March 2014 Movie Preview

E: The Quibbling Siblings are crazy about March; we’ve been waiting for this month for a year.  Why, might you ask?  I’ll give you a hint for the first exciting arrival: we’re Marshmallows.

C: By the way, this preview’s going to be M-lite (increasingly as you scroll down), since he and Mrs. M have their own exciting new arrival, of a non-cinematic variety, debuting. Like, right now, as we write this!

E: That’s right – a very special ingenue will have made her first appearance just before you read this.  Our new niece is March’s most exciting release for our family.

C: Sorry, Veronica Mars!  But we’ve got lots of love left over for you — promise.

March 7th

300: Rise of An Empire

E: As both a film and classics geek, I can only say UGH.

C: What, the awesome historical accuracy is just too much for you?

M: As a guy, I will bow my head and admit that I have never watched 300 all the way through. I’ve seen most of it in parts, and probably only have stuff at the beginning that I haven’t seen, and would still like to. I love history in general, Greek history, and the actual story of the Battle of Thermopylae specifically. I’ve seen documentaries on it, and find it fascinating. That said, I have no interest in this sequel.

E: Wait, is there some sort of implication there that you think this should embarrass you?  That disliking it somehow makes you less manly?  WTF, bro!

C: Come on E, you know that watching a lot of guys with computer generated abs run around in leather underpants is the pinnacle of stereotypical male heterosexuality.

The Grand Budapest Hotel

E: Wes Anderson is back, this time with Ralph Fiennes leading an all-star ensemble as the concierge who’ll do anything to please his clients at this famous old hotel.  Because it’s Wes, we know these things: Quirky.  Nostalgic.  Wrong and sweet in equal measure.

C: This looks fantastic. Set in the past (indeterminate), with amazing visual style, there’s a murder plot, potentially some sort of art heist thing going on, and a whole lot of weirdly amusing character interactions. The cast includes a batch of Anderson’s regulars — Adrien Brody, Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Jason Schwartzman – and a ton of other famous faces: Jude Law, Ed Norton, Harvey Keitel, Jeff Goldblum, Willem Dafoe, Tom Wilkinson, Tilda Swinton, and a recent favorite of mine (Stephenie Meyer notwithstanding), Saoirse Ronan. Early reviews are very positive.

E: I like Wes Anderson, and I expect to like this, even though I won’t likely see it in theaters.

The Grand Piano

E: A concert pianist played by Elijah Wood returns to the stage during a crisis of confidence; unfortunately for him, a exacting fan in the audience (equipped with an elaborate tools of destruction and a complete lack of morality) demands perfection or else he’ll murder the soloist’s wife.  The beginning of the trailer makes it look like a film about debilitating stage fright, but the tide soon turns.

C: Whoa. I did not see that coming when I started reading that paragraph.

E: It wasn’t where I was expecting things to go when I started watching the trailer, either.

C: If you took piano lessons as a kid, wasn’t this your worst anxiety nightmare? You remember, every year before the the big Christmas concert, how you’d dream that you got a note wrong in “Silent Night” and your piano teacher slaughtered your family? …Hey, don’t look at me that way. So I was kind of dark as a child. So sue me.

In Fear

E: Cabin-in-the-woods-type horror flick starring Alice Englebert of Beautiful Creatures and Iain De Caestecker of Agents of SHIELD.   I mean, a horror movie about kids alone in the woods — not with the whole scientist-in-the-basement twist of the actual Cabin in the Woods.

C: Sounds generic, even for a horror movie. Judging by his name, I’m going to guess that Iain is the cute little Scottish guy on SHIELD and not the really boring guy?

E: Yep.  Which is quite disconcerting, actually.  Is it weird that I wish I could unsee this preview?

C: Not at all.

Mr. Peabody & Sherman

E: Time traveling animated feature that desperately hopes your kids don’t want to see The Lego Movie again.

C: It’s been a few weeks. Parents might be sick of hearing “Everything Is Awesome” by now.

E: No!  Never!

