Archive for the “In A World” Category

Every Month, Ken Low-…wait, he can’t make it? Well, who am I gonna get to replace him at this time of night?

Why, of course, Bully the Little Stuffed Bull! So please welcome Bully as my guest reviewer for trailers for films releasing in February, the official start of “oh man, get it into theaters, we need to recoup some money” season.

February 3rd

Big Miracle

BtLSB: Well, that was a pretty good mov…what? That was only the trailer? That wasn’t the entire movie I just saw in two and a half minutes? Well, I’d be surprised if there’s a story beat that makes a difference that hasn’t already been included in the trailer, from the inspirational sight of schoolchildren going off to dig through the ice to save icebound whales, to a Soviet icebreaker offering to save the day. My expectations of a guest appearance by Sean Connery as Captain Marko Ramius were dashed, however.

Since the movie’s name isn’t Big Disaster I’m guessing the whales get free in the end. Extra bonus: the movie’s URL is everybodyloveswhales.com. You guys did know that bigmiraclemovie.com was available, right?

DW: So I guess John Krasinski has just resigned himself to being Jim for all his roles from now on, huh? An affable guy with awkward romantic feelings in a job that isn’t fulfilling.

I don’t have much patience for “inspirational” stories, especially not when they’re about animals, and yeah, to top it all off, this is pretty much the entire film and all the important conflicts laid out and resolved in the span of two and a half minutes. So this is pretty much just a date night movie for people who want to see Jim and Lucy Whitmore stare longingly into each other’s eyes.

Maybe if they’d had Kristen Bell in there for more than a half-second they could have sold me on it.

Chronicle

DW: Oh, hey, a “found footage” movie! It’s been at least a couple of weeks since one of those came out.

I really and truly do not like this approach to film-making at all. It’s just incredibly off-putting to me and, paradoxically, enhances the artificiality of a film. Which makes it even more frustrating on those occasions when something that actually looks like it might be enjoyable comes along. This looks visually interesting, and a “super powers” movie that addresses the fact that powers just makes dicks into dicks with powers in a non-jokey way is something I’ve kind of wanted. But the way the story is being told is just going to annoy me.

BtLSB: I’m pretty sure we’ve already seen the entire movie, Dorian-you can watch the whole thing in reverse really fast at the end of the trailer. There! I’ve just saved you ten bucks! A shortrunner for the 2012 Academy Award for Movies that say the word “Andrew” three or more times in its trailer, Chronicle is an inaccurate representation of how ordinary humans get superpowers. There are no cosmic ray accidents due to faulty shielding or radioactive arachnid bites. There’s just young kids messing around with superpowers and being incredibly irresponsible about it. Ah, so it’s an adaptation of an Image comic, then.

There’s been a lot of money put behind this movie-I hope you noticed the impressive STP product placement. But I think I rather would have seen a wild teen comedy based on the same premise, so I’m going to take the trailer and re-cut and rescore it to Yello’s “Oh Yeah.” It could be the Zapped! of the 21st Century. I can see the tagline now: “With great power…comes a wicked awesome time, dude!”

The Innkeepers

DW: I have pretty mixed feelings about Ti West’s previous film, House of the Devil. I thought the blending of the late 70s/early 80s horror aesthetics with the nihilistic tone of modern horror films was well done and well made, but the film as a whole never really gelled and was somewhat unsatisfying, especially in terms of that “shock” ending that was pretty much visible from a mile away.

Still, I’m usually down for a good ghost story, and while the people running around an empty building angle has been done a bit much, there’s enough hints of style and self-awareness here in the trailer to keep me interested. West isn’t breaking new ground at all, but there’s something to be said for familiar material done well.

BtLSB: Wow, Red Roof Inn is really off the mark with this new commercial campaign they’re running.

The early part of the year always seems to bring on a slew of movies in suspense/horror/paranormal/hotel management genre, and this is certainly one of them. Sara Paxton and Pat Healy play attractive “nerds” attempting to “bust” ghosts in a run-down “hotel.”. I’d definitely go see this on the big screen just to get a full look at the starring attraction of the movie, that blue flowered wallpaper in all the rooms. Deftly out-acting Kelly McGillis in every scene, the blue flowered wallpaper shows signs of becoming one of 2012’s breakout stars and is sure to be featured in a later motion picture utilizing its impressive skills more.

The Woman in Black

BtLSB: In London a few years ago, I saw The Woman in Black on stage, where it’s become the second longest running play on the West End, after The Mousetrap. It’s performed by two players on a single stage. Here’s a movie edition with Daniel Radcliffe and a cast which I keep thinking includes Ian McKellan but doesn’t, in Radcliffe’s first of many likely foolish movie choices in his post-Potter career. I suppose you could hold a pair of spectacles up towards the screen to pretend Radcliffe is wearing them and that this is the first installment of Harry Potter, Paranormal Investigator.

DW: Like I said earlier, I’m usually game for a good ghost story, and this is a good one. Unlike some other works that have been adapted multiple times (*cough*Girlwithdragontattoo*cough-cough), I’ve seen the original BBC television version and read the novel and I’m still looking forward to seeing it as a big, lush, really gorgeously shot movie with an actor I’m hoping doesn’t get typecast. Yeah, it’s not really a “jump out and scare you” story, but making it look like one is probably a marketing requirement in this day and age.

I do think it’s interesting that this and The Innkeepers open the same day and cover very similar territory. Normally that might cause me to have to choose between one or the other, but my local theaters refuse to book films that premiere on On Demand services first, so Woman in Black it is this weekend.

February 10th

Rampart

DW: There’s a lot of people whose work I really like in this story of Woody Harrelson as a corrupt LA cop in the 90s (and Anne Heche), but they sure do seem to be trying to sell this as an action movie when everything I’ve read about the film tells me that it’s a lot more complicated than that. The creative pedigree is strong, but even at the best of times a film about an angry, middle-aged white man is a Netflix rental, and depending on how the reviews go, maybe not even that.

BtLSB: You know, it’s nice to see Steve Buscemi do some film work for once. I think I would sit through this whole movie just to pretend this is what happened to Woody Boyd after he left his lucrative job at Cheers: he went to the police academy and had lots of goofy hijinks with Steve Guttenberg, Bubba Smith and that guy who made noises with his mouth, culminating in accidentally filling the Captain’s office with Cool Whip. After graduating and spending a few weeks on the beat, those hayseed redneck jokes Cliff and Norm and Frasier had been pointing at him all those years suddenly sink in, and Detective Woody Boyd snaps and becomes a bad cop on the loose™. It’s up to special guest Rhea Perlman to talk him down from a ballistic confrontation in one of the most intense psycho-sexual mindgames seen on the screen this year. Hey, did I just write my own Woody Boyd fan fiction?

