Five weeks till "The Avengers"! What to watch while you're counting down

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Pretty Woman vs. Snow White: Julia Roberts and Lily Collins in "Mirror Mirror," out Fri/30.
MIRROR MIRROR PHOTO BY JAN THIJS

The truth is, The Hunger Games will still be raking in mad dough this weekend. (Even Julia Roberts can't step to Katniss Everdeen, and if John Carter is any indication of moviegoers' fatigue of CG uber-spectacle, Wrath of the Titans is doomed. Though, to be fair, if anyone can step to Katniss Everdeen, it's Liam Neeson.)

So. Your weekend options include: The Hunger Games, round two; re-watching last week's zooby-zooby-zoo-tastic Mad Men season premiere over and over until episode two airs; or binging on all of Game of Thrones, season one, to prep for that show's return to HBO (praise to R'hllor!) Also: Sat/31 and Sun/1 screenings remain of 1927 masterpiece/cinema event of the season Napoleon at Oakland's Paramount. (Ain't cheap, but worth it.)

If you really, really want to take in a new movie, the rep and art houses are the place to be Fri/30. Tom "Loki" Hiddleston squeezes in some acting cred ahead of The Avengers' May 4 release, starring opposite Oscar winner Rachel Weisz in the new one from Terence Davies (2000's The House of Mirth):

The Deep Blue Sea Caught between the devil and the deep blue sea, filmmaker Terence Davies, much like his heroine, chooses a mutable, fluid sensuality, turning his source material, Terence Rattigan’s acclaimed mid-century play, into a melodrama that catches you in its tide and refuses to let go. At the opening of this sumptuous portrait of a privileged English woman who gives up everything for love, Hester (Rachel Weisz) goes through the methodical motions of ending it all: she writes a suicide note, carefully stuffs towels beneath the door, takes a dozen pills, turns on the gas, and lies down to wait for death to overtake her. Via memories drifting through her fading consciousness, Davies lets us in on scattered, salient details in her back story: her severely damped-down, staid marriage to a high court judge, Sir William (Simon Russel Beale), her attraction and erotic awakening in the hands of charming former RF pilot Freddie Page (Tom Hiddleston), her separation, and her ultimate discovery that her love can never be matched, as she hazards class inequities and ironclad gender roles. “This is a tragedy,” Sir William says, at one point. But, as Hester, a model of integrity, corrects him, “Tragedy is too big a word. Sad, perhaps.” Similarly, Sea is a beautiful downer, but Davies never loses sight of a larger post-war picture, even while he pauses for his archetypal interludes of song, near-still images, and luxuriously slow tracking shots. With cinematographer Florian Hoffmeister, he does a remarkable job of washing post-war London with spots of golden light and creating claustrophobic interiors — creating an emotionally resonant space reminiscent of the work of Wong Kar-wai and Christopher Doyle. At the center, providing the necessary gravitas (much like Julianne Moore in 2002's Far From Heaven), is Weisz, giving the viewer a reason to believe in this small but reverberant story, and offering yet another reason for attention during the next awards season. (1:38) Embarcadero, Piedmont, Shattuck, Smith Rafael. (Kimberly Chun)

Liked A Separation, recent Oscar winner for Best Foreign Language Film? Here's another standout Iranian film, The Hunter, not to be confused with the upcoming Australian film of the same title starring Willem Dafoe:

The Hunter Shot and set during Iran's contentious 2009 Presidential campaign, The Hunter starts as a Kafka-esque portrait of quiet desperation in a cold, empty Tehran, then turns into a sort of existential thriller. The precise message may be ambiguous, but it's no surprise this two-year-old feature has so far played nearly everywhere but Iran itself. Ali (filmmaker Rafi Pitts) is released from prison after some years, his precise crime never revealed. Told that with his record he can't expect to get a day shift on his job as security guard at an automotive plant, he keeps hours at odds with his working wife Sara (Mitra Haijar) and six-year-old daughter Saba (Saba Yaghoobi). Still, they try to spend as much time together as possible, until one day Ali returns to find them uncharacteristically gone all day. After getting the bureaucratic runaround he's finally informed by police that something tragic has occurred; one loved one is dead, the other missing. When his thin remaining hope is dashed, with police notably useless in preventing that grim additional news, Ali snaps — think Peter Bogdanovich's 1968 Targets. He's soon in custody, albeit in that of two bickering officers who get them all lost in the countryside. Pitts, a long-ago child performer cast here only when the actor originally hired had to be replaced, makes Ali seem pinched from the inside out, as if in permanent recoil from past and anticipated abuse. This thin, hunched frame, vulnerable big ears, and hooded eyes — the goofily oversized cap he wears at work seems a deliberate affront — seems so fixed an expression of unhappiness that when he flashes a great smile, for a moment you might think it must be someone else. He's an everyman who only grows more shrunken once the film physically opens up into a natural world no less hostile for being beautiful. (1:32) Roxie. (Dennis Harvey)

Finally, a timely doc about the recently forced-to-resign-under-shady-circumstances prez of the Republic of Maldives, an island nation imperiled by the planet's changing climate:

The Island President The titular figure is Mohamed Nasheed, recently ousted (by allies of the decades long dictator he'd replaced) chief executive of the Republic of Maldives — a nation of 26 small islands in the Indian Ocean. Jon Shenk's engaging documentary chronicles his efforts up to and through the 2009 Copenhagen Climate Summit to gather greater international commitment to curbing greenhouse gas emissions. This is hardly do-gooderism, a bid for eco-tourism, or politics as usual: scarcely above sea level, with nary a hill, the Maldives will simply cease to exist soon if waters continue to rise at global warming's current pace. ("It won't be any good to have a democracy if we don't have a country," he half-jokes at one point.) Nasheed is tireless, unjaded, delightful, and willing to do anything, at one point hosting "the world's first underwater cabinet meeting" (with oxygen tanks, natch) as a publicity stunt. A cash-strapped nation despite its surfeit of wealthy vacationers, it's spending money that could go to education and health services on the pathetic stalling device of sandwalls instead. But do bigger powers — notably China, India and the U.S. — care enough about this bit-part player on the world stage to change their energy-use and economic habits accordingly? (A hint: If you've been mulling a Maldivian holiday, take it now.) Somewhat incongruous, but an additional sales point nonetheless: practically all the film's incidental music consists of pre-existing tracks by Radiohead. (1:51) Embarcadero. (Harvey)

P.S. In honor of next Wed/4's re-release of James Cameron's Titanic in 3D ... the immortal Titanic II (not coming to an IMAX near you anytime soon.)

"Looks like history's repeating itself!"