Five Films Opening This Week You Might Not Know About But Probably Should
Space Station '76
Each week new movies open in New York theaters by the dozen. The Voice reviews all of 'em. Here are some you might not have heard about that got our critics excited:
Michael Nordine raves about Fort Bliss, Claudia Myers's drama about a soldier (Michelle Monaghan) returning to the states after a long deployment -- and now feeling shut out of her own family.
"She'll tell the commanding officer who wants to send her back to Afghanistan that "I love my son and I love my country and I don't think I should have to choose between them." A simple wish, yet also an apparently impossible one that Monaghan expresses beautifully. "
Fort Bliss is one of our critics' picks this week, as is John Curan's Tracks, also a female-led drama of the sort that's too rare on big screens these days. This based-on-life story concerns a woman's 1977 walk across Australia. Mia Wasikowska stars, and our Zachary Wigon reviews:
"The the film's strength derives from how Wasikowska makes Davidson's seemingly suicidal need to journey relatable. Here is a woman who wants something even more rare in 2014's world of perpetual connections than in '77: privacy!"
Simon Abrams celebrates Walter Ericsson's 's celebration of hand-in-pants auteur Joe Sarno, whom Annie Sprinkle calls "the Ingmar Bergman of porn." On Friday, Ericsson's doc A Life in Dirty Movies opens at the Anthology Archives, which also is screening some of Sarno's striking and emotional '70s softcore flicks. Abrams writes:
"Ericsson's focus on Sarno's marriage is striking since Sarno himself, then 89 years-old and a month away from death, focused much of his energy on a never-realized return to the softcore pornography he mastered in the 1970s. Sarno's work is generally unexamined here but presented in an uncritically positive light. For example, Sarno objects to hardcore porn, but doesn't acknowledge that he spent the decades since his artistic peak taking checks for penetrative smut like Screw the Right Thing."
Nordine also pans too-familiar baseball comedy 108 Stitches (not opening in New York but available on demand), about a losing team banding together to save their stadium:
"The problem with this scenario is that our protagonist and most of his asshole teammates prove no more worth rooting for than the one-dimensional villain they're up against. Said she-devil is clearly meant to recall the soulless owner of the Cleveland Indians in Major League, but 108 Stitches isn't even in the same league as Major League: Back to the Minors."
Finally, I struggle with Space Station '76, a high-concept dramatic comedy that looks like Wet Hot American Summer in space but actually plays out quite differently:
"Director Jack Plotnick's debut mines the '70s not just for an aesthetic of kitsch but also a narrative mode: Imagine an Updike novel set in the pinwheeling station of 2001, a valium-in-the-void take on marital blisslessness."
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