Friday, November 28, 2008

Now Playing: Gay Activism, High Concept Merriment, and Sun-Blasted Romance

Only four movies dare stare-downs with Edward & Bella (Twilight) in their second week of Harlequined romance. Your new releases, from least to most screens (links go to trailers)

Milk - In the grand tradition of most of the best movies of any given year *sigh*, this straightforward but artful and expertly acted bio of a great American is only available to you if you live in big cities. The rest of you will have to wait until Dec 5th or 12th. It's worth the wait.

Transporter 3 -Surprising but true fact: I have never seen a Jason Statham movie despite finding him to be one sexy m*********

Australia -It took visionary Baz Luhrman (i.e. the wizard of Oz) 8 years to make a follow up to Moulin Rouge! You can blame that on his aborted production of Alexander the Great (which was to have starred Leonardo DiCaprio, Mel Gibson & Nicole Kidman) and his general filmmaking timetables. Movie # 5 coming sometime in 2013. This epic WW II adventure romance is very much a MOVIE. Read the review.

Four Christmases -Vince & Reese are described as a "happily unmarried couple" in the synopsis of this holiday flick. Which means you know it will end with their engagement or marriage and maybe even a pregnancy announcement. If we've learned anything about mainstream Hollywood all quadrant efforts they are totally into reinforcing heternormativity which means we can't have our Miss Witherspoon living in sin with no feeling for children. But first this unwed couple have to (presumably) learn life lessons by reluctantly visiting their broadly comic families. Am I getting warmer? (Tell me if you've seen it.)

Expect it to be a massive hit --top ten of '08, easy-- because there's baby vomit in the trailer and apparently baby vomit is hi-lar-ious! Possible silver lining: the cast (Vaugh, Witherspoon, Favreau, Chenowith, Duvall, Steenburgen, Spacek, Voight) is rather merry: Five Oscar winners for a high concept family flick? It's like they're trying to one-up Meet the Fockers.

Are you seeing something new this weekend?
*

34 comments:

Beau said...

Saw 'Twilight' (the appeal still evade me, but it wasn't god-awful), and 'Four Christmases' with my family (again, not dreadful, and actually had some moments that had me busting up. Usually on account of Vaughn or Duvall. No chemistry between the leads, color-by-numbers screenplay, but oddly enough it had a certain appeal. Not going to question it, just glad I had such a good time with the fam.)

mrripley said...

why is reese making this kind of shit!!!!

Krauthammer said...

I'm going to see either "The Changeling" or "W" at my local second-run theater. Neither of them got good reviews, but oh well.

I'm so disappointed that Four Christmases looks so awful, it's directed by Seth Gordon, who did the under-appreciated King of Kong last year.

Catherine said...

Saw What Just Happened today because my afternoon was totally free and I had nothing better to do. The only other film opening today I'd even consider seeing is Changeling but I'm seeing that with my mam tomorrow. It was alright, rather pedestrian and I did NOT need to see deNiro in his undies. Old deNiro, at any rate.

I can't even describe how jealous I am that you guys get to see Milk and Australia this week. Last time I checked, Milk doesn't even have a release date yet. I'd say January some time. And Australia drops on St.Stephens' Day. Which is far too long to wait!

FDot said...

I'm passing on Australia for a week or two till the crowds die down. I think the only movie I'll take in this weekend is "I've Loved You So Long".

Rob said...

FDot: Sadly, I don't think you'll have to fight many crowds to get into "Australia"


**SPOILERS ON "FOUR CHRISTMASES"**
Nathaniel's call is indeed correct. Reese and Vince spend much of the movie giving spot-on rants on why they don't want to get married or have kids, only for the movie to end with them in the delivery room cradling their newborn... who then vomits on Reese. Then the movie ends.

And I have no doubt it'll be a hit... aren't American moviegoers awesome?

Anonymous said...

'Five Oscar winners for a high concept family flick? It's like they're trying to one-up Meet the Fockers.'

Yeah, their trying to one up Meet the Fockers in the vein of, 'Lets get as many SELLOUTS in one BAD movie as possible!'
Well done. It worked.

Hayden said...

Why on Earth is Sex and the City so far down on your Best Costume predictions?

Billy D said...

Saw Milk with the in-laws...I have some mixed feelings on it all together, especially with Sean Penn. The movie as a whole I thought was, let's say, 8.5/10. Ok, 9/10. I have to be honest and say some parts dragged for me, and James Franco annoys the crap out of me (but Emile Hirsch was fantastic, and I've been quite bored by him in the past). I couldn't help but feel that some of the overall "giddiness" of Penn's performance (which is nice to see) reminded me scarily of I Am Sam.

HOWEVER, it is immeasurably pleasurable to see a film about a happy gay man. Fantastic. And one in which there was no discernable top/bottom relationship to make the heteros feel more secure about who the "man" is. The script was great, if a little fact-packed, but I understand that necessity.

So, best film I've seen all year so far. Can't wait to see Australia.

adam k. said...

You had mixed feelings about Milk, but it's your favorite film of the year? Yikes.

Anonymous said...

what's your grade for Australia (2nd time)?

-Tina

NATHANIEL R said...

I have not seen Australia a second time. My friends chose the holiday movie since I'd seen everything and they went with MILK

mrripley said...

why is reese making this kind of shit!!!!

Glenn said...

I'm hoping to get a seat at an exclusive month-in-advance screening of I've Loved You So Long on Sunday morning. It's a first-come-first-seated deal so I hope I get in.

Y Kant Goran Rite said...

