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Off The Couch And Into The Theater: October 2011

Wow, I can't believe it's October and I still haven't seen Drive, Moneyball, and/or 50/50. What is wrong with me? I will try to remedy as much of this during the weekend as possible. In fact, the only movie I saw during the month of September was Contagion, a movie I thought for sure I was going to let slip by me. Then I realized we have a friend who used to be a nurse and really likes watching people get sick on screen. I know; it's sick. But we love her! Oh and maybe I set myself up for it because I didn't really care about liking the movie, but Soderbergh's apathy toward filmmaking really came through on the screen. Beautiful shots, but barely-there characters in a wafting ensemble of quiet panic and generic consequences. It wasn't bad though. Objectively better than Outbreak, but not nearly as entertaining or monkey-filled. Here's the releases for this month, with "Do I Wanna See It?" percentages in parentheses...

Oct 7th: As you can see by my monthly faves on the sidebar to your right, I am very curious and skeptical of Real Steel (62%), the family robot boxing drama starring Hugh Jackman. I was much looking forward to it joining the pantheon of terrible ideas with brilliant execution such as Troll 2 and Con-Air, but alas, it's now being marketed and received as an Iron Giant-esque touching story of father and son. I showed the trailer for The Ides of March (87%) to my Media Studies class as an example of hegemony and yet I couldn't help but be once again intrigued by the powerhouse of actors that dominate the election thriller helmed by George Clooney. On the art house side of things, the Norwegian dramedy Happy Happy (19%) follows a single woman who becomes obsessed with her happily married neighbors, who seem to have life figured out. If it weren't fluffy-looking it could have made for a damn good suspense flick. The dramedy might need to die out for a while methinks. My Afternoons with Marguerite (11%) was supposed to come out last month, but the heartfelt Gerard Depardieu-befriends-an-old-lady comedy is coming out this weekend instead. Still not gonna see it. Unless my mom or stepdad DVR it a year from now and we watch it on Christmas. I could see that happening.

Oct 14th: The remake of The Thing (91%) is coming out and while I'd like to say "finally" and move on, it seems to have been produced/released relatively quickly, which either means it was hastily done or it hasn't become an opus over-bloated ordeal and could be what it looks like - a lean take on the Carpenter classic. I'm fine with that, though I will miss the synths. Meanwhile, I've never seen the original Footloose (34%), but I've always found it odd when two remakes are released on the same day. I can't help but think that a time traveler from the past would be very confused. The Big Year (59%) probably has no reason to be good, it being a bird-hunting comedy starring Steve Martin, Jack Black, and Owen Wilson, but I have a dumb soft spot for all three of those men and so I kind of want to see the assuredly milquetoast tale of a group of friends out for a weekend with their guns and binoculars. Michael Shannon stars in Take Shelter (93%), which guarantees that it's going to be creepy, and everyone should know by now how much I adore creepy. I just hope I don't let this one wait until Nerdflix like I did with My Son My Son What Have Ye Done a couple years ago. Blackthorn (97%) tells the tale of what if Butch Cassidy survived his shootout with the Bolivian police and went on trying to live after a life full of criminal escapades. The clincher, besides harkening back to the best Western ever? Sam Shepard plays Butch! One actor I don't care about is Chris Evans, whose attempt at seriousness, Puncture (62%), is The Lincoln Lawyer meets Half Nelson, with a defense attorney who's addicted to drugs.They're lucky they combined murder and drugs, otherwise that percentage would be far lower. Toast (66%) also gets me at a couple weak spots, as it weaves a story through foodies in 1960s England. That should be self-explanatory.

Oct 21st: Never saw the first two, but I always have an inkling to see a ghost story, so Paranormal Activity 3 (43%) is much more welcome this Halloween than another Saw film. Who knows? If the first two are on Nerdflix, I might be there. I really can't believe we're getting another The Three Musketeers (38%), and that this one looks so action-heavy without even the flourishes of your average Michael Bay production that it will likely be beyond forgettable. Margin Call (61%) dramatizes the 2008 financial crisis, and while I heard HBO's version Too Big to Fail was erratic and overly staged, I am always interested in how recent events are so quickly turned into entertainment nowadays. Plus I just saw Inside Job and that was pretty good. Kevin Smith's Red State (90%) gets its proper release and while many people, myself included, have problems with the man, everyone seems to agree that it's nice that he tried something different here. Too dark to be called a comedy, too comedic to be called horror, and too political to be called a horror comedy, it might just be a good swan song for him. I'm pretending his hockey comedy in production doesn't exist. Johnny English Reborn (2%) is Mr. Bean's latest assault on America. I watch enough Bean with my mother-in-law, thank you very much. Sorry! I just don't get it! He makes weird faces! It girl Juno Temple's career is supposed to be catapulted with Dirty Girl (58%), about an angsty teen who goes on a road trip with her gay BFF, but it's gotten bad reviews and has two starkly different trailers - one mass-marketed as inspirational, another indie-marketed as sardonic. Weekend (53%) looks like a majestically shot gay romance, but that's about it. Sounds like a end-of-the-queue Nerdflix flick to me. Colin Firth stars in the ensemble Main Street (46%), which looks quirky and about a small town. I don't want to prejudge it because it could be State & Main, but since it's not written by David Mamet, probably not.

Oct 28th: I thought originally that Anonymous (84%) was going to be an intense literary drama about what if Shakespeare didn't exist, but according to all the TV spots it looks like it's going to be a political caper about how that relates to an attempted ousting of the Queen. Boo. Still interested. I had no idea why I was interested in Puss in Boots (77%) until my lovely wife reminded me that I love cats and I particularly love them when they act like serious humans. And so here I go, off to a Shrek spin-off movie in a few weeks. In Time (88%) seems to be the most exciting mainstream release of the month, however, as it could be sleek and perplexing like Minority Report or Dark City if it's smart, but it's probably more likely that it will be flat and Timberlakey. Hunter S. Thompson never really caught my reading eye, so The Rum Diary (41%), keeping in form from Fear & Loathing by keeping Johnny Depp cast as the protagonist, won't either. I do find it odd that it looks far breezier than a Thompson-based story should. Sleeping Beauty (26%) stars Emily Browning of Sucker Punch, but isn't a live-action remake of the classic Disney animated film. Lamerz. I would totally see that. It's something about a college girl and temptation instead. Pedro Almodovar's latest is The Skin I Live In (86%) with Antonio Banderas as a plastic surgeon, so basically a Spanish Nip/Tuck with a lot more intelligent psychological profiling. Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 (68%) chronicles the eponymous movement through a Swedish lens. Why are they so interested in our country? Don't they have enough sex crimes and girls with tattoos solving them to keep them busy? And finally, Oranges and Sunshine (60%) features Emily Watson as a social worker who does powerful stuff.

As always, big thx to Joe at Uptown Theatre for hooking me up with the indie release dates for Minneapolis!

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