Rotten Tomatoes is the most trusted source for what critics are saying about movies and TV shows. But why should we stop there? We’re proud to announce the imminent launch of RTArt — for the first time ever, we’ll be applying the Tomatometer to paintings!

Our Tomatometer scores will be based on the aggregated reviews of art critics from hundreds of sources, both contemporary and historic; the list includes reviews from newspapers, websites, magazines, stone tablets, scrolls, and oral histories.

We have a lot of great things planned for RTArt, and we plan to expand our coverage and add new features in the coming weeks. Since humans have been making art for more than 40,000 years, we’ve decided to focus on painting for the time being. If all goes well, we will start to assign Tomatometers to works from other artistic disciplines, including sculpture, photography, architecture, textiles, ceramics, graffiti, origami, and performance art.

Getting our art section up and running has been a massive undertaking. Each member of the RT staff has had to take extensive art history courses and become fluent in French, Latin, German, Arabic, and Japanese. Given that many older reviews aren’t online, we’ve had to travel around the globe to find original reviews; many were written in arcane languages and were printed on fragile materials. Hazards abounded: While searching for reviews for an Albrecht Dürer triptych in the basement of a medieval church in Fischland, Germany, editor Ryan Fujitani unwittingly awakened the spirit of a malevolent Saxon warrior.

Our beta launch is fast approaching, but we’ll be making some adjustments for a while, and we definitely value your feedback. So please take a tour through our virtual museum, and remember — you can’t spell “art” without RT!

When you visit the RTArt pages, here’s what you can find:
(Click on the image to see a full-size version)

Into the Wild, Sean Penn’s lyrical adventure about a young idealist on a cross-country trek, leads new DVDs this week. A controversial child artist (My Kid Could Paint That) and Halle Berry’s latest drama (Things We Lost in the Fire) round out the fresh releases, but it just goes downhill from there (Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium).


Into the Wild

Tomatometer: 83%

For those of us who’ve ever thought about just picking up and leaving the world behind, there is the real-life story about 24-year-old Christopher McCandless, who in 1990 donated his life savings to charity and set off on a cross-country odyssey to find himself. If you’ve read Jon Krakauer’s best-selling non-fiction book of the same name, then you know how it all turned out for McCandless, but here director Sean Penn crafts an epic, time-jumping adventure set against some of the most stunning landscapes in America. Emile Hirsch captures the hero’s restless spirit well as he tumbles in and out of the lives of strangers (including Catherine Keener, Vince Vaughn, and Hal Holbrook in an Oscar-nominated performance); Eddie Vedder provides original songs, including the Golden Globe-winning “Guaranteed.”

My Kid Could Paint That

Tomatometer: 93%

Art is always subjective, but especially so when it’s abstract — so how difficult is it to evaluate the random splatterings of a 4-year-old Picasso? Such is the debate within this acclaimed (and controversial) documentary by Amir Bar Lev, who gains intimate access with child prodigy Marla Olmstead and her family as Marla’s first works are sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Were Marla’s celebrated paintings true pieces of art? Did she even paint them herself? A commentary track and featurette appear in the bonus menu, but the highlight may be a 35-minute documentary on the notorious falling out between the Olmsteads and filmmaker Lev following the release of the film itself.


Things We Lost In The Fire


Tomatometer: 65%

When her husband is killed, a woman (Halle Berry) invites his drug-addled best friend (Benicio del Toro) to stay with her family in this English-language debut from Danish director Suzanne Bier. The Oscar-nominated filmmaker, trained in the experimental school of the Dogme95 clan, injects a European sensibility into her story of loss; don’t let shaky camera and jump-cuts dissuade you from taking in a pair of brave performances by the two leads.

Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium


Tomatometer: 35%

Despite the star power of its two leads, Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium, about a 243-year-old toy shop owner (Dustin Hoffman) passing the reins over to his doubtful assistant (Natalie Portman), failed to charm most critics. While perhaps a visually whimsical treat suitable for children, adults unfortunate enough to sit through director Zach Helm‘s flight of fancy might find themselves longing for other, better toy story fare. A spattering of behind-the-scenes featurettes and a paper airplane tutorial DVD-ROM round out the release.

Until next week, happy renting!

This week at the movies, we’ve got honeymooners (The
Heartbreak Kid
, starring
Ben Stiller
and
Michelle Monaghan
), teenage heroes (The
Seeker
, starring

Alexander Ludwig
), bookworms in love (The
Jane Austen Book Club
, starring
Maria Bello
and Emily
Blunt
), and fledgling rappers (Feel
the Noise
, starring

Zulay Henao
). What do the critics have to say?

For Rhode Islanders, the work of
Bobby and
Peter Farrelly has long been a source
of regional pride; their best work (There’s Something About Mary,
Dumb
and Dumber
) deftly combined taboo-busting, gross-out yucks with an
undeniable sweetness. So it breaks the heart of this Ocean State native to
report that their latest,
The Heartbreak Kid
, isn’t generating all that
much warmth with the critics. Based upon
Elaine May‘s 1972 semi-classic, Kid
stars Ben Stiller as a recently-married guy who quickly learns his new bride has
much more baggage than he bargained for; on his honeymoon, he meets Miranda
(Michelle Monhagan), who just might be the right gal for him. The pundits say
that while the film does contain a smattering of raunchy laughs, they seemed
shoehorned into the film, undercutting character development and any kind of
message. At 48 percent on the Tomatometer, this Kid isn’t alright. It’s
certainly a cut below the original (at 89 percent).




The Village People recruits its seventh member.