Another reason that Luhrmann flicks might take so long to manufacture is that our man Baz has no real vision, only the superficial beginnings of a vision, so he does things like write six endings and shoot three and spends twice as long on finding the right costume to set off Nicole Kidman's botox than he does on dialogue. Maybe.

Y Kant Goran Rite said...

Glenn, how did you hear about that 'Loved You So Long' screening and where is it?

Anonymous said...

your friends chose milk over australia? what was the vote?

Anonymous said...

Saw Australia. Beautiful. And a real crowd pleaser - audiences are clapping and generally very positive about the film. I hope that BO goes up.

I find it incredible how Baz's intended audiences loved it, but the critics just hate it. O well, I thought it was just fabulous. 10/10.

Anonymous said...

yes, i hope that audiences come around to australia in the next few weeks...

Kevin D. said...

well I finally just saw Happy-Go-Lucky. Wow, just wow. Every moment was just fabulous. Sally Hawkins is an absolute phenomenon. I'm struggling as to whether or not I preferred her over Hathaway. It's a decision I'll have to wait to make until I see "Rachel..." a second time.

Kamikaze Camel said...

Goran, it's an AFI thing so if you're not a member then you wouldn't a) know about it and b) be able to get in. As far as I am aware, anyway.

John T said...

Milk was fantastic, both in and out of the theaters. In a packed Minnesota audience, I started crying when the entire audience broke into a round of applause in the middle of the movie, when Walter Cronkite announced that Minneapolis and St. Paul were the first cities to enact anti-gay discrimination laws. It was one of three times in the film that everyone broke into applause-I've never seen an audience so involved in a movie. It was awesome!

And the movie was good to-I generally prefer fictional narratives, rather than non-fictional, but this was wonderful.

alexia said...

To be fair, try to find work in movies when you
- are over 60
- have a vagina
- are not named Meryl

alexia said...

i was refering to Sissy Spacek obviously

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't totally keep Australia out of your predictions. The general audiences are LOVING the film - standing ovations, applause, and everything. This could go a long way if the BO goes up and it gets a decent amount of precursors. Kidman, too.

Billy D said...

Best movie of the year is different from favorite. I think the direction was great, the script really good, the acting good, and the overall package to be quite endearing and important. That doesn't mean I can't nit pick it--far from it, I should hope!

Catherine said...

It really makes me sad that Sissy Spacek is in Four Christmases. I mean, I'm glad she's getting a paycheck and all. But still.

Anyway, I'm just back from Changeling, which they really should have marketed as "One of the best comedies you'll see all year!".

Katey said...

I saw Australia with my family, and it was actually a pleasure to see it again with an audience-- they laughed and gasped at all the right moments, and I swear Hugh got a wolf whistle when he came out in the white tux. I was sitting next to a woman with the classic Southern "the higher the hair, the closer to God" beehive, and she seemed to really enjoy it. I'm taking the uptick in box office after opening day to mean that Australia might do OK after all.

In the meantime I'll just be evangelizing Milk to all my friends. Nathaniel, you gave it an A- second time around-- what was your grade after the first?

NATHANIEL R said...

the same grade.

Anonymous said...

Nat, you said you saw all the movies out right now. What is your grade for Four Christmases?

tina

NATHANIEL R said...

anon 10:28 -- It was unanimous on MILK. That's what everybody wanted to see.

tina -- I wish I could see everything but that was an exaggeration ;)

Anonymous said...

I saw Australia yesterday and everyone in the theater (including myself) raved about it afterward. It has flaws, of course, but the scenery (landscape, costumes, and Jackman) and acting easily overcome any shortcomings. It seems like just the sort of thing the Academy would go for...and easily better than a lot of films they've nominated in the past.

Anonymous said...

i think you are smart to totally avoid 4 x-mases, nat!

Anonymous said...

I had a busy movie-viewing weekend. Saw "Twilight," "Australia", and "Four Christmases." In brief:

"Twilight" -- not as horrible as everyone's said, though the direction was a hot mess, and I have to keep remembering that I wasn't the target audience, so any high expectations I had should have been kept in check better than what they were going in

"Australia" -- I thought that it was great; Nicole and Hugh were a screen romance for the ages, and Baz didn't disappoint me; what's unfortunate though is the negative press surrounding the film so early on, b/c this film will barely get to $100 million at the box office. It was too long, too showy, and too grand, but I'm weird and didn't mind that.

"Four Christmases" -- your review sight-unseen just about nailed it, though that's more cynical than I would have been about the film. It was funny and hit all the notes you'd expect it to hit. I actually liked it and would see it again. The seemingly happy couple go through the chore of having to deal with their dysfunctional families on Christmas one after the other, have their relationship tested in the process, and by the end of the film come out of it all the better and stronger for the trials. What should piss more people off is that this type of film is where the talented, veteran Oscar winners of yore are put out to pasture. The guys will be alright -- Duvall can wrangle himself another western or something on TV or film, Jon Voight has "24", Reese can get whatever she wants, and Vince has found his niche, but Mary Steenburgen's now relegated to playing these MILF-y characters to overgrown child-men (she did the same damn routine in "Step Brothers"), and I was embarrassed for Sissy Spacek all through her section. Where's another "In the Bedroom" role for her? There was no reason in heaven for a film like this to have five Oscar winners and a Tony winner when these characters could have been played by just about anyone with a current SAG card. But I know, if you're not Meryl, good luck in landing the plum Hollywood roles. That sounded more bitter than I intended, but it's a problem that was staring at me all through watching this.