December 2009 Archives
What kind of movies get released in the waning days of the year? When shoppers are spending gift cards and Christmas money and making exchanges left and right? 1. Your flash-in-the-pan, window-is-closing movies. 2. Your "heard good things but never saw it" movies. 3. And, of course, your "no one is going to buy this" movies.
Perhaps the most pleasantly surprising thing about Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Homes is that it is by no means an origin story. Considering that there have been over a hundred Holmes films made since the start of the century, making this reboot an origin tale would have been a waste of film anyway -- especially when the excellent Young Sherlock Holmes already exists. But equally surprising is the fact that we are joining the characters of Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) and John Watson (Jude Law) at the end of their partnership, when they already have a legacy of cases behind them, and the two are headed in different directions. The fact that Ritchie makes this "end-of-an-era" tale work for fans and laymen alike is a testament to the film's accessibility and to Holmes' enduring legacy.
Looking for some last-minute gift ideas? How about a workplace comedy, a cutesy romance, a kick-ass sci-fi movie, a dull legal thriller and a stupid road trip flick? That should cover all of your bases.
It's good to have the old James Cameron back after so long. Ignoring Titanic (as tricky as that sounds), it's been 15 years since his last action movie, so any movie that lets him play with robots and aliens and oversized machine guns is a reason to celebrate. Not the only reason, of course -- you want the movie to be watchable, right? Luckily, the movie is not only visually stunning (especially in 3D), it's actually a thrilling, if slightly familiar action tale. Not once did I roll my eyes or emit an audible groan at anything in the plot or dialogue, and I consider that a win in my book. Hell, I even got a little bit of rainforest in my eyes a couple of times, and I'm not one who's overly prone to crying... except during sentimental, uplifting, on-message sci-fi epics, of course.
Jeff Bridges is a national treasure. The sheer variety of roles he's played -- computer nerd (Tron), alien (Starman), shock jock (The Fisher King), gunslinger (Wild Bill), businessman (Iron Man) -- has proven him to be an invaluable asset for any movie, one that keeps getting better with age. And his latest role, while reminiscent of past performances, demonstrates how he can immerse himself in a character, especially one that's incredibly unflattering.
The foreigners have spoken! The Hollywood Foreign Press Association has released their nominations for the 2010 Golden Globe Awards, and while there aren't many surprises, they did get the awkward John Krasinski, the annoying Diane Kruger, and the adorable Justin Timberlake to read off the nominees. (While we couldn't stand Diane's totally biased glee at Inglourious Basterds getting a nomination, we loved glasses-wearing JT's realization that Krasinski was gonna get some lovin' from his nominated spouse Emily Blunt.) What follows are the movie nominees; look for the TV nominees over in the Telefile.
Bastards, drunks, rodents and car salesmen -- the unsavory become savory in this week's DVD releases, with three blockbusters coming out as well as a couple of fun comedies and a few interesting documentaries, for those of you who think the real world is plenty interesting enough. Weirdos.
Fans of the films of Pedro Almodovar need no encouragement or discouragement to go see this movie. Nor do fans of Penelope Cruz, unless you're the kind who only likes her in Sahara and maybe Bandidas and that's it. We certainly can't blame you for liking those films (well, maybe a little bit), but you owe it to yourselves to watch Cruz in all of her films, including her four films by Almodovar. This latest finds Cruz in fine form as the secretary who becomes her boss's mistress who wants to be an actress and falls in love with her director, but it's a twisty, weaving path. The film is not linear, flashing back between the present day -- where the director, now blind, makes a living writing screenplays with his assistant and her son -- and the past, where Cruz meets him, and they have a torrid affair that is suspected by her jealous lover. And it is soap-tastic.
At one point in Clint Eastwood's latest movie, Invictus, a rugby-loving white South African tells a soccer-loving Black South African that "Football is a gentleman's game played by hooligans, and rugby is a hooligan's game played by gentlemen." It's an old saying, and while its veracity depends on your opinion of rugby players, it's interesting to think about, given this film's pedigree. Despite the Oscar-winning director, historical origins and fancy Latin title, Invictus is essentially a feel-good sports movie. I mean, it's not Major League or anything like that, but aside from some moments where the cast sits down and thinks about what Nelson Mandela went through in prison, it's a fun ride, and occasionally very funny, mostly thanks to Freeman playing Mandela as a man who is not above lightening the mood with a joke.
Taylor Lautner, the werewolf with the chiseled abs from Twilight: New Moon, has just gotten a franchise of his own. He's been cast as the lead in Max Steel, a film adaptation of a cartoon and toy line from toymaker Mattel. Mattel is probably thrilled to have landed such a red-hot actor, since their He-Man movie seems to be mired in development hell; meanwhile, their chief rival Hasbro already has the Transformers and G.I. Joe franchises, plus Battleship and Monopoly in development. We'd worry about whether Lautner has the chops to carry a franchise -- remember, New Moon is only his fifth movie -- but something tells us he'll do just fine in the not-terribly-challenging role of a teenage kid who gets injected with nanites that make him into a super-powered secret agent. Check out Steel's origin story in condensed form below, then watch all three seasons on Hulu.