Monday, September 22, 2008

2008 Fall Movie Preview, Part 2

[Previously: Part 1]

Movie: Miracle at St. Anna (Spike Lee)
High-Concept Synopsis: The story, told in flashback, about four black soldiers in WWII who ended up behind enemy lines in Italy. Also something about children and a priceless statue. Derek Luke, Michael Ealy, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt co-star.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Spike Lee fans who got super excited when he made the stellar 25th Hour in 2002 and have been waiting for a non-documentary to reach that level of quality ever since. WWII buffs who aren't totally racist. Easily fooled Catholics.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: Crusty old Clint Eastwood and others who think Spike should shut the fuck up about never seeing any movies about black soldiers in WWII.
Why I'd See It: It doesn't happen every time, but a well-made and thought-provoking Spike Lee movie is one of the more invigorating things you can see at a theater. Plus, despite what looks like a thankless role, I get a chance to further my JGL devotion. September 26

Movie: Nights in Rodanthe (George C. Wolfe)
High-Concept Synopsis: Diane Lane and Richard Gere meet at a structurally-dubious Oceanside inn and become each other's last chance at love or something something. James Franco, Viola Davis, and Christopher Meloni co-star.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Hey, it's those women who I keep hearing like to see movies! Everybody who went to see The Notebook. Everybody who went to see Lane and Gere in Unfaithful.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: Hey, it's those men who are being catered to with every other movie playing! Everybody who only went to see The Notebook for Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling. Everybody who only went to see Unfaithful for naked Olivier Martinez.
Why I'd See It: Oy. Middle-to-late age love stories are so not aimed for my demographic. Plus, those ads are getting that whiny Gavin Rossdale song stuck in my head. Love you from 1996, Gavin, September 26

Movie: The Lucky Ones (Neil Burger)
High-Concept Synopsis: Three soldiers home from Iraq -- Rachel McAdams, Tim Robbins, Michael Peña -- embark upon a road trip that is hopefully not as silly as the trailer appears to suggest.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Fans of the talented cast. Fans of director Neil Burger, who made a splash in 2006 with The Illusionist. Those of us who refuse to give up on the idea that people will want to start paying attention to this God forsaken war and what it's doing to more than one generation of Americans.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: People who still don't want to hear about it, LA LA LA LA LA! People who saw the trailer and were disappointed by the sitcommy tone. Anyone who's been following Robbins's recent career trajectory, from an overrated Mystic River performance to an embarrassing turn in War of the Worlds, and are kind of afraid to see where it will all bottom out.
Why I'd See It: On paper, it looks fantastic. The iffy trailer gives me some pause, but I'm still more than willing to give the actual movie a go. September 26

Movie: Choke (Clark Gregg)
High-Concept Synopsis: Sam Rockwell plays a sex addict who works at Colonial Williamsburg and runs a con that hinges on him intentionally choking in restaurants on the side. Seems like a peach. Anjelica Huston plays his addled mother while Kelly MacDonald the girl he may want to do more than just have sex with.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Fans of Chuck Palahniuk's brutally cynical (I'm assuming here) novel of the same name. Moviegoers who saw the trailer -- maybe the funniest for any fall movie. Fans of the accomplished yet still underused cast.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: People offended by the often raunchy promotional materials (the man-swallowing-woman poster is one thing, the thrust-heavy red-band trailer is quite another). Palahniuk fans who worry that actor/director/Hey! It's That Guy ClarkGregg won't be able to do for Choke what Fincher did for Fight Club. The tracheally sensitive among us.
Why I'd See It: I was lukewarm on this movie until I saw the trailer, which is fall-out hilarious. Then I remembered that I love Sam Rockwell and Kelly MacDonald and this suddenly shot up to the top of my most-anticipated list. September 26

Movie: Rachel Getting Married (Jonathan Demme)
High-Concept Synopsis: Black sheep Anne Hathaway returns to the family fold for her sister's wedding. Drunken barbs and recriminations follow. Debra Winger, Bill Irwin, Rosemarie DeWitt, and Anna Deveare Smith co-star.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Anne Hathaway fans, who have more reason to be bullish on her than ever. People who remember what a good Jonathan Demme movie used to look like. Folks following the very good buzz coming out of the festival circuit.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: People who aren't down with familial discord and white suburban angst as feel-good entertainment. People who prefer Hathaway when she's not rocking the Kohl-eyed dark-and-conflicted look. Everybody Debra Winger's ever cursed out on a movie set before.
Why I'd See It: The concept and trailer were both right up my alley, and that was before all the rapturous buzz started trickling in. If this is where Anne Hathaway becomes Academy Award-nominee Anne Hathaway, I want in on the ground floor. October 3

Movie: Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist (Peter Sollett)
High-Concept Synopsis: Michael Cera and Kat Dennings meet cute in a New York City indie rock club and spend one of those life-changing endless nights that movies tend to do so well.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Fans of Peter Sollett's Raising Victor Vargas, which was a well-received but minimally marketed indie. People who saw the trailer once and immediately fell in love with Cera and Dennings. Fans of New York City geography porn.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: People who have placed this as the heir apparent to hipster-friendly fake-indie fare like Juno. People for whom Cera's bewildered-puppy act is getting predictable. Luddite snobs who object to a newfangled concept like a "playlist" achieving cultural hegemony.
Why I'd See It: The concept and title did seem like it could have erred on the side of preciousness or overly-calculated, but if the trailer is any indication, they got it right. Reading about the specificity the filmmakers brought to the downtown-Manhattan setting reminded me a bit of Dazed and Confused. Which, yeah, means my expectations are probably too high. Whatever, I'm psyched for this. October 3

