When I was a kid August meant a couple of things – the "back to school" commercials started airing on TV, bumming me out, and all the good movies were already playing. This summer is no different. Except I’m not bummed out about the "back to school" commercials, and Dave Davis is made positively tumescent by them.
But as in most summers, the big guns have already hit, leaving August with the scrubs. This year sees a lot of interesting smaller films, though, many of which will probably start this month in New York and LA and move out to the towns where you live, if you live in the other five biggest cities in this country.
From here on in it’s all downhill, kids, until the Oscar-bait starts to kick in towards Thanksgiving time. So enjoy the waning days of summer, and get your sorry ass out to see Murderball already.
Dave says: In this sorta-sequel to Wong Kar-Wai’s own In the Mood for Love, a Hong Kong writer (Tony Leung Chiu-Wai) in the 1960s moves into a hotel to pen his sci-fi novel, and gets busy with a bunch of gorgeous ladies (Ziyi Zhang and Gong Li among them) who happen to reside in the building. His story (partially visualized thoughout the film) takes place in a futuristic world where people can revisit their memories by train, while the writer himself is obsessed with a figure his own past.
Prognostication: I’ve actually had this import DVD somewhere in my teetering unwatched stack for months, mostly because I’m aware that like other WKW films it’ll be a major commitment of time, attention and patience – he’s a very deliberate filmmaker and while his “finished” works (the quotes are due to WKW’s penchant for constant editing) are beautiful and compelling, they’re not exactly action-packed summer fare. The presence of the stunning Ziyi may draw a few more viewers seeking counterprogramming and/or hot Asians, but ultimately this movie is destined for DVD viewing. As soon as I can get to it.
Official Site: http://www.sonyclassics.com/2046/
George says: Seriously, if you don’t know the gist of this one by now, I fervently applaud you. Johnny Knoxville plays Luke Duke, Sean William Scott plays Bo Duke, and Jessica Simpson plays Smokin’. Burt Reynolds and Willie Nelson come along for the ride since I guess dignity knows no paycheck bounds. Is there going to be a plot summary at all in this entry? Please.
Prognostication: You know, it’s tough for me to give an accurate prognosis what with Dev’s review already on the site (with a force of utter hatred, no less) and me having caught it already and being in total agreement with him. This film is a shite-bomb. The Broken Lizards’ connection is inconsequential (which is sad, since I’m a pretty big fan of Super Troopers). And please, don’t go just to check out Jessica Simpson’s bangin’ bod… that’s what Google is for! It’s a good weekend for the smaller indie/foreign fare. Give ‘em some love instead.
Official Site: http://dukesofhazzard.warnerbros.com/
Devin says: Bill Murray is an aging lothario whose past comes back to haunt him – he gets an anonymous letter telling him that his previously unknown 19 year old son is looking for him. Aided by his Ethiopian pal Winstoin, Murray’s character goes out to find some of his old loves in this bittersweet road movie from inde film icon Jim Jarmusch.
Prognostication: Well, you could just read my review of the film right here.
What I find most interesting about this film is how it brings two of the godfathers of the current hipster ironic detachment attitude together. Murray and Jarmusch worked together ever so briefly in last year’s Coffee and Cigarettes, but here we see them together for the long haul. And who is surprised at how well Bill Murray’s stony poker face works in the faux-European filmmaking of Jarmusch? Probably nobody.
Official Site: http://brokenflowersmovie.com/
My Date With Drew
Devin says: What’s the most extreme thing you’ve ever done to get a date? If you’re filmmaker Brian Herzlinger, it’s probably spend a thousand dollars to make a documentary about how much you love Drew Barrymore. Does he get a date with her? At the very least he got her to sign a release form to allow her picture to be on his poster.
Prognostication: I see a lot of movies in the course of the year, but a couple always fall by the wayside for me. This was one of them. I wanted to see it when the press screenings happened here in NYC, but it didn’t work out. My friends who saw it came back with warm reviews. It sounds like Herzlinger got his foot in the door with this goofy doc – let’s see what he does with his new opportunities now.
