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


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%


If I Stay: Another star vehicle for the tireless Chloë Grace Moretz, whose relentless movie-production pace (by the end of 2014, she will have made a dozen films in two years) suggests either a grinding work ethic bordering on obsessive, or a young actress whose demanding parents are pushing her to the near breaking point. Whatever the case, this teen weepy concerns Moretz’ Mia, a young woman about to make a fateful decision between staying with her love or heading off to pursue her artistic dream. Then a violent car accident leaves her in a coma and floating around the netherworld of her life. We can only hope this allowed the actress ample opportunity to lie in a fake hospital bed and rest. Rotten Tomatoes Score: 43%

When the Game Stands Tall: You’d think Hollywood would have just about run out of inspiring high-school sports sagas, but no. Apparently movie makers scoured the annals and found out about legendary football coach Bob Ladouceur (Jim Caviezel), who lead his once-downtrodden football squad to win a national-record breaking 151 straight games. There is some tragedy at work here, as well, allowing the film to offer a substantial life lesson as to the handling of such events and fighting through them regardless. Incidentally, get ready for an inspiring over-blown claptrap from Disney concerning Philly’s own Taney Dragons a few years from now. And you can write that in permanent Sharpie. Rotten Tomatoes Score: n/a

Life After Beth: As Aubrey Plaza continues to seek out roles that allow her a bit more wiggle room than the steady diet of coldly sarcastic vamps with which she is regularly associated, it’s fascinating to watch an actress attempt to find another character-type beyond her present scope. Here, she plays the titular Beth, who plays a young woman who returns from the dead—either as a zombie or a resurrection, depending on who’s asking—in order to stay with her despondent boyfriend (Dane DeHaan). It’s a comic showcase for Plaza, but it doesn’t need to be experienced on the big screen. Rotten Tomatoes Score: 41%


Sin City: A Dame to Kill For: We mean, unless watching an unrelenting black-and-white noir dirge with cartoonish, extra-pulp characters really grabs you. For the record, we liked the first installment just fine for what it was, this one is really just tedious, and that’s even with an absolutely insane amount of nudity from Eva Green. Rotten Tomatoes Score: 50%

Are You Here: It seems as if it should at least be innocuous enough—an engaging cast, including Amy Poehler, Owen Wilson, and Zach Galifianakis, performing the kind of light dramedy with which they’ve repeatedly shown an affinity—but, instead writer/director Matt Weiner (creator of Mad Men) has actually managed to produce the worst film we’ve seen yet this year. It’s hard to track all the ways it goes horribly, horribly wrong. Its nonsensical plot, brutally inconsistent characterizations, clumsy humor all contribute, but there’s something else at work here: an arrogance to the entire production that merely trotting these character tropes out and following a barely conceived script will somehow equal entertainment. It destroys the entertainment. By the end, Weiner gives you a tiny hint that at least part of the film’s shocking unwatchability was, in fact, intentional. But even if the man went full-meta at the end and the whole film proved to be some kind of elaborate confrontational art satire, it still wouldn’t change the fact that it completely, utterly sucks. Rotten Tomatoes Score: 7%