The Big Year
All the entertainment news magazines have started to print out their fall movie previews. Here, I am only writing about the movies that look good to me. So if you’re looking for some pithy comment about how “Hugh Jackman is the Real Steel,” look elsewhere.
September and October
Drive (Sept. 16)- The first US film from Danish director Nicholas Refn (Valhalla Rising). This film, about a Hollywood stunt driver who moonlights as a get-away driver for criminals, is piquing my interest, not just because Ryan Gosling is the “It-boy” of the moment. It looks like an indie-action film that places a value on the performance of its actors rather than the action itself. So in a way, it’s the anti-Michael Bay movie. And what a cast this movie has—Albert Brooks (who is drumming up Oscar buzz for his against-type performance as a criminal boss), Bryan Cranston, Christina Hendricks (It’s an AMC party!), Ron Perlman and Carey Mulligan. I will definitely be seeing this film on opening weekend.
Moneyball (Sept. 23)- This film has been in the works for years, making its way through the hands of David Frankel (Marley and Me), Steven Soderbergh and Aaron Sorkin. Last year, the film finally started production under the helm of Bennett Miller (Capote) and a rewrite by Steven Zaillian (Schiendler’s List). It looks like this year’s Social Network, what with its grade-A cast (Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Chris Pratt, Robin Wright) intelligent, fast-paced script, Oscar-nominated director, and real-life based melodrama revolving around a couple of underdogs who “changed everything.” Even better though, it’s about sports! Its engrossing source material, the book Moneyball by Michael Lewis, is also a fascinating read and I urge everybody to check it out. As a sidenote, it is especially great to see the always charming Brad Pitt go back to a fun, leading role again, after being serious and dreary in Tree of Life, Benjamin Button and The Assassination of Jesse James. It will also be interesting to see Jonah Hill actually act and in something other than a Judd Apatow movie.
Killer Elite (Sept. 23)- Clive Owen, Jason Statham and Robert DeNiro. One has a mustache, one has stubble and one has a full beard. No one in this movie has time to shave because they’re too busy kicking ass. I honestly don’t care what this movie is about. I imagine it’s about three guys who intimidate, double cross and try to kill each other. In a perfect world, there would be no one else in the movie but the three leads (and maybe a chick) and every other scene would be a fight sequence. It would start out with Jason Statham tied to a chair and Clive Owen pointing a gun to his head. But Statham escapes, kicking Owen’s ass in the process. Then Owen goes to DeNiro in an abandoned warehouse to tell him to go kill Statham, but instead DeNiro plots with Statham (in a deli) to kill Owen. So DeNiro goes to “kill” Statham (in an airplane hanger), but ends up in a trap because Owen and Statham have plotted to kill DeNiro. So DeNiro fights his way through those two assholes and escapes. He goes to Owen (at a construction site) and you realize that the whole thing was a setup and that DeNiro was on Owen’s side the whole time and let himself be beat up to fool Statham. Then maybe money is involved and at one point Owen and Statham double-team some chick (at a shoe factory). But mostly the movie continues with one-on-one fight scenes and intimidating conversations. If Killer Elite is anything like what I just laid out, I will see it opening day.
The Ides of March (Oct. 7)- This George Clooney directed film is based on the award-winning play, Farragut North, which was loosely based on the 2004 Howard Dean presidential campaign. The last politically themed Clooney-directed film was Good Night and Good Luck (2005), which was amazing. I’m looking forward to this film, not only because of its top-notch cast (Clooney, Hoffman, Gosling, Paul Giamatti, Evan Rachel Wood, Marissa Tomei), but because it looks relevant, engrossing, complicated, and well done.
The Big Year (Oct. 14)- The trailer for this film was underwhelming, and completely ignored the film’s plot, which is about a bird-watching competition. I don’t care about director David Frankel (The Devil Wears Prada), and it’s not a great sign that the last produced screenplay of the film’s screenwriter, Howard Franklin, was in 2001, but I have to think that a movie starring Steve Martin, Jack Black and Owen Wilson, and boasting a supporting cast of Rashida Jones, Joel McHale, Dianne Wiest, Anjelica Huston, and Brian Dennehy, can’t possibly be anything but charming. Owen Wilson is doing just fine right now thanks to Midnight in Paris, and Steve Martin will always be a welcome presence on screen, so it’s Jack Black’s career that has the most on the line. I hope this film that reminds me why I like School of Rock instead of why Gulliver’s Travels was so shitty.
In Time (Oct. 28)- Writer/Director Andrew Niccol is the brainiac behind such high-concept films as The Truman Show, S1m0ne, The Terminal, and Gattaca, and while only two of these movies are any good, the effort and deep questions these films bring up are worthy of merit. The big, deep question with this film is, can Justin Timberlake actually be a movie star? (The film actually revolves around a futuristic world in which time is used as currency). I have mixed feelings about J.Tizzle. I love him on SNL, and I liked him in The Social Network, but in the trailers for Friends with Benefits, his camera mugging and attitude of “I know what I’m saying is funny and charming” really turned me off. In In Time, it seems like JT won’t have time to mug as he’ll be too busy running from bad guys (like Pete Campbell!), so maybe he’ll be enjoyable to watch on screen. On the female front, I don’t find anything intriguing about hot It-Girls Amanda Seyfried and Olivia Wilde. Amanda was great in Mean Girls, but her safe choices of dumb romance movies are uninspiring and what was supposed to be Olivia’s breakout summer (with starring roles in Cowboys and Aliens and The Change Up) turned into a summer of busts. Both of these ladies have a lot to prove in terms of being movie stars.
NOVEMBER AND DECEMBER PREVIEWS COMING SOON!