Official Site: http://www.mydatewithdrew.com/
Dave says: Despite the raunchy-sounding title (actually a popular videogame character in the film), this dizzying satire of suburbia revolves around a high school kid (Jamie Bell) dealing with his status as social outcast. When his friend commits suicide, the community seems more concerned with casseroles and alternate drug supplies, until a kidnapping-gone-awry suddenly becomes the focus.
Official Site: http://www.chumscrubber.com/
Devin says: Embeth Davidtz is a Britishy art dealer who travels down South to try to snag art from a bizarre, racist "outsider artist." It turns out that the artist – who specializes in Civil War battle scenes where everyone has huge cocks hanging out – lives not far from the family of her new husband. She spends a few days getting to know this family and expectations and beliefs get spun right upside down onto their pointy heads.
Prognostication: This movie, the directorial debut for Phil Morrison, is all about Amy Adams. You may remember her as Leo’s Southern bride in Catch Me If You Can, and here she creates a character so real and so three dimensional that you completely forget she’s acting halfway through it. The movie itself is a little slow and maybe a little tonally jumbled, but Adams’ performance hopefully heralds good things for the lovely actress.
Official Site: http://www.sonyclassics.com/junebug/
Devin says: Every life has an end, and it’s the funeral for John Goodman’s King Ralph. As the mourners say goodbye, his corpulent spirit raises to heaven, beginning a new phase –
Nah, not really. A Boston Catholic school boy suddenly gets the idea that his winning the Boston Marathon will wake his mom from a coma. Syrupy good feelings are sure to follow.
Prognostication: Could this be the next Billy Elliott, a movie you know you should probably hate but love anyway? It’s looking that way, as good reviews pour in from everywhere. Of course images of the trailer that show a young boy running intercut with stern faced Catholic priests – well, let’s hope American understands what this one is really about.
Official Site: http://www.saintralphmovie.com/
George says: "Every sixty minutes a person is abducted in Latin America. 70% of the victims don’t survive." Sound familiar? Probably because something to that effect was said in last year’s Man on Fire which dealt with the same subject matter (only this time, the material is being tackled by an actual Latin American). Here, the tale takes place in Venezuela’s capital city of Caracas, which in the film’s trailer, is referred to as "the most dangerous city in the world". Carla, played by Latin beauty Mia Maestro, (last seen in 2004’s brilliant The Motorcycle Diaries) and Martin (Jean Paul Leroux) are the two kidnaped victims who await in agonizing terror for Carla’s father (Once Upon a Time in Mexico‘s Rubén Blades) to pay off the criminals responsible for the incident.
Prognostication: This film was shot entirely on DV cams, much like Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later. Judging from the trailer (not a very good one, I might add), the videography seems intriguing and suitable for the subject matter. Instead of being a film about revenge like Tony Scott’s Man on Fire, Secuestro Express seems to be looking a bit deeper into the inner workings of this criminal practice that’s become all too common in Latin America. Could be quite interesting.
Official Site: http://www.miramax.com/secuestroexpress/
Devin says: You sons of bitches. You rotten bastards. I am talking to those of you out there in the CHUD.com readership who saw the original Deuce Bigalow, who bought it on DVD, who made it possible that a sequel should be made. I hate you. I will find you. I will end you.
Prognostication: See, the Leaning Tower is representing what a big dick you are if you go to see this movie.
Official Site: Too long to fit here…
Devin says: The scariest thing about the wave of PG-13 horror films might well be the fact that they keep on making them. This one, set in N’Awlins, has prior movie star Kate Hudson playing a woman caring for an invalid who gets caught up in some hot voodoo action. Not hot Brother Voodoo action, though, that’s going to be the Marvel film after Ant-Man.
