Escape the shutdown at the movies

October 2, 2013

If you find yourself temporarily jobless, a relatively low-cost form of entertainment is hitting the movies. And the shutdown-sympathetic discounts offered by local theaters don't hurt: Furloughed feds can take advantage of free popcorn at AMC Theatres and AFI Silver Theatre, plus half-price popcorn and soda at West End Cinema. More importantly, the current slate of releases offers excellent ways to pass the time.

Here's a list of movies that scored well with critics, organized by genre in case you have a particular (and understandable) need to laugh or cry.

Comedy

"Thanks for Sharing": Mark Ruffalo and Gwyneth Paltrow star in this movie about a sex addict and the woman he falls for.

"The World's End": The British comedy trio behind "Shaun of the Dead" is responsible for this rollicking ride about a pub crawl that gets interrupted by the apocalypse.

"In a World..." Lake Bell stars in her writing and directorial debut about a voiceover artist following in her father's very large footsteps.

Drama

"Wadjda": The coming-of-age film about a young girl who wants to buck the established order is the first feature-length movie made in Saudi Arabia.

"Short Term 12": Brie Larson plays a supervisor in a halfway house for troubled teens in Destin Daniel Cretton's second feature.

"The Patience Stone": An Afghani woman finds relief when she reveals her deepest secrets to her husband, who happens to be comatose.

"The Spectacular Now": Another coming-of-age film, this dramedy deals with a bookish teen who starts a relationship with a hard-partying classmate.

Documentary

"Generation Iron": The engaging documentary follows seven men in the 2012 Mr. Olympia competition.

Other movie options:

"Harvest of Empire": Artisphere is hosting a free screening of the eye-opening documentary about immigration on Thursday at 7 p.m.

Film|Neu: The annual film festival, which starts Friday, focuses on the latest and greatest from Germany, Switzerland and Austria. Most of the movies will show at E Street Cinema, and highlights include a screening of the award-winning day-in-the-life film "Oh Boy" and the 3D movie "Measuring the World," which recounts the friendship between mathematician Carl Friedrich Gauss and geographer Alexander von Humboldt. Tickets for most films cost $11.50.

DC Drive-In: After the success of the summer series, Union Market is reviving its drive-in movie experience starting this Friday with "Caddyshack." Entry is free and the parking lot is first-come, first-served starting at 6 p.m. Cars aren't required, however; there will be space to picnic as well.

Outdoor Movie Night in Lamont Park: Also on Friday, the Mount Pleasant park will be transformed into an al fresco cinema with a screening of "Best in Show." The screening is free.

"Matt Shepard Is a Friend of Mine": In honor of the 15th anniversary of Matthew Shepard’s murder, there will be world premiere screenings of this film across the country. Locally, you can see it at Washington National Cathedral, and tickets are $16.

Washington-area native Stephanie Merry covers movies, theater and art for Weekend and the Going Out Guide. She’s also the section’s de facto expert on yoga, gluten-free dining and bicycle commuting.
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