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Off The Couch And Into The Theater: January 2010

Okay, so before we dive headfirst into our 2009 listomania here at The Blogulator (stay tuned for a relatively no-frills series of posts running down our cumulative favorites in movies, music, TV, and more from last year), let's take a quick look at the upcoming month of January's releases (with "Will I See It?" percentages in parentheses). A couple of years ago I started referring to January as the "dumping grounds" month of the year for the studios, because, well, they are. It wasn't so much a coinage of terminology on my behalf as it was an acceptance of something perceived as truth by many well before my virgin eyes. Yes, it's true. As the Oscar forerunners trickle back in re-release form, here be the movies that actually kick of his bright shiny new decade of ours. Take a look with me, won't you?

Jan 8th: Vampires run out of humans to get their suck on with in Daybreakers (23%) and Ethan Hawke looks a little less creepy than he did in Tape and a little more creepy than he did in Hamlet (looks like he didn't change his wardrobe either). Michael Cera creates a personality that is mustachioed and a tongue-in-cheek ladies man for Youth in Revolt (84%), which is still annoyingly being touted as "co-starring The Hangover's Zach Galifanakis". If it wasn't for the unexpected split personality Adaptation-esque detour, I would give a rat's patooty about this movie, but it does look kinda clever, especially when piled up aside the rest of the month's offerings. Leap Year (58%) is the most agonizing type of prototypical mainstream romantic comedy in that the entire plot is explained in the trailer (minus whether or not she marries the guy from Party Down or the dopey potato peeler) and yet, it looks eminently watchable, if only largely because Amy Adams is the most attractive and vivacious lady currently congesting the silver screen. A 2009 holdover at the arthouse coming this weekend is The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus (95%), which will almost assuredly both disappoint and astound, as is Terry Gilliam's modus operandi nowadays, not unlike Richard Kelly, but Kelly's only been at his unique slapdash mindfuckery for less than a decade and Gilliam's been ramming it down our throats (sometimes to gorgeous avail and sometimes with complete and utter confusion and annoyance, a la The Brothers Grimm) for over two generations now. Oh well, it will still be a fun trainwreck to witness.

Jan 15th: Apparently Jackie Chan is in a movie called The Spy Next Door (1%) and even though the email was right in front of me telling me I could have free passes to an advanced screening this weekend and had a very short paragraph explaining the plot of the film and I knew I was going to be covering it a few hours later in a blog post, I automatically pressed delete just out of sheer reflex. So instead of spending the time to look it up on IMDb, I leave you with wondering with bated breath on that one. What would you say if I told you The Book of Eli (47%) was a post-apocalyptic thriller starring Gary Oldman and Tom Waits directed by the Hughes Brothers, of Menace II Society and From Hell fame? You'd say it at least had potential, right? What if I told you the lead actor was Denzel Washington and it looked like it had the subtleties of a Bruckheimer flick? Ruins all the other promising things, huh? Tricky sequences of questions ruin everything, don't they? Meanwhile, Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil (Too%) apparently got made in some alternative universe in which the first completely forgotten poorly-rendered CGI fairy tale spoof flick was actually enough of a success to warrant a theatrically released sequel. Luckily, the indieplex release of Crazy Heart (93%), aka this year's The Wrestler, except with an aging country music singer, will save this week's releases from total and utter failure, although this is another 2009 holdover, so, yeah...2010, you've got some work to do. There's also the domestic drama The Private Lives of Pippa Lee (12%) starring Robin Wright Penn and Winona Ryder, about a woman nearing a nervous breakdown, which was miraculously transported via time machine to 2010 from the year 1993, when those actresses and a plot like that actually garnered an audience. (Not really.)

Jan 22nd: Even stranger than that Book of Eli movie is that when I saw the trailer for the fallen angel epic battle flick Legion (71%), I was very much aware of its ridiculousness, of its brash chintziness and overly basic Braveheart-with-angels-in-the-desert set-up, and yet for some reason I really wanted to see it. I can't explain why, but researching that the only past directing experience helmer Scott Stewart has is a short film version of the great Raymond Carver story "What We Talk About When We Talk About Love"; what the connection is I have no idea, but it must have something to do with why I want to see this bizarre action/fantasy film. The infamous poster that has stained movie theater hallways for way too long now for Tooth Fairy (4%) tells us with a single image everything we need to know without actually knowing anything: The Rock in ice skates, knight's armor, a pair of feathered wings, and his burly hands on his hips. Need I Google more for you? Extraordinary Measures (6%), after further consideration, is indeed not the same thing as either the 1997 Hugh Grant/Gene Hackman medical thriller Extreme Measures nor the 1998 Michael Keaton/Andy Garcia medical thriller Desperate Measures. Instead, it is merely a 2010 Brendan Fraser/Harrison Ford medical melodrama. Way different.

