Opening in Chicago, 10/21


Margin Call (trailer)
Director: J.C. Chandor
Personal Interest Factor: 4
The cast list reads like a roll-call of actors I don’t want to watch: Kevin Spacey, Paul Bettany, Simon Baker, Demi Moore. Ouch. Good reviews for the most part but it’s hard to imagine it being something I really need to see. At best it’s not going to be any better than Boiler Room, a mostly forgotten movie that was pretty good and, as we see now, way ahead of its time.
Metacritic: 74

The Mill and the Cross (trailer)
Director: Lech Majewski (Prisoner of Rio, Gospel According to Harry, The Garden of Earthly Delights, Glass Lips)
Personal Interest Factor: 8
I had never heard of this until Ebert’s four-star review, but it certainly seems like the goto art movie for this week. It’s about the Bruegel painting “The Way to Calvary” and stars Rutger Hauer of all people. Looks amazing visually and I suspect I’ll regret it if I skip it.
Metacritic: 82

The Skin I Live In (trailer)
Director: Pedro Almodóvar (Talk to Her, Bad Education, Volver, Broken Embraces)
Personal Interest Factor: 9
Almodóvar, I guess, is something of an acquired taste, and I acquired it around the time that I saw All About My Mother during the Viva Pedro! retrospective several years back. I’ve seen about 10 or so of his films now, and really look forward to each new one. This one looks especially interesting, darker and more twisted than he’s done in awhile, and it’s good to see Antonio Banderas working with him again. If nothing else, his films are always good for a good poster, and the poster for this does not disappoint.
Metacritic: 70

Texas Killing Fields (trailer)
Director: Ami Canaan Mann
Personal Interest Factor: 6
Feature debut by Mann, who is Michael Mann’s daughter, and it’s been getting very mixed reviews. Aside from that, it’s notable for being the 37th movie with Jessica Chastain to open this year. Which I don’t mean as disrespectful in the slightest – in the 4 of the previous 36 that I’ve seen, she’s been very good, playing a wide range of characters. Not sure if I’ll make this one, though. Maybe.
Metacritic: 49

World on a Wire
Director: Rainer Werner Fassbinder (The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant, Ali: Fear Eats the Soul, The Marriage of Maria Braun, Lola)
Personal Interest Factor: 9
Reissue of Fassbinder’s 3.5-hour sci-fi opus, showing somewhat annoyingly in two parts at the Gene Siskel Film Center. I’ve seen Ali: Feat Eats the Soul but otherwise haven’t yet plunged into Fassbinder’s very short-lived but astonishingly prolific career.
Metacritic: 76

Also this week:
The Mighty Macs (trailer) – Carla Gugino as women’s basketball coach
Johnny English Reborn (trailer) – apparently there was a first Johnny English movie?
Norman (trailer) – quirky indie troubled-teen movie
Paranormal Activity 3 (trailer) – didn’t see the first 2
The Three Musketeers (trailer) – “Can’t we make it more like Resident Evil?”


5 responses »

  1. Margin Call is a very good movie.
    Strong performances across the board, especially from Bettany and Moore. Moore especially, tasked with saying a lot with few words and more facial expressions, does a great job.
    It’s a completely different beast from Boiler Room. Where Boiler Room went with the balls-out-Ben-Affleck-shark-tank analogy…this movie plays it close to the chest and shows you all these men know the power they yield, know what kind of damage they are going to cause and it’s all just watching them squirm against the inevitable. The train is coming, and they’re just trying to figure the best way to not be completely annihalated by it. And while there are FAR too many silent ‘independent movie’ moments, and while it doesn’t really seem to know if it wants to vilify these men and women or feel bad for them or just hold up a magnifying glass to a really egregious moment in history, when they ‘start the machine’ and start offloading the toxic assets, (it really is disgustingly cowardly), it hits you and you really vilify not the people involved, but the firm itself, the ‘unseen’ elite corporate bosses.
    The ‘unseen’ reminded me of a line from this season’s Entourage: “How would you like to be the president of this movie studio, Ari? How would you like to know what it feels like to be god?” Here we are, watching some of the most powerful men on Wall Street, but there are still people ‘higher’. Amazing.
    Jeremy Irons has a phenomenal final speech, Tucci is always amazing and Bettany really does great and the scenes between Irons and Spacey shine with two men on opposing ends of an ideological spectrum convinced each is right in their Modus Operandi towards certain disaster.
    “We take our hands off the scales, everyone gets equal real fuckin’ quickly. Fuck the normal people. They need us. They drive around in their big cars and all the things they want…but if all of this goes tits-up, they’ll crucify us because we’re reckless. But if we’re wrong about this…?”
    “Think we’re wrong?”
    “No. They’re all fucked.”

  2. Thanks, Slim. I really did enjoy it. Very refreshing from the spate of poor movies the tail-end of this year.
    While it isn’t perfect, it handled numerous characters far better and had a much bigger impact than Contagion did, a movie very much in the same style and ‘mold’, if you will.

  3. Filmman, dead on correct about Margin Call. Easily one of the best of the year. I was impressed with Spacey–his best work in years. I’ll whip together a full review that I’ll unveil tomorrow.

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