If a compelling, magical fantasy world is something you’re actively seeking,
critics say you may want to avoid
The Seeker
. Based upon the Newberry
Award-winning book series, The Seeker is the story of a 14-year-old who
discovers he’s the last in a long line of noble fighters dedicated to battling
an evil force called the Dark. (Uh, so was Thomas Edison, like, the greatest of
those warriors? Just asking.) Critics say The Seeker is several notches
below the
Harry Potter
films in terms of emotional resonance and
filmmaking quality, and underutilizes the talents of
Ian McShane and
Frances
Conroy
. At 25 percent on the Tomatometer, The Seeker may not be what
you’re looking for.




They seek him here, they seek him there, his clothes are loud but
never square.


If your sensibilities run toward action flicks, you are likely prejudiced
against light comedies about smart people and their relationship troubles. In
the case of
The Jane Austen Book Club
, the critics say you might want to
swallow your pride. The film tells the story of a group of six women whose book
club assignment is for each to read one of Austen’s novels; they soon find
events in their lives eerily paralleling the texts they’re reading. The critics
say that what could have been a bland exercise in chick-flick-dom is elevated by
an outstanding cast that includes Maria Bello, Emily Blunt, and
Kathy Baker;
each of the principals plays her part with intelligence and warmth. If you’re so
inclined, The Jane Austen Book Club‘s 72 percent Tomatometer should offer
ample persuasion to check this film out.




"Okay, so you take a left after Northanger Abbey, and a right at Mansfield Park…"



Critics weren’t allowed to come on and
Feel the Noise
, perhaps because
it’s either too wild, wild, wild for them to understand, or it isn’t all that
good. Either way, this tale of an aspiring rapper who finds love and redemption
in the Puerto Rican Reggaeton scene was not screened before hitting theaters.
You know the drill: Guess that Tomatometer!

Also opening this week in limited release:
Lake of Fire
,
Tony Kaye‘s
expressionist, evenhanded documentary about the abortion debate, is at 100
percent; Desert Bayou, a doc about the plight of African-American
Hurricane Katrina refugees in Utah, is at 100 percent;
My Kid Could Paint
That
, a portrait of an artist who’s a very young girl (and may not be solely
responsible for her highly-valued canvases), is at 100 percent;
For the Bible
Tells Me So
, a doc that explores the Good Book’s teachings on homosexuality,
is at 89 percent;
Kurt Cobain: About a Son
, an impressionistic look at
the life of the Nirvana frontman, is at 82 percent;
Michael Clayton
,
starring George Clooney as a corporate whistleblower, is at 81 percent (check
out our review from the Toronto Film Fest
here);
Finishing the Game, a
mockumentary about an attempt to complete
Bruce Lee‘s
Game of Death
after
his untimely demise, is at 50 percent; and
The Good Night
, starring
Gwyneth Paltrow in the tale of a romance that takes place in a man’s dreams, is
at 46 percent.




Trivia question: which of these men has been around the world, from London
to the Bay?

Recent Ben Stiller Movies:
——————————–
44% — Night at the Museum (2006)
52% —
Tenacious D In: The Pick of Destiny
(2006)
25% — School for Scoundrels (2006)
55% — Madagascar (2005)
69% —
Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story

(2004)

The deal floodgates opened today, with studios picking up "Clubland," "My Kid Could Paint That," "Waitress," "In the Shadow of the Moon," and "Joshua."

As previously reported, child painting doc "My Kid Could Paint That" sold to Sony Pictures Classics for just under $2 million ($1.85 million, to be precise). The film follows a kid whose paintings made her an abstract art celebrity, but whose parents might have orchestrated her success as a hoax.


"My Kid Could Paint That"

The NASA astronaut documentary, "In the Shadow of the Moon," also sold theatrically today to ThinkFilm for $2 million, while Discovery Channel nabbed broadcast rights. "Moon" will debut in 2007.


"In the Shadow of the Moon"

Shortly after its 11:30 am premiere, Adrienne Shelley‘s posthumous pic "Waitress" went to Fox Searchlight for "just under $4 million," according to Anne Thompson’s Risky Biz blog. The drama about an unhappily married woman in a small Southern town star Keri Russell and Nathan Fillion and will be released this year.


"Waitress"

Warner Independent nabbed North American rights to the Brenda Blethyn starrer "Clubland," about lovelorn kid in a showbiz family. The sale of this Australian pic is being called "one of the biggest sales of the festival."


"Clubland"

Also sold over the weekend was the family psychological thriller "Joshua," starring Sam Rockwell and Vera Farmiga as parents of a potentially sinister young boy. Fox Searchlight acquired the film for $3.7 million.


"Joshua"

Check out our full Fundance at Sundance coverage!

"My Kid Could Paint That," a documentary about a child whose abstract art has made over $300,000, is an orphan no more. The first intense bidding war of Sundance ’07 has ended with Sony Pictures Classics taking custody of the doc for just under $2 million dollars.

"We think it is a great movie that can play to a wide audience," said SPC co-president Tom Bernard, whose company is recieving world rights (while A & E gets limited broadcast rights). "The underlying story is a great one, and the way it is told is compelling."

According to The New York Times, "My Kid Could Paint That" director Amir Bar-Lev originally concieved his doc as a portrait of the art world. But after a "60 Minutes" exposé, the project transformed into an exploration of four-year-old Marla Olmstead, her art, and the possibility that it was all a hoax fabricated by Marla’s parents.

"The mother especially is a very sympathetic character and I couldn’t bring myself to believe that she was doing anything exploitive with her child," Bar-Lev said.

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