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Off the Couch and Into the Theater: September 2011

August was a pretty good movie month for me, despite the fact that I never once made it out to an indie film. No, instead I just managed to rack up the points on the AMC rewards card by seeing The Help and Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and then enjoyed the drive-in with Captain America: The First Avenger, Crazy Stupid Love, and Final Destination 5. Haphazard mini-reviews coming now, in the order listed above: watchable but lacked teeth, drenched in suspense and surprise emotional attachment, formulaic-to-the-bone but I liked the old NYC setting, enjoyable yet used the phrase "soul mate" far too much, and predictably campy but with an awesome guffaw-inducing twist. You can also check Brigitte's reviews of Midnight in Paris and One Day for more Blogulator movie opinions. As for September, the start of the fall is promising perhaps a bit much this year, but I am always a sucker for optimistic thinking (and of course there's your fair share of definite crap to outweigh the potential positives). Here are your September releases for the Twin Cities with "Do I Wanna See It?" percentages...

Sept 2nd: I never wound up seeing Piranha 3D, though I heard it was quite the romp, so if time permits I believe I would have a fairly reasonable amount of fun at Shark Night 3D (71%), the latest in what seems to be the more profitable version of bringing back the grindhouse genre. Sorry, QT. The Debt (44%) looks like such a generic political thriller that I now cringe a little bit every time the commercial comes on the boob tube. I've also grown tired of Helen Mirren and don't buy her as an older Jessica Chastain - an actress I'm growing fonder and fonder of everyday. Apollo 18 (93%) is the next in the line of faux-reality horror filmmaking, but I'm excited about it because it takes place in space. And that's where no one can hear you scream, if you recall. A Good Old Fashioned Orgy (47%) has the disadvantage of being a low-key R-rated sex comedy being released at the end of a summer full of 'em. But for some reason, even though I objectively know he's largely mediocre, I enjoy the screen company of Jason Sudeikis no matter what. Bellflower (0%/100%) is a curious item because I actually already saw it at the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Film Festival earlier this spring, and I was excited as all get out to see a post-apocalyptic movie that took place without the apocalypse having happened yet. The premise and style of filmmaking - raw and gritty yet with the warm and beautiful coloring of California - was so promising, but it ended up just being an indulgent violent love triangle story. Lame. And in Magic Trip (86%), Stanley Tucci narrates the story of celebrated hippie author Ken Kesey - he of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest fame - and his band of nomadic creatives called The Merry Pranksters from the 60s. Now I love Cuckoo's Nest, I teach it even, but Kesey is far different from your average hippie. And I'm afraid I'm not going to like the average hippie any more after learning more about their cross-country party van adventures.

Sept 9th: When the rest of the world finally realizes that Contagion (61%) is just Outbreak with Matt Damon instead of an adorable infectious monkey, I will shout at the top of my lungs, "told ya so a-doy-doy!" Too bad I might be in the theater with said rest of the world. Similarly, Warrior (38%) asks the question "What if we made The Fighter totally trite, had two cheap nobodies - Tom Hardy, who will be Bane in The Dark Knight Rises and Joel Edgerton from 2010 indie fan favorite Animal Kingdom - instead of Wahlberg and Bale, and then made it UFC instead of boxing?" Even worse is Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star (NEVER%), in which Nick Swardson brazenly asks America if they're ready for the next generation's Deuce Bigalow, except even more obnoxious. This trailer reminded me of the fake I Am Sam-esque movie that Ben Stiller's character regrets doing in Tropic Thunder. Meanwhile, in indie theater land, Griff the Invisible (52%) mashes the twee romantic comedy with the superhero movie, which we've be waiting forever for. What would have made (500) Days of Summer better? If there was crime fighting! Brighton Rock (49%) is a remake of the 1947 gangster picture, which was based on a Graham Greene - author of The Third Man and The Quiet American - novel. Is it British? Yes, so it stars Helen Mirren in a supporting role. Higher Ground (83%) is Vera Farmiga's directorial debut - she of Up in the Air and Source Code. Could be vanilla, but she interviews quite well about it and seems like she's genuinely trying to make an intelligent and dramatic - and slightly comedic, of course - narrative about searching for one's faith. I'll be optimistic. And Sholem Aleichem: Laughing in the Darkness (8%) is a documentary about the author of Fiddler on the Roof. Matchmaker matchmaker, I'd rather scan the Wikipedia entry.

