Weekend Forecast: 11/9/07

Ethan & Joel: The Brothers Coen 

This week, the only movie that really matters:

  • No Country for Old Men. Ok, I know I usually put the wide releases first, but tough shit. For me, the Coen Brothers movie is the movie of the year. It’s the movie of the last several years actually. Here’s supposedly how the release is going to go: 23 screens (or is it theaters? I never know) this weekend. Then it expands some on the 16th and then it goes into wide release on the 21st. A word of warning to you anal retentive spoiler avoiders like me: Hubbub about ‘the ending’ is all over the internet so you’d best avoid any Country related discussions. I swear to god I don’t understand internet critic’s need to be first with a review.

Opening this week in wide release:

  • Lions for Lambs. Redford. Streep. Cruise. War on Terror. Yawn. Andrew Sarris says: “Plays out as a mountain of self-righteously guilt-ridden rhetoric perched on a molehill of narrative.” Ouch, that’s gonna leave a mark. Hey did you hear? There’s a new Coen movie coming out.
  • Fred Claus. Shit like this almost makes me hate Christmas. Thank the media gods for How The Grinch Stole Christmas (the book and the cartoon, not How Ron Howard Stole My Childhood), A Charlie Brown Christmas, Bad Santa, It’s a Wonderful Life and Die Hard. Paul Giamatti has just about worn out the good will he earned with American Splendor and Sideways. I don’t begrudge a guy collecting a paycheck, but don’t push it. Yep, new Coen movie. I shit you not.
  • P2. Businesswoman Rachel Nichols would like to get home for Christmas. Parking garage security guard Wes Bently would like her to stick around. Psychological thriller is co-written and co-produced by Alexandre Aja. Directed by Franck Khalfoun, one of the stars of Aja’s High Tension. Pssssst…Coen movie.

Expanding this weekend:

  • Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead

Limited releases:

  • Christmas In Wonderland. Swayze. Electra. Christmas. Makes Fred Claus look like Citizen Kane.
  • Holly. Nothing says ‘Happy Holidays’ like Vietnamese child prostitution.
  • National Lampoon Presents Electric Apricot. I was all ready to tune out right after “National Lamp….”, but then I saw it’s directed by Les Claypool and it’s a spoof about a Grateful Dead/Phish type band. So then I was interested for like 15 seconds and then I tuned out again.
  • Steal a Pencil for Me. Because….I want someone to eat cheese with?? I don’t know. Love story. Nazi occupied Holland. Good times.
  • War/Dance. If this was Michael Flatley, Lord of the Dance vs. 3 albino tigers jacked up on PCP in a steel cage death match, I would pay cash money to see it. But it’s not. It’s a documentary about three kids at a music and dance festival in war torn Northern Uganda….vs. Michael Flatley in a steel cage death match? No? Bummer.

24 thoughts on “Weekend Forecast: 11/9/07

  1. For me the movie of the year is either No Country or There Will Be Blood. I’ve read the latter’s script, and, on the page at least, it’s every bit as good as people have been claiming it to be. This could be one of the great American films of any decade, and I understand how I’m setting myself up by saying that.

    What can you say about the Coens? Anything they release should be an event, and their short in Paris J’Taime seemed to signal a return to the sort of flavor that people like most from them. I’ll say it right here though, I thought Intolerable Cruelty was funny, and The Ladykillers has the only interesting Tom Hanks performance in about, oh, I don’t know, a decade and a half.

  2. Heh heh…I’d love to mock all these movies but I’m afraid you’ve done such a damn fine job, I have nothing to add.

    Oh wait, I’d like to add The Ref to your list of counter-programming for Fred Claus. It ain’t perfect, but it’s damn funny and not entirely family friendly.

    No Country for Old Men is in No Portland Theaters for Old Joel, and I’m a little annoyed by that. Maybe I just wasn’t paying attention to their last 5 releases being limited, but I seem to remember these always hitting screens nationwide at the same time. Am I wrong? Probably. This is what I hate…limited release means spoiler-city on every web site I would normally visit for the next week at least. Dammit. Now I have to surf the internet in a hazmat suit, treating every single page load like it’s going to feature an in-depth visual explanation of a Dirty Sanchez.

    This is like having your birthday roll up and someone telling you they’re throwing you a huge, wonderful party but only in Los Angeles and New York. Maybe they’ll throw another party for you next week, maybe not. If not, then DEFINITELY the week after. You can read all about the parties in New York and Los Angeles, but you have to pay for your own plane ticket to attend. Course, in two weeks when they throw the belated birthday party in your town, it will be old news to everyone.

    Fucking Hollywood. We can trot out over-priced, under-written, over-acted sequels and remakes on 4000 screens world-wide every weekend all Summer long until your eyes bleed, but we can only release the new Coen Brothers movie, the one with critical acclaim and a large, built-in cult following, to 23 screens opening weekend.

    Yeah, I’m not bitter.

  3. As I said earlier this week Chuck, I like am an who’s not afraid to come out and say nice things about the Coen Brothers’ two bastard children. I like your glass-is-half-full approach, sir.

    I’m with you all the way on There Will Be Blood as well. The hype on that one is starting to get a little out of hand, but I think some of that is the need to be first and loudest on the internet.

    As for your City of Roses dilema Joel…that sucks and there are no two ways about it. I don’t remember platform releases of previous Coen movies either, but then they haven’t had an Oscar contender since Fargo.

    Heh heh…’Dirty Sanchez’ That’ll be good for some search engine hits…probably from the same guy who hasn’t gotten tired of “she masturbates him”. WTF??

  4. Ironically, if the Coen Brothers made a movie called Dirty Sanchez it would probably get a wide release simply because the marketing pinheads would assume that name recognition alone would equal asses in seats.

    And sadly, they’d probably be right.

