Imagine E.T. recast as a low-rent comedy, conceived by the cheerfully profane Shaun of the Dead co-stars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, and you should have some idea what to expect from Paul, their first big-screen collaboration as screenwriters.
Absent the subversive touch of Edgar Wright, who directed and co-wrote Shaun (2004) and the pair’s buddy-cop parody Hot Fuzz (2007), Paul is a slighter diversion, as much a loving homage to geek culture as a gentle send-up of the genre’s lesser entries, including 1988’s Mac and Me.
Kate Beckinsale is rarely acknowledged as an action star whose credentials in the genre rival Sigourney Weaver’s, but she should be.
She held off wolves, vampires and assorted snarling lowlifes in Underworld (2003) and its underrated sequel, Evolution (2006). She forcefully avoided becoming the star of Frank Whaley’s next snuff film in the scrappy thriller Vacancy (2007). And early in Whiteout, long before she’s called on to tame a masked killer, she gamely hops in the shower, dutifully pandering to her male demographic.
No discussion of Avatar would be complete without mentioning its $230 million budget and the 15 years James Cameron devoted to making it. Fairly or not, such investments raise expectations: For Cameron, who directed The Terminator (1984) and Aliens (1986), and anointed himself “King of the World” upon winning 11 Oscars for 1997’s Titanic, anything less than a masterpiece might be branded a failure.
With festival attendance topping 60,000 and ticket sales up from the last two years despite a sluggish economy, Frameline 33, the oldest and largest celebration of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender films and filmmakers in the world, reached its conclusion Sunday with the world premiere of Wendy Jo Carlton’s Hannah Free. Now, there’s only one thing left to do: announce the winners.