Friday movie roundup – Aug. 14

It’s a very busy weekend for new movies, and guess what? They’re all worth seeing! In August, which is often a poo month! It’s like I’m living in a cuckoo clock!

“District 9,” a much buzzed-about sci-fi thriller about a slum full of aliens (the extra-terrestrial kind) in Johannesburg, turns out to be good but not great, really losing its steam in the second half. It has some very cool moments, though, and the beginning is terrific.

“The Time Traveler’s Wife” (review at, meanwhile, is an excellent date movie, with romance for the ladies and a dash of sci-fi (and not too much weepy romance) for the gentlemen. The novel it’s based on is fantastic, by the way.

Then there’s “Ponyo,” the latest insane animated offering from Japan’s Hayao Miyazaki (“Spirted Away”), about a little fish-girl who becomes human and befriends a little boy. Visually, the film is colorful, imaginative, and whimsical. Story-wise, it stalls here and there. Still, take the kids and let ’em revel in the glorious weirdness.

And what’s this? “Bandslam” (review at Cinematical) a PG movie aimed at teenagers, is intelligent and doesn’t pander to them? It’s like I’m living in a second cuckoo clock inside of the first one!

In limited release, you should look for “In the Loop” (review at a sharp, hilarious political satire from England that examines the internal workings of government in London and Washington. For my review (I gave it an A), I kind of wanted to just list my favorite quotes from it. It’s brilliant. Go watch it.

Finally, a comedy called “The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard,” starring Jeremy Piven as a desperate auto salesman, was duly screened for critics … but at the same time as “Time Traveler’s Wife,” so I had to Sophie’s Choice that mofo.

(Oh, and I reviewed a Hollywood’s Shameful Secret from last week, “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra.”)

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