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Off The Couch And Into The Theater: March 2009

Last month, only two movies received 70% or better "Will I See It?" scores in my regular rundown of upcoming releases. Of those two movies, I only saw one (Coraline, which while not great, was worth my time if only because of the 3D gimmick). The rest of the time I was still catching up with Oscar. Starting this week, that's all about to change. I'm ready to dive head first into bad movie terrain and start actually consuming the dreck I'm constantly complaining about in advance of their release dates. It will be joyous, it will be terrifying, and it will above all be absolutely idiotic. But that's why I do what I do: because I am an ecstatic, fear-ridden, moronic movie lover and proud of it. Plus there's always room for surprise (aka a good movie) here and there to start out the year with a quiet bang. While there are some potential nominees for this, I'm of course not holding my breath. Let's get into it...

March 6th: There once was a graphic novel called Watchmen (72%), and every geek in the land (or the Internet) thought it just might make the best comic book movie ever, even though it was helmed by the man with no concept of the word "excess," Zak Snyder, director of 300. With Metacritic already giving it a composite score of 35/100, let the backlash begin upon its arrival in theaters this Friday. The nerds and worshippers of the painfully overrated Alan Moore will ask the film world to save them from the stigma of the comic book syndrome and Zak Snyder will whisper, "I twied my bwest, nice ladies." Also, I read the first ten pages of the graphic novel this weekend for the first time and fell asleep. Indie-wise we have The Black Balloon (32%), where Toni Collette mothers a child who is forced to look after his autistic older brother. Heartstring pulling ensues, and despite the presence of the consistently magnetic Collette, I retreat to 2008 Nerdflix'd DVDs with more interesting premises and/or cineplex movies with premises that are lamer, but at least promise explosions/beheadings/dogs running hotels. The trailer for Cherry Blossoms (64%), which follows a widower's pilgrimage to Mount Fuji, where his deceased wife wanted to always go, gets me feeling an odd combination of boredom and verklempt every time I see it. It's stark and sad, which is usually gangbusters for me, but the stale voyage plot feels too simple for such a hefty theme to deal with.

March 13th: I had a student write a great blog entry in my Media Studies class about the unfortunate necessity for remakes of classic children's movies in today's idea-bankrupt world of family entertainment, specifically citing the upcoming retooling of Escape To Witch Mountain, called Race To Witch Mountain (13%). Unfortunately, I never experienced the phenomenon the first time around, so I have little to no interest in it this time around. The just-announced Neverending Story remake, however, is a different--err, story. Oh, wait, another remake coming out the same day? Whoda thunk. Hollywood, that's who. Ugh, it's really not worth the web space (which is free, I realize, which is probably why movie blogs still print stories about new remakes, but still, not worth it), but the new versionf of The Last House On The Left (42%) comes out as well, which is a revenge/horror movie whose original I never saw, so once again, don't care. But it's got the guy who plays Roman on Life and probably has some cheap scares, so who knows what might happen some bored night in this long winter. Sunshine Cleaning (71%) looks charming in that nauseatingly cute kind of way, with Amy Adams starting up a crime scene clean-up service with that undeniably winning grin and Alan Arkin responding to said ridiculousness with that undeniably winning snark that (rightfully? not sure...) won him the Oscar. Meanwhile, Miss March (3%) has me caring so little about its former-playmate set-up, which I've only been able to gather from obnoxious MySpace ads, that I shan't even look it up on IMDb. I only caught a glimpse of the trailer for the super-serious drama about the effects of organized crime in Naples, titled Gomorrah (85%), but it was enough to get me revved up about it, with its fresh non-glorifying approach in covering a little-known version of the mafia. It also won the grand prize at Cannes, so as long as I can convince someone to go with me, this one's all gravy and could be the first great film of 2009.

March 20th: Speaking of a movie that's all gravy, Nic Cage and his luscious long locks of spaghetti hair light up the screen for Knowing (90%), which is not only about ludicrous conspiracy theories, ridiculous mathematical equations, and the infamous Cage stare that screams "I am unsure of this life-or-death situation, but I'm pretty sure it will involve me kicking someone's ass." Plus it was inexplicably directed by Alex Proyas, who did Dark City. I guess everyone goes downhill eventually. Big Brother always wins. Duplicity (34%) is apparently not the same movie as The International, even though both have to do with deception, guns, and star Clive Owen and a lady. The big difference? Naomi Watts is seductive and interesting, while Julia Roberts needs to go back into her proverbial coffin. I Love You Man (69%) stars Paul Rudd as a dude just looking for another dude to spend dude time with, like BFF style, except without all the chick stuff. In the wrong hands, it could be disastrous and homophobia incarnate, but I love me the Rudd, so I have faith, despite its questionable teeny tiny marketing push following the success of Role Models. The Great Buck Howard (56%) looks embarrassing for John Malkovich, with its obnoxiously quirky logline (a young ingenue gets assigned assistant to an egomaniacal illusionist) and inclusion of Colin Hanks aside the great thespian. Oh well, Malkovich face time is Malkovich face time regardless, I suppose. Always entertaining. Shuttle (49%) hits indie theaters as well, and while it seems like a hyper-stylized Joy Ride, where an airport shuttle ride turns into a maniacal struggle against evil, it always fascinates me when small genre thrillers make their way to niche markets, because I always think, "maybe this will be suspenseful in a great way," when almost always it's suspenseful in a completely mediocre (but still better than mainstream thrillers) way.

