The worst summer movie season in memory gets a kick in the ass this week with the opening of a pair of small-scale, Sundance-approved art-house gems: the Duplass brothers' Cyrus, an unexpectedly touching, hilariously awkward comedy featuring John C. Reilly, Marisa Tomei and Jonah Hill in an odd love triangle of sorts, and Debra Granik's Winter's Bone, a tension-laced thriller that is likely to stand as young actress Jennifer Lawrence's breakout role. —- (Read my interview with Granik here.)
As the high-profile studio disappointments continue to pile up (Toy Story 3 is the most notable exception), art-house cinema has provided a much-needed respite of humanity for discerning moviegoers this summer. Locally, the Esquire and Mariemont theaters have booked a steady steam of diverse movies from smaller distributors like Sony Pictures Classics (Micmacs, Mother and Child, Please Give and The Secret in Their Eyes), Anchor Bay Films (City Island and Solitary Man), Paranoid Pictures (Exit Through the Gift Shop) Music Box Films (Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) and GKIDS (The Secret of the Kells).
The big hope for multiplex redemption is Christopher Nolan's Inception, which opens next week and which everyone from Variety to IndieWire is praising as not only the summer's best movie but also a likely contender for year-end awards consideration. If rumors of Inception being “the movie of the summer” are indeed true, let's hope Hollywood learns from a filmmaker who, artistically speaking, isn't afraid to dream big.
CYRUS — The Duplass brothers, Jay and Mark, two filmmakers at the forefront of the Mumblecore movement thanks to films like The Puffy Chair and Baghead, have made a play for a longer ride to recognition with Cyrus, which stars Jonah Hill, John C. Reilly and Marisa Tomei. (Read full-length review here.) (Opens today at Esquire Theatre.) — tt stern-enzi (Rated R.) Grade: B-plus
DESCPICABLE ME — Steve Carell provides the voice of an international criminal who wants to steal the moon in this animated 3-D feature co-directed by Chris Renaud and Pierre Coffin. Other vocal talent includes Russell Brand, Danny McBride, Jason Segel and Kristen Wiig. (Opens wide today.) — Jason Gargano (Rated PG.) Review coming soon.
PREDATORS — The Predator franchise is back with a little help from Adrien Brody as a tough-guy mercenary who, along with a host of equally badass types, battles scary predators on an alien planet. Nimrod Antal directs. (Opens wide Friday.) — JG (Rated R.) Review coming soon.
WINTER'S BONE — The Sundance Film Festival has always offered a friendly home for naturalistic, rural/small-town-set family dramas with strong suspense/thriller elements. Debra Granik’s Winter’s Bone — winner of the Dramatic Film Grand Jury Prize and Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award at this year’s Sundance — continues that tradition, improving upon it in some ways but also coming on a little too strong. (Opens today at Esquire Theatre.) — Steven Rosen (Rated R.) Grade: B-plus