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Off The Couch And Into The Theater: February 2010

Before we head into the releases for the upcoming month, a quick review of films viewed in January: the largesse of Avatar was undeniable and yet it also contained some of the most revoltingly offensive/hypocritical messages and lazy storytelling tactics of all time. So depending on what mood I'm in, I'll tell you it's awesome or it's terrible. The truth is, it's both, though as time passes, my fondness for the film's sheer entertainment/immersiveness value wanes, like my fondness for most popcorn movies do nowadays. That said, Brigitte's weekly fan fiction proves that Avatar's existence has a worthwhile purpose. Youth In Revolt was a surprisingly decent entry in the pretentious indie teenager genre, often making up for its manic and amateur qualities with magnetic dialogue and great supporting performances from Ray Liotta and Fred Willard. An Education, which I'm still not sure how I ended up buying tickets for, was (as I could have predicted if it weren't for the positive critical buzz) a bore, a chore, and didactically confused, to say the least. A small interesting nugget of 60s feminism frustration gleamed through its sluggish script and unsympathetic characters, but never enough to actually say something coherent. Peter Saarsgard is still one of my least favorite actors (creepazoid city!) and the movie's ending made me text DoktorPeace, "Adventureland is wayyyy better than An Education." Now here are February's releases (mostly crap) with Will-I-See-It percentages in parentheses...

Feb 5th: Amanda Seyfried over-narrates the latest Nicholas Sparks ocean-tide-as-metaphor-for-everlasting-love adaptation Dear John (4%) alongside Channing Tatum, who is an actor that deserves an award for being even less recognizable than Sam Worthington. John Travolta apparently went straight from the Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 set to the sound stage for his new action flick From Paris With Love (42%), where he plays the exact same villain with the exact same bald head and goatee. Too bad this time he's opposite Jonathan Rhys Meyers, who was kind of like the Channing Tatum of the 90s (but with an accent!) instead of Denzel. At least Denzel knows how to scream convincingly. Dubbed as "Open Water on a ski-lift", Frozen (54%) is -- uhh -- about people that get stuck on a ski lift, possibly with some kind of murderer involved. Don't care enough to research it, but am interested enough in the gimmick to tip this over the halfway percentage mark. I'm nonsensical like that. Over at the indies, District 13: Ultimatum (39%), which has no relation to last year's District 9, is Luc Besson's (The Professional, The Fifth Element) umpteenth attempt at regained relevancy, and while I'm sure it's pretty and action-packed, you're going to have to be more creative than just "urban sector run by gang bosses needs a hero", sorry Luc. The trailer for Creation (33%) has Paul Bettany as Charles Darwin touching his fingers gently to a monkey's fingers with his mouth agape as a bright light swells behind them. It's hilarious. I'm glad trite indie biopics are finally getting the parody treatment. Wait, it's not a parody? Speaking of biopics, The Last Station (12%) is about Tolstoy something something (falls asleep). Sorry, I know I'm an English teacher, but man, what a drag. I really don't care about watching Christopher Plummer in a ratty beard pontificating all actorly-like with James McAvoy for two hours.

Feb 12th: From the depths of editing, focus group, and re-shoot hell comes Benicio Del Toro as The Wolfman (70%), which I will probably see and get sad about, even though I'm fine with An American Werewolf in London being the only good lycanthropic film in history. Valentine's Day (28%) is like Love, Actually but like, you know, less deep? Is that even possible? Another dilution of hyperlink cinema, it follows various intertwining couples as they break up and make up, surely in a very fluffy manner. Yawn. Meanwhile, Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief (31%) rides the Harry Potter coattails with its chosen-tween thematics, this time with Poseidon's son getting the reins to do something completely magical and dramatic while the wind blows in his hair/fins. I'll admit, for a movie aimed at 10-year-olds, it looks vacantly entertaining. Kurosawa's classic Rashomon (78%), otherwise known as the original Vantage Point by idiots everywhere, gets an epic re-release at the Minneapolis arthouse, and if you haven't seen it, I'll probably talk you into going if we're not too busy catching up on our Oscar nominee consumption. Lastly, St. John of Las Vegas (52%) is one of those unfortunate insufferable indies with a great cast and a disgusting sheen of quirk and self-deprecation smeared across its film stock. Former gambling addict, current insurance fraud investigator Steve Buscemi gets talked into returning to Sin City with his partner Romany Malco by his boss Peter Dinklage, all the while longing for his co-worker Sarah Silverman. It could be so good, but its horn-inflected soundtrack and brightly-lit cinematography ensures us it will be unbearable.

