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.
Is anyone else as jazzed as I am about the new Star Trek film? It looks like a thrilling ride.
It's due in theaters May 8, and there's already a sequel planned.
Live long and prosper
Is it just me or are there far fewer movies being released this year?
It’s not just me. A quick look back reveals that 24 different films appeared in at least one local movie house in March 2008. By contrast, 14 films will have been released over the same period in 2009.
David Lynch once called Nicolas Cage ''the jazz musician of actors.'' So what happened, Nic? A quick glance at your recent movies includes stuff like Bangkok Dangerous, National Treasure: Book of Secrets, Next, Ghost Rider and Wicker Man. That’s like Charlie Parker deciding to do Kenny G covers.
While I recognize and appreciate the undeniable creative juice expended in their creation, I admit to a blind spot when it comes to comic books (aka graphic novels to the genre’s serious devotees). I outgrew the form shortly after the death of Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew, which went out of print after a 20-issue run in the early 1980s. (Don’t ask how much I spent on a recent, eBay-procured mint copy of the first issue.)
Which brings me to Watchmen, probably the most anticipated movie our young, quality-deprived year to date.
The Academy Awards didn’t suck. Yes, the 81st annual industry wank-fest had its share of indelible moments, none more affecting than the graceful speeches by the two Milk-related winners: screenwriter Dustin Lance Black and actor Sean Penn.
I'm through bitching about how clueless the Academy is for overlooking my favorite films in favor of "geriatric coffeetable dogshit" (aka The Reader), as Christian Slater put it in True Romance. (To be fair, The Reader is slightly better than dogshit, mostly due to the presence of Kate Winslet.) Yes, I've finally accepted the Oscars for what it is: an industry wank-fest punctuated by a few moments of genuine spontaneity and/or emotion. Look for Slumdog Millionaire to clean up tonight despite not garnering a single acting nomination, which is almost unheard of for a Best Picture nominee. And look for an elaborately coiffed, sunglasses- and chain wallet-clad Mickey Rourke do something wonderfully eccentric while accepting the Best Actor Oscar.
A teaser trailer of Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds, which is still in production, has made its way to cyberspace. It’s being billed as his ensemble war flick/spaghetti western, and if the tone of this teaser is any indication, look for Basterds to lean toward the genre-pillaging frivolity of Death Proof and the Kill Bill films. (Personally, I was hoping for a return to Tarantino’s more emotionally satisfying heyday, especially the underrated Jackie Brown.)
February is a shitty month for movies.
Apparently spent from months of pimping dozens of Oscar-season hopefuls — several of which were among the Academy’s typically questionable nominees for Best Picture — the big studios try to hide their creatively challenged, largely retread releases in the annual cinematic dumpster known as February.
I came across this picture of Joaquin Phoenix today, which triggered a memory of my lone interaction with him. I ran into Phoenix at a film festival party a few years ago. I remember thinking at the time that no one could possibly be less suited for the intense Hollywood glare than this guy.