Friday Flicks: Is Water for Elephants Worth Forgetting?

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Grab some popcorn! NewsFeed’s Glen Levy brings you the movies you should check out (or avoid) this weekend.

Water for Elephants

Tagline: Life is the most spectacular show on earth.

Also known as, “R-Patz demands to be taken seriously for his craft and won’t just look sultry in Twilight, you know!” (but they couldn’t fit that on the poster). Water for Elephants is the movie adaptation of Sara Gruen’s Depression-era circus novel and stars Robert Pattinson as veterinary student Jacob Jankowski, who duly meets and falls in love with Marlena Rosenbluth (Reese Witherspoon), who may or may not be stopped from returning the favor by her controlling husband, August (Christoph Waltz, who last scared the bejesus out of us in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Bastards).

This is a key movie for both its star and director, Francis Lawrence, who cut his teeth helming music videos but most recently took charge of the Will Smith vehicle, I Am Legend, which was a hit-and-miss affair at best. “When two people are meant to be together, they will be together, it’s fate,” says Jacob to Marlena at one point but the sentiment applies to Pattinson and Lawrence sticking around in Hollywood’s A-list too.

(More on See a Q&A with Robert Pattinson)

When Harry Tries to Marry

Tagline: He made all the arrangements. He just didn’t plan on love.

The millionth movie set in New York City (there should be a prize of some sort, if only we weren’t fibbing), When Harry Tries to Marry isn’t so much the sequel to When Harry Met Sally (though you can bet your bottom dollar the studio behind this wants you to think it is in order to get you in the door) but rather the story of Indian-born bachelor Harry (played by Rahul Rai), who hasn’t really recovered from his parents’ divorce. Even though his parents married for love, they said it wouldn’t last and indeed it didn’t.

Instead, Harry undertakes an arranged marriage, but with the long-distance relationship underway – look out! – he meets an American student, Teresa (Stefanie Estes), who sets about corrupting him with her wicked Western ways (actually, that’s not entirely fair, she helps him prepare for the wedding). Expect every review to use the phrase “cross-cultural.” Expect us to return to our When Harry Met Sally DVD.

(More on See the best of Bollywood)

The Bang Bang Club

Tagline: It’s not always black and white.

So named for being in the line of fine during the final days of apartheid in mid-1990’s South Africa, The Bang Bang Club focuses on celebrated, Pulitzer-prize winning photographers such as Greg Marinovich (Ryan Phillippe), Robin Comley (Malin Akerman), Kevin Carter (Taylor Kitsch) and, to declare an interest as his work has been seen in TIME for many years, James Nachtwey (Patrick Lyster). Unfortunately, the timing of the movie couldn’t be more pertinent, as it comes out in the same week that two award-winning photographers, the American Chris Hondros and Briton Tim Hetherington, were killed while covering the conflict in Libya.

Writer/director Steven Silver devotes the heart of the picture to Phillippe’s Marinovic, as he’s the new guy on the scene and so his eyes most closely capture our own. The near-two-hour running time might be a stretch, as well as the sub-plots focusing on the promiscuous lifestyle away from the camera. But this isn’t exactly a genre that can be accused of having too many movies made about it (Before the Rain and Salvador spring to mind), which, in addition to the tragic events of the past few days, is reason enough to watch moving images about still ones.

(More on See James Nachtwey’s photos from Japan)

NewsFeed’s Flicks Pick: Time for us to focus: we’re going for The Bang Bang Club.