Friday, June 13, 2008 at 12:30 p.m. ET

At the Movies With Ann Hornaday

Ann Hornaday
Washington Post Movie Critic
Friday, June 13, 2008; 12:30 PM

Washington Post film critic Ann Hornaday will be online Friday, June 13 at 12:30 p.m. ET to discuss what is worth seeing in theaters this weekend and this summer movie season.

Submit questions before or during the discussion.

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Ann Hornaday: Hi everybody, happy Hulk day!

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Bethesda, Md.: I thought the first 90 minutes of "The Fall" was about the best movie I've ever seen, then it all went south in the resolution of the patient's tale, then righted itself a bit at the end but overall it was sort of unsatisfying. Darn, because it stated out really great!

The little girl deserves as Oscar. Do you know if she really speaks with an accent, or did she have to learn? Watching her makes the movie worthwhile even if you don't take to the rest.

Ann Hornaday: I know what you mean. I definitely veers off into indulgent directions. ... But I found that it really stuck with me in a good way. And you're absolutely right about that amazing young Romanian actress, Catinca Untaru. According to her bio, she began learning English at age 4, but was kind of learning while she filmed "The Fall," so the idiomatic mistakes she makes in the movie are actually real. I agree with you that she's the best thing in the movie -- she reminded me of the girl in "Pan's Labyrinth," but even more astonishing because she was only 7 when she filmed "The Fall."

I'm glad you caught up with the film, despite its limitations -- definitely one you want to see on the big screen!

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Springfield, Va.: I liked the previews for "Fugitive Pieces," it got decent reviews, then it was here for two weeks, the second of which had only 1 or 2 shows per day, never a good sign, and then it disappeared. In fact it does not appear to be showing anywhere in the country! Any idea what happened? Was it really that awful? I haven't seen a lot to like in recent weeks and thought it sounded promising.

Ann Hornaday: I never managed to catch up with "Fugitive Pieces," either. I don't think it was awful -- the reviews were mostly fair-to-positive. It might have been poor timing -- being released on the cusp of summer, when something historical, poetic, and kind of sad may not strike a chord with audiences. As for the local market, it was probably also a victim of the art-screen squeeze, what with the demise of the Dupont.

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Rockville, Md.: Hi Ann: Was "Hulk" really that good, or were you just trying to atone for your negative review of "Iron Man"?

Ann Hornaday: Haha! I know everyone thinks I hated on "Iron Man," but honestly I didn't! I just didn't think it was the 100 percent home run others did -- but I thought when it worked, it worked really well. As for "The Incredible Hulk," I called it as I saw it -- it's a solid, well-made film that will likely please the most important audience: Hulk fans.

That said, the "Hulk" had a lower degree of difficulty than "Iron Man," because it didn't have to spend so much time on the origin story -- always the downfall of these movies. Which is why I can't wait for the second "Iron Man"!

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Falls Church, Va.: I thought the "X Files" movie was coming out in May.

Ann Hornaday: We have it down for July 25, I don't know if that opening date has changed since we did the Summer Preview. I'm still trying to wrap my mind around that subtitle: "I Want to Believe." All critics should take a vow right now not to open their reviews with those four words...

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Arlington, Va.: Tonight I'm going to see "The Happening." On the surface, Stephen Hunter has confirmed my fears that it is decidedly NOT happening! Without giving away any plot points (because I want to go into the movie unsullied), can you confirm naysayer Hunter's opinion that "The Happening" is not up to par, or did you actually enjoy it?

Ann Hornaday: I didn't see it, but I did eavesdrop on some chatter amongst my colleagues at the "Incredible Hulk" screening the other night, and they were uniformly groaning. Looks to me like it's a pass.

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Washington, D.C.: With Hunter and Thomson taking the buy-out, will the Post remain committed to reviewing every film that opens commercially in the area?

How will broader coverage (interviews and features) be affected? I loved your piece on girls-in-the-big-city movies and hope we will continue to get that kind of contextual analysis with reminders of good items for the Netflix queue.

Ann Hornaday: Thanks for your support, of local film and local film journalism!

Obviously, the media culture is in the midst of great change, but I know the Post is indeed committed to full and comprehensive coverage. There may be a few tweaks along the way, but we'll continue to put readers first when we think of new and better ways to write about film.