Safe House

BtLSB: I hate it when movies lie to us. The movie’s title promises us a “safe house,” but the movie poster proclaims that “no one is safe.” Which one is it, Universal?

Safe House‘s trailer slathers the action movie clichés on like a layer of creamy mayonnaise. Count how many of them you can spot in this summary: rookie CIA agent and infamous violent suspected terrorist go the run, forced to work together for their own survival, because someone in the high echelons of intelligence is corrupt and has set them both up for termination. Also, one of them is white and the other one’s black. I have to praise the subtlety this movie had in not actually handcuffing them together.

DW: It just wouldn’t be Valentine’s Day without a vaguely homoerotic action movie released as counter-programming to all the feel-good movies, now would it?

Yep, this is every spy action movie ever released ever mashed together into one film. It’s Bourne, it’s Salt, it’s Spies Like Us. It’s Ryan Reynolds bound and determined to test my dedication to watching movies with him in them because he’s so darn pretty by releasing something that just looks utterly dull and stupid. Yes, even in comparison to Green Lantern, smart guys.

By the way, did you know Denzel Washington once won an Oscar. I know, looking at his output since then, it’s hard to credit.

February 17th

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance

BTLSB: Ghost Rider is one of those second-tier superheroes who some people like but I bet very few love, making him an ideal candidate for our pal Andrew’s “Nobody’s Favorite” feature.

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance is filmed in Europe, absolutely the first place you’d think a Ghost Rider story would take place. It’s filmed on the same Romanian roads that they do silly stunts on Top Gear, including the Transfägärä&#x0219an Highway. You know the rule: more than three accented letters in a location shooting automatically qualifies you for bargain bin DVD placement.

And oh, yes, the trailer does indeed include a juvenile visual of Ghost Rider peeing. Fire. I’m guessing that Nicolas Cage is one of those rare Hollywood actors who’s content with just having one Oscar already, then.

In 2011, when the movies Captain America and Thor came out, Marvel published approximately fourteen million Cap and Thor comic books. Now, Marvel just cancelled the Ghost Rider comic book series. I think that says it all, really.

DW: I liked Crank and Crank 2. They were ridiculous, over-the-top action movies with a unique style and vision that I thought showed that Neveldine and Taylor had something to say. Gamer was, well…Gamer was a thing that existed. You’d think matching their insouciant approach to film-making with an actor as mannered as Nicolas Cage would work well. But, uhm. Hmmm…

Maybe they should stick to directing Jason Statham.

This Means War

BtLSB: Joining the shortlist of movies named after Bugs Bunny quotes, here are three very good-looking people, 66% of whom have been in Star Trek films, shooting at each other and showing off cleavage for an entire movie, only not at the same time. Director McG was brought in to make certain the dialogue didn’t overwhelm the action and titillation, and I’m pretty sure there will be, a la 1980s music videos, a lot of glass breaking in slow motion. There’s plenty of CIA and sex jokes in it, which surprised me because I didn’t know they were making a live action version of American Dad!

This Means War looks to have a few shocks and surprises, chief among them that Katherine Heigl isn’t in it. It’s the type of movie that really only appeals to couples where the woman likes romantic comedy and the man likes shoot-em-ups and neither partner is willing to budge an inch on their movie night choice. So it oughta make a trillion bajillion dollars at the box office.

DW: When I first saw <a href=”http://www.comingsoon.net/news/movienews.php?id=84595″>the poster</a> for this, I thought it was a movie about two gay spies who have to take out a female spy. (Why that poster never showed up here is anyone’s guess…)EDIT: Google failed me, off to Bing with my search engine dollars!

Now that I’ve seen the trailer, I’m pretty sure I like my idea more than an attempt to give a backstory to the old <i>Spy vs. Spy</i> strip.

Actually, even that sounds better than this.

February 24th

Gone

DW: There’s at least one reason to be thankful for the existence of Nancy Grace; she calls into question any ability to suspend disbelief for films like this now. A pretty young blonde girl goes missing and the police don’t immediately organize a massive manhunt and instead dismiss the report as the ravings of a crazy person? Okay, sure, absolutely cliché thriller plot point, but fairly unbelievable in the modern age. There’s no originality or creativity to the execution, and the premise is simple not credible.

But on top of that problem, it’s really starting to feel like these sorts of “nobody believes me”/on-the-run thrillers are now some sort of contractural obligation that teen idol performers with hopes of serious careers have to go through before being shuffled off into Nicolas Sparks adaptation purgatory.

BtLSB: I always think movies like this would be a lot more fun if, after ninety tense minutes of searching for her disappeared sister, Amanda Seyfried went back to her apartment, and her sister and all her friends jump out and shout “Surprise!” and start singing “Happy Birthday.” “Oh, you guys!” Roll credits; play “Raise Your Glass” by Pink.

Apparently taking place over a period of twelve hours, this is a poignant and moving portrayal and condemnation of our spoiled society of instant gratification, where we crave and demand immediate attention and response, like ordering pizza over the internet, or not allowing the police to finish their coffee break and do some paperwork before they get down to hunting for a missing woman, who, under Oregon criminal law, must be missing for at least 72 hours before being declared missing. Other scenes in this movie depict Seyfried parking in a handicapped space, harassing her letter carrier because her copy of Crazy, Stupid, Love. hasn’t arrived yet from Netflix and it’s already two days after she returned Hot Tub Time Machine, and placing her order at the deli counter even though her ticket says “52” and they only just called “50.” I will be eager to jump the line at any major movieplex to see this cutting drama of the addictive and abusive behaviors of our times.

Wanderlust

DW: It is a new David Waind/Ken Marino film, and it stars Paul Rudd. Normally, that’s the sort of thing that I’d be jumping up and down, chomping at the bit to see. But I’m honestly not feeling this one at all. It feels so conventional, a retreat towards “feel good” humor with just enough of an edge to make people feel that it’s somehow transgressive when from all appearances it seems like the same messages about “real earthy Americans” that so many superficial comedies use. Heck, I’m actually almost offended by the notion that what people hurting in this economy really need is to just let go of their hang-ups about jobs and money, man…

Maybe I’m wrong. I hope I’m wrong. But I’m not holding out much hope.

