M: Ahh, August, somehow studios don’t really treat you like a summer month, replacing you with May, pushing the “summer” movies up they way that back to school sales get started in July now. That said, there’s a few things of some interest, at least to me if not to you, in the smaller and generally less ambitious slate of movies coming out this month. Now that you’re all super-excited to keep reading, on to the preview!
M: I am really torn about this one, actually. I’m a huge Phillip K. Dick fan. I loved the Arnold version of this at the time, but haven’t watched it in a while and am not sure how well it holds up. Heck, I even liked the brief lived syndicated show Total Recall 2070, that kind of combined two Phillip K. works (because, really, you just can’t say “Dick works”), Total Recall and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep (better known by its movie title, Blade Runner). That said, I’m not sure a remake was a great idea, or necessary. And I’m still not totally buying into Colin Farrell, sorry.
E: No need to apologize to us for that. We’re not the ones still trying to make him happen.
C: He’s grody. Also, I don’t think I ever saw the original film, so I’ll be catching up on that bit of cultural history before I watch this one (if I ever do).
M: The female leads (Beckinsale and Biel) seem great, and Brian Cranston, Bokeem Woodbine, Bill Nighy and John Cho round out the cast solidly. But the thing for me is that I’ve been hearing forever that this was going back to the source material and was a reinterpretation, not a remake, which I think is a much better idea. However, everything I’ve seen in the ads has been almost exactly pulled from the Arnold movie, and after all the “it’s not a prequel” talk about Prometheus when it turned out to be exactly a prequel has me a bit worried. So, I want it to be good, but I’m not lining up just yet.
E: I’d like this to be good, too, and I think it’s certainly possible. As much as we enjoyed it, the original is more exciting for the story and idea than the execution, and to give Colin Farrell his due, he’s a far better actor than Arnold even if he lacks the big guy’s presence. But remakes in general are so fraught. Will it be get-a-babysitter good? Likely not, but I’m curiously awaiting reviews.
C: Ah, the true measure of a great new film revealed.
M: Ok, have to update. Since we wrote this conversation, but before posting, I stumbled into passes to see a screening of it. So, apparently I was lining up to see it. First, to the question of remake or reinterpretation, that is answered immediately, before a person even appears on screen, and the answer is re-interpretation. Now, the basics of the story (guy is stuck in a dead end job, goes to Rekall to have a memory vacation, all hell breaks loose, wife tries to kill him, find out his memory’s been wiped, turns out he’s really a spy, or a double agent, or maybe he’s really still in the chair at Rekall), that’s all still there. The wrappings around it are all different, though. Instead of involving Mars and a mining colony, and maybe ancient Martians, the world has been decimated by chemical wars, and only two areas remain inhabitable, one the master the other a colony. This world of the future is grittier than the 1990 version (as is the case with just about everything being remade these days, from Batman to Superman), but as much as that is a current trend, it is deeply similar to the city in Blade Runner, with layers upon layers of city, mixtures of cultures (some very cool Asian influences) and languages. And I actually bought Farrell as an action hero. Beckinsale was kick ass, and Biel was fine, but totally outshone by Beckinsale. All in all I was quite pleased with it. It’s not amazing, but it is worth the time.
E: Great to know!
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days
M: No interest. At all.
E: I’m fastforwarding though these commercials so my son (who normally has much better taste in books) doesn’t get wind that there’s a movie version. It’s worked so nicely, pretending the first one doesn’t exist.
M: Well, my son is unfortunately well aware, but he’s also aware that we will not be taking him to see it.
C: What’s wrong with the books/movie? I’ve heard the name endlessly but know nothing about it.
E: Mostly just whiny kids who torment each other in what’s essentially a poorly drawn graphic novel.
Celeste and Jesse Forever
E: Can this marriage be saved? Go-getter Celeste decides to ditch her husband/high school slacker sweetheart, but comes to realize that perhaps he has more to offer than she imagined With TV comedians Andy Samberg and Rashida Jones, which is promising.
M: They were both good in I Love You, Man, but I’m not feeling this one.
C: Huzzah, another entry in the “man-child” subgenre of comedy, where the vaguely decent slacker guy is lavishly rewarded because… er… because he resembles the comedian who wrote the film? Surely there are more interesting subjects out there.
E: If only Hollywood would pony the money up to make them!
E: So this is a movie about –
M: No, sis, it’s not Friends With Benefits, or the supposedly forthcoming movie version of 50 Shades of Gray (aka: porn, soft core or otherwise). It’s about a guy (Parks And Rec‘s Paul Schneider) who can’t get his wife (the wildly popular Olivia Munn) pregnant, so he gets his buddies to steal a “donation” he made years back to a sperm bank. Yeah…
C: Wow. As objects of a heist, this is certainly creative. But definitely lacking the charm of, say, the recent Simpsons episode where the score was a YA fantasy novel.
