Cineast: ‘Thor,’ ‘About Time,’ ‘Armstrong Lie,’ ‘Ass Backwards’

Thor: The Dark World, About Time, The Armstrong Lie and Ass Backwards are new to theaters this week.

About Time
That rarity of rarities, a potentially charming romantic comedy, About Time is a British film about Tim who, at the age of 21, is informed by his father that he has the ability to go back in time. It seems all the men in Tim’s family have had this power. When Tim moves to London and finally meets the girl of his dreams, Mary, Tim puts his time-traveling to use in the service of his romantic future. Time-travel is tricky, however, and there are, of course, snags along the way: Tim winds up having to woo Mary multiple times, as time-travel accidents wind up undoing his previous efforts. This serves to answer the primary challenge in modern-day romantic comedy—that is, how to plausibly prevent the love-match from happening too quickly.

The Armstrong Lie
The documentary filmmaker Alex Gibney set out to make a film about Lance Armstrong’s comeback in 2009. But, when the truth of Armstrong’s doping became known, Gibney decided to make The Armstrong Lie. Armstrong, who’s known for his tenacity and for his anger at those who cross him, was surprisingly willing to cooperate with Gibney in this revealing portrait of a great athlete felled by hubris and a thirst for power. Armstrong has proven to be a deeply flawed man, but perhaps he will partially redeem himself by exposing the true nature of fraud and doping in the world of competitive sports.

Ass Backwards
Ready for some trashy fun? Ass Backwards looks set to deliver the trash and then some. With Casey Wilson and June Diane Raphael as Chloe and Kate, life-long friends who are now 30-something veterans of child beauty pageants—they always came in last. Now they’ve been invited, improbably enough, to take part in a 30-year reunion of their beauty pageant colleagues, and they’re determined to bring their A game and finish first. Featuring Alicia Silverstone, Vincent D’Onofrio and Bob Odenkirk, this is not your A-list comedy production. But that being so, it’s willing to go places that high-budget comedies aren’t: dykey biker chicks, girls prisons and, of course, that obscene title.

Thor: The Dark World
Just in time for the holidays, Thor: The Dark World, a little taste of Nordic mythology for the kiddies. Thor, the god of thunder, takes his massive hammer into battle like it makes sense against other, more practical weapons. When an ancient race threatens to return the universe to darkness and chaos, and Odin and Asgard seem powerless to prevent it, it becomes Thor’s job to save the day. The oddly un-Nordic sounding Jane Foster becomes Thor’s sidekick in this tale of courage and war.

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