BtLSB: Hey look! A movie with the word “lust” in it that doesn’t co-star Anna Faris! I’m pretty sure the average American who has lost his job within the past year will be cheered to take his mind off his troubles by spending ten bucks (if buying a small popcorn, thirty bucks) to see the hilarious adventures of a lovable schmuck who lost his job. Then, I’m sure he’ll want to stay for the five minutes of credits that feature every name of the slightly more than six hundred people who were paid large amounts of money to work on this fluffy feel-good movie, including jobs like “Cat Wrangler,” “Craft Services (Vegetarian Division),” and “Miss Aniston’s masseur.” Then maybe they’ll go home on the urine-scented F train and, when they run into Paul Rudd coming out of a trendy and exclusive Brooklyn bar and bistro, fail to resist the impulse to punch him directly in the face over and over and over again. That’s my take on the target market for this film, and I’m looking forward to the entire experience, every laugh-til-you-cry moment of it.

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Every month Ken Lowery and I look at a selection of trailers for upcoming films to see what looks good and what reinforces the theory that we’re gluttons for punishment.
January means it is time to release the films that wanted to get out of the way of the blockbusters or take advantage of the quiet season to bolster their numbers. It’s…pretty obvious which are which.

January 6th

Roadie

DW: Three actors I really like in a film I have absolutely no desire to see. Which isn’t to say that this looks bad; it looks like an intelligent, emotionally honest, mature drama. But it also looks very much like a Pretty People With Problems (Of Their Own Making) film, and life is too short for me to spend time watching any more of those.

KL: There’s some wit on display here I like a lot, and maybe it goes no further than the trailer; I especially like the abrupt end to the sensitive acoustic song taking us through The Sad Passages of what is no doubt a Behind The Music set on a much smaller scale. Still, I like the color tones here – lost of warmth that expresses a mood without being overbearing. And I liked Twelve and Holding an awful lot, so thumbs up for Michael Cuesta in general.

January 11th

Loosies

KL: Not one of your better movie titles. I guess this is something of a passion project for Peter Facinelli, given that he wrote and stars in this. Um, I guess it looks OK? I suspect all the fun pick-pocketing stuff will give away to all the romance stuff somewhere around the second act, and thus would my curiousity take a serious nose dive. Probably not, barring some unexpectedly good reviews.

DW: I was actually pretty much with this, self-conscious and strained “quirkiness” and all. I mean, look, it’s basically an rom-com for guys, only without the blatant misogyny of, say, a Judd Apatow film.

And then they had to go and toss Vincent Gallo at me and, oh man, I just cannot take that guy or anything he is involved with seriously. Shame.

January 13th

Contraband

DW: There’s really no other way around this; this looks awful. A sad imitation of so many other, more sophisticated crime/action dramas out there.

That being said, I actually do find myself almost interested. Maybe it’s because I know going into it that this is going to be pretty dreadful. With stakes that low, any amount of quality is going to make the film enjoyable. Or maybe it’s just residual fondness for Giovanni Ribisi and amusement at how absolutely ridiculous he comes off here trying to play a heavy. In any case, this is at the very least worth a buck at Redbox.

KL: Well, style points for using The Dead Weather amongst the, I think, six song samples in this trailer?

Objectively, I know the deal. Foreign directors with outstanding names (or just outstandingly ridiculous ones, like “Chaos” – remember that guy?) have to helm some piece of crap (sorry, “pay their dues”) to justify their possible existence in Hollywood. But the whole system still feels like a big old middle finger from studios to uppity foreigners. Oh yeah, Gavin Hood? Gonna roll in here with your Tsotsi and your Oscar win? Fuck you, here’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine.

This plays out yearly.

I like Ribisi in these kinds of roles just like you do, Dorian – thought he was great as an unhinged but generally benign small town boy in The Gift – but this just looks like generic crime garbage. Doubly hilarious, because someone went to the trouble of adapting an Icelandic movie to turn it into… the kind of throwaway mainstream crime thriller that gets released in January. Sad trombone.

Don’t Go In The Woods

DW: A musical slasher film? That looks as if they are deliberately aping the aesthetic of cheap, 80s horror films, only with a cast of decidedly modern emo musicians? And it’s directed by Vincent D’Onofrio?

I’m really not sure what to make of it, if it looks really spectacularly awful or brilliant in a purposefully trashy way. In any case, it looks pretty much tailor made for me and my fondness for horrible, cheap, 80s slasher films. Hell, the D’Onofrio connection alone is enough to get me really interested in it, regardless of look or tone or subject matter.

KL: “Incredible” in every sense of the word, and I hope to God it’s sincerely made. Making a slasher musical with earnest sincerity takes ten times the amount of balls needed to make the same thing for ironic laughs. I have no idea if I’ll see this, but I’m glad it exists.

The Iron Lady

KL: Word of mouth on this one has almost universally been “great performance, not great movie,” and boy, if the subject is Margaret Fucking Thatcher, that is not enough to get my ass in the seat. I will pass on the inspirational story of a woman who broke the glass ceiling of world leadership by being one of the 20th century’s biggest assholes.

DW: Yeah, the trailers seem to do the usual hagiography thing that most biopics do, and in this case they’re selling the “feminism” thing hard. Which is pretty damn unintentionally funny given that this is a film about Margaret Thatcher. Some of the early reviews suggest that this a full-scale whitewashing of her politics as well, glossing over her racism, homophobia, even portraying her war-mongering in the Falklands as some sort of twisted matter of principle.

So yeah, fuck it.

Joyful Noise

KL: Commentary on this sort of movie is superfluous. The story’s beats are so old and creaky I want to give them arthritis medication, but I also know that seeing familiar beats played out one more time carries its own peculiar pleasure. Nonetheless, I will not see Joyful Noise because “the fulfillment of genre ritual” is not enough to get me to choke down the truckloads of sugary sweetness accompanying this thing; other people will see it because that is precisely their cup of horse shit. I mean tea. Que sera, sera.

DW: Some films are made for a very specific audience. In this case, gay male fans of Queen Latifah and/or Dolly Parton and gospel music fans. Since there’s a lot of crossover with the gospel music audience and the black film audience, I’m prepared to let a certain amount of tired, over-used cliches slide while I bear in mind that certain groups of film-goers are underserved, and anything that targets them can be filed under the “not for me” category.

And I say this fully aware that my husband, the gospel music choir director and Dolly/Latifah fan, has been looking forward to this film for months.

January 20th

Red Tails

DW: I’m not generally a fan either of war films or “important historical lesson” films. Primarily films are about entertainment for me, then art, then social commentary. There is absolutely a place for the social commentary and educational film, and the story of the Tuskegee airmen is the sort of story that could benefit from an exciting, mass appealing film. I just don’t think that this is that film. The CGI just in the trailer is so heavy and extensive that the entire thing has an unreal, video-game quality that is just off-putting. A more realistic look would have grounded this so much more.

