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'Chronicle,' 'Project X,' 'John Carter': Weekend must-See movies

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John Carter

According to the Hollywood calendar, the summer blockbuster season never really ends. Instead, one derivation of summer fades into another one, with a neverending string of action movies starring sad-eyed meatheads and 3-D cartoons featuring characters who will someday star in a nostalgia-baiting Super Bowl commercial.

Fortunately, we’re moving out of Bargain Summer — when franchise dreck like Underworld and Journey 2: The Myst2rious Isl2nd own theaters — into the season which you could call Junior Varsity Summer, when Hollywood releases films that aren’t quite big enough for summer, but by gum, they’ll try their best. Most of these movies are bad, but who says bad movies can’t be interesting? That’s why the most important movie to see in theaters this weekend is:

1. John Carter

The reviews have not been kind for this sword-and-space-sandals adventure. Our own Owen Gleiberman gave the film a D and said that “There is hardly a moment in John Carter that isn’t stamped by the generic spirit of franchise filmmaking.” Indeed, the sheer amount of hubris behind John Carter is breathtaking, and there’s probably a great movie to be made out of the years-long game of corporate telephone which resulted in the production of a quarter-billion-dollar movie based on an unknown century-old property — a film which stars an unproven TV actor and was marketed variously as Gladiator With Muppets and Go Go Super Jump Man Go! Watch it so you can ponder where everything went wrong.

2. Friends With Kids

Oh, so you say you want to enjoy a movie unironically, a movie based on the simple charms of human beings interacting and not the slightly more complicated charms of having your eyes torn out by digital effects? Then go check out the new romcom from Kissing Jessica Stein writer Jennifer Westfeldt about a gang of white people with enough money to invent elaborate new ways to raise children. Also, this film may mark the post-postmodern revival of Megan Fox as a comedienne.

3. Silent House

I’m a total nerd for long unbroken takes in movies, which is why Rope is my favorite Alfred Hitchcock movie and Children of Men is basically my favorite movie ever that wasn’t directed by Michael Mann. The new horror film Silent House follows the Olsen triplet around a spooky house, apparently without any editing. From the directors of Open Water.

4. Project X

A found-footage movie about a house party that becomes semi-apocalyptic, Project X serves as a healthy reminder to everyone that high school was a lot of fun for probably everyone who wasn’t you.

5. Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie

Depending on your perspective, Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim are either the most brilliantly dadaist self-deconstructing comedy act since Monty Python… or they represent a form of meta-meta-meta-anti-comedy so far removed from actual humor that their movie is essentially a snake that ate its own tail and then vomited itself up and took a bath in its own vomit-corpse. Put that on a poster!