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Off the Couch And Into The Theater: October 2008

"That is totally a make out face you're making, Activia lady."

After the short delay that came at the beginning of September with the launch of our new domain, we are officially back on track with this feature, which you can look forward to giving you the rundown on the upcoming month's releases (with my accompanying "Will I See It?" percentages in parentheses) approximately every four weeks. This month was kind of a bust in term of theater attendance, mostly due to the school year starting, but I did get to see Burn After Reading, which was far better than most movies out in theaters at any given point, but far worse than most Coen Brothers films. We'll see if I get to any others in the next week or so (Ghost Town and/or Miracle At St. Anna, which has received dismal reviews unfortunately), but things might just get way complicated come Friday, which brings about both a bevvy of potential and anti-potential that just may get me off my couch and into the cinema.

October 3rd: If I didn't grow up with a half-chihuahua mutt and I wasn't keen on self-mutilation of the filmic variety, the percentage for Beverly Hills Chihuahua (23%) would be far less. Especially since the voice of our main dawg is Drew Barrymore. Our new guest contributor OHD is super excited about the adaptation of the cult classic youth novel Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist (70%) starring Michael "I can play many slight variations on awkward" Cera. Remember when I said Blindness (86%) was supposed to come out a couple weeks ago? Me neither apparently, because I just found out this weekend that the Juliane Moore/Gael Garcia Bernal dystopian fable got pushed back 14 days for whatever reason. Religulous (9%) gives us Bill Maher's take on a topic that was covered with much more respect in Jesus Camp two years ago (and with style and no self righteous mockery). Blogulator favorite Simon Pegg makes what seems like it will be another Run Fatboy Run with the sure-to-be-ignored-and-forgotten How To Lose Friends & Alienate People (47%), about a Brit writer who tumbles his way through American culture, alongside Kirsten Dunst and Megan Fox. Dennis Quaid recruits the first African-American to win the Heisman in yet another overly glossy cookie-cutter exploration of surface level race relations - The Express (6%). Greg Kinnear smarms his way through Flash Of Genius (58%) as the inventor of intermittent windshield wipers, an idea for a movie so insanely unbelievable (can you imagine trying to pitch that to a studio?) that it just may be interesting. Lastly, David Zucker prove he's no longer any different from the Scary Movie guys with An American Carol (0%), a spoof on Michael Moore movies.
"I have officially given up all hope on ever receiving an Oscar."

October 10th: The Cloverfield shaky camera YouTube generation bit gets recycled with Quarantine (62%), which very conveniently also basically takes the plot of the 28...Later movies and confines it to one building. Hello redundancy! And yet, horror movies that aren't torture porn or Japanese translations tend to get me in the theater. Oscar winner William Monahan from The Departed fame takes Russell Crowe and Leonardo DiCaprio into Ridley Scott's Body Of Lies (68%). It's a Departed/American Gangster mashup minus the Scorsese flash and the Denzel charm! Kill me now! I'm a sucker for this tripe! Bill Murray looks like he walked onto the wrong set in the children's fantasy City Of Ember (48%), which only has a Pan's Labyrinth ripoff vibe going for it. Mike Leigh of the inscrutable working class melodramas All For Nothing and Secrets & Lies gets lighthearted and romantic with Happy-Go-Lucky (69%) which both worries and excites me. Guy Ritchie can't get enough of his played out grungy lads with five o'clock shadows going to extremes for an easy Tarantino buck with RocknRolla (51%), yet another genre I'm a sucker for, and this one takes the cake featuring The Wire's Idris Elba as one of the leads. And more indie banality hits the art houses via Beauty In Trouble (20%), a Czech film about a woman's dilemma with love.

October 17th: Josh Brolin hams it up as our current lame duck in W. (88%), which is fascinating for no other reason than director Oliver Stone's attempt to both mock and come off as creepily realistic, à la his other studies of troubled presidents like Nixon. Michael Cera's friend Clark Duke takes an online girlfriend-fueled road trip in Sex Drive (27%) and I roll my eyes and hope for something substantial for this guy to be in soon. I actually don't mind Mark Wahlberg, and maybe it's actually seeing him try in The Departed that makes me so upset at his turn as the lead in the video game adaptation Max Payne (24%), which certainly proves that he really does not seem concerned with doing movies that are...you know...good. The Secret Life Of Bees (22%), which also takes a star from The Wire as one of its own - Tristan Wilde, is determined to break black stereotypes by having its leads run around barefoot, poor as all get out, and yearning for the true meaning of family.

"Operator, I've misplaced my hatbox and broachpad. Also, my kid's missing."

October 24th:
So they finally figured out that they'd make more money if they released an HSM movie in theaters. Good for them. High School Musical 3: Senior Year (2%) will remind anyone over the age of 15 to stay home on October 24th. The Oscar-buzzing Clint Eastwood-directed, Angelina-starring kidnapping drama Changeling (83%) will lure me in, even though I am a staunch naysayer of Eastwood's past four or so color-stripped snoozefests. Saw V (0.00V%) comes out like it owns the weekend before Halloween now and I plan to convince at least three of my horror fan students to stay home and rent Rosemary's Baby instead. Passengers (51%) looks like it could be a sleeper surprise as its concept (a psychologist counsels the survivors of a plane crash to find out mysterious connections and conspiracies) and cast (Anne Hathaway, Andre Braugher, Clea DuVall, and William B. Davis aka Cigarette Smoking Man from The X Files!!!!) seem foolproof with the right script and direction. And then there's the month's b-side to Body of Lies, which is itself the b-side to last month's Righteous Kill, the Edward Norton and Colin Farrell vehicle Pride And Glory (60%), about...surprise! Corrupt cops!

