Reviews of Movies We Haven't Seen Yet
July 2008 Archives
I'm not sure how to react to a movie title like Midnight Meat Train.
I don't even know where to begin on what it might mean or be about
. In fact, I can't even begin to guess what genre it might be. Then I see that it has taglines such as "Next stop ... death" and "The most terrifying ride you'll ever take," and I instantly realize at least two things: 1. It's a horror flick. 2. It's going to be stupid. But it stars Bradley Cooper
and it is
a horror flick, so stupid doesn't have to mean it won't be enjoyable, right?
This movie's about a struggling writer who can't find a girl. You know, one of those breakthrough indies in which the screenwriter basically just pours his own life onto the page and, for some reason, it works better than any of the creative stuff he ever could have dreamed up. In Search of a Midnight Kiss
is not about just any midnight kiss, though. It's about the
midnight kiss. You know, on New Year's Eve. The night when, if you don't have someone to kiss, you always end up feeling like somewhat of a loser (when did New Year's Eve turn into Valentine's Day anyway? It used to be a time to party with friends and just have fun, but now it's yet another couples holiday). But I digress.
This is that little indie about an upstate New York woman who turns to smuggling illegal immigrants across the border when her good-for-nothing husband runs off and gambles away the money for her doublewide trailer. I know it sounds like a country song, but there's some promise with this one: First, it stars Melissa Leo, she of Homicide: Life on the Street.
And then there's that small matter of it winning the Grand Jury Prize
The world needed another Mummy
movie about as much as it needs, well, any cheesy, big-budget action sequel. But thanks to Brendan Fraser
's need for a regular income, we get The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor.
Rachel Weisz is out this time -- maybe she realized she's sort of above this -- but in her place we have Maria Bello. Jet Li and Michelle Yeoh also have joined the cast.
Hey, did you know Kevin Costner is in love with himself and his persona? Well, it looks like Swing Vote
is yet another reminder of that. This time, he's not turning mail delivery into the most important, noble chore in the world or pitching a perfect game. No, it's even better: He is casting the only vote that counts in a presidential election. You read that right: The only. Vote. That counts.
Here's a film in the same vein as Lou Reed's Berlin
and Shine A Light,
that follows a group of aging (or aged? When does that officially change?) rockers on a reunion tour. This time, it's Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
, in CSNY Déjà Vu,
a film directed by Neil Young
himself. Judging by the trailer and descriptions of the film, this has the potential to be as much an anti-war statement as it is a film about the band (although, let's be honest, could it be one without the other?)
You probably haven't even heard of Boy A,
yet it won all sorts of prestigious awards at last year's BAFTAs
. That's the British version of the Academy Awards, for those who don't already know. And the fact that it won all sorts of those (though they were TV awards, not film; apparently it was a TV movie, but don't hold that against it; they're better in Britain) and most of us still haven't heard of it probably says something about how ethnocentric we are here in the U.S.: Our awards matter, but no one else's do.
It's so easy to be skeptical about this latest version of Brideshead Revisited
: You hear the name, realize it's based on an old, old novel
, and you start to yawn. Or, if you've seen the British series
with Jeremy Irons, you're likely to have strong feelings that there's no need for another version of this story. But those in the first camp can rest assured that the book contains scandal, love affairs, power, and betrayal, making it more yummy than yawn-inducing. And those in the second should remember that there was a beloved and lauded version of Pride and Prejudice
before they made the exceptional movie
that earned Keira Knightly an Oscar nomination.
Whether you are old enough to remember and love The Breakfast Club
or whether you're a teen still looking for your own version of that seminal teen film, American Teen
will most likely strike a chord. It's just like Breakfast Club,
see? Except that it's for a new generation. Oh, yeah, and it's real -- as in, it's a documentary. Which means it's most likely going to be a lot more touching and funny in its own way than The Breakfast Club
Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly -- so funny
at the ESPY Awards
-- once again play gigantic, disturbing man-children in Step Brothers.
This time around they're a pair of loser guys who still live with their respective parents. And then their parents get married, so they end up sharing a room. They hate each other. Wait, that's not emphatic enough to describe it: They hate
each other. So much so that, at various points, one of them throws the other off a sailboat in the ocean, and one digs a grave and attempts to bury the other. You know, that>
level of hate.
