The Big Screen Bulletin 06.08.09: The Return of the Living Bulletin
Nether Regions will be on ongoing segment of the Bulletin that showcases film that have been discontinued on DVD, are out of print in the United States, are only available in certain regions outside the United States, or are generally hard to find. You might ask “Why should I care about a film I have no access to?” My goal is to keep these films relevant because some of them genuinely deserve to be recognized. Every time I review a new film I will have a list of those I covered previously below so you can see if they have been announced for DVD release, or are still out of print.
The Heartbreak Kid
Starring: Charles Grodin, Jeannie Berlin, and Cybil Shepherd
When the Farrelly brothers remade The Heartbreak Kid in 2007, they almost completely missed the mark on what made then original such a success, not to mention so hilarious. On the surface, and at first glance, it appears that the Farrelly’s did an adequate job in tackling that 1972 comedy. It does not take long to realize that the Ben Stiller vehicle lacks the heart and the satirical edge necessary to fully respect the premise. Elaine May’s approach to Neil Simon’s The Heartbreak Kid proves that subtlety and feeling go a long way. It remains a classic to this day.
I saw the remake before I had the opportunity to watch the original. I knew that the original existed, but finding a copy was difficult. Experiencing the first vision of a story on film after you have already endured the recycling is interesting to say the least. I found myself expecting, and in some cases looking, for the same flaws of the 2007 venture. As the movie progressed, I was laughing more and more, and realized that I wasn’t searching for imperfections any longer. I observed that beneath all the jokes and gags, The Heartbreak Kid is actually a very intelligent piece of cinema.
This tale of tragedy begins with Leonard Cantrow (Charles Grodin), a man who works in sporting goods, who is trying to have sex with his girlfriend Lila Kolodny (Jeannie Berlin). She is saving herself for marriage, so what does Lenny do? He marries her, and gleefully anticipates the wedding night as Lila’s parents are more than willing to give her away. It is a happy day, but then reality hits during the car ride to the honeymoon destination. Lenny and Lila are heading to Miami Beach for sun and relaxation. At first, the energy level is high, with both singing and excited. Lenny is excited about rounding the bases, while Lila is thinking about their future.
On the way to Miami, she talks about looking forward to the next 40 or 50 years, and to a guy who rushed into the marriage, this thought it scary. Lila spills egg salad on her face, sings the same songs over and over, and demands constant updates on how pleasurable the sex is. Once they arrive at Miami Beach, both are ready to soak in the sun. Lila refuses lotion, and pays the price with nasty sunburn all over her body. This incapacitates her for a couple days. In the meantime, Lenny has been swept off his feet by a beautiful blonde bombshell named Kelly (Cybil Shepherd). She greets him with the sun beating down on her back, and she quickly scurries into the ocean with the waves bouncing around her. To Lenny, this is a life changing moment. His solution is to divorce Lila in favor of Kelly, but all does not go according to plan.
It might not seem all that hard, but the task of being mean to someone and transforming that into a funny situation is not easy. Many filmmakers screw this up, and that is what Director Elaine May was confronted with for The Heartbreak Kid. The screenwriter, in this case Neil Simon, and Elaine May must walk fine lines with the characters. They cannot be too cruel or too nice. Leaning too far into one territory would cause the entire objective to collapse. This is the theme that lays at the center of The Heartbreak Kid. It is a story about how we treat one another, packaged in a satire about the institute of marriage.
The role of Lenny requires the character to be fairly harsh towards Lila. It is an escalation from Lenny thinking he made a mistake to Lenny taking steps to correcting that mistake. Charles Grodin captures these shifts in attitude perfectly. Initially just the reaction on his face says it all as the car trip to Miami does not seem so fun after the newlywed excitement wears off. After the expressions of annoyance fade, Lenny’s temper is tested as Lila constantly interrupts sex with questions. Once Kelly enters the fray, Lenny is determined to drop Lila and embrace Kelly. The fact that Grodin portrays Lenny as not a total jerk makes the film effective. He has made some bad choices, but there are traces of desperation in Lenny that make it harder to dislike him.
Playing Lila meant taking on the most risk. Elaine May’s daughter, Jeannie Berlin understands that she must evoke the irritating qualities of a woman (that a man would notice) without going overboard or exaggerating heavily. What makes Berlin’s performance so remarkable is how Lila is exposed in a different light as Lenny’s quest goes deeper and deeper. Lila represents a character that is ordinary, flawed, and most importantly human. Sure, she smears egg salad on her face, but what fun would it be living with someone that possessed no quirks or faults? Lenny, like many males, is searching for that perfect “10” of a woman, and doesn’t comprehend that Kelly’s flaws will arise soon enough.
