E: It’s time for our regular monthly feature, some quick thoughts on the movies of the present month. Per usual, this isn’t an exhaustive list of the movies that are opening; check Rotten Tomatoes for that. It’s more of a look at what interests (or totally repulses) us.
E: This is the sort of movie that looks like it’d be good, but isn’t. Instead of a sleek breathless noir thriller like The Professional, it sounds like a sodden gloomy mess. Oh, woe is me, I’m a killer for hire and I’m soooo tortured. Or not tortured. Just morose. Weird point of fact; the movie is based on a novel, and in the novel, the lead hit man character is British.
C: If you want a movie about a tortured hired killer, rent Grosse Pointe Blank, which treats the subject with the completely inappropriate humor it deserves. “I killed the president of Paraguay with a fork. How have you been?”
M: I don’t know. I’ve never been able to get a good feel for Clooney. Sometimes he, and his movies, are fantastic (the Oceans series), other times they completely suck. The American, based solely on its ad campaign, is stirring up thoughts of Ronin in my head, which is a terrific and hugely underrated movie. I tend to think The American has a chance.
E: Well, I can say this much for it at least: actress Violente Placido has one of the coolest and most oxymoronic names ever.
M: Love it!
E: You know, I don’t think there’s anything opening this weekend that’s even worth commenting on. How mean is that – thousands of people worked for years on these movies and I can’t even muster a sentence about one of them?
C: Whatever. They’ve gotten paid, whether we care or not!
M: You don’t think a RomCom starring family fave Justin Long (in which he dates Drew Barrymore, who I think was already out of rehab when Justin was born) is worth a line? Me neither.
C: Oh, wait, that one came out? I… kinda wanna see it. (They’re both just such adorable people!)
E: That’d be Going the Distance, for anyone curious enough to venture to theaters. I might catch it on video, myself. Maybe. The reviews are better than I expected.
E: Same low as last weekend. What does it say when the “is it fiction or isn’t it” I’m Still Here is the most interesting thing going?
M: Nothing good.
E: Was Joaquin Phoenix serious about having a rap career, or was it all about producing this wacky documentary? Does anyone care enough to find out?
Never Let Me Go
E: I love the look, weirdly unsettling with the neutral colors, limp hair and golden light. I love the cast. Keira Knightley, Carey Mulligan, Andrew Garfield – what’s not to love? (Okay, fine, I’m only speculating that I’m going to love Andrew Garfield, “It” Boy 2010.) I love the hazy, mysterious sci fi leanings. I loved Kazuo Ishiguro’s Remains of the Day (film and novel both), so it’s promising he wrote the book this is based on, too.
C: Interestingly, when The Island (that Ewan McGregor/Scarlett Johansson mess) came out in 2005, there was a lawsuit and a minor media fuss about how it ripped off the 1979 cult film Parts: The Clonus Horror – but I haven’t heard any similar comments levied at Ishiguro for his 2005 novel. Is that because we can’t conceive of a Booker Prize-winning artiste ripping off a B-movie, or because Never Let Me Go is bleak and weepy instead of sexy and explosiony?
M: I think you meant to use the adjective “Michael-Bay-ey”. 😉
E: I totally want Easy A to be good. I love the idea; smart, funny, bookish girl wrecks her reputation on a prank and wackiness ensues. Seems like the producers are aiming for a John Hughes meets Juno meets Mean Girls vibe, and those are all good things to me. Can they pull it off? I’m less certain about lead Emma Stone based on her work in the commercials, but I’m still intrigued.
C: Doesn’t look like a particularly smart movie, but one can hope for the best.
E: And I feel bound to hope this one succeeds, what with it being set in Charlestown and all. Even if, in this version, that Boston neighborhood is entirely peopled by criminals.
M: Ummm, have you been to Charlestown? It’s not the safest place. I mean they closed the 99 because of a fatal shooting…
E: I like the cast, too – Jeremy Renner, Rebecca Hall, Jon Hamm, and of course Ben Affleck, directing himself.
M: That last part intrigues and scares me at the same time. Renner’s accent seems pretty good in the commercials, though.
C: Rebecca Hall is a really promising actress. I’ve liked her in everything I’ve seen – mostly small parts to date. But this movie looks too dark for me, though the concept’s interesting.
Legends of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole
E: So, my kids are totally entranced by the trailer. We’ve been seeing that ad for the owls on a desperate adventure since March, it feels like, and they are so ready for it to be here. I wish the producers had come up with a less clunky name, though.
C: Most. Cumbersome. Title. Ever. It’s even worse than The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising (though let’s hope the movie’s better!).
