Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Winter Movie Preview 2008, Part 1

I did this last year and it proved to be the only way I could get myself interested in the traditionally crappy fare that the studios spew out in the first few months of the year. Remember, just because I'm previewing a movie doesn't mean you should see it. Some movies just need to be highlighted so they can receive the ridicule they deserve.

Movie: One Missed Call (Eric Valette)
High-Concept Synopsis: Victims-to-be get phone calls from their future selves foretelling their own demise in this Japanese horror remake. Shannyn Sossamon, Ed Burns, and Ray Wise star.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Audiences looking for something, anything new to see the weekend after New Year's. Stephen King, who is so totally onboard with the concept of them newfangled cellular mobile telephones being the ushers of our destruction. Overseas audiences lured in by the film's utterly hilarious Australian title Don't Pick Up The Cell Phone! (exclamation theirs).
Who Won't Be Seeing It: Audiences who have been burned by the American remake of a Japanese thriller before. People who will be too busy trying to see the good movies from 2007 to start seeing the bad ones from 2008. Folks who still haven't forgiven Shannyn Sossamon for that "Audio Science" crap.
Why I'd See It: Normally, even the most braindead of scary movies will make a decent Friday night option, but Shannyn Sossamon and Ed Burns? You're pushing it. January 4

Movie: 27 Dresses (Anne Fletcher)
High-Concept Synopsis: In the grand tradition of movies based on time-worn clichés (Something's Gotta Give; The Whole Nine Yards), this movie takes the concept of "always a bridesmaid, never a bride" and makes a whole movie out of it. Katherine Heigl, James Marsden, Malin Akerman, Judy Greer, and Ed Burns star.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Romantic comedy fans, because as those things go, this doesn't look so terrible. James Marsden fans hoping this is the movie where he'll finally score the girl. Grey's Anatomy fans who are dying to see Heigl have some actual chemistry with a co-star again.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: Non-blondes who feel somewhat insulted that the only thing that's being done to Heigl to make her seem believable as unlucky in love is to dye her hair red. Fans of Patrick Dempsey, Hugh Jackman, and Ryan Gosling, among others, who feel that James Marsden has been deservedly cuckolded in his last several movies because he's just not all that. Fans of tasteful pantsuits as wedding fashion.
Why I'd See It: I find Heigl and Marsden ridiculously likeable, and the presence of Judy Greer never hurt anyone either. January 11

Movie: Cassandra's Dream (Woody Allen)
High-Concept Synopsis: It's a Woody Allen drama, which means brothers Ewan McGregor and Colin Farrell will make moral compromises and be haunted by their guilty consciences before they end up going to lengths they never thought they'd go and losing themselves in the process. I'm guessing. Tom Wilkinson co-stars, with Vilmos Zsigmond as cinematographer and Phillip Glass composing the score.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Audiences looking for something un-guiltily good in January. Fans of Woody Allen's recent creative resurgence. Haughty Brits who will take some satisfaction in Scottish McGregor and Irish Farrell bending to play English.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: Haughty Scots and Irish who feel McGregor and Farrell have sold out. Audiences confused as to why, if this movie's any good, it's opening in January. Scarlett Johansson, who thought she and Woody had an arrangement, damn it!
Why I'd See It: Woody's been making good movies lately. And while his dramas all seem to hover around the same general story, I'm excited to see what these three actors can do with the material. January 18

Movie: Cloverfield (Matthew Reeves)
High-Concept Synopsis: New York gets attacked by giant monster(s). Partygoers with hand-held cameras run for their lives.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Fans of Alias and Lost executive producer J.J. Abrams, who is also producing this. Nerds who have been trying to decipher the "mysteries" and "clues" found in the viral marketing campaign for the past several months. Fans of underutilized actress Lizzy Caplan and underexploited side of beef Mike Vogel, who both co-star.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: The growing contingent of people who seem to object to the concept of viral marketing as a whole and want to take out their frustrations about nerds and their nerdly hobbies on this film. People who think Cloverfield is a wussy title for a monster movie. People who think Matt Reeves, best known for his work on Felicity, is a wussy director for a monster movie.
Why I'd See It: It's the only event film in the month of January, and given two hours, J.J. Abrams has never really let me down. January 18

Movie: Mad Money (Callie Khouri)
High-Concept Synopsis: An all-lady crime comedy starring, get this, Diane Keaton, Queen Latifah, and Katie Holmes. Wrap your heads around that one.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Scientologists, batty older women, and rappers-turned-actresses, if we're going by stereotype. Fans of The Great Muppet Caper who always felt it would be better if the Muppets were played by actresses of divergent cachet. Audiences who remember Callie Khouri as the screenwriter of Thelma and Louise.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: Men, I feel quite certain. Audiences who get their fill of wacky, bumbling ladies on The View every morning. Audiences who also remember Callie Khouri as the director of The Divine Secrets Of The Ya-Ya Sisterhood.
Why I'd See It: Only if I was assured that every ticket purchased went towards some sort of Free Katie fund. January 18