It goes without saying that some men get married, and are miserable with their partner until they die. Divorcing is a big step, and doing so would be a painful hassle, so they stick with it. Kelly Corcoran needed to be the type of girl that could push a man like Lenny over the edge from not just wanting a divorce, but moving forward to obtaining one for real. In only her second role as an actress, Cybil Shepherd followed the acclaimed Last Picture Show with The Heartbreak Kid. It is certainly believable that a gorgeous college student like Kelly could drive a man bananas. Her looks have enabled her to tease and tempt men at her will. She has her father wrapped around her finger, and compared to him, Lenny is an easy catch. Guys are so mesmerized by her beauty that they fail to observe the big picture.
Kelly’s father, Mr. Corcoran, is almost definitely an early inspiration for Robert De Niro’s Jack Byrnes in Meet the Parents. He is a father who has never been faced with legitimate competition for his daughter. He wants nothing to do with Lenny the moment he meets him. He sees him as a distraction. When faced with the possibility that Lenny may not go away he says, “There isn’t a damn thing I like about you.” Eddie Albert earned an Oscar nomination for his contribution here, and who could blame the Academy? The look of sheer disdain on his kisser is priceless, and it is during those scenes where Mr. Corcoran utters no dialogue that makes Albert’s turn so hysterical.
The Heartbreak Kid was Elaine May’s sophomore effort as a filmmaker. She directed a grand total of four films, and this might not be the first time you see her on this segment. The movie chronicles a disastrous marriage. How fitting that a marvelous “marriage” occurs between May and screenwriter Neil Simon (The Odd Couple, The Goodbye Girl). Simon’s script is a brilliant example of dark satire that is restrained to the point where the director can mold it appropriately. A female at the helm was a wise and wonderful choice to highlight a story from a man’s perspective. She and Simon grasp how the characters can maneuver and evolve in this brand of comedy.
The Heartbreak Kid is not a masterpiece. The excuses Lenny unloads on Lila when she is recuperating in the hotel room are so ridiculous that even the slightest investigating from Lila would reveal the truth. Regardless, watching Lenny rush out of the room, dressing and brushing his teeth simultaneously, makes the implausibility of the explanation tolerable. The fashions and music (from Cy Coleman and Burt Bacharach) are a bit dated, but still contain charm. It is criminal that a film nominated for 2 Oscars, 3 Golden Globes, and one that appeared at #91 on AFI’s 100 Years…100 Laughs list is not on DVD.
The opportunity for a double dip upon the DVD release of the remake was ready and waiting, but here we are, and a comedy classic has been discontinued on DVD, and is extremely hard to find. Of course, you can watch the movie in its entirety on Google video, and that is better than nothing, but the picture quality is not respectable, and observing Grodin’s subtle reactions is a significant aspect of what makes his character so funny to watch. You can unearth out of print copies of this on Amazon used, and probably on auction sites from $60 – $300. The VHS goes up to $35.
Final Rating = 9.0/10.0
The News Bulletin
Up, Up, and Away
I knew that The Hangover would do better than people anticipated, but I only found out how many TV spots they were using too late. I would have predicted them higher. Nevertheless, I did say that Up would retain the top spot, and its nice to see that in a summer where most blockbusters have been knocking each other off week by week. I’m sure The Hangover will continue to do well in upcoming weeks. I’m really shocked at how bad Land of the Lost performed considering how much it was hyped. The rest are holdovers except My Life in Ruins which made a small splash. Drag Me to Hell took a heavy dip as expected, Dance Flick is on its way out of the top 10, and Angels & Demons continues to hang on slowly. Its overseas numbers are struggling too because of such fierce competition. Next week we have The Taking of Pelham 123 and Imagine That, but neither will be tough enough to get #1. I’m betting on The Hangover and Up battling once again with Hangover taking it due to word of mouth.
Trouble in Hobbitland
While there was a hint of anxiety in his voice, del Toro told us, “Believe it or not, I try not to follow that because it would make my nights a little too disturbing. So, you know, I’m gonna keep working every day designing and writing with Peter [Jackson] and Fran [Walsh] and Phillipa [Boyens] until somebody tells me the lawsuit is going to affect that, you know? Other than that I try not to be a part of it.” When asked if there was any news yet on the “Hobbit” casting front, del Toro replied, “Not yet but soon enough. We are about to start getting closer to that.”
This is the right attitude for Del Toro to have right now, but it will not be easy with the vicious media we have today. It seems to me that Lord of the Rings persistently pops up in the news with someone complaining about being owed money. If we take a trip down memory lane, Peter Jackson’s involvement in The Hobbit was in jeopardy because he felt he was not given all the money he had coming. Now, the Tolkien estate is upset. What exactly went down with the checks? Obviously New Line is owned by Warner Brothers now, and they will pay, and they will settle with the estate, because if they don’t, a lot more money will be flushed down the drain. Still, this possibility has existed for awhile now. The Hobbit’s journey to the big screen has been a rocky one, and if it were scrapped due to a financial dispute, it would be a damn shame. On a side note, Del Toro says the search for who will be playing Bilbo Baggins has been narrowed down to one, and the announcement will be made soon!