Prognostication: Hey, where did you come from? If this movie was a beehive the lack of buzz would tell you the little bees are all dead. Honestly, they should just make a Being Bobby Brown type show featuring Hudson and her living skeleton husband, that addict from the Black Crowes. Now there’s something really fucking scary.
Official Site: http://www.theskeletonkeymovie.com/
Dave says: Sadly not about the Baldwin clan of actors, John Singleton’s purportedly gritty revenge flick (a semi-remake of the John Wayne western The Sons of Katie Elder) has Mark Wahlberg, Tyrese Gibson, Andre “3000” Benjamin and some other guy who probably gets killed as a quartet of foster brothers who reunite and grab their gats to investigate the murder of their adoptive mother.
Prognostication: Singleton seems to be leaving the Boyz N the Hood type of societal statements behind and going full-bore for the 2 Fast 2 Furious gloss these days, since it obviously pays better. The trailers (or at least the ones I’ve seen) seem to be selling this like a straight-up action movie, and the cast has some respectable heat, which may help elevate it past the generic 70s flavor it’s throwing.
Official Site: http://www.fourbrothersmovie.com/
Devin says: One of my favorite furniture related jokes has the punchline "Rattan Death March." This movie is about the Bataan Death March, marginally less humorous. Actually there’s nothing funny about that horrible event or the prison camp, Cabanatuan, where American GIs were finally brought, and from which Benjamin Bratt and his men must rescue them.
Prognostication: The Pacific Theater has been woefully underserved in the new WWII movie phase that started after Private Ryan. It’s possible that it’s because the Nazis make better villains, or maybe because the jungles where the battles were fought look just like Viet Nam. Whatever the case, it’s nice to see a movie about that part of the war. Too bad it’s been sitting on a shelf for the last two years, hidden away by Miramax. Now with Los Bros Weinstein moving away from Disney, there’s a bit of a purge and this is finally getting put out there to fend for itself.
Official Site: http://www.greatraidthemovie.com/
George says: What if you had a torrid love affair with a loon? What if that loon wasn’t in there for having one too many imaginary friends… but something MUCH worse? That’s basically the idea behind David Mackenzie’s Asylum. The beautiful Natasha Richardson plays Stella who has an affair with institution patient Edgar (Marton Csokas – Celeborn from LOTR). Ian McKellan also lends his uber thespian talents as senior physician Peter Cleave, who plays a seemingly manipulative confidant to Richardson’s fornicating Stella.
Prognostication: The premise of this story seems awfully familiar to me. It’s nice to see Marton Csokas get a meaty role (one where he gets to do Natasha Richardson is always good). And as evidenced from the film’s trailer, McKellan seems to be delivering the goods once again (Seriously, are there many other actors his age consistently delivering such solid performances?). Actually, his character seems to be the most intriguing of the lot. Rex Reed of The New York Observer thinks it’s "one of the most important films of the year". Me? I’ll wait and see…
Official Site: http://www.paramountclassics.com/asylum/
Dave says: A black comedy from television and music vid director Marcos Siega (beating his own feature debut Underclassmen to theaters), the movie stars delicious Thirteen veal Evan Rachel Wood as a devious upscale high school student who, along with some conniving friends, accuses her sleazy (yet innocent) teacher of sexual harassment and incites a media maelstrom.
Prognostication: A divisive Sundance hit, the film seems to be shooting for an unapologetic Heathers cynicism and, depending on who you ask, goes much further into the realms of cruelty and bad taste that Election only flirted with. Plus it has two of my favorite actors, Ron Livingston and James Woods. And hot teenage girls.
Official Site: http://www.prettypersuasionthemovie.com/
Devin says: For thirteen summers, Timothy Treadwell lives with grizzly bears in the Alaskan wild. He saw himself as their friend and protector. Finally one of them ate him. It sounds like the punchline to a joke told by an anti-environmental lobbyist, but it’s a true story, and for the last five years of his life, Treadwell documented himself on tape. Now acclaimed director Werner Herzog has taken the 100 hours left and assembled it into this fascinating, funny and sad movie.
