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The Sweet Life (NR)

Synapse Films / Release date: July 12

I never thought I'd see a low-budget romantic comedy starring James (Frankenhooker) Lorinz and veteran rocker Joan Jett, and especially one from the writer of Tom Berenger exploitation flick The Substitute. Even more so, I never thought it would be one of the best films of 2011. I know the phrase "romantic comedy" will push a lot of people away, but this isn't your assembly-line, Hollywood meet-cute love story. The Sweet Life takes those clichéd contrivances and turns them on their heads with the casting of real human beings put into real situations with real outcomes. Some may call it bitter, but real life and real love can be just that, and this film doesn't shy away from such truths. This will likely make many viewers uncomfortable, since it's apt to hit some of us a little too close to home. But it's a great date movie for the perpetually dateless. — Louis Fowler

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Blast! (NR)


This documentary by Paul Devlin (Freestyle: The Art of Rhyme, SlamNation) follows his brother, conflicted family man Mark, and his team of NASA astrophysicists across five continents as they attempt to launch a super-high-altitude balloon that will reach into space and basically map the universe. The stakes here are as far-reaching as the Balloon-borne Large Aperture Submillimeter Telescope; from the stress of maintaining relationships to the do-or-die funding question, Devlin handles it with a Herzogian eye on the human struggle in the vast nowhere. In fact, Werner Herzog himself shows up in a deleted scene in which he demonstrates genuine curiosity about the BLAST team's goings-on, and, of course, shows off his much larger boom mic. Our crew notes the phallic implications. It's a quality that makes them lovable. — Justin Strout

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Happythankyoumoreplease (R)

Anchor Bay Home Entertainment

No one has staged the trials and tribulations of well-to-do, white New York hipsters quite like Josh Radnor. The star of CBS' horrifically imbecilic How I Met Your Mother, in an attempt to prove that he's more than just a shitty sitcom actor, has concocted this irritatingly titled flick that proves he's also a shitty writer, director and movie actor. He stars as a 20-something slacker writer with perpetual facial scruff and the undying need to overanalyze every single failure in his life. He befriends a precocious black child, dates a lounge singer named Mississippi, and interacts with his quirky pals, the worst of which is Malin Akerman, playing against type — her type typically being that of the hot blonde — as a woman suffering from alopecia. I guess it's her way of aiming for Oscar gold, Charlize Theron-style. Like everything about this movie, it doesn't work. — Louis Fowler


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