Our long national nightmare is over! And by “long” I mean four months, and by “national” I mean “personal,” and by “nightmare” I mean “not having anything good to see in theaters.” There are two — TWO — films opening Friday I can recommend. The biggie, of course, is “Iron Man 3,” which I think might be better than the first one; the other is “Midnight’s Children,” based on the Salman Rushdie novel.
“Iron Man 3” is about Iron Man; “Midnight’s Children” is about a child born the instant India gained independence from Britain, plus the kids who share his birthday. The kids have special powers, like some sort of magical-realism X-Men.
“Midnight’s Children” is a heavily metaphorical story about the capriciousness of origin and success; there are enough weird coincidences to give “Forrest Gump” a run (ha!) for its money. It’s not realistic in the least, and that might bother some people — people who might go see a story about a genius billionaire playboy who builds a flying suit and becomes a superhero.
Both films are fables — fantastic tales that reveal something about a literal world. “Midnight’s Children” shows how the fluke of nationality both binds us and blinds us. “Iron Man 3” tackles a similar thing, albeit on a one-man scale: How much of our role in the world is our choice, and what can we do when that role becomes constricting? One of the films has more explosions, but they share the same themes.
More to See: The newly renovated Bethesda Row Cinema (7235 Woodmont Ave., Bethesda) reopens Friday with reserved seating, print-at-home and mobile ticketing and a full bar. Opening this week (among other films) is “Kon-Tiki,” an Oscar-nominated film about a real guy who crossed the Pacific in a balsa-wood raft.