Weekend Forecast: 9/7/07

Jodie Foster in The Brave One (2007).
Jodie Foster in Neil Jordan’s The Brave One (2007)

I’ve already covered 94.2% of these films in the previous post so the blurbs in this week’s Weekend Forecast will be somewhat abbreviated.

In wide release this week:

  • The Brave One. So, is it just Death Wish with a woman instead of a man? I’m willing to give Neil Jordan (The Crying Game) and Jodie Foster the benefit of a doubt, but whether I run out and see it right away is another question altogether.
  • Mr. Woodcock. Whatever hope I had for this is rapidly fading the more I think about it. It’s got a first time director who spent 16 years in commercials and two screenwriters who’ve sold other screenplays (including a couple that went for $2 million each), but this is the first to actually become a film.
  • Dragon Wars. This is the one about dragons wrecking L.A. Sure, when I was a kid I’d have called sitting in front of the TV and watching some dude in a rubber monster suit stomping on models of buildings a good day. I’m not a kid now, but anything is possible I guess. Anyway, it’s reportedly the most expensive film ever made in Korea where it’s racking up The Host-like numbers at the box office.

As usual, there are more interesting prospects in the limited releases:

  • Eastern Promises. Opens in a handful of theaters this weekend and then goes wide on the 21st. Still don’t really know what it’s all about or what to expect, but I can’t wait. I’ll probably put out a reminder next week when it opens wide.
  • In the Valley of Elah. Self-important, pretentious, Oscar-bait twaddle ala Crash and Babel? We’ll see. Yeah, still having a problem keeping an open mind.
  • Across the Universe. Yeah…I don’t know. I want this to be good, but alarm bells keep going off. A beautiful looking, simplistic, musical/romance could be delightful or it could be eye-gougingly painful.
  • King of California. I’m more likely to see the Evan Rachel Wood movie this weekend than Across the Universe. I like Michael Douglas in the smaller films ala Wonderboys.
  • Darkon. Opens in NY for a week and then possibly falls off the face of the cinema planet altogether.
  • Silk. Keira Knightley is getting great reviews for the upcoming Atonement, but you don’t hear much at all about Silk. Early reviews say it’s empty and boring. Truth be told, the jury is still out for me on Knightley as an actress and I didn’t care for Michael Pitt much in The Dreamers.
  • December Boys. Let’s see if Harry Potter can really act.
  • Great World of Sound. Oddly interesting looking indie tragicomedy about two aspiring music producers who have just been trained by a record company and then sent out into the world to find new talent who will then pay fees as part of their recording contracts. All seems well until it begins to appear the record company isn’t being exactly honest.
  • Moondance Alexander. A little girl, a horse and ZzzZZzzzzzzZZzzz….
  • Pete Seeger: The Power of Song. Documentary about the legendary folk singer/activist.

13 thoughts on “Weekend Forecast: 9/7/07

  1. Probably the most mixed week of releases in a while, considering Eastern Promises is in there as a limited release. For the most part, the wide releases all induce yawns in me. I’m really eagerly awaiting Eastern Promises though.

    I just can’t get over my Haggis issues to see Valley of Elah, but something tells me it’s going to be in the Oscar-baiting bloggerati’s craw for a few months at least. I don’t know, maybe. I like the actors in it at least. Someone needs to give Jeffrey Wells something to hype for the next four months, right?

    Across the Universe looks and sounds like a massive train wreck. Part of me is actually curious.

    The Brave One looks like a movie that will be playing on expanded basic cable for years and years to come.

    Mr Woodcock: As much as I like Billy Bob, I equally loathe Seann William Scott so unless this one is a treasure trove of comedy, I’m skipping it. Sorry, Billy Bob, but something tells me Mr Woodcock is paying the bills while you work on lesser mainstream scripts. I’ll be waiting for those movies.

    Darkon…I await thee. Bring on the dorks.

  2. I think the Haggis hatred is kind of funny. Not because I think he’s a great filmmaker so far (I don’t), but because I think he’s just one of an indiscriminate group of Oscar groupies who release boring, prestige movies every few years or so.