M: I don’t know if C was too young (I’m old, memory is fading), but E and I loved Sherman and Mr. Peabody when we were kids! The Way Back Machine (WABAC) was awesome, talking dogs are always fun, and each story had a moral that was very unsubtly laid out for you, which is somewhat lost in today’s cartoons.

C: I am too young, but then so are you, since they were apparently made in the 1960s — so I guess I could have seen it in reruns if I’d been paying attention. I’ve recently been introduced to Mr. Peabody’s classic habit of perpetrating terrible pun at the end of every episode. The movie seems to have less of the dry humor, and more goofy gags and action sequences.

M: I don’t know why, but I’m hesitant to latch on to this revival. I mean, the animation looks great, the commercials use Bastille’s “Pompeii” (which if you read our preview last month, you know we love), Puddy does a voice, and the overall voice cast is amazing. It just, I don’t know, feels hollow, maybe?

C: Hm. I guess it’s a sign of how incredibly good recent voice casts of children’s animated films have been that I looked at this one and thought, “Meh. It’s just all right.”

E: I agree with M’s overall assessment, which makes me sad, not only because we liked the original but because it has the flavor of Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure.  I hope it’s better than trailer.

C: That’s really the problem, I think: the trailer just makes it look glossy and slick, with a lot of jokes but not much story or heart. We’ll have to wait and see what the movie itself has to offer.

March 14th

Veronica Mars

C: Nothing else opening on this day (and there are a lot of movies) deserves to be mentioned before our movie. Yup, ours – The Quibbling Siblings’, and maybe yours too. The movie we made possible!

E: Oh, sweet mystery of life at last I’ve found you!

C: If you haven’t been following this phenomenon, here’s a recap. In the mid-’00s, for three seasons, there was this great TV show called Veronica Mars. Inspired by hardboiled detective fiction and film noir, the series followed Veronica (the snarky, edgy, delightful Kristen Bell) as the daughter of a P.I. with a case of her own to solve — the murder of her best friend (Amanda Seyfried). Though set in a high school, the show transcended the genre of high school television, appealing to viewers of all ages with its razor-sharp dialogue, dark wit, and incredibly tight plotting. Just… not quite enough viewers.

E: A poor fit for the newly minted CW, VM failed to build the massive audience it deserved and was stripped down, starved, and eventually canceled by the ruthlessly unsupportive network.

C: And that would’ve been the end… were it not for the fans who clamored for a movie to tie up the loose ends of Veronica’s story. And kept clamoring. For the better part of a decade. Until finally, Bell and creator Rob Thomas (not that Rob Thomas) had the brilliant idea of getting the fans to fund the film through a Kickstarter campaign.

M: I am still amazed at how this came together. And so looking forward to it. Not that I’m likely to get to see it any time soon, new baby about to arrive and all, but still.

E: Luckily for you, this is going to be available for online download beginning on the 14th as well!  I’m going to try to see it in the theater, though, because I really want to support the effort that went into bring the best television show ever to the big screen.

C: I already have my ticket. All the important cast from the show is back, and as a Kickstarter backer I’ve followed the filming and production every step of the way. Can it live up to the anticipation, and blaze the trail for devoted fans to become a real power in Hollywood? All I can say for sure is, if I ever had faith in a writing and acting team, I have faith in these guys.

The Art of the Steal

E: Check out this cast: Matt Dillon, Kurt Russell, Terence Stamp and Jay Baruchel.

C: Oo?

E: It looks like your basic “one last job” heist movie, which is generally okay with me if the filmmakers can pull it off.  Not rush-right-off-to-see-it-in-the-theaters okay, but maybe-I’ll-catch-it-on-cable-if-I’m-channel-surfing okay.

