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Weekend Movie Forecast: <em>X-Men</em> Vs. <em>Ice People</em>

<em>X-Men Origins: Wolverine</em> opens this weekend, and most moviegoers are either inordinately pumped or utterly indifferent. But for anyone on the fence, here's a juicy pan from Robert Wilonsky <a href="http://www.villagevoice.com/2009-04-29/film/x-men-origins-wolverine-wait-for-the-bootleg/">at the Village Voice</a>: "Without fail, the dullest installment in any superhero movie franchise is the origin story, during which audiences anxiously awaiting The Big Bad Guy have to suffer through, yaaaawn, scenes of childhood trauma, romantic tragedy, and other expository effluvia, by which point the closing credits are fast approaching. <strong>Alas, the X-Men franchise takes a giant leap backward and off a cliff with its fourth offering</strong>... Odd thing is, 2003’s expeditious <em>X2</em> more or less covered the same ground in a matter of seconds, as opposed to 107 minutes that feel like almost as many hours. A suggestion? Wait for the bootleg."


<p>Emmy-winning documentary filmmaker Anne Aghion spent four months living with academic geologists in Antarctica; the result is <a href="http://www.icepeople.com/"><em>Ice People</em></a>. Reviewing the film <a href="http://movies.nytimes.com/2009/05/01/movies/01ice.html?ref=movies">for the Times</a>, Nathan Lee finds it full of "tough poetry" and deems the titular ice "instantly compelling: endless white-on-white vistas, ethereal panoramas of cold... The people of <em>Ice People</em> take a while longer to come into focus. The movie, which runs a scant 77 minutes but feels four times as long, is so maddeningly slow to develop any sort of narrative shape that you begin to suspect Ms. Aghion of doodling. <strong>She is, as it turns out, a canny portraitist,</strong> and her patience in divulging the context of her project pays off as <strong>the movie sinks something of the feel (brr!) and routine of an Antarctic expedition into your bones."</strong></p>


<p>Jim Jarmusch's new film <em>The Limits of Control</em>, about a hit man's business trip through Spain, is getting a critical flogging (with the <a href="http://www.villagevoice.com/2009-04-29/film/jarmusch-s-mythic-limits-of-control-is-his-best-since-dead-man/">noteworthy exception of J. Hoberman</a>, who calls it his best since <em>Dead Man</em>). Variety's Todd McCarthy <a href="http://www.variety.com/review/VE1117940105.html?categoryid=31&amp;cs=1">has this to say</a>: "There are limits to artistic self-indulgence, limits to how long a filmmaker can keep spinning his creative wheels before his work approaches self-parody, and limits to the tolerance of even a devoted specialized audience for artistic vacuity, and they are all well exceeded by <em>The Limits of Control</em>... And then there's the music, mostly by a Japanese electronic noise outfit called Boris, that drones on ultimately to congeal into a state of undead rigor mortis."</p>



<p>Oh honey, doesn't that new Matthew McConaughey look <em>fun</em>, the one where he has to revisit all his ex-girlfriends, but they can't see him because he's like a ghost, just like in that Scrooge McDuck movie? Let's see that this weekend—I love watching McConaughey learn valuable life lessons with his shirt off, and there's plenty of wish-fulfillment in it for you too, sweetie, because he's <em>so</em> popular with the ladies! Just like you <em>like</em> to think you were before you moved in with me and found bliss snuggling on the couch watching <em>Mad About You</em> DVDs weekend after weekend after weekend.</p><p></p>Here's Jay Stone <a href="http://www.vancouversun.com/entertainment/Movie+review+Ghosts+Girlfriends+Past+scary+stuff+good/1550311/story.html">at the Vancouver Sun</a>, one of thousands of pitiable critics who were surely not paid enough to sit through this drivel: "One of the danger signs in a movie is when the weather on screen — in the case of <em>Ghosts of Girlfriends Past</em>, a snowy New England winter — doesn’t match the weather outside (sunny, with rainy periods). It means the film has been delayed past its ideal release date, in this case December, when its Christmas Carol theme would make more sense. <strong>Another danger sign in a movie are the words, 'Starring Matthew McConaughey.'... God save us, every one."</strong>