And thanks, too, for the shout-out about the "Sex and the City" feature and features in general. We love doing those stories, too, so fear not -- we'll keep doin' 'em if you keep readin' 'em!

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Butternut, Widc.: Hello, Ann!

Unlike most people, I found '"ron Man" average, overblown and overrated. And, honestly, Robert Downey's performance does not ring Oscar. So, what's with all the hullabaloo?

Oh, and have a nice summer!

Ann Hornaday: Back atcha Butternut!

As I said in that previous post, I too thought "Iron Man" had its flaws, although I thoroughly enjoyed RDJ's performance (still, maybe not Oscar fodder). ... Judging from my email in box over the past few weeks, you and I are in the distinct minority.

One of my main issues with the film -- and with so many of these films -- is the running time. I liked that "The Incredible Hulk" came in under two hours. That seems reasonable to me for a comic-book movie. But again, "Iron Man" had a lot of explaining to do up front, so with luck we'll get a sleeker, snappier installment next time. Even though I had a few quibbles with the movie, I do think he's a terrific character and totally worthy of a franchise, so I'm glad it's doing well enough to merit what will probably be many, many sequels!

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Bates Motel: An open letter to M. Night Shyamalan:

PLEASE STOP MAKING THE SAME MOVIE OVER AND OVER AND OVER!!!!

And by the way, you are not me and you never will be.

Signed,

A. Hitchcock

Ann Hornaday: Too funny.

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Mt. Lebanon, Penn.: How's the movie "No End In Sight" doing?

I watched it on DVD the other night but I don't remember seeing it playing at the Bistro or the Fiesta or whatever they call the movie places now.

Sales pretty good?

Hint: The bad guys win in the end. All sides.

Thanks much. HLB

Ann Hornaday: Good question, and I'm really glad you caught up with "No End in Sight" -- it helped that it was nominated for an Oscar, so I think DVD rentals have been pretty good. Between those figures and its theatrical release, I believe it made its budget back and then some...So quite respectable, and all the more so for being made by a first-time filmmaker. If you haven't seen it yet, you should check out the doc that did win the Oscar: "Taxi to the Dark Side." With "No End," a one-two punch and hugely important.

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Washington, D.C.: I don't want to see "The Happening" (don't like scary movies), but I have seen the commercials and I am absolutely haunted by the image of three men falling to their deaths. From a skyscraper. In New York City. Is it just me, or is this a wildly insensitive (if artistic) image to put out over the public airwaves? 2001 wasn't that long ago.

Ann Hornaday: Wow, I have not seen that image, but from your description that does indeed sound disturbing. I read somewhere that Shyamalan used stunt people instead of dummies for those shots, so that their gestures would be more realistic -- probably adding to the creep-out factor.

Chatters, anyone see this? Thoughts and feelings?

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Washington, D.C.: I'm longing to see "Encounters at the End of the World." Do you know when/if it's coming to D.C.? Herzog's eerie tone and gently menacing voiceovers really make his documentaries shine.

Ann Hornaday: We have it down for July 11. Like you, I can't wait for this one, I love Herzog's films, especially the documentaries! And you're right about those voiceovers, almost a parody of the Teutonic, existentially tortured artist, and so integral a part of the whole! If you've never seen it, check out "Little Dieter Needs to Fly," about the man that "Rescue Dawn" was based on. Amazing.

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Casual filmgoer in Falls Church: Hello, Ann. I'm looking for some suggestions of films to see with my beau -- a 49-year-old lover of sci-fi, horror, and all those recent flicks like "Speed Racer" and "Iron Man." (He saw "Speed Racer" with his son, and "Iron Man" with me.) Any suggestions of things to see (or skip) in the next month or so? Many thanks.

Ann Hornaday: Hello! Sounds like he'll definitely want to see "The Incredible Hulk," which I liked well enough even though I'm not a big comic-book fan. Don't know if you're "Chronicles of Narnia" people, but that's also a fantasy adventure full of spectacle and special effects. ... And I know this sounds weird, but I'm hearing pretty good things about "You Don't Mess with the Zohan," which I myself intend to see ASAP.

Chatters, suggestions?

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Hulk Fan: I'm a "Hulk" fan from the comic books but hated the first movie. WIll I like the new one ?

Ann Hornaday: Yes.