Big Filmmakers Like Metal
Originally it was rumored that Fincher would be at the helm for the whole shebang, but I like this idea better. I love anthology films. Anyone who read my review of Paris, Je T’aime can attest to that. This should serve the material better, and allow multiple directors to flex their muscles in short segments. With so many known directors on board, the marketing department could have a field day. I still need to see the Heavy Metal movies. I promise I will soon. They reside on my Netflixe queue waiting to be noticed. After listening to Trey Parker and Matt Stone give their opinions on the mini-commentaries for the South Park episode “Major Boobage”, I am even more curious to see them. I’m still surprised that Heavy Metal is being attempted again. Obviously an audience is out there, but I never would have thought we’d see it again until it was announced months ago.
Shia Defends Bay
“I can tell you what I gained from Michael Bay’s films. It’s escapism.” He compared “Revenge of the Fallen” to John Ford’s classic historical yarn “Young Mr Lincoln”, and said: “There’s a bit of John Ford in Bay, and then there’s a bit of like, f**cking “Looney Tunes”, you know?” Shia went on: “I don’t know of anybody that shoots action like Michael Bay. Nobody shoots women like Michael Bay. He is shameless about it. And the world wants that. Middle America wants the shameless, exploitive, escapism film. That’s what they want. They want big, bad, sexy and fast.”
Shia LaBeouf has always been outspoken when it comes to defending his movies. I remember when Disturbia was released, he dismissed comparisons to Rear Window immediately. His words were “That would be like comparing The Cincinnati Kid to The Hustler. Michael Bay is a quick filmmaker. He keeps things going very fast. Patience is not a common word for him. Bay has given the world numerous duds, but I have to side with LaBeouf here. Bay is constantly bashed, but people keep seeing his films, and they constantly make money, so he at least has that going for him. Most of the people who make fun of Bay, will go see this sequel. Escapism is something middle America wants, but Bay’s “shameless” qualities are also his biggest flaw if you ask me. Also, comparing Transformers 2 to Young Mr. Lincoln is a crime in my book. John Ford is rolling around in his grave.
A Return to Blade Runner?
“We don’t take any of the canon or copyrighted assets from the movie,” said David Bausola, founding partner of Ag8, who said he hoped the series would debut later this summer and that the first episodes would depict events about two years into the future. “It’s actually based on the same themes as ‘Blade Runner.’ It’s the search for what it means to be human and understanding the notion of empathy. We are inspired by ‘Blade Runner.'”
Fans of the books probably know that K.W Jeter wrote 3 sequels, and that the 1998 film Soldier is supposedly set within the same universe. According to Wikipedia, this is to be a sort of prequel, set during a point in time before 2019. I think this is a good idea because Ridley Scott is involved, and Wikipedia also says brother Tony Scott is helping out. The fact that they are aimed at the Web at least says that the number one priority is not cash. They could have easily combined the shorts into an anthology film or something. I have always been a fan of the movie, but I am not as crazy about it as others are. I have planned on buying it, but do I want the briefcase or just the regular case? These are the questions I face folks. Of course, when/if I do splurge, it would have to be the Blu-Ray. I first saw it on VHS and the picture was terrible. I’ll have to keep an eye out for these shorts, but its nice to know Ridley is returning to an old property.
The 20 Second Sermon
David Carradine’s death certainly caught me by surprise. I had just watched Kill Bill 1 & 2 a couple of days before the news hit. My sincerest condolences go out to his friends and family. Dolph Lundgren says Sylvester Stallone’s The Expendables is not cheap. The budget is $70 million if you were curious. This should not be a shock. ¾ of the budget must be the checks for the all-star cast. Tobin Bell says Saw 8 is being conceived as the final chapter. What happened to two separate trilogies? Now they’re going to 8? That seems like a fantasy if you ask me. The theater gross declines with each sequel. A remake of Schwarzenegger’s Commando is in early development. A worse idea could never come across a studio execs desk. They will completely miss the point if they go forward with it. Quarantine 2 is on the way, but it will have no connection to [REC] 2, already set to be released in Europe later this year. Since I have yet to see any of these films, this news means little, but I plan on renting them soon as [REC] was announced for official region 1 release finally. Spider-Man 4 Producer Todd Black made some comments regarding the possible villain choice for the new film. He mentioned that it was “New York-centric”, and commenter’s suggest Lizard or Kingpin. Until I see the trailer, I’m gonna say who cares? Apparently the rumored Exorcist remake is off, but the real story will be adapted. God, please, end this franchise, I beg you! I also congratulate God of Carnage for winning Best Play, Best Director, and Best Actress (Marcia Gay Harden) at the Tony Awards!
