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Off The Couch And Into The Theater: October 2010

Before we get into this month's selection of new releases (we're inching toward Oscar-bait season, folks!), I'd just like to take a moment to graciously thank DoktorPeace for taking over for me last month while I was sojourning (read: constructing ill-designed sand castles) in the grand countryside of the Dominican Republic for my honeymoon. His coverage of the September 2010 releases was pessimistic and nihilistic, sure enough, but the mere fact that my co-blogger took on the task and completed it with such comprehensive loathing proves that he is as addicted to the integral pop culture building block known as the "feature film" as I am. His willingness to delve into the new releases of the month helped reignite in me a new raison d'etre of sorts. This is not just to spill out a laundry list of the new movies that await our hard earned monies. This is to get excited about the various ways in which the moving picture can disappoint, confuse, bewilder, and once in an every great while, wow. Here are your releases for October 2010...

Oct 1st: Jesse Eisenberg plays Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network (100%), written by The West Wing's Aaron Sorkin and directed by Fight Club's David Fincher - it's so preposterous I think it can't help but work. Let Me In (21%) is the American remake of the competent-plus Swedish horror flick about a kiddie vampire, which means it's both redundant and watered down. Case 39 (2%) has been shelved since 2006, which means that we can't expect much from Renee Zellweger and Bradley Cooper taking in a kid from an abusive foster home only to find out her dark, supernatural secret, though I don't think we would have expected much from such a premise if it was filmed in the future. Waiting For Superman (89%) is the hot new documentary from the director of An Inconvenient Truth about the state of the American education system, which reportedly is the teachers' fault and no one else. The Sicilian Girl (82%) is a promising indie about a girl from a mafia family that testifies against the mobsters that killed her parents, only to find her days are numbered; the trailer is a lot more persuasive than that logline, honest. Jack Goes Boating (30%) is Phillip Seymour Hoffman's directorial debut, which is a clause that should lead into something more interesting than "romantic comedy about two couples whose relationships are sparked by a blind date."

Oct 8th: Katherine Heigl and Josh Duhamel (aka Tad Hamilton) star in Life As We Know It (1%), a dramedy about two single friends who try to raise an orphan together - I hope the twist is that the orphan is actually an assassin. Secretariat (0.5%) is Seabiscuit redux as far as I'm concerned, because it's about a horse that shouldn't win some kind of derby but does, and has that unbearable sheen of every based-on-a-true-story movie, mainstream or indie, of the past five years. It's Kind of a Funny Story (93%) is the new one from Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck (directors of Sugar and Half Nelson), this time covering another depressing topic: a depressed teenager checks himself into a rehabilitation clinic, where he befriends Zach Galifianakis - well I guess that last part isn't really depressing. Freakonomics (8%) is a documentary version of that best-selling non-fiction book of the same name - you know, the one where there's an orange inside of a green apple, and while the economy usually makes for good fiction stories, I dunno how well it will hold up in the non-fiction realm. White Wedding (6%) is a South African romantic comedy about a groom who gets lost during a road trip with his best man; not sure what makes this notable aside from its country of origin, sorry. You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger (68%) sounds like a bunch of sketched out ideas Woody Allen had in an old notebook that he cobbled together because he owed the studios a picture, as it follows two married couples and their various temptations and indiscretions, which include prostitutes, fortune tellers, and art gallery owners.

Oct 15th: Finally the Johnny Knoxville trilogy is completed this month with Jackass 3D (0.001%), in which our ragtag team of pranksters finally grow a conscious and make amends with everyone they've hurt or exploited throughout the 00s; stupid Oscar bait. Red (32%) is similar to a lot of recent ensemble-oriented action films such as The Losers and The Expendables as it features Bruce Willis as an ex-black-ops agent who reassembles his old team to help save his life from an assassin - too bad I've already filled my quota by seeing one of these three films this year. Howl (96%) stars James Franco as the gloriously pretentious poet Allen Ginsberg during his obscenity trial of 1955 - I might take my poetry students to see this and my media students to see the Facebook movie! Rounding out the short batch of films released this weekend is Tibet in Song (11%), a non-fiction film telling the story of Tibet's current culture and political climate through music, which is just vague enough of a description to pique my interest without getting me committed.

Oct 22nd: The Halloween onslaught begins with Paranormal Activity 2 (14%), which I kind of wish I thought I'd see, but I never got around to seeing the first "new Blair Witch Project" so I doubt I'll make it to the lackluster quick-let's-make-a-sequel follow-up. Hereafter (74%) is the first time I believe director Clint Eastwood has attempted outside the realm of realistic contemporary or realistic historical fiction, in that it follows Matt Damon and others as they experience the afterlife - which reminds me, anyone wanna have a Flatliners party? The Company Men (40%) is what my joke up there about fiction films covering the economy was about, as it places Ben Affleck and other characters in a dramatic setting where corporate downsizing ruins their lives. Tamara Drewe (15%) has director Stephen Frears, who is a semi-under-the-radar filmmaker that has been with us through memorable films such as Dangerous Liaisons and Dirty Pretty Things, but seems to fall flat here as he posits what happens when a woman moves back to her home town at a time when her childhood home is being sold. Conviction (62%) pits Hilary Swank against her own brother Sam Rockwell as she tries to justify helping him appeal after being convicted of murder; the two actors and neutral premise kind of balance it all out for me. Last Train Home (51%) is a raw look at the regular mass migration of Chinese laborers to rural home towns for the holidays every year - raw as in truthful and profound, but also as in super dry. Inside Job (23%) is another early front-runner for Best Documentary Feature as it not only touches on the economy but has an incendiary thesis statement that the meltdown was actually an [insert title here]. Stone (57%) stars Edward Norton in corn rows (this alone places it above the 50% mark) as an imprisoned arsonist who plays mind games with his parole officer upon his release.

Oct 29th: The latest in the Jigsaw franchise is, you guessed it, Saw 3D (stomachache%), and you better believe I'm glad my students are finally largely over this franchise and the 3D fad in general; let this be its official/proverbial nail in the coffin. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest (74%) is the final entry in the Stieg Larsson trilogy based on the books that you see everyone on public transportation (elitist guffaw) reading; in reality though, they're entertaining larfs for thriller buffs that are just a hair enough different from the average trash out there to be interesting, but still not something to think too deeply about. Douchebag (49%) centers on two brothers, one of which is on the verge of getting married, to go on a twee yet undeniably sentimental quest to find the other's fifth grade girlfriend. Sarcastic hipster mumblecore may have gone too far with the whole inner-journey thing, but at least it's got characters? I don't even know anymore man.

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  1. Blogger DoktorPeace | 2:32 PM |  

    Thanks very much, Chris. 'Twas an honor.

    It's true that my bitterness is born of desperate desire for something new to ignite my over-exposed id. I understand that Hollywood is a business and people need to keep working, but it's hard for me to reconcile that when drowned in month after month of over-hyped, under-developed dribble. Edgar Wright and the Coens can't make every movie, though, and it'd probably be boring if they did.

  2. Blogger Papa Thor | 8:20 AM |  

    Too many movies!
    Plus why are you making sand castles in the D.R. on your honeymoon? You should be snorkeling.

  3. Blogger chris | 3:12 PM |  

    Oh we snorkeled too! With sharks and stingrays! It was almost as good as going to the movies.


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