Cold Weather: I haven't been to the IFC Center in months, and suddenly it's a banner weekend for them, with the opening of a long-hidden Natalie Portman vehicle (see below), the continuation of Kaboom (which I want to see but haven't yet), and, perhaps best of all, the new Aaron Katz picture. Katz made the pre-mumblecore teen drama Dance Party USA and the mumblecore-goes-Linklater Quiet City, both lyrical, lovely movies. Now he crosses post-grad ennui with the amateur sleuthing of Brick, and I can't think of much I'd be more of a sucker for.
It helps that Cold Weather has such easy, offhand charm as grad-school refugee Doug (Cris Lankenau) enlists his big sister and new roommate Gail (Trieste Kelly Dunn) to investigate the disappearance of his ex-girlfriend. They drive a dented station wagon around Portland, combing motel rooms and staking out apartment buildings while eating Swedish Fish. It may sound twee, especially when I mention that Doug insists on buying a pipe to help him thing (he's a Sherlock Holmes fan as well as, somewhat less believably, a forensic-science washout), but Katz grounds his relationships in recognizable human behavior, and is remarkably warm with these wary, sometimes fumbling, but never oppressively inarticulate characters. Katz stays too grounded to conjure up a mystery that's truly compelling on its own, but he understands that the exciting stuff is mostly process and logistics, anyway, and Cold Weather, for a lightly comic movie about reconnecting siblings in Portland, generates some decent suspense.
The Other Woman: It's a Don Roos movie, so expect some lurching melodrama [Did you read my blurb in print? Because I use the phrase "Roos lurches into.. melodrama" at one point... -Ed.] in place of quiet developments—but also perhaps a good Lisa Kudrow performance [Oh, no, you didn't, then. -Ed.], as her work in past Roos melodramedies The Opposite of Sex and Happy Endings is a major component of why I consider her the most talented actor from Friends (a dubious distinction, but nonetheless not necessarily what anyone would've guessed from the first season of Friends). I also assume Natalie Portman, playing the "other woman" who lures a man away from his first wife and then loses their child together, is up to par here, because she usually is, even though this movie sat on the shelf for awhile and is only receiving a cursory IFC theatrical release to cash in on Portman's awards attention (and/or not detract from it by going straight to DVD). Of course, Smiley Face got the same treatment, and that movie is some kind of pot-comedy genius. I assume The Other Woman is not pot-comedy genius, but if you're hanging around the IFC Center for Cold Weather or Kaboom or this weekend's midnight showing of Anaconda (truth!) you can check in on some movie stars, too (although: Anaconda has plenty of those). [Also: An anaconda! -Ed.]
Sanctum: It seems like it's always the Australians advocating spending your leisure time at the bottom of terrifying, deadly caves. This movie has James Cameron egging them on and doing it in 3-D, and seems like the kind of meaty genre fare that might benefit from the showmanship of the format at its most acceptable. But the Australians-in-caves genre reminds me of Dave Barry's imagined recruiting slogan for becoming a "hardy mariner" in the past: "Become a hardy Australian cave explorer: get lost and die!"