KL: I do miss the days of seeing actual dogfights in movies about dog fighting; I fear we are forgetting that one of the simple joys of movies is seeing people do cool things, whether or not you’re aware that the person doing those cool things is a stunt person and not, I don’t know, Nicolas Cage. But we lost that fight ten years ago or more, and anyway good uses of CGI argue for that other simple joy of the movies: it’s cool to see things you can’t see anywhere else.

I consider any “epic” released in January to be suspect right out of the gate, but movies aimed primarily at black audiences often get the Black History Month release schedule, so who knows. As above, so below: I’m glad this movie exists, though I suspect I’ll wish it had been better.

January 27th

The Grey

KL: Liam Neeson as a super-badass battling wolves in an arctic wasteland – the jokes just write themselves, as Neeson has become something of a beloved caricature amongst the Gen Y Internet set. The marketing knows this, too; the poster’s nothing but Neeson’s name, face, and blank title.

The third trailer knows it, too, quoting extensively from Ain’t It Cool News (ugh) with lavish praise like “A Man’s Man’s Movie” (double ugh) and fragments of Internet-style discourse like “That, sir, was Dirty Dozen good” (triple ugh).

Leaving aside the troubling question of what a critic for AICN thinks a “Man’s Man” is, we must consider the thing itself, which is Liam Neeson Is Awesome, As Directed By Joe Carnahan. The Neeson lionizing gets old after a few jokes, and Carnahan has repeatedly demonstrated he thinks posturing trumps substance and nonsense action is just as good as velocity.

In other words, no.

DW: I never jumped on the Liam Neeson=badass train, so the very fact that these sorts of films not only exist but are actually turning into a thing sort of fascinates me.

Not enough to waste money seeing this, of course. I didn’t bother with Frozen, I didn’t bother with The Edge and combining the two doesn’t hold any more appeal.

Maybe if they tossed in some Ravenous.

One For The Money

KL: Given the relative slightness of the plot on display and the presence of TV director Julie Anne Robinson at the helm, I’m guessing there’s not a lot going on here that you won’t see in the trailer. And did you know you can watch trailers for free, as often as you want? You won’t get hampered down with nonstarter B-plots or wacky best friends/elderly family members who say outlandish things. Win-win!

OK, I don’t hate the trailer. I think if the stars aligned this could be fun, in a “well, nothing else is on” way. But I do not think the stars aligned here.

DW: I don’t want to jump on the Katerine Heigl hate-train, because it’s not that I dislike her. I just don’t like her as much as film producers and casting directors seem to think I’m supposed to like her. I can think of a half-dozen actresses who could pull off a role like this with more charisma (and a more convincing accent), but they’re not a current “it” girl so we get another film trying to convince us that Heigl is a lead actress. And I just don’t buy that.

Otherwise, this looks pretty bland but safe and inoffensive. There’s no way I’m paying for this, but maybe when it comes to “Watch Instantly” and I’m bored I might give it a shot.

The Wicker Tree

DW: The “not a sequel” sequel to the seminal The Wicker Man (the good version, not the one with Nicolas Cage and the bees). And it’s really not a sequel, it looks damn close to an actual remake, only with earnest young missionaries instead of a sexually repressed policeman.

It doesn’t matter. It’s the creator of one of the best horror films of all time making another “folk horror” film with possible connections to the aforementioned one of the best horror films of all time. It is exactly what I want to see, and I am going to see it.

KL: The IMDB page says this is a “reimagining,” so there you go.

I, uh. I’ve never seen the original Wicker Man. I know, OK? I know. But this looks pretty great, and it’s the same guy, and comparisons to the original will mostly be lost on me, so I get to see this one as a fresh product. You may consider me deprived, but I consider that liberating. I suppose I’ll see the original soon enough, too.

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Every month Ken Lowery and I take a look at the trailers for a selection of forthcoming releases to see how good a job they do, or don’t, on getting us to plunk down some money at the movie theater.
As usual, December is filled with last-minute Oscar contenders, family films, and excuses to escape from your drunken, Republican relatives.

December 2nd

The Lady

DW: Luc Besson moving beyond euro-action films into dramatic biodramas? Okay, yeah, I’m interested. He’s got Michelle Yeoh in the lead? Definitely paying attention. It’s about Aung San Suu Kiyi and her role as leader of the opposition to the military junta in control of Burma? Well that’s…clearly not aiming for a mass audience.

Yeah, okay, I’m still down for it, but please tell me that you’re not just doing this as awards bait?

Oh, it’s select release in December and “official” release in February?

Ah, well, I’m still sort of interested.

KL: There’s a lovely progression to the trailer, from landscape shots nearly devoid of human life to small, close clusters of troops to a small gathering group and then to the big, rousing crowd shout, with flags waving. And for once, the dramatic music services the imagery rather than just itself. It’s a nice little bit of trailer poetry, so hat’s off to whoever did that.

So, it worked. I want to see this.

December 9th

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

DW: It’s somehow disconcerting to realize that something that, the first time I saw it, was only just about a decade out of date, is now a period piece.

This seems to have a lot going for it. The source material is highly regarded, the entire cast is stellar. But as much as I like a good, intelligent, calculated mystery thriller, there’s something about this particular enterprise that leaves me cold. It all feels a little too icy, too on the nose. I mean, if you needed to cast someone as the haughty master spy who sees through all deception, of course you’re going to cast Gary Oldman. And, look…there he is. As a haughty spy. I’m sure it’s going to be a very good film, and they’re clearly angling for awards, but I’m not feeling a great compulsion to rush out to see it.

KL: Cold indeed, though I’m OK with that. I haven’t read the book, though I understand it to be a classic and trendsetter for the genre. I do know that this is a great cast and they’re being led by director Tomas Alfredson, the absolute stud who directed Let The Right One In, itself a master class in coldness and subtle, monstrous manipulation. I don’t feel a passion to see this movie, which is what I think you’re getting at, Dor – but there is no doubt I will be seeing it. Barring some truly disastrous reviews, my ass in the theater seat is destiny.

We Need To Talk About Kevin

DW: I’ve been looking forward to this, partly because I enjoy watching Tilda Swinton and partly because the central themes of the original novel appealed to me. I could use a film that actually plays with questions of responsibility and guilt in an honest way without preachily moralizing about “bad mothers” or “bad kids.” It’s a little frustrating that the ads seem to be playing a little coy about what Kevin actually is, and seem to be stressing the “paranoid” mother angle a little much, with only ominous music to suggest that there may be something more going on. I strongly suspect that this is the kind of film where having a basic idea of what the story actually is about (HINT; Kevin does something unspeakable) would aid enjoyment. Why Kevin does what he does is the mystery of the film, not if Kevin is going to do something bad or not.

