This week, Cineast delivers previews of the new movies Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Dog and About Alex.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
They are named after Renaissance artists. They live in the sewers of New York (that’s the storm sewers, not the ickier kind), which provide the swampy habitat they presumably require. They are trained in Ninjitsu, and they battle evil all the time. They are Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and now here they are in live-action, widescreen 3D. Behind the Ninja Turtle exteriors are the square-jawed visage of Alan Ritchson, the apple-cheeked features of Jeremy Howard and Noel Fisher, and the unknown countenance of a certain Pete Ploszek. Megan Fox plays April O’Neil, the Turtles’ gal Friday, and given the extreme level of interest in Fox’s slightly unusual thumbs, it stands to reason that many will show up for the film for the opportunity to see those famously misshapen digits in their 3-dimensional splendor.
Who is “the Dog?” Well, if you’ve ever seen Dog Day Afternoon, Al Pacino’s classic hostage film, then you have a clue. The Dog, a new documentary from Frank Keraudren and Allison Berg, introduces us to the man behind Al Pacino’s character—John Wojtowicz, the man who really did stage a siege of a Brooklyn bank to try to get the money for his lover’s sex-change operation. When the sexual revolution came along in the ’60s and ’70s, Wojtowicz was surely ready to take advantage of it. A man of prodigious sexual appetite and diverse sexual tastes, a libertine in the classic mold, Wojtowicz played a key role in the gay liberation movement of the early ’70s before landing a 6-year jail sentence for the burst of violence immortalized in Dog Day Afternoon. Now calling himself “the Dog,” Wojtowicz continues to be a force to be reckoned with.
It’s The Big Chill for the Facebook era. About Alex starts from the familiar premise of a bunch of 30-something college friends getting together for a weekend after the attempted suicide of one of them—the Alex of the title, played by Jason Ritter. As the weekend wears on, and relationships are renegotiated, reconsidered, and strained or strengthened, the proceedings are haunted by the modern-day preoccupation with documenting personal thoughts and events on social media. Hollywood does this every once in a while. They don’t mind people using modern media to find out about the personal lives of movie stars, or for looking up movie times, or for streaming films and contributing to the revenue stream—but they reserve the right to criticize social media for distracting people and disrupting society. After all, if people can entertain themselves for hours for free on Facebook, how can you expect them to go to see movies?