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click to enlarge Alexandre Landry and Maripier Morin in 'The Fall of the American Empire'

Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures

Alexandre Landry and Maripier Morin in 'The Fall of the American Empire'

On screens this week: Crawl and The Fall of the American Empire 

Opening this week:
When the trailer for this set-in-Florida disaster/horror flick dropped two months ago, our Thaddeus McCollum penned an exhaustive rundown (read it at of its glaring cultural inaccuracies – from the depiction of basements in its "Florida homes" to the disorienting image of a state governor issuing evacuation orders while not wearing a Navy cap. But there's one related discrepancy not even McCollum caught: Said governor is a black guy, and we've clearly proved we aren't ready for anything like that, thank you very much. This is why I've come to suspect the movie was actually designed to function on two levels, imparting generic summer-blockbuster thrills to the rest of the nation while poking Floridians in the eye in ways only we can fully appreciate. So the movie throws at us not just a Category 5 hurricane, but a Category 5 hurricane that puts a father (Barry Pepper) and his daughter at the mercy of killer alligators. Seriously, why don't the two of them just take refuge in an Amscot? That would make the contempt good and obvious. (And accurate.)

Plus, the whole thing was shot in Serbia, which seems like a pretty blatant attempt to humiliate us by playing up our inherent resemblance to an internationally recognized disaster area. Except that some of those places have the good sense to accept relief funds.

In the most subtle "screw you," the part of the aforementioned daughter is played by Kaya Scodelario, whose other big gig this year was portraying the wife of none other than Ted Bundy on Netflix. Ted Bundy? Cheap shot, Crawl! That's like announcing you're going to make a movie about the proud history of New York State and then revealing that Edith Wharton is going to be played by Victoria Gotti. Come to think of it, I'd actually watch the crap out of that. Especially if it was shot in Aleppo. (R; local movie times)

Also playing:
The Fall of the American Empire

It was all the way back in 1986 that filmmaker Denys Arcand gave us The Decline of the American Empire. The real American empire has gone from decline to fall a lot quicker than that, but Arcand is Canadian, so of course he's going to be politer about it. An aura of Great White Northern gentility permeates this "thematic sequel," in which a philosophy student discovers two bags of money and then faces an ethical crisis as to what he should do with them. First of all, philosophy students – is that even a thing anymore? Second, is there anybody south of Niagara Falls who would think about turning over two bags full of money to the so-called authorities? I'm so moral I'm stuck working in journalism, and even I would only consider doing one thing with a couple of satchels' worth of greenbacks: taking them to a Seminole casino to turn them into four satchels' worth. It sure beats another trip to Amscot, amirite Floridians? (R; local movie times)

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