Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Summer Movie Love Sensation

As you all know, the summer movie season is upon us. Growing up, this was always my favorite time of year because, as a child of the 80s, the films being made and released were all targeted towards me. It seemed like every summer, new favorites would emerge to capture my imagination, and I'm pleased to say that in many of those cases, a few classics were born. Of course, our tastes change as we grow older and the summer movie season doesn't quite mean the same to me anymore. There are still plenty of good films coming out in this time period, but the season simply doesn't mean the same to me anymore. What it means more now is heading up to the Fantasia Film Festival in Montreal and hopefully taking in some of the NYC retrospective screenings, which usually get a bit more creative (AMMI is doing a 70s retrospective in July and Lincoln Center always whips up something good for August). But that doesn't mean I'll be taking a vacation from the multiplex, because I have come to terms with the sad, pitiful fact that I am as much a lemming as anyone else is. If I think something looks kinda cool, or if I've seen the previous films in a series enough to see the new one (even though I don't have a good feeling about it), I will go. But I'm smart enough now (translation: Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice...) to know that while I may take an interest in seeing something, it doesn't mean I'll always pay to see it. I may pay for it in wasted time, but not with a dent in my wallet.

HERE, TAKE MY MONEY! I'M NOT USING IT (in order of release)

OCEAN'S 13 - When I can't sleep at night and I know I'm not getting to sleep anytime soon, I usually end up popping in Soderbergh's OCEAN'S 11 and watch it all the way through. Not because I think it's going to put me to sleep, but because it's a fun film and it works pretty well at 3am. OCEAN'S 12 was a bit of a disappointment, but I admired the gall it had with the Julia Roberts subplot. Everyone seems to be working hard to make sure this one lives up to the first film, and I have confidence that they will. The additions of Al Pacino and Ellen Barkin only add to the good vibes.

RATATOUILLE - CARS proved that even Pixar isn't infallible (a nice, sweet, fun picture, but nothing really special), but with Brad Bird back at the helm and an unusual plot line, I sense this one will work. And I love how Patton Oswald is the lead voice. Fingers crossed.

SICKO - No matter what you think of him, I think that Michael Moore has enough skill as a filmmaker to make a good film. Is it an honest or accurate film? I'm never sure, but I'm always entertained by what I see. I'll always remember a paying audience applauding at the end of a Sunday matinee of BOWLING FOR COLUMBINE, which is something I rarely experience. That said, I'm looking forward to his expose on America's health care system as a movie; as a documentary there may well be some holes in it, but I figure it will be worth my time.

RESCUE DAWN - In part because of the positive word of mouth on the film after its various festival showings, I'm also looking forward to seeing this because it's Werner Herzog and Herzog is on a roll these days. It also intrigues me because it's based on one of Herzog's documentaries. LITTLE DIETER NEEDS TO FLY, so he's coming from a place where he really knows a thing or two about the material.

THE SIMPSONS MOVIE - I'm not one of those people who thinks that THE SIMPSONS has jumped the shark. While it's no longer the force of brilliance it once was, a good episode of the show can still deliver more honest laughs than many lesser shows in their prime. The film, I think, has potential because it gives the show's creative team an opportunity to branch out from the 22-minute storyline and do something on a grand scale. I think they've been working towards this for a long time and have got the feeling they won't disappoint.

THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM - I liked the previous two BOURNE installments, with the second film being better than the first, and I'm pleased to see Paul Greengrass back in the director's seat. The only thing that troubles me is the loss of screenwriter Tony Gilroy, who penned the initial drafts and then went on to make his directorial debut, the George Clooney starrer MICHAEL CLAYTON (which opens in September). I think Gilroy is probably more responsible for the success of the series than most realize and despite some top talent in his place (Tom Stoppard and Paul Attenasio included), something may be off. We'll see.


PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: AT WORLD'S END - The second film, which I neither loved nor disliked, didn't exactly kill the series for me, but it felt like the inspiration was gone. I can't help but feel that the same will hold true here, but I genuinely enjoy Johnny Depp in these films and, the biggest factor of all, Chow Yun-Fat is in it. Granted, he was also in BULLETPROOF MONK and I never saw that, but I love the fact that he's on giant billboards all over the U.S, right now.

