Movie Beat – 10.05.12

Butter – It was Julia Child’s favorite ingredient, it is the best thing to use when sauteing, and everyone is terrified of what it does to our arteries: butter. Here I was spreading it on my toast all this time! I had no idea that butter sculptures were a thing, but that is why we go to the movies, to learn something new. Butter is about a local butter sculpting contest, dominated by the local housewives, and a youngster who discovers her hidden talent. How wonderful it is to realize one’s true potential. Stars Jennifer Gardner, Ty Burrell, Oliva Wilde, Rob Corddry. Available in limited release from The Weinstein Company starting Friday, and various On Demand as well as Amazon Instant. Pair with the documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi and you will never look at food quite the same way.

Fat Kids Rules the World – Listing these movies in alphabetical order might lead one to associate Butter with Fat Kid, but let’s stop it there. This is actor Matthew Lilliard’s first feature film and it was funded using Kickstarter. Based on the young adult novel from KL Going, Troy (Jacob Wysocki) is an overweight and depressed teenager. Troy decides to end it all, steps in from of an oncoming bus, and is miraculously saved by local guitar player, Marcus (Matt O’Leary) . Curt recruits Troy to be his drummer in their punk rock band, and they form an unlikely friendship, one that lets Troy find his voice and roar. Curt also has his own brand of problems and Troy is there to help him. Thank God for chance encounters. In limited release  from Arc Entertainment on Friday.

Flight of the Butterflies – This is a short one, but if it’s anywhere near you, seek it out. The monarch butterfly takes one of the longest migration paths and it does it to place it’s has never been before. Dr. Fred Urquhart is the brains behind this discovery and it took him over 40 years to discover all the butterflies hiding places during the migration. Nature in it’s untouched state can create a general sense of awe, and if a butterfly doesn’t then the cinematography from Peter Parks certainly will. Written by Mike Slee and Wendy MacKeigan, directed by Mike Slee and shot using IMAX cameras as the butterflies migrate from Canada to Mexico. A sight to behold. Limited engagement from SK Films begins on October 1st.

Frankenweenie – First was ParaNorman, then Hotel Transylvania, and now to complete the Halloween animated trifecta, comes the best of the three, Frankenweenie. Based on Burton’s own short film from 1984, Frankenweenie is an homage to Universal Horror Films of the forties and fifties. The film is in black and white and, naturally, available in Disney 3-D. Considering that most of the creature features of the 50s were also in campy 3-D, this one might just work very well. Victor Frankenstein is a good boy, a little bit weird  but that doesn’t mean he isn’t a good boy. His beloved dog is hit by a car and rather than accept it that everything dies, he decides to reanimate him. It is nice to see Burton returning to his imagination for a film, and not just another Johnny Depp vehicle. Vocal performances from Catherine O’Hara, Martin Short, Martin Landau, Winona Ryder, and Christopher Lee. Opens wide from Disney Friday.

The Oranges – In suburban New Jersey, Orange Drive is home to two families, The Wallings and The Ostroffs. They are the closest of neighbors but they are about to get a whole lot closer when daughter, Nina Ostroff (Leighton Meester), comes home from college and starts an affair with Dad, David Walling (Hugh Laurie). The usual comedy of errors and affairs plays out and everyone has a good laugh in the end. Excellent cast includes Oliver Platt, Allison Janney, Adam Brody, Catherine Keener, and Alia Shawkat. Written by Ian Helfer and directed by Julian Farino. Limited release from ATO Pictures on October 5th.

The Paperboy – Two things have become very clear in cinemas these past few months: Matthew McCounaghy is an excellent actor when given the right material (Bernie, Magic Mike, Killer Joe), and repressed sexual perversion doesn’t bode well for anyone (Compliance, Killer Joe, The Master). The Paperboy continues both of those trends, and director Lee Daniels follows up his brilliant and harsh 2008 Precious with a story set in backwater 1960s South Florida. Charged with steamy sex, pulpy dialog, lots of accents that don’t quite hit their mark, and violence that erupts instantly. Film noir addresses the demons within us, and Daniels is excellent when it comes to exercising those demons on-screen. Let’s just hope that the performances don’t stand in the way. Starring: Matthew McCoughany, Nicole Kidman, Zac Efron, John Cusak. Limited release from Millennium Films on October 5th.

Taken 2 – In 2008, Taken took us all by surprise. Liam Neison proved to be a compelling and plausible action hero, the plot had not an ounce of fat on it, and it was start to finish an excellent and compelling thrill ride. It was so good, that people immediately clamored for a sequel. Looks like they got it, too bad. The villains from the first film are now after Mills (Neison) and his daughter (Maggie Grace) for revenge, and Mills must relied on his “very special set of skills” to save himself, his wife, and his daughter. A retread of the same territory of the first film, but it lacks the ability to surprise. That all being said, there are worse ways to spend 91 minutes of your life. Opens wide from 20th Century Fox on Friday.

Wake in Fright – Made in 1971 and considered a lost film for most of the past forty years, Wake in Fright is a terrifying Australian film that has been restored and released through DraftHouse for it’s fortieth anniversary. Directed by Ted Kocheff (First Blood) and starring Donald Pleasance, Wake in Fright strands a British schoolteacher in an Australian outback town, chronicling his descent into alcohol induced madness.  Brutal and elegant, a film as harsh as the landscape that it depicts. If you haven’t seen this, or haven’t even heard of this film, then I urge you to seek it out as it makes it’s trip across cinemas.

Wuthering Heights – From director Andrea Arnold (Fish Tank) comes a re-telling of Bronte’s classic tale. I don’t know how many films have brought Heathcliff (James Howson) and Catherine (Kaya Scodelario) to life, but Arnold does an excellent job putting her own mark on it, and bringing it into the 21st century. Limited engagements from Oscilloscope Films start on Friday.