Between you, me, and the internet, I am really going to be glad when this movie year is over. Maybe I’m just a grouch, but I don’t think I’ve ever had such muted response to so many films. Anyway, there’s always the chance of a surprise in the 11th hour.
Anyway, it being December, just about everything getting “released” is really just getting a New York/Los Angeles qualifying run for the Oscars. Fuck that noise. Better by far to emulate the distributor of Black Swan, who decided somewhat late in the game that they were going to put the film out across the country on its opening day, the better to let everybody enjoy Darren Aronofsky’s newest mind-screw. Which looks, from the trailers, pretty darned screwy and exciting, and I say this as somebody who, to date, has had only a little use for Aronofsky.
Pretty much everything else is qualifier junk, though among that batch is the long, long, long delayed release of the Jim Carrey gay romantic comedy I Love You Philip Morris, and that kind of delay can only mean that it’s either extraordinarily unflinching, or extraordinarily bad. Or probably both, because “Jim Carrey gay romantic comedy” should fill none of us with enthusiasm.
Only major wide release, as Tangled and Harry Potter 7.1 continue to tango across the box office: The Warriors Way, in which ninjas fight cowboys. And unlike “Jim Carrey gay romantic comedy”, “ninjas vs. cowboys” fills all of us with enthusiasm, or at least it damn well should.
Okay, so it’s messed up that they made another Narnia film, right? Because pretty much nobody likes them? But there you have it: a new studio and a new director and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is looking to be the big family picture of the pre-Christmas season. It is good to have dreams, I suppose, and by that point, the two proper family blockbusters that people like and are well-reviewed will be fizzling.
Fantasy for grown-ups: The Tourist, with Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp in front of beautiful Italian backdrops. The trailer is unpromising, I think; Depp’s quirky tics have exploded into full-bore affectations, but it’s a small sample from which to draw conclusions. Heck, it’s going to be all pretty and Venicey. That’s worth a whole lot on a cold Midwestern night.
The limited-release Oscarbait: David O. Russell’s The Fighter, about which I shall say nothing, though I have seen it; Julie Taymor’s gender-bent The Tempest, which kind of looks awful and it breaks my heart to admit it; and TV maven John Wells’s The Company Men, which looks so dull that even reciting the logline would bore me.
TRON: Legacy is going to suck hard, and it is going to be completely fucking amazing, and I see no real need to discuss it further.
Yogi Bear is going to suck hard. Hard. No, harder still. Have you seen the trailers? Then how can you be reading a weblog, since your eyeballs assuredly have been burned right out of their sockets?
Also James L. Brooks is apparently still making movies with Jack Nicholson, though he is not the centerpiece of How Do You Know, merely the only reason that I am even vaguely inclined to ever think about seeing it.
At long last, for the first time in months, a movie I’m actually excited for, rather than just thinking, “well, that could be better than a lot of things”, something that I would cut somebody with a knife to see it: the Jack Black remake of Gulliver’s Travels.
No, obviously I mean True Grit, the remake of a decent but unspecial John Wayne picture, directed by Joel & Ethan Coen. Am I impressed with their choice of material? Not especially. But the idea of them making a proper Western is certainly exciting, as is the reunion of the Coens with El Duderino himself, Jeff Bridges, and the directors’ first-ever pairing with Matt Damon, which is apparently exciting to nobody but myself, given that his name comes up precisely never in the buzz. Also appearing: Roger Deakins’s crazy-ass cinematography, which is ambitious in ways that beggar belief. Check out some of the production stories. It’s going to look like God Himself shot the movie. OH WAIT HE DID BECAUSE ROGER DEAKINS IS IN FACT GOD. God had best win an Oscar this year.
There’s a third Meet the… movie, Little Fockers, which probably means I ought to finally get around to watching the first two. Sophia Coppola also ends her unwanted period of silence with Somewhere, which sound queasily autobiographical, but as long as she brings the style – meaning, Harris Savides cinematography and Sarah Flack editing – I’m on board.
By the way, if you love Jeff Bridges so much that two movies in two weeks aren’t enough for you, you can watch Gwyneth Paltrow playing him in
Crazy Heart 2 Country Strong.
There’s Christmas presents, and there’s Christmas presents, and the notion of Sylvain Chomet (who directed my favorite animated movie of the last ten years) working from an unfinished script by Jacques Tati (who directed one of my favorite movies of all time) is a pretty fine Christmas present indeed. If The Illusionist isn’t literally the best movie of the year, I’m going to be basically inconsolable.
Of all the bullshit qualifying releases, the bullshittiest are the ones that come out in the last week of the year: but at least Another Year has the benefit of Mike Leigh in the director’s seat, and thus I must temper my ire. Because the biggest problem with stuffing a Leigh film late in the qualifying period is only that it means I can’t be watching it right now.
Less excited for Biutiful, the new film by Alejandro González Iñárritu, I must confess, because González Iñárritu has turned out to be kind of lousy.
The year ends as every year should end: with a diabolically calculated attempt by Harvey Weinstein to let everybody mistake a lacerating character drama for hardcore porn starring famous people. Blue Valentine, ladies and gentlemen. Happy New Year!