Prognostication: The duo of Treadwell and Herzog are unstoppable. While the movie doesn’t show us anything too grizzly (ba dum bum), there is audio tape of Treadwell being eaten alive. Herzog deals with this – and all the rest of the bizarre details of this strange man’s life – with a light and compassionate touch, but that doesn’t mean he condones what Treadwell did. In fact Herzog himself has characterized the film as a running argument between the director and the dead man. Highly recommended.
Official Site: http://www.grizzlyman.com/
George says: The titular Valiant (Ewan McGregor) is in fact just a small and lowly wood pigeon who overcomes large obstacles to become a bonafide hero in Great Britain’s Royal Air Force Homing Pigeon Service (RHPS) during WWII. Those within the RHPS assisted the Allies by flying vital messages regarding enemy movements across the English Channel, all the while evading the enemy’s Falcon Brigade. The film’s cast also boasts the likes of Ricky Gervais, Tim Curry, Jim Broadbent, Hugh Laurie, John Cleese, and John Hurt.
Prognostication: Honestly, aside from a few things told to me by a friend working on the marketing for this film, I’ve heard absolutely dick. It’s got a pretty strong cast, though. Plus, it’s British… and their stuff tends to be better than ours anyway. Don’t let the connection to the shitastic Shrek films get you down either. It’s just superficial marketing crap. For that, I punched my friend in the back of the head.
Official Site: http://www.valiantmovie.co.uk/
Dave says: In “master of horror” Wes Craven’s air thriller, a woman (Rachel McAdams) finds herself seated next to a hired killer (Cillian Murphy) on a flight and becomes an unwilling pawn in his plot to assassinate a high-ranking government official. Plus there’s no food service, just little bags of fake Cheez-Its, and she skipped lunch. The horror.
Prognostication: Murphy’s character is named Jackson Rippner. Subtlety is obviously not a priority. And judging by this and the onslaught of similar upcoming movies (Flightplan, SNAKES ON A PLANE, etc.), the statute of limitations on airplane terror has apparently lapsed. Even though Craven’s name now carries about as much weight as Robert Z’Dar’s thanks to misery like Cursed, McAdams has plenty of voltage from Wedding Crashers’ shock success, and Murphy may still have a bit of Batman Begins baddie buzz.
Official Site: http://www.redeye-themovie.com/
Russ says: Steve Carell is Andy Stitzer, who’s made it through four decades without dipping his wick. When his friends finally realize why their buddy has been riding around town on a bike borrowed from Pee-Wee Herman, they spring into action and conspire to get the guy laid. Guys I know, we’d have just laughed at him. Catherine Keener, in a token nice girl role, appears as the wily fembot who may just collect Carell’s cherry.
Prognostication: Wedding Crashers jumped all over the box office like white on rice (see, that’s a wedding joke) so of course R-rated comedies are back. This looks like a lousy second act, though. I like Carell and love Keener, but nothing I’ve seen from this flick has elicited so much as a chuckle. I mean, how about watching a fussy guy thrust into speed dating where he meets a frightfully needy yet hot sex machine? Hilarious.
Official Site: http://www.the40yearoldvirgin.com/
Devin says: Usually I look up the movies I don’t know about for Prognosticator, but what sort of knowledge could I drop on you about Supercross that the poster doesn’t give you? A) it’s not about a superpowered resurrected Christ and B) it’s about babes and bikes. I bet there’s some kind of intense competition and maybe someone blames someone else for a past failure/injury/death. And somebody probably falls in love with somebody else. Fill in your own blanks, make a movie!
Prognostication: In lieu of anything real, here’s the text of the latest spam to hit my inbox!
Cialis (Super Viagra) at $2.19 per dose
Ready to boost your sex life? Positive?
Time to do it right now.