C: I truly enjoy all the cliches they’re putting in play here. The heist team where everybody gets a title they put up on the screen (“the forger,” “the wheelman,” etc.), the elaborate plan, all of that. They’re stealing art, so the title’s an oh-so-clever pun, get it? But there is no one in this movie who has, in my opinion, any charm whatsoever. It’s like the direct opposite of the casting of the Ocean’s movies, where they tried to make it into the Guinness Book for cramming the most charming people into a single film, and then tried to beat their own record. I could do with fewer, but I need somebody I want to watch. This trailer suggests I’m out of luck.

Bad Words

E: Allison Janney and Jason Bateman?  Tell me more.

M: Nah, I’m good with that much.

C: I’m good without this. Jason Bateman plays a forty-something who, thanks to the technicality that the National Spelling Bee is open to anyone who hasn’t finished 8th grade (he hasn’t), makes it into the competition, much to the dismay of all the adults affiliated with the Bee (like Janney). But he primarily seems to be there to hurl weight- and race-related insults at the children competing, and to take a mysteriously unchaperoned small boy he has just met on a whirlwind tour of the city which involves putting lobsters in toilets, hiring a hooker to let the child feel up her boobs, and swearing foully at everyone they meet. Hilarious?

E: Or vomit-inducing?  You decide.

Enemy

E: Have you been missing Jake Gyllenhaal?  Pine no more.  He reteams with Prisoners director — and if you didn’t know he was in Prisoners, neither did I, but the promotional materials definitely say reteamed. We must have mentioned it when that came out, but it made so little impact that I still feel like he hasn’t made a movie in the last several years.

C: I don’t even remember what Prisoners is.

M: I, on the other hand, was well aware of all that. He and Hugh Jackman led the film. It’s just… kidnapped kids… as much as I like both actors, I can’t do that. Anyway, on to Enemy

E: …which looks like a very stylish, Hitchcockian noir film about a man with either a doppelganger or a double life.

C: Doppelganger movies creep me the heck out. I blame The Prestige. But it’s worth mentioning that Wikipedia describes this as a “Canadian-Spanish erotic thriller film.” So, if that’s your thing, go get a ticket!

Le Week-End

E: Couple in their seventies (Lindsay Duncan and the delightful Jim Broadbent) rediscover romance in the city of lights.

C: Lindsay Duncan doesn’t get a “delightful”? I like her. For many good performances, but primarily for the moment in Patricia Rozema’s Mansfield Park where, totally blissed out on laudanum, she promises that if Fanny Price marries the right man, she’ll give her a puppy.

E: THAT’S where I knew her from!  Thank you.  I can’t tell you how many times I saw this preview while waiting for Oscar movies to begin.  They’re very British and very snarky.  It looks cute, if you’re in the mood for old codgers in love.

C: What’s not to love about old codgers in love? Especially when they’re British academics, and no one has Alzheimer’s or has to be smothered with a pillow? (Okay, no promises, but that’s certainly not what you expect from a movie by the director of Notting Hill.)

Need For Speed

E: Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul attempts to become a movie star now that his show’s off the air.  This movie looked better when Ryan Gosling made it and it was called Drive.  Or, wait, maybe it was The Fast and the Furious with Paul Walker.

C: However, there are probably many people who like those movies and the video game this is based on, who will want to see this. If the premise that a street racer imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit is now racing across America and wants avenge his buddy’s death sounds like your bag, readers, be sure to check it out.

One Chance

E: The true story of Britain’s Got Talent’s unlikely singing sensation Paul Potts.  So maybe it feels a little bit like it would have been the Disney Sunday Night movie when M and I were kids.  They’re definitely aiming for inspirational and endearing – tubby kid gets beaten up (and down) but believes in himself enough to keep trying.

C: Yeah, about that. This movie, like the show Glee, operates on the premise that if you have an incredible vocal talent, you will be mocked, beaten up, and generally treated as an outcast by all of normal society. IN WHAT WORLD IS THIS TRUE? Seriously, readers. I’m asking you. Have you ever experienced the desire to drag someone into a back alley and punch them, or throw a slushy in their face, because they were good at singing? Not because they were a jerk about it, or took your girlfriend with their beautiful voice, or anything like that, but simply because their enjoyment of music struck you as freakish and necessary to repress through violence????