Sept 16th: I have no idea what Drive (92%) is about other than that Ryan Gosling plays a getaway driver and apparently the director's debut Bronson was a "badass" movie. I am male so what else do I need to know? Also, my wife does not care for Ryan Gosling she noted during the TV commercial. But then the commercial for the self-explanatory rom-com I Don't Know How She Does It (22%) came on and she said she quite enjoyed its star, Greg Kinnear, and claimed he does not get enough play. You can imagine the conversation that grew out of this. Straw Dogs (79%) is a remake of the classic and controversial 1971 Sam Peckinpah film about a man trying to protect his countryside home and wife from a band of crazed looters and rapists. This time it's James Marsden and who knows how far they'll go, but even if they do, I have a feeling it won't resonate with film critics, either too negatively or positively, this time around. Circumstance (48%) sounds like one of those inevitably well done movies that nonetheless are endlessly depressing. It's about two teenage Iranian girls who fall in love, much to the chagrin of, you know, Iran. If that's not enough, one of the girl's brother also returns home from intensive drug rehab for the first time in years. 5 Days of War (53%) follows a photojournalist in the midst of the Russian-Georgian conflict, which sounds serious, until you realize it stars Val Kilmer and is directed by Renny Harlin, known best for Die Hard 2: Die Harder and Cliffhanger. Still though, The Killing Fields was good. Apparently Mozart's Sister (37%) was also a musical prodigy, and this movie will explain how. I covered the chimp documentary Project Nim (74%) a couple months ago, but it's for realzies coming out in the MSP this weekend. And having seen Andy Serkis play a chimp with feelings/thoughts, I want to now see it more. To end this chunk on a happy note, The Hedgehog (66%) is about an eleven-year-old who decides she's going to kill herself on her twelfth birthday. I bet I can guess the ending.

Sept 23rd: Aaron Sorkin tricks us into thinking real life is theater again in Moneyball (1000% - not a typo), which covers how a baseball manager did something impressive involving money, wit, and innovation. I thought Abduction (5%) was going to be simple. It stars Taylor Lautner and he gets to run around being sweaty and muscular for the girlz. But then I saw it's directed by John effing Singleton, who has fallen so far from his debut Boyz N the Hood it's sickening. I mean, I can handle Robert De Niro slumming it up in Killer Elite (11%) with Statham and Clive Owen as special agents who kill assassins, because he had a long period of reliability, even if his "Analyze This years" have gone on seemingly longer. Singleton only has two, maybe three movies, before he gave in so easily. Speaking of giving in, Pearl Jam Twenty (29%) is exactly what it sounds like, documenting the band after 20 years of "service" by director and uber-fan Cameron Crowe, he of Almost Famous and Say Anything fame. Curious, especially as two good friends of mine are PJ freaks, but this should have been made in the 90s. The Chinese murder mystery/kinda-noir Detective Dee & the Mystery of the Phantom Flame (63%) has a ridiculous title, but looks super stylish and fun to just watch, regardless of how the plot turns out. I attempted to see the urban violence documentary The Interrupters (95%), from the director of Hoop Dreams, at the aforementioned film fest, but it was sold out. Steve James knows how to make the depressing epic and with at least a glint of hope, so I can't wait. Love Crime (46%) is the obligatory French thriller for the month and it involves Kristin Scott Thomas being deceitful and manipulative and blah blah. Lastly, My Afternoons with Marguerite (35%) features an overweight and idiotic Gerard Depardieu befriending an old lady who teaches him to read or something. Should be a short film methinks.

Sept 30th: The Seth Rogen/Joseph Gordon-Levitt cancer dramedy 50/50 (100/100%) has already received much praise in the advance blog reviews, so I have high hopes. I just hope I don't get burned like I did with Funny People. Last month had the Katie Holmes haunted house movie and this month it's Naomi Watts, along with Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz, in Dream House (81%) and this time it looks far more tasteful and, shocking I know, subtle. That's what happens when you hire the director of My Left Foot I guess. I must have seen the trailer for What's Your Number? (10%) at least a trillion times, but I can't remember for the life of me what it's about or who's in it. It's a rom-com where the woman looks for love and finds it in the least expected place. Oh yeah, Chris Evans! And I forgot it again. Restless (97%) is the latest from Gus Van Sant, this time intertwining his ghostly filmmaking style with an actual ghost story. But is it primarily a romance about a terminally ill teenage girl? Or when she and her lover encounter a Japanese ghost? Who knows, but it might be crazy enough to work. Machine Gun Preacher (60%) is the latest from Marc Forster - director of Monster's Ball and Stranger Than Fiction - and stars Gerard Butler as a real-life dude who was a drug dealer and then became a crusader for child soldiers in Sudan. Saccharine dialogue is likely, but so is a decent yarn. The director of Candyman tries out the drug dealer biopic in Mr. Nice (58%), starring Rhys Ifans, who was the only good part of Greenberg, and Chloe Sevigny, who's the best part of everything she's in. Tucker & Dale vs. Evil (99%) is, like the Straw Dogs remake, a home invasion film, but it also looks wildly fun and not the least bit questionable. Plus it stars Alan Tudyk, one of my favorite underrated actin' dudes. And there's a chainsaw on the poster! And Mysteries of Lisbon (33%) is a foreign example of hyperlink cinema, where a countess, a businessman, and an orphan boy's troubles and dramas are followed until they convene in the end. Get me a fresher gimmick, international cinema!

As always, thanks to the fine folks at the Uptown Theater for hooking me up with the advance schedule of art house releases for the month!

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  1. Blogger qualler | 7:33 PM |  

    Soderberg + Outbreak for the '10s = I will make a trek to the movie theater just to see that. I'm surprised your percentage isn't higher because of those reasons! Contagion/Apollo 18 Double Creature?

  2. Blogger chris | 7:37 PM |  

    The only reason it's above 50% for me is because it's Soderbergh - meant to mention that. The trailer just makes it look so bland. And the fact that he's only made two good movies in the past decade isn't really helping the odds.

    But yes of course I would do that double creature!

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