<p>The above still from <em>Revanche</em>, an Oscar-nominated thriller from Austrian director Götz Spielmann, had us at <em>Rochelle, Rochelle,</em> but here's <a href="http://www.avclub.com/articles/revanche,27392/">the Onion's Noel Murray</a> anyway: "Spielmann earns his theme [revenge] with an organically twisty narrative and a hushed tone that gains in tension the longer he lets it play out. <em>Revanche </em>is downright hypnotic, wringing suspense both from inherently pulse-pounding moments, like a scene of one character drawing a gun on another as he jogs by, and more mundane, like a shot of Strauss sweeping up shattered glass. Though at times meticulous to a fault, <em>Revanche </em>definitely conveys the feeling of looming danger, and the cold comfort of blame."</p>


<p>Hey, Michael Keaton's still around; he's back with a "romantic fable" called <em>The Merry Gentleman</em>, his directorial debut. He also stars in the movie as a grumpy hit man who falls for a battered wife named Kelly Macdonald after he discovers her through [spoiler?] the sights of his sniper rifle. <a href="http://movies.nytimes.com/2009/05/01/movies/01merr.html?ref=movies">Manohla Dargis finds it</a> "satisfying... Kate saves Frank’s life and he saves hers and maybe they save each other, though there’s nothing particularly uplifting about their relationship. The film’s title, needless to say, has an ironic bite. One of the pleasures of <em>The Merry Gentleman</em> is Mr. Keaton’s commitment to that bite, which never registers as cruel or gratuitous, just honest, weary, sad."</p>



<p>If you've got offspring, you could do worse for family fare than <em>Battle for Terra</em>, a tolerable 3D sci-fi kids' flick that turns the alien invasion trope on its head: In this one, humans are the alien invaders, having traveled across the universe for centuries after Earth was destroyed to take over a planet that happens to be already inhabited with peace-loving, weird-looking flying hippie creatures. We caught a press preview last week and found it harmless enough; it's no Wall-E, but the 3D is decent and the story keeps things moving along. Less tolerant, however, is <a href="http://www.detnews.com/article/20090501/ENT02/905010333/1031/-Battle-for-Terra---Not-worth-fighting">Adam Graham at the Detroit News</a>, who finds it <strong>"preachy, patronizing and cheap-looking. Simply put, it's Terra-ble."</strong></p>


<p>New director Graham Reznick seems to have a breakthrough hit with his no-budget horror feature <em>I Can See You. </em><a href="http://movies.nytimes.com/2009/04/29/movies/29ican.html?ref=movies">With this slam-dunk Times review</a> under his belt, you can bet you'll see more from him down the road: "The low-budget horror film <em>I Can See You</em> has a plot as old as the hills — or at least as old as <em>The Hills Have Eyes. </em>A group of city slickers heads out to the country: trouble, madness and some very nasty bodily harm ensue... But the twist — and this is a very twisty movie — is that the city folks are Brooklyn hipsters taking digital photographs for use in a marketing campaign, and the trouble they encounter has nothing to do with deranged mutant hillbillies... <em>I Can See You </em>heralds a splendid new filmmaker with one eye on genre mechanics, one eye on avant-garde conceits and a third eye for transcendental weirdness."</p>


<em>Eldorado</em>, a Belgian road movie that won best European film last year at the Cannes Film Festival’s Directors Fortnight program, gets its American debut this weekend. <a href="http://www.filmjournal.com/filmjournal/content_display/reviews/specialty-releases/e3i5a22d4d608ec4c2535615ed170283fe0">Film Journal's Ray Bennet</a> calls it "funny and melancholy," and explains that director Bouli Lanners "wrote the script and stars in the film as Yvan, an overweight and unkempt car dealer who arrives home one night to discover that an incompetent young burglar named Elie (Fabrice Adde) has broken in. Weary and philosophical, Yvan does not call the police and ends up consoling the intruder, who says he only needed money to make his way home to see his mother. Still grieving over the death by overdose of his younger brother, Yvan knows a smackhead when he sees one, and after a couple of mishaps he agrees to give Elie a ride."


<a href="http://www.landmarktheatres.com/Films/films_frameset.asp?id=37536">The Sunshine</a> is doing a rare screening of Frank Zappa's freaky 1971 film <em>200 Motels</em> this weekend—at midnight, of course. Get debriefed <a href="http://www.progreviews.com/reviews/display.php?rev=fz-200m">here</a>.