E: But C, this is a true story.  I’m not going to speak to how plausible this is generally, but I’m pretty sure that’s not made up.

C: Erhm, yes, we all know that movies “based on a true story” are always accurate in every detail. I can’t imagine this could be exaggerated in any fashion!

E: Well, I’m pretty sure I’ve heard he did face bullying — maybe it was his obsession with opera that made him a target?  Or just being chubby?  Anyway, C, you need to move past that.

C: So… about the movie. Julie Walters (Molly Weasley) and Colm Meaney (Chief O’Brien) play Paul Potts’s parents, so at least that part’s kind of nifty. And it looks very sweet and inspiring and all that. Just try not to think too hard about the true-to-life factor.

Patrick: Evil Awakens

E: I had to include this for its title.

C: Oh my goodness.

E: Also, because it stars Charles Dance, so deliciously creepy in Bleak House and Game of Thrones. If you like your horror movies but not enough to hit the theaters, looks like this will be available On Demand as well as at the multiplex — one of several such films this month.

Tyler Perry’s Single Mom’s Club

E: Raunchy comic tale of 5 single moms (white, black, Latina, rich, poor) who bond when their kids vandalize school property and the principal makes them throw a fundraiser together.  Because that’s exactly how these kind of things happen.

C: Wait, is the implausible part the coincidence that the moms are all single, the impressive diversity of this group of young friends/vandals, or the fact that the moms are held responsible instead of their children?

E: To clarify, moms bond over planning fundraisers all the time. But you don’t get put in charge of one as detention.

March 21st

The Muppets Most Wanted

M: Woo-hoo! This looks great, and I am soooooo glad the Muppets are back in the saddle again.

C: You know how I was talking above about how totally great heist movies are, so long as the cast is charming? Yeah, well Brad Pitt and George Clooney got nothing on Kermit, Piggy, Gonzo and the rest of this crew. Okay, so it’s not exactly a heist — Kermit isn’t a jewel thief. No, that’s Constantine, the infamous international burglar… who happens to look exactly like Kermit! Crime-solving antics, mistaken identity, and wackiness ensue.

E:  How can this not make you happy?  THIS is the movie to take your kids to in March.  And not that you see the Muppets for the celebrity guest stars, but Tina Fey makes me laugh every blasted time I see the preview.

C: And I love the gag of Ricky Gervais’s character, Dominic Badguy, pronouncing his last name “badge-ee.” Ty Burrell as a French detective rounds out main the human cast. But as E said, we know who we’re really there to see.

Anita

E: Documentary about the Anita Hill/Clarence Thomas sexual harassment hearings of the early 90s. While I won’t see this in the theaters, I’m pretty curious about what conclusions the film makers draw from the evidence.

C: Not to be confused, should you attempt to google this, with the 1973 movie Anita: Swedish Nymphet. (Ew.) Anyway, this looks like an incredibly important documentary. Anita Hill’s case set the precedent for every high-profile sexual harassment and sexual assault case since, in the way they went after her as a person, attacked her credibility and her character. Our current conversations about “rape culture” owe much to a discourse that these hearings may not have started, but certainly brought before the public in a way it had not been before.

A Birder’s Guide to Everything

E: A coming-of-age tale involving nerdy parliamentarians, a secret road trip, a parent’s remarriage, and yes, bird watching.

C: And Ben Kingsley! But it’s birding, E.

E: Yes, so they insist in the preview.  I apologize.  But I can’t help gushing a little.  From the fifteen-year-olds who actually look fifteen to the passionate geekery, this slays me.  It’s filled with what our friend The Writer refers to as bulletproof kinks — the stuff that I can’t help being interested in, no matter what. I’m all in.

C: It looks adorable. Seriously. Nerdish and awkward and precious. I mean, they spend the movie looking for a (believed to be) extinct duck. An extinct duck!

E: Couldn’t you just die?  By the way, this is another one of those movies that’s going to be available On Demand and via other services at the same time it’s in theaters.

