Four documentaries, at least two of them worth your while evidently and Hollywood junk dominate this week's theatrical releases. Linkage on the docs is gathered here. There are also a few interesting events going on in a few cities, so let's start with those.
"Of the three directors featured in Anthology's show of rare Italian cinema," writes Nick Pinkerton in the Voice, Franco Brocani "is the 'pure' filmmaker; [Carmelo] Bene was a stage actor-director-theoretician-provocateur; Mario Schifano, a pop art painter (who Brocani pays tribute to in his documentary Schifanosaurus Rex). Brocani, Bene, and Schifano are grouped as friends and collaborators, and as the Italian Underground's truest independents, unaffiliated even with the Cooperativa del Cinema Indipendente - equivalent to New York's Filmmaker's Co-op." Today through Sunday.
Also: "Don't imagine that the Italian spirit of (over)-decorative art is long dead: Across town, Cinema Village is giving a first run to Roberta Torre's ratty 1997 Cosa Nostra musical, To Die for Tano." It's "an intentional burlesque, a mocking funeral for the gangster-as-tragic-hero." More from Christian Blauvelt (Slant), Mike Hale (New York Times), and Kevin B Lee (Time Out New York).
This evening at 92YTribeca in New York: Celestial Navigations: The Short Films of Al Jarnow, "which samples not only from the over 100 short films he created for Children's Television Workshop shows like 3-2-1 Contact and Sesame Street, but also from the vast and varied body of personal films and experimentations he created in his Northport, Long Island, home," writes Leo Goldsmith at Not Coming to a Theater Near You. Related online listening: Aaron Hillis's talk with Al Jarnow at GreenCine Daily.
The L Magazine's covering more goings on in New York: Benjamin Mercer on Werner Herzog's Lessons of Darkness and Andrew Schenker on Jayne Loader, Kevin Rafferty and Pierce Rafferty's The Atomic Cafe (1982), both screening at MoMA, and Miriam Bale on Basic Instinct, this weekend's feature in the ongoing Paul Verhoeven series at IFC Center.
"There is a lot of hurting in the family melodrama The Vicious Kind, and a lot of healing too," writes Manohla Dargis in the NYT. "An inquiry into the harm that men do to themselves, one another and of course women, the movie, which has been motoring on the festival circuit after its premiere at Sundance last year, is the second feature directed by Lee Toland Krieger, now 27. Mr Krieger, who also wrote the screenplay, has obvious ambitions and his film has a nice feel for life's quieter moments." At the Cinema Village.
There's a big John Hughes package in the new issue of Vanity Fair, out just in time for a weekend tribute to the late director in San Francisco. Michael Guillén is your guide.
And if you're in Los Angeles, do check in with Dennis Cozzalio, who has a walloping collection of notes, links, dates and times on this week's repertory fare.
"The title character in The Wolfman, an English squire turned actor turned howling, moonstruck lycanthrope, suffers from a vexing identity crisis, and so does the movie," writes AO Scott in the NYT. "Lawrence Talbot, the hairy hero, broodingly played by Benicio Del Toro, is torn between his human and his bestial impulses, and this new version of the 1941 creature-feature classic struggles to stay true to its pulpy B-movie roots while fulfilling the commercial imperatives of a modern, large-scale commercial entertainment."
More from Peter Bradshaw (Guardian), Roger Ebert (Chicago Sun-Times), John Gholson (Cinematical), Ed Gonzalez (Slant), Tim Grierson (Screen), Wendy Ide (London Times), Jonathan Kiefer (Faster Times), Shawn Levy (Oregonian), Michelle Orange (Movieline), Keith Phipps (AV Club), Matt Singer (IFC), Steven James Snyder (Techland), Dana Stevens (Slate), Jim Tudor (Twitch), Armond White (New York Press) and Stephanie Zacharek (Salon).
Inteviews with director Joe Johnston: Geoff Boucher (Los Angeles Times, where he also chats with Anthony Hopkins), Drew McWeeney (Hitfix) and Steven James Snyder (Techland). Drew McWeeney talks with Emily Blunt for Hitfix.
Guides to werewolves past: Dave Itzkoff (NYT), Susan King (LAT; photo gallery) and Kate Youde (Independent). Time Out London lists its "50 greatest monster movies."
"To be fair, February can be a difficult month, for moviegoing and for holidays," writes Jonathan Kiefer in the Faster Times. "And it probably was easier from the outset to make a good movie about Groundhog Day than to make one about Valentine's Day, which is really saying something. Still, Valentine's Day might at least have tried." More from Simon Abrams (Slant), Nigel Andrews (Financial Times), Peter Bradshaw (Guardian), Manohla Dargis (NYT), Roger Ebert (Sun-Times), Todd Gilchrist (Cinematical), Karina Longworth (Voice), Andrew O'Hehir (Salon), Mary Pols (Time), Nathan Rabin (AV Club), Joshua Rothkopf (TONY) and Dana Stevens (Slate). A list from Time Out New York: "Romantic versus antiromantic movies."
"Harry Potter knockoffs don't come more transparent and slapdash than Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, a wannabe-franchise jumpstarter directed by Chris Columbus with the same flat, crane-shot-obsessed aesthetic blandness that he brought to his first two Potter movie adaptations." That's Nick Schager in Slant. More from Roger Ebert (Sun-Times), Stephen Holden (NYT), David Jenkins (TONY), Tasha Robinson (AV Club) and Mary Elizabeth Williams (Salon).
Top image: To Die for Tano.
For news and tips throughout the day every day, follow @theauteursdaily (RSS).