Has it really been a month? Here in New York City it’s unseasonably warm, but soon enough the leaves will start changing and our thoughts will turn to ghosts and ghouls and tricks and treats. Which makes October an ideal month for plenty of horror films, like The Fog, Saw II and Two For the Money.
It’s also the season when Oscar bait starts showing up in force. Good Night, and Good Luck, Shopgirl and North Country are the three films you need to see this October if you’re going to be able to make an educated guess in your office’s Oscar pool.
Russ says: From the
novel by Jennifer Weiner comes the latest film from L.A. Confidential helmer
Curtis Hanson. (Also, lest we forget, the man behind ’80s sex comedy Losin’
It, which was nicely nodded to this week in Arrested Development.)
Cameron Diaz and Toni Collette are sisters who don’t exactly see eye to eye.
Collette is the serious, family-minded sis, while Diaz likes to…do…the things…that
make families…or something. Disagreements, arguments, reconciliations and
emotional hijinks ensure.
Prognostication: First it was traveling pants, and now shared shoes. I hope
there’s some disinfectant involved. Still…Diaz. Heels. Bikini. No Acne. That’s
enough to get (many) boyfriends in seats. Some say there’s actually something
to this potential weeper, some of which has to do with Shirley McClaine
slapping Diaz around. But I just see lessons learned and hearts rent and
Official Site: http://www.inhershoesmovie.com/
George says: The titular Dubya & Gee (as I personally know ‘em) run a small humane pest-control operation in their vegetable-crazy neighborhood known as “Anti-Pesto”. They’re in prep for the annual Giant Vegetable Competition (that reminds me of an old Looney Tunes sketch with Porky Pig that I used to love) until they suddenly learn of a mysterious “beast” that’s ravaging the town’s sacred vegetable supplies. A fiendish plot is set into motion and it’s up to our claytastic heroes to save the day! Jeez, that last sentence sounds like it should go on the back of a DVD case. Hmmm, I wonder how well that pays?
Prognostication: Alright, I’ve splooged over this film enough. Word is that it’s great. It’s a shoe-in for a Oscar nod in the Best Animation category (not like it has a lot of competition) and I personally think Nick Park and his cohorts WILL be walking away with another golden statue come February. So go see it. If you have kids, lovely. Take them. It’ll be a wonderful experience for both them as well as yourselves. You are a kid? Go! You’ll get a taste of great art, great storytelling, and the rare bit of magic this medium can deliver when truly passionate and creative people are in the driver’s seat. Sorry, that was more splooge, wasn’t it?
Official Site: http://www.wandg.com/
Dave says: A bunch of familiar faces try to keep entertained while working dead-end jobs at the sort of theme restaurant you’ll likely find on the upper tiers of Hell. Terrible things are done to meals, which are then served to unsuspecting patrons, eliciting varying degrees of laughter from audiences.
Prognostication: The title is also a description of smirky star Ryan Reynolds’ star status. I think the guy’s great, but he hasn’t quite found the breakthrough flick and a low-budget comedy like this probably won’t be it either. Still, with sly casting that also includes Justin Long, David Koechner, Anna Faris and Luis “The” Guzman, this could be Office Space for the food service set. Or it could make you wish you went to TGI Fridays instead. Though I can’t imagine why you’d do that.
Official Site: http://www.waitingthefilm.com/
George says: Brandon Lang (Matthew McConaughey), a former college football star who suffered a career-ending injury, hooks up with one of the most renown bookies in the sports-gambling business, Walter Abrams (Al Pacino). What’ll stem from that is a complete mystery to me as I’ve never seen nor heard of a plot setup like that before in my entire life.
Prognostication: What’s with this film’s cheapo font? And I don’t know why, but it just reminds me so much of the one sheet used in Entourage for Vince’s film Head On. Talk about generic (which I guess is probably quite telling). Anyway, I’ve spoken to five people that have already seen this. One of them liked it, the other four thought it was ass. But one thing they all agreed on was Pacino’s performance. It’s supposedly pretty good. Devin just reviewed it, and he seems to think so too. But is that gonna be enough to save this? I haven’t seen it myself, but… No.
Official Site: http://www.twoforthemoney.net/
Devin says: Rob Hardy, the man behind the Trois trilogy (Trois, Trois 2: Pandora’s Box and Trois 3: The Escort!) has found God. Praise Jesus! His latest film is a gospel drenched family story, about a successful R&B singer whose pastor father thinks has lost his way. When his father gets sick, the singer must come home and deal with a church in disarray. God will provide, I am sure. Just probably not at the box office.