M: Yeah, the title is awful. Didn’t people learn after the Star Wars prequels? The Empire Strikes Back is much better than Star Wars: Episode Two – Attack of the Clones, and not just because the move was so much better, but with one we abbreviate it to “Empire” and the other is “Episode 2”. Which one has a better ring, and leaves a better taste? Empire, of course. And no matter what you call it we’re going to abbreviate, so don’t make the title so damned long.
That rant aside, I have only recently come across the trailer of this, and have to say I am fascinated. I think it looks so well made, and has the potential to be really enjoyable. Um, yeah, and my kids like the look of it, too!
Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps
E: Blech phooey. Anyone else want to vomit over the combination of Oliver Stone and Shia LeBeouf? Never mind Michael Douglas, who I do not love either but at least is not Shia LeBeouf. I doubt even Carey Mulligan could save this movie for me.
C: Oh, is this how Mulligan met LeBeouf? I’m still disappointed in her (because she’s so cute and classy) for dating him (because he’s so annoying).
M: I have managed to miss most everything he’s been in and liked what I did see, so I don’t have nearly the negative impression you do. He is certainly overexposed, like the song you kind of like until it’s played every 10 minutes on the radio and you get sick of it, but is he really that bad?
E: He really is that bad.
E: Buried consists of Ryan Reynolds trapped in a coffin with dim lighting for 75 minutes. And you know what that means, don’t you? You won’t get to see his abs. Still, might make a good rental. It’s like the Grave Digger episodes of Bones, writ large. With a smaller cast. And less time out of the grave.
M: I hadn’t heard of this, and at first I thought it was starring Burt Reynolds, who I was surprised was still alive. After I found out he was, but wasn’t in this I lost interest.
E: Then there’s You Again, which seems to be a low rent version of My Best Friend’s Wedding. Kristen Bell, you are so awesome. Why are you making these crap romantic comedies? Please don’t kill your career before people get that you’re freaking fantastic. I mean, great cast (Betty White, Sigourney Weaver, Jamie Lee Curtis) but yeech.
C: The cast (also including Victor Garber and Kristin Chenoweth!) is delightful enough to make me consider seeing it, even if the plot looks thin. And hey, at least we can look forward to Bell breaking her cheesy-comedy streak with Burlesque, the movie being described as “the new Showgirls.” Eep. Kristen, what are you doing?!
M: You have to allow for the possibility that she’s really not that good an actress, makes very bad role choices, and might have been lucky with Veronica Mars. How long does that first season keep saving her image for you guys? I’m not ready yet, but getting close to saying it was a fluke…
C: She was good for three seasons, even if the show did go downhill a bit. And she was fairly charming in When in Rome, even if the movie was formulaic. The problem is that on Veronica Mars she was playing a clever and witty character; is she to blame for not choosing such roles since, or are there simply not any clever, witty parts in film for twenty-something blondes?
M: See, I’m going to disagree. I’ll give you that she was still pretty good in season two, but she wasn’t in season three. Not only did she lose the “Veronica Mars is smarter than you” wit and intelligence, but she became less fun, too. Obviously, that’s part writing, but it’s acting, too.
C: Much more the writing, IMO.
M: As for the roles, whether or not there are better roles out there, she could certainly do a lot better than the roles she has picked. I mean, I liked Couples Retreat and she had about one line in the whole movie where she was able to be entertaining. Forgetting Sarah Marshall, while not as good as billed, was at least a good movie, even if she didn’t really have anything to do in it. Most of what she’s been in has been crap, and she’s ultimately responsible for choosing to do it, especially coming off something like Veronica Mars where she’s in demand.
E: M, you’re nuts. Kristen Bell’s capable of much better things than she’s been given to play on film. Was Veronica Mars the role of her life? Maybe. And sure, I’d rather she picked better projects, but the girl’s gotta work. So somebody out there, give her something smart to do, please! Like, oh, I don’t know. Veronica Mars: The Movie?
M: So, you’re attributing the Michael Caine/Samuel L. Jackson “never turn down a role, no matter how crappy it is” to her career choices, instead of just being open to the possibility that she has bad judgment? And I’m the one who’s crazy?
E: They all have bad judgment. I won’t disagree there. Although I’m sure that Jackson and Caine are offered better roles.
C: While I ask again, where are these great roles Bell supposedly could be pursuing?
M: Hold on… aren’t we supposed to be talking about September movies, not ranting about Kristen Bell’s career trajectory?
E: Yeah, but we reached the end of the month.
C: Already? Pretty disappointing month.
M: September usually is. TV, on the other hand, is looking up.
M: And of course, our day-by-day fall previews will be up soon!