The cautious, tentative start to what used to be prime Oscarbait season continues, although this month doesn’t seem to be quite as fallow as September was. Shall we?
For a certain kind of viewer – like me – the biggest release (though it is in fact a very limited release indeed) is the 14th feature film made by Joel and Ethan Coen, the seemingly semi-autobiographical A Serious Man, a dark comedy about the Jewish life in Minnesota in the 1960s. With the best trailer, hands down, of the year, I am happy to declare my expectations unreasonable; but there aren’t many filmmakers with a better hit-to-miss ratio than the brothers, for those of us in their rabid fanbase.
On the subject of rabid fanbases and hit-to-miss ratios, Michael Moore – beloved purveyor of deeply frustrating documentaries – has what looks like his most nerve-wracking project yet, Capitalism: A Love Story. As a good leftist, I anticipate finding his themes rousing, his rhetoric exhilarating, and his game-playing deeply obnoxious. Call it a hunch.
The, let us say, less difficult offerings include Drew Barrymore’s directorial debut, Whip It; a fantasy comedy co-directed by Ricky Gervais, who leads a crackerjack cast, The Invention of Lying; and Zombieland, a horror comedy with an unusually promising trailer for that subgenre.
Can you believe that there’s only one wide release this weekend? It’s another damn comedy, although Couples Retreat looks vastly more disposable than the three which will already be in theaters, Jason Bateman or no.
The limited release to beat is unquestionably An Education, a film that’s been steadily percolating awards buzz ever since Sundance. Chris Rock hosts Good Hair a documentary about the strange world of African-American follicular traditions; and there’s a British import about boarding school kids planning a heist, St. Trinian’s – about these latter two I know virtually nothing. I am, however, terribly excited for the New York/LA exclusive The Damned United, the newest collaboration of actor Michael Sheen and writer Peter Morgan.
Certainly the most interesting weekend of the month, variety-wise. Consider: another fucking horror remake in The Stepfather, a revenge thriller starring Gerard Butler titled Law Abiding Citizen (directed by the helpless F. Gary Gray), and a feature adaptation of the plotless picture book masterpiece Where the Wild Things Are, directed by Spike Jonze with maximum visual awesomeness, although who can say if the plot will be worth a damn? It’s all enough to almost make you not even notice New York, I Love You, an attempt by the same producers to do another Paris, je t’aime with spectacularly more boring directors.
Whoohoo, there’s another Saw.
If that’s somehow not enough for you, also in wide release we find a CGI feature remake of Astro Boy, and the most Oscarbaity film of the month, a biopic starring Hilary Swank as Amelia Earhart, compellingly titled Amelia. Also, something called Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant, which looks like Twilight for boys, but maybe that’s just me. Not so wide, we have Ong bak 2 – as a fan of Ong bak, I count myself excited – and a rather unpleasant-looking farce starring Uma Thurman (a farce starring Uma Thurman?) called Motherhood.
Even more limited – just New York, Chicago & LA limited – is just about the only movie that I could possibly dread more than Saw VI: Lars von Trier’s Antichrist. Like all his work, it is already polarising; I count myself firmly among his haters, though I am sure to drag my ass to see it, especially since its (probably) sole Chicago venue is a scant two blocks from my apartment.
The hugely anticipated Michael Jackson tribute documentary This Is It gets a nice mid-week berth. Having never really “gotten” MJ, I might skip it just to be contrary.
It looks like absolutely nothing of even the slightest interest is opening wide today, oddly enough, but I am looking forward to the ’80s horror homage The House of the Devil; enough that I’m seeing it a couple weeks earlier, at the Chicago International Film Festival. Otherwise, we’ve got Jared Hess’s Gentlemen Broncos, the latest release date for the often-delayed but rather interesting-looking Skin, and oh my God, the actually made a Boondock Saints II? Well fuck me silly, but that is a bizarre idea.