At 40, Simon Pegg is too old to play Scott Pilgrim, the painfully ordinary 22-year-old bassist of the fledgling garage-rock trio Sex Bob-omb. Still rebounding from a painful breakup – he’s the dumpee – Scott finds an effusive “Scottaholic” in high-schooler Knives Chau (Ellen Wong), who soothes his tattered ego but otherwise fails to engage him. For all his affectations, he’s an aimless schlub.
Never mind the barely functional story line that provides a flimsy backdrop for Will Ferrell’s improvised riffs and Mark Wahlberg’s empty-headed rants in The Other Guys, the latest collaboration from Ferrell and Adam McKay.
Since teaming up after coinciding runs on Saturday Night Live – Ferrell as the show’s most charismatic star, McKay as its head writer – they have lampooned TV talking heads in 2004’s Anchorman and asinine adrenaline junkies in 2006’s Talladega Nights. Here, they target buddy-cop clichés, among them two rock-star detectives straight out of Michael Bay’s playbook.
Just a month remains before the September release of Casey Affleck's long-rumored documentary about Joaquin Phoenix's bumpy transition from the big screen to the recording studio. (The Oscar-nominated Walk the Line star reportedly aspires to rap.) You can try holding your breath in the meantime, but you'd be wiser to visit one of the city's lovely indie theaters, where the following fine films await you.
1. Rebel Without a Cause
Where: Castro Theatre, 429 Castro St., 415-621-6120
When: Aug. 6
It took him the better part of a decade, but producer Dean Zanuck, whose charming new drama Get Low opens this Friday, finally got his men.
After working with original screenwriter Chris Provenzano (TV’s Mad Men) for three years and eventually recruiting first-time feature director Aaron Schneider to the project, Zanuck, 37, grandson of the legendary Hollywood mogul Darryl F., reached out to Academy Award winner Robert Duvall, his first choice to play ornery hermit Felix Bush. Then he pressed his luck.
Meet Jack Rebney. You might know him already as the overheated RV pitchman whose colorfully profane outbursts during a 1988 ad shoot turned him into one of the Internet’s earliest stars, and lately the subject of Ben Steinbauer’s riotous new documentary, Winnebago Man.
Originally created from a series of outtakes by the RV video’s producers, his now-infamous YouTube debut earned Rebney an exaggerated reputation as “The Angriest Man in the World.” Mopping his sweaty brow, cursing the unseen flies swarming his prized Winnebago, he forgets his lines and loses his cool, unwittingly sharing his meltdown with the world.
Miguel Sapochnik’s love letter to American health care and the subprime lenders who felled the country’s economy takes us 20 years into a bleak, bloody future where artificial organs are sold at a premium ($600,000 for a synthetic heart) and reclaimed by knife-wielding thugs once clients default on their payments.
Remy (Jude Law) is one of those thugs, coldly carving up the hopeless saps whose bodies are essentially on loan from his employer, the Union Corporation. He is unmoved by the grislier aspects of his work, perhaps because he buys so readily into the company credo. “You’re not taking a life,” his boss (a smugly soulless Liev Schreiber) explains. “You’re keeping the Union viable so we can continue to give it.”
Late-breaking news: Midnites for Maniacs programmer Jesse Hawthorne Ficks will be hosting a must-see '80s marathon all day Saturday at the Castro Theatre, featuring Sylvester Stallone's criminally overlooked Nighthawks, Jean-Claude Van Damme kicking ass in Bloodsport, a pair of John Carpenter gems (a newly restored print of Big Trouble in Little China, followed by They Live), and a "secret midnite film" rumored to be none other than Hulk Hogan's No Holds Barred.
In nine seasons with the Cleveland Indians, Al Rosen slugged 192 home runs, twice besting all American Leaguers in that category, and, in 1953, came within a single percentage point of winning the sport’s coveted Triple Crown. If not for the broken finger he suffered in 1956, effectively ending his career, he might be a Hall of Famer today.
Rosen, 86, who served as president of the San Francisco Giants from 1985 to ’92, isn’t one to dwell on the past, noting that he would have stayed with the game if he was able to meet the lofty standards he’d set for himself. But he was happy to reflect on his playing days for Peter Miller's new documentary Jews and Baseball: An American Love Story.
What a disheartening spectacle we have in Dinner for Schmucks, the latest comedy since April’s Date Night to squander Steve Carell’s impeccable timing and frantic, Clouseau-like cluelessness.
For better and more often worse, we see in Barry, his latest on-screen buffoon, a character reminiscent of Michael Scott, the deluded desk jockey he plays on NBC’s The Office. Nearly paralyzed by his own stupidity, hopelessly oblivious in every aspect of his modest existence, Barry is a tragic figure, in part because of the pain behind his manic grin, and in part because he’s so easy to despise.
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