Movie Meter: Michael Fassbender’s Papier-Mâché Head and Lemurs Win the Weekend

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Frank: There aren’t many actors of Michael Fassbender’s stature who would consent to star in a film in which he would have to wear a giant, papier-mâché head for its entirety, but I guess we’re just lucky to have him. Lenny Abrahamson’s wickedly funny film, about a young man who dreams of being in a band sounds every bit as fun and outrageous as the late actor/comedian Chris Sievey’s “Frank Sidebottom,” upon whose giant head-wearing alter ego this production is based. Rotten Tomatoes Score: 90%

Island of Lemurs: Madagascar: Not, in fact, another sequel from the similarly named popular animated series. Actually, this live-action documentary from director David Douglas is an IMAX treat, following a real group of endangered lemurs as they struggle to stay alive in the almost alien world of Madagascar, their adopted home. Narrated by Morgan Freeman, naturally, the film—a 39-minute, G-rated mini-doc—sounds both fascinating and necessary, and would make for a pleasant family outing, especially if your kids are nature lovers. Rotten Tomatoes Score: 77%

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7 Clues Netflix Doesn’t Know a Comedy From a Hole in the Ground

"I swear Netflix said this was supposed to be funny."

“I swear Netflix said this was supposed to be funny.”

Recently I was looking for a way to pass a rainy day and turned, as I often do, to Netflix. It then came to my attention that its “Comedy” section includes some questionable choices. You won’t laugh if you select any of these movies, but the fact that Netflix dubs them all comedies is kind of a joke in itself.

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Movie Meter: The Giver Disappoints, Go for Land Ho! Instead

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Land Ho!: (One of two exclamation-point films this week! Go figure!) Former brothers-in-law (Earl Lynn Nelson and Paul Eenhoorn), now well-aged, travel to Iceland together in order to call-back their wild and freewheeling youth in everything from Reykjavik nightclubs to the alien terrain of the raw Icelandic outback. This American indie film, an unmitigated hit at this year’s Sundance, promises poignant laughs in the appropriately throwback style of the classic road-trip comedies of an earlier era. Rotten Tomatoes Score: 75%

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THIS WEEKEND: The Giver‘s Brenton Thwaites and Odeya Rush at Cherry Hill Mall

Fans of all ages were invited to immerse themselves in the world of new book-to-film sci-fi flick The Giver, at a special event at the Cherry Hill Mall Friday. Guests took part in various activity stations, like spin art, hair-chalking, nail-painting, a candy bar, photo booth and contests by Wired 96.5.

After about an hour the film’s young stars Brenton Thwaites and Odeya Rush showed up to participate in a Q&A and meet-and-greet, where fans were able to get photos with the actors. During the Q&A, Thwaites and Rush admitted they hadn’t read the book before being cast, which brought groans from the fans—some of whom told me they read it twice.



The Giver opens nationwide on Friday, August 15, and is based on Lois Lowry’s beloved young-adult novel of the same name, which was the winner the 1994 Newbery Medal and has sold over 10 million copies worldwide. The film also stars, Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep and Taylor Swift. Check out the trailer below.

Movie Meter: Into the Storm Won’t Blow You Away, But It’s a Damn Fun Ride

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Into the Storm: Okay, so it’s another cataclysmic twister flick, but the CGI is impressively disconcerting, the cast is, er, amiable enough, and for those of us who like seeing a charcoal sky with thick, ominous clouds churning like whipping cream, there’s plenty of spectacle hear to admire. Don’t go expecting anything deeply moving, or essential, but for what it is, it gets the job done reasonably well. Rotten Tomatoes Score: 10%

More trailers and reviews after the jump

5 New Films You Should Stream Right Now on Netflix: Entire “Rocky” Catalog Available in August

So it has come to this, would-be blockbuster summer: You’ve spent all your big shells, the heavy casings. X-Men: Days of Future Past, Sex Tape, Godzilla, 22 Jump Street all lie spent and useless at your feet. With one last gasp (Guardians of the Galaxy, which is actually a whole bunch of fun) or two, we’ll be done with you at last and can look forward to movies actually intended for adults. But for now, here’s some good stuff you can go ahead and watch at home to tide you over.

Nymphomaniac: Volume 1: A young woman retells her story of a lifetime of intense sexual gratification to a man who rescues her from the street. Lars von Trier is the kind of director you either enjoy being challenged by or dismiss as a pretentious, sadistic boor. This film, which stars Charlotte Gainsbourg, Stacy Martin, Shia LaBeouf, and Stellan Skarsgard, features some of his signature agent provocateur material — a young woman with a serious daddy fetish having indiscriminate sex with a great deal of men in a variety of ways—but cuts it with many intellectual discourses on subjects ranging from fly-casting to obscure religious orders.

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Movie-O-Meter: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes Could Be the Summer’s Best Blockbuster

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Dawn of the Planet of the Apes: The improbable rise of the apes continues, both in the film’s narrative and in the minds of critics, who continue to swoon over this series, written by husband and wife team Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver. The brilliant chimp Caesar (played by Andy Serkis), a decade after the events of the first film, remains a shockingly convincing and sympathetic hero, a mightily conflicted Shakespearian protagonist stuck amongst war-monger apes and humans, alike. The film takes its sweet time to build to its shattering climax, also an anomaly in a season where most films—action or otherwise—are all too quick to try and appeal to a jacked-up audience’s fast-twitch ADD tendencies. Rotten Tomatoes Score: 94%

WAIT FOR DVD

Venus in Fur: A thoroughly striking film from the ever-controversial Roman Polanski, based on the Tony-winning Broadway play by David Ives. It concerns the extensive auditioning of a bedraggled actress (Emmanuelle Seigner, Polanski’s wife) by the director (Polanski doppelganger Mathieu Amalric) of a theatrical adaptation of the infamous Austrian S&M novel. The power dynamics between the couple—always a Polanski obsession—shift back and forth until the lines get sufficiently blurred to set up the film’s fascinating conclusive flourish. We suggest waiting for the DVD only because the nature of the production—two people in an empty theater, lashing out at one another—would likely play as well on a flat-screen as it would on a silver one. Rotten Tomatoes Score: 89%

Movie-O-Meter: Save Yourself From Transformers: Age of Extinction, Go See The Discoverers Instead

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The Discoverers: It’s been far too long since Griffin Dunne has had a role of sufficient significance. Sure, the After Hours star has maintained steady work, but in recent years he’s been more a TV pinch-hitter, blowing onto a set for a couple episodes and just as quickly moving on. This comedy from writer/director Justin Schwarz, making his feature debut, promises a more rewarding Dunne experience. He stars alongside John C. McGinley, and Dreama Walker as a beleaguered patriarch who takes his grown kids on a rambling Lewis and Clark reenactment adventure. Rotten Tomatoes Score: 85%

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TRAILER: Wilmington’s Aubrey Plaza Eats People in Life After Beth

aubrey plaza life after beth trailer

Wilmington native and Parks and Recreation star Aubrey Plaza goes zombie in her latest project, Jeff Baena’s Life After Beth. The film—due out August 15th—concerns a teenager named Zach (Dane DeHaan), whose girlfriend (Plaza) dies, and then comes back to life when her parents, the Bible-thumping Maury and Geenie (John C. Reilly and Molly Shannon, respectively), use a little magic from the Old Testament.

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