December 2012 Movie Preview

M: December is always big, as you have school vacations and the final push for Oscars. This year is no different, and has at least two movies that the siblings are DYING to see, in the first installment of The Hobbit and Les Mis.

E: Like, “ready to pre-purchase our tickets and go with huge groups of friends so we can squeal together afterward” dying.  That’s us.

M:  And trust us, that’s not all December has to offer!

E:  Yay, December!

December 7th

Hyde Park On Hudson

C: The King and Queen of England come to visit Franklin Delano Roosevelt for a madcap, sexy country house weekend. This sounds like one of the more imaginative things to turn up on fanfiction.net, but as the trailer claims, it’s “based on true events.”

E: I’m very curious about this one.

M: Bill Murray as FDR, how could we not be intrigued. I will say, I’ll be surprised if it works, but only mildly.

E: I’m not hearing any Oscar buzz about the performances, and this ought to be total awards catnip, especially for Murray and Laura Linney, so yeah.  Great idea, impressive cast, but we’re going to have to see what the reviews are like.

C: It’s probably just Murray’s presence, but this trailer has whimsical elements almost reminiscent of Wes Anderson – which feels odd, to put it mildly, for a political period piece. If it has anything like the human interest of The King’s Speech, though (featuring both the same era and the same king…), it’ll certainly be worth a rental!

Playing For Keeps

C: Yawn. This is at least three movies we’ve all already seen combined into one. Redemptive story of guy who was too big for his britches (pro soccer player in this case) and forgot what’s important in life (his kid and former wife, as always) and gets a second chance through doing something homey (coaching son’s soccer team). Other movies following this formula? Siblings, sound off!

E: Well, I’ll start of with The Mighty Ducks and Bad News Bears (but the one I can’t help thinking of is the non-formula pregnant teen drama of the same name starring Molly Ringwald).

C: I suppose there’s shades of the Underdog Sports Movie here, but I don’t think that’s the primary point of this one. I was thinking more the Detached Dude Redeemed Movie, like Liar, Liar or The Family Man or What Women Want.

E: Right, but both were about coaches in need of redemption… but I’ll stay away from sports and give you Mr. Popper’s Penguins and Regarding Henry, then.

M: I can’t stop thinking of the Molly Ringwald flick when I hear the title too, E. Not a good sign. Oh, and the writer hasn’t written a film since the 1994 Paulie Shore vehicle In The Army Now. Strike two. Then you would think that, as C said, this has been done a million times would be strike three, right? But look at the cast: Gerard Butler, Dennis Quaid, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Uma Thurman, Jessica Biel, Judy Greer, even Revenge‘s James Tupper… I mean, a project that drew in that kind of talent has to have something going for it. It might be worth at least a “wait for the reviews.”

C: Did you really just list Judy Greer as a sign of quality? Because those are all hit-or-miss actors, even the good ones.

M: I listed Judy Greer as a part of a list of actors and actresses that have been good in many things. I liked her a lot on a short-lived show with Tom Cavanaugh, Love Monkey, and in 13 Going On 30. And really, you’re attacking my list over her, not James Tupper? I thought he was the sketchiest one I listed.

C: I don’t know who he is.

E: He totally is the sketchiest.

M: That said, Dennis Quaid rarely misses, I’m not sure why you would impugn a movie he’s in without seeing it.

Deadfall

C: Eric Bana and Olivia Wilde play sibling grifters who con, murder, and sex their way out of trouble in a snowy, sparsely-populated landscape after a car crash disrupts their getaway. Yeah, um… don’t really see who this one appeals to.

E: Not us.  Not to get all Gene Shalit on you, but Deadfall sounds dreadful.

M: Sounds like a 2012 version of The Grifters, which was one of the most loathsome movies I’ve ever seen.

Lay the Favorite

M: This one looks, how should I put it… strange. A young woman (Rebecca Hall) in need of a job starts working for a bookie named Dink (Bruce Willis, looking much more Whole 9 Yards than Die Hard), and somehow gets an old boyfriend (Fringe‘s Joshua Jackson) into real trouble.

C: Hang on, I quite like Rebecca Hall and Joshua Jackson. What are they doing in a film of this description?

M: Not sure. Catherine Zeta Jones (yes, that’s movie #2 this weekend for her) looks unrecognizable, and Vince Vaughn has second billing to Willis, but doesn’t even appear in the trailer. I have no idea what to make of this. For Joshua Jackson’s sake I want it to be good, but the odds (see what I did there?) of it being a hit don’t look good.

