Premium Rush: Channing Tatum may have won easily my Man of the Year award once Magic Mike hit screens, and his co-star Matthew McConaughey certainly takes Best Comeback. But in terms of potential quality, neither of them seems likely to have a year like Joseph Gordon-Levitt. He had a pivotal and extremely satisfying role in The Dark Knight Rises, and later this year he reunites with his Brick director Rian Johnson for Looper, and hooks up with Spielberg for a supporting part in Lincoln. This weekend, he has the least prestigious of those 2012 offerings — and also his only (maybe first ever?) above-the-title solo billing, which looks like a hell of a lot of fun to boot: Premium Rush, the New York bike-messenger thriller from David Koepp, talented hack screenwriter and director of some decent ghost movies in the horror (Stir of Echoes) and romantic comedy (Ghost Town) genres. I’m a sucker for a good, scrappy ground-level chase sequence, and Premium Rush, which sends crazy Michael Shannon after our man in pursuit of a mysterious envelope, looks like it’s about 90 percent scrappy ground-level chases.
Hit & Run: Dax Shepard’s indie action-comedy, meanwhile, looks like it’s more 30 or 40 percent chases, along with some rude comedy and some kind of romantic angle with his real-life paramour Kristen Bell. After Shepard’s run at actual supporting movie stardom five or six years ago, it’s kind of neat that he self-generated a vehicle (puns!) for himself; even if it winds up trashy, at least he’s not second banana to Dane Cook. For that matter, K-Bell could use a good big-screen starring role after her Disney detour yielded When in Rome and You Again. Come, all ye TV actors who just want to be able to swear and have bigger car chases than thy shows can provide!
The Apparition: Just to keep things straight: The Apparition is a late-August horror movie about supernatural evil. The Possession is a late-August horror movie about supernatural evil that’s also Jewish. If The Possession (out next weekend) had just stayed called Dibbuk Box, we wouldn’t face such confusion! (Except those of us wondering if The Possession was a Serious Man prequel.) Anyway, The Apparition is the ghost-y movie with young people. One fun aspect of the instant horror-movie-level fame afforded anyone and everyone who has appeared in young-adult-targeted fantasy franchise is the way horror movies become de facto fan fiction: here, Alice Cullen (Ashley Greene) could totally hook up with Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton)! Squeeee? I’m not sure if this one is screening for critics and The Possession is, so I guess that gives the latter a leg up in terms of quality. Then again, The Apparition boasts a trim 82-minute running time and might well make $40 million or so when all is said and done, just for showing up.
Sleepwalk with Me: I tend to think of movies of one-man shows as essentially posh versions of the home game: obviously I can’t do this show indefinitely and on demand, says the One Man, so I will record it for posterity, like when they show Broadway stuff on PBS or whatever. (This One Man is surprisingly inarticulate.) But Mike Birbiglia, the One Man in question here, has made a well-reviewed movie out of his show, and there are other actors in it, so we needn’t fear outright monologuing. So if you missed it Off-Broadway, or on NPR, or in book form, or in the Fox Saturday morning cartoon, or on ice, or that time he performed it on a blimp, Sleepwalk with Me is available for your viewing pleasure this weekend at the IFC Center, your number one destination for vaguely suspecting you could be seeing this indie movie another, cheaper way but, oh well, these chairs are really nice!