The Big Screen Bulletin 07.13.09: Would the Real John Dillinger Please Stand Up?
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 below so you can see if they have been announced for DVD release, or are still out of print.
Starring: Terry O’Quinn, Jill Schoelen, and Shelley Hack
As I was watching The Stepfather, I thought of a report I did in college on a man leading a double life. When one of his wives found out his secrets, he killed her. The man could charm anyone into believing just about anything. His wives were duped by a very intelligent person, someone who knows how to talk, and relate to people. This is what makes the performance of Terry O’Quinn so fascinating to watch in The Stepfather. O’Quinn understood the subtle nuances of the character, and knew that he had to convince the audience that this psycho could pull his spiel off on these vulnerable women.
Unfortunately, my professor would be disappointed that I don’t remember the title of the book, or any specific names, so I could recommend the book. Nevertheless, the men that lead multiple lives, or change their appearance reminiscent of Frank Abagnale, will never appear to be demented or murderous. The Stepfather gets this aspect of the story right. Terry O’Quinn looks like a normal man. He is a real estate agent, and later on in the film, when he is preparing a new life, he applies for to be an insurance salesman. He picks jobs where he knows his communication skills, and ability to woo the customer, will come in handy.
With the outlook very probably that The Stepfather will finally arrive on DVD in time for the remake this fall, I felt it necessary to write this review, because the movie is still technically out of print, and difficult to find, unless you own a bootleg like me. The opening sequence is wonderfully eerie and well restrained for the viewer. As Gerald Blake, his newly created alias, walks down the stairs, he has shaven his full beard, put on a nice set of clothes, and packed a suitcase. He strolls past the living room, where a massacre is revealed. A family lies in a bloody mess, and Blake exits, whistling down the street. The music from Patrick Moraz meshes brilliantly with this sequence, and the audience is instantly hooked.
Jim Ogilvie, the brother of one of Blake’s victims, discovers through police inquiries that Blake had already set up a new life when he murdered Ogilvie’s family. Blake had moved on to Oakridge, Massachusetts where he now lives with Susan Maine and her daughter Stephanie. All seems to be going well, except that Stephanie wants no part of Jerry, her new stepfather. She detects a very phony demeanor to him that frightens her. Stephanie, due to the death of her real father, and the inclusion of Jerry, has taken her frustrations out at school where she gets suspended regularly. Meanwhile, Jim is unraveling pieces of evidence that will hopefully lead him Jerry. Jerry wants the perfect life, and he wants his family to be equally as perfect. The problem is, nothing can be perfect, and when trouble arises with his wife and step-daughter, Jerry decides he must eliminate them.
The concept of a man murdering his families because he wants the perfect life is very down to Earth. And the fact that Terry O’Quinn hardly ever exaggerates his role makes this horror film more than just an average slasher flick. Only near the end does O’Quinn spout a few one-liners like “You’ve been a bad girl!” But even those are fun. He hits all the right notes, and carries the picture almost by himself. O’Quinn creates fear and sends chills down our spines not through action, but through the expressions on his face. We just know this is a creepy individual, even he doesn’t always act like it. Think of Matt Damon in The Talented Mr. Ripley.
Jill Schoelen also deserves credit for her contribution as Stephanie Maine, the 16 year-old girl who suspects Jerry is not all that he leads on. As a teenage girl, it would have been very easy for Schoelen to be annoying or whiny, but that does not occur. Most kids dislike their stepparents initially, and Stephanie is portrayed as merely a troubled girl. They do not have any forced exchanges between the two of them. Both Jerry and Stephanie put their guards up with each other, even when she catches him ranting and raving in the basement. I will admit that I thought Stephanie investigating the newspaper article to see if Jerry was a murderer was a little far-fetched, but the photo switch made up for that. As a matter of fact, most flaws concerning this character were rectified with the shower scene.
It is the chemistry between O’Quinn and Schoelen that adds to the suspenseful nature of the film. They balance the emotions magnificently. You will also find passable efforts from Shelley Hack as Susan Maine Blake, and Charles Lanyer as Stephanie’s psychiatrist, Dr. Bondurant. The conversations with Bondurant and her best friend place the viewer inside Stephanie’s head and display her worries to be authentic. The cast works well together, and most of the scenes click, all except the wrestling with leaves moment, but I digress.
