As we all breathlessly count the days — nay, milliseconds — until the June 1 release of Piranha 3DD, there's still plenty to gnaw on this Memorial Day weekend. Chernobyl Diaries screens tonight (i.e., the night before it opens) which is usually not a great sign, but it's likely critic-proof anyway (even for me, someone who's not entirely opposed to the idea of a new genre: nuclear-meltdown-sploitation! Sit down, 1979's China Syndrome. This one's got screaming teens and spooky spooks!) Er, anyway ... check back tomorrow for my review of that one.
Meanwhile, apply your brain and/or sense of social justice while watching Michael Glawogger's final entry in his "globalization trilogy," Whores' Glory (Dennis Harvey's review here), or adjust your popcorn levels accordingly for these other recommends:
Hysteria Tanya Wexler’s period romantic comedy gleefully depicts the genesis of the world’s most popular sex toy out of the inchoate murk of Victorian quackishness. In this dulcet version of events, real-life vibrator inventor Mortimer Granville (Hugh Dancy) is a handsome young London doctor with such progressive convictions as a belief in the existence of germs. He is, however, a man of his times and thus swallows unblinking the umbrella diagnosis of women with symptoms like anxiety, frustration, and restlessness as victims of a plague-like uterine disorder known as hysteria. Landing a job in the high-end practice of Dr. Robert Dalrymple (Jonathan Pryce), whose clientele consists entirely of dissatisfied housewives seeking treatments of “medicinal massage” and subsequent "parosysm," Granville becomes acquainted with Dalrymple’s two daughters, the decorous Emily (Felicity Jones) and the first-wave feminist Charlotte (Maggie Gyllenhaal). A subsequent bout of RSI offers empirical evidence for the adage about necessity being the mother of invention, with the ever-underused Rupert Everett playing Edmund St. John-Smythe, Granville’s aristocratic friend and partner in electrical engineering. (1:35) Embarcadero, Shattuck, Sundance Kabuki. (Lynn Rapoport)
Men in Black III Why not? It's been ten years since Men in Black II (the one where Lara Flynn Boyle and Johnny Knoxville — remember them? — played the villains), Will Smith has barely aged, and he hasn't made a full-on comedy since, what, 2005's Hitch? Here, he does a variation on his always-agreeable exasperated-guy routine, clashing with his grim, gimlet-eyed partner Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones, and in a younger incarnation, a spot-on Josh Brolin) in a plot that involves a vicious alien named Boris (Flight of the Conchords' Jermaine Clement), time travel, Andy Warhol, the moon (as both space-exploration destination and modern-day space-jail location), and lines that only Smith's delivery can make funny ("This looks like it comes from planet damn.") It's cheerful (save a bit of melodrama at the end), crisply paced, and is neither a must-see masterpiece nor something you should mindfully sleep through if it pops up among your in-flight selections. Oh, and it's in 3D. Well, why not? (1:42) Everywhere. (Cheryl Eddy)
Polisse Comparisons to The Wire are not to be tossed around lightly, but when the Hollywood Reporter likened Polisse to an entire season of the masterpiece cop show packed into a single film, it was onto something. Director, co-writer, and star Maïwenn (the object of desire in 2003's High Tension) hung out with real officers serving in Paris' Child Protection Unit, drawing inspiration from their dealings with pedophiles, young rape victims, negligent mothers, pint-sized pickpockets, and the like (another TV show worth mentioning in comparison: Law & Order: SVU). But Polisse (the title is deliberately misspelled, as if by a child) is no simple procedural; it plunges the viewer directly into the day-to-day lives of its boisterous characters, who are juggling not just stressful careers but also plenty of after-hours troubles, particularly relationship issues. Between heart wrenching moments on the job (and off), the unit indulges in massive cut-loose episodes of what amounts to group therapy: charades, dance parties, and room-clearing arguments, most of which involve huge quantities of booze. Watching Polisse is a messy, emotional, rewarding experience; no wonder it picked up the Jury Prize at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival. (2:07) Embarcadero, Shattuck. (Eddy)