Movies

Top One Movie of the Week

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Our critics choose from Resident Evil: Afterlife, The Virginity Hit, I'm Still Here, The Romantics, and Heartbreaker.

Joaquin Phoenix, I'm Still Here

Resident Evil: Afterlife

ANDREW: Holy shit! Still more Resident Evil? How is that even possible? The "characters" in the first movie were so generic that I had to come up with mental tricks just to keep track of them: let's see, there was the star (Milla Jovovich), a cool black guy with a shaved head (who, naturally, got offed fairly early), a bland Latino guy, a bland white guy, a bland white guy with a slightly deeper voice, Michelle Rodriguez, and another bland white guy who turned out to be a traitor. (Or, wait, maybe the traitor was the white guy with the slightly deeper voice?) And yet, for all its deficiencies as drama, the film had some nice zombie action and a cool music-video sheen, while Jovovich was so beautiful shooting big guns in a teeny dress that it was hard to look away. Possibly because series auteur Paul W.S. "Not P.T." Anderson didn't direct it, the action was even better (and I could actually tell the characters apart) in the sequel, Resident Evil: Apocalypse, but after the apocalypse (which usually means, y'know, the end), came Resident Evil: Extinction, and now Afterlife — all together now — in 3-D! The fact Anderson is once again in the director's chair gives me all the reason I need to skip this latest installment, but maybe the thought of Jovovich kicking undead ass with Ali "Whipped Cream Bikini" Larter is an offer you can't refuse?

SCOTT: Well, when you put it that way… but no, actually I'm having a hard time coming up with a compelling reason to see this Resident Evil in theaters when I can catch one or another of its predecessors seemingly any hour of the day or night on cable. In fact, I did give the previous installment a shot, mainly because it featured a post-apocalyptic Las Vegas, which is my idea of quality entertainment… except in this case. So since Afterlife can't even offer me the prospect of zombies shuffling down the Vegas strip, I'm inclined to pass.

The Virginity Hit

SCOTT: I suppose no movie year is complete without at least one raunchy boner comedy about teenagers trying to lose their virginity — and in fact, there's another one due next week (Easy A with Emma Stone) if this one doesn't grab you. I don't begrudge each new generation it's own Porky's or Last American Virgin, but that doesn't mean I have any interest in sitting through it. But perhaps the twenty-first century twist — that our young hero's friends plan to videotape his sexual awakening and post it on YouTube — intrigues you?

ANDREW: Well, it was probably a little more intriguing the first time around, back when Jason Biggs' failure to lose his virginity hit the internet in American Pie. Of course, what made that particular scene funny wasn't the webcam humiliation but Biggs' goofy charm, a quality that doesn't seem much in evidence in the trailer for The Virginity Hit. I mean, maybe I'm missing something, but are we really supposed to root for the guy who secretly tries videotaping sex with his girlfriend so he can post it online without telling her? On the other hand, comedy mavens Adam McKay and Will Ferrell are among the film's producers, so maybe the film is worth a look. Plus, for the second time in three weeks I get to mention the comically monikered Huck Botko, who serves as one of the project's writer/directors.

I'm Still Here

ANDREW: But no matter how funny Botko's mockumentary turns out to be, I'm still way more fascinated by Casey Affleck's actual documentary (or is it?) about… whatever the fuck Joaquin Phoenix was doing when he grew that crazy Amish beard and went all Crispin Glover on Letterman last year. The premise is that the Oscar-nominated actor quit acting to pursue a rap career and Affleck chronicled the transition — although considering all the kooky antics reportedly captured in the film (including a nocturnal Cleveland Steamer and, of course, lots of terrible rapping), I'm calling shenanigans on the whole thing. (And whether or not the sexual harassment charges filed against Affleck turn out to be justified, or just some kind of icky publicity stunt for this bizarre project, remains to be seen.)

SCOTT: Like you, I've assumed all along that I'm Still Here is some kind of hoax, although my new theory is that Affleck set out to earnestly chronicle Phoenix's transition from acting to rap, then decided to play up the "is it real or fake?" angle when he realized what a train wreck he had on his hands. Either way, I'm much more interested in the result than in watching zombies losing their virginities on YouTube.

The Romantics

SCOTT: Sadly, this is not a biopic of the '80s New Wave band responsible for the eternal presence of "What I Like About You" on classic-rock radio, but rather the story of seven old friends with an "incestuous dating history" who gather for the wedding of two members of the group — an event that doesn't necessarily thrill everyone involved, given that bridesmaid Katie Holmes is still in love with groom Josh Duhamel. The trailer attempts to convey a certain whimsical indie charm, with limited success as far as I'm concerned, but maybe the surface resemblance to one of your all-time faves, The Big Chill, holds some appeal for you?

ANDREW: I will admit a special fondness for the whole "gang of pals" genre, especially now that my own personal gang has scattered from here to Hong Kong and is rarely together anymore except on Facebook. From The Big Chill, Four Weddings and a Funeral, and Swingers, to Dazed and Confused, American Pie, and The Hangover, such films tend to offer funny and/or relatively relatable paeans to friendship while tossing together interesting ensembles of actors. Unfortunately, I can't say I'd be particularly interested in hanging out with the dull, pretty cast of The Romantics, a seemingly blander group than even the Young Republicans of St. Elmo's Fire — and it's not like the real-life versions of those rich, pretty people would invite me to their stupid wedding anyway.

Heartbreaker

ANDREW: So, instead of romantics, maybe we should go with heartbreakers instead — professional heartbreakers, in the form of a brother and sister who run a silly, high-concept-movie-plot business devoted to wrecking relationships. Star Vanessa Paradis is, of course, très ooh la la, but I think I'll wait until the inevitable American remake starring Will Smith or Katherine Heigl (and then, y'know, skip it again).

SCOTT: Gee, do you suppose there's any chance the heartbreaker and his intended heartbreakee will (gasp) fall in love with each other? I guess it's nice to be reminded that the French are just as capable of formula filmmaking as us Yanks, but that doesn't make me any more interested in this trifle. No, I'll be trying to puzzle out exactly what's going on with Joaquin Phoenix this weekend, so make my pick I'm Still Here.
 
ANDREW: Yeah, Affleck's whatever-the-fuck definitely seems like the cinematic event of the week. (Even if we can't discuss it with our gang of pals over beers afterward!)

The Top One Movie of the Week: I'm Still Here