    I saw Crash on DVD, before it was Crash-Worst Best Picture Winner Ever Made (unless they take Gump’s oscar back this will never be true to begin with) and I essentially thought it to be what would happen if M.Night Shyamalan made a social conscience picture. It’s got Shymalan’s very false characters, and telegraphed setup-punchline-setup-punchline structure.

    I don’t like it that much, but I basically thought it was no worse than anything like that that the critics shit themselves over ever year and then promptly forget about. And I will take Crash over much of notorious oscar whore Lasse Hallstrom’s output.

    Million Dollar Baby actually bugs me more than Crash, but Eastwood has been making overrated, obvious, cheesy movies way before Haggis got on the scene. At least Haggis wrote the cool Casino Royale. Most of these guys can’t even rouse themselves to stray from Oscar that much.

    No, I’m not too excited about Elah, I feel like I’ve seen this already, but I’m not outraged, I see it as more of the same old, same old, so I’ll just skip it. Though Jones may eventually persuade me to fold on that plan.

  3. Brave One could be a fine weekend matinee. I generally always like Jodie Foster (though I never did see Flightplan).

    As for Haggis…well I admit I’m unfair towards him. Is he any worse than Ron Howard (the bad one, not the one who did stuff like Night Shift) or Ed Zwick or, yes, Lasse Hallstrom (I really did love My Life as a Dog though)…no. But as I’ve said before, there’s a smugness to that guy. An “I’m the smart kid in the class” quality that really rubs me the wrong way. He’s the nurse talking to you in the sweet, sanctimonious voice as he gives you your medicine.

    I don’t share everyone’s post-Unforgiven adoration of Eastwood though Iwo was pretty good except for the bits I like to pin on Haggis.

    As for Casino Royale? I continue to question how much of it was Haggis. As I understand it, he revised the original screenplay, but I’m not sure of the extent of his overall input and I’m too lazy to find out. Even if it’s all Haggis, a male fantasy spy picture (which I loved) is a different animal than an awkward stab at Stanley Kramer-like social significance.

    It’s fair to admit that I never actually saw Million Dollar Baby. There was a wiff of something unpleasant about it that kept me away for the longest time though I kept meaning to go see it. Eventually the ending was totally blown for me in an innocuous looking and totally unrelated column by a certain LA Weekly writer (who will remain nameless because I’ve already had the misfortune of receiving a tersely worded email from her regarding a misstatement I made).

    Anyway. I ramble. I aim to see Elah because I’m sure we’ll be hearing about it again come Oscar nomination time, but if I come out of it totally hating it, you know to take my opinion very lightly.

    And damnit, I aim to see Across the Universe. If I never say another word about it, it’s probably because it got panned everywhere else but I kind of liked it and am too embarassed to admit it.

  4. I’m not sure about Haggis’ involvement in Casino Royale, but the other two listed as co-writers wrote the largely atrocious Brosnan pictures, so it would come to figure that Haggis played a significant role in the film’s evolution. I feel like I’ve read somewhere that he did a page one over haul, but that may be Haggis’s ego talking.

    I’m avoiding Across the Universe with extreme prejudice. I think it looks god AWFUL, and I know it wasn’t made for people like me, so I will politely sit that one out.

    I’m glad that Thornton is getting some cash reworking his Bad Santa role (he did it in the entirely uninspired Bad News Bears remake too) but I don’t feel the need to see said cash in. The trailer was decent as those things go, but I’m tired of light comedies that pretend to play darker than they really are.

  5. Didn’t mean to sound so militant. That was directed at UNIVERSE, not the desire to see it. I certainly see a fair amount of crap (some of which I even like) every year.

  6. No worries about the militancy (coughyoumoviefacistcough) I was laughing to myself as I typed my tepid defense and it was born purely of a feeling that, if I see it, I’ll get what’s coming to me…which is to leave the theater looking like I just swallowed a bug.