The Stepfather was directed by Joseph Ruben, who also stood at helm for guilty pleasures of mine such as The Good Son, proving that Macaulay Culkin was awesome as a villain, and Money Train, a heist thriller with Woody Harrelson and Wesley Snipes. Ruben wisely did not rely on the body count to induce scares. We do not see the first deaths, only the aftermath. The primary kill is Dr. Bondurant, and it is spine-tingling, if I may use a cliché. Up until the finale, this was the only death that made sense. For Ruben and screenwriter Donald E. Westlake to insert any more would have introduced plot holes and second guessing.
Ruben also has a knack for stimulating cringe worthy moments that are inventive. The aforementioned death of the doctor with a 2×4 is an example. His competency of staging action geared sequences makes the conclusion compelling and persuasive. The “Who am I here?” moment is sensational, as was the chase into the attic. The suspense Ruben instills is effective and addicting. Ruben was obviously influenced by Hitchcock here, but he does not let that dominate him, and does not strive to emulate Hitchcock classics like Pyscho or Shadow of a Doubt. Ruben and Westlake aimed for a battle of the wits, but also tossed in some campy excitement for good measure.
Compared to a legendary filmmaker like Hitchcock, Joseph Ruben’s The Stepfather might seem hackneyed and foolish. It might have even gotten swept under the rug during its initial release, after numerous slasher flicks of various shapes and sizes had come and gone. However, The Stepfather has aged remarkably well, and the absence of it on DVD for so long only helped the reputation. Perhaps I connected to the main heroine better than most because I have a stepfather myself, and understand the awkwardness of it, but I think I made a strong case for this being an under appreciated 90 minutes of horror. If a DVD is on the way, hopefully it has some juicy extras.
Final Rating = 8.5/10.0
The News Bulletin
Audiences Gay Over Bruno (Note: the real definition of gay)
Well I didn’t think Bruno had this much steam as an R rated opening, but I guess it does, albeit by only a few million. The Ice Age 3/Transformers 2 trains were not far behind. Public Enemies does strong business in its second week which is nice to see. That way more people can see it, right Luers? Anyway The Proposal, The Hangover, and Up are the heavy veterans. I did predict one thing correctly, which was I Love You, Beth Cooper would not crack the top 5. Did the studio even care that it was being released? My Sister’s Keeper and The Taking of Pelham 123 are on their way off the top 10, but let’s give them a round of applause for a satisfactory run. No question about next week. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is expected to be one of the biggest earners of the year, and I am sure I am not alone in hoping it topples Transformers 2.
The Future of Dead Lantern
Martin Campbell (“Casino Royale”, “The Mask of Zorro”) directs from a screenplay by Marc Guggenheim and Michael Green. Filming is expected to begin this January in Australia after Reynolds wraps the thriller “Buried.” No word yet on what Reynolds’ casting might mean for the “Deadpool” spin-off movie, but Reynolds is a big enough comics fan to likely appear in both franchises.
So this news has everyone whispering about the status of Deadpool. Most people say Reynolds will be able to shoot both films. Of course he would be able to. Here are my thoughts. I find it to be bad business for Fox to greenlight a spin-off film for a character mostly fanboys are familiar with and care about after X-Men Origins: Wolverine disappointed in terms of quality and box office totals. Years ago I read that Magneto was next on the slate, followed by a film about the X-Men kids like Pyro and Iceman. So now they are making an entire film about Deadpool, hoping it will bring in big money. Regardless of whether or not it is good, I say it is taking a big risk, and if it does happen, I would not expect that right away. Moving along, I suppose Reynolds is an adequate choice for Green Lantern, but I can bet money that this will be infused with his trademark humor, making it instantly annoying. I am not a fan of Reynolds, but my preference would be for him to play this role straight. Humor is fine, but he brings the same shtick to every role, and the fact is, it limits his appeal and possibilities.
Alfredson’s English Debut
Both it, and the Michael Caine-led Harry Palmer movies such as “The Ipcress File”, brought a realistic and downbeat tone to the espionage genre which up until that time had been dominated by the outlandish antics of the James Bond franchise. Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner will produce while Peter Morgan (“Frost/Nixon,” “The Queen”) adapted the script and will executive produce. The project marks Alfredson’s English-language directing debut. Filming kicks off next year.