The DVD Release Rundown for May 19th
DVD Headline of the Week
WWE: Macho Madness – The Randy Savage Ultimate Collection – This is the box set I have been waiting for, and if you’re a wrestling fan, it is a must purchase. All other DVDs take a back seat to this one this week. Preorderable
Gran Torino – Director Clint Eastwood helms another winner that he also stars in. His performance is terrific, and his two Hmong co-stars become tolerable, but everyone else is weak. The plot, while not unique, is molded in an elegant and gripping way with a suitably moving ending. Buy it Used
Woodstock: 3 Days of Peace & Music (40th Anniversary Director’s Cut) – This seems to be the definitive edition of this event, and if I had the money, I’d absolutely pick up this deluxe Amazon version. I’ll have to save for this one. Buyable
The International – Director Tom Tykwer and Clive Owen craft an intelligent, stylish, and gripping thriller. Naomi Watts struggles, but the rest of the cast is superb, the action is fantastic, and the ending is appropriate. Not his best work, but still solid. Buy it Used
Reaper: Season 2 – I don’t usually display TV releases, but this is show is so underrated that couldn’t help it. Sadly, this will likely be the last release for it as a 3rd season has not been approved.
Crossing Over – Harrison Ford leads a good cast in this Crash like hyperlink drama about immigration and its consequences. The film has its moments, but tries too hard to be moving and incorporates way too many coincidences. Director Wayne Kramer does ok, but falls short. Borrow
The Jack Lemmon Film Collection – This set contains 5 movies: Phffft!, Operation Mad Ball, The Notorious Landlady, Under the Yum Yum Tree, and Good Neighbor Sam. Not exactly his most popular efforts, but this might have some hidden jewels.
Fired Up – Since this movie looked terrible in theaters, I doubt I will give it much a chance on DVD, unless of course it winds up on a bunch of worst lists. I would have to see how bad it is then.
Nobel Son – Blockbuster has had this to rent for awhile now, but tomorrow it is available to own. I need to catch up on my Rickman, this and Bottle Shock specifically.
Strike – About a pizza delivery guy who is a great bowler, but also has a girlfriend. Tara Reid with pink hair makes me scared of this movie, but it seems like a great future STV nightmare.
Puppet Master Box Set – You get 8 discs, but the price tag comes in at $90, and that is pretty steep for this series.
Spinning into Butter – Sarah Jessica Parker stars with Beau Bridges in this New England set movie about a hate crime at a college and the investigation that followed. Yay.
The Critic’s Quickee
Terminator Salvation – Is this the start of a new trilogy as has been reported and planned? Well, I hope not because I fear we will see 2 more films that recycle what we have seen in this new installment. Salvation is not a bad film, but it is certainly not great either. I don’t know if I’d even call it the best effort from Director McG because this is about on par with We Are Marshall. The acting in this sequel is outstanding though. The Terminator franchise has dealt with frequent bouts of re-casting, but they have always managed to perform adequately despite that. Christian Bale picks up where Nick Stahl left off well, Bryce Dallas Howard was a fine fit for the Claire Danes role, and Anton Yelchin even grew on me as Kyle Reese. The biggest problem in this movie is the action, and in a Terminator film that is just as important as the story. McG includes plenty of car/motorcycle chases, gun fire, and explosions, but every action sequence is mediocre. Not one really stands out. The film is very loud (meaning it makes noise for no reason) and has a bunch of big robots, but nothing really gets your blood pumping fast. The crew seems content to remind us around every corner that they invented new “Terminator” machines. McG and his screenwriting team require the viewer to suspend disbelief, which definitely grows irritating. John Connor survives a helicopter crash, a steep jump into the water, and then even gets stabbed through the chest. I believe it was Erik Luers and I who joked that this film would basically be deleted scenes from the previous movies, and you do get that feel, but it goes further than that when we see a scene ripped right from the T2 teaser trailer with the machines being made. The only plot thread that we do not know what will happen is the one involving Marcus Wright, which was ok I guess. Sam Worthington does his best in the role, but in the end Salvation lacks the oomph and pizzazz of the other installments, even T3. I expected this to be much worse, and was pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t, but I attribute the strengths to the cast, who really brought their A-game. Arnold’s semi-cameo was ten times better than Patrick Stewart’s in Wolverine. They regurgitate the one-liners, which are not needed, and one of my problems with this is how the machines are always ready to kill without hesitation, but not when they get to John Connor. They just beat him up for awhile until he can be rescued. 6.5/10.0
Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian – Now, maybe this goes without saying, and maybe I going too far, but I seriously hope that young kids are not watching this and picking up historical facts because this could definitely screw them up and skew their view of certain figures. I hated the first film, and if there was any conceivable way to make the sequel worse, that is accomplished here. I can see the studio execs building the idea: “So we have to make a sequel because the first film made so much money, and in this movie, everything we did not make come to life, will come to life here. Oh, the plot? Well, we can think of something dumb to tie it all together later.” I realize this is harmless, and that some movies are just meant for entertainment, and not intended to be taken seriously, but so much of this film just made my blood boil. The storyline is so incredibly lame, and it’s as if Director Shawn Levy and his screenwriters were binging on things in museums to spring to life. None of it is done well, none of it makes sense, and it is all stupid. Hank Azaria is the lead villain, and is the very definition of excruciating in every scene. His voice sounds like Stewie from Family Guy. For anyone who saw the first film, you had this tablet that made all the museum pieces come to life, and my question is, what is the range on this tablet? The reason I ask is because almost everything in Washington D.C. comes to life, and conveniently, no one hears or sees anything. Ben Stiller reprises his role, and his character has become rich through these little inventions like a glow in the dark flashlight, but he would rather be a security guard. Now, trust me folks, not one soul on the planet would want to be a security guard when they had all the money they dreamed of. Stiller’s character even speaks monkey at one point. Yes, believe it. His partner during this battle is Amelia Earhart, played by the optimistic Amy Adams. Let me tell you, she has been hiding her body from us because she sports a pair of tight pants that are very sexy. And I predicted this really dumb twist with her at the end that I won’t reveal. And if I was running around with Amelia Earhart, I might find time to ask her how she died because, you know, it is still a mystery. Three cast members from The Office pop-up, Jonah Hill’s contribution is limited to what we see in the trailer, and Ricky Gervais is also involved again, and should have been in it more. Stiller looks bored, the dialogue is dull, and the special effects are overwhelming. I would admit to people that this is mindless fun, but the story is so chaotic and confusing that I don’t know how anyone could relax to have fun. This movie exists only because the first film made money. That is a common trend in Hollywood, but this sequel is proud of it. Final Rating = 2.0/10.0
Drag Me To Hell – I am usually a harsh critic for horror because I feel most of it is trash and fans simply are desperate to like something. Thankfully, Sam Raimi unleashes a zany, cheap scare filled story for the world to enjoy. Make no mistake, this is not inventive, fresh, or all that creepy. Raimi does one thing that makes this effective. It’s not the acting, the direction, or the twists. He instills just a tiny bit of comedy, and does not take the substance too seriously. True, this is more in the vein of The Evil Dead 1, which was unsure of just how funny it wanted to be, but because this is not straightforward and somber, the film is enjoyable. Like his debut picture, Raimi at times seems hesitant to go full scale in zaniness, and it shows. An example is whenever Christine is alone, and it is left to her and a shadow effect to frighten the viewer. Some people like that more than an over abundance of wacky, but the major problem with this is that it tight rope walks that line between horror spoof and horror. Nonetheless, I had an excellent time with this. Raimi stages his thrill sequences so much better than most directors would. The first attack in the parking garage, the scene with the fly on her face, and the exorcism are brilliant. The graveyard finale is too. Alison Lohman is an extremely competent actress, who does marvelous here. Reggie Lee is an actor I recognized from Prison Break, and plays a similar type of sleazeball here. Justin Long does his usual adequate work as the boyfriend attempting to understand what is wrong with his woman. These roles are not important, but should be given to a capable actor, and normally they are not. Long does fine. Christopher Young deserves a lot of credit for the thrills and suspense in this movie because his score is dynamic and enlivening. Raimi knows how to pace this sort of film, after all it brought him to the dance, and he shows little signs of weakness for the genre. I saw the ending coming a mile away, but it was still satisfactory. I was however, extremely disappointed with the absence of Bruce Campbell, who turned down a role because of the show Burn Notice. Final Rating = 8.0/10.0
What Have I Done?
Last week’s Bulletin was a very rare missed article in all my years of being here. I mean, I’ve gone on vacation before, but that was planned. Having Appendicitis was not apart of my weekly schedule. So that’s what prevented me from finishing my news report. After getting the surgery, it was too late to finish the rest off. I’m sure you were all in tears.
My week since then has consisted of movie watching, TV show watching, and more movie watching. Oh, and I got plenty of writing done as well. I would love to tell you about all kinds of new films I watched, but in truth, the Star Trek: Original Motion PIcture Collection Blu-Ray box set consumed my life, or rather the extras did. After that, I completed my DVD review for Valkyrie. Before my stomach problems, I did see two remakes that were better than their originals: Christopher Nolan’s Insomnia (2002) and Phillip Noyce’s The Quiet American (2002). Both pictures capitalized on the original’s strengths, and corrected the mistakes. I also watched Philip Kaufman’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1988), a truly superb drama with Daniel Day-Lewis and Juliette Binoche.
