Welcome back to Defamer Attractions, your regular guide to what's new, noteworthy and/or totally stillborn this week at the movies. For the second straight week, The Dark Knight has a legitimate challenger for box-office supremacy, while a smattering of other releases — including one of the year's best documentaries — reinforce this summer's unusually strong vintage. Even the latest DVD's are impressive. Who knew? So screw the Olympics and read on for the real must-sees; as always, our opinions are our own, but with 99.999996% accuracy, we wouldn't have it any other way.
WHAT'S NEW: Pineapple Express is exactly what we needed in our post-Dark Knight hype doldrums — an unapologetically puerile, profane, violent and really fucking funny stoner comedy that will provoke neither death threats nor over-the-top box-office chatter. That said, the two films will square off for No. 1, and frankly, these are the only Summer Games we're interested in. We alluded yesterday to Pineapple's striking opening-day take; its $12 million was the best Wednesday opening ever for an R-rated comedy in August (or some other ridiculous milestone), and Thursday's $6.2 million was a decent enough follow-up as well. We're calling our shot for a Pineapple upset, even if it has to cheat with a two-day head start: $29 million for the three-day and $47 million for the five-day, versus TDK's $26 million over the three-day frame. Take it to the bank.
We're also fond of Elegy, the sober Philip Roth adaptation that arguably features Penelope Cruz's best English-language performance; other new releases include the long-awaited (we think) Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2; the segregated Mardi Gras doc The Order of Myths, the historical wine-snob dramedy Bottle Shock; and the Anglo-Jewish-soccer-coming-of-age flick Sixty Six.
THE BIG LOSER: None, believe it or not — with no Kevin Costner or Eddie Murphy films on the docket, everyone and everything seems to be set for a good weekend.
THE UNDERDOG: To the folks down on the brilliant documentary Man on Wire because of its occasional reenactments and other genre-bending tricks: Fuck off. This chronicle of Phillipe Petit, the French daredevil who walked on a tightrope between the World Trade Center towers 34 years ago yesterday, is by any means a gripping drama of ambition, friendship and, in the end, the "artistic crime of the century." Director James Marsh splices new interviews into Petit's film and photo archives for a behind-the-scenes procedural every bit as astonishing as last year's No End in Sight — and obviously quite a bit more fun. We could go on all day, but just take the recommendation and run. It's brilliant stuff.
FOR SHUT-INS: This week's new DVD's include this year's Best Foreign Language Film Oscar-winner The Counterfeiters, the flatlining Heather Graham comedy Miss Conception, the Abigail Breslin/Jodie Foster effort Nim's Island and, shockingly not until now, Get Smart: Season One.
All right, your turn: Is this the week The Dark Knight goes down? And does it even matter with Tropic Thunder around the corner? Or are you more of a Traveling Pants follower? Be honest — we're all friends here. Call your shots!