Edgar Wright

(Photo by Adrienne Pitts)

I am a sucker for a great music documentary. If one is in front of me, I will watch it. And indeed I can watch films about pretty much any act or artist, whether I care for them or not. Sometimes the best of the bunch are about bands, singers, or genres that are not strictly my cup of tea. Sometimes they may revolve around someone I’ve never heard of. The skill is in the storytelling, and I watch music documentaries to be educated about the life of an artist and/or the cultural context of their work. Like the greatest narrative movies, the best documentaries can be funny, shocking, profound, thought-provoking, and sometimes life-changing. Out of a very long list, here’s 10 of my favourite music documentaries that I’ve enjoyed on multiple occasions. Turn these up to 11. – Edgar Wright, June 2021


Edgar Wright’s Guide to Music Documentaries


Julian Temple’s 2000 film on the short life and fast times of the Sex Pistols is, I think, the best music documentary of all time. Temple weaves in a dizzying amount of archive to give context to the hard times and bland culture from which the Sex Pistols emerged like a four-headed monster. It’s so brilliantly edited and conceived on every level, and all the talking heads (shot mostly in silhouette like people in witness protection) are brilliant — especially John Lydon and Steve Jones, who are unfailingly candid, profound, profane, and funny.

Penelope Spheeris’ snapshot of the music and excesses of the hair metal scene of 1980s Los Angeles is unforgettable. I haven’t seen it in a long time, but two images are burned into my brain. One is drunken WASP guitarist Chris Holmes sitting in an inflatable chair in his swimming pool being interviewed with his mother present and pouring a whole bottle of vodka over his head. The other is Paul Stanley from KISS being interviewed on a high angle over his bed, surrounded by half naked women. This documentary is rightly infamous, and while you might not want to be a part of this scene, it’s difficult not to get a contact high from the sheer ridiculousness of it all.

DIG! (2004)

89%

A great music documentary requires no previous knowledge of the subject, and I think a lot of people who became obsessed with Ondi Timoner’s 2003 film didn’t know a lot about the ups and downs of the Brian Jonestown Massacre and its mercurial frontman Anton Newcombe. This document of the rivalry between cult band The Brian Jonestown Massacre and their more popular colleagues The Dandy Warhols is a fascinating and highly quotable watch. It became something of the indie rock Spinal Tap as it was subject of much fevered discussion by every person who was in a band at the time.

A brilliant document of the unsung heroes of the rock and pop world: the backing singers. We all know the parts. Indeed they may be the only bits of the songs that one sings along to. But for the most part, session and back-up singers don’t get the glory of being front-of-stage. This film shines the spotlight on the women behind the songs we love: Darlene Love, Claudia Lennear, Lisa Fischer, Tata Vega, and Judith Hill. Most memorably of all, we hear Merry Clayton’s isolated vocal from The Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter,” and it’s spine-tinglingly powerful.

Stop Making Sense (1984)

100%

Okay maybe this is really a concert film, but it is a documentary of a band at the peak of their powers, and it also just happens to be the best concert film of all time. Jonathan Demme presents the band in such a formal fashion, building up first from singer David Byrne’s solo on stage to a full nine-piece ensemble, that the results are hypnotic. It draws you in rather than presenting a great concert at arm’s length. I think every concert film since has tried to copy or subvert this approach. It’s a magical movie.

Both This Is Spinal Tap! and the UK’s Bad News skewered the music documentary in the ’80s with pitch-perfect sketches of a rock band on the road. But here, Canadian rockers Anvil are very real. Former fan and roadie Sacha Gervasi (now a successful writer and director in Hollywood) reunites with the band 20 years on and shows their path back to the stage and an adoring audience. It’s impossible not to admire the journey of frontman Steve “Lips” Kudlow as he goes from delivering meals for children’s charities to being back in his natural habitat: commanding the crowd at a rock festival. Showing the tough but often funny path back from rock bottom, Anvil is an inspiring watch.

London pop trio Bros had an 18-month hot flash of success when they were the biggest thing since sliced bread. I wasn’t a fan back then — several of my female school friends were — but it was impossible to escape their songs and not get swept up in the teen hysteria. Then, as quickly as it had begun, it was over. This charming and hilarious documentary picks up 28 years after Bros’ chart-topping heyday and shows the fractious relationship between the band’s core members, identical twins Matt and Luke Goss. While their outlook on life is sometimes unintentionally funny, there’s a lot of real laughs too, not least an epic tangent about the banning of childhood game Conkers. There is also a real heart to the film, and it’s difficult not to be moved as they overcome tragedies and their differences to return to the arena for a comeback show. Highly entertaining.