I might be the only person in the world not excited for this movie
, so keep that in mind when you read what follows. I get that this movie sets up a reason for Mulder and Scully to be together again. I get that it's action-packed and that the trailer even has that little clip of theme music from the TV series
(how exciting!). I also realize that Gillian Anderson is hotter than ever, and that it looks like she and David Duchovny
(who's not so bad himself) are heading toward locking lips in said trailer. So, yes, there really is a lot to look forward to if you're a fan. At the same time, I have to wonder if they've waited too long for this. I mean, the series ended six years ago; it's hard to imagine that people are still yearning for its return at this point. Then again, four years seemed too long for a Sex and the City
movie to be released, and we all know how that worked out. And that series
didn't have a cult following like The X-Files
Acclaimed Hong Kong director Johnnie To -- who makes movies so frequently that he makes the busiest Hollywood directors look like lazy bums -- brings us Mad Detective, about an investigator who just happens to be able to read minds. That sure would come in handy, now, wouldn't it? Except, maybe there are things in those deranged minds that he doesn't want to know, and maybe, just maybe, knowing these things might lead us to the "Mad" of the movie's title. The trailer offers close-ups of guns, shattering mirrors, bloody photo IDs, pictures of strange werewolve-ish creatures, someone putting on a (hopefully) prosthetic ear, our protagonist pointing his finger and shooting people with it, same man being buried alive, red powder on scattered sheets of paper (money?), a group of people all whistling the same tune as they walk down the street, an ominously hung pig carcass, more guns, more shooting, more mirrors, chases, and bright lights shining in people's faces. If those images don't scream "Asian cinema" and "action movie," nothing does.
Reviews by People Who've Actually Seen It:
Please don't let this chimps-as-astronauts movie
be as heartbreakingly sad as Project X
-- you know, the one in which Matthew Broderick ends up getting a chimp to save them all by telling him he'll give him cigarettes (long story, if you haven't seen it), but what really happens is that the chimp/savior dies and doesn't even get a damn smoke for his efforts! I think my feelings about Space Chimps
are amply illustrated by the fact that I have spent this much time describing the plot of a movie that came out in 1987. Anyway, back to Space Chimps:
It looks like it's actually more Armageddon
than Project X,
judging by the trailer, only Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck are chimps in this version. But, still, same story: Goofy, loserish guys (or chimps) get to be astronauts and play around at doing stuff way too important to be left in their hands. But they'll ultimately prove themselves worthy because otherwise this wouldn't be a feel-good kids movie. Oh, and it's from "one of the primates that brought you Shrek.
" Seriously, the trailer said those exact words. My feeling is you're touting just one
person out of a crew of people who brought us Shrek,
you should maybe just keep it to yourself. Your audience (kids) doesn't care about that anyway, and it just distracts from the stuff in the trailer that's supposed to make them laugh or otherwise, you know, want to see the movie. Which brings me to my ultimate point: Nothing funny or worthwhile in the trailer, so it's hard to believe this is going to live up to Shrek, Project X,
or even, I'm loathe to admit, Armageddon
(at least it boasted an insane Steve Buscemi
and a charming Owen Wilson
It's not often that a documentary is made about an album that was a commercial failure 35 years ago, but then, Julian Schnabel
is not exactly your run-of-the-mill filmmaker. After all, the artist created the surprise Oscar contender The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
last year, based on the true story of the French Elle
editor who suffered a stroke and was almost entirely paralyzed.
It's hard to write anything about The Dark Knight
that hasn't already been said. It was already getting plenty of buzz before Heath Ledger
's death in January; ever since then, it's received the kind of positive press and attention that a studio can usually only dream about (not that the studio would want it to happen this way). The latest is that Ledger's performance is generating Oscar buzz
. That would be unusual for a superhero movie, but if you've seen him in those trailers, you probably don't find it hard to believe: He immersed himself in this realistic portrayal of The Joker, much to his own mental detriment
Oh, how easy it was to scoff at the idea of turning the Broadway musical
hit Mamma Mia!
into a movie
. I mean, it's a musical made up of ABBA songs
; how good could it ever be?
