Look at the late guy again.

It’s January, and this is the beginning of The Prognosticator Year Two. That’s right, the second senses shattering annus (please note the second n. Whatever else you may think of us here at CHUD, we only have one bunghole each, just like you) begins now, only two weeks late.

January’s a tough month for movie fans. The dearth of just about anything watchable makes movies like White Noise become profitable, believe it or not. This year’s Hostel shows that studios are beginning to learn the lesson – we still want to go to the movies in January.

For many of you, though, January will be a chance to catch up on the Oscar-type movies that opened in limited release in December. They’ll be moving across the country this and next month, hopefully picking up steam for the eventual awards ceremony.

Thanks for enjoying year one of the Prognosticator. If there’s anything you would like to see us add or change in year two, drop me a line at devin@chud.com or check out our message boards and tell us what you think.

January 6


 Dave says: Another another videogame adaptation from ingeniously inept director Dr. Uwe Boll, this one stars Maxim-ready T3 robochick Kristanna Loken as a sexy half-vampire babe who gets drafted by the secret Brimstone Society (yet another clandestine protectorate that joins the ranks of the Watchers Guild, the Omega Sector, the Men in Black, the B.P.R.D. and about a thousand others) to stop her evil daddy from using magic artifacts, or some shit. She’s joined in the medieval idiocy by an all-star cast of paycheck-cashers, including Michael Madsen, Sir Ben Kingsley and perpetual scowler Michelle Rodriguez.

Prognostication: Uwe Boll is an easy target for derision, which is probably because his interviews tend to be far more entertaining than his movies and he barely seems qualified to give directions to the nearest White Castle. But as long as Romania continues to provide an economical alternative for film productions and the Bavarian New World Order keeps funding his videogame fetish, Uwe and his movies will persist (he’s already got Dungeon Siege finished, and he’s splitting it into two movies). Accept it. But you don’t have to like it.

Official Site: http://www.bloodrayne-themovie.com/

Grandma’s Boy

 Devin says: I believe Grandma’s Boy is the first film ever made about video game testers, and it will probably set the standards for that genre. I don’t actually know what the plot of this one is (and who cares? It’s not like anyone is going to see it), but I bet it includes “rude” jokes, a minimal amount of nudity and possibly some spooge. The kids today love movies with spooge. My brother is a video game tester, by the way, and he assures me that no film would ever have the guts to get to the bottom of the dark truth of that world.

Prognostication: Grandma’s Boy comes from Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison Films. The list of this man’s cinematic crimes continues to grow. Will no one step forward to end his reign of terror? For the love of God, he could employ Rob Schneider again any minute now! Big ups for the poster, though.

Official Site: http://www.grandmasboymovie.com/


 Russ says: Three horny guys follow their testosterone to a hostel in Eastern Europe supposedly dripping with Maxim models and future porn casualties. Turns out the chicks aren’t the casualties, though, and our boys pay the price for thinking with their dicks.

Prognostication: I won’t prognosticate since this sucker is out. Devin likes it — read his review here — and I hated it. Pick your side; like Cabin Fever, this will divide audiences right down the middle.

Official Site: http://www.hostelfilm.com/

January 13

April’s Shower

 George says:
Homosexual relationship films seem to be the all the rage at the moment. Well, alright, it’s just Brokeback Mountain. But whatever, April’s Shower is just that; a film about being gay, falling in love, and discovering one’s true self. Or something. The story is about a woman named April who is having a wedding shower (hence the title – which may also refer to the month of April’s common raininess and sometimes rocky weather… it’s, like, a play on words!) that’s being thrown and arranged by her best friend, who also happens to be lesbian and in love with April. Estrogen heavy moments are sure to be plentiful.

Prognostication: I guess you could call this the "ultimate chick flick" in a way. The film appears to be a pretty low profile indie so I’m sure it’ll only be playing at your local arthouse theater. I don’t expect it to make much of a dent, though, but I wonder if the lesbian community is aware of its existence. I would probably guess so. But if gay women are anything like hetero men, I would guess their dollars would go towards seeing a neck-sucking, leather-clad Kate Bekinsale instead.

Official Site: http://www.aprilsshower-themovie.com/

Glory Road

 Russ says: It’s 1966, it’s Texas, and the parents of the current Wal-Mart employees who think it’s funny to equivocate black films and The Planet of the Apes don’t want to see any black players on their basketball court. Enter Dan Haskins (Josh Lucas) who’s determined to get the best players on the boards, no matter who they are. The kids work hard, he succeeds, the audience cries and goes home feeling good about themselves.

Look at the men who have played this role before. Billy Bob. Denzel. Kurt Russell. Gene fucking Hackman. You think Josh Lucas is ready to join that posse? I didn’t think so, even if he did die in 2D. But America is almost certainly ready to see this film again, since we never seem to get tired of the flick about a coach who breaks rules and boundaries.

