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Off The Couch And Into The Theater: November 2009

Okay, now I'm getting pissed. It's one thing to have missed previewing the astounding October releases Law Abiding Citizen (5%) and Cirque Du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant (3%) in my last Off The Couch column due to gross (deserved, but still gross) movie nerd negligence, but it's a completely other thing when I wind up seeing a very respectful four releases [Aside: Zombieland was indeed fun regardless of my pessimism, Whip It was forgettable yet mildly endearing, The Invention of Lying was forgettable yet mildly amusing, and A Serious Man is my second favorite film of the year] from the previous month and still feel like I have a lot to catch up on. Not to mention the vast array of films that will soon be invading the megaplexes and indieplexes alike over the next four weeks! Oh cursed hobby! Thou vile beast of a time spender! When willst your insatiable thirst for torture be quenched? My prediction: sometime in January. But for now, onward we must go into the depths of movie releases (with "Will I See It?" percentages in parentheses) below...

Nov 6th: Why master auteur Robert Zemeckis' A Christmas Carol (2%) is getting such an early release is unbeknownst to me. What I do know is I hope it fails miserably. Long live the original story: A Muppet Christmas Carol! The movie that pretends to be the Paranormal Activity of alien abductions, The Fourth Kind (67%), also gets released, and as the negative reviews come pouring in, I'm sure that percentage will decrease. But the X-Files fan in me will likely give into temptation, if I can trick someone else to join me. Speaking of giving into temptation, despite the awe-inspiring travesty that was Southland Tales, I am seriously psyched to see The Box (96%), Richard Kelly's hopeful return to form, and a hopefully refreshing take on the age-old middle school short story question "Would you press a button to get a million dollars if it meant someone somewhere in the world would die?". The Men Who Stare at Goats (91%), with George Clooney as the head of an alleged telepathic division of the U.S. army, also looks solidly entertaining, if a little light on substnace. It might be this year's Burn After Reading but with a little less misanthropy and a little too much playfulness. I feel I have no choice but to venture over to Uptown to see Lars Von Trier's Antichrist (89%), but there is a big chunk of me yelling inside my brain to restrain myself. It might be the dilemma of the century: to watch Willem Dafoe screw on a pile of dead bodies while an animated fox watches or not to watch Willem Dagoe screw on a pile of dead bodies while an animated fox watches.

Nov 13th: Speaking of quasi-necrophiliac orgies, Roland Emmerich gives us one big throbbing one with 2012 (70%), whose trailer, I will admit, had me captivated this weekend, if only because of its ridiculousness. John Cusack outdriving/flying the apocalypse? Haha okay Roland; count me in. Formerly titled The Boat That Rocked, which is also a lame name, but at least slightly more creative than its new one, Pirate Radio (32%), presents us with Phillip Seymour Hoffman reprising his role as Lester Bangs from Almost Famous, only this time he's on a boat and has a bigger role. Even I, the one who paid money to see Across The Universe, can smell the music-related corniness that lurks beneath this one. The highly anticipated Asian cinema sequel Ong Bak 2: The Beginning (1%) also gets its chance at the big screen this weekend. Who's anticipating it, you ask? Martial arts nerds. Aw, that used to me and my brother back in the day. Sorry, Asia, make a sequel to The Host and then we'll talk. Crude (3%) documents a great civil case between Ecuadorians and Chevron oil. Hopefully they'll make an American version of this with John Travolta or Matthew McConnaughey as the lawyer soon. Also in indie theaters, Gentlemen Broncos (49%) counts Jemaine Clement of Flight of the Conchords amongst its otherwise unknown cast members, in a story about a teenage writer whose fantasy story gets ripped off by an author he looks up to. Sounds affecting and cute. That's a big fat maybe. Lastly, don't get confused, but there actually is a movie coming out called (Untitled) (14%), whose premise matches its title's pretentiousness: an art gallery owner falls in love with an amateur music composer.