The basic premise of Harold
is this: American Pie
goes bald. That's right: Bald. See, the concept is basically that a guy named Harold (Spencer Breslin
, brother of Abigail
) is sort of a dork. And, as is the case in every teenage movie, "sort of" means more than anyone you've ever seen in your life. He gets up in front of class and his teacher (Rachel Dratch
) makes him introduce himself, and then she makes him take off his hat. This is the point where the trailer music comes to a screeching halt and we see that Harold has a seriously early case of male-pattern baldness. So, he's a 14-year-old who looks like a geezer. Not merely old enough to buy beer, mind you, but old enough that the guy selling him said beer wonders if he's eligible for the senior discount. You might think this is a one-note joke, but the movie also contains jokes about rectal exams (specifically, Harold tells his mom his day was about as fun as a rectal exam and then we flash to Harold actually being given a rectal exam, courtesy of Fred Willard
), and jokes about molestation (Harold assures his mom that janitor Cuba Gooding Jr.
didn't touch him in his "swim suit area"), and penis jokes (when he tells an old woman who's hitting on him that he's 14, her response is "That's big!"). In other words, it's a whole movie of nothing but jokes about baldness and/or male nether regions. Do with that information what you will.
Were you wondering what ever happened to Josh Hartnett? I mean, remember back when he used to be the next big thing. Sure, he did 30 Days of Night
last year, but he hasn't had a bona fide hit movie since probably Sin City
-- and that was in 2005. Don't worry about Josh, though; he's apparently cornering the market on headlining movies no one's ever heard of.
This is yet another web-of-life, everyone's-connected movie, but the difference here is that no one really cares anymore. The genre of "coincidence, happenstance, and serendipity" has been more played out than Adam Sandler and Mike Myers comedies (okay, okay, I might be overstating it).
It's shocking that Eddie Murphy can still get movies made with all of the big stink bombs he's been involved with lately. At least he's not dressing up and portraying every character in Meet Dave. And that's about the only thing that seems to differentiate it from any other bad -- make that terrible -- Eddie Murphy vehicle. Oh, and that someone really thinks they're clever for coming up with "Eddie Murphy... in Eddie Murphy... in Meet Dave."
Brendan Fraser might be one of the most successful, least talented people working in Hollywood. (I know that's not really fair when Paris Hilton exists, but I'm talking about people who actually work.) And yet he manages to stay likeable despite that, and he's definitely found his niche in cheesy, action comedies. Journey to the Center of the Earth sort of takes that niche and multiplies it exponentially.
Hellboy II: The Golden Army is probably the most buzzed-about and hotly anticipated of any movie whose prequel made less than $100 million at the box office. There are a couple of reasons for that: Those moviegoers who did see the first one loved it -- even most critics. And it's from Guillermo del Toro, the brilliant filmmaking mind behind Pan's Labyrinth and the future The Hobbit feature.
While his better half
was making a movie
that ended up being a big summer hit, Matthew Broderick
has been staying within the world of indie film for a while now. Diminished Capacity
is no exception. Broderick plays a cartoonist who's seeing a therapist (or perhaps a medical doctor; it's not clear). We know there are problems, though, because he tells the doctor things are improving: "I've stopped throwing up when I drive."
By the title, you'd think The Wackness
was a stupid spoof flick, or some sort of terrible Martin Lawrence
movie, but no, this is that movie where Mary-Kate Olsen
makes out with Sir Ben Kingsley
. You might have heard a little something about that
. You know, because she is 21 and he's 63. Which is more than a little disturbing, but it's not the worst thing anyone's ever been asked to do as an actor, right? I mean, Rosie O'Donnell did this
for a TV movie
. So, yeah, as long as it's not gratuitous and it's done for art, and it adds something to the movie, what's the big deal? Okay, I'm totally kidding. It is weird and odd and it hasn't stopped creeping me out. I don't know who it's weirder for either, honestly. I mean, Sir Ben used to be sort of amazing (before he was in The Love Guru
), and Mary-Kate has been annoying pretty much since she's been an adult. He's old and it's creepy for him to make out with someone so young, but she's gross. So what's worse, I ask you?