Prognostication: The Gospel appears to be the kind of black religious niche film we’re going to see more of now that Diary of a Mad Black Woman did so well. There’s a crowd of folks out there who just don’t go to the movie because nothing appeals to them. How I wish that they would find less shitty seeming stuff appealing. Fans of gospel music in general will probably like the soundtrack to this film at the very least.
Official Site: http://www.gospelmovie.com/
George says: Industrial designer Drew Baylor (Orlando Bloom) has a life that’s getting more and more screwed up by the minute. The capper? His father (not Uncle), Mitch Baylor, kicks the bucket. Drew now has to attend the funeral of his bygone parent (ala Garden State) back in his hometown (ala Garden State). Fortunately for him, he discovers a free-spirited woman (Kirsten Dunst) that helps him to get his life back together and rediscover the magic of life (ala Garden State).
Prognostication: The buzz hasn’t been all that positive for this. It hasn’t been necessarily bad either, but it’s definitely mixed. Various cuts have been screened with a final one obviously approaching very soon. Personally, since seeing and loving that 7-minute internet trailer, I’ve been rooting for this film. I’m a really big admirer of Cameron Crowe’s films. I don’t think he’s greatness incarnate like some of my film brethren do, but the guy displays a certain charm in his films that’s really rare. An affable quality. Sure they’re often overly poignant and/or manipulative, but they’re sincere. And for me, that goes a LONG way. Plus, I wanna see if Orlando Bloom can carry this kind of film and deliver in this type of role. And if nothing else, this should have wonderful soundtrack.
Official Site: http://www.elizabethtown.com/
Devin says: A small coastal town is encased in a sudden thick fog – which seems to be filled with the bloodthirsty ghosts of ancient mariners, bent on vengeance! Man, this seems pretty familiar – oh, that’s right, it’s a remake of the John Carpenter film. Only this time Adrienne Barbeau’s bosominess has been traded in for Selma Blair. And Tom Atkins has turned into… Superboy from Smallville?
Prognostication: Earlier this year I visited the set of the remake of The Fog up in Vancouver as part of a large group of journalists. The scene we saw being filmed was toward the end, when the priest is telling the townspeople why this fog is there. Spoilers follow, by the way. So he’s telling them that the ghosts in the fog are there because of something the town’s ancestors did when the newly added token black guy busts in and says, “Don’t talk about my ancestors! I’m from Chicago – South Side!”
The assembled journalists cracked up and they called cut.
Official Site: http://www.escapethefog.com/
Dave says: Her name is Domino Harvey. She is a bounty hunter. Her name is Domino Harvey. She is a bounty hunter. Her name is Domino Harvey. She is a bounty hunter. Effective promotional campaign, eh?
Prognostication: Even if this thing turns out to be a complete catastrophe, it’s one that practically demands seeing, especially to see if all 94 .lbs of Keira Knightley seem convincing as a hardcore bounty hunter (a character based on the late daughter of actor Laurence Harvey). Add in comeback kid Mickey Rourke, a script from Donnie Darko mastermind Richard Kelly, the increasingly experimental staccato style of director Tony Scott, and one Christopher Walken. People are pummeled and shot, things explode. Seriously, why wouldn’t you want to see it?
Official Site: http://www.dominomovie.com/
Russ says: In the early ’50s, Edward R. Murrow, the wartime superstar of radio journalism, had migrated to television. With producer Fred Friendly, he created the program See It Now at CBS, generally credited with being the original televised news magazine. George Clooney’s second film as director chronicles Murrow’s rebellious on-air crusade against the virulent red-baiting tactics of Wisoncon senator Joseph McCarthy. David Strathairn is ably cast as Murrow, and Clooney relies exclusively on real footage of McCarthy to represent the senator.
Prognostication: There’s no better warning against the influence of unregulated power than the story of Joe McCarthy. This is a story that can’t be told too many times, and Clooney has turned out a fucking fantastic film. He’s well-suited to play Friendly, but Strathairn is pure and convincing as the crisply articulate Murrow. Staring dead into the camera and chain-smoking (on air!) he kills. Clooney’s choice to pit him against the real McCarthy is inspired, and there’s more tension in this film than you’d get by taking every print of Flightplan and subjecting them to eons of geological pressure. This movie is gold. See it.