E: Yeah, nice try, bro.

December 14th

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

E: Eeeeeeee!

M: HOO-RAH! Am I excited for this like you cannot believe? Yes. Am I a little concerned on a number of fronts (will it be as kid-appropriate as it should be, what will the impact of dividing it into 3 movies be, how will the frame rate and 3D stuff work out)? How could I not be. However, do I trust that they will all work out? I do.

C: I’m not as trusting as you, but I’m full of hope. And excitement for the sheer awesomeness that is this cast. Martin Freeman? Richard Armitage? And of course, the returning Ian McKellan? If nothing else, this is going to look and sound amazing, and have wonderfully acted moments.

M: And as it’s Peter Jackson back at the helm, it will have a lot of great action, even if that action’s not specifically described in the book.

E: Jackson’s presence definitely relieves me, in the sense that I was terrified of what Guillarmo Del Toro would do to the material.  On the other hand, his record hasn’t exactly been exemplary since ROTK bowed.  Still, it’s hard to bet against this team.

C: The run time of two hours and 40 minutes, though, is my biggest concern. As other websites have pointed out, you could probably read The Hobbit in less time than it will take to watch the three planned movies. That’s not good.

M: We’ve discussed this before, but I really don’t know how they are culling three movies out of The Hobbit. It’s a WONDERFUL book, but it’s a children’s book, not even YA, and is less than one third the length of Lord of the Rings, which they made three movies out of. Still, I have loved this book for years, and read aloud to my children a couple years ago the copy of it that I bought for my oldest when she was still in utero. I am amazingly excited to go, and to take my two oldest kids, the younger of whom is just finishing the book right now.

Save The Date

M: Community‘s Allison Brie and season one New Girl recurring guest Lizzie Caplan star in this indie romcom that looks to be exactly what you’d expect from an indie movie like this, deeper, more thoughtful, less funny… and maybe not in a bad way. Might be a renter.

E: Might be. Sisters, weddings amidst romantic drama, who knows?

C: I tend to loath wedding movies, but maybe this will be an exception.

December 19th

The Guilt Trip

C: Barbra Streisand goes on a comically disastrous road trip with son Seth Rogen. Though they’ve both got solid comedy careers behind them, these two actors couldn’t really have more different fan bases. I wonder if this is an ingenious combo move that will bring audiences of all ages, or one that will doom the film to a narrow viewership? It probably depends on the quality of the script.

E: Well I, for one, have absolutely no interest in following either one of them across the country.

M: Wait, Barbara Streisand has a “solid comedy career” behind her? I think you’d have to be really experienced at yoga to even attempt that stretch. And while, like E, I have NO interest in seeing her and Rogen travel across the country, I do think the two of them fit well as a mother-son casting.

E: We agree on the casting as well; a nice fit, but not for me to see. I can’t handle embarrassment humor, and you know that’s all this is going to be.  As far as Streisand’s resume, M, if you don’t want to count Meet the Fockers, then you should look back to her work in the 60s and 70s, including her Oscar winning turn in Funny Girl, or our childhood fave What’s Up, Doc?.

C: Yes exactly. She can be quite funny. Here, though? Dubious.

Zero Dark Thirty

E: What do you do when you’ve won an Oscar for a film about the Iraq War?  If you’re Kathryn Bigelow, director of The Hurt Locker (and first woman to win the best director Oscar), you make a movie about the hunt for Osama Bin Laden.

M: A movie that was already in the works before Bin Laden was actually caught/killed, and will benefit from the real life twist the way Fever Pitch benefited from being in the middle of filming when the Red Sox actually won the World Series.

C: That was pretty awesome…

E: The Hurt Locker wasn’t my favorite movie of 2009, but it was certainly a good and thought-provoking one, not to mention a breath-stealing thriller.  I was a huge fan of Bigelow’s underrated Strange Days, and I think this one could be pretty great.  It-Girl Jessica Chastain, James Gandolfini, Joel Edgerton and Mark Strong round out a cast that has me pretty pleased, too.

M: I loved Strange Days at the time, but watched it more recently and found it didn’t hold up as well as my memories of it.

E: Entirely possible; sometime soon I’ll dust off my vhs tape and see if I have the same reaction. I still think this one’s going to be worth seeing, though.

