Friday, March 06, 2009

Now Playing: Giant Blue Phalluses and Brave Little Films

Hollywood stepped out of Watchmen's way assuming a gargantuan opening weekend for the violent dark superhero saga. There's no David for this expected Goliath. Hollywood provided zero counter programming for people who aren't into superheroes they've never heard of... which probably means that Tyler Perry's Madea will have another great weekend. I'm excited to see Watchmen and its base audience are absolutely committed to it but I'm curious about how well it will fare with the general ticket buying public. Everyone (generally speaking) goes to superhero movies but we aren't usually given heroes that are completely unfamiliar. We all knew who Batman, Spider-Man, Iron Man and The Hulk were when we were in diapers. Familiarity breeds box office love. A few new indies and foreign films are opening in a handful of theaters on the coasts but as counter programming that's more like David's toenail versus Goliath. Where is Hollywood's fighting spirit these past few years? They used to not forfeit entire weekends several times a year.

Watchmen to obliterate its non-existent competition at box office

(links go to trailers)

L I M I T E D
12 The Russian adaptation of 12 Angry Men, which was up for an Oscar in February 2008, arrives in theaters in March 2009. Uh... great timing distributing peoples.

Everlasting Moments This Swedish period epic about a wife and mother and the new passion (photography) that changes her life won six Swedish Oscars including all four of the acting categories --quite a coup. It was one of the nine Oscar finalists but not a shortlist nominee for Best Foreign Film.

Explicit Ills Actor Mark Webber, who we'll see onscreen again later this year in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (see previous post), goes behind the camera for his directorial debut. It's a hyperlink drama about poverty, drugs and love. Rosario Dawson stars. That girl keeps herself busy, non? Her publicist works overtime. I love this Screen Test Interview in the New York Times with her. She's so engaging and she loves movies so much (as evidenced by this and other interviews). I keep waiting for her to get a really great / interesting role...

waiting... waiting... waiting...

The Horsemen Dennis Quaid (good) and Zhang Ziyi (evil) star in this procedural/serial killer film that looks like a rip off of it's "inspired by" Se7en. Is that the most influential movie of the 90s? It's one of them. That said doesn't the serial killer genre seem like it needs a several year hiatus. I wish filmmakers would find a new subgenre to work into the ground.

Phoebe in Wonderland An unconventional young girl struggles to get by, seeking refuge in Alice in Wonderland imagery. Wonderland is always so, errr, comforting?! Actually, no. Wouldn't trippy and disorienting be more accurate? Elle Fanning stars and tries to emerge from Dakota's shadow. If anyone can help her come into her own it'll be the cinema's Greatest Supporting Actress in Perpetuity, Patricia Clarkson.

Tokyo Three directors contributed to this omnibus film starring the Japanese city so expect their pieces to be much longer than the vignettes in Paris, Je T'Aime though the idea here is similar. Korean genre director Bong Joon Ho (The Host) is closest to home geographically, international wonder Michel Gondry (Be Kind Rewind, Eternal Sunshine) will probably get the headlines but I'm most eager to see what Leos Carax comes up with. The one time bad boy of French cinema hasn't made a feature in 10 years. After Pola X (1999) and Lovers on the Bridge (1991) I feel personally robbed that he quit. What do auteurs do when they take decades between pictures? How do they eat? Somebody call Malick and find out.

W I D E
Watchmen 89.2% of the internet will be talking about it today so just click around. I don't feel the need to have an insta'pinion. I'll bring up the rear this time.
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17 comments:

Wayne B. said...

Why do you consider Zhang Ziyi evil?

Kamikaze Camel said...

I saw Watchmen last night. It's alright, but as someone who hasn't read the novel, I can still instantly understand that they put in too much and left out too much. If they cut so many of the flashbacks and such it could've been an awesome 2-hour movie. If they expanded it it could've been an awesome 4-hour miniseries (ala Angels in America). As it is it stands in the middle and doesn't quite gel.

Visually it's amazing though.

The end.

adelutza said...

It sucks big time to live in a city where the "limited" releases never come. So I'll pass this weekend's box office (comic books never appealed to me). Luckily Chicago is 2 driving hours away , and there's a European film fest going on there.