Feb 19th: Marty Scorsese doesn't get much competition this weekend as he releases the long-awaited Shutter Island (100%), which has him returning to his less serious, more pulpy Cape Fear side. This is exciting for me because I think the best thing about The Departed was its sly and clever dialogue and pacing. Let's hope he gets equally outlandish here, all while making the suspense taut and gritty, like Affleck did with previous Lehane source material in Gone Baby Gone, not like Eastwood did with Lehane source material in Mystic River. The one other official release of the weekend is the German/Austrian film North Face (6%), about two Nazis who tried to climb an insurmountable mountain once. If I could never have another mountain-climbing movie come out in theaters in my lifetime, I'd die a happy man. The weekend will also be blessed with the annual indieplex release of the Oscar Nominated Shorts (98%), which have become a staple tradition amongst the Minneapolis Blogulator staffers, though with ticket prices soaring and award-nominated short films coming to iTunes faster, I'd say there's a slight possibility that we'll just hole up in somebody's apartment with a laptop and enjoy them sometime before the big show.

Feb 26th: For the final weekend of the month, which is apparently also wacky movie title weekend, we start first with The Crazies (:-/%), about a small town that gets infected by a dangerous toxin that turns everyone...you guessed it, cuckoo for blood. Timothy Olyphant is in it, if that matters to you, and it's based on a 1973 horror shlock flick of the same name, but I think that after The Strangers, I'm done with modern mainstream slasher flicks. Formerly titled A Couple of Dicks, Cop Out (63%) has Kevin Smith trying out the action-comedy genre, surely with intensely failed results. Even with genre mainstay Bruce Willis and co-star of the imaginary genre flick White Cop/Black Cop ("One does the duty, the other gets the booty!"), Tracy Morgan, I don't see how this could turn out anything but an overly self-aware cliched mess. Nevertheless, I'm curious. And finally, we have 44 Inch Chest (48%), a flick with some powerhouse actors like Ray Winstone, Ian McShane, and Tom Wilkinson who team up to kidnap and torture the not-so-secret-anymore lover of Winstone's wife. It could be interesting, and definitely sounds like something 16-year-old me would want to see, but in a post-torture-porn society (is it too premature to use that phrase?), I don't know if I could stomach it.

What are yallz excited 'bout? Now that the Oscar noms have been announced, which ones must you see before the big show in March?

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  1. Blogger DoktorPeace | 2:28 PM |  

    I'd almost forgotten about the last scene of An Education, with its out-of-nowhere overbearing narration and its alls-well-that-ends-well meaninglessness.

    Best screenplay nom. F.

  2. Blogger Sean | 1:11 PM |  

    This is wrong. Youth in Revolt was horrible. Michael Cera needs to overhaul his image, too. I'm totally sick of his current style. Not funny.

  3. Blogger chris | 1:15 PM |  

    1) His alternate persona was totally awesome and not at all Cera-esque.

    2) Overhauling a one-trick pony is an oxymoronic statement.

    3) If you're sick of his current style, why did you see it?

    4) Tell me why you liked An Education.

  4. Blogger DoktorPeace | 1:18 PM |  

    (grabs popcorn)

  5. Blogger Sean | 2:16 PM |  

    I saw it because I was bored, Chris. Happy?

    Oxymoronic? You're the one that's moronic if you like stuff that is bad. The movie was more irritating than funny. I really loathe teenagers that talk in a super clever manner. Unless of course Diablo Cody or Joss Whedon is somehow involved. The movie was predictable and uninteresting. I also felt Zack Galinfakis was underutilized.

    An Education was charming. The story was timeless. Peter Saarsgaaard was funny and a jerk at the same time. I also like Olivia Williams as an actress.

    I think Michael Cera should do a movie where he's a bully and he bullies people for being nerds. Or maybe he should be the lead cop in a 21 jump street movie. Imagine him and a grizzled Johnny Depp taking on high school crimes. That'd be sweet.

  6. Blogger qualler | 4:31 PM |  

    Fight! Fight! Fight!

  7. Blogger chris | 5:29 PM |  

    The public (co-bloggers) get what the public (co-bloggers) want.

    See I totally thought it was going to be annoying, but I actually ended up enjoying a lot of it. The characters/dialogue weren't pretentious merely for the sake of being pretentious, it was written that way to emphasize how out of place they felt in their own world. Yeah it got hackneyed in some points, but I think that was mostly the director's fault, skipping and jumping between styles too much.

    Wayyyy more entertaining/insightful to the teenage mind than An Education. (Charming?! Biggest creeper that ever creeped!!)

    Plus, it was pretty funny. See below:

    "I want to tickle your belly button...from the inside."

    "I'll only ask once that you and your adorable sweater step away from the door."

    And so on.

  8. Blogger DoktorPeace | 5:44 PM |  

    If you like that belly button line, I gots some hentai for ya.

    Sarsgaarded!

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