The Bourne Legacy
C: There’s another one of these? I liked the first… two? I think that’s how many I’ve seen… but it’s starting to get really hard to tell them apart.
M: I have really liked the *ahem* THREE *ahem* Bourne movies so far, and like the original book (though I never got into the sequels). I don’t think the series needs Matt Damon to survive. However, the incessant droning in the ad campaign of “Jason Bourne wasn’t the only one!” and “Bourne was just the beginning” has me worried despite a stellar cast. See, in the first movie we saw that Jason Bourne wasn’t the only one, so now in movie number *cough* FOUR *cough* they are either assuming we are dumb, or…. what?
E: Oh, I think most PR campaigns assume we’re stupid. Evidence of this presumption fills the cineplexes every week. That said, I think the movie could be terrific, even if I’m not sold on Jeremy Renner as a leading man.
C: I know some huge Jeremy Renner fans-
E: – me too –
M: -I know some skinny Jeremy Renner fans-
C: – but he was definitely not one of the most interesting things about The Avengers. Granted, Hawkeye had an awful lot to compete with for my attention.
M: True enough. I hope you’re right about the ad geniuses, E, and the movie is actually good.
E: Me too.
C: Capitalizing on election hype, Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis star as Southern politicians competing for a seat in Congress. At least it’s not a comedy premise you see every day, though it has the potential to resemble Anchorman as far as the over-the-top competition angle goes.
M: I highly doubt someone will get killed with a trident, and if that’s not going to happen, why watch? Seriously though, I have only passing interest in this despite liking both leads. That said, the deadpan “He just punched a baby” line in the previews kills me. Nothing else does, but that one, and the leads, makes me think I may RedBox this some day.
E: Me, not so much. Although I do like political satires, this comedy looks a little too broad for me.
E: Proving that August is marital counseling month, Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones come to Steve Carrell to liven up their marriage. Very straightforward looking; is there any doubt that this marriage will be saved?
M: I think there’s a better chance that Mitt Romney picks London mayor Boris Johnson as his running mate.
C: Your answer, it confused me.
M: Really? Johnson’s a Brit, it would literally be illegal for Romney to choose him, so the odds are zero. Better?
E: So you think the marriage will not be saved, then? Since you think Romney is more likely to pick a Europeans running mate? I hate to disagree…
C: Again, those words, they do not mean what you think they mean.
M: Oye, you two! There is no chance that Romney picks a Brit! There is no doubt movie marriage will being saved!
C: That aside this movie looks sort of cute, in an older-people-rekindling-romance way. And also incredibly awkward, in an older-people-rekindling-romance way.
E: Is that even a word? Dude.
M: If it’s not it should be. And after you two deliberately misinterpreted my attempt to insert pop culture references, I can make up whatever words I want. So there.
2 Days in New York
E: Wackiness ensues when Marion’s crazy French family blows into her cozy New York life for a weekend. Starring Julie Delpy as Marion, Chris Rock as her journalist/DJ boyfriend Mingus, and Alfred Delpy (yes, Julie’s dad) as Marion’s father.
M: This seemed like a total snooze until you said that Rock’s character was named after the villain in Flash Gordon! Okay, it still seems like one for me to skip.
C: What would you say the genre is here? Arthouse comedy?
E: I believe that’s what they’re aiming at, yes.
M: So, they’re aiming pretty much at E.
M: Including this because it is the start of the horror flicks, a couple of which seem to creep into August each year; then the category goes on to dominate the market until Thanksgiving.
C: Creep in? August is a huge month for big horror releases. Which, you know, I often see… the posters for, and hide under my bed.
M: Oh yes, three movies is “huge”. Never confused with something small like two. *cough*Bourne*cough*
E: Does a ghost haunt a British boys school in 1921? If I feel the need to be freaked out this summer, this is definitely where I’d go; the high quality cast headlined by Rebecca Hall, Dominic West and Imelda Staunton promises good things. Or impressively bad ones, anyway.
C: If Daniel Radcliffe couldn’t tempt me to a horror picture, these Brits ain’t gonna do it (good though they are–the women, anyway).
M: Pretty sure they’re all taller than Radcliffe, if that helps sell it.
E: The Good Wife’s Graham Philips stars as the one sane member of a farming hippy clan. The extended group includes David Duchovny, Vera Farmiga and Justin Kirk. Definite RedBox potential there – except I’m a little afraid it’s too small a movie for Redbox.
M: Admittedly, I’ve only seen bits and pieces of Californication, but has David Duchovny been in anything good other than The X-Files? If he has I’ve missed it.