M: If by “this one” you mean that you’ve transitioned back, as usual using only pronouns, to Zero Dark Thirty, then I completely agree.

Monster, Inc 3D

E: I don’t know quite how to feel about Disney cashing in on classic movies by rendering them in 3D.  This is a perfect vehicle for that medium, though.  Scares all around!

M: Disney actually has a long history or re-releasing their animated classics in theaters. Most of that was done before the proliferation of home video, admittedly, but this feels more like that to me than like, for example, George Lucas tinkering with his movies a tiny bit (making them worse in the process) and sending them back out for another paycheck.

C: Oh, I don’t think the motive here is anything other than another paycheck! But it’s sort of fun getting to see the classics again on the big screen anyway. And E’s right, this will probably translate much better than, say, Beauty and the Beast (which I saw; the film was charming as ever, the 3D pointless).

M: Of course, there’s the sequel, Monsters University, set to come out next year, so they probably want to remind people about this one, and get a new wave of kids excited to see the next installment. I’m good with that, it’s like when they re-released the original Tron right before the new one came out… wait, my bad, they buried every known copy of the original Tron until after the new one came out because they didn’t think it held up. Okay, I think I’m talking myself out of this being an okay move…

C: Apples and oranges, M. Monsters, Inc is good, not camp-good, and Pixar is (with the exception of Cars 2) historically pretty darn consistent.

E: Insanely consistent, and this one is terrific.  This should be catnip for families during Christmas break.

December 21st

This is 40

C: Paul Rudd, who has been adorable since Clueless (1995) and Leslie Mann, who was been adorable since George of the Jungle (1997) prove that the passage of a decade or two doesn’t have to wash you up. Instead, at 40, they’re trying to revamp their lives by being better parents & a better couple – in that sort of “isn’t regular life funny” comedy style.

M: George of the Jungle! I always thought, when she started popping up in things like 40 Year Old Virgin and Funny People, that she looked familiar! Anyway, I like the style, and having turned 40 in the last 40 days, this has an innate appeal to me.

C: Apparently, they are playing the same characters as in Knocked Up, which I did not see. Thoughts on this move, Sibs?

E: In the heart of Oscar season, this is not going to get me to the theater. Limited viewing time, limited budget, limited babysitting options… Add in the fact that it has no shot at awards and that I was super disappointed by Knocked Up, it’s just not going to happen.  I’m sure I’ll rent this, though, because Mann and Rudd are marvelous.

M: I won’t likely get to the theater for it, either, and for the same reasons… minus going to see about 50 Oscar-nomination-related movies. Oh, and that like C I didn’t see Knocked Up.

E: Don’t.

M: Um, and that I don’t care if it has no chance at an Oscar nomination. Wait, and the babysitting options. Okay, so really it’s for very few of the same reasons. My bad.

Jack Reacher

E: It’s the Tom Cruise movie you’ve never heard of.  Guess what?  There are explosions.  And he thinks he’s cooler than you.

M: Shockingly, I know, Tom Cruise is playing a character that’s supposed to be the best at whatever that character’s given profession is. I know, you’re all as stunned as I am by his uncanny ability to avoid type-casting, and to subjugate his ego and Napoleon complex!

Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away

C: Apparently someone decided that Cirque du Soleil, which exists for the sole purpose of being a spectacle, wasn’t spectacular enough. So they threw at it: 1) James Cameron producing! 2) Andrew Adamson (the Narnia guy) directing! and 3) 3D! Also, some semblance of a narrative. Going by the trailer, my prediction is that this won’t make a lick of sense but will look completely awesome.

M: James Cameron… won’t make sense… visually stunning. Sounds about right.

E: This kind of film confuses me.  Aren’t acrobatics best appreciated in person?  On the other hand, this screams “I don’t care how nice your TV is, see me on the big screen!”

C: Yeah, it’s like the principle of seeing opera at the movies if you don’t live in New York. Unlike Cracked.com though (who, based on the trailer, derided this as “if Moulin Rouge met How the Grinch Stole Christmas for drinks [...] with a lunchbox full of LSD”), I actually think it could be cool to see. Is sense really that necessary?

M: We live in a country where more than two thirds of the people think we’re headed on the wrong track, and yet we re-elected the exact same government officials in every branch of government. “Sense” is clearly long gone.

E: You had to go there? Sigh.