Just a quick update on the Let the Right One In theatrical subtitles. We were told they would be changed for the DVD, and thus far I have checked whenever I enter a store, but have yet to see the subtitles on the back marked “Theatrical”. If you have, spread the word. A Tomas Alfredson spy film written by Peter Morgan. This could be fantastic! I need to check out the mini-series sometime. Whenever a foreign director makes his English language debut, it more than likely is a bad decision, but I have to cross my fingers for Alfredson. This project does not seem like one for money. Not like Gavin Hood….Tsotsi to Wolverine. This genuinely feels like a story Alfredson has passion for. The right elements look to be in place, so I wish him good luck.
“The Hangover” sequel will follow the same schedule a year later, kicking off production next October for a Memorial Day 2011 release. Phillips and Scot Armstrong began writing a script for the sequel after highly successful early test screenings. The film has achieved a $210 million domestic gross thus far, the second highest grossing R-rated comedy ever (beat only by Beverly Hills Cop’s $234 million gross). The film is expected to end with a gross of around $240 million, making it the third highest grossing R-rated film ever behind “The Passion of the Christ” and “The Matrix Reloaded”.
I suppose we should have expected this, but if I had to bet on it, a sequel will not do the first Hangover any favors. How could they possibly increase the outrageousness and still make a quality comedy? Not impossible, but doubtful. Don’t get me wrong, The Hangover was funny, but it does not need a sequel. Phillips was lucky that the Old School sequel died because that would have been a mistake. The trend is that when a comedy is such a huge hit, someone in Hollywood sees dollar signs before they think about the necessity of the sequel. Just ask the American Pie franchise. That first movie was a classic, until they went back to the well so many times the water had run dry long ago. I hope to see Galifianakis in other roles, but I don’t see the point of a sequel.
Clark Kent Drama
If Siegel’s estate won the case, they would be entitled to a far greater share of the profits from “Superman” movies and comics. However this argument was rejected yesterday by US District Court Judge Stephen G. Larson, who ruled in favor of Warners. However it was with the caveat that the film rights would revert back to DC and the Siegels if Warners did nothing with them for a certain amount of time. He ruled that the Siegels could sue if a Supes film wasn’t put into production by 2011, giving the studio a huge incentive to get cracking on another adventure for the ‘Man of Steel’.
I see this as extremely positive news, and hopefully fans will understand my point of view. First of all, it would be very hard for Warner Brothers to get a movie out by 2011, and if they did, it would likely suck. What the Superman franchise needs is a long rest, and with the legal battle, and possible turning over of the rights again, we might not see another film, or a reboot, for a long time. This is good. Warner’s wanted a Batman Begins size box office performance, and they didn’t get it….for a number of reasons. Even though I had numerous problems with Superman Returns, a sequel could have improved that universe ten times. Singer described it as Wrath of Khan like, but was never given the chance. Personally, I hope this is the last piece of Superman news for awhile. The character has never translated as well to the big screen as it has to the small screen, but Hollywood has never grasped that.
The 20 Second Sermon
Michael Moore’s next documentary has a title, Capitalism: A Love Story, and it will hit theaters on October 2nd. I am sure this will do solid business for a doc, and it will surely bring the Moore lovers and haters out of their holes to voice their opinions once more. Big and Seabiscuit screenwriter Gary Ross has been hired to do a rewrite on Spider-Man 4 after James Vanderbilt (Zodiac) and David Lindsay-Abaire. This makes me optimistic, and fans should be as well. If anyone can make this sequel fun and show the world the franchise is not doomed, it is Ross. I watched the Optimus Prime and Bruno top 10 lists on David Letterman. They were funny, not hilarious. With those lists, I find that 3 or 4 are laugh out loud funny, and the rest are dumb. Emma Watson, a.k.a. Hermione Granger, has dismissed reports that she is quitting acting as she attends a university. She says she can balance both, and I say that is good news. If anyone can stay afloat after Potter is finished, it is her. She always received the most praise anyway. It appears that the Internet has now badly affected the porn industry. At one time, the filmmakers attempted to include plot and dialogue, but they don’t as much anymore because the scenes are always viewed separately online. The porn industry is raking in half what it once was. This should not shock anybody. It is virtually impossible for them to prevent this.
