangutans who’ve lost their mothers to poachers. Each woman nurtures these animals as long as is deemed necessary, preparing them for life among their animal peers in the wild. Showing in 3D at your local Imax this fun film will be a treat for the entire family. 200plus locations. Morgan Freeman narrates.

: 68% : 70.8%

Kati with an I – Robert Greene

Rural Alabama is the setting of this poignant documentary about the days leading up to Kati’s high school graduation. With intimate precision Robert Greene captures the details of this any girl as she transitions into adulthood. Opening in New York’s Maysles Cinema (one week only) we say run out and see it

: 81% : NA%


Arthur – Jason Winer – Warner Bros.

Russell Brand plays himself in director Jason Winer’s (Modern Family) tedious update of the boozy millionaire–which was brilliantly portrayed by the late Dudley Moore. If it’s British humor you want, check out the wickedly charming 1967 Bedazzled.

: 39% : 47.5%

Soul Surfer – Sean McNamara – TriStar/FilmDistrict

Based on the inspiring true story of a teen girl who lost her arm in a shark attack, Soul Surfer is a feel good coming-of-age story unlikely to make waves at the box office, but should do well in the Bible Belt. (I would wait for Shark Week on Discovery–but that’s just me).

: 54% : 54.3%

Your Highness – David Gordon Green – Universal

Heavy is the head that smokes the ganj. Pineapple Express helmer David Gordon Green brings the stoner buddy comedy to the Middle Ages. Its mix of low-brow humor, boobs, and a scantily-clad Portman, will appeal to many pubescent boys and basically anyone who thinks multiple f-bombs are f***ing hilarious. Those looking for anything else should move along.

: 33% : 35.4%

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