E: This is my month, baby. Between blockbusters and Oscar flicks, there’s (debatably) no better month for movie fans. It’s the most wonderful time of the year!
M: In years when Peter Jackson movies based on Tolkien stories are coming out I’m with you. Most years, though, you can have December. I’ll take May, June or July.
E: You’ll take this December and you’ll like it!
E: Okay, so it’s one of Shakespeare’s lesser plays. In fact, it’s almost the only one I haven’t read. Somehow, though, that makes it more interesting to me. I doubt I’ll get a chance to see Gerard Butler and Ralph Fiennes duke it out in the theater, but it looks pretty intense and fascinating. And it boasts an interesting supporting cast – Vanessa Redgrave, Jessica Chastain (the most omni-praised actor you never heard of before this summer) and Brian Cox.
M: Um, yeah, when you can pull out a work of Shakespeare that E has never read, you know it’s obscure. Needless to say, I’ve never heard of it. I wish I could say I trusted the cast, but there are too many Maid in Manhattans and The Bounty Hunters and The Avengers in their IMDb histories for me to be all in.
E: Surely even obscure Shakespeare still has to be better than The Bounty Hunters!
E: Movie about sex addiction, which – surprise! – has received a lot of attention. Features Carey Mulligan in a buzzed about supporting role.
C: Just given the subject matter, I’m a little sad she’s in it. Carey, remember when you were in delightful stuff I loved? I miss those days. (Though, wow, the internet just told me she’s engaged to the frontman of Mumford & Sons, so that’s awesome.)
E: She is? Cool. Except, wasn’t she dating the egregious Shia LaBoeuf last year? Don’t rush in and break hearts, Carey! Anyway, back to the movie. Michael Fassbender. Possible Oscar nominee. Full frontal nudity. Make of that what you will.
C: The sex addict thing’s too much of a turn-off; I’ll just rewatch First Class and Jane Eyre back-to-back instead.
M: Yeah, I’m definitely passing. This movie screams of being something like Closer, a hugely critically acclaimed film that may be well put-together and engrossing, that actors and directors and critics all love, but in no way entertains. Call me crazy, but I like for my entertainment to entertain me.
E: Well, it might surprise our readers to hear this, but even I boycotted Closer; I can only stomach so much of people hurting each other, even when they’re Oscar nominated to do it. So we’ll see about this.
New Year’s Eve
E: Clearly the marquee offering for those looking to be entertained, this massive romantic ensemble flick (from the makers of Valentine’s Day! Really!) stars Katherine Heigl, Sophia Vergara, Lea Michele, Ashton Kutcher, Halle Berry, Jessica Biel, Jon Bon Jovi and many more. Mostly they’re looking for love in the big city.
C: Gag me with a spoon. The makers of Love Actually Again: The Ripoff turn from the holiday single people hate to the holiday that disappoints everybody! The only entertaining thing about Valentine’s Day were the over-the-top scenes where Taylors Lautner and Swift spoofed themselves. Nothing about this redux of a redux looks entertaining.
M: <sarcasm font> Come on! It has so many big names! It MUST be good! </sarcasm font>
I Melt With You
E: Adults behaving like college kids during their reunion, among them Jeremy Piven and Rob Lowe. Big points for the title, though.
C: And again: ugh.
M: I agree, points for the title, but given the cast it feels like this movie is coming out about 20 years late.
E: Well, it IS a college reunion. Not that I’m remotely interested either, I’m just saying, the point is that it’s 20 years after these guys ought to be misbehaving.
C: Sure, but does anyone want to see that? This kind of depressing, belated self-indulgence sounds makes for kind of movie people might have been more engrossed by in 1983.
E: Jonah Hill is the worst babysitter ever! Who on earth would have guessed?
C: I thought that was The Rock. Or wait, was he a good babysitter? I didn’t see that either.
M: No, I think it was Vin Deisel… sorry, I tried, but I can’t with a straight face offer up anyone else as a potentially worse babysitter than Jonah Hill.
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
E: Gary Oldman – looking remarkably like Bill Nighy – stars as retiring super spy George Smiley, from the John Le Carre books.
C: There’s a very famous British 1979 miniseries version with Alec Guinness. I imagine this won’t be too similar.
M: Gary Oldman reprising an Alec Guinness role? I don’t need to know much of anything else, I’m in.
We Need To Talk About Kevin
C: No offense, Kevins of the world, but… we really don’t.
