The Week in Movies: Monsters University, World War Z, and ManiacS

Welcome to Annotate This, where we gather reviews, trailers, and annotate the posters for movies coming out this week. It will help you decide what to avoid, what to see, and what to pretend to see. Click on the image above to add your comments to the mix.

Monsters University

We didn't need it or ask for it, but it's quite alright. The prequel to 2001's Monsters Inc. looks back at the genesis of the friendship between Mike and Sulley (Billy Crystal, John Goodman as cartoon creatures) who both major in kid-scaring at Monsters University. Don't look for it to fix Pixar's woman problem, but it's pleasantly middling, fun and disposable.


World War Z

In this competent adaptation from Max Brooks's fictional oral history, Brad Pitt plays a U.N. worker attempting to save the whole world from a zombie invasion/plague/crisis situation. So far, the film is most notable for claiming the position as the highest-budget zombie movie to date. Though it encountered a lot of shuffling during a difficult development process, it supposedly it held up with some artistry, intelligence and nihilism. Oh and there is a lovely little joke World War Zzzzzzzz.


Maniac

This is a terrifying remake of the 1980 "Taxi Driver of slashers" with Elijah Wood as the killer. It centers on a personal pet peeve and nightmare—nude, disassembled mannequins—therefore, I could barely handle the trailer, but Rich Juzwiak says he liked it! Other reports say the L.A. setting and the soundtrack are cool. It's disturbing, disgusting, as well as down and dirty.


A Hijacking

Danish filmmaker Tobias Lindholm is beating Paul Greengrass to the punch with this tense, gripping, exacting thriller about a Danish cargo ship that is hijacked by Somali pirates. The English-speaking negotiator, played by Abdihakin Asgar, has been hailed as one of the best performances this year.


Bert and Arnie's Guide to Friendship (Limited, iTunes)

This talky directorial debut from Jeff Kaplan focuses on Bert and Arnie (not muppets, real people), who forge an implausible Odd Couple-type friendship when the prudish Bert finds out the amorous Arnie is sleeping with his wife. Matt Oberg and Stephen Schneider play the titular dudes, Anna Chlumsky and Cristin Milioti assist.


Unfinished Song

Called Song For Marion in England, this is a doggedly conventional, cornball crowd-pleaser from Paul Andrew Williams, a director famous for horror films. As one British reviewer writes, it's necessary to "fasten your sick bags for another sentimental singalong for seniors." He also adds that Vanessa Redgrave's overacting seems like a drag Mr. Magoo. Apparently, it's an okay commentary on "male emotional reticence."


The Attack

This devastatingly tense film follows an Arabic man living in Tel Aviv, whose life comes under nightmarish turmoil after his wife is accused of being a suicide bomber. Ziad Doueiri's film infuses sensitive humanity into this subject, without simplifying or seeming propagandistic.


Somm

Jason Wise documents four men who are studying up to pass a very intense exam to confirm that they know how to accurately describe wine. Here is the stupid word play critics couldn't resist using: let's "raise a glass" to this documentary, it's a "delicious tipple," the subject is "bottled," let's "toast" this movie, it "caters to foodies." Wordplay aside, it's engaging commentary on fetishization of mastery, not just about nerds with corkscrews.


Downloaded

Alex Winter's documentary about the rapid rise of Napster in the 1990s, shameful and ethically twisted tumble is too breezy. Nonetheless the subject's impact reverberates, even though Winter seems to have avoided the tough questions.


Rushlights

Rather than summarizing, I'm going to quote the text, unedited, from the trailer: "THEY WERE YOUNG THEY WERE IN LOVE THEY WERE THE PERFECT CONS THIS IS THE SCORE OF A LIFETIME LIES GREED DECEPTION TRUST NO ONE TELL NO ONE HIDE FROM NO ONE BEAU BRIDGES HALEY WEBB JOSH HENDERSON AND AIDAN QUINN RUSHLIGHTS." In case you want a little more detail about this unabashed pulp, two young pretty teens try to falsely claim an inheritance that's not their's and end up in all sorts of trouble. Obviously.


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