Twelve movies open today in the Boston area -- it's the kind of week where Wesley and I fall back exhausted in our corners and get sponged off by the trainers. So where to begin?
The mainstream stuff, I guess, which this week means "The Nanny Diaries." Disappointing, to say the least -- think "The Devil Wears Prada" with Laura Linney instead of Meryl Streep (acceptable), Scarlett Johansson instead of Anne Hathaway (not even close, surprisingly), and no Emily Blunt (fatal). How chicken is this movie? The heroine delivers her big, fiery you-can't-handle-the-truth speech to her employer on a videotape. At least Paul Giamatti delivers a big chunk of nasty as Mr. X.
"Mr. Bean's Holiday," starring Rowan Atkinson (above) as the silent little prat he has played on TV for years, gets a U.S. release months after opening in Europe. Either you love this guy or you wish the earth would swallow him alive. I thoroughly enjoyed the movie -- it ain't art, but it delivers the laughs in an airy, almost graceful fashion -- and, more to the point, my kids adored it. Fans of Willem Dafoe, who plays a meanie film director, may want to avert their eyes.
Some good documentaries are in town: "The King of Kong," about videogamers, and "The 11th Hour" -- more grim news on the global warming front. A portrait of artist "Alice Neel" and "The Cats of Mirikitani" at the Museum of Fine Arts.
On the fictional front, two excellent Hong Kong action flicks arrive at the Brattle: "Election" and "Triad Election," from Johnnie To. Julie Delpy writes, directs, and pairs herself with ex-boyfriend Adam Goldberg in "2 Days in Paris." There's a weird little Latino action-drama called "Illegal Tender," from the writer-director who gave us "Empire" and featuring Wanda DeJesus as a pistol-packin' suburban mutha. A movie about a 1857 Mormon massacre, "September Dawn," is playing in a few North Shore theaters where the distributor apparently hopes you won't see it (fans of Jon Voight in unconvincing facial hair will want to check it out). And Philip Baker Hall and -- so help me God -- the AFLAC duck starring in "Duck."
A weird weekend in other words: a last late-August exhale before the post-Labor Day serious season begins. Even the Harvard Film Archive has closed up shop for the duration. Someone there must be French.
About Movie Nation
ContributorsTy Burr is a film critic with The Boston Globe.
Mark Feeney is an arts writer for The Boston Globe.
Janice Page is movies editor for The Boston Globe.
Tom Russo is a regular correspondent for the Movies section and writes a weekly column on DVD releases.
Katie McLeod is Boston.com's features editor.
Rachel Raczka is a producer for Lifestyle and Arts & Entertainment at Boston.com.
Emily Wright is an Arts & Entertainment producer for Boston.com.
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Look for new reviews by Ty Burr and Wesley Morris at the end of each week in multiple formats.