I have just learned that Jules Dassin, director of such crime/noir masterpieces as Naked City, Thieves’ Highway, and Rififi, among many other films in an exceptionally varied career, has passed away at the age of 96. One can’t really have a moment of silence on a blog very well, but I’m going to ask for one anyway.
Anyhow, April’s movies: the last bastion of smallish projects before Popcorn Season hits.
Despite the fact that he’s never made a flat-out great movie, I’ve decided that I really like George Clooney as a director. And I really like screwball comedy, whether it’s vintage or a bit more modern – if it’s done well. Which is all to say that the presence of Renée Zellweger notwithstanding, I’m about as excited for Leatherheads as I am for any other movie opening this year, even though I would ordinarily assume that its five-month delay would be a bad sign.
Other delayed movies: Martin Scorsese (yay!) directs a concert movie (whoo! yay!) about the Rolling Stones (fuckin’ A yeah!): Shine a Light. This is awfully close to a perfect combination of subject, creator and medium, and only the fact that the world is not really in need of another Rolling Stones documentary keeps me from being pretty much entirely pumped.
But this is April, so it wouldn’t do to have two great releases and no bad ones, and here they are: The Ruins, a paranormal horror movie set in the jungle with pretty young people, AKA “we’ve all seen this before.” Also, Nim’s Island, in which Jodie Foster has fun in a kids’ movie, and I hate to admit that every time I watch the trailer, my ultimate take-away is that it looks like Abigail Breslin has just barely stepped into puberty, which I expect means that her career is about to die with much clamor and misery.
The grand tradition of remaking 1980s slasher movies in the worst possible way is proudly carried on by Prom Night, a PG-13 affair that by the creators’ admission shares nothing but a title with the original. It also stars Brittany Murphy. I have this on my “Worst Film of the Year” deathwatch.
Ah, what else: Street Kings, starring Keanu Reeves as a tough L.A. cop? Fighting corruption in the system? I can dig that. If by “dig,” we mean” ceaselessly mock”. And a really straightforward-looking dysfunctional family indie comedy starring Dennis Quaid, Ellen Page, Thomas Haden Church and Sarah Jessica Parker, Smart People. We’ve all seen this movie at least three or four times, but at least this time it has a really random cast. Leaving only the seniorsploitation documentary Young@Heart, and I hate the culture that makes a film about old people playing New Wave rock songs seem like the best bet on any given weekend.
A long time ago, this blog briefly became home to a running gag about the first-ever teaming of Jackie Chan and Jet Li, which we hoped would be called Grumpy Old Ninjas. Well, it’s here, and it’s called The Forbidden Kingdom, and it’s a kids’ movie, and as far as I can tell it’s cut from the same cloth as The Neverending Story. So much for that. Enjoy whoring out your fame into the twilight of your careers, boys.
Hey, did someone mention whoredom? There’s an Al Pacino movie, too: 88 minutes.
The Apatow Machine keeps cranking: Forgetting Sarah Marshall, which looks fine but dammit does it ever have an annoying ad campaign! I mostly excited for its opening just so I don’t have to see those frakking billboards everywhere.
Finally, Morgan Spurlock, gonzo documentarian extraordinaire, gets an early lead in the Greatest Title of the Year race with Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden?
A prayer: may the combined talents of Tina Fey and Amy Poehler be enough to counteract the co-writer of the Austin Powers trilogy and Thunderbirds, making his directorial debut; may Baby Mama be better than its trailer, and worthy of its extraordinary leads. Amen.
Shorter prayer: may Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay not be as shallow as most comedy sequels, and why didn’t it open on the 18th so we could all see it on 4/20? Um, that last part wasn’t the prayer.
No prayer at all: in Deception, Hugh Jackman introduces Ewan McGregor to a super-secret sex club, but it’s just so Jackman can frame McGregor for a girl’s disappearance. Or something. Are your eyebrows arched as high as mine right now? I do hope so.