C: Well, Mom and Dad swear by the 2000 romantic comedy Return to Me-
M: -yep, missed it-
C: -which is pretty cute. But other than that: no. He hasn’t. And we can’t even count the last X-Files movie among his achievements.
M: No, we most certainly cannot.
C: This could break the trend, though?
The Odd Life of Timothy Green
M: After seeing an ad for this the other night, I said to Mrs M that I hope the movie is as good as the commercial, and I really do. This has the look of a family film that really makes the leap and is one that everyone with kids ends up owning and seeing 20 times in their life.
C: Or the movie that forever haunts sensitive children’s dreams, giving them nightmares of turning into a tree. Not that anyone we know would have that reaction to anything. (Curse you, Sesame Street…)
M: And then there’s the fact that it’s being released in August. But we siblings loved Alias, and want Jen Garner to succeed, so here’s hoping this strange little tale works.
E: Those ads have me tingly with hope. It just seems lovely. And hey, not everything released in August is going to be dreadful.
M: Are you sure about that?
E: No, not really. But then I’m not the one mortally afraid of turning into a tree…
M: So, clearly this weekend is all about family movies! Oh, wait, no…
E: What is Liam Hemsworth doing in this movie?
C: Giving people under the age of 50 a reason to see it, of course.
M: Seriously, C, 50? I know you’re a decade younger than E, but you realize that the oldest of the impressive collection of action heroes in this were stars in the 80’s, right? And that people like Jet Li and Jason Statham are stars from the 2000’s, right? And that the highest listed female in the cast is Veronica Mars‘ Charisma Carpenter?
E: It’s Buffy‘s Charisma Carpenter, thank you very much (yes, yes of course I know she appeared in VM too, but her fame hails from the Whedonverse).
M: Whatever, Veronica Mars was better.
E: So, anyway, people under 35? Assuming that your average 18 year old is capable of resisting Dolph Lundgren and Sly Stallone.
E: How much do you love the promo they’re running with the Olympics with Tim Daggett calling a pommel horse routine performed by a zombie? When the animated corpse leaves its claymation arm on the horse, I giggle every time.
M: I have to say, I don’t have much interest in the movie, but that commercial is great.
E: I don’t think it’s going to be as cute as Frankenweenie, but still. Could be okay. Little kid who talks to dead people saves town from the zombie apocalypse; if nothing else, it’s bang on trend.
M: In which the Sparkly Vampire attempts to shed the um, sparkling, um, vampiring and move on and be taken seriously. Connecting with director David Cronenberg helps with the serious aspect, but I’m not sure yet if anyone’s buying. Besides, the release of this movie is going to be deluged with the real life drama between the Sparkly Vampire and the Homely Girl Who Played Snow White, which is a reason in and of itself to skip this.
E: I think homely’s unnecessarily harsh, bro.
M: They cast her in a role to be the woman who would surpass Charlize Theron in beauty, and the commentary by many others (not me) was “who, the girl that looks like a pubescent boy?”, and you think homely is harsh?
E: Yes, I do. (And you know I don’t think she’s in Theron’s league, but still, unnecessary rudeness.) And to be fair this not Pattinson’s first attempt at shedding his vampire skin, but I’m not sure it’s going to help him any more than Water for Elephants or Bel Ami.
M: Oh, I know, but those were unsuccessful, so he’s still trying, so my point stands.
E: He plays a Wall Street trader whose perfect world (or at least influence and portfolio) falls apart in one day. The plight of the Masters of the Universe won’t get me to the theater, either.
E: In her last role, Whitney Houston guides daughter Jordan Sparks (yes, I know) through the music world. This one’s another remake, but not of a movie I know.
M: Or one that I want to know.
E: What was that Mariah Carey movie with a similar title? Glimmer? Glitter?
M: Something like that, I honestly don’t care enough to bother looking it up.
E: And that was supposed to be jaw-droppingly bad.
M: To be fair to Carey, at least it wasn’t named “Care”.
E: Ha. I like Sparks and always wished the insanely talented Houston well, but this doesn’t look very promising. I actually feel a little guilty for saying so, but there it is.
M: If you told me that the guy that wrote War of the World, Indiana Jones and the Kindom of the Crystal Skull and Angels and Demons was writing and directing a movie about a bike messenger that gets chased by a dirty cop because of a package he’s supposed to deliver, I think I’d run in the other direction. However, when you point out that the messenger is played by Joe Gordon-Levitt, the dirty cop by Michael Shannon, and that writer/director David Keopp also wrote Jurassic Park, Spider-Man, Carlito’s Way, Mission: Impossible, The Paper, Stir of Echoes and Panic Room, well, I’m much more interested.