The DVD Release Rundown for July 14th
DVD Headline of the Week
12 – This Oscar nominated foreign film is one of the best remakes ever made, and is well worth checking out. It is long, but never boring. Even if you dislike subtitles, I urge you to watch this.
Van Wilder: Freshman Year – Some poor schmuck has to impersonate Ryan Reynolds for 90 minutes. I hate the National Lampoon company. They have no shame and release some of the most abominable films in history week after week.
Grey Gardens – Like Taking Chance from last week, this is another HBO movie I really want to see. I enjoyed the documentary, but dramatized version is easy to mess up if you go too far over the top with the Beale women. Still, the casting is admirable, so I’ll be renting it for sure.
G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero – Season 1.1 – This includes the inaugural mini-series, which is nice. Finally this show gets a satisfactory DVD release. I’d love to pick this up, but I’m behind on the new Transformers volumes as well.
The Haunting in Connecticut – What a truly atrocious cover. Can’t say as I have an urge to see this one. I’ve complained about titles with variations of “Haunt” many times now. This will be a pass.
The Edge of Love – I wanna say I remember this movie being mentioned before, but I can’t place it. Anyway, it has an intriguing cast with Sienna Miller, Keira Knightley, and Cillian Murphy, so I am enticed enough to see it. Apparently it is about the poet Dylan Thomas and 2 women that inspire him. I smell pretention.
Horsemen – This has all the markings of a Se7en rip off, and it is getting some horrible comments on the Amazon comment boards, so even though it stars Dennis Quaid and Ziyi Zhang, I will let this slip by my radar.
For All Mankind – Criterion Collection – This is an 80 minute long documentary by Al Reinart about Apollo 11, which landed on the moon. This is a bit cheaper than most Criterion discs, so for those who like blind buying, here you go. Me, I’ll have to rent it.
WWE: Allied Powers – The World’s Greatest Tag Teams – I’m certain I have most of the matches on this set, but like WWE always does nowadays, they include a handful of unearthed gems that I must own. This will have to wait though since I am like 3 DVD sets behind in my viewing.
[REC] – Fans can rejoice at the fact that this finally hits DVD. Those who sell the DVD-R will not be pleased, but oh well. Gotta love how this doesn’t get released until after Quarantine has been out for awhile. I can bet we won’t see that adjusted version of Let the Right One In until after the remake has come and gone.
The Critic’s Quickee
Public Enemies – First off, here are some thoughts on past John Dillinger films. No, this is not the first. Dillinger from 1945 starred Laurence Tierney (Reservoir Dogs) as the titular character. It was 69 minutes of the old gangster style, but it was empty, artificial, and dumb even for that period. Dillinger from 1973 starred Warren Oates, who really resembled Dillinger. This wanted to be Bonnie & Clyde, but never came close except in appearance. Oates is laughable, and everyone else is too besides Richard Dreyfuss as Baby Face Nelson. This relied more on action and was shot with a convention look. IN 1995 we received Dillinger and Capone, combining two popular conspiracy theories, one being that Dillinger was never shot at the Biograph. This stars Martin Sheen as the nicest version of Dillinger ever, and F. Murray Abraham as Capone, yes Salieri from Amadeus. This film was hilariously awful, and simply wanted to be entertaining, but failed. I display these thoughts because if you watched Public Enemies are were too busy complaining about what it should have been, chances are that film has already been made, and they sucked. Moving on…
Well it seems as if there is no middle ground with opinions on this film. You either like it or you don’t, or in the case of some, you seem like you don’t like it when in fact you gave a favorable review. I stumbled across this numerous times actually. I was anticipating this, but was skeptical because the gangster genre is so packed with classics. This is not a classic, but I loved it all the same, and who knows, it could go one to be one of my favorites for this year. I appreciate what Michael Mann has done here. He was not afraid to go over the 2 hour mark, which makes me happy because it left more room for character development as well as the action. I found many of the scenes without gunfire to be equally as engaging if not more so than the shootouts. I thought the acting was