Friday movie roundup: 'Iron Man 3' launches summer
The summer blockbuster season begins for real today, with Robert Downey Jr. and a red-and-gold suit leading the charge.
"Iron Man 3" returns both Downey's Tony Stark and his armor-clad superhero persona, and it turns out it's the first one we missed the most. Stark finds himself reeling after a nasty terrorist, The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley), attacks Stark's Malibu house. Stark must rebuild, regroup, and track down the truth behind his shadowy new nemesis. Director/co-writer Shane Black knows Downey's rhythms well (Black's first directorial effort was "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang"), and only falters as the demands of a mega-sized action movie impose themselves on the movie.
The rest of Hollywood is giving "Iron Man 3" a wide berth this weekend, so the only other films opening are on the art-house slate.
"To the Wonder" is director Terrence Malick's latest dreamy tone poem of a movie, a rumination on romance found and lost between an American (Ben Affleck) and a Frenchwoman (Olga Kurylenko). There also are notes on faith and God, provided by a troubled priest (Javier Bardem), and Rachel McAdams appears briefly as a woman from Affleck's past. Malick's visual sense is strong as ever, though offputting, and without the cosmic sweep of Malick's last film, "The Tree of Life."
"Gimme the Loot" is a gritty microbudgeted comedy-drama, about two Bronx teens (Ty Hickson, Tashiana Washington) pursuing the graffiti target of their dreams: The New York Mets' home-run apple at Citi Field. Writer-director Adam Leon creates an authentic portrait of young strivers trying to work through a makeshift underground economy to get what they want.
Lastly, there's the documentary "Hava Nagila (The Movie)," a lively look at the history and cultural meaning of the Jewish folk song. Director Roberta Grossman traces the song's journey from pioneer anthem to symbol of suburban assimilation to kitsch object. She also collects some engaging interviews, including commentary from Leonard Nimoy and Harry Belafonte.