David Edelstein: Gems in the movies' dog days

Frank Langella and his artificial companion in "Robot & Frank."
Samuel Goldwyn

(CBS News) It's the last weekend of summer, not by the calendar but in our hearts and wardrobes. Maybe you want to barbecue, get wet, go to a movie. Good luck with that last one!

Not to be a Debby Downer but it's dog days at the multiplex, and most of these dogs won't hunt.

I can't believe a mutt like "The Expendables 2" is number 1 at the box office: It's nice these sexagenarian he-men get work, but the movie is macho camp, like a drag show on steroids - literally.

And don't bother with the arty moonshine shoot-'em-up "Lawless," with Shia LaBoeuf and Tom Hardy, which is cruddy rotgut packaged like primo bourbon.

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But you can still find floating around in theaters "Moonrise Kingdom," Wes Anderson's sweet-souled ode to puppy love, with its lovely, discombobulated frames.

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But the only movie rocking in super-wide release is "Premium Rush," a dandy chase picture with a dash of farce and nothing on its mind but getting bike messenger-hero Joseph Gordon-Levitt from points A to B without being flattened either by cars or Michael Shannon, a bug-eyed riot as a cop with a lethal gambling debt.

The wonderful film in limited release is the futuristic buddy comedy "Robot & Frank," Frank being a proud ex-jewel thief with early-stage dementia who's gifted by his kids with a robot caretaker. There's a nutball caper plot, but the tone is melancholy. Frank's memory is going; the robot's can be erased: Will something between them endure?

What's truly unforgettable is Frank Langella's Frank: He never goes soft, using the character's arrogance to generate an astounding amount of sympathy.

If "Robot & Frank" isn't close by, many cable systems bring first-run indie films for a fee into your home. That's how I caught Kirsten Dunst in "Bachelorette," which is like a raunchier and nastier "Bridesmaids," the comedy rooted in female competition and self-hatred. I liked it, and loved Lizzy Caplan with her bat-signal eyes - but you have to be up for pretty girls not just talking dirty but doing the dirt.

Caity Lotz in the suspense film "The Pact." IFC Films

Best of all is a ghost picture called "The Pact," in which women keep disappearing from a house where the heroine's mother just died. The less you see, the scarier - and nothing has been this scary in years.

I jumped out of my chair when my daughter walked in the room!

Director Nicholas McCarthy has a terrific sense of visual menace, though it must be said there's no sight in "The Pact" that's quite as creepy as Sylvester Stallone in "The Expendables 2."

Fall can't come quickly enough!

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