  5. Being lucky enough to see TWbB, the script only seemed a strong launching pad for what we’ve previously talked about on these boards as pure cinema. Both in terms of how the director tells the story with his collaborators – in particular the cinematographer and composer – and how Daniel Day-Lewis conveys so much of Plainviews’ character and evolution in wordless ways. The film still strongly resonates with me 3 days later. Can’t wait to watch it a second time. These ones don’t come along that often.

  6. From the trivia section: “They recommended that a sequence featuring a man sucking excrement from the anus of a live rabbit would need to be removed before the film could be classified ’18’.”

    Yeah, I’m not sure this would open on 23 screens or more, but if it did it would probably be 23 screens I’d be afraid to visit.

    Nice one, Glimmer.

  7. Sartre,

    I had pretty much the same reaction. I was blown away, and I’m going to see it again as soon as it gets a proper release. I really hope that it at least makes more than “Assassination of Jesse James…” did, though I doubt it will be profitable.

    On the one hand, I’m grateful that these films have been made. They can’t take them away from us, no matter how poorly they do financially. (They could refuse to release them on DVD, but that would be stupid.)

    But I also fear that this is the last gasp of this kind of filmmaking, at least for a number of years, because the money guys will be more reluctant than ever to greenlight expensive auteurist period pieces. AOJJ and TWBB could be this year’s equivalent of Heaven’s Gate in terms of impact on the industry.

    But hey, enough of my yakkin’! No Country.. opens today!

  8. Frank, my guess is that it’ll easily do better business than JJ. Film buffs will make the effort with a P.T. Anderson film and the renown of Daniel Day-Lewis’ performance will also attract more interest. It could also generate interest from what seems likely to be more consistent critical acclaim. But without significant awards success I suspect the domestic box office will be sub-20 million.

    I judge both films cinematic masterpieces, and I too am scared that the lack of box-office they generate will dissuade studios and other investors from funding such ambitious and costly films (relative to most arthouse fare). I’m so thankful that we’ll be able to enjoy repeated viewings of them over time, and in HD. What a shame JJ is fading so fast – its reputation will undoubtedly grow in coming years.

    For what they’re worth Frank, I unpacked some of my thoughts about TWbB in an AD thread. This might feel like a little too much information for those who are yet to see it.


  9. The good news about Jesse James is that it only cost $30 million to produce and seemingly about 47 cents to advertise. The bad news is that it has only made $6 or $7 million worldwide.

    Worse, it peaked in 301 theatres and the number is now down to 294.

  10. Worldwide!? That is depressing. I hope this doesn’t put the kibosh on Andrew Dominick’s career.

    I’m still mystified as to why the studio didn’t even make an effort. Brad Pitt is certainly a bigger box office draw than DDL. It’s already gone from here. I’m confident it will play the Castro eventually, so I can finally see it on a real screen.

    Sartre, I’ll take a look at that link. But I must warn you, sir: next contest, I will drink your milkshake!

    And tomorrow, we’ll finally see just how tough those St. Louis Park boys are, friendo.

  11. It’s only just opened in overseas markets and still has the UK to come, but the initial box office returns are sadly sluggish.

    Bring it on, Frank. I’m batting 2 for 2. That Craig simply can’t throw a curb ball 🙂

  12. I hope it picks up overseas, but even if it does, $3+ million stateside is sad and it’s in less theaters now than at its peak.

    I’m still kicking around ideas for the next contest, but I’ll hopefully have something soon once this festival is over.

  13. Curb ball? Is that a testicular variation on Edward Norton’s signature stomp? Ow.

    I just had to use the line — you know which one. Now just watch as both of us get humiliated by some newcomer next time.

    Just got back from No Country for Old Men. Yeah, the boys are back. Still mulling over the ending, though. I’ve been saying that a lot lately.

    I will say that I haven’t seen this many bleak, grim and hopeless movies since the Seventies. (Not that I actually saw them then, except maybe on TV when I was allowed to stay up, but you get the idea.) Maybe I need Prozac, but I consider this a good thing — or at least I do when they’re as well made as this recent batch have been. A rare year, possibly the best since ’99.

    Sartre, I found your coments on TWBB interesting, but of course, we can’t discuss them for another month or two. I guess that’s the downside of advance screenings.

  14. frank, I’d like to strongly encourage you and everyone else to read McCarthy’s book. The necessities of film adaptation resulted in the exclusion of content that clarifies and deepens the emotional resonance of the ending.

    I love the film but I wish the Coen’s included just a few more crucial lines of conversation and reflection from the book towards the end. I know the ending already works brilliantly for many. But it might have won over even more by taking a little more from the book.

    Look forward to that future discussion re TWbB. Like JJ it offers fertile ground aplenty.

  15. My name isn’t Frank, but I’ve got No Country on the way from my friendly local public library.

    I have to say though, usually when I see a movie and read the book after, I like the movie more. We’ll see.

    In the end, I’m content to let books do what they do best and let movies do what movies do best and never the twain shall meet.

  16. I agree it’s not a competition between film and book. I enjoy both versions of No Country. But McCarthy’s book is a great read no matter where it falls – before or after the film. And if certain ideas in the film deepened the experience of it then you’ll probably warm to them being expressed in a fuller way through the written word.

  17. Sartre,

    I wanted to read it, and went looking at the library a few months ago. It was out, so I checked out The Road instead. I have to confess that I’ve never been able to abide McCarthy’s style in the past, so it was the first book of his that I made it past page one on. I did like it, though, and plan to read more. Maybe it’s time to finally tackle the infamous Blood Meridian.

    Pretty certain I read that a film of The Road is planned. Not sure if this is a good idea.

    Has either of you ever read Denis Johnson? Also vaguely apocalyptic, but in a very different way.

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