Movie: Teeth (Michael Lichtenstein)
High-Concept Synopsis: Teen girl guards her virtue with razor-sharp teeth in her hoo-hah.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Misogynists who always suspected a lady's vagina was the most dangerous weapon on earth. Indie horror fans who can't believe they found something quirkier than Death Bed: The Bed That Eats People. Nip/Tuck fans eager to see John Hensley, a.k.a. Matt McNamara, get eaten up by killer vadge.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: Eve Ensler, whose Vagina Monologues never advocated murder. Shonda Rhimes and Oprah, who were both pulling for the title to be changed to The Vajayjayville Horror. The Christian Right, who are pissed someone else thought up a way to scare kids off of sex that they never considered.
Why I'd See It: Who knows whether the movie can live up to the clever premise, but I'm game to find out. January 18

Movie: Untraceable (Gregory Hoblit)
High-Concept Synopsis: The trailer, which has been making the rounds for at least a few months now, begins, "In the FBI's elite cyber-crime unit..." What more do you need to know? There's a web site that kills people and special agent Diane Lane has to stop the killer before it's too late. Colin Hanks and Joseph Cross co-star.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Technophobes who are all too willing to believe that web sites would kill a man if they really wanted to. Bloggers who no doubt wish they could engineer their web site to kill anonymous comment-spammers. Audiences who remember Hoblit's work on NYPD Blue, Fracture, and Primal Fear.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: People who got burned on the last cyber-crime sensation, The Net. People who object to Colin Hanks's existence as a poor man's Christopher Gorham. Audiences who remember Hoblit's other work on Hart's War, Frequence, and Cop Rock.
Why I'd See It: Primal Fear's a great movie, but mostly it's just the notion of a web site that kills people. Like TMZ but not metaphorical. January 25

Movie: Be Kind Rewind (Michel Gondry)
High-Concept Synopsis: Jack Black and Mos Def work in an antiquated video store and have to re-enact all the movies after the magnetized Black erases the tapes. ...It's a Michel Gondry movie, what do you want?
Who Will Be Seeing It: Fans of Gondry, Black, and weirdo broad comedy.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: People who fear the tone of this comedy may be going a little too broad. Folks who wish Mos Def would go back to his marble-mouthed emcee duty on HBO's Def Poetry. Moviegoers utterly weary of Black's high-energy but well-worn routine.
Why I'd See It: I've already blogged about the giggle-inducing trailer, and any reservations I may have are overridden by my desire to see what Michel Gondry's up to this time. January 25

Movie: The Eye (David Moreau; Xavier Palud)
High-Concept Synopsis: The Asian horror remakes continue, this time a re-doing of a 2002 Hong Kong thriller about a blind lady (Jessica Alba) who gets a cornea transplant so she can finally see. Too bad they're haunted corneas. Uh-oh! Alessandro Nivola and Parker Posey co-star.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Fans of that blue-gray-tinted, ghostly, atmospheric brand of American remakes of Asian horror. Straight male fans who think a blind Jessica Alba means a better chance she'd actually nail them. Fans of Moreau and Palud's last movie, the French/Romanian thriller Them.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: Audiences burned out by the glut of Asian horror remakes even moreso than the month before with One Missed Call. Audiences pre-burned out by Alba's six-films-in-ten-months ubiquity. Folks who can't bear to see Nivola and Posey wasted on b-grade horror remakes.
Why I'd See It: If it does the job, I totally don't care if it's a b-grade horror remake. February 1

Movie: The Poughkeepsie Tapes (John Erick Dowdle)
High-Concept Synopsis: A series of videotapes found in an abandoned house reveal a decade-long murder spree in this Blair Witch-y horror gambit.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Audiences lured in by the fake-documentary realness of the premise. Fans of low-fi video, which the trailer for this movie suggests this film has in spades. Vassar alumnae looking to represent for the 'keepsie.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: Blair Witch haters who are adamant they never again get fooled by a horror movie dressed up as videotaped "evidence." Audiences made easily sick by shaky, poor-quality camerawork. Smith alumnae who refuse to support any project associated with those Vassar losers.
Why I'd See It: Gimmick or not, I'm always down for new ways to scare people. I do hope the low-fi video isn't the dominant visual style, though. February 8


floretbroccoli said...

Cloverfield -- Why I won't see it: I'm still not ready for attack-on-New-York as entertainment.

Teeth -- Why I would see it: I still have a lot of good will for Mitchell Lichtenstein from his performance in Ang Lee's The Wedding Banquet.

JA said...