Blood Ties

E: Here’s another cast for you — Marion Cotillard, Billy Crudup, Mila Kunis, Zoe Saldana, and Clive Owen.

C: Now this time, I get why you’re excited!

E: I didn’t say I was excited before — that last one was just a really odd grouping.  This one, as you say, gives more of a thrill.  Owen’s a convict just released from prison into 1974 New York City, and Crudup’s his little brother cop.

C: It all looks very gritty and serious. Despite the great cast, I’m not sure from the trailer what the plot is, other that no one is happy with anybody else. I deeply suspect the studio greenlit this just to get more of those super-trendy ’70s mustaches onto the big screen.

E: Because heaven knows what we really need in our lives is more bad ’70s hair!

Divergent

E: M, you want to handle this?

M: So excited for this one, too, and that’s despite the horrible casting choices. You mentioned in Birder’s Guide about the 15-year-olds who look 15? Well, here we have characters who are supposed to be 16 and 18 being played by actors who are 24 and 29. Yeah, that works.

C: Why aren’t more people bothered by this? Every time I mention it to someone, they say, “Yeah but doesn’t Hollywood always do that?” Okay, sure, but in a cultural moment when young adult novel adaptations are the Next Big Thing, it starts to matter more. Because age makes a difference to the story!

M: I’m getting more and more aggravated by that as I write this. I just had a discussion with a friend about how the movie of Ender’s Game suffered greatly for the fact that it made Ender far older than he was in the book. Huge difference, having what happened to him happen to a 6 year old than to a 16 year old. This is the same. These characters are supposed to be kids, that’s a HUGE part of the story, and the impact.

E: I agree on general principle.  On the other hand, I love Shailene Woodley and think she looks younger than 24, so while I don’t buy her as a 16 year old, she makes me more excited about the film.

C: E, I know you love her, and until this week the only thing I knew about her was that you love her, and about the films we’ve recently commented on that she’s been in. What I learned this week is that she was the star of The Secret Life of the American Teenager. That was a truly terrible show, with truly horrendous acting! Were you aware of this?

E: Well, I’ve never seen it, so that doesn’t impact me nearly as much as her beautiful acting in The Descendants, which I did see. My biggest hesitation actually comes from my relative indifferent to the source material, so I’m not as excited about it as M is even though I thought the book had more cinematic promise than literary merit.  And I like dystopian YA.  And I love to see movies with female leads do well.  My views here are obviously a swamp of opposing impulses.

M: That aside, the supposed-to-be-grown-up cast is great, the previews look like they’re going to do the book justice, and I am really excited.

E: Kate Winslet is a huge plus.  Ashley Judd and Tony Goldwyn aren’t too shabby, either.

God’s Not Dead

E: Earnest film set to the Newsboys song, in which a college freshman takes on a bitter philosophy professor (Kevin Sorbo) in a rhetorical battle to prove the existence of God.

C: Kevin Sorbo… who doesn’t believe in God because he himself is a Greek myth?

E: I think because he’s suppressed that past.  Too much trauma with Hera hating on him.

Maladies

E: James Franco stars as a 1960s soap star adrift and longing to find his artistic center.  Also, he hears voices.

C: Hm, it’ll be weird to see James Franco acting adrift and as if he’s not really aware of what’s really going on around him. I mean, it’s been a while now since he hosted the Oscars.

E: Zing!  The major difference here is that Franco’s more articulate.  Also, there’s a narrator, which means there’s a narrative structure, even if it’s all in Franco’s head.  Now, the supporting cast includes fellow Oscar nominees David Straithern and Catherine Keener, as well as Emmy-nominated Good Wife star (yes, I said it) Alan Cummings.  I feel like we’re pretty spoiled for choice this month; I personally won’t see this is the theater, but more because there are so many other things I’m dying to see than because it doesn’t look entertaining.

C: In this absence of M to offer a characteristic sigh at your Good Wife obsession, I will simply note that all those people are quite good actors. So maybe this is a really good movie about a hallucinating, aimless 1960s soap star.