Jan 29th: More IMDb trivia! Did you know the director of Ghost Rider, Simon Birch, Daredevil, and this month's Kristen Bell romantic comedy vehicle When in Rome (29%) is from Hastings, Minnesota? How about that! Useless knowledge pushing educational theory/ideology and/or fond family memories from my childhood out of my head! Hooray! Seriously though, Kristen, if you're ever up this way visiting the great Mark Steven Johnson (what a name, am I right?), stop by my place; I've got scripts better than "unlucky girl finds herself overcome with suitors during a trip to Rome" up the wazoo in my apartment. Really. Mel Gibson stars in Edge of Darkness (32%), a remake of a TV miniseries about a cop who investigates the suspicious death of his daughter, and while I yawn and think about, once again, the 90s (specifically Gibson flicks that even teenaged me thought were time-wasters like Payback and Conspiracy Theory), at least back then the thrillers had a sense of humor about them. He was still coming off of playing Lt. Riggs, so he had to crack a lame joke to keep us from caring about the generic plot. Now it's just sad, even more so given the fact that this is no longer the MG we remember, in so many ways, even if that one back then wasn't that entertaining either. Lastly, probably the only surefire flick to satiate my need for pretentiousness, is Michael Haneke's The White Ribbon (99%). From the twisted mind that brought you The Piano Teacher and Funny Games (also, though, the more reserved and therefore better Cache) comes a black-and-white tale of a small conservative village circa the years before WWI and how mysterious gruesome acts begin to plague the citizens. Sounds and looks like the perfect balance between boring gorgeousness and titillating anxiety-ridden shock cinema, which is exactly how I like to close out a month of Grade-F garbage.

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  1. Blogger chris | 9:50 AM |  

    I didn't do my monthly assessment of movies seen in this post so I shall do it in the comments:

    I didn't hate Up in the Air like some of my Blogulator colleagues did ("who hires somebody to fire their employees for them?!") but I did go back and forth during my viewing of it in kind of a volatile way, finding it alternately inspired and sterile, ultimately rendering it a perfectly okay movie in my book.

    The Princess & the Frog was pretty terrible. Generic was one thing (they kinda had to tread this line for the story they were attempting), but what ultimately bothered me most is that yes, the 2D animation was a nice retro trip visually, it still had all the ADHD trapping of modern cartoons, which I just cannot get behind. Also, the racism was minor, but the classism was deeply rooted. Ah backwoods Southern people! They have no teeth and have inbred themselves retarded!

    Bad Lieutenant was not as zany as I had anticipated, but this wasn't necessarily a bad thing. It just didn't make more than a handful of scenes memorable, though those scenes (iguanas, dancing soul) were hypnotically and crazily brilliant.

    Nine was the worst movie of the bunch. Sure I'm biased against traditional musicals in the first place, but when you add together Daniel Day-Lewis, Frederico Fellini, and a pretentious opening line about the nature of deceit in filmmaking should make for a more intellectual affair with songs, yes? No, instead we get two hours of different actresses that can't sing or singer that can't act singing the name "Guido!" over and over again until the movie ends with the complete opposite of what happens at 8 1/2's conclusion.

    So no December releases have inched in my Top 10, though I am seeing Avatar this afternoon! (Sarcasm? Not sure yet.)

  2. Blogger DoktorPeace | 2:25 PM |  

    I also saw Nine. Fell asleep during half of the musical numbers, but didn't necessarily hate the rest of it. I don't know why not... Almost everything it did was pretentiously hateable, as you mentioned. But I didn't come away nearly as bothered as I did after, for instance, Avatar.

    Seriously, though. Why did every song (I was awake for) mention his name being Guido at least 10 times?

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