March 27th: In a world where the success of the timidness of Michael Cera can translate to The Squid And The Whale's Jesse Eisenberg earning a top spot in the big-budget comedy Adventureland (72%), where we get exploits on the aimless college-aged kid working in an amusement park, I am still grateful of this new stereotype more so than I am resentful. It'll soon wear off, I'm sure, as more of these sentimental comedies try to replicate the Judd Apatow model. Monsters Vs. Aliens (51%) really doesn't look entertaining or adorable, two big requisites for getting me into animated movies. Nevertheless, I saw that Jack Black panda movie last year, so hence I'm giving the over-half-percentage edge. After all, when no one can agree on anything, the latest animated blockbuster is what ends up getting seen. What a sad existence we lead. Then there's the obligatory low-profile (yes, even lower profile than The Last House On The Left) horror release with the word "haunt" in the title: The Haunting In Connecticut (7%) finds a family realizing their house used to be a mortuary. And that family includes two shoulda-beens-but-didnts, Virginia Madsen and Elias Koteas. Of course a depressing compilation of the month's releases wouldn't be properly capped off in a stabby kind of way without mentioning Limp Bizkit's Fred Durst's second (yes, second, the first being last year's Ice Cube football movie The Longshots) directorial effort, The Education Of Charlie Banks (43%), which also stars Jesse Eisenberg. This time, he's a college student facing an old high school bully who shows up on campus, and while there's nothing wrong with the plot, I can't shake the Durstian connection. If the reviews and a pending trailer prove otherwise, maybe I'll start revisiting "Nookie" with a different, more accepting lens? Only the apocalypse will tell.

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  1. Blogger Brigitte | 8:54 AM |  

    I CAN'T WAIT TO SEE KNOW1NG!

    also, i do want to see the great buck howard--the previews, to me, make it look like it could go either way and actually be entertaining. also, i like that the previews kind of confuse me. this could just mean that the movie will also upset and confuse me, but i'm hoping it means that i can go into a new film with few expectations and, if nothing else, be surprised when i see what the plot is actually about.

  2. Blogger chris | 2:59 PM |  

    Dammit, I forgot the "1" in Know1ng! I can't believe I gave it a higher percentage than Gomorrah - what is wrong with me? Nothing, that's what. I need me some Nic Cage terribleness.

    What else are you people excited about?!!?

  3. Blogger qualler | 3:02 PM |  

    Man, this March is a seriously crappy month for movies as a whole. I can't say I'm excited to see any of them, other than Gomorrah and Know1ng. I cannot get over Nic Cage in the trailer telling his son he will never let him die, ever. EVER. Nic Cage = Jesus? I think that's what he's implying.

  4. Blogger Sean | 3:40 PM |  

    saw gomorrah (sp?) already. thanks, internet.

    it's not all that great. realism? sure. but i can sum up the entire movie like so.

    you know those scenes in crime movies where someone gets shot for no reason and you don't really expect it and the gun sounds really high and makes a popping sound and the blood sort of splats out and someone runs off all scared? yeah, it's that scene, over and over again.

    people get shot, stuff happens, more people get shot.

  5. Anonymous .molly. | 6:53 PM |  

    How have you never seen the original "Witch Mountain"? That makes me sad in the face. Next, you'll be saying things like..."I've never seen Bedknobs and Broomsticks." And then I will suddenly realize that maybe I watched too many movies as a kid....

    Also, thanks for sharing your Nic Cage excitement. I know you're pumped for the new film, but when's the last time you revisited his best work in the classic "Valley Girl"?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VEzyjdldU_E

  6. Blogger chris | 10:30 PM |  

    Of course I've seen Bedknobs. What am I, a jerk?

    Oh man don't get Brigitte started on Valley Girl. It is certainly a Blogulator totes fave. Which reminds me...80s theme week anyone?

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