I, too, hated the first "Hulk," if only because it was soooo long that it almost made me miss a Drive By Truckers show at the Black Cat. I'm STILL holding a grudge about that, and thank goodness the DBT's were running late or Ang Lee would be on my permanent tsk-tsk list.

But I digress! I think you will like "The Incredible Hulk," which dispenses with all that pseudo-intellectual mumbo-jumbo and just tells the story. Edward Norton is terrific, as are his supporting players. Just very straightforward, with lots of little in-jokes and references for fans.

Let me know what you think once you've seen it!

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RE: "With Hunter and Thomson taking the buy-out...": Is this gonzo movie-watching here?

Ann Hornaday: OMG, I've never noticed that!!! Maybe I should change my last name to Ess....

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Huh?: Hunter and Thomson taking a buyout? What did I miss?

Ann Hornaday: Oh rats. I hate sharing bad news! But indeed, both Desson and Stephen have decided to avail themselves of the Post's very generous early retirement package -- even though they're both way too young to retire. But both decided it was too good an offer to pass up. Desson's last day was a couple of weeks ago, and Stephen will depart at then end of July.

It's sad for us, but great for two writers who clearly have fabulous futures ahead of them!

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Happening: I think it's very interesting how much they're pushing the R-rating in the marketing (you know those commercials: "This movie is M. Night Shymalan's first R-rated movie, and the movie is rated R! We're making the letter R red so that you understand that the rating of this R-rated movie is R!"). Why do you think that is? Judging by your review, you didn't seem to think it made much of a difference.

Ann Hornaday: You're right that IS weird. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately), I didn't review "The Happening," which means I haven't seen it yet. ... So I have no idea what the big deal is about the rating. I think after his last flop, they're trying to gin up the audience in any way they can...

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Washington, D.C.: Re: A. Hichcock, but Al admitted that he was making the same movie over and over - an ordinary guy got involved in something out of his control.

Ann Hornaday: So true!

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A Cube Somewhere...: Hey, do you know when "This Christmas" is coming to DVD? I enjoyed the movie and movies that came out after are already on DVD so I was wondering what gives?

Ann Hornaday: You know what, I missed that when it came out and it sounded wonderful! Love that cast! I did a quick Net search, and didn't come up with a release date for the DVD...I wonder if they'll time it to the holidays.

I did see that you can go on Amazon and have them contact you when it becomes available. Sorry I can't be of more help!

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Formerly Ashland, WI (Hi, Butternut!): Ann, if there is but one movie I should go see at Silverdocs, what should it be?

Ann Hornaday: Oh ask me a hard one why dontcha!!

I'm not going to give in to my temptation to cheat and give you more titles than one...So I'll say that, of the films that we won't be seeing later on TV or in theaters, the one I'm most interested in is "Pray the Devil Back to Hell," about the women's movement to end the civil war in Liberia. (At least I don't think it's getting a later release.) It sounds amazing.

But see more than one! There are so many good films at that festival!

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Park Falls, Wisc.: Hey, Ann!

A few years ago, I saw the first "Narnia" film, and loved it! I was hyped to see number 2, but then I kept hearing about how the battle scene overpowered the story. Is this true? And is number 2 good enough to expect a number 3?

Ann Hornaday: Hey thanks to all you Wisconsinites for writing in -- and we send you all our thoughts and prayers during the floods (this from a transplanted Iowan).

About "Narnia": Yes, I did think the battle scenes in the second one went on a bit long, and they were very reminiscent of the first one. There will be a third, and I think it takes place on the high seas, so with luck they'll get away from the "Braveheart" redux stuff. It's a great series and the kids are terrific, so I hope they can open it up more in future installments.

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Park Falls, Wisc.: Hey, Ann!

A few years ago, I saw the first "Narnia" film, and loved it! I was hyped to see number 2, but then I kept hearing about how the battle scene overpowered the story. Is this true? And is number 2 good enough to expect a number 3?

Ann Hornaday: Hey thanks to all you Wisconsinites for writing in -- and we send you all our thoughts and prayers during the floods (this from a transplanted Iowan).

About "Narnia": Yes, I did think the battle scenes in the second one went on a bit long, and they were very reminiscent of the first one. There will be a third, and I think it takes place on the high seas, so with luck they'll get away from the "Braveheart" redux stuff. It's a great series and the kids are terrific, so I hope they can open it up more in future installments.

