Sunday, March 30, 2008

Winter Movie Preview, Part 4

[Previously: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3]

Movie: The Ruins (Carter Smith)
High-Concept Synopsis: Spring Breakers wander from Cancun into the Mexican jungle, coming upon some overgrown Mayan ruins. That was their first mistake.
Who Will Be Seeing It: People who read and enjoyed the tense, swiftly moving novel by Scott Smith (A Simple Plan). People looking forward to seeing Jonathan Tucker, Jena Malone, Shawn Ashmore, and Joe Anderson sweat and suffer. Environmentalists eager for all the vegetation porn.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: People confused by the vagueness of the forces working against our heroes/victims. Kids not looking forward to freaking themselves out before they head to Mexico themselves. Mel Gibson, who thought he got to make the most violent movie ever associated with Mayan architecture.
Why I'd See It: The book was tight and I can't wait to see how it's rendered onscreen. And "rendered" is probably a good word, considering...well, I don't want to ruin it for anyone. April 4

Movie: Nim's Island (Mark Levin, Jennifer Flackett)
High-Concept Synopsis: Jodie Foster, Abigail Breslin, and Gerard Butler star in a fantasy/adventure/comedy about a little girl whose imagination houses a vast fantastical universe of some sort.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Old school Neverending Story fans looking for a fix. Jodie Foster fans eager to see her onscreen and not blowing street thugs away. Little Miss Sunshine fans eager to see Breslin through her awkward phase.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: Narnia fans who feel territorial about any fantasy product crowding in on their favored Jesus lion. Moviegoers too busy making "Thithhhh ithhhh THHHPARTA!" jokes at Gerard Butler's expense to actually go see a movie. Viewers pissed that this movie is not, in fact, a sequel to the 1982 animated movie The Secret of NIMH.
Why I'd See It: Ummm...if I end up seeing it on (free) cable some afternoon when I'm particularly unburdened with anything better to do? April 4

Movie: Shine A Light (Martin Scorsese)
High-Concept Synopsis: Now that he's won that Oscar, Marty's free to direct concert films again, this time featuring the Rolling Stones.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Stones fans who don't care how mummified Mick and Keith are looking these days. Young folks drawn in by demo-baiting special guests like Jack White and Christina Aguilera. Fans of Scorsese's seminal concert film, The Last Waltz (hi, Dad!).
Who Won't Be Seeing It: Non-fans of the Stones. Non-fans of Scorsese. Audiences turned off by the sight of Mick feeling up on Xtina. Hands off, Grandpa!
Why I'd See It: Eh. I love the Stones and all, but the big screen is no place to stare at those craggy mugs for an hour and a half. The fact that this is screening in IMAX theatres makes me afraid for the well-being of those who attend. April 4

Movie: Leatherheads (George Clooney)
High-Concept Synopsis: The Hudsucker Proxy but with footballs instead of hula hoops, is my best guess. Clooney plays an aging gridiron star while John Krasinski plays the young upstart and Renee Zellweger plays Jennifer Jason Leigh playing Rosalind Russell.
Who Will Be Seeing It: The not inconsiderable throngs of women who'd do just about anything for George Clooney. The not inconsiderable throngs of men who'd do just about anything for George Clooney. Fans of Clooney's work with the Coen Brothers, since he's borrowing pretty liberally from some of their aesthetic.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: Coen fans who don't like such overt style-biting. The Office fans who refuse to see anything that suggests Jim will end up with Bridget Jones and not Pam. Bondage folks who were momentarily misled by the title.
Why I'd See It: Clooney and Krasinski both seem to be having fun, and it'll be interesting to see if Clooney can handle screwball comedy as a director. April 4

