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You've got a lot of options for what to watch and how, and we want to help you plan your weekend with a new column where we'll highlight three things you can see in theaters, three things you'll find streaming, and three titles new to home video. Appropriately enough, we call this The Weekend Watch.
It's the calm before the storm.
Right around the corner now, summer gets started. There's something happening every weekend from now until September. This is it. For me, the summer started about a week ago when I saw "The Avengers," and I'm hoping to be able to write about that soon. I'm going to be writing up this summer's movies as they start screening, and I'm also planning to write about the Alamo Drafthouse "Summer Of 1982" films all summer long. Add that to the ongoing "James Bond Declassified" series, and you're going to have quite the reading list here this season.
So what's opening this weekend, when all the studios are just getting ready, revving up, preparing to unleash the things they've got planned for us? What's streaming? What should you be finding on Blu-ray or DVD?
IN THEATERS TODAY
Okay, so here's where I look at the list of films coming out today and realize… I didn't see one. Not a single movie that opens this week. I just plain missed them.
"The Lucky One"
I had to look it up to see who's starring in it (Zac Efron), who's releasing it (Warner Bros) and who made it (Scott Hicks!), and it simply somehow never made it onto my radar. When I brought it up to my wife tonight, though, she was absolutely aware of it, and she wants to see it. As soon as possible. I may end up paying to see the film because of how interested she is. I have to admit, it surprises me to see Hicks doing this. I think "Snow Falling On Cedars" really hurt him in his momentum. "Shine" was a pretty big announcement, a pretty specific kind of energy, and so far, he hasn't come close to that on his other work.
"Think Like A Man"
I'd like to know the backstory on why I've never heard of "Hurricane Season," the last feature that Tim Story directed, after he made two "Fantastic Four" films and the modestly charming "Barbershop." That was three years ago, and whatever happened with it, he appears to have had some time off, and he's back with something that looks more like "Barbershop" than his superhero stuff. It's not a straight adaptation of Steve Harvey's book, which is more like advice and relationship material. I'm curious to see if Kevin Hart's huge stand-up audience follows him over to this. I'm also curious to see if Chris Brown's personal baggage translates to an audience reacting in some way, recoiling from his presence in a romantic comedy.
This is the second film coming out this weekend that I am absolutely sure I'll be paying for in the theater before Monday. My kids love the ad campaign for this and the only reason we haven't seen it yet is because the screening was the same time as one of Toshi's baseball games.
I like that Disney is getting back into the nature documentary business. I grew up watching their True-Life Adventures all the time, and they made an impression on me. Good documentaries that encourage our kids to think about their place in the world… those are important. Those matter. And so far, Disney aspires to that sort of filmmaking with their Disney Nature series of films. I haven't loved these movies, but I like them, and I like what they represent.
Besides, if you see it this weekend, they give some of the box-office take to the Jane Goodall Foundation. And that's a good thing.
ALSO NEW IN THEATERS THIS WEEK: "To The Arctic 3D," "Darling Companion," "The Moth Diaries," "Marley," "Jesus Henry Christ," "Goodbye First Love," "Fightville."
ON STREAMING THIS WEEK
"Sleepless Night" (Amazon Instant/rental only)
You want to see a great action movie this weekend? This was one of the highlights of last year's Toronto Film Festival, and it's a gripping thriller with one of the best senses of action geography I've seen in a while. My full review is here, but I strongly urge you to see this before it gets remade, because it seems like it's being buried for the American market, a sad mistake.
"Marley" (Amazon Instant/rental only)
Yep, the same film that you can see in theaters this weekend (and, boy, is that release date a snickering weed joke that disrespects Bob Marley's musical legacy) is also available as a streaming VOD title today. Kevin Macdonald's documentary has the approval of the Marley family, so don't expect it to take any shots at his lasting reputation, but that should mean access to a wealth of material previously unseen, and I'll be checking this one out myself via my PS3 at some point this weekend.
"Chop Shop" (Netflix Instant)
Director Ramin Bahrani's look at life on the margins tells the affecting story of an orphan living on the streets, making his living off of abandoned and salvaged scrap, and watching him try to find a way to build a life for himself and his sister is a powerful experience, and was largely ignored when it was released in 2007. It's a great movie, and precisely the sort of film you should be using Netflix to discover.
ALSO NEW ON STREAMING THIS WEEK: Netflix - "Electric Light Orchestra: Out Of The Blue - Live At Wembley," "Please Remove Your Shoes," "La Cage Aux Folles," "Bob's Burgers: Season One," "Hulk Vs.," "The Invincible Iron Man," "Thor: Tales Of Asgard," "Ultimate Avengers," "Ultimate Avengers 2." Amazon Instant - "Underworld Awakening," "Worried About The Boy," "Penumbra," "Thin Ice," "Robotropolis," "Shame," Death Of A Superhero," "Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol," "Jesus Henry Christ," "The Divide," "Kevin Hart: Laugh At My Pain."
ON HOME VIDEO THIS WEEK
"Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol" (Blu-ray)
You'll have to go to Best Buy if you actually want any extra features on the Blu-ray, but even if you don't, you'll still end up with a great action thriller that proves once again that Brad Bird is, indeed, the bomb. I hope Tom Cruise hangs with this franchise forever, because so far, he's turned out two great movies, one movie I like a lot, and John Woo's worst moment. Not a bad batting average.
"Roger Corman's Cult Classics: The Nurses Collection" (DVD)
Shout! Factory does a great job with their double, triple, and even quadruple feature releases of drive-in movies, and this one is a trashy hoot, especially since you can get it from Amazon for less than twelve bucks.
"Buck Privates" (Blu-ray)
This was the breakthrough moment for Abbott & Costello as movie stars, and this special Universal Blu-ray release, part of Universal's 100th Anniversary program, is a startlingly good transfer. I had no idea this movie could look this good, and watching it with my kids, they were entertained greatly by the film's comedy and by the ktichen-sink approach to movie-making it represents, with musical numbers, a love story, and pro-WWII propaganda all jammed in together. I find it sort of amazing that there's a four-year-old in my house who would now consider himself an Andrews Sisters fan, but there you have it… the eternal appeal of Bud and Lou.
ALSO NEW TO VIDEO THIS WEEK: DVD - "7 Below," "The Asphyx," "Ernie Kovacs - The ABC Specials," "The Super Hero Squad Show: Vol 3." - Blu-ray - "Frozen Planet," "High Road To China," "IMAX: Born To Be Wild," "Operation Condor 2: The Armour Of God," "Roadracers," "Shame," "Treme: The Complete Second Season."
"The Weekend Watch" appears here every Friday.