Official Site: http://disney.go.com/gloryroad/

Tristan & Isolde

 Dave says: Set during the days of Arthurian legend, this tragic romance stars James Franco and Sophia Myles as young lovers doomed by being on opposite sides of English politics. Rufus Sewell shows up in yet another frilly costume drama as the third point on the love triangle. And for the guys, there’s some battle scenes!

Prognostication: It’s produced by the Scotts (Ridley and Tony, not the kilt-clad inhabitants of northern UK), and director Kevin Reynolds has previous experience with period films from Count of Monte Cristo and… uh, Waterworld, so it’ll probably look pretty good. Considering the January release date (of both this and Annapolis), chisel-cheeked actor Franco will have to continue waiting patiently the stardom that eludes him, despite previously playing James Dean.

Official Site: http://www.tristanandisoldemovie.com/

January 20

Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World

 Devin says: Thinking that the next phase of the War on Terror will be all about hearts and minds, the US government sends Albert Brooks to India and Pakistan to learn just what our Allah-loving brethren find funny. Brooks is a Jew, so you know this isn’t going to go according to plan right from the start.

Prognostication: Albert Brooks is one of our great comedians, and any new movie from him is worth getting excited about. Looking for Comedy is no exception, and while it peters out at the end, the film contains some unbearably hilarious scenes, such as Brooks’ disastrous ventriloquist act. I was in tears. I hope that his work as a talking fish (referenced hilariously in this film) gets more people to pay attention to this smart film that other studios balked at releasing.

Official Site: http://wip.warnerbros.com/lookingforcomedy/

Underworld: Evolution

 Dave says: The eternal war between vampires and Lycans continues, and horror fans are caught in the middle. Kate Beckinsale is back as the leather-bound bloodsucker babe (with handsome log Scott Speedman again at her side) for director Len Wiseman’s second foray into fangs and werewolves and posturing and physics-defying acrobatics and massive amounts of spent ammunition, all captured with an excess of blue filters.

Prognostication: It has plenty of detractors, but I thought the first Underworld made admirable use of limited resources – it just took itself waaaaaay too seriously, which stifled its entertainment value. The sequel seems a little more playful (and Kate still looks great in leather), and since the first movie made its fair share of profits, Sony has ponied up additional cash for a grander scope and better practical and digital FX. It also features an actress named Zita Görög, and I have to respect anyone with two umlauts in their name.

Official Site: http://www.sonypictures.com/movies/underworldevolution/

Why We Fight

 Russ says: The brother of the guy who made the awesome Capturing the Friedmans has made his own great documentary. This one is about the rise and dominance of the American industrio-military complex. Beginning with Eisenhower’s last words as president, which warn of the complex’s imminent ascension, Why We Fight demonstrates how a preoccupation with military industry has changed American politics and lives.

Prognostication: When I put it that way, the movie sounds dry like Bea Arthur, but it’s really a fast-moving, smart and engaging film. I’d call it ‘entertaining’ but there’s absolutely no fun to be taken in realizing how we’ve been had. Last week a poll came out saying that more than half the country thinks Congress is on the take. If the entire country saw this film, that figure would double. Michael Moore would have made another mockery of a ‘documentary’ out of this material, but Eugene Jarkecki gets it just right.

Official Site: http://www.sonyclassics.com/whywefight/

January 27


 George says: Based around the prestigious U.S. Naval Academy in Maryland, Annapolis features newbie cadet Jake (James "The Green Goblin?" Franco) as he struggles to climb the ranks, both in office and respect. He enters the Brigade Championships, a Navy boxing competition where he hopes to trade brutal punches with his "arch-nemesis", Midshipman Lt. Cole (Tyrese "One of Four Brothers" Gibson).

Prognostication: Aside from Glory Road, I don’t think there’s another film in this month’s crop that looks as cookie-cutter as Annapolis does. It’s directed by Justin Lin of Better Luck Tomorrow fame (who is also helming the upcoming Oldboy remake and… The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift featuring a bunch of twentysomethings, including one of the kids from Home Improvement?) which means absolutely nothing to me since I haven’t seen it (but his involvment with Oldboy will probably make me check it out). As for James Franco, it seems that January will be a big month for the guy, what with this and Tristan & Isolde opening. My bet? Annapolis will probably be a nice showcase for Gibson, who surprised me in last year’s Four Brothers. And that’ll probably be it.

