Opening in Chicago, 09/23


Abduction (trailer)
Director: John Singleton (Shaft, Baby Boy, 2 Fast 2 Furious, Four Brothers)
Personal Interest Factor: 5
I find myself faced with the question – would I be more willing to see this if it starred someone other than Taylor Lautner? I have to conclude that the answer is, “probably.” If nothing else, the trailer shows some clever use of PNC Park in Pittsburgh; when visiting there this summer, I actually remember thinking to myself that someone could use the rotunda ramps for a good action scene. And Singleton is certainly a capable enough director to make something like this work. But while I haven’t seen the Twilight movies, Lautner just seems incredibly untalented – his SNL appearance was as bad as I’ve seen in years, and I’ve seen a couple of TV interviews where he seems dumber than a bag of hammers. Nonetheless, I’m willing to bet that the movie’s better than its Metacritic score.
Metacritic: 28

Killer Elite (trailer)
Director: Gary McKendry
Personal Interest Factor: 5
“BASED ON A TRUE STORY!!!!” and starring Jason Statham, Robert De Niro, and Clive Owen’s stupid mustache. They’re chasing assassins. Looks unterrible, I guess.
Metacritic: 43

Love Crime (trailer)
Director: Alain Corneau
Personal Interest Factor: 7
It’s good to see that Kristin Scott Thomas has made a second career for herself playing in French films, because she’s really very good and of course older actresses don’t always have much to do. It’s actually gotten to the point where it seems she’s in every other French movie to get released – by my count, this is at least the fifth French film she’s been in over the past few years. Anyway, here she faces off with Ludivine Sagnier, in what the poster pull-quote calls a “vicious psychological cat-and-mouse game.” I believe it.
Metacritic: 64

Moneyball (trailer)
Director: Bennett Miller (Capote)
Personal Interest Factor: 9
Being a big baseball fan, and one who likes to think of himself as having been ahead of the curve stats-wise, I read the book back when it came out and enjoyed it. It also boggles the mind that anyone, much less anyone at a major studio, thought that a good movie could be made from the material. But apparently someone made one, because here it is and it looks pretty good, if not really all that much like a straight adaptation of the book. Really have to wonder how much it appeals to people who aren’t baseball fans, though.
Metacritic: 87

Restless (trailer)
Director: Gus Van Sant (Elephant, Last Days, Paranoid Park, Milk)
Personal Interest Factor: 7
Seems like it’s been over a year since the first one-sheet went up at the Evanston theater, and since then it’s been shuffled from the Columbia mainline to Sony Classics. Looks awfully cutesy, but I’ve been going to Van Sant’s movies as a matter of routine since I’ve been old enough to go to movies on my own. It’s an interesting career to follow; like Soderbergh, he has his ups and downs, and experiments mixed with mainstream work. I did miss Gerry, though.
Metacritic: 48

Also this week:
Autoerotic – mumblecore sex movie
Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame (trailer) – Hong Kong stunt piece
Dolphin Tale (trailer) – What’s the big deal? I don’t have a tail either, and I can swim.
A Good Man – doc about Lincoln musical
Resurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles (trailer) – doc about mysterious street art


7 responses »

  1. What’s the big deal? I don’t have a tail either, and I can swim.

    I love you.

    Lautner just seems incredibly untalented…

    I have seen the Twilight films and he is incredibly untalented.

    Really have to wonder how much it appeals to people who aren’t baseball fans, though.

    I don’t know either. And I haven’t seen it yet but I’ve heard it compared to The Social Network. I think there will be a lot of non-baseball fans that will go see it. But I’m a baseball fan, so I’m not sure I’m the right person to make that judgement.

  2. Not a baseball fan but it seems interesting enough to add to my Netflix Qwikster queue.
    And the lack of tail comment reminds of the comment about Bethany Hamilton’s lack of an arm. That’s some cold, dark, dry humor. Quite unlike what would result from an occasional trip to the Good Humor man now and again. But, as I said before, that explains a lot.

  3. Nah, the Bethany Hamilton comment was just me being a jackass – I really didn’t see what was supposed to be so inspirational about that story.

    The dolphin one is offered more in an “ironic idiot” spirit – imagine it being spoken by Lloyd Christmas. Movie does look terrible, though.

  4. Have seen hardly any of his work, but considering he was Oscar nominated for his debut film (youngest ever person with a best director nom), John Singleton would have to be one of the more disappointing directors of recent years.

    The only film I’ve seen of his is ‘Higher Learning’ which was unsubtle and overbaked but wasn’t without interest and had serious intentions, something all his early films seems to have. Now he seems to have settled into standard Hollywood fare with this film getting some of the worst reviews of the year. For those who’ve seen more of his work, what are your thoughts on him as a director,

  5. I also saw Rosewood when it was released, and your description of Higher Learning (which I agree with) is equally apt for that film. I’d actually say the same for Shaft, although maybe not as much so on the “serious intentions” part.

    I imagine it was a tough for him, because his early films got him squarely pigeonholed as a sort of new Spike Lee. If he lost patience and just said “to hell with it” when 2F2F came around, it’d be hard for me to blame him.

  6. I remember when ‘Abduction’ premiered (in Australia curiously enough) and Taylor Lautner was treated like a Beatle by numerous crazed fans and it seemed like a major event… and the film was totally derided and largely disappeared without trace.

    So when it popped up on TV I was curious to see it and how bad it was. As it’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve seen it I can’t really remember much about it except it’s an interesting representation of hackish early 10s mainstream action fare; so slick that nothing feels real or matters, conspiraicies and mass surveillance treated as matter-of-fodder for an action film, obligatory Eastern European villain, the look of the film being dreary gray, etc…

    As a film, it certainly isn’t good in any sense but I didn’t hate it. Reading the reviews there was a lot of vitriol for Lautner which I’m guessing was resentment for the success of the Twilight franchise as much as his modest acting talents; honestly, I don’t think he’s that bad an actor but as his career has largely stalled in the last few years we’ll probably never find out.

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