Dont Look Back (1967)

100%

Many music documentaries try to recapture a time and a place, and a huge percentage of those that do are all working hard to evoke one particular decade – the 1960s. D.A. Pennebaker just happened to be in the right place at the right time when he covered Bob Dylan’s 1965 concert tour in England. Rather than try and capture the zeitgeist, Pennebaker just trained his camera on Bob Dylan and watched the scene whirl around him. An essential music documentary on every level.

Frances Whatley’s trio of Bowie documentaries – comprising this, The Last Five Years, and Finding Fame – are brilliantly comprehensive films detailing the greatest chameleon in rock. What’s extraordinary in this case is even though the documentary does not feature a new interview with David Bowie, his journey is told beautifully through many key collaborators whose insights are revealing and thrilling. As a fan, seeing musicians and producers such as Rick Wakemen, Tony Visconti, Carlos Alomar, Earl Slick, Gale Ann Dorsey, Nile Rodgers, and others break down the songs was just magical.

A wildcard for my 10th choice. This episode of Documentary Now! is the finest musical mockumentary since all-time classic Spinal Tap. Fred Armisen and Bill Hader brilliantly skewer the overly reverent approach seen in many a classic rock doc. It tells the saga of soft rock band The Blue Jean Committee and is clearly taking loving potshots at The Eagles and Chicago along the way. Having the likes of Cameron Crowe, Daryl Hall, Kenny Loggins, and Michael McDonald as themselves doing the talking head duties for a wholly fictitious band is the icing on the cake.


Edgar Wright’s own music doc, The Sparks Brothers, is in theaters on June 18, 2021.

Thumbnail image: ©Cinecom/courtesy Everett Collection, Adrienne Pitts, ©RADiUS-TWC/Courtesy Everett Collection

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It’s the first streaming column of the month, which means Netflix and Amazon Prime have released a ton of new releases. And, as usual, we’ve narrowed down the selection to just the Certified Fresh choices. See below for the full list, which includes a nice mix of classic Hollywood, recent hits, and beloved gems.


New on Netflix

 

Dear White People: Season 1 (2017) 95%

Netflix adapted Justin Simien’s provocative film into a TV series, focusing on various students of color at an Ivy League university as they navigate social issues and their collegiate lives.

Available now on: Netflix


Things to Come (2016) 99%

Isabelle Huppert delivers another powerhouse performance in Mia Hansen-Løve’s drama about a woman whose life is thrown into upheaval after her marriage falls apart.

Available now on: Netflix


Don't Think Twice (2016) 98%

Mike Birbiglia’s comedy focuses on the members of a New York improv group whose friendships are tested as they come to grips with individual success… or the lack thereof.

Available now on: Netflix


Anvil! The Story of Anvil (2008) 98%

Sacha Gervasi’s unique documentary charts the paths of Canadian metal band Anvil’s two founding members, who rose to prominence during the 1980s and then quickly faded into obscurity.

Available now on: Netflix


The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007) 94%

Mathieu Amalric and Emmanuelle Seigner star in Julian Schnabel’s true story of magazine editor Jean-Dominique Bauby, who was suddenly paralyzed by a stroke at age 43 but went on to write an astonishing memoir of his experience.

Available now on: Netflix


Southside With You (2016) 92%

Parker Sawyers and Tika Sumpter star as the young Barack Obama and Michelle Robinson in a romantic drama that follows the couple around Chicago on their first date.

Available now on: Netflix


Scream (1996) 79%

Horror icon Wes Craven’s subversive deconstruction of the genre is a sly, funny and surprisingly effective satire of slasher flicks that just happens to work pretty well as a slasher flick itself.

Available now on: Netflix


Trust (2010) 79%

Clive Owen and Catherine Keener star in David Schwimmer’s drama about a family torn apart when their teenage daughter falls victim to an internet predator.

Available now on: Netflix


Bridget Jones's Baby (2016) 78%

Renée Zellweger reprises her role as the titular singleton, who must figure out who the father of her child is after a pair of trysts results in a pregnancy.

Available now on: Netflix


The Daughter (2015) 77%

Geoffrey Rush and Paul Schneider star in this drama about the ripple effect that occurs within the community when a wealthy mill owner in rural Australia announces he’s shutting his business down.

