New in Film
Rudo y Cursi Not quite The Further Adventures of Cain & Abel, the second coming of Beavis & Butt-head, or Peyton Meets Eli, but energetic fun nonetheless, Rudo y Cursi is a multiple-brother act: It's written and directed by Carlos Cuarón and produced by elder sibling Alfonso, director of Y Tu Mamá También, which Carlos cowrote, and reunites Mamá's co-stars Gael García Bernal and Diego Luna, playing half-brothers to boffo effect. Nearly as popular on its home territory as the first Cuarón hit, Rudo y Cursi is a similarly manic if less psychologically fraught exercise in male bonding and fraternal rivalry. Rudo (Luna) and Cursi (Bernal) are a ripe pair of bumpkins — the former, irascible and inarticulate; the latter, expansive and voluble. Each is a potential soccer star — or so we're told by the little hustler, Batuta (Guillermo Francella), who, in discovering the brothers and providing the movie's voice-over narration, more or less conducts the action. Batuta can take the brothers with him to Mexico City only one at a time; thus, we can enjoy their miserable digs, mind-blowing exposure to frozen food, locker-room hazing, and heady success twice. The sports action runs a distant second to screwball character comedy, and the denouement is pretty downbeat — at least by the grotesque standards of the conventional North American sports movie. In Rudo y Cursi, the rocky road to success is just a dead end — or a big circular drive. J. Hoberman
This deliberate, meticulous heist-gone-wrong flick eschews all the usual excitement of crime movies. Instead, Austrian writer/director Götz Spielmann concentrates on the slow buildup to a bank job and its simmering moral aftermath. Laconic robber Alex (Johannes Krisch) is an ex-con pushing a mop in a Vienna brothel (cruelly named Club Cinderella, for all the poor princesses who spread their legs there). His elderly grandfather lives on a rural farm — where Alex takes refuge after the botched heist — near a cop (Andreas Lust) and his wife (Ursula Strauss). Spielmann barely moves his camera and never allows an easy, emotional close-up as Alex furiously chops at the farm's woodpile. His weapon of revenge — revanche in French, though the movie's in German — could be an ax or the gun from his robbery. But who deserves to die for the unhappy outcome at the bank? While he chops, we worry. Unaccustomed to conscience or to paralytic grief, Alex is no less confounded when the cop's wife comes on to him. Krisch plays this hard case without concession — he's a man who can express himself only physically. Yet new thoughts gradually crease his brow like water cutting through stone. The Oscar-nominated Revanche recalls the sort of filmmaking out of vogue since Bresson and Kieslowski — a cinema of moral consequence. Though Alex may scoff at the cop's wife driving his grandfather to church, he's the unlikely subject of what is ultimately a stark, powerful sermon. Brian Miller
Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian
Wide-eyed kids attended by their pouchy-eyed parents will have few complaints about Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian; all you people in between and beyond could do worse as well. Director Shawn Levy and star Ben Stiller return (as do Robin Williams, Steve Coogan, and Owen Wilson — alongside newbies Bill Hader, Jonah Hill, Christopher Guest, and Jay Baruchel) for this bank-breaking sequel to the 2006 original, in which a directionless single dad takes a job as the night guard at New York's Museum of Natural History, then takes on its various exhibits when an ancient Egyptian tablet brings them to life. Smithsonian begins with those same exhibits being shipped off to the Washington, D.C., museum of the same name, Larry Daley (Stiller) having abandoned them for fortune as a small-time inventor. When the tablet winds up in D.C., it animates the entire museum's collection, including a rogue posse led by a lisping Egyptian pharaoh (Hank Azaria) and a gratingly plucky Amelia Earhart (Amy Adams). Though it's a little slow to start and some of the humor clunks, the film features a wholesome charm, some truly dazzling effects (the Lincoln Memorial alone is worth it), and enough mild, parent-nip in-jokes to keep all but the stone-hearted happy. Michelle Orange
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