It’s the eleventh Prognosticator! This time we’re debuting a new feature – our pick of the week. That’s right, now we’re telling you what movies to go see.
Oscar season is in full swing this November, with every week delivering another film that is just begging for a little golden statue. And many movies that have been playing the bigger markets are going wide this month – most notable Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang. By the way, if you visit that film’s site you’ll see a quote from none other than me, Devin Faraci of CHUD.com.
Things are only going to heat up as we head into December, so use The Prognosticator wisely to help plan your moviegoing for the next month!
Dave says: Donnie Darko locks and loafs in this inaction flick based on the memoirs of Marine Anthony Swofford, chronicling his sheer boredom and subsequent disappointment during the first Gulf War. Jamie Foxx, Peter Sargaard and Chris Cooper are also dressed in drab to assist in the military doldrums.
Prognostication: American Beauty director Sam Mendes might be shooting for Oscar gold, and shockingly buff Gyllenhaal might be trying to erase The Day After Tomorrow and Bubble Boy from the collective memory, but will the story resonate enough? I must admit I’m amused by Mendes’ insistence that the film is not any sort of political statement – it’s set at a time that a man named George Bush was president, and it involves American troops being dispatched to
Official Site: http://www.jarheadmovie.com/
George says: "The end is near." Indeed, movie poster tagline. Indeed. Chicken Little takes the old fable about a chicken that causes widespread panic because it mistakes an acorn that fell on its head for a piece of falling sky and infuses it with the side-splitting buffoonery of Zach Braff, Amy Sedaris, Steve Zahn, and… Don Knotts?
Prognostication: I’ll be honest. I laughed when I watched the trailer. I don’t know if it was because I was high, drunk, or in the middle of hot sex… but I did laugh. It looks silly (bordering on retarded), it’s not made by the Pixar folks, yet features a killer voice cast: Patrick Stewart, Wallace Shawn, Harry Shearer, Fred Willard, Catherine O’Hara, Patrick Warburton, Adam West… Hmmm… Maybe I will do the happy dance!
Official Site: http://the-sky-is-falling.movies.go.com/
The Dying Gaul
Russ says: Peter
Sarsgaard is Robert, a screenwriter who’s written a great script (called The
Dying Gaul) about his lover’s death due to complications from AIDS. Campbell
Scott is the studio exec who’ll make the film if the lead character is changed
from male to female. (Not in the movie. That would be awesome.) Patricia
Clarkson is the exec’s wife. The Dying Gaul is a backstabbing
Hollywood drama, a tight little thriller and the sort of sexually charged story
that a guy like me can really get into. I hope.
Prognostication: Look at that cast. That’s enough for me, right there. This one killed
‘em at Sundance, but I can’t help wondering if that was because a cliquish
movie insider audience likes seeing versions of themselves onscreen. Still, if
this doesn’t collapse under it’s own weight it could be white hot. And
writer/director Craig Lucas has already proven the material on stage, which means…it’ll
always be a good play.
Official Site: http://www.thedyinggaul.com/
Get Rich or Die Tryin’
Devin says: There are two ways music stars can get into films – the Elvis way or the Sinatra way. The Elvis way involves making a half baked film that’s cashing in on you or a trend. The modern equivalent is a rapper teaming up with a martial arts star. Then there’s the Sinatra way – work with good directors on tough films that will stretch you. Eminem did it with 8 Mile. Ludacris did it with Crash and Hustle & Flow, and now 50 Cent does it with this film, directed by My Left Foot’s Jim Sheridan. Fiddy plays a gangsta who gets shot 9 times and cleans up to become a gangsta rapper. Hmmm, that sounds familiar….
Prognostication: There are two things wrong with Get Rich or Die Tryin’: One is that Terence Howard is introduced at the beginning and then withheld from us for an hour and change. I call foul! The other is the sad fact that 50 Cent just cannot act. His acting should be able to get him a job in the “before” segment of a constipation cure commercial, but that’s about it. And no matter how talented the supporting cast is (they are) or how good the director is (he is), a movie needs a lead who can at least do some minor emoting.
Official Site: http://www.getrichordietryinmovie.com/
Devin says: Two squabbling brothers are left home with their teenaged sister while their busy dad has to run out for work. They discover a weird old board game in the basement of their house, and begin to play – but it turns out that once they start the game they’re in the game. The game is Zathura: A Space Adventure, and their house is lifted off into space where they have to deal with meteor showers, gravity fields and nasty, meat eating space lizards. Along the way they rescue a stranded astronaut (Dax Shepard) who could be the key to getting them home.
Prognostication: Jon Favreau follows up the enjoyable Elf with a new children’s classic. Zathura is a blast, and I spent most of the movie with a big, dumb(er than usual) grin on my face as I allowed the mostly practical effects to take me away to the furthest reaches of outer space. This is going to be the Thanksgiving film to beat this year.
