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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

new this week in U.S., Canadian, and U.K. theaters: ‘Get Him to the Greek,’ ‘Splice,’ ‘Death at a Funeral,’ ‘The Brothers Bloom,’ more

U.S. AND CANADA/OPENING WIDE

Get Him to the Greek: Rock stars (ie, Russell Brand) are a mess, and the normal people who are their fans (ie, Jonah Hill) are only slightly less a mess. Such is the plight of humanity.

If you can’t make it to the multiplex, try:

Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008): Which introduced Russell Brand’s rock star Aldous Snow. Though you should fast-forward to his bits — which are few — and skip the rest.
This Is Spinal Tap (1984): For the best, funniest movie ever about idiot, overprivileged rock stars.
Almost Famous (2000): Because its naif peasant (Patrick Fugit) among rock royalty (Billy Crudup, et al) is a lot more sympathetic than Jonah Hill’s.
My Favorite Year (1982): It’s not about rock music but about television, and how a young writer’s (Mark Linn-Baker) encounter with a famous star (Peter O’Toole) turns out to be both less and more than what he expected.

Splice: What if Dr. Frankenstein were a woman (Sarah Polley), and had mommy issues? Because women are all about the mommy-ness.

If you can’t make it to the multiplex, try:

Frankenstein (1931): Might as well go straight to the classic that provided the inspiration.
Cube (1997): For a more more original, far more terrifying SF horror flick from director Vincenzo Natali.
Embryo (1976): Cheesy mad scientist Rock Hudson takes a fetus from clump-of-cells to rockin’-hot chick. Who is evil, of course.
Species (1995): Need more smokin’-hot mutant chicks? This one is part extraterrestrial, and all evil.
Marmaduke: Look, the dog talks, and it has Owen Wilson’s voice and attitude. I like Owen Wilson, and I was still horrified. Also: Lee Pace as Marmaduke’s owner is criminally misused. [trailer] review to come

If you can’t make it to the multiplex, try:

Marley & Me (2008): Because Owen Wilson gets to be a person, and Marley the dog gets to be a real dog.
Beverly Hills Chihuahua (2008): If you absolutely must have a live-action talking-dog movie that’s suitable only for kindergartners.
Pushing Daisies (2007-2009): Catch any episode of the sadly short-lived ABC series to see Lee Pace at his quirky, charming best.
Old Yeller (1957): It was probably a mistake for Marmaduke to explictly reference this classic weepy, because it only reminds us that dog movies for kids used to be good.

Killers: Katherine Heigl is just a girl, and doesn’t want to touch Ashton Kutcher’s nasty hard gun. [trailer] review to come

If you can’t make it to the multiplex, try:

Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005): This is what the screwball romantic comedy/hired killer movie should be.
Grosse Pointe Blank (1997): Or it could look like this. Extra hint: Ashton Kutcher is no John Cusack.
Legally Blonde (2001): If Katherine Heigl wants to get away with being a dumb blonde, she should study this flick — coincidentally also from director Robert Luketic — and discover that it’s about not actually being dumb at all.
Dude, Where’s My Car? (2000): For pretty much the only movie Ashton Kutcher and his dumb-brunet act have not been a detriment to.

U.S. AND CANADA/OPENING LIMITED

Ondine: Colin Farrell falls in love with a mermaid. Or does he? And is she even a mermaid? Neil Jordan needs to make up him mind… [trailer] review to come

U.K.

Death at a Funeral: No one can adequately explain why this movie — a Hollywood remake of a recent British film — exists.

If you can’t make it to the multiplex, try:

Death at a Funeral (2007): One of the funniest, laugh-out-loudest movies I’ve ever seen, and quite a wisely witty one about grief and family.
Nurse Betty (2000): For more farcical Neil LaBute, a wonderfully oddball flick about Renee Zellweger retreating into fantasy as a way of coping with horror.
The Station Agent (2003): For more of the amazing Peter Dinklage — who appears as the same character in both Deaths — here as an angry, lonely man who doesn’t realize he’s not so angry and lonely anymore.
Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994): A modern classic that explores life and love through the titular rites of passage.

She’s Out of My League: Dork gets hot chick… but there’s a really good reason for that, we swear.

If you can’t make it to the multiplex, try:

The Girl Next Door (2004): In which dorky Emile Hirsch pursues his neighbor, Elisha Cuthbert, who happens to be a porn star.
The Apartment (1960): For a dork-and-babe story with a classic sheen — Jack Lemmon’s nebbish falls for Shirley MacLaine’s cute ditz.
American Pie (1999): Covering all your genital-based-humor needs.
Shallow Hal (2001): If you think it’s hilarious that Jack Black doesn’t realize that his hot babe girlfriend (Gwyneth Paltrow) isn’t so “hot” after all.

The Brothers Bloom: Why has it taken this look for Rian Johnson’s con caper — one of the best movies of 2009 — to get to England?

The Killer Inside Me: Michael Winterbottom’s controversial adaptation of the novel about a serial murderer who gets off on making women suffer. Lovely.

Shrink: Kevin Spacey is the titular character, a Los Angeles psychiatrist with issues of his own (as you probably already suspected).


Where to buy/watch:
Almost Famous [Region 1/U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]
American Pie [Region 1/U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]
The Apartment [Region 1/U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]
Beverly Hills Chihuahua [Region 1/U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]
Cube [Region 1/U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]
Death at a Funeral [Region 1/U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]
Dude, Where’s My Car? [Region 1/U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]
Embryo [Region 1/U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]
Forgetting Sarah Marshall [Region 1/U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]
Four Weddings and a Funeral [Region 1/U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]
Frankenstein [Region 1/U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]
The Girl Next Door [Region 1/U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]
Grosse Pointe Blank [Region 1/U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]
Legally Blonde [Region 1/U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]
Marley & Me [Region 1/U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]
Mr. & Mrs. Smith [Region 1/U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]
My Favorite Year [Region 1/U.S.] [Region 1/Can.]
Nurse Betty [Region 1/U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]
Old Yeller [Region 1/U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]
Pushing Daisies [Region 1/U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]
Shallow Hal [Region 1/U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]
Species [Region 1/U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]
The Station Agent [Region 1/U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]
This Is Spinal Tap [Region 1/U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]



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