Official Site: http://www.goodnightandgoodluck.com/
Devin says: Based on the novel by Rupert Holmes (you know, the guy who wrote “Escape (The Pina Colada Song)” (seriously)), Where the Truth Lies is set in two time periods – in the 70s, reporter K. O’Connor is investigating why the music and comedy team of Vince and Lanny, once big stars, broke up. In flashbacks to the 50s and the events that led to the team splitting, Colin Firth and Kevin Bacon engage in sex, drugs, proto-rock and roll and sex. And a little murder.
Prognostication: Here’s a preview of my review: “It’s like the dirtiest ever episode of Murder, She Wrote.” Where the Truth Lies is now best known for getting an NC-17 because of a three way between Firth, Bacon and Rachel Blanchard. But even beyond that, the film is packed to the gills with sex and titties. It’s also Atom Egoyan’s most mainstream film yet, which makes the film’s ratings problems very ironic indeed.
Official Site: http://www.serendipitypoint.com/wttl/
George says: Based off of Steven Martin’s novella of the same name, Claire Danes is shopgirl Mirabelle. Martin plays a wealthy and quite cultured fifty-something that vies for her affections while Jason Schwartzman plays a struggling musician who’s also in pursuit of the “Plain Jane”. Man, have I been down that road… Yeesh!
Prognostication: Steve Martin in a film worth seeing? Well it’s about goddamn time. By all accounts, the story from which this film is based sounds like a good, touching, and very real one. Whether that’ll make it to the screen or not is another question, but seeing as how Martin has also written the screenplay, it’s a good bet. I’m not the biggest fan of Claire Danes, but she seems just right for the role. Schwartzman is Schwartzman and that’s a very good thing. What will Steve Martin himself bring to table? Nothing remotely approaching Bringing Down the House material… and that’s A VERY GOOD THING. Wouldn’t it be neat if he got an Oscar nod for this?
Official Site: http://shopgirl.movies.go.com/
Russ says: A special
ops team is sent to a research station on Mars to investigate missing plot
elements stolen from other movies. Led by Sarge, in a fit of monosyllabic
casting played by The Rock, the team also features Karl Urban as the guy who’ll
probably walk out alone. Shoot. Reload. Repeat. (Right. Rosamund Pike, who I
thought was the only convincing piece of non-Brosnan in the last Bond flick, is
also in this. She might live, too.)
Prognostication: If there’s no reason to make a Halo movie, there are
active reasons not to make this one.
But it’s done, so we might as well see it, right? Devin and I goggled at the
badness of the first-person shooter footage whilst at the San Diego con. The audience ate it up like fried fat. And since demons from Hell (the bad guys
in the game) have been replaced by sorta-zombies, does it really matter how
much they look like the creatures in the game? Just buy Doom II for crissakes.
You can probably get it for cell phones for less than the price of this ticket.
Official Site: http://www.doommovie.com/
Devin says: Charlize Theron plays a newly single mother in northern Minnesota. She needs a job, and her best friend hooks up with one at the mine, which has recently begun hiring women as the result of a Supreme Court ruling. As you can imagine, the men aren’t happy, and Theron and her female co-workers are subjected to intense sexual harassment. It finally becomes too much and she begins what turns into the nation’s first class action sexual harassment suit.
Prognostication: Loosely based on a true story, the film is the latest from Whale Rider director Niki Caro. It’s the kind of film that’s going to take as much heat as it gets praise, but I’m happy to praise it. Sure, it’s manipulative and sure, it features some ludicrous court room shenanigans, but in the end it’s a truly monumental story of the triumph of justice. I am not ashamed to say that it brought a tear to my eye, and not just the scene where “RATS” was smeared on the wall in feces.
Official Site: http://northcountrymovie.warnerbros.com/
Dave says: While not contending with his sexy depressed lady (the divine Naomi Watts), a therapist (Ewan MacGregor) tries to help a suicidal patient (Ryan Gosling), who seems to have an influence on reality itself, judging by his various predictions that appear to come true. All with the tone of an X-Files episode.
Prognostication: Monster’s Ball director Marc Forster goes all Fincher with his style, while The 25th Hour scribe David Benioff slides on his Shyamalan pants (this movie has the stench of Twist Ending). This thing’s been awaiting release for a good while (it was filmed over two years ago), which also ought to be a red flag.
Official Site: http://www.staythemovie.com/
Dave says: A young girl (omnipresent childbot Dakota Fanning) finds a wounded horse, and along with her trainer father (former antihero Kurt Russell) nurses it back to health and gets it ready for the Breeder’s Cup races. Because a fat check is better than glue.