KL: Tis the season for badass trailers, apparently! This one’s practically a story in and of itself, and paints, I think, a very nice picture of what to expect without spelling it all out for everyone – the mystery is there. Tilda Swinton and John C. Reilly are easy locks for me. I’m ashamed to say I’ve never seen a Lynne Ramsay movie. Suppose this will be my first.

Young Adult

KL: Can we keep this between ourselves? Because I kind of hate Diablo Cody’s writing tics but I kind of don’t mind this trailer at all, think Charlize Theron is pretty inspired casting, like the meanness of the concept, and maybe – maybe – laughed once or twice during this trailer. I don’t know what it is about Christmas that makes me crave mean comedies, but this one fits the bill.

If you tell anyone, I’ll deny everything. And you will rue the day.

DW: I’ve mostly managed to avoid having an opinion about Diablo Cody because nothing she has previously worked on was anything I had any remote interest in watching (which, I suppose, kind of qualifies as having an opinion about her). With a thoroughly unlikable lead character, I’m happy to say that the trend continues. This could be good, and with Reitman and Theron it probably will be, but I just really can’t see myself ever bothering to find out.

December 16th

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

KL: My excitement for this movie is inversely proportionate to my enjoyment of the last movie. I liked the last one in theory, and certainly segments of it display great wit. I also like its general tone of persevering skepticism and its willingness to embrace Holmes’ more swashbuckling side. I liked the score. I liked the “bromance” (ugh) chemistry. (I did not at all like Rachel McAdams, who seemed like a kid playing dress-up next to the more seasoned hams.) But it just bored me.

So why do I want to see this one? I have no idea. But I do. Let it never be said that I’m not an optimist.

DW: I actually did quite like the previous Holmes film. I thought it was the right mix of faithfulness and new interpretations, along with a slick visual style, that the property needed.

And then the BBC did “Sherlock” and pretty much blew it out of the water by doing all of the things I liked about the film better.

So, I’m still up for this, because I like just about everyone involved and, most importantly, it looks fun, and “fun” always seems to be in short supply in December films. But I’m looking forward to the second season of “Sherlock” much more.

December 21st

The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn

DW: I’ve mostly had negative reactions to the various trailers for this. I’m not a big Spielberg fan, and Herge’s Tintin stories were never particular favorites of mine (I’m much more of a Smurfs and Asterix man).What hopes I had that this might be worthwhile were pretty thoroughly dashed when I found out that they were using motion-capture animation for the performances. And, yep, as I feared, the film is populated by creepy, dead-eyed mannequins bearing little resemblance to Herge’s artwork, running through the Uncanny Valley willy-nilly.
No thanks.

KL: I missed whatever train I needed to board as a kid to give a damn about Tintin – I’m not hostile to the property, just indifferent. So I get no nostalgic thrill at just seeing the reveals – clearly a big part of the campaign.

My sole line of interest is in the stable of writers: Edgar Wright, Steven Moffat and most of all Joe Cornish, late of Attack the Block. That is a fun, inventive crew, and if they bring the wit they do to their other work – and I do like that “disassembling motorcycle” bit in one of the trailers – then maybe… just maybe…

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

DW: Well, that’s certainly a trailer for an English language version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

I get it, I absolutely do. Any book that attains a certain level of sales or acclaim is probably going to be made into a film. Any foreign film that attains a certain level of sales or acclaim is almost certainly going to be remade in English. Because some people just will not read the book and some people just cannot handle watching a film that isn’t in English. I can totally see the need for this film.

But I’ve already read the book and I’ve already seen the film and I really don’t need a third at bat.

KL: I like Daniel Craig, I like Rooney Mara, I like David Fincher. That said, I’ll probably just buy the soundtrack and call it a day.

December 23rd

We Bought A Zoo

KL: This movie looks injection-molded and pressure-blasted by marketing forces specifically to open two days before Christmas. Single dad! Cute kids! Dressed-down foxy babe next door! Heartwarming stuff! A Tom Petty song! (OK I’m a big Tom Petty fan.) Cameron Crowe, so it’s not entirely illiterate!

I know two things for certain: if I saw this movie, I would probably be charmed by it. I like Matt Damon anyway, and Crowe has a good lock on a workable uplifting formula that isn’t drenched in sugar. The other thing I know is that I am not going to see this movie.

DW: December is often a tough month for me, movie-wise, because there’s only so much saccharine and blatant emotional manipulation I can take in a movie, and all the worst offenders always seem to come out in December. And while I like Damon, I think I strained something around about the twelfth eye-roll over something that I was supposed to go “awwwww” over here. So, yeah, not for me.

The Darkest Hour

KL: I’ve always admired the marketing savvy and chutzpah that informs the horror movie counter-programming we see every Christmas. Usually it’s something purely schlocky and likely PG-13, say an Aliens vs. Predators sequel. And hey, this one stars Speed Racer!

In capable hands this could actually be a pretty thrilling thriller, as these things go – the “invisible alien monsters detectable only by electrical output” lends itself to all kinds of fun ideas. I’m sure we’ll see two or three of them. It won’t be any good and I won’t be seeing it, so I guess I can stop talking here.

DW: “From the visionary director of Wanted!” And I’m out.

December 25th

War Horse

KL: I don’t really buy in to broad declarations for or against Spielberg – I think he’s just slightly too complex for that – so there’s no directorial bone to pick here. I guess this was a big book and a big theatrical smash hit and all of that, and I like the general premise well enough, but, eh.

Also I figure there’s one really likely place this story will end, and no thank you. I’m not even all that into horses but no.

DW: Although I generally don’t like Spielberg, as I said, he does do “big” well, and this looks properly “big.” An old-fashioned epic like Hollywood doesn’t really do that often anymore. But Spielberg has also tended to drift towards the serious and self-important in his films and that doesn’t really work for me, not in glossy commercial pictures like this. It just feels so calculated in its desire to wring emotional turmoil on the audience. I’ve got no problem with emotional catharsis, but it feels exploitative to do that in a film about a horse released on Christmas.

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Every month Ken Lowery and I take a look at some of the trailers for upcoming films to see what catches our fancy and what makes us mourn for civilization.
It’s November, which generally means family fare and awards-bait. We’ll leave you to figure out which is which.

Nov 4th

Tower Heist

KL: First time I saw this trailer, I ran the full spectrum of emotions: sour skepticism, cool indifference, mild admiration, and finally “hey, that looks pretty fun.” But something nagged at me. I knew something wasn’t right. The question would not leave my mind: What’s the catch?