Movie: Happy Go Lucky (Mike Leigh)
High-Concept Synopsis: "Irrepressibly free-spirited" Poppy (Sally Hawkins) threatens to steal your heart if she has to open your chest with her bare hands and tear it out with her enormous British teeth. Uh...And also tries to make it in a world gone mean, or something.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Mike Leigh fans, who have proven themselves loyal, intelligent, and resoundingly snobby. People following the Oscar buzz for Hawkins. People who respond well to movie studios threatening to bludgeon them over the head with plucky enthusiasm.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: Glum people. Grim people. People who don't respond well to movie studios threatening to bludgeon them over the head with plucky enthusiasm.
Why I'd See It: After seeing the trailer, my initial reaction was revulsion, but since the movie does appear to be dealing with Poppy's violent cheerfulness as the entire point of the story (can Poppy's eternal optimism survive a world that insists on bringing her down?), I'm willing to at least give it a look. But I'm taking Advil into the theater with me. October 10

Movie: Quarantine (John Erick Dowdle)
High-Concept Synopsis: Locals news hacks accompany a fire company to a routine call and end up quarantined at the epicenter of a zombie breakout. Jennifer Carpenter, Jay Hernandez, and Jonathan Schaech co-star.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Fans of the kind of first-person neo-horror that The Blair Witch Project did so well. Fans of director Dowdle's previous foray into found-video horror The Poughkeepsie Tapes OH RIGHT THAT NEVER GOT RELEASED. Fans of the idea of Hernandez and Schaech being quarantined in close quarters know, for no reason in particular.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: People who saw the Spanish-language original, [Rec], and didn't care for it. People who saw [Rec], loved it, and are pissed that the marketing materials for Quarantine are totally giving away the farm. People annoyed by Carpenter as the difficult-to-like sister on Dexter.
Why I'd See It: A fun horror movie is a fun horror movie, but I feel that, having seen [Rec], there isn't much left to bring to a remake. October 10

Movie: Body of Lies (Ridley Scott)
High-Concept Synopsis: Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe play CIA operatives tasked with finding a terrorist leader in Jordan. Weirdo accents hinder their pursuit.
Who Will Be Seeing It: People who actually will see a movie having to do with the War on Terror so long as you package it to look like the average cop drama on CBS. People who remember that it was Crowe who was the best part Scott's American Gangster last fall. Anyone who loved DiCaprio's last collaboration with screenwriter William Monahan, a quaint little overrated movie called The Departed.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: People who have caught wise to the cottage industry that is Shitty Movies Russell Crowe and Ridley Scott Make Together. Anyone who has seen the suck-ass trailer. Confused people thinking this is some weird re-issue/remake of Madonna's seminal take on the legal drama/Skinemax genre, Body of Evidence.
Why I'd See It: Only out of a sense of grim completism. I really don't like the Crowe/Scott oeuvre, and while I like Leo just fine, he's not enough to buy my ticket singlehandedly. October 10


The Bloody Munchkin said...

"Fans of Chuck Palahniuk's brutally cynical (I'm assuming here) novel of the same name." Actually, it's not as brutally cynical as you'd think. The funny part about Palhniuk books is that for all their dourness, he tends to like to end on an optimistic note (hope I'm not giving too much away here).

I am sooooo looking forward to this, I cannot even tell you. (Although what with a five-month-old at home, I probably won't get to watch it until comes on cable, but hey). Eeeespecially if they get the poodle scene right, because hilarious!!!

deirdre said...

Re: Rachel Getting Married, the one category you forgot is the people still waiting for Anna Deveare Smith's one-woman show "Anna Deveare Smith Tells You What The Hell Is What" (tm Deborah Birkett) and will take anything she has to offer in its place.

I saw Miracle at TIFF and... it's got some problems. And not to prejudice you against it, but JGL has a max of 5 minutes of screen time, and fans of The Wire may be (as I was) unhappy that Michael K. Williams has even less onscreen time. Still, Spike can shoot the hell out of a battle sequence and Omar Benson Miller's performance is aces.

Grunt said...

Re: Happy Go Lucky

I saw it at Talluride this year and it was...I don't know...sweet, cute, fun, funny in spots. A perfectly good way to spend 1.5 hours if I didn't have anything better to do.

Like most Mike Leigh it doesn't actually have a beginning, a middle or an end (as in Topsy Turvy there is an event that runs through the whole thing, but it is hardly the point of the movie and it's really more of a character study that both begins and ends abruptly) but that actually works better in a comedy than it does in a drama. At least I think so.

It's also attractively shot, and Sally Hawkins is great in the role. The character could have been very one note but she gives the part depth.

But would I pay to go see it in a theater? Probably not.

T-Square said...

That's Rossdale? Good god, if anyone's let themself go since the 90s, it's him - I totally thought it was That Guy from Nickelback.

I actually like my Jennifer Carpenter hard to get along with and avoiding horror movies at all costs (as opposed to running headlong into face-contorting screams in The Exorcist: Can We Milk This Any Further?)

"Lady" Bea said...

I will be avoiding "Quarantine" like the plague (heh) because I am beyond pissed that [REC] is apparently not being released in the U.S. because of the remake. WHATEVER.

Ok, I'll probably see it. But I'll be haughty about it.