Prognostication: I have no idea what to say here, other than I’m probably not the target audience for a movie about a girl with weird teeth and her love of horsies. Between this, Miracle and Sky High, Russell seems to be spending his fifties repaying Disney for launching his career in the first place, but unless he goes on a rampage and guns down the competing jockeys in the locker room, we’ll have to keep waiting for the Kurt we know and love to return.
Official Site: http://www.dreamworks.com/dreamer/
Russ says: Nic Cage
is David Spritz, a minor personality who holds down the weather desk at a Chicago
TV station. Michael Caine is his father Robert, a literary great. David is
trying to foster his career with a move to a bigger market in New York, and is
letting his family slip away in the process. The public’s lack of respect for
David doesn’t much trouble him, but his father’s does.
Prognostication: It’s been over a year since I saw The Weather Man, and I
can’t imagine it has emerged from hibernation a good movie. There are strains of absurd observation, existential comedy and family drama, none of
which ever come together. It’s easy enough to see what sort of film Verbinski was
trying to make, but he’s come up with a self-important mess that often seems to
be little more than a justification for throwing shit at Nic Cage. Literally —
he’s pelted with ice cream and sodas and trash. It’s funny, too. For a minute.
And then it’s just as sad as the rest of the film.
Official Site: http://weathermanmovie.com/
George says: Jigsaw returns for more brutal, bloody, and insipid mayhem in Saw II: Rehash. Instead of two men desperately trying to free themselves, there are now eight unlucky (and probably stupid) people stuck in a booby-trapped shelter. Basically, they gotta get the hell out of there before a lethal nerve gas kills the lot of them. The problem is that the shelter is rigged to kill them in utterly gruesome ways too should they be careless… which we most certainly know they will be. Remember, people: “The penitent man shall pass!”
Prognostication: Because being horrific (and I mean that in the “this movie is like a pile of dick” sense) isn’t enough to stop millions of dollars being spent on a sequel, look where we’re at now. And it literally pains me in the bowel regions to see the original Saw with such a high rating over at IMDb. Are you people serious? Why am I still writing about this thing? You wanna see something extreme and fucked up? Go watch the appropriately titled Three… Extremes which Dave talks about two slots down. By the way, sorry Dave, I know you liked Saw… and it tears me up inside.
Official Site: http://www.saw2.com/
Russ says: California
is about to become a state and in San Franciso, Zorro (aka Don Alejandro de la
Vega aka Antonio Banderas) has settled down to make babies with feisty wife Elena,
a character that’s as good a reason to get Catherine Zeta-Jones into a corset
as any. Their son Joaquin knows nothing of the swashes and buckles hidden in dad’s
past, but when some bad men arrive on the scene with an evil plot the whole
family is drawn into the action.
Prognostication: It’s as if Robert Rodriguez was dreaming the whole thing. Here’s
an idea: print out a photo of Salma Hayek, tape it to a popsicle stick and hold
it in front of CZJ’s head in every scene. Presto! It’s Desperado Kids! Squint
and it’ll even look 3D. Director Martin Campbell returns to the ‘Z’, but I’m still
wary of the guy after paying to see Robin Tunney in the cold fusion meltdown that
Limit. This one looks like a big splashy kids movie more than anything
else, though, and I bet if you want to find some ten year old boys to feed that
carnivorous plant growing in the back yard, the Saturday afternoon matinee is
going to be the place.
Official Site: http://www.sonypictures.com/movies/thelegendofzorro/
Dave says: This multinational collaboration presents a trio of disturbing tales from Asian luminaries Fruit Chan, Takashi Miike and
Official Site: http://www.threeextremes.com/
Devin says: A few days ago two men blew themselves up in Bali. What kind of person becomes a suicide bomber? What are the last hours of one like? And what happens if things don’t go right and your bomb doesn’t go off? These are some of the questions the film Paradise Now examines. Two Palestinian best friends get recruited to detonate themselves in Tel Aviv, and we follow them for forty eight hours as they have to make an incredible and horrifying decision.
Prognostication: Paradise Now works because it doesn’t preach. The two Palestinians are so normal seeming that it draws into real relief just how the situation must be for them to make this choice. Director Hany Abu-Assad dealt with some serious hardships – including the kidnap of their location manager and mines exploding onset – to craft this funny, sad and scary film. Some people will reject it automatically because it doesn’t show suicide bombers as drooling animals. Fuck those people.
Official Site: http://wip.warnerbros.com/paradisenow/