I know what you're thinking. And I empathize. Summer is over, cats and kittens. Students are returning, the temperature is going to cool down, and the mindless parade of summer blockbusters is coming to an end. What do we do now? Sit around and wait for Spielberg to tell us how to feel? Bide our time and sigh until Meryl Streep shows up to deliver this year's big accent? Do we really have nothing to look forward to but... pause for effect... serious films?

Psssh. Yeah, right.

This week, we've got a classic musical, some local talent, a violent comic book comedy, and Hans Gruber as the Gipper. Feast your eyeballs, dear readers, on What to Watch: Back to School edition.


Singin’ in the Rain (Art Theater Co-op): The classic 1952 song-and-dance cavalcadestarring Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor, and Debbie Reynolds is back for more screenings. 

Why to Watch: The first digital production to be shown as a late-night feature at the Art, this eye-popping collection of choreographed dance numbers and catchy tunes boasts an excellent and beloved cast. Lovers of old-school musical romance should come out and celebrate this film as Hitchcock lovers did the recent screening of Vertigo. And you youngsters, with your Step Up and your You Got Served? Go see this, and see some old-timers blow your mind. 

Showing Monday @ 5:00 p.m. and Thursday @ 2:30 p.m. and 10:00 p.m.

Lee Daniels’ The Butler (Savoy 16 IMAX): Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey star in the true story of a White House butler who served eight different Presidents as the country went through dramatic changes. 

Why to Watch: After Lee Daniels became a commodity as a director with Precious, he followed up with the odd little Zac Efron nugget The Paperboy. (Seriously, look it up.) Now he’s back in Oscar-bait territory with this star-studded affair. In addition to a compelling, decades-spanning storyline, it boasts one of the most ridiculously interesting casts in film history, including: Robin Williams (Dwight Eisenhower), John Cusack (Richard Nixon), James Marsden (John F. Kennedy), Minka Kelly (Jackie Kennedy), Alan Rickman (Ronald Reagan), Jane Fonda (Nancy Reagan), Liev Schreiber (Lyndon Johnson)…. And those are just the famous people playing other famous people. Something of this size, of this scope… It demands a look, does it not?

Showing @ 12:25 p.m., 3:20 p.m., 6:15 p.m., and 9:10 p.m.

Once Upon a Time in the 1970s/Heartshot (Art Theater Co-op): A one-night-onlydouble shot of local film goodness. 

Why to Watch: It’s fantastic how many opportunities there have been lately to get out and support local film. This time around, we have two short films from local directors to get excited about. The first, Once Upon a Time in the 1970s, is a sci-fi comedy webseries in which scientists, robots, and disco collide; the second, Heartshot, focuses on a scientist who supports his drug habit by poaching unicorns in the near future. (You read all of those words correctly.) Tons of great local actors make appearances in these films, and they look to be all kinds of entertaining.

Showing late night at the Art on Wednesday. Check the Art's website for details.

I’m So Excited (The Art Theater Co-op): Pedro Almodovar has one of the most eclectic and enjoyable resumes in film. In this campy comedy, he tells the story of a disparate group of airline passengers and the extremely extroverted male flight attendants in their midst. 

Why to Watch: Almodovar is a master of blending outrageous comedy with serious topics. In this film, we see the extreme reactions of a plane full of people when it seems a technical failure will surely result in their deaths. Why wouldn’t there be musical numbers and lots of high-altitude sex? Also, look out for Almodovar regulars like Penelope Cruz and Antonio Banderas to make appearances. 

Showing Monday through Thursday @ 5:00 p.m., with bonus shows Wednesday and Thursday @ 7:30 p.m.

Kick-Ass 2 (Savoy 16 IMAX): The ultraviolent comic book crusaders are back, andthis time it has 100% less Nicolas Cage. 

Why to Watch: The first Kick-Ass film took a lot of people by surprise--some by how much better it was than they expected, some by how unbelievably brutal it was. The sequel appears to pull no punches (no pun intended) in following in its predecessor's bloody footprints. Christopher Mintz-Plasse is the main villain now (complete with a delightfully profane new supervillain name), and he and his band of criminals are pursued by Kick-Ass (a newly super-pumped-up Aaron Taylor-Johnson), Hit Girl (the fantastic Chloe Grace Moretz), and Colonel Stars and Strips (Jim Carrey, who became an international star by talking out of his butt). Expect some fisticuffs. 

Showing @ 11:40 a.m., 2:05 p.m., 4:35 p.m., 6:55 p.m., and 9:25 p.m.

Still Playing 

Paranoia (Savoy 16 IMAX): Harrison Ford and Gary Oldman square off as tech titans, and poor Liam Hemsworth is caught in the middle. The premise is a little "What if Steve Jobs and Bill Gates were both corrupt and set on getting revenge on each other through their rival innovations," but... Wait--that's actually a pretty good premise. 

Why to Watch: Hemsworth shows promise, despite not being quite as charasmatic as older brother (and current god of thunder) Chris. And you can’t deny the attraction of Oldman (who is one of the greatest scenery-chewers in film history) and Ford (who decided, late in life, to become an actor instead of a star). 

Showing @ 12:10 p.m., 2:40 p.m., 5:10 p.m., 7:40 p.m., and 10:05 p.m.

Planes (Savoy 16 IMAX): A cropduster with big dreams--and a fear of heights--musttest his mettle (and his metal) to compete in a global air race. 

Why to Watch: Honestly, the reason to see this one is the flying sequences. The virtuosity of the animation here is truly impressive. The script…? Well, if you’ve never seen Cars, then this one will feel pretty original. (Then again, Cars is the animated talking-car version of Doc Hollywood, minus the nudity...) Yes, there's a good chance you'll feel like you've seen this one before, and you have, but that doesn't mean you won't have a good time with your kids.

Showing @ 11:30 a.m., 1:50 p.m., 4:15 p.m., 6:25 p.m., and 8:45 p.m.

Coming Soon 

The World’s End (Savoy 16 IMAX): Director Edgar Wright reteams with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost for an apocalypse homage with some familiar faces. 

Why to Watch: If you’re a fan of zombie films, then Wright’s Shaun of the Dead was a great, smart lark starring Pegg as an ordinary bloke trying to get the girl and survive the zombocalypse with Frost as his dim-witted buddy. Wright’s follow-up, Hot Fuzz, managed to both parody buddy-cop action flicks and serve up some damn good buddy-cop action, this time with Pegg as the straight-arrow constable and Frost as his...dim-witted buddy. (Hmmm.) Pegg and Frost are dynamite together. Can’t wait to see what this group does with the end-of-days genre.