October 31st: Not much rounding out our month as the studios think most of their prospective audience will be out dressed as slutty vampires, bad impersonations of the 2008 presidential/VP candidates, or trick or treating as Bratz or whatever the hell the little ones are into these days. The nerds and jocks-who-are-really-nerds-at-heart do need something to do however, and that will be seeing Seth Rogen take home even more change and hopefully make Elizabeth Banks a star in Kevin Smith's Zack And Miri Make A Porno (93%). Looking back as someone who enjoys a good dick joke less and less with each passing day, Smith's movies aren't as wonderful as my memory wants me to believe, but maybe this knockout duo can turn things around. The only other release haunting all hallow's eve? The Haunting Of Molly Hartley (49%), starring Gossip Girl's very own Chace Crawford as a befriender (maybe more? maybe the opposite?) of the titular character, who after moving away from her psychotic mother, experiences terrifying visions that help her uncover her past's dark secrets. Sounds like the perfect teen date movie!

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  1. Blogger Dave | 8:03 AM |  

    I actually read City of Ember after hearing about the concept. It turned out to be a really basic kid's book, but the idea is still rad as hell. If, for some reason, the movie is better written and has some depth, it could be really cool. (But it won't be.)

  2. Blogger qualler | 9:19 AM |  

    I used to hate Bill Maher, and still do on a certain level, but his outrage this election cycle has been surprisingly refreshing to me. Maybe I'm a total cynical jerk, or at least an aspiring cynical jerk, but somehow it all makes sense to me. I didn't really think Jesus Camp was all that effective of a documentary, as it went too easily toward an obviously crazy religious society and made it seem like this was the norm in Christianity and politics. At least Bill Maher will inject something other than heavy-handed framing devices like Jesus Camp's talk-radio thing.

    As for Mark Wahlberg, as I said on the Blogulator many years back, Wahlberg on his own as a leading man with no ensemble is always, ALWAYS in crappy movies, which makes me also believe that he doesn't actually know the difference between good movies and crappy movies.

  3. Blogger Sean | 9:59 AM |  

    i don't think american carol is a spoof of michael moore movies. it's a parody along the lines of a christmas carol but with a focus on politics.
    basically some liberal dude is visited by ghosts of america's past (george washington) and then he wakes up a conservative dude. making fun of michael moore is only one part of the film.

  4. Blogger chris | 10:20 AM |  

    Okay, so the plot isn't spoofing a Michael Moore movie, but the lead character looks exactly like him and features various scenes involving guns, health care, small town workers, and political dissent.

    And while Jesus Camp isn't necessarily good, it's probably subtle as eff compared to Maher's nihilist DB approach. Dude just looks like the devil. Can't stand him.

  5. Anonymous Adam | 10:31 AM |  

    Dear god, Flash of Genius is about the invention of windshield wipers?! I thought it was a car design that he had stolen from him or something. I'm sure I'll still see it, for some reason I can't hate Greg Kinnear.

  6. Blogger Brigitte | 11:48 AM |  

    American Carol also stars Chris Farley's brother. After seeing him on...was it Letterman, Qualler?, I had a dream that he called me fat, and I was all, what are you talking about, you are WAY fatter than I am...but then I looked in a mirror and saw that I WAS CHRIS FARELY, and my brother was being a total jerk to me...so, based on that dream, I won't be supporting this jerk by going to see this film. although...it would really suck to be the less popular Farley brother...and if I recall the interview, he kept saying how before this movie he sold asphalt or cement or something...so maybe he was just acting out because of all the pent up jealousy he's been dealing with all these years.

  7. Blogger qualler | 12:26 PM |  

    Yeah, I still gots the love for Kinnear too, Adam. He's just so damn affable, I can't help it. It's like The Pursuit of Happyness x 10.

    Yes, it was Kevin Farley, Chris's brother, who stars in An American Carol (he was on Leno). The only thing that could be worse than a Date Movie-type movie is one that is also politically slanted toward another direction, AND it's idiotic. (ex. The clip I saw was someone throwing an anvil at Michael Moore/Kevin Farley). Also I believe David Zucker was involved in the Scary Movie franchise (he directed SM3 and SM4), so he's been craptastic for a while now, which is too bad since he's from Minnesota!

    As for Maher, I guess I'd rather have someone scream the message of the movie at me in at least an entertaining/funny-if-you're-in-the-mood way than a bland, quasi-artistic way. If you're going to try to persuade me, persuade me, dammit! Don't pussyfoot around!!!

  8. Blogger qualler | 12:27 PM |  

    Correction: Zucker is from Milwaukee. I blame all you 'Sconnies for this movie (that includes you, Chris! And you, Brigitte!) In fact, I believe Lady Amy, Nicole and I are truly the only ones exempt from blame here.

  9. Blogger nicole | 3:11 PM |  

    Yes, I have no ties to Wisconsin (besides a love of cheese).

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