Available now on: Netflix


Happy Feet (2006) 76%

Elijah Wood and Robin Williams lend their voices to this animated feature about an emperor penguin who overcomes his inability to sing by becoming a fantastic dancer instead.

Available now on: Netflix


New on Amazon Prime

 

The Wizard of Oz (1939) 98%

Judy Garland stars as Dorothy in this classic adaptation of the L. Frank Baum novel about a young girl who is transported to a magical land where some strange new friends help her to find her way home.

Available now on: Amazon Prime


Gone With the Wind (1939) 90%

Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh star in Victor Fleming’s multiple Oscar-winning Civil War-set romance about a selfish Southern socialite who catches the eye of a roguish opportunist from a wealthy family.

Available now on: Amazon Prime


Winter's Bone (2010) 94%

Jennifer Lawrence stars in Debra Granik’s drama about a teen living in the Ozarks who sets out to track her meth cook father after he skips out on the family.

Available now on: Amazon Prime


No Way Out (1987) 91%

Kevin Costner and Gene Hackman star in this thriller about a naval officer who is tasked with investigating the murder of the Secretary of Defense’s wife, with whom he had a brief affair.

Available now on: Amazon Prime


A Christmas Story (1983) 90%

Peter Billingsley stars in this holiday classic about a boy who holds out for the ultimate present — a Red Ryder BB gun — one Christmas in 1940.

Available now on: Amazon Prime


Florence Foster Jenkins (2016) 88%

Meryl Streep and Hugh Grant star in this lighthearted true story about the woman who famously became an opera singer despite her less than angelic voice.

Available now on: Amazon Prime


Life Is Beautiful (1997) 80%

Roberto Benigni and Nicoletta Braschi star in Benigni’s dramatic comedy about a Jewish father who concocts elaborate stories to prevent his young son from learning the truth when his family is imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp during World War II.

Available now on: Amazon Prime


American Honey (2016) 79%

Sasha Lane delivers a breakout performance in Andrea Arnold’s drama about a girl who sets out across the midwest with a traveling sales crew.

Available now on: Amazon Prime


New on FandangoNOW

 

I Am Not Your Negro (2016) 99%

This Oscar-nominated documentary takes a look at influential African-American writer James Baldwin’s life and sociopolitical legacy, focusing on an unfinished, unpublished manuscript Baldwin left behind when he died in 1987.

Available now on: FandangoNOW


The Salesman (2016) 96%

Asghar Farhadi’s Oscar-winning drama centers on a young Iranian couple whose relationship is tested when they are forced to move out from their apartment to the center of Tehran.

Available now on: FandangoNOW


The Red Turtle (2016) 93%

Studio Ghibli co-produced this dialogue-free animated film about a shipwrecked man who wakes up on a deserted island and befriends a giant red turtle.

Available now on: FandangoNOW

For those about to doc, we salute you! Because this week you’ll be joining the king of merciless cool, director Jim Jarmusch, whose new documentary Gimme Danger captures the raw power and influence of Iggy Pop and the Stooges. In addition, there’s Oasis: Supersonic, chronicling the ’90s rise of the Gallagher brothers/musicians/alleged potato. These movies serve as the inspiration for this week’s 24 Frames: Certified Fresh rock documentaries…and remember, a gallery like this goes to 11 (and by 11, we mean 27).

Arguably the most famous director in cinema history (and the auteur behind the recently crowned Greatest Movie of All Time), Alfred Hitchcock can’t be an easy subject for an on-screen biography. Beyond his larger-than-life persona, embodied by that famously corpulent silhouette, the man was also something of an enigma, an artist who preferred to devote his personality to thrilling audiences with the most popular entertainments of the day.

British-born director Sacha Gervasi has taken a shot at it with this week’s Hitchcock, which adapts — with some creative license — Stephen Rebello’s 1990 book Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho, while exploring the relationship between Hitch (played by Anthony Hopkins) and his wife Alma Reville (Helen Mirren), as he fights to make the thriller that would prove one of his biggest and most influential hits.

Gervasi, known for his hugely entertaining 2007 metal documentary Anvil! The Story of Anvil, called in to chat about Hitchcock, the challenge of taking on a movie icon, working with Hopkins, and separating the man from the mythology.

Read on for that interview, but first, he talks here about his five favorite films.

