With choices of the Google film (aka The Internship) or the Michael Bay-produced horror film The Purge (read Steve Schneider for more on this) the only mainstream choices of new films to see in theaters this weekend, the best new movie ended up being the documentary Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer. As good as that sounds, however, it doesn't say much.
Because of its Special Jury Award win for "Punk Spirit" at Sundance earlier this year, A Punk Prayer was something of a let down, especially with all of its inside access to the band it enjoyed. While not a particularly bad film, it's just not a particularly good one. It's less informative than a blog piece (ahem), and lacks a rounded, well-researched throughline to unite the various thoughts and ideas put forth in the film. The directors seemed to get sucked into the media and celebrity circus that surrounded the case and, like Occupy Wall Street, the initial ideals that were the driving forced behind the band (or the performance art) become lost in the din of shutter clicks and girls in balaclavas shouting into their webcams for all of YouTube to see.
The film is anchored by the personalities of Nadia, Masha and Katya, the three members who were arrested, but performs only a minor biography on them before settling in for an almost formal court procedural that the directors compare to the Russian show trials of the 1930s, but they do it without any particular conviction. My feeling is that in 5-10 years, someone is going to make a legitimately good documentary about this dreadful farce that should have ended in a fine and a stern lecture (to which the girls should have rolled their eyes at), but the wound is still too raw to make for a good picture right now. Though Katya successfully appealed her sentence, Nadia and Masha remain in prison, something that actually makes the trial a bigger sham than when all three were in jail together.
News, links, etc:
-And who said there were no right-wing nut jobs working in Hollywood? Bit part actress Shannon Rogers Guess Richardson, from Texas (of course), was arrested for allegedly sending letters with rants about guns ("anyone who comes to my house will get shot in the face") filled with the poison ricin to President Obama and Mayor Mike. (FYI: no one was shot in the face during the arrest.) (NBC)
-A trip backwards through screen comedy to the silent era from 1949 by James Agee, one of the best film journalists (and a fair screenwriter too). (@Longform)
-The Entourage movie is getting closer to becoming a reality it seems. I've been watching some random episodes since I finally got HBO GO to work and it's still a terrible show, but the occasions where it was good it was actually really good. (THR)
-Can a Fables movie live up to the comic book? (i09)
-Well, it probably has a better shot than an Archie movie. (The Atlantic Wire)
-Juliet Lapidos to sequel complainers: Shut up, the Greeks did it too. (In fact "trilogy" comes from the Greek word "trilogia".) (NY Times)
-Do you want to watch a half hour documentary on the Coen Brothers' Fargo? You betcha. (Cinephilia & Beyond)
-The Student Academy Awards were announced this weekend. (The Wrap)
Trailers, posters, etc:
-The Aubrey Plaza sex comedy The To-Do List, with Bill Hader, Donald Glover and Alia Shawkat. (First Showing)
-Eric Bana and Rebecca Hall in Closed Circuit, a thriller from the writer of Eastern Promises about a bomb set off in London. (IndieWire)
-Kim Ki-duk will likely return to Venice a year after his controversial win for Pieta, with Moebius, a film so dark that it has, for all intents and purposes, been banned in South Korea. (Twitch)
-Another Day of Life, an animated feature about a renegade journalist from Poland. The rotoscope-esque animation looks fantastic. (Cartoon Brew)
-Maya Rudolph and Joaquin Phoenix on set of Paul Thomas Anderson's Inherent Vice. (AV Club)
-You can spoil The Man of Steel with this 13 minute preview if you want to, but I'm not going to. (Yahoo)