uniformly excellent. Johnny Depp really brings this iconic criminal to life similar to that of Warren Beatty in Bugsy. I was enthralled with how Dillinger carried himself compared to his partners, his confidence, and his charisma because both are important and Depp was the perfect person to accentuate that. The woman in his life is portrayed by Marion Cotillard, the only Oscar winner of this pack, but she takes a very thin role and makes it dynamic. You have no doubts as to why she would want to be with Dillinger. Her performance truly has its highlights towards the end when she is “beaten to a bloody pulp” as JR would say. She continues to impress me. Christian Bale is terrific as Melvin Purvis, and I think Bale displays a lot without saying it here. He is the bitch of J. Edgar Hoover basically. He wants Dillinger, but he wants him the right way. He is not a monster. Speaking of Hoover, Billy Crudup was great. I loved the first scene with him in court explaining that he never made an arrest himself. You will also notice the best performance Channing Tatum has ever given as Pretty Boy Floyd, and Billy Graham is outstanding as Baby Face Nelson, a true nut case. I liked the way Mann shot this, using an HD look with a handheld effect. The reason I liked it is because it gives this picture an identity of its own apart from the pack. If another director had filmed it in a regular way, it would have seemed conventional (see above). The action was vigorous and suspenseful, the score from Elliot Goldenthal was superb, and I especially dug the conclusion with the comparisons to Manhattan Melodrama (a solid flick with Clark Gable). Two of my favorite sequences were the forest shootout and Dillinger’s stroll into the “Dillinger Squad” room. I really think this film was effective and fascinating on almost every level, and I’ve really given my rating some thought. Final Rating = 9.0/10.0
What Have I Done?
Monday – I watched 1949’s The Heiress, directed by William Wyler, and starring Olivia de Havilland and Montgomery Clift. It was based on a play, and I found it riveting from start to finish. This is definitely a film that deserves more attention. The performances from de Havilland and Clift are mesmerizing and brilliant, the direction is superb, and the ending is terrific. Olivia de Havilland walked away with an Oscar here, and the film won 3 others, in addition to being nominated for Best Picture. Check it out. It was released on DVD not too long ago!
Tuesday – I finished listening to a 5-disc box set by the group Yes, titled In a Word…. I had heard a few songs by them before, but always the same ones. I want to expand my knowledge of the band, so this seemed like a good place to start. I enjoyed it quite a bit. Some of the tracks are dated, but the longer songs that go over 10 minutes are spectacular. Plus, you have to give them some credit for strangely fascinating song titles. I guess I could call myself a fan now.
Wednesday – On this day the fiancée and I went on a double date with friends to a restaurant called The Shannon Rose. It came off like a fancier version of Applebee’s, or something similar, but I enjoy that atmosphere, so it worked for me. On the menu, I spotted “Buffalo Fries”, and knew I had to try them. I enjoy spicy foods, and had never heard of these before. I quite enjoyed them. I’m sure other restaurants have them, so I recommend giving them a chance.
Thursday – I also finished reading comedian/actor Lewis Black’s recent book, Me of Little Faith, and it was much better than his first book, Nothing’s Sacred. In this book, all about religion and his views, he learns that what is funny on a stage might not be funny in a book, and his writing has improved a great deal. Some may not see the humor in his opinions, so they should not read this, but then again, he warns everyone about that on the first pages.
The Weekend – I consider myself a big wrestling fan, but I do not keep up with the shows and PPV’s these days. However, I did manage to watch Wrestle Mania 25 on DVD. The show was certainly entertaining. The “Money in the Bank” ladder match and the Hardy match-up had some solid spots, but also had some routine ones. The HBK/Undertaker match was easily the best, and this made the championships having to follow a tough act. The Triple H/Orton match was dull, while the triple threat involving Big Show/Edge/Cena was shorter and better. The Hall of Fame ceremony was neat, but since they cut the speeches, not everyone got a chance to tell stories, which is what made that enjoyable. Overall a 3 star experience.