Official Site: http://www.sonypictures.com/movies/zathura/
Russ says: Quick,
name the couple you’d most like to see on screen! If you said Clive Owen and
Jennifer Aniston I’d say you were bat-shit crazy, but The Weinstein Company
would ask you to come see this film. Owen and Aniston are married (not to each
other) business types on the go who kick off a torrid little affair after
meeting on a train. Who the hell rides a train? Apparently Vincent Cassel does,
because he gets all up in their faces and acts French. And blackmails them,
which isn’t an exclusively French thing to do.
Prognostication: If you asked me, I’d say Clive was bored, Aniston was career-low
desperate and Cassel was drunk. From what I’ve been able to pick up, this
screams routine mid-budget thriller all the way. Then again, if I’m going to
watch a shallow, cut-rate thriller I can’t think of anyone I’d rather see play
the bad guy than Vincent Cassel. And the RZA even shows up. Count me in.
Official Site: http://www.weinsteinco.com/derailed/
Dave says: The ascended angel of Robert Downey Jr. stars as a two-bit thief who somehow falls into an acting gig (I wonder if this is how Paul Walker broke into the industry). Sent to
Prognostication: After shedding his intestinal tract for the Predator and penning some wildly successful buddy action flicks (maybe you saw the Lethal Weapons, The Last Boy Scout or The Long Kiss Goodnight), pricey writer Shane Black disappeared from the limelight only to return with his old sack of tricks and an itch to direct his own script (formerly called L.A.P.I. and You’ll Never Die in this Town Again). Around here, we couldn’t be more thrilled. Let’s hope the rest of the country knows enough to be as well. Official Site: http://kisskiss-bangbang.warnerbros.com/
George says: Based on the novel by Myla Goldberg, 11-year old Eliza Naumann (played by n00b Flora Cross) inexplicably starts winning spelling bee after spelling bee. As she does so, her odd and closeted family slowly becomes disrupted as long held secrets emerge and emotional epiphanies are reached by both Eliza’s withdrawn father Saul (Richard Gere) and her compulsive mother Miriam (Juliette Binoche). Uh, yeah.
Prognostication: So here I was hoping for a horror film about the pending invasion of those sweet sweet honey sploogers and their subsequent destruction of the human race, when instead I got a film that had Devin uttering the following: "If [Bee Season] had a face, I would hit it with a crowbar." Honestly, how can I follow that?
Official Site: http://foxsearchlight.com/beeseason/
Devin says: It’s the 7000th adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel, but oddly only the second movie version. Keira Knightley tries to bounce back from the disaster of Domino as Lizzie Barrett the (get this) plainest sister in a house crammed with femmes. Mrs. Barrett is obsessed with marrying off her girls, but no one expects Lizzie to totally fall for Mr. Darcy (MI-5’s Matthew McFayden), since he’s a complete and total dick. But of course she does.
Prognostication: No one is more surprised than me at how very good this adaptation is. Knightley gets to smile, which is nice since it’s her best feature and she didn’t do much of it in Domino. For most Pride fans, Colin Firth is THE Mr. Darcy of all time, but I think McFayden really gives him a run for his money here. This version may be set in the England of a hundred and fifty or so years ago, but the light touch and sense of humor make it feel quite modern.
Official Site: http://www.prideandprejudicemovie.net/
Sarah Silverman: Jesus is Magic
Russ says: While
spending the afternoon with friends who have, like, careers, Sarah Silverman
realizes she needs to get her act going. So she fakes a story about working on
a musical comedy variety show about the Holocaust, then realizes she’s got to
actually do it. That’s all just a framing story for a stand up act shot in
front of an audience who only sorta knew what the Christ they were in for.
Prognostication: Did you see The Aristocrats? Silverman’s bit was one of the best, in part
because it was long and detailed in a totally different way than all the others
and it pulled together other jokes from within the film. That’s just a way of
saying that a lot of people who go see this film will only sorta know what the
Christ they’re in for. Silverman has a strange delivery that almost isn’t
comedy at all, and it can be really tough to figure out when she’s telling a
joke and when she’s just fucking with the audience. That makes this movie great
and weird and uncomfortable.
Official Site: http://www.jesusismagicthemovie.com/
Breakfast on Pluto
George says: Neil Jordan, of We’re No Angels and The Crying Game fame, comes back to team up (for the second time in a year) Liam Neeson with Cillian Murphy who happens to be playing a foster child that goes on to become a tranvestite cabaret singer in the ’60s and ’70s. Neeson plays a priest. Non-transvestite, from what I can tell.