Readers, that catch is Brett Ratner.

DW: I actually managed to see an advance screening of this. Yes, the trailers make it look like a light, fun, breezy caper movie. It is not. It is exactly the sort of thing you’d expect a Brett Ratner movie to be.

To the film’s credit, Gabourey Sidibe is very funny in this. Pity no one else is.

A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas

KL: I love this franchise. I saw the first one with my brother, late, late at night, eating fast food and more than a little drunk, which is possibly the best way to see that movie. (OK, maybe the second best way.) The second movie (Escape from Guantanamo Bay) is not so memorable as the first, but it’s inoffensive and generally good-spirited.

It is with some sadness that I report I did not laugh or so much as crack a smile during the trailer for this movie. Is it me? Or is it them? I do not know.

DW: The first film still feels pretty special, even if it’s just a dumb, stoner, gross-out comedy at its root. The second, well, sequels are rarely as good as the first, but it was all right. This does feel like maybe this is going to the well one time to many. The problem is, as you say, this is a franchise now, so it just feels too familiar. Oh, Harold is uptight. Kumar is irresponsible. Neil Patrick Harris is a trainwreck. I guess we’ll throw Thomas Lennon into the mix this time too, and a baby? Sure, whatever. Let’s make it 3D too. Why not?

The Son of No One

DW: Ray Liotta and Al Pacino can pretty much pull off a decent acting job in these morally ambiguous crime films in their sleep, but I confess to having a hard time taking Channing Tatum seriously as a dramatic lead, and the thirteen-year-old boy moustache he’s wearing in this isn’t helping matters at all.

Usually, these crime films about secrets from the past coming back to threaten the present at least warrant a “maybe I’ll check that out” from me, but there’s too little to go on. Tatum seems to be the lead, and the bad guy, and it’s hard for me to muster much enthusiasm for a story about a corrupt cop doing his best to keep a crime he committed from coming to light. It feels like it’s more than a little out of tune with the current social mood.

KL: Man, I just don’t care anymore.

There used to be a time when stories like this were my bread and butter – people walking the fine line and falling off it, old secrets coming back to haunt them, mysteries and guilt and repentance and cover-ups and man, isn’t everything just terrible all the time? I don’t take joy or catharsis from this sort of thing anymore; I have no interest in seeing writers, directors and actors present the final moments of doomed people, not unless it’s expertly done. And since about half this cast could just as easily be in a comedy with the same premise, I do not think “expertly done” is in the cards here.

Nov 9th

J. Edgar

KL: We all know J. Edgar Hoover is kind of a piece of shit, right? A strong-willed and intelligent man, to be sure. A man who defined what America was and would be in the 20th century. A man worthy of documentation. Nonetheless, a piece of shit.

I say this because I have some slight concern that we will be told that he was a great man – not just in the “impact on the world” sense, but in the “value as a human being” sense. All those muted blue tones and wood tones, all those passionate speeches before Senate sub-committees, we’ll see the man is a hero. Perhaps not the man we wanted, but definitely the one we needed. Perhaps this fear is unfounded; perhaps not.

DW: There was a very minor controversy on the gay news blogs when interviews with Eastwood and DiCaprio suggested that they were “straight-washing” Hoover, downplaying the fact that he was in the closet, but I took that with a grain of salt given Dustin Lance Black’s involvement as screenwriter. I can see where some of the other fears about how this will portray Hoover come from, the advertising for this has certainly played up the whole “national hero” angle, but the trailer also suggests some mitigating of that. It’s hard to hear a voice-over about power corrupting people and not feel like the sentiment is being used to indict Hoover, especially when the trailer shows us Hoover flatly blackmailing people.

For me, the major issue is that it just doesn’t feel like a very interesting film. Hoover was a complicated man, and his legacy is complicated, but this just feels like a rather dry drama with the kind of political themes and historical figures that tend to get rewarded during award seasons.

Nov 11th

Immortals

DW: Hey, people fighting in slow-motion! Novel!

I’ve seen Tarsem Singh’s previous films, and they are certainly very, very pretty. They also felt very slight in terms of story and characters. And while in principle I support more sword-and-sandal films, and have no real problem with spectacle for the sake of spectacle, I’m just not sure that prettiness alone is going to be enough to get me to see this. Especially when the only recent films that seem like this are 300 (visually) and the remake of Clash of the Titans (storywise), neither of which I can claim to have any great fondness for.

KL: Pretty disappointed that Singh is making something that looks so much like other things and not, well, like a Singh movie.

It’s obvious to say this is a lot like Clash of the Titans because it’s so obviously being sold that way, and for all I know, it is. But the premise has Our Hero working for the gods, so it cannot even lay claim to Clash’s brief flirtations with transgressive theological thought.

So, like, no.

11-11-11

KL: So I guess this is a numerology thriller from the mastermind of Saw II, III and IV (and Repo!, half of the Internet will hasten to remind me) and that is certainly a thing. Also, blue tones!

Pass.

DW: Man, I saw some of the preview images and read a little bit about it and I was all jazzed up about a slick Euro-horror movie made with American money. And then they throw “From the Director of Saw Movies” at me and my hopes just deflated.

I like supernatural horror, but no.

Nov 23rd

Hugo

DW: It’s probably not surprising that Martin Scorsese has made what looks like the best children’s film of the last several years, and yet…it does seem oddly surprising that this is a Martin Scorsese film.

Of course, looks can be deceiving, and even though the trailers make this look like a visually inventive, yet grounded in reality, drama for children, it’s also in 3D and warning bells are sounding loudly over that, Scorsese or no. I’m also one of the apparently few people who finds Sacha Baron Cohen not the slightest bit funny, and the promise of him in a prominent role as a comedy Frenchman in the Sellers vein is discouraging. So this is going to be a “wait for the reviews” situation, I think.

KL: I suppose this has every chance to be as charming as it’s aiming to be, and Scorsese’s backing of 3D for this venture is the only thing that’s stopped me from being 100% against 3D in blockbuster filmmaking. (Right now I rest at 99.99% against.) I like Cohen, and I think he’ll probably surprise everyone by playing “small” as well as he does “big,” so there’s that. I can’t say the charm in the trailers is really working on me, but on pedigree alone this one goes in “I hope I’m wrong.”

The Muppets

DW: Look, I’ll be honest; there’s pretty much zero chance of me not going to see this opening night. I’m an easy mark for almost anything Muppet related. So I’m just going to say that it sure would have made me feel better about going to see this if all those trailers they put out had done anything to suggest what the plot here is, rather than parody other trailers. Yeah, it was funny, and appropriate for the characters. It also started veering off into Epic/Disaster/Date Movie territory, and that’s not a brand I want to mentally associate with the Muppets.

