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April 30th, 2010 By Jason Gargano | Movies |

Friday Movie Roundup: Good, Bad & Ugly

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A “re-imagining” of A Nightmare on Elm Street opens this week. Really? The original Freddy movie, which is now best known as Johnny Depp’s first big-screen role, not to mention its endless (and endlessly lame) sequels?

And onetime Bad News Bear Jackie Earle Haley, recently resurgent via memorable turns in Little Children and Watchmen, is playing the dream-invading, knives-fingered, ugly-faced bad guy? And Samuel Bayer — whose music videos for Green Day, Metallica, Nirvana, The Strokes and dozens of others are a cut above the genre’s typical fare — is making his feature directorial debut with this reheated piece of creatively vacant nonsense?

Things must be getting desperate in Hollywood.

Like the rest of our rapidly evolving, recession-cratered culture, the movie business is in a serious state of realignment. Fewer movies of every stripe — from the smallest indies to biggest Hollywood blockbusters — are being made. And of the few smaller (including a bevy of foreign) films that are greenlit, fewer still ever make it to a Cincinnati movie house.

All of which makes this a curious week — two of the four opening films are being distributed by indies. Anchor Bay, better known for its eclectic DVD releases, is behind City Island, a curious drama starring Andy Garcia in his first meaty role since probably Things to Do in Denver When You’re Dead.

Then there’s The Paranoids, Argentinean writer/director Gabriel Medina’s offbeat debut, which is being distributed by Oscilloscope Laboratories, a small company (founded by Beastie Boy Adam Yauch) whose track record includes stellar indies like Wendy and Lucy and Treeless Mountain, neither of which had a Cincinnati theatrical release.

Of course, the aforementioned A Nightmare on Elm Street and the even more heinous-looking Furry Vengeance, which features Brendan Fraser in yet another mind-meltingly stupid role, counterbalance the indie surprises.

Just when you think things are looking up in the beleaguered distribution landscape, the cynical Hollywood machine brings you back to earth. What’s next? A “re-imagining” of Howard the Duck?

Opening films:

CITY ISLAND — The good news of City Island is that Andy Garcia has a fine role in it and responds with a strong, likeable performance. The bad news is that it needs every ounce of Garcia’s considerable skills to (barely) rise above being arch, belabored and (mildly) sexed-up sitcom material. (Read full review here.) (Opens today at Mariemont Theatre.) — Steven Rosen (Rated PG-13.) Grade: C


FURRY VENGEANCE — Movies in which animals with computer-manipulated faces get involved in slapstick, groin-crushing, scatological mischief are grueling enough; throw in pretentious and hypocritical moralizing, and they become utterly insufferable. And this is family filmmaking! (Read full review here.) (Opens wide today.) — Scott Renshaw (Rated PG.) Grade: F


A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET — Music-video director Samuel Bayer makes his feature debut with this “re-imagining” of the ’80s horror original. Jackie Earle Haley plays Freddy Krueger. (Opens wide today.) — Jason Gargano (Rated R.) Not screened for review.


THE PARANOIDS — Argentinean writer/director Gabriel Medina’s offbeat debut centers on Luciano (Daniel Hendler), a thirtysomething loner who writes mediocre screenplays. (Opens today at Esquire Theatre.) — JG (Not Rated.) Not screened for review.


 
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