Prognostication: Cillian Murphy has had a breakout year thanks to Batman Begins and Red Eye. Good for him. Also, if you thought the bastard was creepy before, just get a load of him in the trailer for this sucker. He looks like a gay Hobbit (that’s not being redundant is it?) that’s literally grown too big for its britches. I haven’t heard too much about this flick but word on the festival circuit has been mighty kind. It sports a nice cast too that also includes the rather cool Brendan Gleeson. Hey, I’ll bite.
Official Site: http://www.sonyclassics.com/breakfastonpluto/
Dave says: This semi-documentary follows some vaguely familiar stand-up comics as they travel around and tell jokes to audiences. Some of the jokes are funny, I would imagine.
Prognostication: Honestly, I have no idea what to expect from this beyond that description. It could very well just be exactly that. I
know that Patton Oswalt (whose written stuff amuses me more than his
act) is among the comedians, as is “Hey it’s that guy” Brian Posehn. I assume this is getting released to try and capitalize on the Aristocrats buzz, but do people really still go to “concert” movies?
Official Site: N/A
Walk the Line
Russ says: Johnny
Cash wasn’t just the Man In Black. He was also a small-time singer, a drunk and
drug addict who didn’t know when to stop chasing skirt. Sounds like every other
musician I know. Lucky for him, plucky June Carter is the child star singer who
doesn’t boot his ass off the tour caravan, and Joaquin Phoenix (as Cash) and
Reese Witherspoon (as Carter) get to make some beautiful music together.
Prognostication: Phoenix Swaggers and dips his shoulder on stage just like Cash, and
Reese manages to make me forget everything she’s done since Election.
You’re gonna hear about them over and over until the Oscars are handed out, so
get used to it now. But the movie that surrounds them is actually solid and
entertaining, even if it sounds just like Ray. Both manage to work their
onstage facsimiles into something that’s an acceptable vision of Carter and
Cash, even if it isn’t always accurate.
Official Site: http://www.walkthelinethemovie.com/
Devin says: It’s the fourth Harry Potter adventure. Harry’s no longer a newbie at Hogwarts, but he doesn’t have time to have much fun – Voldemort’s Death Eaters are back on the scene, terrorizing the Quidditch World Cup, and it’s time for the TriWizard Tournament, where magical students from other countries come to compete. Somehow Harry’s name ends up in the list of competitors and he must battle dragons, nasty mermaids and face death itself before it’s all over.
Prognostication: This is the film where things really change. The book is my favorite of the series, and it ups the ante on danger and the importance of what’s going on in the series. People die in this one, and serious evil is unleashed on the world. It’s dark, it’s exciting and from what I hear it’s a pretty great movie.
Official Site: http://harrypotter.warnerbros.com/gobletoffire/
Devin says: Hey, remember when people had AIDS? Didn’t that suck? OK, AIDS sadly hasn’t gone away, but is a musical about it going to feel incredibly dated? Sony hopes not, as they’ve brought Rent, one of the more hugely popular modern Broadway shows, to the screen after years of delay. The film’s not just about AIDS, actually – it’s the lives of a group of bohemians living in New York’s Lower East Side. Which also makes it a period piece, because who the fuck can afford to live there anymore?
Prognostication: There’s a lot of mixed buzz on this film. While the fact that Chris Columbus directed fills no one with confidence, the fact that he brought back almost all the original Broadway cast surely sounds interesting. As does the fact that I have been told Rosario Dawson is quite scantily clad in the film. I really hope that this lives up to the modern movie musical bar set by Moulin Rouge and Chicago.
Official Site: http://www.sonypictures.com/movies/rent/
George says: Remake-happy Paramount Studios has decided to cash in on the inexplicable success of Cheaper By the Dozen (Argh! That’s getting a sequel too!) by burrowing through the MGM archives and redoing the 1968 Lucille Ball/Henry Fonda family comedy. This time, Renee Russo steps into Lucy’s shoes and Dennis Quaid takes over the dapper duds once worn by The Hank. Lots of mongrels are thrown into the mix (and Rip Torn) along with laughs-o-plenty™ that will surely have us all rolling in the theater aisles. Plot summary? If you can’t figure it out by looking at the one sheet, then you deserve to sit through this tripe.
Prognostication: As far as dumb films go this week, it’s neck and neck between this bitch and Just Friends (read Russ’ ire on that one below). Dennis Quaid, what happend? Where are the Innerspaces? The Enemy Mines? You had it good with Far From Heaven. What’s happend since? The Day After Tomorrow? Screw that, you’re better than this. Loyal readers, you are too. Go do drugs or go drive while under the influence. Those are, like, totally better things to do.
