The post-awards/pre-summer movie season trudges on with a curious collection of releases in a variety of genres: we’ve got another romantic comedy starring Jennifer "I Do Movies to Get a Boyfriend" Aniston (The Bounty Hunter), a futuristic thriller (Repo Men), a family-friendly teen thing (The Wimpy Kid Diaries) and even a 3-D IMAX documentary (Hubble).
I try to stay away from movie trailers as much as possible — either because they rarely give you an accurate idea of what a movie is truly about or because they reveal the entire thing in two minutes. (On the other hand, I suppose I'd rather spend a few minutes with something like Tron: Legacy or The Tourist than sit through two mind-numbing hours.)
An example of the first reason is on display in the difference between the theatrical trailer version of No Strings Attached (which is set to open wide Jan. 21) and its much racier red band version.
Lee Daniels’ Precious, which won audience awards at both the Sundance and Toronto film festivals, has drawn largely positive reviews for its unblinking look at a 16-year-old black female dealing with myriad challenges, including but certainly not limited to a serious weight problem, a monstrous mother, an incestuous father and an ineffective school system.
Yet Precious also has its detractors, none more vociferous than The New York Press’ Armond White, a critic who has never shied away from airing his contrarian views.
This time I was struck by how different Jaws is compared to the sleek, sequel-laden, CGI-driven summer fare of today. Watching a drunken Quint (a thoroughly convincing Robert Shaw) stomp aroundJaws' grimy, pathetic boat — which is a character unto itself — is welcome aesthetic shift from the alienating pixelated mayhem of Thor, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Captain America and the like.
Versatile special-effects maestro Shane Mahan knows his summer blockbusters — he's worked with everyone from Steven Spielberg and James Cameron to Tim Burton and Jon Favreau.
"They are the best communicators, and I think they’re also the best visionaries,” Mahan says.
Mahan is something of a visionary himself.
I was having lunch with a friend yesterday when the topic of my favorite movies of 2008 came up. She had read my Top 10 list in this week’s CityBeat and complained about the fact that I presented them in alphabetical order instead of ranking them from 1 to 10.
I tried to explain my reasons for doing so — something pretentious about how ranking art devalues it and the fact that the order could change based on my mood on any given day — but she wasn’t hearing it.
The summer movie season is closing with a flurry: Recent weeks have given us such diverse, worthwhile fare as Funny People, The Girl from Monaco, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, (500) Days of Summer, Ponyo, District 9 and the best film of the year so far, Kathryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker.
Nowhere has that sentiment been more obvious than at the multiplex, where a smattering of offerings have been pretty solid (Bridesmaids, Fast Five, Kung Fu Panda 2, Super 8, X-Men: First Class) and a smorgasbord have been solidly (if not heinously) flawed (Bad Teacher, Cars 2, Green Lantern, The Hangover Part II, Larry Crowne, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Thor and Transformers: Dark of the Moon, to the pinpoint the most obvious culprits).
Contemporary movie trailers suck. Not only are they — like most of the movies they pimp — typically lowest-common-denominator dumb but they also mislead viewers about a given movie’s true nature in an attempt to entice the broadest possible audience. (For example, check out the stupid, disjointed Inglourious Basterds’ trailer, which tried to sell Quentin Tarantino’s arty, longwinded, multilingual revenge epic as a straightforward Brad Pitt-centered World War II action flick.)