: For Labor Day weekend we get two thrillers in seemingly oppositional styles: Getaway
puts Ethan Hawke in a never-ending car chase to save his wife, while Closed Circuit
is the latest in Focus Features' series of vaguely European adult thrillers to end the summer and gross $30 million or so (past versions include The Debt
; The American
, and The Constant Gardener
), though Eric Bana and Rebecca Hall may not provide the requisite prestige needed to join its predecessors in the minor-hit club. Director John Crowley made the enjoyable and barely seen Irish comedy-drama Intermission
, though Closed Circuit
looks far more sober, maybe to its detriment. Getaway
, meanwhile, looks like it could be good-ridiculous; not quite Statham levels of Labor Day delight, but the kind of propulsive junk you'd wish you could watch at a drive-in. At very least, it promises a second film featuring a gun-toting Selena Gomez in a single calendar year; what an age we live in!
: Cineaste thriller fans, though, should be out seeing Brian De Palma's Passion
, finally getting a small theatrical release almost a year after its New York Film Festival berth, which I wrote about
last fall. It's also available, like most of this month's indies, via On Demand, but a De Palma movie, especially one with show-offy split screen sequences and crazy long takes, should be seen in the awkward, darkened theater. As I mentioned in my original review, Passion
is the pure De Palma palate cleanser he seems to make every 10 years or so, as needed. An official 2012 release would've made this more mathematically perfect, but fans of Raising Cain
(1992) and Femme Fatale
(2002) should nonetheless get excited.
and The Lifeguard
: Both of these limited-release indies utilize stars in need of better, fuller onscreen roles—longtime supporting player Kathryn Hahn in Afternoon Delight
; and Kristen Bell, the once and future Veronica Mars, in The Lifeguard
—for stories with multiplex-unfriendly levels of sex. Both movies treat (and show) sex like adults: Hahn fumbles around with her idling sexuality as a thirtysomething housewife who takes in a needy stripper (Juno Temple) for reasons she can't quite articulate, while Bell plays a 29-year-old NYC journalist who moves home to Connecticut, gets a summer job as a lifeguard, and winds up in a half-secret relationship with a teenager. Perhaps more importantly, neither succumbs to indie-level tee-heeing about its own sexual openness (which is to say: just because you can make your movie about porn or prostitution doesn't mean you'll be good at it!).
Afternoon Delight is more successful in translating that openness into a point of view; writer-director Jill Soloway has made a smart, funny glimpse into a California marriage/parenting bubble not unlike what Judd Apatow explored in This is 40. Like that movie, Soloway's flirts with unexplored privilege (she and her characters seem aware of how relatively easy their lives are, but still manage to take it for granted), but, also like Apatow, Soloway can find big laughs in natural-sounding conversations. Hahn is terrific; imagine the Leslie Mann role in an Apatow movie taking center stage, with more than a dash of the funny lady slacker routine that had a boom in 2011 (Kristen Wiig in Bridesmaids, Anna Faris in What's Your Number? and, most terrifying, Charlize Theron in Young Adult). The Lifeguard comes from a more middle-class vantage point, writer-director Liz Garcia has trouble sketching out the characters outside the 30-ish age range; Bell, Martin Starr, and Mamie Gummer all do decent work as reunited high school friends grappling with nostalgia (even if they have too much dialogue explaining that this is what they're doing), but crucially, both the teenagers and older parental figures are undermotivated. Both movies stumble into more melodrama than they need, but Afternoon Delight recovers while The Lifeguard doesn't have enough strong material to salvage.
One Direction: This Is Us
: What could be less appropriate than taking in a stripper or fucking an underage townie? Maybe, just maybe: anyone over the age of 14 going to see One Direction: This Is Us
. Actually, this documentary about the British boy group (let's stop saying "band," ok?) is also a for-hire project for Morgan Spurlock, affable investigator of actual news, human interest, lite news, and trends. Before the week is out, even the flop version of this movie will be the most-seen doc of Spurlock's career. I know people get on Spurlock for putting himself in front of the camera too often, but for real, I would violate the rule I just stated a few sentences ago and totally go see this movie if it was about Spurlock goofing around with the boys in One Direction
and maybe putting them up to some of his patented 30-day stunts. Come on: wouldn't you love to see Harry, Nigel, Binky, Blinky, and Tuffington live off of minimum wage for a month?