By Katie Walsh | katiewalshwrites.com March 18, 2011 at 3:21AM
While the film cool kids kick around Austin at the SXSW festival, eating queso and barbecue and drinking 'ritas and tweeting about all the rad awesome movies they're seeing, we've got to console ourselves with the offerings at the cineplex this weekend. Fortunately, it's not all crap! We even get a SXSW treat in the form of "Paul," the Two Dudes and an Alien road trip comedy. Also in theaters: Bradley Cooper in the sci-fi pharmaceutical pic "Limitless," Matthew McConaughey returning to his courtroom roots in the "Lincoln Lawyer," and Sundance fave, Tom McCarthy's "Win Win."
Don't know if you guys have noticed that we've been reporting on "Paul," um, a bit. And with such delightful Brits Simon Pegg and Nick Frost to chat with, why not? Not to mention director Greg Mottola and co-stars Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader too. Our review says the film is, "a warm, consistently funny, thoroughly enjoyable ride," and that Seth Rogen, as the voice of the titular alien, is "more or less the film’s MVP." Rotten Tomatoes: 66% Metacritic: 53
With the insanity of SXSW on our plates this week, along with the regularly scheduled programming we need some of that mind-performance enhancing drug Bradley Cooper's sippin' on in Neil Burger's "Limitless." Robert DeNiro and Abbie Cornish costar in this exploration of the consequences of magic pills. Our review says, "As silly, strained, and slow as 'Limitless' gets, it’s engaging. Even if you roll your eyes, you won’t be able to look away." Some interesting popcorn fare, if nothing else, kids. RT: 63% MC: 58
Matthew McConaughey gets his legal talk on in "Lincoln Lawyer" this weekend as well. And we're just glad to see Matty returning to his breakout setting, instead of romping about the beach exposing his roasted pecs. He's representing a client of dubious innocence, which is ruined by the casting of Ryan "Pouty Douche" Phillipe. Of course he's guilty, just look at that face! And Ryan, you fine, but you need to get that personal life on lock. The film's getting some good notices today, so it could be the sleeper hit this weekend. RT: 83% MC: 64
In limited release:
Tom McCarthy's "Win Win" hits theaters, starring Paul Giamatti as a high school wrestling coach and the young kid he takes in who happens to be a wrestling champ. The film got great notices at Sundance and the trailer is positively, ahem, winning. McCarthy's also the helmer of the great "The Station Agent" and "The Visitor" so you can't go wrong with this flick. Who would have thought that terrible reporter from "The Wire" could make such good movies?! Amy Ryan, Jeffrey Tambor and McCarthy regular Bobby Cannavale costar. Our review from Sundance says McCarthy "has never balanced the heartfelt and the hilarious as well as he has here." RT: 92% MC: 76
Filmmaking heir Jordan Scott (of dad Ridley and uncle Tony) premieres her debut directorial effort this week. "Cracks" stars Eva Greene, Juno Temple and Imogen Poots. Our review says the film is "a unique mix that falls somewhere between 'Dead Poet’s Society,' 'Lord of the Flies' and 'Heavenly Creatures,'" and that Scott, "shows a natural instinct for letting the dramatic arc of the film unfold without any need to push or prod its flow, and frankly, is a bit refreshing to experience." RT: 41% MC: 51
'The Gift to Stalin" follows the story of a young boy who is displaced to Kazakstan from the Soviet Union and is determined to win a contest to meet Stalin in order to save his parents. Our review found the film overly sentimental and "too all-over-the-place, despite the occasional genuine moments and the impeccable art design."
On the documentary front, famed documentarian Patricio Guzman's latest effort about the natural wonders of the Atacama Desert, "Nostalgia for the Light" opens today. RT: 100% MC: 82 "Bill Cunningham New York" turns the camera lens onto the New York Times street style photographer, the delightfully charming and adorable Bill Cunningham. RT: 92% MC: 81
Also in limited release, Dutch WW2 film "Winter in Wartime" RT: 81% MC: 65; the story of the life of Somalian supermodel and UN spokeswoman Waris Dirie in "Desert Flower" RT: 44%; J.K. Simmons and Lou Taylor Pucci in "The Music Never Stopped" RT: 67% MC: 60; and the martial arts action comedy "The Butcher, The Chef and The Swordsman" RT: 50%