Movie: Smart People (Noam Murro)
High-Concept Synopsis: The producer of Sideways brings forth yet another tale of a hopelessly dysfunctional intellectual who gets his life shaken up by Thomas Haden Church. Ellen Page and Sarah Jessica Parker co-star.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Sideways fans who are cool with swapping Victorian literature for fine wine and Dennis Quaid for Paul Giamatti. Juno fans looking to see Page make with the sass-mouth again. Sex and the City fanatics who feel like they're going to need to wade back into Sarah Jessica Parker's orbit, lest they die from SJP shock when they finally see Carrie Bradshaw on the big screen.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: Sideways fans who found a whole lot of that movie's appeal to have been in Alexander Payne and Paul Giamatti. The Juno backlashers who are ready to trample Ellen Page's burgeoning career under their feet. Anti-intellectuals.
Why I'd See It: It looks amusing enough. Truthfully, it looks every bit the poor-man's Sideways that it's been billed as, and if you were going to pick one of that film's actors to carry over, Thomas Haden Church would have been my last choice. April 11

Movie: Street Kings (David Ayer)
High-Concept Synopsis: The writer of Training Day and Dark Blue and Harsh Times and S.W.A.T. ventured into the uncharted waters of the LAPD and its daily street war against crime and corruption. Keanu Reeves, Forest Whitaker, and a cast of thousands star.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Audiences who saw and enjoyed Training Day and Dark Blue. Fans of the kind of far-flung casting that puts Hugh Laurie, Chris Evans, Common, and Cedric the Entertainer in the same movie. Speed fans who know the comedic potential of casting Keanu as a cop again.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: Audiences who saw Harsh Times and S.W.A.T. Audiences who will swear to having seen this movie before. People who prefer their James Ellroy stories (L.A. Confidential; The Black Dahlia) to be set in the seedy L.A. of the 1940s.
Why I'd See It: The cast is actually interesting to me, even if none of them seem like they should be in the same movie. But man, does this story seem tired. April 11

Movie: Prom Night (Nelson McCormick)
High-Concept Synopsis: TV director McCormick directs a whole bunch of TV actors in a horror remake about high schoolers getting menaced at the prom. No one ever said the basics didn't work.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Horror fans eager to see a remake that isn't taking a beloved classic of the genre and crappifying it. (Prom Night was crappified to begin with!) People who come to see Idris Elba, a.k.a. Stringer Bell from The Wire because, I don't know if you've heard, but The Wire fans are kind of hardcore. People who come to see Scott Porter, a.k.a. Jason Street from Friday Night Lights because, I don't know if you've heard, but Friday Night Lights fans are kind of hardcore.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: Everybody currently thinking of emailing me all aghast that I'd consider the original Prom Night "crappified." Movie snobs who won't see something so dominated by small-screen talent. High schoolers who tell their parents they're going to the movies after their real proms but are actually going to a house party to drink and have sex.
Why I'd See It: It won't take much to get me to see a crappy horror movie. Of course, it won't take much to get me to blow off a crappy horror movie either. We'll leave it up to fate. April 11

Movie: The Visitor (Thomas McCarthy)
High-Concept Synopsis: Writer/director McCarthy casts Richard Jenkins as the kind of sad old New York intellectual who either imparts wisdom or has wisdom imparted unto him. It's the latter here, as he finds a pair of illegal immigrants squatting in his apartment and strikes up an odd friendship.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Anyone who's ever been enchanted by Jenkins in his countless bit parts and supporting roles and are ecstatic that he's gotten a lead. Fans of McCarthy's The Station Agent, which was similarly about very different people gravitating towards each other. Fans of the boring-white-people-learn-about-life-from-brown people genre.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: People annoyed by the boring-white-people-learn-about-life-from-brown-people genre. Folks who find themselves staunchly opposed to both New York intellectuals and illegal immigrants (who will all probably be at a McCain rally that weekend). Audiences who confuse "Richard Jenkins" for "Roscoe Jenkins" and run screaming.
Why I'd See It: I'm a huge Richard Jenkins fan, if you haven't caught on to that, and I was also a big, big fan of The Station Agent, so while this looks like it could be trite, my hopes remain high. April 11

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