This weekend, action movie maestro Roland Emmerich rains hellfire -- and a colossal budget -- on America once again with his new disaster flick "White House Down." As in "2012," "The Day After Tomorrow" and "Independence Day," the vulgar auteur tears up, blows up and otherwise destroys Washington D.C. in a barrage of massive set pieces in which Channing Tatum must navigate POTUS (Jamie Foxx) to safety. Those who take guilty pleasure in Emmerich's work may enjoy the spectacle, but that depends on how much brain tissue you're willing to leave at the door. Unforgivable gaps in logic, and vacuous military babble, make "White House Down" an Emmerich flick to miss. Unless you want to check out Tatum's ability to survive anything.
Likely to be one of the biggest movies of the summer is "The Heat," Paul Feig's follow-up to "Bridesmaids." This first female buddy cop comedy features smart women doing outrageous things as Sandra Bullock makes a welcome return to physical comedy as an uptight ambitious FBI agent encroaching on the territory of foul-mouthed Melissa McCarthy as a messily anarchic local Boston cop. Hilarity and pratfalls ensue as team up to take down a drug lord. Amid a summer slate full of male-oriented dumb-coms and bromances, this escapist fun offers welcome relief.
The best specialty film opening in select cities is 24-year-old Quebecois filmmaker Xavier Dolan's three-hour "Laurence Anyways," an unlikely love story in which the title character's sudden transition into transsexuality challenges an otherwise invincible romance. The lovers in turmoil are Laurence -- a sensitive and humane portrayal by Melvil Poupaud -- and Fred, played by Suzanne Clement, whose exuberant performance, recalling Kate Winslet's in "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," nabbed her a best actress prize at Cannes Un Certain Regard in 2012.
Take a look at this week's releases below, and watch trailers after the jump.
Laurence Anyways Dir. Xavier Dolan, Canada | Breaking Glass Pictures | Cast: Melvil Poupaud, Suzanne Clement, Nathalie Baye | 79% Fresh | Slant: "It takes cojones for a filmmaker to chase Fassbinder's ghost, but it takes heart and talent to damn near catch up with it." | Indiewire's interview with Dolan here.
The Heat Dir. Paul Feig, USA | 20th Century Fox | Cast: Sandra Bullock, Melissa McCarthy, Tony Hale | 60% Fresh | The New York Times: "The volatile chemistry between Ms. McCarthy and Ms. Bullock is something to behold, and carries 'The Heat' through its lazy conception and slapdash execution." | Our TOH! writeup from CinemaCon.
Byzantium Dir. Neil Jordan, UK | IFC Films | Cast: Caleb Landry Jones, Gemma Arterton, Sam Riley, Saoirse Ronan | 59% Fresh | New York Magazine: "As is Jordan's wont, romanticism finally trumps horror, which might leave nihilist genre fiends unsatisfied. For others, these female vampires will bestow the kiss of life." | Indiewire's favorable review here.
I'm So Excited! Dir. Pedro Almodovar, Spain | Sony Pictures Classics | Cast: Antonio Banderas, Penelope Cruz, Paz Vega, Carlos Areces | 55% Fresh | Village Voice: "'I'm So Excited!' is characterized by a distinct brand of unsuccessful yet ambitious storytelling, the kind often found in minor works by major masters." | Our LA Film Festival story, review and interview.
White House Down Dir. Roland Emmerich, USA | Columbia Pictures | Cast: Channing Tatum, Jamie Foxx, James Woods, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Richard Jenkins | 49% Rotten | The Hollywood Reporter: "An action thriller that doesn't know when to quit. For the most part, though, it remains preposterously entertaining." | Our TOH! review and roundup.