Order Cialis at incredibly low prices
$2.19 per dose, $4.38 per 20mg! Unbelivable!
Official Site: http://www.supercrossmovie.com/
Russ says: Terry Gilliam remakes The Frighteners. The sons of Mrs. Grimm are con artists who pretend to cleanse villages of their spiritual ills. Did they really think that a truly bewitched settlement wasn’t going to call for their help? Dolts. Matt Damon and Heath Ledger (newly awakened to the art of acting) play the brothers, but who cares, when Monica Bellucci is also on hand? [Note from George: She’s on hand for a whopping 5-10 minutes… thankfully, those are 5-10 pleasurable minutes.]
Prognostication: I don’t know what it is about Gilliam but he’s a remarkable catalyst for problems with movie studios. He’s such a talented filmmaker that the work usually ends up on top, but this has ‘classic disaster’ written all over it. Dimension/Harvey pulled the wrong strings in casting, disallowed certain types of makeup on the lead actors, fired Gilliam’s cinematographer and may have heavily reworked the film without Gilliam’s involvement. That’s on top of a shoddy script by Ehren Kruger, who has exactly one good credit on the CV. (Arlington Road) Gilliam has been pretty open about making this film for the money, which he’ll hopefully dump into The Man Who Killed Don Quixote. Meanwhile, I’ll pretend like this is just another schlocky flick and wait for Gillaim’s Tideland, which we should be seeing within six months.
Official Site: http://www.miramax.com/thebrothersgrimm/
Dave says: Cole Hauser heads a group of explorers (including Piper Perabo and Lost‘s Daniel Dae Kim) on a dive to check out a mysterious cave deep in the ocean. During the expedition the entrance collapses, leaving them trapped in a strange place filled with merciless primeval creatures. And stalactites, which are the ones that hang from above because they “cling tight” to the ceiling.
Prognostication: Though it was bounced from an April release, late August has become a comfortable place for modest-budget B-flavored horror (Anacondas squirmed into the same slot last year and did reasonable business), and subterranean monsters yanking apart a number of random character actors is almost always wildly entertaining. Hauser’s usually great, and the flick (which beats the similarly themed The Descent to screens) marks the feature debut of Bruce Hunt, who gained his experience as a second and third unit director on the Matrix films.
Official Site: http://www.sonypictures.com/movies/thecave/
George says: Activist Tessa Quayle (Rachel Weisz) is found in a remote area of Northern Kenya to be both very hot… and very dead. Brutally murdered to be more precise. Tessa’s companion, a doctor (played by Hubert Koundé), flees the scene and the evidence being gathered seems to indicate that this was all simply a crime of passion. Enter the now widower Justin Quayle (Ralph Fiennes) who is now consumed with remorse and conflicted by whispers of his late wife’s infidelities. Quayle sets off to uncover the truth, the likes of which reveal a conspiracy far beyond anything he could’ve imagined.
Prognostication: Rachel Weisz is hot. This script, however, is not. At least, that’s what the early buzz on it would have you believe. To be frank, the story itself doesn’t quite grab my interest, but the fact that this film is director Fernando Meirelles’ follow-up to City of God (one of the best films of this young decade) is reason enough to look forward to it… sort of.
Official Site: http://www.theconstantgardener.com/
Devin says: A group of incredibly beautiful people try to make it in the music industry in Los Angeles while fending off the advances of an aging Carrie Fisher.
Prognostication: Where can you get better film commentary than the IMDB message boards? One thread about this film there is simply titled "i hope it sucks i hope it sucks i hope it sucks." I am guessing that person feels this way because Ashlee Simpson, aka Jessica’s sister, is starring in the movie. By the way, Ashlee was originally set to play a lesbian, until her Jesus-loving dad put his foot down. Come on, you know the big JC was totally into some girl on girl muff diving. What did you think that stupid mustard seed parable was about anyway?
Official Site: http://www.undiscoveredfilm.com/