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Off the Couch and Into the Theater: August 2011

I have finally done it. I've gotten back to posting these things on time, actually previewing the month's releases before the first Friday of said calendar period. I feel victorious -- nay, competent! Quick recap of July first and then we're off to seeing what's opening both nationally and locally in our theaters in August (with "How Much Do I Wanna See It?" percentages in parentheses): Horrible Bosses was exactly as I suspected, that is to say pretty hilarious but majorly forgettable, save for a scene involving Charlie Day, a car seat adjuster, and The Ting Tings. The new Errol Morris documentary Tabloid was his most joyful in ages, and while it's not one of his most weighty, it's just as complex as you expect from the man, and quite entertaining too. Winnie the Pooh was not only a perfect kids' film that all are lamenting the box office failure of, but it's just downright one of the best movies of the year. It's pretty meta too, where letters of the original A.A. Milne stories become characters alongside the refreshing hand-drawn animation. Blogulator cohort Sam also has your rundown of Captain America: The First Avenger here as I have yet to convince my wife to sit through it with me. Now onto the newbies!

August 5th: While I'd much rather see this version of James Franco in Rise of the Planet of the Apes (81%), I am far more interested than I should be in the uber-serious prequel to the famous franchise. It's pretty simple, really. I want to see monkeys go crazy. That sounds appealing to me. Case closed. The Change-Up (48%), however, is a far more complex beast of a conundrum for some reason. The Jason Bateman/Ryan Reynolds body-switch comedy has been wayyyy over-promoted, its commercials and trailers garnering little to no laughs from yours truly, includes two barely affable leads, and seems to pride itself on its lazy premise. And yet, I wouldn't not see it. Woe is me. Moving to the indieplex, Another Earth (92%) seems like it has potential, even if it looks a bit too self-serious for its own good. Do you remember the 90s NBC show Earth 2? Cuz I do, and this new parable about finding another habitable planet, albeit this one featuring mirror copies of ourselves, has 100% less Rebecca Gayheart. Life, Above All (27%) follows the story of a troubled yet interminable bond between mother and daughter in South Africa, which sounds nice and all, but where are the science experiments gone wrong, parallel dimensions, and/or bachelor lifestyle jokes? Amirite? Salvation Boulevard (33%) sounds like the kind of overly hijinx-laden indie comedy that could be anywhere between harmless yet forgettable and preachy yet meaningless, as it lampoons the world of non-denominational mega-churches but also serves as a wacky road trip caper. Starring Greg Kinnear as a born-again who tries to get pastor Pierce Brosnan (weirded out yet?) to take the fall for some crazy crime, I think I'll stay home with my bad memories of Saved instead.

August 12th: Aziz Ansari seems to be the sole reason to see 30 Minutes or Less (84%), the frenetic new comedy from the director of Zombieland, because while I enjoy Jesse Eisenberg and Danny McBride in small doses, the jokes and pace (involving McBride forcing Eisenberg and Ansari to rob a bank or a bomb strapped to Eisenberg will explode) here seems almost nearly oppressive for my tastes. The Help (72%) looks to be nearly impossible to deny, as it features hip wise-cracking Emma Stone but center around a warm multi-generationally attractive premise of equality, as Stone writes a book in the 60s disclosing the hard truths of the lives of black maids and cooks in affluent white households. Final Destination 5 (100%) is a no-brainer for me. Not only does my wife claim it to be "the only perfect franchise" because it knows exactly what it needs to deliver, but they've finally given up on the clever alterations of the the name and just decided to stick on a number on the end. Plus a guy my best friend knows is in it. So that's something. Glee: The 3D Concert Movie (1%) will only be out for two weeks, allegedly, though if it's a big hit, you know they'll stretch that out or re-release it or some crap. But still, two weeks is too long. I guess it's a relief that they're finally giving up on telling a story, but still. The Devil's Double (55%) follows the story of a guy who becomes Saddam Hussein's son's body double, to confuse and distract spies/assassins or something, and looks at once riveting and gaudy. Like Guy Ritchie trying to direct something with more substance than style. Miranda July's latest is called The Future (68%), and while its premise, in which adopting a cat leads to many different possible futures for a couple, is intriguing, it sounds just as potentially unbearably twee as Me and You and Everyone We Know, a beautiful film that was intolerably precious. The Guard (23%) stars the very capable Brendan Gleeson and Don Cheadle, but with its madcap logline - "an unorthodox Irish policeman and an uptight FBI agent team up!" - I doubt it will have the emotional depth of either star's high points, In Bruges or Traffic. The German film Vincent Wants to Sea (35%) is one of those fulfilling-a-last-dying-wish movies, this time featuring a boy afflicted with Tourette's escaping from an institution to buy his mother's ashes...you guessed it, at sea. The pun takes away ten percentage points alone.

