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Monday, August 15, 2005
A Bitter Old Man Looks at Forthcoming Films
Pay to see in a theater
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: I'd like to thank the world's Harry Potter fans for finally surpassing comic fans in the list of "fandoms that are strangely self-obsessed and take themselves far too seriously."
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe: Well, it certainly looks pretty. But the religious allegories are such an integral part of the story, and so heavy-handed, that I can't help but think that they'll either try to soften those aspects, or risk alienating a significant chunk of the film-going audience who doesn't want to be preached at by something that was marketed to them as a children's entertainment.
Pride & Prejudice: I'm a big sap. Well, actually, it's my favorite Austen work, and the story has always entertained me. And if you get good actors in the roles, watching Elizabeth and Darcy be bitches to each other is fantastic to watch.
Oliver Twist: Roman Polanski's Oliver Twist has a certain demented ring to it I find appealing...
Thumbsucker: It's trying too hard to be hip and odd. Oh Lord, how it's trying too hard. But it has an excellent cast (well, with one notable exception...) and, well, it looks like it may actually be able to pull off that "teen outsider" thing that so many recent films have attempted and failed miserably at.
Walk the Line: I won't be able to live with myself if I don't go see it. Good, bad, it won't matter. It finally took Hollywood making a movie about Johnny Cash to make me want to see a bio-pic.
King Kong: I drove my parents crazy when I was a kid, making them take me to every film that had monkeys or apes in it, preferably the giant kind. Again, it doesn't really matter whether or not this film will be good or bad, though to his credit I don't think I've thought any of Jackson's films were bad.
The Forty Year Old Virgin: I'm becoming far too fond of this type of comedy. Plus, Paul Rudd is always a good thing. And, to be perfectly honest, that it's likely to offend some in the comics/gaming/sci-fi/fantasy fandoms actually pleases me.
Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang: Robert Downey Jr as a crook, pretending to be an actor, pretending to be a detective. Again, high concept just works so beautifully, and the look of the trailer promises lots of grim, dark comedy, and I'm down with that.
Add it to the Netflix queue
Roll Bounce: This could go either way for me. I may end up going to see it if there's good word-of-mouth. The retro-cheesiness of it immediately gives me some hopes.
Grizzly Man: Why do I have the sinking suspicion that this film will not be viewed as a cautionary tale about over-humanizing wild animals, but will instead be taken up as a challenge to young men with more time than common sense? (Hey Corey...Werner Herzog directed it.)
The Chumscrubber: Suburban ennui has never been of much interest to me. To be perfectly honest, it's hard to have much sympathy for well-to-do white professionals who spend their free time feeling sorry for themselves. But the cast is generally of appeal, so this may get a watching if it gets good word of mouth as well.
Prime: The high-concept marks this out as a rental only: shrink finds out her son is dating one of her clients. It promises lots of comedic misinterpretations of situations, and little else.
Asylum: A woman falls in love with a patient at a mental hospital and helps him escape. Wow...it's like a testament to bad decision-making. I'm morbidly curious about it now.
Proof: Can we declare a moratorium on films about tortured geniuses yet? The only reason this film may even get a look is Jake Gyllenhaal.
Hellbent: A film about a masked slasher who targets gay men. Is it a parody of homophobia? An exploitations film aimed at gay men? A twist on a well-tread genre for a new audience? Or is it simply an excuse to make a movie about gay men being violently killed? Given the amount of flesh and sex on display, probably not that last one. And while I'm glad to see a horror film focusing on the gay audience, instead of using homosexuality as a metaphor for evil or villainy, something just seems a little...off about the whole enterprise.
Catch it when it's showing on basic cable and you're physically incapable of changing the channel
Saw II: I've still managed to successfully avoid seeing the first one, and given that people whom I consider to have good taste in horror films have all had nothing good to say about it, I'm fairly confidant I won't need to go see this "expansion" of the story. There's certainly nothing here to suggest that it's not more of the same thing: people in strange contraptions getting tortured to death for largely petty sins. I suppose if you really wanted to make a moralistic horror film, you could go far worse than ripping off the motive from Agatha Christie's "The Murder of Roger Ackroyd"...
The Fog: I can see the pitch meeting now: "How can we make John Carpenter's dullest film even less appealing to contemporary audiences?" "Put in a bunch of WB actors and some cheesy CGI effects?" "Brilliant!"
Doom: Is it even possible to make a good movie based on a video game?
Fun with Dick and Jane: Never cared for Jim Carrey, never cared for the original film. This is so easy to pass on I almost feel bad for even bringing it up.
The Exorcism of Emily Rose: I usually cut Laura Linney a lot of slack for her film choices but...oh man, "based on a true story?" I suppose there may be an element of that, in that an exorcism may one have been performed on someone, but in a film that should be menacing, I just found myself giggling at the trailer. Demons make patterns on the glass and make it look like people's faces are stretching? That's the extent of their satanic abilities?
The Cave: See, I'm okay with spelunkers fighting monsters beneath the surface of the Earth. I don't expect a movie like that to be good, but I'm okay with the concept. Finding out that the monsters are actually the mutated members of the previous expedition...ah, no, that's pushing my tolerance for bad horror movie logic too far.
A Sound of Thunder: I'm not sure it's possible for a film to any more possibly miss the point of the source material...oh, wait, no...they're still making movies based on Alan Moore comics...
And now, a special consideration:
V for Vendetta: Evey being interrogated, okay, fine, that's true to the spirit of the original work. Nuremberg style rallies? Losing the plot a bit there guys. It's not overt fascism that's being critiqued. V's appearance looks promising, the official cover-up of the despicable acts of the government looks to get us back on track as well. "From the creators of the Matrix trilogy"-everyone's sick of those films, may not be a good idea to over-play that. Knives being thrown in slow-motion...nope, sorry, they've lost it. That's the sort of thing I expect in a "kewl", style-over-substance action movie, not a film trying to make a point about the nature of fascism.