The Cabin in the Woods
If you've made it this long without getting spoiled on the plot of The Cabin in the Woods, I am so excited for you! If you haven't seen it, I assume it's because you figured it was a cookie-cutter thriller about dumb college kids being set upon by one or more serial killers in the (eponymous) remote vacation home. But it's directed by Drew Goddard, formerly a writer on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, who co-wrote the screenplay with Joss Whedon, who created both those shows, so — without spoiling anything — there's more going on.
Much as I loved the movie (and I did; it's one of my favorites of the year), my one demerit is that Kristen Connolly, who plays protagonist Dana, is kind of boring to watch. Fortunately, Fran Kranz and Chris "Thor" Hemsworth are so tremendously committed that they help mitigate her dullness. The film is smart, scary fun, and now that you can watch it at home, you should do that before someone tells you what it's about and wrecks it for you.
New and Notable
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
A panoply of Britain's fanciest actors (Judi Dench, Tom Wilkinson, and Bill Nighy, among many others) take their midlife crises to India, where at least the food will be delicious.
Katy Perry the Movie: Part of Me 3D
As usual, I'm not sure how 3-D it actually is at home, but anyway, this concert film delivers as much Katy Perry as any reasonable person could handle. More, probably.
The Devil Inside
Just another exorcism story? No! This one is based on a true story! (Though how much that means to you probably depends on whether you believe in demonic possession.)
The charming Hugh Dancy and Maggie Gyllenhaal meet cute in a doctor's waiting room, except the doctor is her father (Jonathan Pryce) and his practice involves manual stimulation of ladies' privates to induce a "paroxysm" that serves as therapy for their "hysteria." Spoiler: Eventually someone invents the electric vibrator. Also present is Rupert Everett, and Rupert Everett's new face.
Chico & Rita
Attractive cartoons fall in love to a soundtrack of Latin music in Chico & Rita, a 2012 Oscar nominee in the category of Best Animated Feature.
Because it is illegal for me to produce this column without mentioning a new film Mark Duplass is involved in, here's The Do-Deca-Pentathlon, which he directed with his brother Jay, about a pair of brothers competing in a series of physical challenges, like if ALL the events at the Olympics were silly.
Estranged sisters played by Mira Sorvino and Tammy Blanchard are reunited just in time for Blanchard's character to get married to that square-jawed lab tech from SVU. Also: Patti LuPone!
The Art of Rap
Speaking of SVU: Ice-T directed this documentary about the history and evolution of hip-hop.
Playing a blocked writer in Ruby Sparks was probably good preparation for Paul Dano to play a screw-up musician in For Ellen, in which he tries to pull his life together to get custody of his daughter. Jon Heder also appears, for no good reason.
This documentary covers pitcher R.A. Dickey and the titular crazy-ass pitch for which he's known.
"In Theaters" VOD Picks
Writer-director-sitcom star Josh Radnor continues his quest to become his generation's Zach Braff. Interpret that as you will.
Richard Gere plays a hedge fund manager who pairs financial malfeasance with what seems in the trailer to be vehicular manslaughter, but from now on every time you see this movie's title, here's all you're going to think: LISTEN ALL Y'ALL IT'S ARBITRAAAAAAAGE!
Weird Indie of the Week
Acts of Godfrey
Simon Callow (of Four Weddings and a Funeral fame) headlines what filmmakers claim is the world's first-ever movie with all-rhyming dialogue, which is either an interesting conceit or a tiresome gimmick.
Beverly Hills Chihuahua 3: Viva La Fiesta!
I didn't know they made a Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2, but now that I do, the fact that George Lopez is still involved is a real bummer.