The usual mixture of films in what has become the great In-Between month of the year, now that September has turned into an out-and-out dumping ground: a little bit of Oscarbait that nobody completely trusts; horror that’s too good for August but not quite good enough for a period when the kids are out of school; a few odds and ends too tony for throwing away, and too trashy to rub elbows with the big prestige pictures of the Thanksgiving-Christmas corridor.
Incidentally, for all the ink that was spilled this summer about how strange it is to be at the end of the Harry Potter film series, and to never have another one to anticipate, for me it’s not a patch on the big empty void waiting for us now: for the first time since 2003, an October is going to come and go without the release of a new Saw picture. Lord knows I hate that franchise with a fiery hate, but even so, it’s kind of the fabric of the autumn, y’know? I sort of don’t know what to do with all my pent-up anger this year.
As usual, my October is going to be dominated by the Chicago International Film Festival, but this year even more than most: for the first time, I’m an accredited member of the press covering the Fest. This means a whole lot more access to a lot more films than I’ve ever dreamed of before, which in turn means that I am seeing what is referred to in cinephile groups as “a cubic fuckton of movies”. Be forewarned, if you have no particular interest in obscure non-American art films & other errata, the span between 10/7 and 10/20 is going to be a rough time to visit this blog; but please don’t stay away entirely. There will be a few surprises and compensations.
You know what would be a really big surprise? Real Steel not sucking. Or in any other way, shape, or form justifying the fact that Hugh Jackman has spent his time and talents on a feature film version of Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots from the director of Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian.
The other wide release is one of them Oscarbait films I was talking about, indeed the only true all-round bait of the month: The Ides of March, featuring George Clooney’s intensely undifficult directorial skills giving shape to the tale of a political idealist wracking himself on the filthiness of Our Modern World. Chicago connection wackiness: it is based on a play called Farragut North, which ends its run at Chicago’s Stage Left theater the very same weekend that the film version opens. Go see! Compare ‘n contrast!
Not a wide release at all, but I feel like I would be remiss in failing to point out that in some places, you get a chance today to see The Human Centipede: Full Sequence. This will be the perfect excuse for me to see the original The Human Centipede: First Sequence, particularly since it’s on Netflix and I’ll be staying near a friend’s Wii all week, though as he reads the blog, I suppose that he’s probably going to take steps to make sure I can’t despoil his account in such a way.
Halfway between remake and reboot lies… The Thing.
Seriously, I know that all remakes are equally as annoying, but if there’s a single way to improve on John Carpeneter’s 1982 version – which was already a remake, as I’m sure we all know – I cannot begin to guess what it might be. It’s possibly (possibly, I say), the director’s masterpiece, and modern horror cinema is just too schematic and sanitary for that kind of balls-out nasty brilliance. What’s the point, I’d ask, except I know that it’s entirely the wrong question.
Also in the “what’s the point?” category: Footloose. For serious? If you take out Kevin Bacon and the song, is there anything about the first one that anybody actually likes? Oh, right, Lithgow – another thing that will be absent in the new one.
It might seem hard to believe, at this point, that films can be made which are not remakes, and thus comes The Big Year to save the day; and when you’re reduced to saying, “Thank God that Owen Wilson, Jack Black and Steve ‘Biggest Whore in the World’ Martin are all teaming up for this star-studded comedy”, you are facing down a difficult weekend.
Okay, fair is fair, I’m kind of slightly looking forward to The Big Year, but my judgment screams against it.
So… Kevin Smith’s Red State is finally coming out? Do I have that right? And at this point, is there anybody left who cares?
At long last, the oft adapted Three Musketeers gets an appropriately faithful adaptation, courtesy of that finest of action directors, Paul W.S. Anderson. And by “faithful”, I mean, “Wait, steampunk? …what the fuck, sure”. I hope that some marketing executive at Summit was fired for letting this one slip out without retitling it The 3D Musketeers.
In amongst a bunch of limited releases, this weekend sees Paranormal Activity 3, the final – oh God, let it be so! – entry in a trilogy that rocketed from “the scariest shit you will ever see, ever” to “oh, well that was a bit, um, silly?” with record speed. I’ll say this at least: the trailer makes it look distinctly scarier than Paranormal Activity 2, though I’m willing to admit that I certainly hope it’s at least better than that.
Halloween weekend! Time for some awesome horror movie! Awesomely shitty, maybe, but there’s nothing so fun as seeing what scary movie gets the premier release date for the genre.
Like, for instance, a story about how Shakespeare didn’t write his own plays, directed by the man behind 2012 and The Day After Tomorrow! Wait, the fuck?! Okay, so Anonymous is surely going to be terrifying just for the spectacle of Roland Emmerich wringing all the explosions possible out of an Elizabethan costume drama, and that’s ignoring the subject matter entirely for the sake of my own sanity, but not quite what I was looking for.
Push on: In Time is a confusingly concept-heavy sci-fi thriller by Andrew Niccol, who never met a concept he couldn’t fashion into a loopy metaphor for the World In Which We Live, and it stars Justin Timberlake. The years-in-development The Rum Diary, which finds Johnny Depp returning to the merry world of Hunter S. Thompson, might at least be fun (and it might also be a shallow retread of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas), but horror probably isn’t in there. Puss in Boots (only just barely shifted up from 4 November) is a joylessly mercenary DreamWorks Animation project, nothing more. And while the idea of Johnny English Reborn is a bit disgusting, bad comedy is hardly scary, just dull. Also, there’s no such thing as a completely worthless Rowan Atkinson vehicle (I look forward to having this theory destroyed in comments, particularly since I’ve already come up with my first counterargument).
So… no horror. On the Friday before Halloween. Oh well, at least I get the dude who once ended a movie by using a virus transmitted from a Mac computer to take down an alien invasion force to tell me how William Shakespeare was a fraud.