Opening April 6th:
It’s Like Mike Tyson Trying To Book A Fight In The Late 80’s
I Am The Hunger Games!
By 1989 Mike Tyson had so dominated and decimated the Heavyweight Division that there wasn’t just nobody left to fight, there was no one who wanted to fight Tyson. The Hunger Games is Mike Tyson. A couple of would be contenders challenged Katniss last week and got pummeled, so this week we aren’t left with much … unless you are crazy for Kate and Leo (see April 4th openings) or American Pie changed your life or Willem Dafoe is the straw that stirs your drink or you have Metropolitan and Barcelona playing on a loop in your home. Then, maybe this week is exactly what you have been waiting for, for everyone else know that the lines have hopefully died down a little so this may be your weekend to be Hungry and play Games.
Interest Level: 4
Did I like the original: Yeah, I put it at a Level VI actually
Before discussing or reading anything about this movie you need to answer the question “did I like the original?” If you didn’t move on to Damsels in Distress because there is 0% chance this movie is as good as the original. If you answered yes your second question is “did I like American Pie 2 and American Wedding?” If the answer is no, then your expectations are already tempered (and that may be a good thing as comedies more than any genre benefit from low expectations), if the answer is yes then you don’t need to hear from me to conclude you need to see this movie. If you are still undecided the last question you need to ask is “have the Harold & Kumar movies gotten better, worse or stayed the same in my opinion?” If the answer is worse (as it is for me) then you should severely really think about skipping this since the directors of Harold & Kumar are the ones taking on this outing of American Pie. For those who are still interested in seeing this I have one more bonus question, “is there any reason you need to spend $9 on a movie ticket to see this on a big screen when the film will be just as good on your TV 3 or 4 months from now?”
Damsels in Distress
Interest Level: 5
Do I secretly wish I was a pretentious college kid with no parental supervision: ABSOLUTELY
Whit Stillman is one of those directors who makes a certain kind of character much more interesting than they should be (or are in real life). In his case they are upper middle class white kids between the ages of 16 and 25. Smart, pretentious, quick with a quip and a hint of self awareness that they are out of touch with the world as it is, Stillman’s upper crust youth are struggling to find their way, its just their struggle and way are a bit different than most of the rest of us. Basically, they are a somewhat softened version of Catcher in the Rye. For those of you who think I am being critical I really don’t mean to be. I loved Metropolitan and Barcelona (I obnoxiously used to throw out the line “I get what the subtext is, but what’s above that?”) and I think The Last Days of Disco is not just good but is in fact very nearly brilliant, which is why, even though this trailer doesn’t look great I wouldn’t write this movie off entirely. But, my advice would be go watch Metropolitan and Barcelona and The Last Days of Disco first so you can see if Whit Stillman is your cup of tea.
We Have A Pope
Interest Level: 4
How would I rate the premise: 9 out of 10
The Pope and his therapist. Think of how many great things you could do with that. You could go funny or absurd; you could go dark and dramatic; you could go theological and philosophical. By all accounts this movie handles it all with a light touch and little desire to take the movie anyplace that might make anyone uncomfortable. It is a little surprising given the creative team behind this are the same people who made The Caiman, a scorching look at Italian businessman and Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. Maybe that is why this take a softer touch, and I’m sure it is well made and charming, it just isn’t biting and that is what I would be interested to see*.
*This has nothing to do with feeling I have about Catholicism (I really don’t have any feeling about Catholicism other than if it works for you that is great), just my interest in seeing an exploration of a man in a seat of power who by definition also must be a man of God. I would think there are a lot of interesting things one could mine there.
Bonus Trailer for The Caiman (Il Caiman)
Interest Level: 6
Interest Level if it were 1992: 8
Willem Dafoe and Sam Neil star in a movie about a mercenary who is sent to Tasmania to hunt for the last Tasmanian Tiger. The Hunter did pretty well in Australia (where it was made), well enough tat the filmmakers are spreading it out into new markets. Could this movie be great? Sure, Willem Dafoe is terrifically gifted (although usually more effective in smaller doses) and while the premise seems a bit out there (he is sent after the tiger by a mysterious biotech firm) it also looks like it will provide some great opportunities for interesting cinematography. Still, early reviews are tepid at best and for everything that might make it great there are a few that might make it bad.
Interest Level: 8
Odds of this appealing to a broad audience: 0%
It’s a gangster horror movie who’s inspiration was the Wikipedia page for The Odyssey! How Cool Is That! This is as independent as independent filmmaking gets from a director whose specialty has been short films (like I said, as independent as independent gets). The “shorts” thing gives me pause only because (as with short story writers who then write novels) changing from a short form to a long form is rarely done without problems, particularly with pacing. It seems like, more often than not, the “short film” director is either stretching a short story to a long form or (and this is more common), suddenly free of the forced editing from time constraints, the filmmaker wants to throw everything including the metaphorical kitchen sink into the movie. But who cares? It is a gangster horror movie that was inspired by the Wikipedia page for The Odyssey.
We The Party
Interest Level: 6
Interest Level after just reading the description: 0
Nothing about this sounds like it should be worth watching if you are over the age of 25. It has a poster that looks like an Usher album cover from 2002. It proudly touts that it will be dealing with teen issues such as Prom and Facebook and how to fit in. So why am I somewhat interested? First, there have been some really solid reviews, including one from SLANT magazine. Second, in 1991 Mario Van Peebles made a movie that had no business being good or socially relevant and ended up being bot (New Jack City) and many are comparing We The Party to that. Look, I will probably be disappointed, but I am still curious.
Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope
Interest Level: 8
On a scale from 1 to 10 how fascinated am I with Comic-Con: 6
Obviously, if you love Comic-Con and Morgan Spurlock’s brand of ‘entertaining documentaries’ than this is the film for you. Spurlock found the fans and celebrity fans so engaging he has taken himself almost entirely out of this (a big change as anyone who has seen Supersize Me or The Greatest Movie Ever Sold knows). I’m sure this will be a kick, the big question is will it be a kick for 88 minutes? I’m willing to risk it, but if you think Comic-Con is silly then maybe you shouldn’t.
Interest Level: 4
Odds of remembering what this movie is when I see it on my cable guide a year from now as I flip through the channels at 2 am when I can’t sleep seeing what is on STARZ Extreme? 10%
I’m sure this is inoffensive and basically exactly what you might expect from the premise (three co-workers get stuck in a secluded ATM by an unknown man). And Alice Eve is very attractive so I suppose there are worse ways to spend 90 minutes than watching her, but I am equally as sure there are better ways to spend the same 90 minutes.
Take Me Home
Interest Level: 4
Number of times you will say “where have I seen that guy again?” to whomever you are watching this movie with: 5 before you look him up on IMDB
A road trip rom-com from supporting actors who you will recognize but can’t quite remember from where. This is a little like Friends With Kids from a month ago. Someone who isn’t a star making the comedy they want to make. You might expect that comedy to have an edge, but this one really doesn’t. It aspires (in as much as it has aspiration) to be like Flirting With Disaster, a rom-com with an underlying dramatic family tale. Will it succeed? Yes and no. I’m sure it is fine and it will have its fans, just as I am pretty sure I won’t be one of them.
Nothing this week is really even trying to be anything more than a niche offering. I have to wonder how long will this last? How long will the studios keep releasing nothing? Until May 4th when The Avengers comes along? I hope not that long, but we will just have to wait and see. I do have to say, Keyhole and Comic-Con have me interested though.
But what do I know. I haven’t seen these movies and I’m fat.