A Blitz of Summer Blockbusters Movie theaters don't seem fazed by the fact that there is more than one month to go before the official start of summer — more than 20 new films opened this weekend. Film critic Bob Mondello talks with host Andrea Seabrook about What Happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas, Speed Racer, Surfwise, Before the Rains, Poultrygeist, and more.
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A Blitz of Summer Blockbusters

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A Blitz of Summer Blockbusters

A Blitz of Summer Blockbusters

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ANDREA SEABROOK, host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Andrea Seabrook.

At the movies this weekend, "Iron Man" continued flexing those box office muscles. It pulled in $50 million. The comic book flick pounded the big new movies this week, "What Happens in Vegas" and the much talked about "Speed Racer."

(Soundbite of music)

SEABROOK: Not so much - "Speed Racer" didn't even get close to Hollywood's victory lane. It sputtered to a distant second. Get this though - 18 other movies opened this weekend. Most of them in New York and Los Angeles. And to help us ride the movie wave, here's NPR's own Bob Mondello. Bob.

BOB MONDELLO: Hey, good to be here.

SEABROOK: So, okay. Cheap transition here - speaking of surfing, tell us about this documentary...

(Soundbite of laughter)

MONDELLO: Wave a tsunami...

SEABROOK: ..."Surfwise."

MONDELLO: Hey, yes, exactly.

SEABROOK: "Surfwise," the documentary.

MONDELLO: Well, "Surfwise" is a picture - it's an interesting one. It's a documentary about a guy named Dorian Paskowitz, who raised nine kids in a 24-foot recreational vehicle and turned them into what's known as the first family of surfing.

(Soundbite of movie, "Surfwise")

Mr. DORIAN PASKOWITZ (Documentary Subject): Throughout out all of our lives together, we have been known as a very unusual family. We have been known as different. And it's the most uncomplimentary thing you can say about me. Because in reality, we were the most conventional of people.

MONDELLO: Hard to imagine, isn't it?

SEABROOK: It is pretty provocative.

MONDELLO: Yeah, it's a really interesting picture. He raised - I mean, it's interesting to see these kids. His wife was having them at a rate about one a year. And they all became surfers, they all became amazing surfers actually and they never enrolled them in schools. Because he was off the grid.

And until they were in their late teens, none of them seemed to want to give any of this up. At that point, they sort of got into relationships with other people in the surfing world and started to realize there was a great big world out there they weren't taking part in and sort of wanted part of it.

And so the family started to break up, and it's really interesting how that happened. It's a fascinating documentary.

SEABROOK: I love documentaries. I can't wait to see that one. But that's just one of the 20 new movies that open this weekend. Why so many at one time? Twenty movies.

MONDELLO: Well, back in the day - I used to work in the movie business and May was always this period where you opened pictures that you thought had a shot but you had to get them out in front of the big wave of blockbusters, right? And...

SEABROOK: That come in the summer.

MONDELLO: Exactly. And they would, all those would open on Memorial Day and thereafter. Well, Memorial Day is no longer the beginning of the summer. "Iron Man" is already out. "Speed Racer" is already out.

SEABROOK: The blockbusters are out.

MONDELLO: Everything's sort of moving backwards. And so I think the film companies are deciding that they better get these movies, these smaller movies, out as quickly as they can because if they don't there's not going to be any room for them in the multiplex.

SEABROOK: Of the 20 that I saw listed, I counted six foreign films. You saw one called "Before the Rains" from India. This isn't about a natural disaster.

MONDELLO: No, no, no. It's a film set in 1937 in India and it's about a British - I think he's a tea farmer - but in any event, he's a trader and he wants to build a road.

(Soundbite of movie, "Before the Rains")

Mr. RAHUL BOSE (Actor): (as T.K. Neelan) Will you let me change course again?

Unidentified Man: This is going to be the damndest, crookedest road in the crown.

Mr. BOSE: (as T.K. Neelan) Oh, definitely. But it will be here after monsoon. A straight road would slide away.

Unidentified Man: I will have to name this road after you, T.K. Neelan Road, how does sound?

MONDELLO: All of that's before the rains, and what happens is that what they're swept away in is all the emotion of an affair that's taking place on this sort of tea plantation and it's a quite emotional picture.

SEABROOK: There's one movie I am dying to see. It's called "Poultrygeist...

MONDELLO: Yeah, you're a...

SEABROOK: ...Night of the Chicken Dead."

MONDELLO: ...you're a little braver than I am on that one.

SEABROOK: Okay. But, wait, Variety called it a veritable "Cluckwork Orange."

(Soundbite of laughter)

MONDELLO: Yeah, well, I haven't got a line on that one, I'm afraid. This is a Troma classic apparently and they make some very interesting horror movies.

SEABROOK: It's B movies on purpose.

MONDELLO: Yes.

SEABROOK: You should say.

MONDELLO: And on steroids.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MONDELLO: Like poultry.

SEABROOK: Man, I'm excited for that one. NPR's movie critic Bob Mondello. Thanks for coming by.

MONDELLO: It's always a pleasure.

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