Withnail and I (Bruce Robinson, 1987; 93% Tomatometer)



Well I guess my first one has to be Withnail and I, the 1987 Bruce Robinson classic. You know, the plot is one that would get you laughed out of any Hollywood studio: Two unemployed actors go on a holiday, drinking, to one of their uncle’s cottages for the weekend; but it’s one of the most deeply rich, brilliant, tragicomic tales of male friendship. I actually remember seeing it when I was a kid, and walking out of the theater in London — and by the way, it did not do well at the time it was released; it was a tiny little film — but I remember thinking that I wanted to become a filmmaker after that.

Betty Blue (Jean-Jacques Beineix, 1986; 77% Tomatometer)



The second one is that incredibly brilliant movie Betty Blue, which I love because it opens with that incredible lovemaking scene with Béatrice Dalle. There’s just something so vivid and luscious about it. It’s just so beautiful and sensual in every regard and I absolutely love the film. I saw it recently and it’s just as brilliant. And the incredible soundtrack, you know. It’s just as brilliant as when I first saw it. Withnail and I and Betty Blue were both in the same period; they were both seminal cinematic experiences for me.

The Sweet Smell of Success (Alexander Mackendrick, 1957; 98% Tomatometer)



The Sweet Smell of Success is, I think, one of the best — certainly one of the greatest New York films, for me — ever made. Alexander Mackendrick, great director. Unbelievable script. James Wong Howe, unbelievable camerawork. And Tony Curtis and Burt Lancaster — to see those two going at it, and really, you know, the tragedy of corruption and how it infiltrates every aspect of peoples’ lives. There was something so deeply dark and cynical about it. But yeah, there’s this sort of tiny little germ of hope at the end of the film, as Susan walks off with the musician boyfriend that Hunsecker has tried to destroy, and you just feel like, you know, absolute power corrupts but not totally. Still, it has a vicious sting to it, that film. It really affected me.

Chinatown (Roman Polanski, 1974; 100% Tomatometer)



Obviously Chinatown. Seeing Nicholson with his destroyed nose [laughs], as Polanski is slitting his nose by the reservoir and calling him “pussy cat,” and all that stuff; and him and Faye Dunaway, you know, it’s just extraordinary. It’s one of my favorite movies of all time. It’s one of the greatest screenplays ever written. I’m a huge Robert Towne fan, and a Polanski fan. And it was great on this movie — on Hitchcock — to work with John Huston’s son, Danny. He had some stories about his dad. [Laughs] That Noah Cross character [played by John Huston], I think is one of the darkest villains in cinematic history. Every little detail of that film, you know — whether it’s Gittes choosing the cheap bourbon at the beginning, rather than the expensive stuff; every single touch, I think, was masterful. It has such brilliance, and poise, and ultimately humanity to it. And again, it’s a story of power, of big city power and corruption and how power and privilege can destroy people and families. That’s a theme in Sweet Smell of Success as well.

This is Spinal Tap (Rob Reiner, 1984; 95% Tomatometer)



The last one, for me, just in terms of comedy, is This is Spinal Tap. [Laughs] I mean, I love Spinal Tap. When I first saw it in 1984 I was the only person in the cinema at Swiss Cottage in London, and I didn’t know whether it was real or if it wasn’t. [Laughs] It was just so profoundly funny. I think it obviously inspired me personally, in a huge way. I would say that the movies that inspired Anvil! were a combination of Withnail and I and This is Spinal Tap. [Laughs]

That’s why Anvil! is so good, you see.

[Laughs] It really was those two movies I saw early on. I just love the pomposity and ridiculousness of being an artist and trying with absolutely no-one caring. [Laughs] There’s an inherent tragedy to it. It’s the same thing in Withnail and I, you know — the philosophical ridiculousness of it, of a thespian in crisis. No-one really cares. There’s something so deeply hard about being an artist, because most of the time no-one gives a sh-t. But there’s something very sort of tragic and uplifting and real about that. I think with Spinal Tap it also has the humor, you know — how these guys, who have grown up, are still basically children. That was something that I also responded to in Anvil! But you know, Spinal Tap — the original and best. There would have been no Anvil! without that film. The best part is having the two films play on double bills all over the world. [Laughs]

Did you ever meet those guys, Michael McKean and Christopher Guest?

Yeah, I did. I did, actually, and they were fantastic. They were very funny.

Now, did you know they were American actors when you first saw the movie? I didn’t.

I didn’t know it wasn’t real, but eventually I figured it out.

A lot of people were fooled, ’cause they made records and toured after that film.

Oh absolutely! Their second album, I believe, was called Break Like the Wind [laughs], which I think sums it up. And they had a video for a song called “Bitch School,” which I though was very funny.

