August is traditionally when studios dump their waste products quietly between the adrenaline-bang of the summer and the prestige-clang of the fall. This weekend has a mix of probably worth your money films premiering, each with a strong oral fixation: you’ll get some jaw-detaching, some same-sex lip-locking, and some jaw-droppingly bad voice acting! (Who else loves hyphens?!)
Alexander Aja has made some gory films, including his debut, Haute Tension, and the Hills Have Eyes remake. Mirrors looks no different. The film takes its premise from the Korean flick Into the Mirror, but Aja has stressed that his film is not a remake. Instead, he was inspired by The Shining: Kiefer Sutherland is a security guard assigned to an abandoned mall with a grisly past who soon finds his family under attack by ghosts in their reflections. While Aja is apt filmmaker, Mirrors‘s raison d’être appears to be showing Amy Smart tearing her mandible off. (There’s a whole featurette online devoted to it!) Here’s what we don’t get: why don’t the victims in these movies become ghosts themselves? If a ghost ripped our face in half, you best know that as our spectral selves we’d bitchslap the hell out of it.
Woody Allen has been reinvigorated after leaving former muse New York and finding current muse Scarlet Johansson. In Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Johansson, in her third Allen film, is Cristina, a sexy American turista in Spain who gets it on with a sexy artist (Javier Bardem). Complications ensue when the artist’s volatile—but sexy—ex (Penelope Cruz) swings by—and by complicated, we mean, the two actresses totally make out (sexily). The critics are mixed on Vicky Cristina Barcelona: the big dailies love it but the alternatives not so much. Peter Howell at The Star calls it “one of Allen’s best-ever meditations on the many entanglements of love,” while Norman Wilner at NOW dismisses the film as “dreary” and “a disappointment.” If you’re not up for a sexy, dreary film, how about spending the night with vintage Allen, like Annie Hall Manhattan, followed by Cruz in Volver and Bardem in Before Night Falls instead? (Can we take a second to note Allen’s brilliant taste in men? Jonathan Rhys Myers, Hugh Jackman, Ewan McGregor, Colin Farrell, and now Javier Bardem. Caliente!)
The last of the big releases is Star Wars: The Clone Wars, an involving and critical documentary that looks into parallels between the expensive and inefficient American missile defense system and the short-sighted and parochial war on stem-cell research based on the fear of so-called “clones” and… oh. Never mind. It’s a cartoon from the mind of George Lucas that features the voice acting of Matt Lanter (as Anakin Skywalker), who will also be seen in next next week’s Disaster Movie, the latest turd from the guys who brought you Epic Movie (but not Superhero Movie). And we do mean “cartoon,” Jim Stolek of the Sun notes that “apparently nothing is sacred when it comes to catering to the kids who will keep [Lucas’s] franchise alive.” Ooh, do you hear that? That’s the sound of a gazillion fan boys tearing their jaws off!
There are also great alternatives to the more polished fare: the Bloor throws a very sexy party on Saturday showing Sex and the City at 4:30 p.m. followed by the Kitten Revue featuring burlesque performer Mitzy Cream at 9:00 p.m; the NFB is presenting the interesting documentary Cure For Love, about the ex-gay movement, until August 19; the Carlton shows ‘Tis Autumn: The Search For Jackie Paris, about a forgotten jazz singer popular in the 1950s; finally, the Royal plays Tkaronto, which NOW describes as in the vein of Before Sunset.
Screenshot of Smart from the trailer of Mirrors.