C: Geez, M, can’t you contain yourself?

M: This is a news flash to you?

C: Needless political vitriol has no place in a discussion of exceptionally bendy, gold-clad circus performers.

M: Define “needless.” :)

E: (Rolls eyes)

C: That, folks, was a definition of the word “needless,” and a simultaneous demonstration of why the Quibbling Siblings do not blog about politics!

The Impossible

E: This true story of a vacationing family literally swept away in the 2004 Tsunami looks harrowing but incredible.  Naomi Watts numbers among the top contenders for the Best Actress Oscar; Tom Holland, who plays one of her sons, seems unlikely to muscle past A List competition like Denzel Washington and Hugh Jackman. Best Actor tends not to reward those who’re too young or too handsome.  This movie could turn him into someone you’ve heard of, however.

M: SomeONE I’ve heard of? Like, say, Petra Nemcova?

E: What?  Wow, that makes a lot of sense, especially for someone claiming to know better than most of the American electorate…

C: Oh for Pete’s sake, let it go, guys.

On The Road

C: You might be thinking: “Wait, is that the On the Road, the Beat classic by Jack Kerouac which as a literate person of some pretension, I have totally heard of though not read?” Yes, yes it is. For the Kerouac-worshippers out there, though, the question you’re probably asking is: “Good god, is that Kristin Stewart in the commercials for this?” Yes, yes it is. But Kerouac is dead, and cannot hear you weep.

E: Ha ha ha ha ha.  I haven’t read On the Road either (though my pretensions are not nearly as pretentious as yours).  Granted, I’ve actually seen Kristin Stewart act, so I’m not quite as allergic to her as some, but none of it adds up to me wanting to see this, either.

M: Where as I’ve only seen Kristin Stewart try to act, and am more allergic to her because of it. Also, totally unsurprisingly, I have not read On the Road either, and am not much of a fan of Beat literature in general. Pass.

E: Sigh.  Rent Into the Wild, it’s an excellent, little seen movie, and I remember thinking she was pretty good.  On the Road, I don’t know.  I might rent it someday.

December 25th – Merry Christmas!

Les Miserables

M: A very Merry Christmas indeed!

C: And a happy new dawn… new day… new year to us all!

E: Oh, yeah.  Tom Hooper, Oscar-winning director of The King’s Speech, brings us an adaptation of the beloved musical which looks… well, I’m having a hard time containing my expectations, I’ll say that much.

C: In spite of a few casting decisions which, let’s say, I’m waiting to be convinced about, my hopes for this one are pretty much through the roof.

E: And gee, let’s guess. Cosette?  The girl playing Eponine has huge buzz – although frankly this movie’s been hidden away like a state secret.

C: Yup, Amanda Seyfried as Cosette (yes I know she can sing, and I like her in other things; that doesn’t mean she’s right for this part!) and Eddie Redmayne as Marius. I’m so fond of earnest, chubby-cheeked Marius in the original PBS concert show; I’m just not into the idea of effete, broody Marius. They tried that in the non-musical 1998 film, and it sapped the life out of that part of the story. But like I said, I still have high hopes.

E: I’m with you on Seyfried (I don’t think of her as sweet and innocent, although she is an actress) and on the perfect Marius from the PBS concert, but I’m less nervous about Eddie Redmayne than you.

M: Oh, I despised the choices they made with Marius in the Liam Neeson version, but everything I have seen so far from Eddie Redmayne (trailers, clips, behind the scenes stuff, that is, I’ve never actually seen him in anything else) has made me think he’s going to be very good. And damn can he sing!

E: He really can.  Now, this shocks me, but I’m nervous about Hugh Jackman’s choices based on some of the clips I’d seen, and I didn’t expect to be, given his Broadway history.

M: Personally, I’m concerned about Russell Crowe’s singing… Javert is such an important part of the tale, and so powerful. I hope he has it in him.

C: Me too! “The Stars” is tied for my favorite song in the show.

M: Mine too. You know who I’m not concerned about? Sacha Baron Cohen. I think he’s going to make a brilliant Thenardier, I can’t wait to hear Master of the House!

E: Last year’s Hugo convinced me he could act, so I’m with you there.  I do think Crow has the emotional intensity to carry it off, so I hope his voice can live up to the rest of him.  Now, everyone associated with the movie is talking up their revolutionary approach – the songs aren’t dubbed in the studio, they’re recorded on set during the scene.  Instead of locking in a vocal performance, the actors have the freedom to vary their takes, giving Hooper choices of what sound and what performance to use.  Sounds super cool to me.

