Mel Gibson Goes Crazy

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…in a movie. Plus, Natalie Portman in Thor, and a romantic comedy starring Kate Hudson.


Director: Kenneth Branagh
Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Anthony Hopkins, Stellan Skarsgard, Kat Dennings, Idris Elba

The summer of superheroes kicks off with this adaptation of the long-running Marvel comic about the god of thunder cast out of Asgard by his father Odin and forced to live as a human until he finds his mighty hammer again. Or something like that. Truth be told, Thor was always one of my least favorite superheroes, mainly because I couldn't relate to this big, blonde, funny-talking guy with the hammer on any level. I'm guessing director Kenneth Branagh does relate to him, however, and that he'll invest the legend of Thor with all the overblown pseudo-Shakespearian majesty he can muster. Exhibit A: Casting Anthony Hopkins and his mighty hamminess as Odin, the role he was born to play and, in fact, has played about a million times by now. The cast also includes Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Tom Hiddleston as Loki, and Natalie Portman as the overexposed actress who simply will not stop being in every single movie this year. I've learned to ration my intake of superhero movies carefully, so I'm striking this one from the menu.


Something Borrowed

Director: Luke Greenfield
Cast: Ginnifer Goodwin, Kate Hudson, John Krasinski, Colin Egglesfield

The title Something Borrowed is a risky one for a romantic comedy seemingly assembled from the spare parts of rom-coms past, including My Best Friend's Wedding, Bride Wars, and, well, just about every Kate Hudson movie ever made. Ginnifer Goodwin stars as the mousy gal who lets her vivacious best friend (Hudson, natch) steal the guy of her dreams (Colin Egglesfield), only to regret it later. John Krasinski is on hand as the wisecracking pal offering a shoulder to cry on. After last week's wall-to-wall Royal Wedding coverage, you'd think the public appetite for all things matrimonial would be at low ebb. But that never seems to be the case, so I'm pretty sure this will find an audience. I'm also pretty sure I won't be in it.


The Beaver

Director: Jodie Foster
Cast: Mel Gibson, Jodie Foster, Anton Yelchin, Cherry Jones

After all the Mel Gibson madness of recent years, many of you will refuse to see The Beaver on general principle. I can't really argue with that, but I can tell you that I caught the world premiere of Jodie Foster's latest directorial effort at SXSW in March, and left the theater pleasantly surprised. Not only is it not the complete catastrophe I'd been expecting ever since I confused the first trailer for an SNL skit, but it's actually moving at times, in its own strange way. The story of a depressed man who reconnects with his estranged family by communicating only through a ragged hand puppet, The Beaver struggles to find a consistent tone. What holds it together is Gibson's performance, which is at times as dark and rage-filled as those infamous phone calls from last summer, but nevertheless manages to evoke sympathy for the character's plight (if not for the actor himself). It's not perfect, but if you're looking for something off the beaten path crowded with superheroes and rom-coms, The Beaver is worth a shot.

The one movie you should see this week: The Beaver