Opening November 30th: There Are Different Kinds Of Dumping Grounds

Did You Know That The Weekend Following Thanksgiving Weekend Is Traditionally One Of The Worst Weekends Of The Year To Release A New Film?

Maybe it is because people are burned out from the turkey and family and shopping of last weekend, or maybe when people do go to the theater this weekend it is to catch up on one of the many big releases they have missed that have been flooding cineplexes for the last few weeks. Maybe this weekend is simply a natural ebb between the flow of Thanksgiving films and the oncoming wave of Christmas movies. For whatever the reason this weekend is a kind of strange no man’s land for new releases, a place where studios dump films whose aspirations are for awards and prestige, not box office success or blockbuster status. In other words, this is a weekend filled with movies that you will more than likely not see and, with the exceptions of a Brad Pitt movie, will never play in a theater near you unless you live in LA or trendy parts of Brooklyn and lower Manhattan. These are some of my favorite kinds of weekends to write about, but they may not be the best weekends if you are looking for something like Wreck-It Ralph or Skyfall.

Killing Them Softly
Interest Level: 8
Is The Assassination Of Jesse James … Worth Watching: Yes, But Don’t Get Your Hopes Too High

There are a few things that should give you hope about this Brad Pitt gangster flick. The first two movies that Andrew Dominic wrote and directed (Chopper and the aforementioned The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford) were both really good. Brad Pitt is always at his best when he is playing “characters” that are not typical leading men (also, if his hair is strange it seems to help him). Ray Liotta and James Gandolfini lead a strong supporting cast. And the Weinstein’s felt good enough about this story about an enforcer sent to town to return order to a criminal underworld reeling from a botched robbery of a “protected” card game to move the release date from October to the last weekend of November where it is the only wide release and is better primed for awards consideration. So shouldn’t I be more excited? Well, while both of Andrew Dominic’s earlier films are very good neither is truly great and both are benefitted greatly if the viewer goes in with lower expectations. Pitt is terrific, but this is a slow movie and his enforcer his understated throughout. And, like I said at the outset of this post, this weekend is notoriously awful for new releases, so how much confidence do the Weinstein’s really have? When it is all said an done my guess is this movie will fall in line with Dominic’s first two movies, disappointing at the box office but in time it will develop a loyal following and will live a long life on BluRay.

The Collection
Interest Level: 6
Did You Ever See The Collector: I Saw The Last Half

For those who are unaware there is a whole indie-horror world out there. They have conventions and websites and everything. We’re not talking Roger Corman or Troma Films stuff (although they are considered a part of it to a degree) we’re talking hard core, disturbing stuff. I mention this because The Collection is a sequel to The Collector which in turn was a film of some note in the indie-horror world. Never heard of it. Of course not, because you don’t inhabit that world. And, seeing as you don’t inhabit that world and this is the kind of movie that is made pretty specifically for said world the odds are this is not the movie for you. Make sense?

Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning
Interest Level: 5
Did You See The Original In A Theater: Yes I Did and I Say That With An Odd Amount Of Pride

Let’s be honest, this is a direct to DVD release masking as a limited release. On the bright side it does bring back the original universal soldiers, Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren. Apparently the third Universal Soldier movie did well enough, coupled with the relative success of The Expendables and its sequel, that the distributors of this masterpiece thought it stood a chance at the multiplex. It doesn’t really and who cares anyway. This will be wonderful late night viewing on VOD or if you can somehow manage to wait on STARZ in about 3 months.

Talaash
Interest Level: 5
Will You Seek It Out: Probably Not

If you thought Bollywood was all musical numbers and choreographed dancing here is the movie that will show you that there is quite a bit more to Indian cinema. A thriller about a cop, a housewife and a prostitute he find themselves enmeshed in a situation that shows their lives are more connected then they ever imagined, Talaash shows the world that over a billion people require more from their movie industry than one kind of movie.

Dragon
Interest Level: 6
Will You Seek It Out: Probably

While Talaash shows the world a less expected side of Indian cinema Dragon is exactly the kind of movie we expect to see from Hong Kong. A martial artist and criminal looks to start a peaceful life in a new village but he is doggedly pursued by a detective and his former mater. Awesome, right? Well, it is if you are into this kind of thing and it will probably seem nonsensical if you are not into it. So, are you into it?