I listened to a few new albums also. Eminem’s Relapse is quite good. When it comes to interludes and skits on rap albums, they normally annoy me, but his are usually funny, so those weren’t bothersome. A few tracks are humdrum, but for the most part, Eminem is back bringing his A-game after the horrible Encore. Relapse has a bunch of memorable songs. What could be the best album of the year so far is easily Green Day’s 21st Century Breakdown, a masterful rock opera that never weakens for one second. After the brilliant American Idiot, I never thought they had another equally as awesome effort in them.
So, I’m back to my normal self tomorrow hopefully as I get the stitches taken care of. Sorry for those who missed me last week.
Based on the Trailer…
The Twilight Saga: New Moon – Boy does this look retarded. The sequels will no doubt increase the hatred for this series. The were-wolf morphing is truly awful looking. I say pass. Trailer Rating = 4.0/10.0
Toy Story 3 – This is an early teaser, but it still gets me excited. I can’t wait for this, and I’ve heard it is fantastic from footage screened early. It has a tough act to follow, but I have faith. Trailer Rating = 8.5/10.0
The Final Destination – What a dumb title. Why not just say “Final Destination 4”? People see these movies to watch the creative ways of dying. End of story. All the installments have been mediocre with a possible exception of the first film. This looks dumb. The well has run dry. Trailer Rating = 5.0/10.0
Shrink – Kevin Spacey stars as a shrink who has his own issues. I don’t know. This looks like it could be funny, but some of the acting looks too exaggerated for the tone they want. Maybe I’m wrong. It could be decent. Trailer Rating = 6.5/10.0
Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans – Nicolas Cage, Val Kilmer, and Werner Herzog. Hell yes! This could be bad or good, but I have faith in Herzog to elicit the best from this quirky cast. This story looks bizarre, but with Herzog, a trailer is never as good as the full feature. Trailer Rating = 8.0/10.0
The Taking of Pelham 123 – The new film by Tony Scott, starring his buddy Denzel, John Travolta, and James Gandolfini. Can Tony dust himself off from the decline his career has taken? Travolta makes a neat villain, so only time will tell. This thriller seems mediocre to me at first glance. Trailer Rating = 6.5/10.0
Moon – This has traveled the festival circuit, and it does look intriguing, but it also reminds me a lot of 2001: A Space Odyssey. I love Sam Rockwell, but I’m not sure yet. Trailer Rating = 6.5/10.0
$9.99 – A stop motion animation film that is very much geared towards adults, and is based on the short stories of Etgar Keret. This is right up my alley, so I’ll be seeing it for sure. It looks to be funny, engaging, and heartfelt from this footage. Trailer Rating = 9.0/10.0
The Proposal – This is an example of a romantic comedy I loathe. Ryan Reynolds and Sandra Bullock are the stars. Yay. Watch this preview and tell me you cannot predict how this ends. Trailer Rating = 4.0/10.0
Tetro – Let us hope that this is better than Youth Without Youth. This was effective because it still has me wondering what exactly the film is about. I am intrigued by the black & white choice with smidgens of color, and Vincent Gallo as the star should be interesting. I’m crossing my fingers. Trailer Rating = 7.5/10.0
Cheri – This is a turn of the century story about a French courtesan and her young lover. It is directed by Stephen Frears, and somehow he managed to make a movie with Michelle Pfeiffer that will not go DTV. Am I in a bad mood, or do all these trailers seem bland? Trailer Rating = 5.5/10.0
Whatever Works – Woody Allen writes and directs a new comedy with Larry David and Evan Rachel Wood, among others, and it looks hysterical. It seems like Allen and David are such a logical combo to make a comedy, and I hope this is as good as the trailer. Trailer Rating = 9.0/10.0
Year One (Super Bowl spot) – Jack Black and Michael Cera are hunter-gatherers set in the ancient world. This looks mildly amusing. Both actors should provide the laughs. Trailer Rating = 7.0/10.0
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (Super Bowl spot) – I was little late with this one, but it’s too early to tell how good or bad this will be anyhow. I’m betting it’s more bad than good. Trailer Rating = 5.0/10.0
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen – During the first few seconds, I thought I had clicked on the trailer for Armageddon. I see robots, explosions, and the LaBeoufster. Other than that, what is happening is anyone’s guess. Trailer Rating = 6.0/10.0
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2) – I thought the first previews were absolutely horrendous, but this trailer actually shows more than explosions, which is nice. I am a little more enthused about this sequel now…just a little. Trailer Rating = 7.0/10.0
My Sister’s Keeper – Cameron Diaz shows she will not be counted out after What Happens in Vegas because she stars in this film with Abigail Breslin, which looks very good from this footage. When a trailer manages to tug at your heart strings, then you know the film has the chance to be solid. Trailer Rating = 9.0/10.0
