Friday, August 17, 2012

Your Weekend at the Movies: Summer's Last Gasp

Posted By on Fri, Aug 17, 2012 at 12:28 PM

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Sparkle: I interviewed co-star Carmen Ejogo for Brooklyn Magazine a few months ago about this movie, although I didn't have the chance to see it before talking to her. Now that it's screened, critics seem divided other whether its high-melodrama approach works or not. It does seem possible that this will be one of those movies where a less experienced acting upstart (Jordin Sparks, from American Idol) will receive more onscreen attention than characters played by the likes of Ejogo, Mike Epps, and Derek Luke. This is also, of course, Whitney Houston's final film, and bound to attract some attention for that unfortunate fact. Looking over her filmography, I'm surprised Houston didn't do more movies; she made three moderately-to-very successful movies in the middle of the 90s, and then nothing until this Sparkle remake, which will remain the only supporting/character part on her filmography. It would make sense if she had ramped up her movie career when it became clear that her voice was not going to stay in peak form forever, but I guess that's how it goes when you're a megastar: when you're hot, everyone wants you to do everything; later, no one does. Also: did you know Whitney Houston has a producer credit on the Princess Diaries movies?

The Odd Life of Timothy Green: This is a movie about parents who can't conceive but then they get a kid who comes out from the soil and has leaves on his legs; that is to say, it sounds like a short story from an eighth-grade literature textbook than a feature motion picture in 2012, but Disney must have some confidence in it because they started circulating trailers a year ago, like this was a must-see summer event. I'm tempted to see the movie just to figure out what kind of movie it is—or I would be, if it weren't, at absolute best, the seventh-most-interesting-looking movie coming out this weekend.

Compliance: By the same release-date mechanics dictating that this weekend is the last shot for a semi-big summer movie before the calendar turns to thrillers and horrors for a few weekends, this seems to be a the last big limited-release batch until mid-September, too. The loudest reactions, at least in the NYC area, seem to be coming not from the Cronenberg picture, but Craig Zobel's Compliance, a fact-based composite about a prank on a fast-food worker gone far, far in the direction of wrongness. I liked Zobel's last movie, The Great World of Sound; Compliance got more attention at Sundance than Sound did during its entire life so far.

Robot & Frank: In his review, Daniel Loria mentions that any mediocre film can be saved by adding a robot or a ghost. This makes me wonder what kind of a movie Ghost Dad was before the ghost component was added (marvel at the antics of Human Irritant!); it also does make me want to see Robot & Frank, supposedly a more naturalistic robot story, sort of like that movie Robot Stories, which I swear I am not making up. Along with Great World of Sound, this has been a big week for remembering movies that literally no one I know has ever seen.

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