What Movie Should I Watch This Weekend?

Movies in Theaters on May 20, 2011

You’d think no other movie would dare open on the same weekend as the new Jack Sparrow adventure, but Woody Allen, Sean Kirkpatrick and even Kris Kristofferson think they can lure in the handful of people who want absolutely nothing to do with pirates, zombies and mermaids. Check out what’s in store for May 20th besides Disney’s latest booty-seeking extravaganza.

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The third installment in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, At World’s End, was long, loud and exhausting (even moreso than the previous two), though it did set us up for yet another Jack Sparrow adventure as he gazed with his usual deranged glee at the map to the Fountain of Youth. Four years later, On Stranger Tides chronicles that journey, and Disney’s going to need some of that Fountain’s magic to make this series seem as fresh as it was back in 2003. Remember The Curse of the Black Pearl? How fun and exciting it was, and how unique and entertaining a scamp Jack Sparrow was? Indeed, “was” is the vibe we’re getting here: Pirates of the Caribbean and its hero have gotten old, and On Stranger Tides doesn’t look too promising in giving the series a second life.

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Some people deal with their impending sense of mortality by purchasing sports cars; Woody Allen just makes at least one movie a year. Seriously, from where does this old timer get his energy and inspiration? He just writes and directs and films away, and seems set on doing so until the day he dies… or until someone cuts off his funding, and even then he’ll probably find a way to make a movie about witty people falling in and out of love. Midnight in Paris is his latest valentine to France, featuring the kind of A-list cast he’s still able to conjure: Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Adrien Brody, Marion Cotillard and even the First Lady of France herself, Carla Bruni. Woody’s various neuroses and fears — as a person and a filmmaker — can sometimes be tiresome, but they can sometimes translate into comedy gold, too — word at Cannes is that Midnight in Paris is one of his best films in years.

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The B-side to Jeff BridgesCrazy Heart, Bloodworth stars Kris Kristofferson as E.F. Bloodworth, a grizzled wanderer who returns to his small hometown in Tennessee, where he confronts his three troubled sons: alcoholic Warren (Val Kilmer), bitter Boyd (Dwight Yoakam) and batshit crazy Brady (W. Earl Brown), who also adapted the screenplay from William Gay’s novel, Provinces of Night). E.F. also ends up bonding with his grandson, Fleming (Reece Thompson), who falls for the the beautiful Raven Lee (Hilary Duff), an earth angel who just might be his ticket out of this nowhere burg. Dear lord, can this get any more country-fried cheesy? Still, that cast might be able to pull some of it off, if not all, and Hilary Duff’s involvement is actually kind of intriguing — if anyone could use some gritty indie cred, it’s a Mousketeer like her.

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Counter-programming to Pirates of the Caribbean and then some, Cost of a Soul follows two wounded Iraq War veterans who return to their North Philadephia slum neighborhood, where they get entrenched in the crime and corruption they joined the military to escape from in the first place. This festival favorite looks earnest to a fault (starting with that awful title), and the story certainly doesn’t sound like anything new, but the debut of writer-director Sean Kirkpatrick (who previously worked as a production assistant on big Hollywood films such as “Hancock” and “The Soloist”) seems to be coming from a genuine and personal place, and the unknown cast appears to be up for the gritty melodrama ahead. If nothing else, it’s a movie dealing with timely issues from a new cinematic voice, so let’s give these guys a shot, shall we?

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