MR. BROOKS - I will go into this more at a later date, but I am unapologetically a Kevin Costner fan. I don't necessarily see everything he's in, but if it seems like it could work, I'm sort of inclined to see it. He's playing a serial killer in this one, and I'm thinking, "OK, let him stretch. Let's see where this takes us and you never know". The fact that it's from the director of KUFFS does send off warning bells, but if I hear it's good, I'll check it out. Viva Costner!

HOSTEL: PART II - I wasn't a huge fan of CABIN FEVER, but I have to say that Eli Roth impressed me somewhat with HOSTEL. The set-up worked and I liked the performances, but the torture part of it felt kind of routine, if such an expression can actually exist. What surprised me, and what I really didn't see coming, was how much he was investing in the film's final payoff, which, if more than a little silly, worked extremely well. So now I'm hoping he'll be able to do the same with this one. If he can, I'll be even more impressed.

1408 - While his performance in the Sundance fave GRACE IS GONE is supposed to be an Oscar contender, it's a little strange to see John Cusack starring in a Stephen King adaptation. I'm told it's a good story and apparently the film has turned out well, but Cusack always seemed to me to be one who avoided outright genre films for more "respectable" material. Here's hoping his presence here denotes that there's some quality material about.

LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD - I love the first two DIE HARD films and the first half of the third film works before the rest just falls apart. But I've never been jonesing for another one of these and I'm not sure that this thing is going to work once again. However, a friend of mine is working on it and keeps on saying positive things; he really thinks this is going to be a good picture. Honestly, if it wasn't for that, I'm not sure I'd even go.

JOSHUA - I'm adding this killer kid flick to the list due simply to the positive word of mouth at Sundance. Sounds good, but it could go either way, really.

HAIRSPRAY - Well, I saw the show and thought it was a lot of fun, and the songs were great. But with Adam Shankman directing, I'm not too sure. I know he started out as a choreographer, but that only means the dance numbers could be decent. And John Travolta as Edna Turnblad I'm also not so sure about. Chances are good that this will work, so I'm trying looking at the positive end of this one.

RUSH HOUR 3 - RUSH HOUR 2 really knocked me for a loop. Not only is it Ratner's best movie, but it's probably Jackie Chan's best U.S. movie. It's really entertaining, so I'm hoping that this one will also work. Besides, I've simply got to see what Polanski is doing in here.

STARDUST - Word of mouth on this fantasy film is already starting to get positive, and with LAYER CAKE's Matthew Vaughn directing I'm thinking we could see something more than the same old sugarcoated fantasy. We'll see.

THE INVASION - There's a bit of "Let's see if it's a train wreck or not" in choosing this, but I'm also intrigued simply because all the other versions of INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS worked pretty well. Maybe the material is fuck-up proof?

SUPERBAD - I've already discussed my feelings on Judd Apatow in my KNOCKED UP review, and even though he's only the producer, I fear that this one may feel like he's tampered with it. But the trailer intrigues me while amusing me at the same time. What the plot of this movie? Is there a plot to this movie? Should I care? I don't know, but I suspect there will be some laughs.

BALLS OF FURY - Likewise.


FANTASTIC FOUR: RISE OF THE BLAH, BLAH, BLAH - This could only be an improvement over the first film, which was terrible. And that first trailer made it seem like this is a bit more professional. And yet, that first film put a real bad taste in my mouth. I'm interested, but I've got better things to do with my money, though maybe not my time.

TRANSFORMERS - I'm a proud member of the Michael Bay haters club. I was so angered by ARMAGEDDON that I swore I would never sit through another of his films again and I've kept to that promise. And since I was never into the Transformers show I figured that this one was an easy pass. But that trailer did its job and did it quite well. Sometimes all you want to do is watch stuff blow up, and I'm thinking this might be the right one to do it with this summer.

HALLOWEEN - I grew up loving the original HALLOWEEN, but it's been a long time since I was able to muster any kind of enthusiasm for these films. Even H20 kept me cold. I really enjoyed THE DEVIL'S REJECTS, so I think it's possible that Rob Zombie could do a good job here, but I seriously have my doubts. HALLOWEEN was great, but it's been remade several times already; I think they should just leave it alone. And why the fuck is a movie called HALLOWEEN opening on Labor Day weekend?

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