Nov 20th: So one of my students basically wrote the plot of Planet 51 (5%) for a short story assignment and now he's depressed it's being made into a crappy kids movie where Average Joe aliens have to deal with a human invasion. I would be depressed too; my student's version of this is actually pretty cool. Then there's New Moon (0%). I'll leave OHD to discuss that when it comes out. I'm at a loss currently forever. Sandra Bullock is the flaky white person that could in The Blind Side (9%), where she takes in a troubled black youth and shows the world that she gives a damn when he becomes an awesome football player. I say this with the utmost facetiousness and yet I was on the verge of tears when I saw the trailer. Stupid swelling music trickery. We Live in Public (39%) fill the requisite documentary slot of the week and is a little more interesting, following the short rise of fall of Josh Harris, the man supposedly responsible for pioneering Internet video communication. Apparently the dude endured mental collapse after having his life broadcast online 24/7 for six moths. Now that's what I call EdTV! Anyone? Anyone? Precious (98%) is a big Oscar-buzz flick where a teenage girl deals with being overweight, pregnant, and trying to attend an alternative school. Hey I teach at one of those! Hey it's like Juno except she has real problems! Consider myself interested. I am also invested in The Messenger (96%), where Woody Harrelson chokes us all up while he visits people's homes and tells them their loved ones have died at war. How they'll churn something so cloyingly sentimental into a full-length plot remains to be seen, but I like crying, so I'm in.

Nov 25th/27th: So is Old Dogs (Ruff!%) a sequel to Wild Hogs or does it just have the same plot with a slightly different cast? I'm too lazy to Google it. Looks like Travolta and Williams dealing with being "old dogs" which may or may not mean references to Look Who Talking Now. The delayed over-and-over-again adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's The Road (84%) finally officially probably hopefully maybe comes out for Turkey Day, if we're lucky. Now I'm back to thinking it's going to suck. Oh well, prove me wrong, Viggo! Ninja Assassin (6%) is another perfect Holiday flick in which ninjas and assassins and ninja assassins go head to head for the whole family to enjoy. Red Cliff (82%) is John Woo's return to the cinema since 2003's Ben Affleck/Phillip K. Dick debacle Paycheck. It's about Chinese dynasties and an epic battle. Not exactly my cup of tea, but if anyone can get me interested in an old clothes war picture, it's Woo. Another docublah, Oh My God (44%) is basically the foil to Bill Maher's Religulous. Instead of mocking every faith, it simply poses the question to a variety of people, "What is God?" Could be boring, could be enthralling, could be both. At least Bill Maher's not involved. The Fantastic Mr. Fox (100%) not only promises no Bill Maher, but also no convoluted marketing campaign that makes hipsters go crazy, kids fall asleep, or basically any kind of bigness behind it, despite its connection to both an uber-hipster director, Wes Anderson, and an author who meant way more to me as a kid than Maurice Sendak: Roald Dahl. Fox is one of the only ones of his I didn't read, but I have high hopes for the simple charm of Dahl and wry warmth of Anderson to meld perfectly as one. And the stop-motion animation looks brilliant. Can't wait. No regrets!

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  1. Blogger Brigitte | 10:31 AM |  

    I really want to see We Live in Public--it was screened at the Sound Unseen festival, i think, but i missed it that time around. there are lots of movies coming soon that i want to see, actually...and the box is NOT ONE OF THEM. i can't believe that one gets one of your highest percentiles, chris. and to answer the question: no, i probably wouldn't push the button, because chances are the random person who dies will end up being someone i know and love (twist alert!).

  2. Blogger qualler | 1:03 PM |  

    EdTV! GOOD REFERENCE! (High-five.)

    I'm very curious about The Box but not entirely optimistic because of the craptastic lead actors (Cameron Diaz and James Marsden). I'll see it witchya though.

  3. Blogger chris | 1:19 PM |  

    I actually love James Marsden for no reason whatsoever. Diaz, though, is what makes that movie stay away from the 100th percentile. But Richard Kelly! Donnie Darko! Frank Langella without half a face! Middle school short story plot! Hooray!

    And yes, you can change my We Live in Public percentage to 49%. I'm up for it.

  4. Anonymous .molly. | 9:16 AM |  

    I 100% support your James Marsden appreciation, as my love for him also stems from nothing specific as well. Do you remember that show Second Noah that he was on back in the day!? Good times. But more importantly....

    STAY AWAY FROM ANTICHRIST. Trust me - satisfying your curiousity is NOT worth it. You cannot undo a movie like that and all the graphic imagery from being burned in your brain. It burns forever....

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