Wesley got the big dogs this week. He says "Cars 2" is better than the original, though plenty of us thought the original wasn't all that awful. As for "Bad Teacher," I wouldn't call it loathsome, just an over-calculated, undercooked attempt to repot "Bad Santa" in a mainstream summer container. Doesn't really work -- for one thing, none of the characters make sense even as cartoons. For another thing, it's not that Cameron Diaz is unlikeable in the lead -- she's supposed to be unlikeable. It's that I didn't like not liking her, and that's a problem. But the movie has its crimped joys in the supporting cast, especially in scene-stealing performances from Lucy Punch, a British farceur who deserves better in both roles and movies, Jason Segel, and the eternal Phyllis Smith of "The Office." Note that I'm not including Justin Timberlake among this crew. Simple reason: He's not funny, at least not here.
A gaggle of interesting docs fly in under the radar: "Conan O'Brien Can't Stop" shows Brookline's best boy at a particularly trying time of his life -- early 2010, you may recall -- and is worthy for not idolizing him. "Buck" is about the real-life horse whisperer behind the book and the movie, and it's oddly touching as it contemplates a man so damaged he may not even think of himself as a human being. "The Last Mountain" depicts the effects of the mining industry on the people of Appalachia, while "Cameraman: The Life and Work of Jack Cardiff" surveys the films of the greatest color cinematographer who ever lived.
"Cameraman" is playing, appropriately, at the Museum of Fine Arts, as are "Armadillo," a documentary about Danish soldiers in Afghanistan, and "Queen of the Sun," about bee-colony collapse. At the Harvard Film Archive, the Bunuel retrospective continues with, among others, a big-screening showing of "Belle de Jour" (photo above), still impishly scandalous after all these years. On Sunday morning, the Somerville brings in the deathless film noir "Double Indemnity," a movie whose real-life roots are semi-fictionally explored (are we clear on this?) in a well-reviewed new book called "A Wild Surge of Guilty Passion."
One last thing: If you're in the area next Thursday and you care about local filmmaking -- and, no, I'm not talking about the latest Southie crime drama, a genre that recent developments may have killed off for good -- put a pin in the T map next to the Harvard Film Archive for its "Four Films from Young Boston" evening, a welcome event that spotlights three shorts and one feature from new area voices. I hear the production of one of the films almost resulted in the apartment of a local film critic being burned to the ground. Usually that happens after the review comes out.
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.
Take 2 reviews and podcast
Look for new reviews by Ty Burr and Wesley Morris at the end of each week in multiple formats.