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Off the Couch and Into the Theater: December 2011

First, a recap, then we'll get to the new releases for the final month of 2011. In the midst of unpacking a new home, plus readying said home to host a birthday soiree and a holiday family get-together, I managed to only catch The Muppets and J. Edgar this month. I could have and should have seen many other movies besides J. Edgar, but for a Clint Eastwood movie and for a biopic, it was decent. This is the trouble with both Clint Eastwood movies and biopics. You get something like Unforgiven or Capote and you start thinking maybe the director/genre knows what he's doing. And then every time a big new one comes out I want to see it, but am invariably left at least minorly cold and indifferent. I did kind of like Hoover was so unlikeable as a protagonist and yet still fascinating, but I pretty much stopped thinking about it when I woke up the next morning. I did do a project on the Lindbergh kidnapping in middle school, though, so I enjoyed seeing that recreated Hollywood-style. The Muppets, on the other hand, was predictably wonderful, especially the songs by Flight of the Conchords' Bret Mckenzie. And now, December's film releases both wide and limited for Minneapolis (with "Will I See It?" percentages in parentheses)...

Dec 2nd: I guess I don't understand why there are no wide releases this weekend. No one wants to go against the heavy hitters from Turkey Day? Pssh. Wusses. My Week with Marilyn (78%) is playing at the local art house cinema and I'd see that this weekend if the Minneapolis Underground Film Festival wasn't going down. I found out today that I'm moderating a bunch of the Q&A sessions there, so that'll be fun. I would like to see Michelle Williams in fancy dresses though. Also, there's a foreign movie out. Women on the 6th Floor (8%) is a French period flick about what happens when Spanish maids mess with some uppity rich Parisian couples. It's kind of like Tower Heist, but probably more boring and less offensively bad humor.

Dec 9th: Jonah Hill is a fat unlikely babysitter in The Sitter (53%), despite his svelte new physique he's been showing off on the late night talk shows. Some fat people look weird skinny and he's one of them, says the fourteen-hundredth movie blogger. It looks like Adventures in Babysitting redux and I'm kind of okay with that - if it's funny. I am not okay with New Year's Eve (6%), however, which is the next in a line of hyperlink holiday films like Valentine's Day, even threading through with Ashton Kutcher's character I believe, though I don't care enough to fact-check that. Back at the indieplex, Le Havre (82%) seems like a touching film in the vein of The Visitor, wherein a stowaway boy aboard a cargo ship winds up under the care of an elderly shoe shiner. Cue me bawling in the theater as quietly as possible. The Man Nobody Knew: In Search of My Father (77%) seems like an intriguing documentary, helmed by the son of former CIA director William Colby, who sets out to uncover the agency's controversial past before and through the Nixon administration. I love political thrilling!

Dec 16th: I never saw the first one, so I doubt I'll catch Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (46%) in the theaters, but I guess its predecessor was entertaining? Robert Downey, Jr. and Guy Ritchie seem to be an ideal match. Great style, little substance. Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked (Gutrot%), however, really doesn't even compare, though it's also an unnecessary sequel. At least Sherlock is a canonical figure. Jason Lee, you ruined my childhood. Rent The Chipmunk Adventure instead where the real, animated characters travel via hot air balloon. It's awesome. Shame (89%) sure does seem like a sexy movie. Michael Fassbender is a sex addict whose predilections are obsessively and frequently indulged until a flame shows up that screws up his meticulously created private world of constant pleasure. Weird! Titillating! Steven McQueen directs! Young Adult (68%) reunites the Juno duo of Minnesota-bred screenwriter Diablo Cody and Jason Reitman, and was partially filmed around here. Charlize Theron is whatever the female equivalent of "manchild" is and tries to win back some dude's heart. The trailers make it look like Cody's taking her dialogue more seriously, but also it looks mega-glossy, so who knows. Tomboy (70%) is also French and looks better than the other French movie above. It's about a little girl who's so fed up with being mistaken for a boy that she just rolls with it. I can relate! Ah, skater hair from 1995. The Artist (100%) is probably the most blogged about indie flick of the year and likely with good reason. Yes, it's a gimmick, but oh how I've longed for a modern silent film. Doesn't even matter what it's about.

Dec 21st: The wife and I saw the trailer for the American remake of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (92%) for the umpteenth time recently and at the end she turned to me and said, so deadpan it hurt, "Ohhh it's David Fincher? I would have never guessed." I of course fell for this ruse and was subsequently laughed at. Still, I want to see it basically for that reason even though I have conflicted feelings about Larsson's trilogy and American remakes in general. In other "I'm a sucker" news, Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol (81%) will likely not be as fun as the first three installments of the franchise, directed by De Palma, Woo, and Abrams respectively, but I'm curious to see The Incredibles' Brad Bird take a shot at it. Is it just me or does Spielberg's motion capture attempt at the adaptation of the French comic The Adventures of Tintin (74%) just look like a video game? Not sure what the hubbub is, but it's Spielberg, so we'll find out I assume.

Dec 23rd-25th: (Jam-packed holiday week of releases, so it's split up for sanity.) Speaking of Spielberg, he's also got his live action epic War Horse (67%) coming out this same holiday weekend, and while it looks like quintessential sap for the war movie veteran, there are still somehow shots in the trailer that are undeniably moving. Then there's the new Cameron Crowe flick We Bought a Zoo (86%), starring Matt Damon who does what the title says he does and the plural pronoun implies there's a family of some kind. I think it's telling that the billboards say "from the director of Jerry Maguire" instead of Say Anything or Almost Famous. Jonsi from Sigur Ros does the score though, so I'm there. The Darkest Hour (65%) is another alien invasion movie, but I think maybe the first in 3D, if that floats your boat. It doesn't mine, but I still like alien invasion movies, and I like Olivia Thirlby and I don't hat Emile Hirsch or Moscow as a setting. Precocious child alert! Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (53%) tells the story of a 9-year-old genius who goes on a search for what the key his father left before being killed in 9/11 unlocks. Heart-wringing, I'm sure, but emotionally manipulative is where I might draw the line, depending on Oscar bait/buzz. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (99%) has also gotten tons of buzz, but I think potentially more rightly so, as it stars Gary Oldman as a cold war-era spy, which is basically where the log line needs to end to get me on board. Lastly, the Freud/Jung biopic by weirdo/genius auteur David Cronenberg, A Dangerous Method (96%), finally gets released after a month-long postponement here in the Minneap.

P.S. Per usual, big thanks to the dudes at Uptown Theatre who provide me with advance indie release dates for the local Landmark Theatres!

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