Based on the Trailer…
Jennifer’s Body – This looks highly entertaining, and with Megan Fox and Amanda Seyfried acting in a Diablo Cody horror script, it should be awesome. It should have loads of that lingo all the men love from Juno. Trailer Rating = 9.0/10.0
Brothers – From Jim Sheridan, the man who gave us In America and Get Rich or Die Tryin’. Gyllenhaal rocks a beard, Natalie Portman has long hair again, and Tobey Maguire plays an insane soldier. I cannot wait to see this. One of the best trailers I’ve seen this year. Trailer Rating = 10.0/10.0
Broken Embraces – The new drama from Pedro Almodovar. It looks appropriately strange, but that’s not unusually for him. Penelope Cruz looks good as always, but I am not as fond of Pedro as others. Still, I’m sure I’ll see this. Trailer Rating = 6.5/10.0
Five Minutes of Heaven – The new film from Oliver Hirschbiegel, the mastermind behind Downfall. This stars Liam Neeson and James Nesbitt (Bloody Sunday), and is the story of UVF member Alistair Little. It looks brilliant from this preview, and I will definitely be seeing it. Trailer Rating = 10.0/10.0
The Stepfather – I must admit, this does not look as bad as I thought, but it still looks to have some issues. This film keeps the real father and adds a couple kids. I’ll certainly see this, but am not sure how good it will be yet. Trailer Rating = 6.5/10.0
Cemetery Junction – The first feature film from Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, with Ralph Fiennes. I can’t wait. This is Gervais’ year to become a bigger star than he already is. Even though this had no clips from the films, it still makes me want to see it. Trailer Rating = 9.0/10.0
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
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
500 Days of Summer – This looks brilliant, and will hopefully overshadow Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s contribution to G.I. Joe. He’s better at the indy stuff. I can’t wait for this. The preview is funny, compelling, and engrossing. I’m in. Trailer Rating = 9.0/10.0
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
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
Paper Heart – This looks like a lovely indy film. The concept seems interesting, and it strikes me as very funny. This is the type of stuff Michael Cera should be doing, not Year One. Trailer Rating = 8.5/10.0
Bandslam – An American Idol competition, except with bands instead of solo singers. This has Vanessa Hudgens, and a bunch of other newbies. It looks pretty plain, but harmless all the same. I’ll say this, I didn’t hate the trailer, but it was still weak. I doubt I’d see it unless it got rave reviews. Trailer Rating = 6.0/10.0
The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard – Jeremy Piven leads this comedy that has many of the actors from The Hangover. This is obviously similar to the Ari Gold character, but I’m on board just because Piven can be very funny when he wants to be. The “Pearl Harbor” bit is hilarious btw. Trailer Rating = 7.0/10.0
Shorts – I have seen at least a dozen trailers involving aliens lately, so when I saw this, I thought it looked terrible, but then I noticed that Robert Rodriguez was directing, and so I watched it again. It has me interested, and it may be fun. Trailer Rating = 7.0/10.0
Cold Souls – A famous American actor explores soul extraction as a relief from the burdens of daily life. Paul Giamatti, Emily Watson, and David Straitharn star in this, and looks very funny, exactly the type of movie I’ll love and no one else will see. Trailer Rating = 9.0/10.0
The Time Traveler’s Wife – Initially, this strikes you like The Lake House in some way, but hopefully it is nothing like that. Plus, this has better leads in Eric Bana and Rachel McAdams. For a romance, this looks pretty darn good. Trailer Rating = 8.5/10.0
Ponyo – The next film from Hayao Miyazaki looks amazing. I’ve been a big fan of his for many years now so I can’t wait for this. The animation in this trailer puts most CGI to shame. Trailer Rating = 9.0/10.0
A Perfect Getaway – An island thriller with Steve Zahn. Sorry if I’m not ecstatic. This is from David Twohy, the man behind Pitch Black. I think this looks incredibly stupid, but maybe you won’t. Trailer Rating = 5.0/10.0
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
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. That’s it. 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
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
Halloween II (2) – Well, this trailer is certainly different that the first one, and I’m not sure how enthusiastic I am now, but I’m still hoping this sequel will be entertaining. I noticed a lot more Zombie-esque imagery here, not to mention some cool looking kill scenes. Trailer Rating = 7.5/10.0
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
Inglorious Basterds (2) – This movie still looks outstanding, and viciously different from the original. I doubt it will garner that best Picture nom I had in mind at the beginning of 2009, but oh well. And Mike Myers makes an appearance in this trailer! Trailer Rating = 8.5/10.0
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
