Welcome back to Defamer Attractions, your guide to everything new, noteworthy and machete-wielding at the movies. This week: Isla shops, Clive broods, Joaquin departs (we think), and pretty much everyone at Camp Crystal Lake dies.
WHAT'S NEW: Want it or not, Michael Bay's reboot machine has spit out Friday the 13th for a new generation — the one for whom the 1980 original's quaint, arrow-through-Kevin-Bacon's-throat charms no longer do the thrilling trick. And while director Marcus Nispel is likelier to perpetrate even more crude, quick cuts than Jason Voorhees himself, there's no denying he'll be rewarded with a No. 1 opening somewhere around $36.9 million for the long President's Day weekend.
Trailing a distant second will be Confessions of a Shopaholic, Isla Fisher's troubled, mildly anachronistic ode to
retail profligacy fiscal responsibility; it faces competition from He's Just Not That Into You, but should nevertheless ride its PG-13 counterprgramming boost to $23.9 million. Clive Owen rounds out the wide releases in the bank-intrigue actioner The International, which is tracking like shit but still has enough muscle to surmount Taken with $17.9 million and a top-five finish.
Also opening: Warner Bros. gives us ocean life as God intended it — in nausea-inducing IMAX 3-D — with Under the Sea; the Oscar-jilted, critically lauded Italian mob epic Gomorrah; the Indian tandem of Billu Barber and Dev D; and the Roman Polanski biopic (!) Polanski Unauthorized.
THE BIG LOSER: Again, we're not hearing especially promising things about The International's prospects, but hey: It's a holiday weekend, nothing is roundly reviled, and unless you count last week's loser Push dropping to $5 million, things look relatively rosy out there. Of course, there's always...
THE UNDERDOG: Two Lovers, which is just as vulnerable to a Joaquin Phoenix backlash as it is to his batshit momentum. On one hand, it did botch its best outreach opportunity Wednesday night on The Late Show — not necessarily by thrusting its aloof star onto national-TV and YouTube infamy, but by airing one of the film's most unappealing clips. On the other, it's hard not to like director James Gray's moody melodrama about a suicidal 30-something Jew holed up with his parents in Brighton Beach, where he wrestles with romantic devotion to both the clinically crazy shiksa upstairs (a great Gwyneth Paltrow) and the sweet daughter (Vinessa Shaw) of his father's business partner. In their third collaboration (after The Yards and We Own the Night), Gray and Phoenix finally take real advantage of their rapport, trading crime-flick conceits for a more humane, way less self-serious survey of love's utter impossibility. We'd say, "More like this, please," but, well, you know. It deserves better.
FOR SHUT-INS: New DVD's this week include Barry Levinson's beleaguered Hollywood satire What Just Happened, Spike Lee's even more beleaguered war epic Miracle at St. Anna, the ultimate indie Oscar underdog Frozen River, your parents' seventh-favorite film of '08, Nights at Rodanthe, Oliver Stone's W., and the autistic martial arts milestone Chocolate.