After weeks of neglect, I finally caught James L. Brooks' How Do You Know at Danbarry Western Hills last week. (You know I was keen to catch it if I endured Danbarry WH, a second-run/rate movie house that hasn't been refurbished since its opening more than a decade ago). Released amid the crowded, late-December awards season, Brooks' latest fell off my radar in part due to its lame title and acutely glossy trailer, which played up the ever-distracting presence of Jack Nicholsonas much as whatever unique qualities it might offer.
The amusing, curiously lo-fi comedic diversion known as Hot Tub Time Machine revisits a moment in time not known for its significant cultural contributions (especially on a mainstream level). Who better, then, to appear in a movie that looks back with a nostalgic eye to the 1980s than Crispin Glover, one of the great, under-appreciated oddballs of that or any era?
Back in August of last year, Paramount Pictures announced that it was moving Martin Scorsese’s Shutter Island, the anticipated follow-up to the director’s Oscar-winning The Departed, from an Oct. 2 release date to February 2010. The move was perplexing for a variety of reasons, the most obvious of which was the presence of an Oscar-bait director like Scorsese and an equally lauded A-list actor like Leonardo DiCaprio. Such a shift — especially one that moves a film from the fall awards season to the Land of Misfit Movies known as February — is typically a sign that it’s expected to disappoint for one reason or another.
This week’s new releases are a curious hodgepodge ranging from a big-budget studio retread (Fast & Furious) to an experimental feature by a 79-year-old enfant terrible (Pere Portabella's The Silence Before Bach, which opened in New York City more than a year ago). Lodged in-between is a pair of movies that debuted to mixed responses at the Sundance Film Festival (Sunshine Cleaning in 2008, Adventureland earlier this year), both of which feature strong casts and capable directors.
What's up with all the 1980s love currently spilling out of multiplexes?
Sure, Hollywood and marketers of all sorts have long mined nostalgia as a powerful enticement tool in the marketplace. But is 20 years enough time to generate sufficient yearning for a period whose mainstream culture is best represented by the rise of stupid action movies and/or creatively bankrupt sequels (see the career of Sylvester Stallone for examples of both), acutely disposable Pop music (see everything from Hair Metal to Milli Vanilli), ludicrous clothes (see Miami Vice) and the presence of a two-term president whose nefarious policies laid the groundwork for our current economic meltdown?
There’s no denying that Terry Gilliam has a vast imagination. But is that a good thing for his films and those who have to watch them?
The Sundance Film Festival announced its 2011 lineup today. The festival, which invades the small ski-resort town of Park City, Utah, Jan. 20-30, will include 115 films from 28 different countries. Befitting a fest known for its nurturing of fresh talent (40 of the 115 are from first-time filmmakers), the 32 films in the U.S. Dramatic and Documentary (16 in each category) include a bunch of new names as well as a few familiar faces.
As is the case every year, the big studios use the first quarter as a dumping ground for its duds, movies that for one reason or another they think are unlikely to generate much interest in an audience whose expectations are already diminished. Still, this year's list of dumpster dwellers seems even more robust than usual. On the other end of the spectrum, I can think of only two studio films to this point that have transcended the mediocre: Paul Feig's Bridesmaids and Duncan Jones' Source Code, both of which tweak genre conventions in slightly unexpected ways.
The 82nd Academy Awards telecast is Sunday night. Will you be watching?
Yes, I will again succumb to its guilty pleasures, no doubt groaning every 10 minutes or so at the lavish, self-important nature of it all (please don’t let James Cameron win — the only thing worse than his creepy, flowing gray hair is the inevitably pompous speech that will spill from his lips if Avatar wins him a Best Director or Best Picture Oscar, which it likely will).
Underneath Cincinnati has undergone a number of behind-the-scenes changes in its 10 years of existence (members of the Southern Ohio Film Association now guide it), but its mission has largely remained the same — to showcase and support area independent filmmakers.