9 – This looks amazing, and the Coheed & Cambria 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
Gamer – Call this similar to Death Race or The Condemned and I would still say it looks terrible, and the title makes it worse in my opinion. The cast is better than I would have predicted, and I will give credit for using Marilyn Manson’s awesome cover of “Sweet Dreams.” Trailer Rating = 4.0/10.0
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
The Invention of Lying – This is going to be hilarious from start to finish. I’m a huge Ricky Gervais fan, and I can’t wait to see this. The cast is terrific, and the premise is creative. Trailer Rating = 10.0/10.0
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
Carriers – This trailer wants to disguise the fact that it is another mediocre “infected” movie badly. And it gives way too much information away. I feel like I know how it ends now. Chris Pine was great as Kirk, but here….not so much. I’ll pass. Trailer Rating = 4.0/10.0
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
October, TBD, and Beyond Releases
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
The Box – Ok, my feelings on Richard Kelly and Donnie Darko are well known now, but tell me with a straight face this trailer does not make you laugh a little. They actually use the line “Is someone pushing you buttons?” in reference to the box. This does seem somewhat intriguing, but I would put money on it being horrendous. Trailer Rating = 5.5/10.0
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
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
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
Couples Retreat – This looks to be very funny, and hopefully the comedy is leveled out and not left up to Vaughn’s typical shtick. Of course this trailer shows mostly him. Still, for people around the ages of the characters, this will be a definite date night. Trailer Rating = 7.0/10.0
Assassination of a High School President – The review quotes will help this because the trailer can’t make this look all that different from other high school comedies. Bruce Willis is picking the most random roles lately, but he seems hilarious as the Principal. This could be very funny and engaging. Trailer Rating = 7.0/10.0
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
Daybreakers – A world where almost everyone is a vampire. This story actually seems intelligent, whereas most vampire plots these days are crap. Ethan Hawke seems to be channeling his Gattaca roots here. The song from Placebo is very effective in the trailer also. Trailer Rating = 8.0/10.0
Old Dogs – John Travolta and Robin Williams lead an all-star cast in a comedy from the director of Wild Hogs. This will make a lot of money. I think it looks dumb and over the top, but it might be worth a laugh or two. Trailer Rating = 4.0/10.0
Zombieland – This looks hysterical, and very much in the vein of Shaun of the Dead, but that’s ok because Woody Harrelson rocks, and if he’s killing zombies, I’m paying for a ticket. Nuff said. Trailer Rating = 8.0/10.0
Shutter Island – Martin Scorsese’s new film looks outstanding, and yes, it stars Leonardo DiCaprio, but who cares? They do great things together. The cast looks terrific, and the plot seems intriguing. Trailer Rating = 10.0/10.0
Untitled Michael Moore Documentary – This was a very funny teaser. It is typical Moore comedy, but I appreciated the way it was set up. No one gets the world interested in documentaries (or whatever you call Moore’s stuff) like he does. Trailer Rating = 7.5/10.0
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
2012 (2) – This looks insane, but right up Roland Emmerich’s alley. The special effects look incredible, but plot seems to be an exact replica of the last 20 disaster epics. Still, the powerful images will probably be enough to drag me to the theater. Trailer Rating = 6.0/10.0
Amelia – I am anxious to see this since I’ve researched the history a little bit. The cast looks tremendous, so it should be terrific. The various words at the end of the trailer were lame, but otherwise this has me excited. Trailer Rating = 9.0/10.0
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
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 retarded. 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 if fantastic from footage screened early. It has a tough act to follow, but I have faith. Trailer Rating = 8.5/10.0
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
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
The Last Airbender – From Director M. Night Shyamalan comes this live-action film based on anime. This looks interesting, and maybe a bit epic, but it could go either way. You never know with Shyamalan. Too early to tell here. Trailer Rating = 7.0/10.0
Other Stuff to Read
The Best Movies of the Alphabet
The Best and Worst Bond Films.
411 July Roundtable - This month Owain J. Brimfield continues as roundtable host and compiles the thoughts of the movie zone staff on the summer releases for July! 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:
Remember to bookmark 411Mania.com or, even better, set it as your browser’s homepage, so you can get your pop-culture news and views f