They were genius.

They were genius. I just think it was ironic that I found the guys that were part of the reason that inspired movies like Spinal Tap — they were guys like Anvil. It was very similar, the Anvil story, to Spinal Tap — Anvil had songs like “Butterbutt Jerky” and “Whiteknuckle Shuffle.” You could never make it up. I remember being on the road with Anvil, as a roadie, in 1982, before Spinal Tap came out; so I was living that life, you know, as a young kid on the road with a rock band. So when [Spinal Tap] came out, it was like my holiday job was up there on screen.

So it’s no surprise that you thought Spinal Tap were real.

Exactly! I was the drum tech. I was the drum roadie for [Anvil’s] Robb Reiner. [Laughs] And again, the crazy magical connection between Anvil with Rob Reiner, obviously being the name of the director of Spinal Tap. So it’s like, it was just so meta. It was just very surreal. I’m still amazed to this day by that film.

Next, Gervasi talks about Hitchcock, how he approached the story of one of cinema’s most famous directors (and films), and working with Anthony Hopkins on the lead role.

 

Luke Goodsell: When you set out to do a movie like this, about one of the most famous — if not the most famous — directors of all time, what’s the most daunting aspect?

Sacha Gervasi: Well, I mean when you take on Hitchcock, at all — I mean, we were mostly telling the story of a relationship, but still, Hitchcock is the man — you know it’s gonna provoke some sort of controversy, because there were so many people talking about the book [Stephen Rebello’s Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho] and wanting it to be the film about the making of this movie [Psycho]. But that’s been done. That’s been done in the book, and Stephen Rebello himself was like, “I want a movie which is an entertainment for the audience.” So we made the conscious decision. I think we knew, though, that what we wanted to do — the intention of the film — was to pay tribute to not just this fiercely loyal and amazing wife [Alma Reville, played by Helen Mirren], but also this brilliant artist in her own right, who stood by his side throughout 54 years of marriage and this incredible career. I think for us, you know, it was really important to shine a light on that relationship and that incredible artist. And really show a little peek behind the curtain, of how hard it must be to live with a genius like Alfred Hitchcock and to deal with his crap — and playing a huge role. So for us I think it was a lovely thing to do — to take nothing away from Hitchcock, but also to acknowledge the unseen contributions that often are made to some of the great artists that we know.

LG: As he’s characterized here, Hitchcock often comes across as a big kid — he’s playing pranks, there’s the scene where he puts the corpse in Vera Miles’ dressing room…

SG: Right, yeah.

LG: I’m curious as to how you and Anthony Hopkins approached Hitchcock, to try and flesh him out — because he was a very impenetrable persona.

 

SG: Well, yeah, because he was so impenetrable he became so fascinating. I think what we really needed to do was to kind of explore what might have been in his psychology as he shot these movies, you know. So for us it was really a dramatic exploration, because there’s clearly a big fantasy element in the movie — as there should be in making a movie about Hitch; he was so enigmatic and fascinating that we couldn’t really do a documentary about that.

LG: It’s inescapable in the performance that we see Anthony Hopkins and his own rich history as an actor — it’s like a synthesis of their personae.

SG: Absolutely, and we wanted that intentionally to happen. We knew it was “Anthony Hopkins playing Alfred Hitchcock.” We [originally] had a prosthetic that completely covered him up, but there was no point when you have one of the greatest actors in the world and he’s got a big rubber mask on his face.

LG: There’s also, of course, the connection with the killer Ed Gein inspiring both Psycho‘s Norman Bates and, later, Buffalo Bill in The Silence of the Lambs. Did you and Anthony talk about that at all?

SG: Right, absolutely. I definitely think we discussed it on some level. I don’t remember it exactly but we definitely mentioned it.

 

LG: In your research for the film, was there something that surprised you about Hitchcock that you hadn’t known before?

SG: Yeah, the grocery bills.

LG: [laughs]

SG: The amount he spent was extraordinary. When we went to the Academy and researched his life, we saw all his incredible grocery bills. We found out he was having the food flown in from France and England, and the wines — they had a vineyard in Northern California. I mean, they lived incredibly well — even though their house, at a certain level, was quite modest, the way they lived was quite lavish and extraordinary. You have to admire Hitchcock. He grew up the son of a green grocer, so very humble beginnings, and he reached a point in his life where he was famous and powerful and could do what he wanted, and he loved the finer things in life. So if you’re Alfred Hitchcock and you want to have your food flown in from Maxine’s of Paris, then goddammit you go ahead and do it. [Laughs] The wonderful indulgence of success.