Official Site: http://www.yoursmineandoursmovie.com/
Dave says: John Cusack plays Charlie, a mob lawyer trying to swindle a cool $2 million from his employers on Christmas Eve. Unfortunately his partner is oily porn purveyor Billy Bob Thornton, and getting out of snowbound Wichita proves increasingly difficult, further complicated by a drunken Oliver Platt and Charlie’s (not unreasonable) affections for strip club owner Connie Nielsen. Then Peter Stormare arrives and puts people in wood chippers, maybe.
Prognostication: To be honest, this one sort of snuck up on me. It’s got a solid cast, and director Harold Ramis previously squeezed laugh value from icy climes with Groundhog Day. I just hope he watched Trapped in
Russ says: Like
Keira Knightley is the plainest girl in the house, Ryan Reynolds used to be a
fatty. Back in high school, he was stuck being the sweet friend of Amy ‘Not’
Smart, because she wouldn’t lay him with Dax Shepard’s dick. Now Ryan is all
grown up and all buffed out. Though he’s escorting a pre-fab pop princess
around, he ends up chasing after his old flame, who seems too dumb to realize
that he’s turned into total man-meat. Amy Smart, ladies and gentlemen.
Prognostication: Against all logic I like Ryan Reynolds. Anyone who bothered to
show up after the first week of shooting Blade: Trinity has got some kinda
determination, or a big coke habit. But in making Kicking and Screaming
look artful, this is the second to last movie I want to see this year, trailing
behind only a second run-in with The Fog. It’s even got a sports
scene with kids. And Anna Farris looks like she’s stuck in a loop as her Lost
In Translation Cameron Diaz parody. What, that’s not a loop?
Official Site: http://www.justfriendsmovie.com/
In the Mix
George says: Totally HOTT club DJ, Darrell Williams (Usher Raymond), is the talk of the town. Ladies are just itching to get all up in his groove, and really, life just seems to be all kinds of good. Then, of course, something happens. Darrell, while DJing at a mafia party (because, you know, mafiosos are really down with OPP) saves the life of Entourage‘s totally cute Emmanuelle Chriqui when a drive-by from an opposing gang goes down. The girl’s father and mafia boss (Chazz Palminteri) is now indebted to the guy despite not really liking him. Trouble brews, but I bet Usher and the hot chick get together in the end. Oops! Did I just spoil that?
Prognostication: I actually like Usher the musician/dancer extraordinaire. Actually, I’m just envious of how the guy moves. I mean, I can dance pretty damn well but I sure as hell can’t do what this guy does. As far as acting goes, I don’t have an opinion of him really as I don’t think I’ve seen any of his films (except The Faculty, which I barely even remember to be honest). But this story is just old hat as it looks to be a combo of Save the Last Dance and Analyze This (hopefully not Analyze That). Aside from the delicious inclusion of Emmanuelle Chriqui, color me pretty indifferent. Now excuse me while I go back to poppin’ ‘n lockin’.
Official Site: http://www.usherinthemix.com/
Devin says: John Wilmot is one of those guys born at the right place and the right time. He came on the scene just as Charles II was bringing about the Restoration, a high point in the arts, sciences – and human sexuality. Wilmot pursued at least two of those with serious vigor, occasionally at the same time. But when he meets a beautiful young actress will he change his ways and become a good man? No.
Prognostication: This is a pretty terrible movie. Johnny Depp, decked out in a Howard Stern wig, plays Wilmot as Captain Jack in the real world – ie a nasty drunk with syphilis. The film drags along except when it’s inexplicably leaping over months and possibly years of time. And for a movie about a noted real life sexual deviant, The Libertine often feels chaste.
Official Site: http://www.miramax.com/thelibertine/
Russ says: Where
does your oil come from? The five interweaving oil industry plotlines in the
film follow, among others, George Clooney as a CIA op who’s begun to question
his moral compass; Matt Damon as an oil broker with rising stock in the game;
and Jeffery Wright, a lawyer, tries to massage the merger of two companies
before the government or anyone else can intervene. Chris Cooper, William Hurt,
Tim Blake Nelson, Christopher Plummer and a hundred other people also appear.
Prognostication: It’s Traffic 2: Tanker Trouble! Writer/director Stephen Gaghan is
the chap who took home the Oscar for Traffic‘s script, and Syriana
makes it very clear he knows which side his bread is buttered on. Clooney
makes it clear he’s not afraid to play against type, and I get the feeling that
we’ll see him doing some extremely unsavory things before this is done. Having
grown up in a house full of oil company propaganda (my dad careered for
Chevron) I can’t wait to see Gaghan make even some sense out of the literally
global scope of the business. If he can. Syriana could very well cap off a
banner year for people who like to bitch that there weren’t any good movies
released in the past 12 months.
Official Site: http://syrianamovie.warnerbros.com/