It’s been a typically lean February on the movie front. How bad? Well, of the 16 movies that have opened this month, only four have received positive reviews from CityBeat writers, two of which are opening at The Esquire this week (Untitled and The White Ribbon), and only one of which is a true multiplex release (Shutter Island).
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.
In 2008 there was Definitely, Maybe. Last year, there were Confessions of a Shopoholic. And now, with only six days left before Valentine’s Day is actually upon us, a movie baring the same name is set to hit theaters.
Valentine’s Day, this year’s most blatant bid for romantically charged girls to drag their boyfriends down to the theater, and spend gobs of money to found out whether or not Ashton Kutcher, Julia Roberts, and a fistful of other stars will live happily ever after. For anyone with a remotely decent sense of cinematic taste, this would be something to avoid. And yet, in the deep recesses of my otherwise logical brain, there lives a tiny little blob of girly power that screams, “Go see this movie!”
Oscar nominations for the yearly industry wankfest known as Academy Awards were announced on Feb. 2. As expected, James Cameron’s Avatar and Kathryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker did well: Each yielded nine nominations, including nods for Best Picture and Best Director. (Curious side-note: Bigelow and Cameron were once married; for the record, she made the better film.)
As we head into the post-awards, pre-summer period known as The Dead Zone (see Legion, The Spy Next Door, The Tooth Fairy, as well as a dumpster-load of upcoming titles), the 2010 Jewish & Israeli Film Festival should be an oasis for filmgoers seeking fare that strays from Hollywood formula. And while the festival obviously centers on films that fall in line with its namesake, viewers of any faith or nationality are likely to appreciate and enjoy its humanist-leaning, character-driven offerings.
A curious collection of filmmakers populates this week’s opening films — from well-established veterans to foreign masters to newbies to practitioners of Hollywood product.
Pedro Almodovar’s entertaining Broken Embraces is laden with the Spanish master’s now signature traits: a rich narrative rife with emotional u-turns and sex galore; a healthy splash of mood-altering color; beautiful females, including longtime muse Penelope Cruz; and ample technical chops informed by a clear nod to film history.
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 movie awards season kicked into overdrive Dec. 15 with the announcement of the 67th annual Golden Globe Awards nominations. I’m typically the first one to criticize the Globes’ often banal, stars-and-studio-influenced nominations, but this year’s crop seems more discerning than usual.