C: I’m really curious about that. I mean, not to sound stodgy, but there’s probably pretty good reasons why they usually record music in the studio. On the other hand, the goal of creating a musical without the “musical effect” – one where the music feels diegetic and integrated, rather than like sudden flashes into a fantasy – is a very intriguing one.

E: Huh.  You surprise me, given how you hate Glee in part because the music is too produced and doesn’t sound spontaneous enough.

C: I do feel that way; I guess the difference there is that they have incredible singers and a high school setting, so the insane overproduction is doubly out-of-place. I like the idea of increased realism here; I’m just hoping the voices can stand up to it.

M: I was really surprised to hear that was the way they still make musicals. I mean, they used to record all the talking in the sound booth and overlay it onto the film, too. You know, back in the days that Singing In The Rain made fun of. This way seems like it should have happened long, long ago.

E: In the end?  We just really love Les Mis.  We will be there!

Django Unchained

C: Now that makes for a weird transition…

M: What, you don’t think beloved musical with a Christian message of salvation being brought to the big screen on Christmas day and the latest shoot-em-up-while swearing-every-other-word quirky action extravaganza from the maker of Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs flows?

E: Let’s call it counter programming.  Quentin Tarantino heads to the old West for this tale of a former slave (Oscar-winner Jamie Foxx) out to rescue his wife (Scandal‘s Kerry Washington). I think he’s trying for epic.  And we know there will be blood.

M: I know a lot of people that think he’s got it. And with Foxx, Leo DiCaprio and Christoph Waltz leading a stellar cast, and how it looks to have that Tarantino “coolness” to it, maybe he does. No matter how odd a “Christmas movie” it makes.

Parental Guidance

M: Stuck-in-the-old-ways grandparents take care of their grand kids for a few days in this comedy. The grandparents are played by Billy Crystal (+10 in my book) and Bette Midler (-10), which makes it a baffling situation. They should have gotten Carol Kane, and had Miracle Max and Valerie take care of the grand kids! I would have lined up on opening day to see that.

E: Me too!  Even if it would have made a really odd double bill with Les Mis

C: Nah, it’s perfect. “Have fun storming the barricades!” “Think it’ll work?” “It’d take a miracle.”

West of Memphis

C: This documentary, funded in part by Peter Jackson, is about the contentious “West Memphis Three” case, following the men’s release last year after 18 years of apparent wrongful imprisonment (beginning when they were teenagers).

M: I read a really long article about the case when they were release recently, and about Peter Jackson’s involvement and how instrumental that was to them being freed. I’m very interested in this.

E: It’s one of the most anticipated documentaries of the year, and is making news at this very moment because it was left off the official short list for the Documentary Feature Oscar. Another Hoop Dreams in the making…

M: Well, it does fall into the “people are actually interested in seeing it” category, which is almost always a disqualifier for Best Documentary Oscars, and in most recent years a disqualifier for Best Picture, too!

C: How can you say that the year after the victory of The King’s Speech?!?

E: Yes, and no one saw Best Pic nominee Avatar

December 28th

Promised Land

C: Starring Matt Damon, Frances McDormand, and John Krasinski, directed by Gus Van Sant, and based on a story by Dave Eggers, this movie has a lot of respected names in its corner. The story, about surprisingly kind-seeming corporate representatives (Damon and McDormand) who come to buy natural gas fracking rights from a small farming community and meet resistance from a farm owner (Krasinski) whose land has been poisoned by the effects of the process.

E: Ah, yes, the fracking movie.

C: Heh… I can’t hear that any other way than as a curse followed by a petulant sigh. “Fracking movie.”

M: Oddly enough, Damon was originally going to direct as well as star in this heartwarming piece of liberal propaganda. He dropped out of directing, but remained the lead. That has to be some sort of strange scheduling issue that allows that.

E: Why do you think that’s odd?  The director has a lot of work to do before and after the movie, not just during the shoot – and even with the shoot, most actors aren’t in every single scene.

C: Well anyway,  the trailer sells this as a combo character interest/public awareness piece, stylishly made, potentially along Erin Brockovich lines. It’s one to follow the reviews of, and hence a good place to end. Go forth and enjoy December!

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