So Chicago is pretty awesome. It’s nice and cold, and we can take public transportation pretty much anywhere. Our apartment overlooks Lake Michigan. And the list of things to do is pretty much endless – I’ll probably be able to spend the next year just exploring the city.
One thing it does not have, though (at least that I can find) is a nice list of movies that are opening on any given week. Yes, it’s true, I was cheating in Dallas, using this page to get my info. So now I’ll have to cull the openings from the movies that are actually reviewed, plus anything else I notice that wasn’t screened for critics. This means I may miss something now and again. I doubt it will be anything particularly worthwhile, but fair warning.
Oh, and also, Nick’s openings inspired me to add a bit more content to this column each week. Hence, I’ll add the critics’ ratings (MC=Metacritic, RT=Rotten Tomatoes). After all, it is a new column, completely distinct from that crappy old one in crappy old Dallas.
So, without further adoing:
Director: Jason Reitman (Thank You for Smoking)
Said Nick in last week’s USA openings: “Great cast, clever dialogue, how can this be a bad thing?” Well … I wasn’t the world’s biggest fan of director Jason Reitman’s Thank You for Smoking, and the same description could be applied to that. Clever dialogue loses a lot of punch when it’s only superficially clever, which seems the case for much of the trailer (“That’s one doodle that can’t be undid, home skillet.”). This looks like something that will be amusing once but more tedious with repeated viewings. The trailer sure is. Maybe I’m wrong.
The Kite Runner (trailer)
Director: Marc Forster (Monster’s Ball, Finding Neverland, Stranger than Fiction)
I will admit that this movie’s tagline gets to me: “There is a way to be good again.” I’m not familiar with the book (of course), and the trailer only hints at what the movie is really about, but I’m intrigued. Forster is a solid director -even his little-seen Stay was OK – and all of his movies seem to turn out a little differently than I expect, so I’ll happily go see this.
Starting Out in the Evening (trailer)
Director: Andrew Wagner (The Talent Given Us)
Drama about an aging writer which has gotten notice because of Frank Langella’s performance. Watching the trailer for the first time this morning, it looks a little bit like Langella’s Venus – tired and aging artist rejuvenated by a young woman. Maybe Langella will have better luck with the Academy.
I Am Legend (trailer)
Director: Francis Lawrence (Constantine)
Hard to know what to make of this. On the one hand, the scenes in the trailer of Will Smith wondering around a deserted New York are certainly evocative, in the same way that Tom Cruise finding himself in an empty Times Square in Vanilla Sky was. There’s something inherently unsettling about there being no people where there should be lots of people. On the other hand, though, I’m sure I’ll be disappointed when the zombies come around. I don’t care about the damn zombies. Maybe the filmmakers have found a way to do this that isn’t simply a big-budget redo of 28 Days Later, but I’m not optimistic.
Grace Is Gone (trailer)
Director: James C. Strouse (feature debut)
Previously reviewed on this site by Professor Wagstaff. The good news is that there have been no reports of reshoots by Robert Rodriguez.
The Walker (trailer)
Director: Paul Schrader (Hardcore, American Gigolo, Affliction, Auto Focus)
Intriguing from the outside, as Woody Harrelson has always been underrated as an actor, I feel. Here he plays some kind of … hard to say from the trailer. I guess a male escort, involved with powerful figures in Washington, D.C. But reviews have not been kind, and while I haven’t seen much of Schrader’s directorial work, he seems to enjoy going out of his way to make his films a tough sit. That’s all good and well when the movie is good, but doubly unpleasant when it is not.
The Perfect Holiday (trailer)
Director: Lance Rivera (The Cookout)
A little girl tries to set up her mother with a department store Santa. That doesn’t sound like a perfect holiday, but I guess it probably works out in the end. Way to spoil it with the title, guys.
Alvin and the Chipmunks (trailer)
Director: Tim Hill (Muppets from Space, Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties)
Oh my. If I made a list of everything that’s come out in the last three years, and ordered them by how much I wanted to see them, I think this would be at the bottom. Below Little Man. Or Daddy Day Camp. Or Catwoman. Even below Spanglish 2: The Wrath of Téa. It simply appears to be the most unpleasant, cynical, and disgusting movie that I can remember coming out.