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Off The Couch And Into The Theater: November 2008

It's almost as if I don't love movies anymore. The only flicks I saw this month were a sad excuse for this generation's Say Anything (I would even go so far as to say a sad excuse for this generation's Empire Records - sorry OHD!) and a biopic about the guy who invented intermittent windshield wipers. Neither was bad, per se, but both made me look at my short list of movies I loved this year and cry a single emo tear down my face. Not only because of their mediocrity, but also because the movies I really did want to see this month I failed to see! Spike Lee's war epic got so poo-pooed that my desire to see it decreased exponentially, that Ed Harris Western was in theaters for less than a week somehow, and I have yet to go see Kevin Smith's latest (hopefully that will be remedied soon). There's also two with potential at the indieplex that I failed to cover last month: What Just Happened (59%), which could either be excruciatingly self-aware to the point of intolerance or a genuinely clever Wag The Dog-esque send-up of the showbiz industry, and Breakfast With Scot (46%), a comedy about a gay couple winding up with an inadvertant foster kid, whose questionable premise and presence of Tom Cavanaugh (TV's Ed) as the main character could possibly be buoyed by one of my favorite underrated character actors, Ben Shenkman (most awesome in Pi and Jesus' Son). It's also the beginning of Oscar season, so rub those hands feverishly and feast your eyes on this month's releases, all accompanied by "Will I See It?" percentages...

November 7th: Samuel L. Jackson and the dearly departed Bernie Mac will star in Soul Men (12%) as an estranged soul-singing duo who get together for an emotional reunion, and sadly, DoktorPeace's former costar (yes ladies, our single unlicensed contributing doktor was an extra in Mr. 3000) will have not lived to see his most successful box office receipts. Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa (37%) also comes barreling into theaters with DreamWorks' awkward brand of stilted and overly bold computer animation. I swear if the first one were just animated by Pixar, I would have liked it. The truly bizarre Repo! The Genetic Opera (48%) combines gore horror with goth-lite musical numbers, making me as guiltily curious as it does make me totally ralph. David Wain's Role Models (99%) unites unsung hero Paul Rudd with the possibly redeemable Stifler (Seann William Scott if you want to be respectful I suppose) in a generic premise that could very well turn into a truly heartwarming affair, taking a page from Apatow's book of tricks. If you haven't rented Wain's The Ten yet, do so then go see this one. After finally winning his Oscar for Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, screenwriter Charlie Kaufman gets behind the camera for Synecdoche New York (99%), reportedly a much darker affair than anything he's done before (he also did two other faves of mine: Being John Malkovich and Adaptation.), following Philip Seymour Hoffman as a man who reconstructs a life-size theater set of New York City. Two percentages so high is an anomaly, I know, but that's how pumped I am. Finally, A Thousand Years Of Good Prayers (84%) also looks like a mighty fine and touching tale of an uber-traditional Japanese father visiting his Americanized daughter in the States, tugging minimally but effectively at my hearstrings like The Visitor did earlier this year.

November 14th: To some people, the only movie coming out this weekend is the new James Bond extravaganza Quantum Of Solace (56%). I never saw Casino Royale, mostly because I haven't liked a Bond movie since GoldenEye, but if the critical reaction to this one is positive, I might go back and do that before I see this one, as the events here supposedly happen directly after the last one, à la Halloween II. What definitely is a critical darling, however, is Danny Boyle's new Slumdog Millionaire (95%), which I'd have been willing to see based on Boyle's past work alone (28 Days Later made me a Boyle fan for life), but its booming Oscar buzz is only fueling my proverbial fire, even if the premise seems a bit saccharine (a boy tells his life story while on a game show). A batch of less on-the-radar indie movies get dumped out on this day as well, including a French Christmas Tale (23%) that seems a lot more depressing than it title indicates, with drunken families and secrets pouring out while "Douce Nuit" plays in the background. There's also The Boy In The Striped Pajamas (22%), where the son of a Nazi begins a forbidden friendship with a young Jew during the Holocaust, so you know, more uplifting stuff. Lastly, Fear(s) Of The Dark (66%) intertwines multiple creepy short stories into graphic novel-inspired black-and-white animation, which would be even more interesting if I had ever heard about it before I just read that synopsis. Let's hope it's as artful and nuanced as Persepolis was.

November 21st: Disney's computer-animated Pixar-less Bolt (72%), about a canine TV star who confuses reality with the plot of his program, actually looks better than Disney's past non-Pixar computer animated efforts like Meet The Robinsons or Chicken Little, but we all know how those turned out, so I'm not holding my breath. Some vampire romance movie called Twilight (68%) comes out as well, and coincidentally EVERY female student of mine is currently reading a book of the same name. Except since it's not about sorcery or magic, I'll be more likely to follow this novel/film series from the beginning, though I once again don't get the appeal. Rounding out the week's one-word releases is Special (32%), which stars Michael Rappaport (red-headed bit actor from Eddie Murphy movies and Deep Blue Sea), who I thought officially died along with his FOX sitcom from a couple years back, as a guy whose medication makes him think he's a superhero. With such idiocy sure to abound, I'm really not sure why that percentage is above 10, but my predictions come more from a gut instinct than any kind of mathematical devising (believe it or not), so I'm not going to mess with my initial sense.

November 28th: I really thought Transporter 3 (19%) came out already, but apparently not. I can't remember whether the Transporter I saw in theaters was the first or second one, either. Probably doesn't matter, but I'll check the infamous Life After 208 review to find out. Ah yes, the second one. If P. Arty has any interest in T3 (not that T3), I'll see it with him just so I can bug him to write another review like that. Vince Vaughn mugs it up with Reese Witherspoon in Four Christmases (56%), following the titular activity with two sets of divorced parents, and even though it's just an extension of the Meet The Parents success, I can't help but feel an unwanted pull to see a mindless Xmas family comedy, even though I really do not like Vaughn. So why am I interested? I can't tell you! The predictions seem to be having a mind of their own! Stop, please stop you evil Hollywood advertising machines! Thankfully we also have some Oscar hopefuls that I won't be embarrassed to predict: Australia (79%) is Baz Luhrmann of Moulin Rouge fame's latest opus about (snoozefest alert!) ranchers trying to move cattle across the continent during wartime? Wow this is one of the most likely Best Picture nominations? Whatever, I'll see it because Baz is Baz-sh*t crazy with his visual ADHD, so it's hard to deny. Out of all the most likely Oscar buzzers, I'm probably most excited about Milk (98%), Gus Van Sant's love song to the first openly gay U.S. senator, as portrayed by melodramatist Sean Penn. Structurally it's probably your basic tragic biopic, but Van Sant crafts cinema so eloquent that I must check it out. And if you're going to do a biopic, here's a guy that actually deserves one.

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  1. Blogger qualler | 12:35 PM |  

    What movie was the sad excuse for Say Anything/Empire Records? I can't wait for Slumdog Millionaire and Milk, somewhat suspicious of Role Models but I'll probs check it out at some point.

  2. Blogger chris | 1:07 PM |  

    Nick and Norah. The closing cinematography was the only memorable thing about that movie for me. Better than many teen movies, but so watered down and faux-hipsterized it hurt my brain.

  3. Blogger DoktorPeace | 1:18 PM |  

    Fortunately, my Miss Congeniality 2 costar Sandra Bullock lives on... unless P. Diddy finds out she forgot to vote. Topical.

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