    And of course I’m kidding about the movie facist remark. Frankly, with the overwhelming middle-of-the-roadness of so many movies, I think the world needs a little more movie militancy.

  7. Well I don’t mean to belabor the Haggis commentary because honestly, he’s really no more evil than most of the other hack writers and directors in Hollywood responsible for 85% of the yearly film output, but I will see your Forest Gump and raise you a Dances with Wolves, Chuck.

    Even with the annoyance factor of Gump, one can’t deny the crime against humanity that was Dances with Wolves beating Goodfellas for Best Picture. It’s a pretty good argument for having a cabal of film critics doling out the awards in lieu of the crowd of blue-haired Academy members. Crash is just one more in a long line of nods to the cheap seats.

    As for Haggis himself, he’s not the worst but his desire to school me on social issues and his profound lack of anything original, complex, or even mildly interesting to say on said social issues makes me hate the guy. I’m not completely convinced he’s singularly responsible for all the weaknesses in his contributions to Eastwood’s filmography, but after Crash his taint is fairly substantial.

    And I would put forth that since Unforgiven, Eastwood’s acting and directing have both been going downhill. Way downhill. I think Letters from Iwo Jima succeeds partly only because in comparison to the horribly flawed Flags of our Fathers, it appears to be at least narratively semi-coherent. Otherwise, the further I get from it the less I like it.

    But then I’m a cranky bastard, so take all my comments with a grain of salt. Plus, I’m not in a great mood. Make that two grains of salt.

  8. I think Eastwood’s best post-Unforgiven film is the underrated, beautiful executed Bridges of Madison County. Admittedly its been a while, but it felt restrained at the time, and it may be Clint’s best on-screen performance.

    I love Unforgiven, and I think early stuff such as Play Misty for Me and High Plains Drifter are effective genre pieces, but he began to lose it when all the pointy head academics decided he was a “genius.” I think Eastwood read one too many of these articles and began to agree.

    I’ll even take totally run of the mill Eastwood (True Crime, Absolute Power, hell, even the rather ridiculous Blood Work) over much of his recent out put.

    Mystic River is a crackling mystery/character study desperately trying to escape from out from under Eastwood’s lifeless “profundity” as well as some pretty self-congratulatory performances. Agree with you guys on Baby, and Flags. Iwo Jima did move me, and strikes me as a step in the right direction, but there was some missteps that you guys have already pointed out.

    This whole lecture is, of course, apropos of absolutely nothing, thanks for the patience.

  9. Funny you mentioned Bridges Chuck because I caught part of it on TV the other night for the first time (weird some of the massively popular things I tend to skip). I didn’t have time to stick around and watch it, but I surprised myself by really getting into it. More than anything it was Streep playing off the typically minimalist Eastwood that really grabbed me. The framing element with the grown kids wasn’t doing much for me, but I did like the flashback bits.

  10. Well you may have an excellent point there Chuck, as I have not seen Bridges of Madison County. Heck, I forgot he was even involved with that movie.

    I also think Mystic River would have been a better movie if they had revamped the screenplay a bit. Everything else about it is pretty effective (I didn’t find Sean Penn as annoying as some people did) but the narrative is just too…I don’t know. too something. Maybe too much of a couple things.

    I will add Madison County into my list of movies to check out. Thanks, Chuck.

  11. I’m actually quite intrigued about “the Brave One”, I’ll be seeing it on the 21st. Across the Universe? It’ll probably be horrible, but I’ll definitely be there opening day to watch it fall apart, it’s bound to be fascinating. Of course, being in the Netherlands, opening day isn’t until….next Valentine’s day.

    Oh well, Across the Universe I can wait for. What I really can’t wait for, however, is Eastern Promises (which luckily comes out here relatively early, in November). I absolutely loved A History of Violence, and well, this one inspired Dana Stevens over at Slate to write: “If you saw A History of Violence, you know Mortensen can fuck up a guy something fierce, but till you’ve seen him do it buck naked and covered in mob tattoos, you haven’t lived.” Who could resist?

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