KL: Muppets fans are fucking weird, y’all.

I kid, and I sort of don’t kid. I never “got” the Muppets the way a lot of people do. They’re fun, but, you know, a lot of things are fun. I hope you guys enjoy the movie, anyway.

A Dangerous Method

KL: Fun fact: every Thanksgiving I used to travel to Birmingham to celebrate with my extended family. Every Thanksgiving night the adults among us would go see a movie together. And for several years, we always picked the darkest, most depressing movie to see on a celebratory night out with three generations of your family. Let’s see, there was Elizabeth, which starts with a graphic witch burning. Oh! And The Ice Storm, which is about the world’s saddest key party, among other things. I won’t be there this year, but I’m going to send out emails and say don’t see the David Cronenberg movie about Freud and Jung.

Anyway, this is a David Cronenberg movie about Freud and Jung, so I’m there with bells on.

DW: I want to be interested in this. I feel like I should. It’s got a good cast (and Keira Knightly-zing!), a good director, features historical figures with a profound influence on the 20th century whose lives haven’t been exhaustively mined for material just yet. But…No, I’m just not able to muster enthusiasm. Maybe it’s the whole doctor taking advantage of a mentally unstable patient for a sexual relationship thing, which feels creepy and exploitative, but is being played as romantic here. It’s Cronenberg, I’m sure it’s meant to be creepy, in which case they’re marketing this all wrong, which is nothing new. But what this film feels like it should be and what it’s being presented as don’t add up, and I’m just left feeling “blah” and indifferent to the whole thing.

My Week with Marilyn

DW: Period bio-dramas do seem to be the thing these days. They generally fall into the “not for me” category, but a certain fondness for Marilyn Monroe ephemera, as well as a cast that I generally like moves this up into the “maybe wait for Netflix” category. Michelle Williams in particularly looks to be very good in this, and seeing her in a lead role is usually nice.

KL: Man, I just love the hell out of Michelle Williams. She pops up in the weirdest places and rarely hits less than a home run. This movie has that guy with the super weird face in it, but it also has a solid cast list approximately a mile long. I’m a little lukewarm on Marilyn Monroe as an icon (perfectly fine, never hooked me), but maybe this is the thing to turn me around.

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Every month, Ken Lowery and I look at the trailers for a selection of films being released in that month to see what looks like a must see, what looks like a must miss, and what’s just out because somebody needed a new Mercedes.
It’s October, and the Paranormal Activity franchise has finally unseated the Saw franchise in the “what, another one?” stakes, so let’s see what else is out this month.

October 7th

The Ides of March

KL: Well, I guess we know how this movie’s going to go, don’t we? Clooney’s directed some great stuff and also Leatherheads, and he’s writing this with creative partner Grant Heslov (with whom he co-wrote Good Night, and Good Luck) so in those departments he’s got the goods. He’s also a fine actor, and Gosling can’t seem to make a wrong move. But this whole movie, from the title to the trailer, seems so on-the-nose that I feel like I’ve already seen the damn thing. Perhaps the reviews will turn me around. But without some solid A+’s across the board, pass.

DW: Yeah, this is one that is really going to depend on the tone and quality of the reviews. I like Ryan Gosling a lot, and I think he’s damn compelling as a leading man, but I’ve never been a fan of political dramas. And while I do like George Clooney, I’m not sure I want to see him playing faux Howard Dean/John Edwards in a film about a lot of people doing ethically questionable things in their quest for power. I can see the same thing for free by turning on the news, so “plot” isn’t really a compelling argument to see this, it’s got to be character. And all these people seem pretty disagreeable and unlikable.

Real Steel

DW: Hugh Jackman is determined to test the limits of his charisma as an actor, isn’t he?

The first sign that this probably wasn’t going to be a very good movie was probably when I noticed toys creeping into stores before I’d ever even seen a trailer. And then I finally saw the trailer and it prominently featured a particularly annoying child actor. As for the premise…I mean, honestly, what can be said? It’s a film version of “Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots” with middle-aged screen-writers adding in a reverse perspective “daddy issues” emotional hook.

I’ve watched a lot of terrible movies just because I like looking at Hugh Jackman, but I’ve hit my limit.

KL: What, and miss out on this generation’s Over The Top?

Like most of the world I didn’t know what the hell to think of Real Steel when I first heard of it, until I saw the trailer – and realized, oh, hey, this is a movie for kids. It’s kind of all right for those to be dumb, because kids like dumb things, I liked dumb things when I was a kid, and I turned out OK.

Or maybe it’s not just a kids’ movie. This article  labels it a satire, and points to Real Steel’s origin – a Richard Matheson short story adapted into a Twilight Zone episode, and apparently Matheson is pleased as punch about the adaptation. Barring some truly fantastic reviews I’m not going to see it anyway, but hey, points for weirdness.

October 14th

The Big Year

KL: “From David Frankel, the director of The Devil Wears Prada and Marley & Me, comes a sophisticated comedy…” Gonna stop you right there.

OK OK. Let’s try again. Ah, it’s a comedy about… men who need direction in their lives. That’s it, I’m out.

Fine, one last shot. So… they’re going to spend a year vacationing together to find themselves? We’re done here.

DW: Wow, that is certainly three actors whose work I used to enjoy and now cringe at the sight of due to years and years of incredibly lousy films.

Three white guys “finding themselves.” Yeah…I just can’t muster myself up to care about that in the slightest. At least it doesn’t look like any of them are stand-ins for the screen-writer working out his daddy issues. Oh, no, forgot about Jack Black’s character. Never mind.

Footloose

KL: I can’t imagine this premise wasn’t already quaint in 1984, but then this is a movie (franchise?) for teenagers, so the broad strokes and ridiculous stakes are par for the course – presumably as training wheels for larger battles later in life.

Uh, that was pretty heavy. This is a movie about dancing, I guess. Craig Brewer should breathe some life into this, and I guess I can’t knock this particular remake about using a bunch of unknowns, because hey, movies like these are meant to be star makers. Carry on, I guess.

Argh I have the song stuck in my head ARGH

DW: I’ve seen at least one interview with Brewer where he tried to suggest that the whole thing was a metaphor for the oppression gay teens face, and, ha, no, that was clearly him pandering to that website’s audience, because it is 2011 and the idea that that is a subject that has to be dealt with metaphorically is just dumb. No this is just Step Up with the promise of more of a plot. It’s perfectly fine for the audience that wants to watch dance movies, but let’s not pretend that this is anything other than an excuse to film some impressive choreography and sell soundtrack albums.

