Friday movie roundup – Sept. 8

It’s a rather slow week for movies, with three wide releases, one of them not screened, and none of them really stirring up much pre-release excitement.

The one I’ve seen is “Hollywoodland,” which turns out to be an excellent modern film noir about the mysterious death of George Reeves, who played TV’s Superman in the 1950s. Probably the most surprising thing about the film is that Ben Affleck, as Reeves, is remarkably good. Look at his last several films: “Surviving Christmas,” “Jersey Girl,” “Paycheck,” “Gigli,” “Daredevil,” “The Sum of All Fears.” What do they have in common? That’s right: They all suck to some degree. This guy’s bad films far outnumber his good ones, so it’s a thrill to see him do something so spot-on in “Hollywoodland.”

“The Covenant,” about teenage boys who are witches or some darn thing, wasn’t screened for critics. There was a promotional screening last night, but it conflicted with a screening of something more pressing, so I did not attend. I’ll get to it this weekend and post a review Monday-ish.

“The Protector” is the third new release, a Thai film starring Tony Jaa. If you have not seen Mr. Jaa’s other film, Ong Bak,” I urge you to do so at once. Jaa is an action star of stunning ability, and the big gimmick in “Ong Bak” was that he didn’t use any wires, stuntmen or CGI. Knowing that as you watch the film will give you a greater appreciation for his superhuman talents.

Anyway, “The Protector” is his follow-up (same director, even), in which he goes to Australia to rescue a stolen elephant or something. The important thing is, he kicks butt. Or so I assume. The film was screened, but it is being released by The Weinstein Company, which is one of the studios whose local publicist was bullied by Paramount into dropping me from its press list. As I have not yet found a suitable pair of dark glasses and identity-masking rubber nose, I was unable to sneak into the screening. Again, I’ll catch it this weekend and post a review Monday-ish.

(If you think it somehow wrong that I should put money into the pocket of a studio that banned me, rest assured that I will buy a ticket to something else and sneak into “The Protector.” They’re not getting my $8.50/$6.50 matinee!)