E: John C. Reilly and Tilda Swinton try to figure out where they went wrong after their son goes on a shooting spree, and what that says about them. Is evil an inherited trait? Is there something they could have done?
M: Yeah, I’m with C. I even have Kevins that work for me; just to avoid this film they may get free rein for the next few months.
E: Swinton, supporting actress Oscar winner for Michael Clayton, is part of a long list of wonderful female performers considered to be in contention for Best Actress.
M: Michael Clayton Schmichael Schlayton; she was the White Witch.
E: Charlize Theron is another top contender for a lead actress nomination, and I’d imagine a very strong bet for the Golden Globes comedy category, as a bitter young adult novelist (heck, her name is Mavis, no wonder she’s bitter) looking to win back her high school sweetheart (Patrick Wilson). Who just happens to be married with a new baby. Mother Theresa she ain’t.
C: Because Mother Theresa was a famous young adult novelist, who also did a little charity work?
E: Yes. Yes she was. Patton Oswalt is reputed to be a standout as the former classmate Mavis bullies. Director Jason Reitman and writer Diablo Cody look to make more magic together after the lovely, prickly, critically-lauded and Oscar-winning Juno.
M: And Up In The Air. Still, this feels too much like Bad Teacher, which by all accounts could have been accurately renamed removing the word “Teacher.”
Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked
E: If you like these animated movies, then you know where you’re going to be this weekend. Or you might go for it if you’re looking for family fare and have already worked your way through The Muppets, Arthur Christmas and Hugo.
C: Oh please, parents of the world, can you NOT? The Muppets is brilliant and the other two look very sweet. There are plenty of kid movies to see in the theaters right now, ranging from innocuous to wonderful. Don’t give your money to these horrible CGI furballs of shame! The “sexy” Chipettes alone… just… gahhhh. It’s perverted.
M: The commercials keep touting the tagline “Don’t miss the boat.” I join C in making an impassioned plea. People of America, nay, the world, please please please please please please please miss the boat. Please.
Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol
E: Or, if you’re looking for an action film instead of an animated one, you go here. Tom Cruise is joined by Jeremy Renner. And the mission? It’s totally impossible, dudes.
C: Yup, they fail at the end. The title gives it away.
M: The only things that have my interest remotely piqued are the car they show in the ads, and that Simon Pegg is in it. I mean, it’s Simon Pegg! He can counteract Crazy Tom Cruise, can’t he?
E: Given enough screen time? Maybe enough for a rental.
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
E: If that’s not enough to sate you – and it’s not enough to sate us! – there’s the latest rock ’em sock ’em Sherlock Holmes flick. Director Guy Ritchie, Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law are back, this time with fierce Swedish sensation Noomi Rapace in tow. Ready for another heady mystery? I am!
C: Here’s hoping this is as fun as the first, which wasn’t really very Conan Doyle, but was full of enough Victorian ambiance and explosions to please anybody. (That is what people dig, right?)
M: As discussed at that time, I could do without the Sherlock Holmes: Action Hero aspect of these, but the first was ample fun, so I have moderately high hopes for this.
E: C and I kind of expected to be offended by the first one, and we really liked it instead. If you go in with the proper spirit, it’s a blast.
C: For the record, I went in on purpose with low expectations. That’s not the same as expecting to be offended at all.
E: Okay, I went in with low expectations of everything but being offended. But I wasn’t offended. Satisfied?
E: Based on the Tony-winning play God of Carnage, four actors tear up the screen as two couples – one rich, one middle class – snarl over a fight theirs sons had at school. The actors. Oh, you know. Just a few nobodies. Christoph Waltz. Kate Winslet. Jodi Foster. John C. Reilly.
C: God of Carnage is such a better title than just Carnage. Don’t know what they were thinking there.
M: Totally agree!
E: See, now, all I can think is “Christmas means carnage!”
The Adventures of Tintin
E: This week, the animated family movie IS the action movie. And it’s also the beloved literary adaptation. Well, if you consider the comics of Herve literature.
C: And if you don’t, we dub you “snootypants.”
M: Or at least “E”.
E: Grrrowl. The graphics look unreal (in a good way), and the story – WWII era boy reporter, exotic locales – looks entertaining. And with Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson at the helm, we could hardly be in better hands. The presumed front runner for Best Animated Feature.