Imagine That – Eddie Murphy delivers another bland looking comedy vehicle. Like anything he stars in lately, it will probably suck. This strikes me as close to Liar Liar, but oh well. Trailer Rating = 5.0/10.0
Public Enemies – This is my type of film. You have Michael Mann, Johnny Depp, Christian Bale, and a bunch of tommy guns. I am so there. Trailer Rating = 9.0/10.0
Bruno – This is the red band trailer. It looks really funny, and I’ll definitely be seeing it, but I do question the legitimacy of the “real situations” they display. We all heard the rumors after Borat. Regardless, Cohen is hilarious. Trailer Rating = 8.5/10.0
G-Force – Is Disney greenlighting anything that can be 3-D now? They also seem to love talking animals. This looks so gigantically awful. Will Arnett is in this, and that makes me sad. Wow. Trailer Rating = 1.0/10.0
I Love You, Beth Cooper – The new film from Chris Columbus starts out promising, and Hayden Panettiere looks good, but this reeks of like 20 other high school comedies. Count me out. This is disappointing from a guy who normally understands what it takes to make a solid kid movie. Trailer Rating = 2.5/10.0
Adam – A quirky romantic comedy where one has a disability of some sort. One of these comes out every so often. This looks like it could provide some laughs, but I doubt many will see it. Trailer Rating = 6.0/10.0
Orphan – Well, if there is a chance of Vera Farmiga nudity, I’m there, and Peter Sarsgaard is cool, but this looks like The Omen with a girl character instead of Damien. In other words, this evil child outline needs to have a break. Trailer Rating = 5.0/10.0
Funny People – The new dramedy from Judd Apatow starring Adam Sandler, Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, and others. This looks very funny and touching at the same time, and that’s what Apatow does best. I hope this can salvage what if left of Sandler’s dignity. Trailer Rating = 9.0/10.0
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince – This was a great book, the darkest of the set, and this trailer rocks. I’m anxious to see this. The franchise has not decreased in quality, and here’s hoping this continues that trend. Trailer Rating = 9.0/10.0
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2) – Yes, I am a bit skeptical of the director, but this looks very good. This teaser gave me hope that Yates knows what he’s doing. The comedy part at the end was terrific. Trailer Rating = 9.0/10.0
G.I. Joe (Super Bowl spot) – Oh my Lord. This looks ten thousand ways of awful. I cannot believe that the cartoon I watched as a child, has been adapted in this way. Holy schnikes. Trailer Rating = 2.0/10.0
Taking Woodstock – If this wasn’t directed by Ang Lee, I would probably not be interested, but it is, so I’ll be seeing it for only that reason. I must agree with Mr. Luers and say this looks like Ang Lee’s Almost Famous. Trailer Rating = 6.0/10.0
G.I. Joe: Rise of the Cobra – I’m sorry, but this is not anything remotely similar to the fun show I watched as a kid. I may be older, but I know a travesty in the making when I see one, and this has all the markings. This looks like total and utter horse dung. I don’t know how else to phrase it. Trailer Rating = 2.0/10.0
Julie & Julia – Starring Meryl Streep and Amy Adams, this is based on 2 true stories, one is of Julia Childs. These women are great actresses, and even though Streep’s accent seems a bit off, and the story strikes me as disjointed, I have a feeling this will be terrific. Trailer Rating = 8.0/10.0
District 9 – Peter Jackson produces this Neill Blomkamp feature. This guy was originally slated for the Halo film, but this is not far off. The trailer certainly gets your attention, and has a Signs vibe to it, which I like. Color me intrigued for now. Trailer Rating = 7.5/10.0
H2 – The Rob Zombie Halloween sequel looks a lot better than I anticipated with a definite Friday the 13th/Pamela Voorhees vibe going on (as Mr. Luers told me). I really hope this turns out well because Zombie deserves more respect as a filmmaker. Trailer Rating = 8.0/10.0
The Boat that Rocked – I love music, so this is right up my alley. It’s about a radio station on a boat, one that helped give rock music to the world. It stars Philip Seymour Hoffman and Nick Frost. Trailer Rating = 8.0/10.0
Inglorious Basterds – Many expressed disappointment with this, but it is a WWII film from Tarantino, so what were you expecting? I think it looks awesome. I can’t wait to see it! Trailer Rating = 9.0/10.0
September, TBD, and Beyond Releases
Surrogates – Here is another film that has the potential to be very good, or very bad. The director is Jonathan Mostow (Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines), so I hope this is solid. Bruce Willis looks bizarre, but maybe that’s a positive, and the plot has echoes of other sci-fi flicks, but you never know, this might surprise us. Trailer Rating = 7.5/10.0
Planet 51 – This could be a fairly amusing CGI film. The animation looks nice, but this has few voices, and no real clue as to how funny it will be. I am still unsure, but it might be good, and it might not. Trailer Rating = 6.5/10.0