NATHANIEL R said...

wayne b i don't. i just meant she is the villain and he is the hero... they tell you that about one minute into the trailer although I think it's probably meant to be a surprise in the movie judging on some of the clips.

Jack said...

Nat, weren't you arguing a year ago that Iron Man wasn't a well known brand? Admittedly, you said it wouldn't matter because people would still flock to a "robot movie", but your point was still that audiences weren't familiar with him.

I think releasing a big blockbuster at this time of year is pretty canny by the studio. If something like Paul Blart: Mall Cop can make $100 million in these months, then clearly something of at least average quality could presumably clean up at the box office.

NATHANIEL R said...

Jack... hmmm. I do remember being curious about how Iron Man would do (pre trailer that made everyone gaga bonkers for it) but hmmm. yeah. i probably shouldn't have included him in that opening paragraph. Now everybody in diapers knows he is but maybe not a few year ago.

I'm sure Watchmen will open well (is there a superhero movie that hasn't? they're kinda like slasher pics that way. They always open) but my question is regarding its staying power because a lot of people are totally unfamiliar with it.

Wayne B. said...

Nathaniel- thanks for the clarification, I'm a little dim at times. :) I'm going to watch this one for sure cuz I'm a Zhang fan. They shot this movie in my hometown, wanna see how many locations I'll recognize.

SolShine7 said...

I totally agree with you on Rosario Dawson needing a real starring role. She's got the charisma to wow, so I'm ready to be wowed.

Watchmen...no.
Ziyi Zhang...yes.

Brooke Cloudbuster said...

I hated Watchmen so much. I can't even understand why it was made. My viewing partner summed it up best: "There was an awful dick-to-chick ratio." I don't think I was meant to have laughed as much at the movie as I did.

Shawn said...

It is weird that there wasn't any counterprogramming by the other studios.

No musicals? No romantic chick flicks? Nothing starring Reese Witherspoon?

I mean even The Dark Knight had Mamma Mia. Wall-E had Wanted. Come on.

jessica said...

It might be my age but I'd never heard of Iron Man before it was made into a movie. Also never heard of Hellboy.

Jack said...

I haven't been looking forward to Watchmen since Snyder was announced as director. The only thing he has done right is to cast Jackie Earle Haley (who, to his credit, I hadn't even considered for the role - and I'm one of those fans who was posting my dream cast list on IMDB).

As someone who wants to break into Hollywood myself, I find it hard to call any director a "hack", because that implies no respect at all, and I have to have respect for someone who has actual managed to have a film made and released, but I can safely call Zack Snyder a hack.

The fact that he seemingly hadn't set his sights on making Watchmen the biggest film it could possibly be is what really annoys me. Fair enough, The Dark Knight hadn't been released while he was making it, so he couldn't have seen the impact that Nolan's film would have, but THAT is the kind of cultural impact that the Watchmen movie should have had. Biggest movie of the year, one of the most critically acclaimed movies of the year, no one could NOT talk about it. That should have been what Snyder was aiming for.

Watchmen should have been the first comic book movie nominated for Best Picture. That's the kind of effect it COULD have had. (Not that it should have been made for Oscars, obviously, but neither was Dark Knight, and look how close that got). Apparently, Snyder didn't even see that as a possibility. He was SO not the right director for this material.

Barry said...

Rosario Dawson has gotten a really good role. She is amazing in Descent. It's a really dark movie, but she is fantastic.

RC said...

i just can't get too excited about watchmen.

i wish there were more "david's" this time of year with the real strength to take on this goliath.

Vince said...

Did anyone else notice how most of the Watchmen are connected to Mary-Louise Parker? She was partnered with Billy Crudup, until he left her for Claire Danes. After Crudup she dated Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who also played her dead husband on Weeds. And Patrick Wilson played her husband in Angels in Americas. To make it a full circle, Wilson did the "Anything You Can Do" Gap commercial with Claire Danes. Hollywood is a small world afterall.

Walter L. Hollmann said...

when I see Patty Clarkson, i am immediately reminded of the line from Love Actually: "I love her. And true love lasts a lifetime." Whatever Works cannot come out soon enough, and I don't think Phoebe is coming out in Florida. boo.

NATHANIEL R said...

vince... maybe Mary Louise Parker *IS* Zach Snyder !?!