Welcome to another edition of Defamer Attractions, your regular guide to what's new, noteworthy and/or nightmarish this week at the movies. Today we hold our noses for the aromatic opening-weekend duel of Get Smart and The Love Guru, crack open the L.A. Film Festival catalog for a bit of a desperately needed counterprogramming, and handpick a few fine new DVD's for the agoraphobes among us. As always, our opinions are our own, but as long as they don't involve Manoj Night Shyamalan's box-office viability, they're also without peer.
WHAT'S NEW: For the second consecutive week, a pair of critical underachievers square off at the multiplex. But while the noisy, mostly terrible Get Smart is something of a masterpiece compared to The Love Guru, we expect both to lock in for decent opening frames; estimates below $40 million seem conservative for Smart, and Guru, almost-unilaterally loathed as it is, will still pull around $22 million from teenagers not knowing any better. Watch out, though, for Kit Kittredge: An American Girl, the first film based on the popular doll brand; opening in limited release in markets featuring American Girl stores, this will eventually pull every 10-and-under girl (and her mother) into a theater near you.
Also opening: The Santa Monica parking ticket romance Expired and the arranged-marriage-in-London drama Brick Lane.
THE BIG LOSER: We may not actually have one this week, though were taking early wagers on The Love Guru's second-week plunge. We'll even sweeten the deal: Winning bets on anything less than 70% pay double!
THE UNDERDOG: The first weekend of the L.A. Film Festival offers a pretty diverse assortment of programming — and, alas, quality — but we'd be derelict in our underdog-reporting duties if we didn't single out the tiny, riveting Thai entry Wonderful Town (Saturday at 7 p.m., AMC Avco 4). Aditya Assarat's story follows a big-city architect dispatched to oversee a luxury hotel project in the ruins of the 2004 tsunami; culture clash and doomed romance ensue to ultimately shocking degrees, but Assarat's handle on melancholy (as well as the rich, hazy inland landscapes) thwarts the potential for melodrama. This will likely return in limited release from its distributors at Kino, but why wait? Plus it will make you that much cooler when eventually recommending it to latecoming friends.
FOR SHUT-INS: New DVD's include Michel Gondry's sweding buddy picture Be Kind Rewind, the must-not-have Mashew McConauhdgrl/Kate Hudson collaboration Fool's Gold, Alison Eastwood's mildly underrated directing debut Rails and Ties, the Martin Lawrence offering Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins, and Grant Gee's extraordinary, anecdote- and interview-heavy rock documentary Joy Division.
So are you getting Smart this weekend, or are you sucking it up for 100 minutes with Guru Pitka? Any LAFF recommendations we should take in? Will Be Kind Rewind be more ironic than ever on DVD? Be honest! Share your plans, and look us up if you're planning a Westwood festival sojourn.