E: Hey, it could happen.

Nymphomaniac: Volume 1

E: I know, I know, but Dutch auteur Lars Von Trier is an “important” filmmaker, so people deserve to know this is out there.

C: And now they know.

March 28th

Breathe In

E: Felicity Jones seems to have a habit of starring in adultery films, have you noticed?

C: Beyond this and that recent oh-man-it’s-a-costume-drama-about-Dickens-which-sounds-awesome-but-it-looks-kinda-gross movie The Invisible Woman, did you have anything else in mind? Because the only two films I’ve seen her in are Northanger Abbey and Like Crazy, that one where she and New Chekov have a kind of saddening transcontinental romance.

E: She reunites here with Like Crazy director Drake Doremus for this classic tale of a husband falling for the exchange student staying with his family.  (And there was lots of cheating in Like Crazy, which makes it three out of four.)

C: Other people might praise films like this — they might be poignant and well-acted and brilliantly made — but I find them too fundamentally depressing. Whether we’re asked to root for an adulterous couple, or just to watch the fallout of human grief it causes.

Cesar Chavez

E: Biopic of the labor leader starring America Ferrara, Rosario Dawson, John Malkovich and Michael Pena.

C: America Ferrara! It’s nice that she’s back. Or has she been around since the end of Ugly Betty and I just watch the wrong things?

E: She’s done a lot of voice over work as well as some indie movies.  Oh, and a recurring role on (drum roll please) The Good Wife.  It’s always nice to see her, though.

C: I walked right into that one, didn’t it?

E: Yup.

Noah

E: The Biblical epic is the last heavy hitter of the month.

C: This is a strange one. A Bible movie, I guess, and yet with an auteur director who claims it’s a nonreligious take on the story. But God is a main character in the story of Noah, so I don’t know how that could possibly be! Oh, and Hermione Granger is in it.

M: I am so intrigued by this. Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan, Requiem for a Dream) is not the first name you would expect to see on this kind of a picture, but he’s apparently written a graphic novel (or series) and spent years trying to get a studio to back making it into a movie. When I was reading up on this maybe a year ago, I found that the graphic novel, at least, is biblically based, but includes giant 6-armed angel type things, and a lot of extra-biblical content. Still, I am fascinated, and looking forward to it.

E: The cast is excellent — Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Emma Watson and Logan Lerman.  It’s not the story you read in a cute picture book, but it could be worth seeing.

C: Maybe this could pave the way for a Many Waters film adaptation?

E: We can always wish!

Sabotage

E: It’s Mirielle Enos and Olivia Williams like you’ve never seen them — part of a gun-totting DEA team who gives each other tattoos in their down time. In the office, mind you.

C: I’m not sure I’ve ever seen Mirielle Enos, period. But Olivia Williams is an awesome classy badass. And it looks from the trailer like she’s not part of the tattoo-giving team.

E: Okay, no, she’s an upper level boss — but she’s still a badass minus the classy.  Enos stars in World War Z and The Killing and is virtually unrecognizable as the same woman.  Enos’s team also includes Terence Howard, Sam Worthington, Joe Manganiello and, of course, Arnold Schwarzenegger.  Is one of them secretly working for a cartel?  As if the whole mole story isn’t enough, Arnold’s wife and son get kidnapped.  “I’m sorry,” shrugs Williams.

C: Like I said. She’s a professional badass.

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One comment on “March 2014 Movie Preview

  1. MMGF says:

    Wait. Nymphomaniac will have multiple “volumes??”
    Speaking of which… “Anita: Swedish Nymphet.” Hee!

    You know… I didn’t love the previous Muppet movie. Jason Segel doesn’t do a lot for me, I thought that new character Walter was pretty “meh,” and I actively dislike the couple of Bret McKenzie songs. But – this new one is too reminiscent of The Great Muppet Caper, which is a sublime piece of entertainment. So, yay, high hopes!

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