California Solo
Interest Level: 5
Because Of Robert Carlyle: And For No Other Reason

A former British pop star finds himself in danger of being deported from his home in Los Angeles after receiving a DUI. In order to stay in his long time home he must face his demons or some such thing. Robert Carlyle can make just about anything interesting but this looks an awful lot like an episode of Californication with an English accent.

Hencho en Mexico
Interest Level: 5
A Lot Of 5’s and 6’s This Week: Like I said, A Bit Of A Dumping Ground Of The Good Not Great

If you are sick of Mexico being portrayed as a country filled with only drug dealers, extreme poverty and people who are trying to illegally cross the border than you have a kindred spirit in Duncan Bridgeman. He was so fed up with the way Mexico was being portrayed that he decided to make a documentary presenting the most iconic artists and performers in Mexico to show the world how much more their is to this country than what we see discussed in political debates about immigration policy. To his credit he doesn’t beat you over the head with the reasoning behind his documentary he simply lets these wonderfully talented people do their thing, allowing that to make his point for him.

Beware of Mr. Baker
Interest Level: 6
Who’s Your Favorite Rock Drummer Of All Time: Keith Moon

Any list of greatest drummers in rock history will have John Bonham, Keith Moon and Neil Pert in some order at the top, but before any of those three became legends there was Ginger Baker, the original superstar drummer. Ginger Baker was the drummer for Cream, one of the most influential bands of “the British revolution” and for many the greatest rock trio ever assembled. After Cream disbanded Ginger Baker joined Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood in Blind Faith, one of rock’s first “supergroups”. Blind Faith didn’t last long (one year basically) and Ginger Baker left rock to pursue jazz and world music and over time he just kind of disappeared. Now, I need to make two points; first, I am proud to say I knew all that stuff about Cream, Blind Faith and Ginger Baker without having to do any research (I know that is about as impressive as saying I am familiar with the work of David Lean, but I am no rock historian so I was proud of myself). Second, if you are under the age of 45 do you know or care about either of those bands and by extension who their drummer was? This movie is getting some oscar buzz and apparently Bakers journey through self destruction and world music is fascinating, I’m just not sure if it will be broadly fascinating.

Back To 1942
Interest Level: 4
If I Saw Aftershock Will I Want To See This: I Don’t Know, Did You Enjoy Aftershock?

In 1942 a deadly drought grips a Chinese province as the country fights Japan in WWII. Director Feng’s last film, Aftershock, was a huge hit in China and he seems to be mimicking the formula a little bit with his follow up. Both films are about the aftermath of a disaster (an earthquake in Aftershock and the drought in Back to 1942) and each are gorgeously filmed and well acted. The problem is that while Aftershock was filled with engaging characters that made you invest into all accounts are that Back to 1942 misses that emotional center and becomes a very well filmed snore-fest.

Addicted To Fame
Interest Level: 8
This Is The Movie You Are Most Excited About This Week: You Will Be Too, Just Read On

For some reason, probably because they knew how bizarre the experience was becoming, the people making what turned out to be Anna Nicole Smith’s last movie, Illegal Aliens, filmed everything that was going on behind the scenes. As this movie was being filmed and marketed while Anna Nicole Smith was spiraling out of control and toward her eventual death (right before the movie was about to be released) the filmmakers found themselves at the heart of the second most covered story of 2007 (only the war in Iraq received more media coverage that year than Anna Nicole Smith and her passing). Addicted to Fame references not only Smith’s own love/hate media relationship but also how the filmmakers found themselves getting sucked into the world, trying to manipulate that world and ultimately being used by that world. That makes this sound serious but mostly this movie is about the comedy of watching this train wreck. And watching the trailer makes you know the unaware comedy is non-stop.

note: do not be tempted to watch Illegal Aliens! It is unbearably bad. I couldn’t even make through the whole thing.

Conclusion

A dumping ground for documentaries and horror and action movies that should be direct to DVD and are still fun viewing for those who are into those genres, and foreign films and a Brad Pitt movie. Its kind of like a clean waste dump, nothing stinks it is just filled with stuff that most people don’t really want.

But hey, what do I know, I’m fat.