E: Possible. Possible.
Hit and Run
M: I will readily admit that I have never liked Dax Shepard, and have always wondered how he and Veronica Mars ended up together. After all, Veronica Mars is smarter than we all are (at least until season three). So I generally viewed anything he’s in through a prism of pessimism. However, Parenthood does (did? did it get the ax?) seem to be a decent show, so I’ve started to shift a bit.
E: I think it’s still around. And hey, he did rent her a sloth for her birthday, so he can’t be all bad.
M: Ok, I saw that and it was absolutely hilarious. And I saw a preview for this, where he’s in witness protection, married to or hooking up with Bell, and hiding from a blond-dreadlocks-adorned Bradley Cooper, and surprisingly it looked like it could be really fun. I am not going to run out to see it (unless I get free tickets again, maybe), but I also won’t be surprised it if turns out to do well.
E: Eh, still doesn’t sound that captivating, but I won’t be sorry if it’s popular, I guess.
Robot & Frank
M: Frank Langella, who I will always associate with his role in Dave, plays a “former” jewel thief, who starts to pull heists with his robotic butler. The cast, also including Peter Saarsgard, James Marsden, Liv Tyler and Susan Sarandon seems way to big for something this small and quirky.
E: It’s kind of an adorable idea, you have to admit it.
M: Exactly. Reminds me of something like Little Miss Sunshine, so I wouldn’t surprise me if it’s a hit with critics, and whoever manages to find a theater playing it.
M: The second of the horror offerings creeping ahead of horror season.
E: Yeah, and there’s nothing in this one that would come close to tempting me. Ashley Greene of the Twilight movies, and Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy from the Harry Potter adaptations) help tell the tale of a malevolent spirit created or unleashed during an experiment gone badly wrong.
C: Tom Felton’s a good actor; let’s hope he gets work a little more worthy of him.
E: Ignore this attempt at horror/comedy, and read the deliciously unnerving YA ghost story of the same name instead.
C: Hear hear!
E: Prohibition-era bootlegging drama starring Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman, Jessica Chastain, Guy Pearce and – oops, now you’ve lost me – Shia LeBeouf.
M: Sooo funny, that’s EXACTLY what a friend at work and I said. We were looking over the month for anything worth seeing and this one looked like it could be the movie with the most potential… and then we saw LeBeouf, and instantly became dubious.
E: This gangster flick is based on the true story of the Bondurant brothers, who helped turn their area of Virginia into “The Wettest County in the World,” (the title of Matt Bondurant’s book of reminiscences). Gangsters are not really my preferred movie topic, but I could overlook that if it weren’t for the consistently annoying and overrated LeBeouf.
M: I like gangster movies more than you, and prohibition era ones like The Untouchables can be spectacular, but there’s LeBeouf. Still, it seems to be in the same vein as the recent Hatfields & McCoys miniseries, which was terrific. And look at the rest of the cast. Pearce (fave!)? Oldman(fave!)? Hardy? Chastain? They should be able to overcome one guy, right?
C: That is a pretty impressive group. What’s a movie with a cast like this doing in August, anyway?
E: You mean two of last year’s Oscar nominees, and the cast from the rest of the best picture nominees? It seems very likely that if this film were any good, the studio would have saved it for Oscar consideration in late fall and not buried in August.
M: And wouldn’t have LeBeouf in it. Still, I’m holding out hope. I seem to be saying that a lot in this preview.
The Good Doctor
E: Eager young Dr. Legolas (er, Orlando Bloom) develops inappropriate feelings for young patient Riley Keough. Well, she is the King’s granddaughter, after all. She’s got the hound dog eyes. How can he resist? Will his hard won world fall to pieces?
M: Sounds like it could be all sorts of icky. However, if you replace “doctor” with “teacher”, I bet The Police could write a great song about that plotline!
For A Good Time Call
E: Two acquaintances end up as roommates. Though at first they’re not friendly, soon enough they’re starting up a phone sex business together. Starring the rather wonderful Ari Graynor; Seth Rogen helps the wackiness ensue.
M: I’m not sure this is worthy of the “wackiness ensues” slogan.
M: Yay! More horror!
E: I’ve bought my tickets for this one (the story of a cursed box that unleashes horrors on Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Kyra Sedgwick) already.
M: Wait, what? Really? Does it have someone from The Good Wife in it?
E: No, that was a total lie. My brain stamps this kind of movie poster with tags like “horror movie” and “not for me.” Although like I said above, I prefer ghostly horrors to slasher horrors, but I’m still not entranced by the idea of a mystical malevolent Jewish spirit trapped in a box.
M: Something similar to that did make for a good X Files episode, but yeah, hopefully September will offer something better. And with that we’re done.