Texas Killing Fields

KL: And now begins the rehabbing of Sam Worthington’s career. Might be an odd thing to say given that he’s starred in some HIGHLY grossing box office movies, but in all of those he’s not done much more than stand there and be generically handsome in an action hero kind of way. Now, we see if the guy can actually act. Jeffrey Dean Morgan I like, and I’ve already accepted that Jessica Chastain and/or Chloe Grace Moretz will star in every third movie made, so they’re sold. I also like that this movie is attempting to capture the Texas aesthetic—or one of the Texas aesthetics, anyway. Seems an ideal setting for a thriller bordering on a horror movie, and what little nuggets I glean from this trailer “feel” right.

I’m sure I’ll be disappointed, but hope springs eternal.

DW: “True Story” in anything even remotely horror-like is usually a sign for me to stay away, but this appears to be going more for the thriller-drama angle and an emphasis on the investigative characters rather than the killer or victims, so chalk me up as “cautiously optimistic” as well. I like Jeffrey Dean Morgan even though nothing I’ve seen him in has been particularly remarkable, and even the stuff I’ve liked, like The Losers, is of debatable quality. And Worthington, well…he’s pretty, I’ll give him that. Still, though they seem like an odd pair to cast in lead roles, what we can see of them here is surprisingly attractive. Like I said, “cautiously optimistic.”

The Thing

DW: I’m not usually a fan of pointless remakes of horror films, but I can’t in good conscience fault the makers of this film. Most of the complaints levied against this are coming from fans of the John Carpenter version. I’d be more inclined to take the fan rage seriously if it was coming from fans of the Nyby/Hawks version.

Which isn’t to say that there isn’t plenty that’s baffling about this film. A prequel to a remake that has virtually the same plot as the remake and the same title as the previous two films in the series? Why not just go ahead and do a full on remake? Why ride the coat-tails of the Carpenter version? It feels like the studio is trying to avoid being dismissed as “just another” remake, but going about it in the most calculatedly cynical way possible.

Apart from all that, though, it looks like another “action movie horror film” and those just really don’t do it for me.

KL: I guess I can see why they’d go the prequel route: perhaps the creatives tasked with making this movie wanted to find some way, ANY way, to make their own mark on the franchise and not just fill in the blanks set in place by the familiarity of the Carpenter version.

The thing that works about the Carpenter version (the thing that works about MOST Carpenter movies) is that it’s grungy and brutal—note that I say brutal, not gory. It’s nearly impossible to elicit the same gut reaction to a movie that’s a well-oiled machine; perversely, the better made a horror movie is on a technical level, the more often you notice the artificiality of it. Maybe that’s just me, but it’s reason enough to stay away from this movie, even if I feel no moral outrage at its existence.

October 21st

The Three Musketeers

DW: By all rights a “steampunk” version of the Dumas novel with slow-motion fight scenes shouldn’t be something I’m looking forward to. But sometimes I don’t feel the need to be picky about my film viewing. This isn’t a “turn your brain off” sort of thing, because I hate that attitude and the laziness it excuses. This is more of a “there’s a difference between good and entertaining” sort of thing. This, by no means, looks to be a good film. But, if it is even remotely aware, in the tiniest bit, of how ridiculous and silly and over the top it is, it could be an entertaining night out or in watching this.

KL: This may be my month for not being as morally outraged at stuff as I should be, because this is another one generating some serious hate. It’s silly and goofy and stupid, but those alone are not mortal sins. It does look uninteresting, which is. The Fifth Element was the first and last place I could take Milla Jovovich; she just does not have any appreciable charisma, and that would be the primary selling point of a silly/goofy/stupid movie. Pass.

October 28th

Anonymous

DW: I’ve seen some early reviews of this that suggests that it’s a good film, but frankly I’m skeptical. It’s not just the premise so risible it would give Dan Brown pause (given how vicious Shakespeare’s contemporary critics were, it’s hard to believe that they wouldn’t have leapt at the chance to expose him as a fraud). It’s more that this is from Roland Emmerich, a man whose entire film career up to this point can be summarized as “big, loud and dumb.”

If I want a silly action movie about people in brocade plotting against each other, I’ll go see The Three Musketeers, which doesn’t look anywhere near as preeningly self-important as this.

KL: I wonder if I am missing the parts that would make this premise provocative. The trailers might as well say “HOLY SHIT WE ARE JUST SO SHOCKING HERE,” and, like, man, I don’t care. To me, Shakespeare’s utility to society has little to nothing to do with who he actually was, and the question marks floating around that topic are like a secular version of the old angels-dancing-on-the-head-of-a-pin ruse.

That was a long way to go to say I DON’T CARE.

In Time

KL: Insert quip about how it’s great for this production to have an in-story reason to cast only young, pretty people in all the roles.

OK, I actually like what I see here. I’ve entered the part of my life where I finally accept that maybe Justin Timberlake can be entertaining (thanks a LOT, Saturday Night Live) and I am A-OK with Amanda Seyfried in a sexy dress and red bob. I do not expect a life-changing experience, but perhaps we’ll get some fun class warfare messaging thrown in with the action sci-fi shenanigans.

DW: I’ve got nothing against Justin Timberlake, I just don’t see why I’m expected to see him as an actor worth paying attention to. Yeah, he can be entertaining, and?

Anyway, slick sci-fi movie, high-concept premise, borrows heavily from a bunch of earlier, better sources. Cast of male leads that all look curiously similar. And an absolutely groan-worthy dumb “time” pun in the trailer. I’m just not feeling it.

The Rum Diary

DW: I had to stop for a moment and make sure this wasn’t a Tim Burton film. I’m so used to seeing hammy, over-acting Johnny Depp in Burton films I sometimes forget he does that routine for other directors too.

It makes a certain sort of sense to cast Depp as Hunter S. Thompson’s thinly-veiled fictional alter-ego, and Aaron Eckhart does play a nice, smarmy villain, but much of the trailer does play like a “wacky” version of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and the notion that that was a film that needed to be “wackier” hurts my brain a little. I mostly just feel like I’ve already seen this same movie with the same lead already, and I liked it just fine then and don’t really feel compelled to revisit it.

KL: There’s a fine line a filmmaker has to walk to create the headspace Thompson’s prose can put you in, and even directors tailor made for the job, like Terry Gilliam, can have a rough time of it. Bruce Robinson gave us Withnail & I, but that was a long time ago, and Rum Diary seems to have some of that slickness problem that The Thing has. I like watching pretty people being scoundrels, but… no.

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