Official Site: http://annapolis.movies.go.com/

Big Momma’s House 2

 Russ says: Cross-dressing FBI agent Martin Lawrence proves that a man will do anything to get his hands on some big tits by wearing a fake set through yet another ‘investigation’. This time he’s playing nanny to a trilogy of kids belonging to a suspect in some sort of murder/terrorism/spyware case. I don’t want to ruin anything but he probably gets attached to the kids, and not with his penis.

Word is that when the first movie blew up like Momma’s ass, Lawrence turned into a total diva, which is a polite work for ‘dick’. I’d almost say that this will be worth seeing just for the spectacle of another no-talent hack being made to eat his own shit, but since I’m assuming the film is more than five minutes long, that’s still punishment for the audience.

Official Site: http://www.bigmommashouse2.com/

Breaking News

 Dave says: Hong Kong helmer Johnnie To (The Mission, Fulltime Killer) presents what may be his most confident and accomplished work to date, a combination cop thriller and media satire. After a heist gone awry, a charming crook and his crew hole up in a tenement building where they essentially hold its residents hostage. Trying to put a positive spin on their department, the police assault is recorded and edited before hitting the airwaves, but inside the building, the criminals are releasing raw footage of the unsuccessful insertion onto the internet, giving the public plenty to question.

Prognostication: Johnnie To takes a relatively simple premise and then stirs numerous complications into the mix along with his trademark visual flair (a seamless eight-minute tracking shot of a gun battle starts the film), creating an intense cat-and-mouse game and raises tension to agonizing degrees. Sure, the whole satire of the media isn’t subtle, but (though probably unintentional) it’s an interesting statement on how American “news” networks filter information that viewers then typically accept as fact. A Hollywood remake is already in the works; catch the original if you get the opportunity.

Official Site: http://www.breakingnewsthemovie.com/


 Devin says: Shot on location in rural Ohio and West Virginia, and with real people instead of actors, Stephen Soderbergh’s experimental film Bubble examines the lives of three coworkers at a doll factory who become involved in a fatal triangle. Not only is the film notable for the way it was made, it’s notable for how it’s being released – you can see it in theaters, on cable or buy the DVD a few days later.

Prognostication: Soderbergh’s experiment pays off. He gets impressive performances out of his non-actors, and clocking in at just 72 minutes, Bubble manages to be funny, sad and lyrical. It’s a strange movie, one that will divide audiences, but the open-minded and patient will find lots to like here.

Official Site: N/A

Nanny McPhee

 Devin says: A remake of the exploitation classic Rape Squad, Nanny McPhee tells the story of a man (Colin Firth, known to some as the Ultimate Mr. Darcy (soon to be crossing over with Ultimate X-Men)) who has seven little bratty children who need to be reigned in by the strong hand of English discipline. Emma Thompson plays Nanny McPhee, whose magical powers can tame these unruly children – and possibly awaken the Dark Lord Soggoroth from his millennia-long slumber.

Prognostication: It sounds an awful lot like another movie I saw, but I doubt Nanny McPhee has anything as remotely entertaining as Dick Van Dyke’s atrocious Cockney-by-way-of-massive-head-trauma accent. Early reviews say that while the film resembles Mary Poppins in the set up, it goes into all different places. Just like that tramp Julie Andrews in SOB

Official Site: http://www.nannymcphee.com/

Roving Mars

 George says: We don’t usually cover IMAX releases, but being that January is a wasteland of a month without much to offer, here it is. There’s not much to write in terms of plot except that it’s basically… human builds rocket, rocket gets its ass to Mars, ass deploys rover, rover roves Mars, humans are wowed. Hey, this already sounds better than Big Momma’s House 2: Martin Lawrence Hates Humanity!

Prognostication: The last true IMAX film I attended (I don’t think a press screening of Batman Begins counts) had something to do with oceans. I don’t quite recall since I was like 12 at the time but I do remember being amazed by it (and not just by the sheer size but the content itself). I’m sure Roving Mars will be an impressive sight to behold on the mammoth silver screen, with plenty of fascinating imagery, interesting information, and a hopefully scant amount of tube-bound Gary Sinise. It’s also being presented as a "Public Service" by Lockheed Martin. I don’t quite know what that means but there you go! I fully expect to be serviced publicly once I’m there.

Official Site: http://disney.go.com/disneypictures/rovingmars/

Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story

 Russ says: There are probably fewer than nine songs in Michael Winterbottom’s adaptation of The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, a novel many have called unfilmable. The excellent Steve Coogan stars as both Tristram Shandy and the actor playing him in a movie based on the book.

Yup, the old ‘make a movie about a book by making a movie about making a movie out of the book’ routine. But it worked for Spike Jonze and based on what I overheard when this played festivals last year, it really works here, too. I’m betting that Steve Coogan will be entertaining enough to keep me from feeling like I should have read the book first for at least four reels.

Official Site: http://www.tristramshandymovie.com/