New in Theaters:
Sucker Punch

Zack Snyder’s latest fanboy valentine is more like a light, tapping slap than a sucker punch, if you must know. It tells us many things, none of them necessary. We learn that there are many potentially cool ways to mix up World War I battlefields, dragon-lurked fantasy castles, samurai, and out-of-control-trains, if all you’ve really got to worry about is special effects. Actresses in thigh-high stockings, miniskirts, pigtails, and midriff tops sporting high-end assault rifles will make for a killer poster. When an asylum feels compelled to double-advertise itself as being for the “mentally insane” (as opposed to what, the physically insane?), you can be assured that your stay there will not be pleasant. Scott Glenn does not have an inside voice…
 
Sucker Punch is playing everywhere, now. You can read the full review at Short Ends and Leader.

New in Theaters:
Making the Boys

Timing is everything, especially in the arts. The premiere of Mart Crowley’s groundbreaking play The Boys in the Band was perfectly timed at the crackling nexus of late-1960s liberated sexuality and drama. Its 1970 film version, though, had the bad fortune to open in the aftermath of the Stonewall riots, when people were less-interested in stories about (supposedly) self-hating gays. That’s the story, at least, that Crayton Robey’s thoughtful but slightly over-indulgent documentary tries with limited success to disprove…
Making the Boys opens tomorrow in limited release. You can read the full review at filmcritic.com.

Filmology:
March 23rd

“Leave your troubles outside.”
Today’s entry from Filmology is Cabaret (1972), Bob Fosse’s flawed, wicked, decadent and ludicrously catchy musical about dancehall girls and the death of the Weimar Republic. Plus Liza!
My book, Filmology: A Movie-a-Day Guide to a Complete Film Education, is now for sale in both paperback and ebook formats.

New in Theaters:
The Lincoln Lawyer

It’s been a long time since it seemed like Matthew McConaughey actually seemed interested in being an actor as opposed to a lanky shirtless grin for producers to hang a blond actress off of. With his new legal drama, he still doesn’t evince much interest in thespian pursuits – a few wry wrinkles of that taut brow and some sly, bourbon-dipped line readings do the trick, as per usual – but fortunately, some of the people sharing the screen with him do. With William H. Macy, John Leguizamo, and Bryan Cranston cutting in from the sidelines, the film is occasionally rescued from its overly-busy legal shenanigans, but the person best suited to do the job, its star, is more often than not missing in action…
The Lincoln Lawyer opened wide on Friday. You can read the full review at filmcritic.com.

Filmology:
March 16th

“He’ll be a typical intellectual, disagreeable and impotent.”
Today’s entry from Filmology is The Conformist (1970), Bernardo Bertolucci’s extravagantly creepy psychological thriller about Marxism, fascism, Freud, and the violent currents of repression and 20th century European authoritarianism.
My book, Filmology: A Movie-a-Day Guide to a Complete Film Education, is now for sale in both paperback and ebook formats.

New in Theaters:
Elektra Luxx

Things start promisingly in writer-director Sebastian Gutierrez’s comedy Elektra Luxx, in which self-important “sex blogger” Bert Rodriguez (Joseph Gordon-Levitt, thoroughly in on the joke) pontificates to his web audience about the apparently gargantuan sociopolitical import of the titular adult-film star. Bert lectures on Elektra Luxx’s oeuvre in an earnestly puffed-up manner, as serious as any film-studies major discussing the impact of the French New Wave, deflated only by the arrival of his annoying, exhibitionist little sister, and the bellows of his mother to take out the trash…
Elektra Luxx opens today in pretty limited release. You can read the full review at Film Journal International.

New in Books:

Swamplandia!

As untrustworthy narrators go, the alligator-wrestling 12-year-old Ava Bigtree is one of modern fiction’s finest. While not a purposeful liar per se, she retains the dubious fact-from-fiction separating abilities of any child her age. This is a point that becomes more perplexing the deeper one plunges into the depths of Karen Russell’s wonderfully overstuffed, scaldingly funny, and frightening debut novel…
Swamplandia! is on sale everywhere. You can read the full review at PopMatters.

New in Theaters:
The Adjustment Bureau

A quasi-theological chase flick that nearly transforms into a full-blown romance, Bourne Ultimatum scribe George Nolfi’s writing/directing debut bucks the trend of Philip K. Dick film adaptations by not emphasizing the brain-snapping paranoia of his work. Instead, Nolfi takes an approach that’s both lighter in tone and yet more substantive in its core story than mind games like Minority Report and Total Recall. There’s little in the way of dark shadows or bloodshed, but at the same time, the entire world is at stake…
The Adjustment Bureau opens wide tomorrow. You can read the full review at filmcritic.com.

New in Books:
Hot: Living Through the Next Fifty Years on Earth

The twisting tug of alternate strategies for dealing with the not-so-slow motion catastrophe that seems ready to engulf human civilization is one that threads through Mark Hertsgaard’s lively, surprisingly hopeful treatise but is never quite resolved. That is as it should be, and not just because the proponents of each camp have such potent arguments in their favor. This is also due to the fact that climate change has advanced to such an alarmingly dangerous state that we as a race no longer have the luxury of choosing between strategies – we’re going to have to use all of them, and hope that it will work…
Hot is available now pretty much everywhere. You can read the full review at PopMatters.