LG: You mentioned working with Danny Huston before. Did he relate any grand tales of his dad? Did the family have any relationship with Hitchcock?

SG: I think they did. I mean, what Danny said to me the other day was growing up with John Huston, he was always aware of the difference between the man and the mythology — and I think that’s what we tried to do in this film, to say there is a difference between the two. Mythology is largely the projection of other people, of what they want someone to be and what they hope they are; and I think for us it was important to tell the story of a man — a contradictory, flawed, difficult human being. It’s not good or bad, you know. He was both. And I think that was the exciting part, to show the complexity of the man. To me that only deepens and enriches your interest in the work, because you’re watching these movies — these brilliant movies — over and over again going, “Who is this guy? What drove him?” And I think we explored that without ever being able to answer it, and that’s a good thing. It needs to be as mysterious as ever.

LG: Do you have a favorite Hitchcock film?

SG: Yeah, Rear Window — because it’s unintentionally his most personal.

LG: That explains the many Rear Window references in your film.

SG: Yeah, there are about 10 references to other Hitchcock films in there.

LG: Were you conscious of maybe putting too many in, or did you just want as many as you could?

SG: We just put stuff in for fun, you know. Again, it’s a fun movie for an audience and we made that decision — and we’re really proud of it. That was really what we wanted, because remember — Hitchcock made movies for the audience, so we tried to be as fun as possible.


Hitchcock opens in a limited release engagement this week ahead of its nationwide expansion.

With Anvil! The Story Of Anvil hitting theaters, Steve “Lips” Kudlow & Robb Reiner of Anvil! stopped by The Rotten Tomatoes Show on Current TV to share their Five Favorite Rock & Roll Films.


This week at the movies, we’ve got a pop songbird (Hannah Montana: The Movie, starring Miley and Billy Ray Cyrus), a mall cop (Observe and Report, starring Seth Rogen and Anna Farris), and plenty of dragon balls (Dragonball: Evolution, starring Justin Chatwin and Chow Yun-Fat). What do the critics have to say?



[tomatometer]MuzeID=1207961[/tomatometer]

Hannah Montana: The Movie

Ok, let’s get this out of the way upfront: if you fall within the target demographic of tween girls, you’re unlikely to be swayed by what the critics have to say about Hannah Montana: The Movie. Still, the pundits say the film is unlikely to draw many converts — or parents — into Hannah Montanah’s orbit. Miley Cyrus stars as the titular hero, who alternates between a life of pop-star celebrity and a down-to-earth existence in a small town. But will success spoil her? Will she forget her Tennessee roots? The pundits say the movie is inoffensive and good-natured, but painfully thin in the plotting department and fails to capitalize on its star’s natural charisma and charm. It’s also several notches below Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert, which notched an impressive 70 percent on the Tomatometer. (Check out our interview with Miley’s dad, Billy Ray Cyrus, in which he tells us about his five favorite movies.)



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Observe and Report

What is it about mall cops that screenwriters find so hilarious? Observe and Report follows on the heels of Paul Blart: Mall Cop, but happily, critics say this time out the fledgling formula is more successful. Seth Rogen stars as Ronnie, a rent-a-cop who takes mall security very seriously. However, when a flasher starts trouble, Ronnie is on the case, hoping it will be a springboard to the police academy — and a relationship with a make-up saleswoman (Anna Farris). The pundits say Observe and Report is one of the weirdest — and creepiest — mainstream comedies in quite a while, an odd mix of sadness and hilarity that provides ample teeth-gritting chuckles. But some also note it’s very dark and occasionally cruel.(Have a look at this week’s Total Recall, in which we list Seth Rogen’s Best Movies.)



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Dragonball: Evolution

For non-initiates, the Dragonball universe (detailed in graphic novels, video games, and a TV seires) can seem all but impenetrable. But critics say that’s the least of its big-screen incarnation’s problems; of greater concern is that Dragonball Evolution is simply dull and generic. Justin Chatwin stars as Goku, a young martial artist who seeks training from Master Roshi (Chow Yun-Fat) after the evil Piccolo has slain his grandfather; Goku and Piccolo end up in a race to acquire the Dragon Balls, magical spheroids that grant wishes to their possessors. The pundits say Dragonball Evolution is a dull slog, with so-so special effects and little of the complex mythology that spawned such cult devotion to the books and the TV show.


Also opening this week in limited release:

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