Where the Wild Things Are – I know this production had loads of trouble, but this looks outstanding by the trailer. I can’t wait to see it. The creatures look good and Spike Jonze usually doesn’t disappoint. Trailer Rating = 8.5/10.0
Sherlock Holmes – Guy Ritchie is sending mixed signals with this one. I am anxious to see it, but this trailer shows an action film, and call me old fashioned, but I kind of prefer the mystery to outweigh the action. However, Rachel McAdams looks damn sexy and Kurrgan is involved, so those are both positive points. Trailer Rating = 6.5/10.0
Tyler Perry’s I Can Do Bad All By Myself – This is just a teaser, but you know what you’re getting when Madea is the main character of a film. This is what keeps Perry relevant, so logically he continues to make films with her. This is somewhat humorous, but nothing I’m interested in. Trailer Rating = 6.0/10.0
Beyond a Reasonable Doubt – A generic looking courtroom thriller complete with generic title. Jesse Metcalfe, or John Tucker from John Tucker Must Die is not a good actor, and aside from Michael Douglas outshining everyone as a scumbag attorney, I have no reason to see this. Trailer Rating = 4.0/10.0
Extract – Mike Judge is delivering another comedy set in the workplace, and I can’t wait. Ben Affleck has a cool look going on, and Jason Bateman is usually golden in comedies these days, so this should be terrific. Trailer Rating = 8.5/10.0
Astro Boy – A lot of bright colors, fancy CGI, an all-star cast, and not much else. I realize fans of the many TV series’ will be excited, but this character just translates as ordinary to the big screen. Trailer Rating = 5.0/10.0
Fame – This looks…..just like every other dance flick we’ve seen in the past decade, only this is a musical. Yay. The Wayans are parodying movies likes this for goodness sakes! This is a skip it, and I’m not talking about the girl toy from the 90’s. Trailer Rating = 2.5/10.0
9 – This looks amazing, and the song in the background only makes me want to see it more. This will be a mighty tough year for Pixar to reign supreme in. Trailer Rating = 9.0/10.0
The Perfect Game – Though I’m not a baseball fan, I always enjoy watching the Little League World Series. The problem with this film, despite a bad title, is that the preview reveals way too much, so hopefully it has more going for it besides the story, which I’m sure is inspirational. Trailer Rating = 6.5/10.0
Antichrist Lars Von Trier, the director of Dogville and Manderlay, is behind this new psychological thriller/horror effort. It just might be decent, but with Willem Dafoe, one never can tell. Trailer Rating = 7.5/10.0
More than a Game – If this focuses on the entire high school team, and not just LeBron James, it could be a very decent documentary. The trailer certainly spreads the wealth, so that’s good. Trailer Rating = 7.0/10.0
New York, I Love You – The first film, Paris, Je T’aime was one of the best films in recent memory that few knew about. So I am very excited about this second installment. The cast and directors look amazing. It should be a terrific experience. Trailer Rating = 9.0/10.0
2012 – This teaser has been circulating for awhile, but I felt the need to rate it anyway. Roland Emmerich tackles another disaster epic, this one showcasing a flood. Gee, we have never seen any movies about cataclysmic floods before. I suddenly long to watch Knowing again for originality. Trailer Rating = 6.0/10.0
The Princess and the Frog – It’s about time Disney returned to hand drawn animation. This looks to be a lot of fun, and very much in the spirit of the classic tales they used to adapt when Walt was around…maybe he still is. Trailer Rating = 8.5/10.0
The Road – This is based on a Cormac McCarthy novel, the same person who wrote the book to No Country for Old Me. I had no idea this was about the end of civilization. I am disappointed somewhat, but it could be good since Viggo and Charlize are the leads. These types of storylines always have the potential to be terrible though. The release date for this has already been pushed a number of times. I hope the final cut is better than this trailer. Trailer Rating = 6.5/10.0
Nine – The new musical from Rob Marshall (Chicago) looks to be infused with Fellini-esque qualities, which is a good thing. The cast certainly qualifies for the all-star label, and story looks entertaining, so I’m there. This should be fantastic. I mean come on, Dame Judi Dench and Daniel Day-Lewis are just the tip of the iceberg. This is one of my most anticipated for 2009. Trailer Rating = 9.0/10.0
Other Stuff to Read
The Best Movies of the Alphabet
The Best and Worst Bond Films.
411 June Roundtable – This month Owain J. Brimfield continues as roundtable host and compiles the thoughts of the movie zone staff on the summer releases for June!
The MeeThinks Friday FreeThinks – Thanks again to John Meehan for providing my banner here, and for the Alphabet feature.
Also, keep an eye out for more comic book character timelines in the future. Here are the first two:
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“The plural of Chad is Chad?”
–From the movie Recount