Ann Hornaday: Hey thanks to all you Wisconsinites for writing in -- and we send you all our thoughts and prayers during the floods (this from a transplanted Iowan).

About "Narnia": Yes, I did think the battle scenes in the second one went on a bit long, and they were very reminiscent of the first one. There will be a third, and I think it takes place on the high seas, so with luck they'll get away from the "Braveheart" redux stuff. It's a great series and the kids are terrific, so I hope they can open it up more in future installments.

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Vienna, Va.: Ann Hornaday: Wow, I have not seen that image, but from your description that does indeed sound disturbing. I read somewhere that Shyamalan used stunt people instead of dummies for those shots, so that their gestures would be more realistic -- probably adding to the creep-out factor.

Chatters, anyone see this? Thoughts and feelings?

I think it was really just an artistic decision, and a successful one. Nothing more.

Ann Hornaday: Thanks for this...

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Seattle, Wash.: First, a thank you for the column on "Stuck" and "Mother of Tears". Well done!

Second, just a general pet peeve of mine somewhat related to last week's chat: Yes, there is sometimes latent sexism in some films, and yes this can have implications in society for people dense enough to buy into sexism.

But -- sometimes a pencil is just a pencil, you know? (Not to mention the fact that it hardly helps the debate if one makes judgments about films they haven't seen. Just my .002...)

Ann Hornaday: Ah, thank you! I got lots of feedback about the "Stuck"/"Mother of Tears" column, so ... We're not alone!

And thanks too for the contribution to the sexism discussion. As I said during that chat, I'm all for critical thinking, period -- regardless of whether there's a 'right' or 'wrong' answer. Debate = Healthy. Thanks for your two cents!

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Re: The Happening.: Not everything is about 9/11. Remember when "Cloverfield" came out people were crying about TOO SOON then. If we stop making movies or writing books, etc. about everything that may be painful to someone, then nothing would get made or written.

One of the best movies in the last 10 years, "Donnie Darko," suffered from the Too Soon mantra and due to that was nary seen in the theater. Thankfully we have home videos/DVDs and we got to see this masterpiece.

Ann Hornaday: Very good point. (I'd forgotten that about "Donnie Darko.")

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Baltimore, Md.: How is "Sex and the City" doing after its big opening weekend? Does it have, ummm, legs?

Ann Hornaday: It's done extremely well, on the brink of earningi $200 million worldwide. It did have a pretty big drop its second week out, but it looks like it'll be chugging along quite nicely throughout the summer.

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Help!: So -- tomorrow night is my first Movie Night with my husband since our son was born more than a year and a half ago. Yikes! So ... am feeling a bit of pressure to have it be a movie we'll both really enjoy. Had been thinking "Iron Man," maybe Indiana since that's still on the big screen at the Uptown, but you think "The Hulk" is better than either of those? Is there something else out there I'm missing that would be a great re-introduction to the movies?

Ann Hornaday: Despite my reservations about "Iron Man," it's a pretty good time at the movies -- as is "The Incredible Hulk," although it's a bit more serious. ... I think you're in good shape with either of those, and mazel tov on new parenthood AND getting out of the house! That's huge!

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Arlington, Va.: Casual filmgoer in Falls Church: Hello, Ann. I'm looking for some suggestions of films to see with my beau -- a 49-year-old lover of sci-fi, horror, and all those recent flicks like "Speed Racer" and "Iron Man." (He saw "Speed Racer" with his son, and "Iron Man" with me.) Any suggestions of things to see (or skip) in the next month or so? Many thanks.

What about "The Dark Knight"? If it's anything like "Batman Begins," it's going to be a good one...

Ann Hornaday: Ah yes, I was focusing on movies that are out, but "Dark Knight" looks really good. (Although I heard today that the running time is 152 minutes. OF MY ONLY LIFE!!!!)

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The Visitor and Son of Rambow: Ann: not sure which of these you may have reviewed but I urge any one who is truly interested in movies and the art of storytelling (not just special effects) to GO SEE THESE! I was charmed and enchanted by both. If Richard Jenkins doesn't get a nomination at least, he will have been robbed. Please - chatters and lurkers - keep these films going.

Ann Hornaday: Hear hear!!! Thanks for this!

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Ann Hornaday: Chatters, I have to bounce -- sorry I didn't get to all the questions today. But thanks for writing, and we'll get together in a few weeks! TTFN!

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