August 19th: Anne Hathaway and some Brit named Jim Sturgess share One Day (36%) per year getting together for some sexual tension and we're privvy to each meet-up until presumably they die tragically as they finally lean in for that first kiss when they're elderly. Cute conceit, previously covered in book review form by OHD for The Blogulator, but only time will tell if it's a romance worth witnessing. The Fright Night (62%) remake looks like every R-rated vampire movie that's come out in the past fifteen years, but I like the idea of re-watching the classic and the remake back to back, especially since I don't even remember the story. The Conan the Barbarian (55%) remake might also be fun to watch alongside its original, though I think we all had enough Ahnold on our TVs earlier this summer. Jason Momoa, who plays the new Conan, was pretty boss in Game of Thrones, however, so we'll see what the buzz is. Plus, Ron Perlman! Spy Kids: All the Time in the World in 4D (Talkingdog%) still is in the antiquated-turned-novel-again smell-o-vision and features a talking dog, who despite being voiced by Ricky Gervais, is still a talking dog. So methinks I'll pass, if only because I've missed the past three Spy Kids and wouldn't be able to follow. The French thriller Point Blank (67%) is unfortunately not the American masterpiece Point Break, which is disappointing, but I'm always a sucker for the way the frogs do violent twists and turns, so this tale of a nurse forced by his patient to help a dangerous criminal escape from his hospital bed could be right up my alley. Passione: A Musical Adventure (15%) was supposed to come out last month, but got delayed. See my nondescript pre-judgment of it here. I almost caught The Tree (43%) at the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Film Fest but I believe I got distracted by a turkey sandwich. Anyway, it stars Charlotte Gainsbourg whose daughter believes her dead dad has become the tree in their backyard. Depression alert! Cinematography looks beautiful though - apparently a prerequisite for 2011 'Tree' movies. The Whistleblower (59%) is kind of like The Insider meets Fair Game, but without Michael Mann's expert mood-setting or Doug Liman's expert quick cuts. What it does have going for it is Rachel Weisz and Vanessa Redgrave, two actresses I've always admired but never truly loved. That said, I'm also a sucker for political thrillers, this one being about a real-life Nebraska cop who outed the UN during a post-war Bosnia scandal.

August 26th: Paul Rudd finally gets to play against type in Our Idiot Brother (97%), where he finally goes full-on goofy, a la his character from that one episode of Veronica Mars, and Zooey Deschanel, among others, get annoyed by his manchild routine. Apatow redux, I know, but Paul Rudd! Slappa dat bass, mon! Don't Be Afraid of the Dark (8%) sounds like the most generic horror movie ever made, as I heard Katie Holmes describe it last night on TV as "the classic story of a family whose daughters starts to get terrorized by monsters in their big old house and no one believes her." Now that word "classic" could be open to interpretation, but -- YAWN. Nevermind. Not worth it. Colombiana (39%) stars Zoe Saldana, and that rhymes, so it's gotta be good. Seriously, though, speaking of trite premises - this is yet another action thriller in which the anti-hero protagonist, in this case an assassin, shows that she became the way she is because of her traumatic childhood. Probably blah blah revenge. Luc Besson's a co-writer, so that means something to 17-year-old me. Senna (22%) is a documentary of a Formula One racer who won some big championship three times consecutively before dying at age 34. That's impressive, and probably emotionally gripping, but I didn't get in the theater for Talladega Nights so I likely will sit this one out too. Lastly, the re-release of David Bowie's sci-fi cult classic The Man Who Fell to Earth (88%) seems worth checking out, especially cuz I didn't know it existed until now. I'm not the biggest Bowie fan, but if it's in the alleged cult canon and features "surreal imagery" (per its Wikipedia entry) and the late Rip Torn, I'm there.

Big thanks to Switchblade Comb for getting me in touch with the guys at the Uptown Theatre, who have since parted ways with SC but are still providing me with their press releases. So big thanks to them too!

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