M: Seriously, Speilberg and Peter Jackson, to quote the second part of an old SNL line… what could possibly go wrong? Okay, yes, the first part was talking about Ishtar, and involved not caring about a script, just put Beatty and Hoffman in the desert, but you get my point.
E: Now you’re making me think of Bad Idea Jeans.
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
E: Well, okay. Maybe there’s more than one action packed European adaptation coming to the theaters this weekend. Will David Fincher’s version – starring Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara – trump the Swedish blockbuster?
M: Yes. As best I can tell, the only books that I’m aware of that rival these for popularity in the last two years are The Hunger Games books, and we know that movie will be huge. This one even stars James Bond, so I think there’s no question it’s going to make a boatload of cash. That said, as good as the book is, it’s VERY dark, with some serious nastiness in it, so it’ll be interesting to see how much repeat business it gets, and what the word of mouth is like.
C: Wait a minute… the Swedish adaptation stars a chick named Noomi and the role here’s being played by one named Rooney?
E: That’s really all you got?
C: Hee hee. Funny name.
E: How old are you, seriously? Glenn Close used to get nominated for Oscars. She wracked up four nods (though no wins) back in the days when she was boiling bunnies, but nothing since. All that seems likely to change as she plays a Victorian woman who passes as a man so she can be a butler. Janet McTeer costars (and draws similar raves) as a fellow cross dresser.
C: When you say “all that will change,” I assume you don’t mean “all” but really just the “nothing since then” part rather than the “use to get nominated” part? Because you know, if that changed, that would mean she wouldn’t be nominated for this…
M: Wouldn’t it mean that she no longer used to get nominated for Oscars? So, apparently E is purporting that this movie will cause a rift in the space-time continuum that will wipe out her prior nominations. I suppose I’d pay $12 to see that….
E: Good Lord, you people are exhausting. I mean that her Oscar nomination drought seems likely to be over, not reality as we know it.
In the Land of Blood and Honey
E: Angelina Jolie wrote and directed this film on the Balkans, cast mostly with local actors.
M: Yeah, yeah, let’s get to the one below this…..
We Bought a Zoo
C: Seriously, how sweet does this look?
E: Cameron Crowe is back! YES! Matt Damon plays a widower looking for a house for his kids; hopefully I’m not spoiling anything by saying that he finds a house with a zoo attached. Looks adorable. I’m really excited about this one.
M: So excited! This looks great, I am really looking forward to it.
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
E: Neat piece of trivia? The young star of this star packed 9/11 literary adaption was discovered on Jeopardy.
C: Oh, that’s fun. And makes perfect sense for a character who is disconcertingly smart for his age, at least when it comes to factual knowledge. This is a brilliant book – I read it last winter and recommend it. It’ll be interesting to see if they can capture the emotion of the novel without being overly sentimental or thoroughly depressing. (No easy task, as it’s about a kid whose father died in the Towers.)
E: And, oh yes – Tom Hanks, Max Von Sydow and Sandra Bullock costar. I really hope they get this one right.
E: Steven Spielberg’s other horse in the Oscar race. Are there words for the sublime, pastoral beauty of this story (based on a book, made into a play) of a boy and his horse? Or the devastation of its World War I setting, which pitted cavalry officers against German panzer tanks?
C: The trailer looks gorgeous. I have high hopes, though one wonders with a concept as straightforward as this one if it will pull off more than performing exactly what we expect. But maybe that’s enough?
M: To my eye it looks like it’s enough. I’m looking forward to finding out; it really looks fantastic.
E: I guess my only real question is whether the story’s too earnest for this cynical age. And also whether my expectations are too high. That’s nitpicking, though. I’ll say it again; it looks amazing.
E: Buzzed-about indie about a teenager coming out as a lesbian.
M: This is why I say most years you can have December.
The Iron Lady
C: Not to be confused with E’s initial typo, The Irony Lady.
E: Sounds like a brilliant sketch for SNL, back in the 80s. Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher! How frickin’ cool is that?
M: As I have said before, I am always VERY skeptical when Hollywood makes bio-pics about conservative political figures. They are rarely untouched by the standard Hollywood left leaning (falling over) bias. That aside, this could be good.
E: Especially since it’s a British movie, not an American one.
C: Good they didn’t go with some of the variations I’ve heard on that nickname, such as “Iron Pants.”
E: Sigh. You people. Either way, remember this movie – and many others discussed above – when Billy Crystal sings his Oscar medley in February. And let’s hope they exceed our expectations!