Yea - CLOVERFIELD, Be Kind Rewind, Teeth, Cassandra's Dream

May(be) - The Eye, The Poughkeepsie Tapes, One Missed Call

Nay - 27 Dresses, Mad Money, Untraceable

The trailer for Untraceable makes me spit nails. Literally - my salivary glands begin to secrete iron, which the grinding of my jaw molds into a nail shape, and I spit them with a mighty force towards the screen. Beware to all those sitting in front of me; I've blinded several so far!

I think a day could be well spent sneaking into the looking-to-me-like-crap horror trifecta of Eye, OMC and Poughkeepsie.

Joe R. said...

Jason, what do you have against the FBI's elite cyber-crime unit? Huh? They're the elite when it comes to fighting cyber-crime! Some respect, please.

JA said...

Ya know, my main problem with the trailer for Untracable is it's possibly the worst offender of "give's the entire movie away in the trailer" that I've ever seen. I mean... why would I bother to go and see this movie after watching this trailer? To see the last thirty seconds? Because the trailer tells me every single beat of the story up until that point. Am I supposed to find any mystery attached to what will happen to the first several victims? Or that he'll show up at her house? And threaten her moppet? And attack her in her car? Gah. Just SO stupid.

Justin said...

Great entry. Puts me in the mind of the much-missed Fametracker least essential list that came out every season.

Reel Fanatic said...

Wow, this really is the depressing time of year for movies! .. Be Kind Rewind should rock, though, and though I'm suspicious about Cloverfield, I'm hoping that one is great too

That Bootleg Guy said...

Dude...simple oversight, I'm sure, but you missed "First Sunday". It's an "urban" vehicle featuring the comedic stylings of O'Shea "Ice Cube" Jackson, Katt Williams and the made-for-big-screen preening of Tracy Morgan.

Just send me a text message when you've corrected this, Joe. Kthxbye.

Lyn said...

I've seen "Teeth" - which I highly recommend.

I've also seen the Japanese version of "One Missed Call". It was hilariously awesome. Top moment: when a severed arm starts dialling a mobile phone, for no reason that makes sense even if you accept the internal "logic" of the film.

Kamikaze Camel said...

"Overseas audiences lured in by the film's utterly hilarious Australian title Don't Pick Up The Cell Phone! (exclamation theirs)."

Oh man, that's brilliant! I had no idea it was called that down here. And for starters we call them "mobile phones" not "cell phones". B-R-I-L-L-I-A-N-T

Also, I have a reason why people won't see Be Kind Rewind (like, for instance, me) - the complete and utter ridiculous "are they even going to bother to explain them?" plotholes. Like, where in NYC are you going to find a video store with actual videos in it. And if Jack Black erases the videos at first then why not their remakes. AAAGH!

JA said...

Are you serious, kc? That's keeping you from wanting to see it? If Michel Gondry's presence in the dirctor's chair is enough to get me to overlook my JackBlackophobia then you ought to be able to suspend your disbelief for small things like that.

The original One Missed Call was by Takashi Miike so of course it's got no fucking logic and just tries to outdo itself with it's own bizarreness! That's how he rolls. And I love him for it. OMC (the original) is one of the better J-Horror flicks if only because it is fully aware of how totally retarded it is. I have ZERO hope for the remake to have the same.

Keifer Nandez said...

No love for Untraceable?! But the killer got ALL THE WAY INTO [her] WIRELESS NETWORK!!!!

He's a genius! A mad genius!

Brooke Cloudbuster said...

I'm still horrified by the prospect of The Eye. Not because of the idea of getting a haunted organ, but because of the idea of Jessica Alba and Parker Posey sharing a screen together.

A woman who gets a tremendous amount of roles in which she's required to look good and pout with absolutely no actorly talent whatosever.

A woman who gets woefully few roles where she can display her great talent, and this film is one of them; with absolutely amazing actorly talent, comic and drama.

Guess which is which? :D

Tom said...

Its proper title is "The Po'Keep"

Kamikaze Camel said...

As much as I adored Eternal Sunshine (one of my top 5 in 2004) I still can't bring myself to watch the "bold and whimsicle wonderland" (direct quote) of The Science of Sleep. It's like there's precious and then there's OMGPRECIOUS!!! The latter of which I can't stand.

I have a feeling Be Kind Rewind falls more into the latter.

zooplah said...

I'm not too up on seeing One Missed Call, because it looks like a ripoff of The Ring (which I didn't particularly care for).

27 Dresses: Not another romcom. Ahhh!!!

I might let my hormones get the better of me and watch Cloverfield (ahem Michael Stahl-David), though.

Mad Money: My love of Diane Keaton notwithstanding, this movie sounds terribly lame.

The Eye: Nah, already saw the Chinese version (which had more holes than swiss cheese).