November 5th, 2010 By Jason Gargano | Movies |

Friday Movie Roundup: ’Tis the Season


It's already November? It seems like it just yesterday that The Hurt Locker took home a surprising (and much deserved) Best Picture win. We're now entering the stretch drive of the fall movie season, a period laden with the big studios' “prestige” films — those they believe have the best chance to grab awards love (thus bigger box-office numbers and the media attention that follows), none more important than that shown by the Academy.

I usually could care less about Oscar talk — largely because, The Hurt Locker aside, it's almost never an accurate barometer for what has truly been the year's best — but I recently stumbled across some Academy Awards predictions on a Web site appropriately dubbed Oscar Frenzy. Only four of its 10 Best Picture predictions have so far opened in Cincinnati. Two are worthy of such positioning (Lee Unkrich's Toy Story 3 and David Fincher's The Social Network), one is not (Anton Corbin's The American) and one I've yet to catch but doubt its placement (Clint Eastwood's Hereafter).

Curiously, several of the six remaining films on Oscar Frenzy's crystal-ball list are among my most anticipated of the final two months, including Sofia Coppola's Somewhere (which unfortunately didn't screen at the Toronto Film Festival after winning the big prize at the Venice Film Festival); the Coen brothers' True Grit, which looks like a return to the darker themes of No Country for Old Men; and Terrence Malick's typically long-delayed The Tree of Life (which, as far as I can tell, is not set to open until Spring 2011).

The most unexpected omission was Christopher Nolan's Inception, a well-crafted but flawed sci-fi summer blockbuster that most consider a lock to grab one of the 10 nominations — especially after the Academy's snubbing of Nolan's wildly popular The Dark Knight.

Which brings us to this week's new releases, none of which, for one reason or another, seem destined for Oscar glory.

Opening films:

DUE DATE — Director Todd Phillips’ (The Hangover) brings us the story of Type-A architect Peter (Robert Downey Jr.) and spacey, would-be actor Ethan (Zach Galifianakis) forced by improbable circumstances to share a car ride from Atlanta to Los Angeles in time for the scheduled C-section birth of Peter’s first child. It’s a bit of a disappointment that Due Date can’t build to a more effective climax, but what happens on the way to that ending proves that odd couplings are still comedy gold. (Read full review here.) (Opens wide today.) — Scott Renshaw (Rated R.) Grade: B

THE ELEPHANT IN THE LIVING ROOM — Dayton filmmaker Michael Webber makes his directorial debut with this compelling, refreshingly restrained documentary about people who possess exotic animals as pets and the various issues that arise in such cases — everything from the ethical dilemma of caging “wild” animals to the increasingly more acute problem of public safety when they escape. (Read full review here; read tt stern-enzi's interview with Webber here.) (Opens today at Rave West Chester.) — Jason Gargano (Not Rated.) Grade: B

FOR COLORED GIRLS — Tyler Perry adapts Ntozake Shange's groundbreaking stage play For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf, which delves into various issues that impact women, specifically women of color. Perry's high-profile ensemble cast includes Janet Jackson, Thandie Newton, Whoopi Goldberg, Kerry Washington, Kimberly Elise Loretta Divine and Phylicia Rashad. (Opens wide today.) — JG (Rated R.) Review coming soon.

MEGAMIND — While the animated story of a criminal mastermind who stumbles off the beaten track and onto the path of heroic fame and glory (and for the chance to win the love of a woman) might seem a bit familiar to audiences, Megamind devotes more time to turning the Superman mythos on its ear to hilarious effect. (Read full review here.) (Opens wide today.) — tt stern-enzi (Rated PG.) Grade: A-

MESRINE: KILLER INSTINCT — The compelling, ever-charismatic Vincent Cassel stars as Jacques Mesrine, a notorious French gangster who lived on the edge, taking a number of game women (played here by Elena Anaya, Cécile de France and Ludivine Sagnier) with him along the way. The epic story — which The New York Times' Stephen Holden says “evokes a Gallic Scarface without the drugs” — is split into two parts: Killer Instinct, which opens today at The Esquire, and Public Enemy No. 1, which will presumably open at the Esquire on a not-so-distant future date. Jean-Francois Richet directs a script by Abdel Raouf Dafri, who adapted Mesrine's own autobiographical novel. (Opens today at Esquire.) — JG (Rated R.) Review coming soon.

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11.05.2010 at 10:12 Reply
Regarding 'Elephant in the living room: I am getting very tired of how the animal rights (AR) groups, most notably the H$U$, are once again exploiting the grieving family of the bear attack victim, and using this film to push for more exotic animal bans not only in Ohio, but across the USA. I am also tired of the media only publishing the sensationalized anti-exotic animal material. Not sure if your readers are even aware of it, but one of the two main stars’ of this movie, the lion owner Terry Brumfield, recently died in the unfortunate traffic accident, which was clearly not related to exotic animals, and there is barely a mention of it in the news. http://www.chillicothegazette.com/article/20100924/NEWS01/9240311 Traffic accidents kill up to 45,000 people in the USA per year, that is up to 125 per day, so I guess news gets desensitized to the ‘common’ deaths? http://www.rexano.org//Education.htm However, when a person dies in an extremely rare animal attack, it is sensationalized. The media and animal rights activists call for exotic animal bans , even though since 1990, captive bears in the USA killed a total of 5 people, that is 0.25 person per year. http://www.rexano.org//Statistics/Captive_bear_fatality.pdf So is that what matters in Ohio, HOW you die, not that you are dead??? www.REXANO.org


11.06.2010 at 12:32
I personally feel that no one has been exploiting the death of my son. As a mother who has lost her oldest child to a tragic bear attack I feel it is in the publics best interest to be aware, concerned, informed, and develop a conscious awareness of what exists all around us in towns small and large not only here in Ohio but across the United States. I encourage every person to watch this documentary film and formulate their own opinion on whether it is loving and humane to take these animals out of their natural habitat and try to conform them to our expectations of what some would call pets. I stand behind the exotic pet ban and hope to continue to raise awareness to this growing issue so that no one else's child will have to die as a result of a wild animals "natural instinct."


11.14.2010 at 12:33
Deirdre, would your son support you in your quest to ban exotic animals? Do you think your son would be proud of you now, woudl he be supportive???


11.09.2010 at 10:18 Reply
It is sad when someone dies but would people feel better if they died from cancer or other diseases, car accidents or human killers? When someone gets bite in the wild from a rattlesnake, those people want to kill all snakes. Doesn't matter that it was probably their own fault that they got bite but the rattlesnake is killed and then the hunt goes on for all snakes, whether it is venomous or non-venomous. Here in NM, parents allowed their very young son to get a head of them in a forest. When they went around a bend in the path, their child was being taken away by what the parents said was a big cat. Would these parents have faulted themselves if the child was molested by a human because they let the child out of their sight? Now the parents want all the mt. lions killed because they don't want this happening to any other child. Parents were at fault but yet, they blame the mt. lion. They were in the mt. lion's home and didn't respect the wildlife and now, more mt lions will be killed because the parents didn't keep an eye on their child. When someone's pet dog puts a child in the hospital or kills it, the dog is usually killed but yet, no one calls for a ban on all dogs. And dogs kill many people. If you allow HSUS to ban exotics, and that includes my harmless pet snakes because they are considered exotics, they will then try to ban all pets including cats and dogs. People die in ATV accidents and yet, they aren't banned. Many children have died because parents let the child drive these unsafe vehicles but yet, I don't see anyone try to ban them. Please put things in perspective and don't give into this HSUS hysterics. The HSUS are not the good guys. Thank you.