There are three releases this month that have a real shot at huge blockbuster status, and yet doesn’t it kind of feel like the whole of November is a waiting game until that film comes out in December? It doesn’t help that the anointed Oscarbait of 2015 is almost uniformly the drabbest, least exciting sort of tosh. Anyway, let’s plow through while we’re waiting for that space picture..
Daniel Craig’s fourth James Bond film, Spectre, comes in on a wave of bad signifiers: a crummy ad campaign, repellent theme song, weak reviews, and Craig’s own astonishingly obvious hatred for the franchise and the characters. Not since Die Another Day has it been so hard to gin up real excitement about a new adventure for the gentleman spy. I mean, of course I’ll be there opening weekend. But I’m not going to be optimistic about it.
The counter-programming is inspired: a feature-length CGI Peanuts Movie. There are obviously a lot of ways for this to go wrong, stylistically and tonally, and I trust Blue Sky Studios to find all of them. But it’s hard not to be intrigued, and the soft pastel flatness of the footage that has been available so far is surprisingly appealling.
An astonishingly flaccid weekend for this time of year. The thoroughly under-buzzed drama about the trapped Chilean miners of some years ago, The 33, would surely be getting an Oscar push if it was any good at all; the star packed Christmas comedy Love the Coopers drips with insincerity and flop sweat, and on top of it is the first movie in 14 years from the director of the repulsive I Am Sam. The “lucky” among us will get to check out Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt appearing onscreen for the first time in a decade in By the Sea, with Jolie on writing and directing duties. And since she’s gone two-for-two on pretty unambiguously unacceptable Serious Middlebrow Art Films, I can’t imagine this being even up to the level of barely watchable.
And thus it ends: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 basically has to be better than its predecessor (it’s based on the better part of the book) but also basically has to still be bad (the book is pretty crappy). Iconic franchise or not, this feels like an absolute afterthought; hundreds of millions of dollars worth of afterthought, but still.
Another all-star holiday comedy, in the multi-religious The Night Before; the target audience is about 30 years younger, but the desperation remains, and unlike most people, I thought the triangulation of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, and director Jonathan Levine was nothing remotely special or insightful in 50/50. The whole thing seems intently pandering.
Meanwhile, Secret in Their Eyes is a remake of an Argentine Oscar-winner that’s only… seven years past its sell-by date? But hell, I can’t say no to Chiwetel Ejiofor, Julia Roberts, and Nicole Kidman all in one place.
In limited release, Todd Haynes’s Carol is here to save the whole movie season. God, I can’t wait to see this thing.
So what kind of movie are we meant to take our families to? The second Pixar film in a year, The Good Dinosaur, with its soft cartoony characters and photorealistic backgrounds, looks incredibly weird, but the good kind of weird. I hope. The Rocky spin-off Creed looks not weird at all, just very Dad-ish. Still, it has a good “pass the torch” hook, and it’s always well to have more Michael B. Jordan.
And then there is Victor Frankenstein, starring Daniel Radcliffe and James McAvoy as the mad doctor before the monster, and I think we should only take pity on it, not mock it.
Amidst other Oscary releases, we are to be graced with The Danish Girl, the most Oscarbaity Oscarbait of the season. Political themes! Road-tested prestigey director! Road-tested prestigey actor! And absolutely no conceivable reason to think that might be even minutely interesting to watch!