Opening in Chicago, 11/04


The Double (trailer)
Director: Michael Brandt
Personal Interest Factor: 5
This is a good time for my occasional “whatever happened to Topher Grace” inquiry. Was in some stuff a few years ago, looked like he might be a star, then disappeared. Now he’s back playing second fiddle to Richard Gere, which is a not a good place to be in.
Metacritic: 37

Le Havre (trailer)
Director: Aki Kaurismäki (Leningrad Cowboys Go America, The Match Factory Girl, The Man Without a Past, Lights in the Dusk)
Personal Interest Factor: 8
Definitely will need to go see this sometime this week. It’s a film from Finland that has been getting warm reviews since it premiered at Cannes, and it’s by a director who’s not well-known enough that I’ve seen any of his movies but is more than well-known enough that I ought to.
Metacritic: 82

Like Crazy (trailer)
Director: Drake Doremus (Spooner, Douchebag)
Personal Interest Factor: 5
Trailer is certainly earnest but it gets any emotional heft it has from the use of the song, a cover of “Can’t Help Falling in Love”. Reviews are surprisingly strong but I’m conditioned not to trust stuff like this, because it almost always turns out to be crap.
Metacritic: 71

The Son of No One (trailer)
Director: Dito Montiel (A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints, Fighting)
Personal Interest Factor: 5
Here’s a fun game of “One of These Things Is Not Like the Other” using the cast list of this movie: Channing Tatum, Tracy Morgan, Katie Holmes, Ray Liotta, Juliette Binoche, Al Pacino. Actually, looking at it, a lot of those things is not like the other – I’m not sure one can look at that cast list by itself and have any idea what kind of movie it is, except that Ray Liotta only plays sleazy assholes these days. But the correct answer is Juliette Binoche, who is not someone I’d expect to show up in a gritty American indie cop movie.
Metacritic: 37

Tower Heist (trailer)
Director: Brett Ratner (Red Dragon, After the Sunset, X-Men: The Last Stand, Rush Hour 3)
Personal Interest Factor: 5
A few obvious problems here. One is Ratner; the only movie I’ve ever seen of his was his X-Men movie. I only went to see that because it was a continuation of the first two (good) X-Men movies, and it was by far the worst movie of the first three. Second is Murphy. Yes, I know that this is supposed to be a rebranding of sorts for Murphy, since apparently he’s washed his hands of the kids movies he’s been doing … but let’s be honest, Murphy hadn’t done much good for a long time even before he started his kids stuff. Third is Broderick. It’s a longstanding rule of mine that Matthew Broderick is simply not in good movies, and despite occasional rumors to the contrary, I’ve yet to verify a true exception to this rule.
Metacritic: 58

Also this week:
Urbanized – urban design doc
A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas (trailer) – never seen the first two


9 responses »

  1. It’s a longstanding rule of mine that Matthew Broderick is simply not in good movies, and despite occasional rumors to the contrary, I’ve yet to verify a true exception to this rule.

    Ferris Bueller, Election (exceptional film) and You Can Count for Me would be ones I’ve seen that belong in that category at least. Looking at his filmography, has made a lot of clunkers, especially in the last 20 years.

  2. I’ve never actually seen all of Ferris Bueller, but Jeanine started watching it on cable a few weeks ago. So I saw the first half or so, and I thought it was almost unwatchable. Nothing more than lazy pandering to its teenage audience.

    I saw parts of Election – I was working at a movie theater at the time of its release – and I might have actually seen all of it, though not in order. I thought it was smug and a little tedious and I’ve since come to think the same thing of all of Payne’s work, although I’ve still never seen Citizen Ruth. He’s undoubtedly the most overrated director working (with J. Reitman trying hard to catch up), and the trailer for The Descendants has about a half-dozen moments in it that irritate me. I know I’ll see the movie but to be honest I sort of dread it.

    You Can Count on Me was a decent but somewhat generic indie drama. Saw it when it was released but have had zero desire to see it again since then. i guess if I were going to give Broderick one this would be it, but it hardly seems to matter in the big picture.

  3. I think our difference over Alexander Payne is almost as sharp as our difference over Woody Allen. Election was my favorite film of 1999, and I also adored Sideways. Citizen Ruth is very good, but I was meh about About Schmidt.

    As for Ferris Bueller, I don’t think it was intended for teenagers, even if it is John Hughes. It’s the kind of movie that I always stop and take a look at it if it comes around on TV. It isn’t realistic in any way (nobody could cram that much into a day, especially considering he watches an entire Cubs game) but I think it effectively speaks to the yearning for a kind of freedom that is gone after we enter the work force.

    I laughed the other day when someone said about someone having a bad day (I can’t remember who the comparison was–it might have been Tim Tebow or Herman Cain) “He’s had the worst day since the principal in Ferris Bueller.” The movie also does the impressive job of making Ben Stein tolerable.

  4. Glowing review of The Descendants in the NY Times: “To call “The Descendants” perfect would be a kind of insult, a betrayal of its commitment to, and celebration of, human imperfection. Its flaws are impossible to distinguish from its pleasures.”

  5. Went to see ‘Tower Heist’ tonight. The first half of so was a fairly light and breezy comedy (with serious undertones) and it worked surprisingly well. It was quite engaging with the quality ensemble cast used well and many amusing moments resulted.

    But once it got into the caper section, it just dies. The heist is poorly detailed and lazy on so many levels that it’s dispiriting. I won’t list all the plot problems but here are some:

    (spoiler warning)
    – We’re clearly informed at the start of this film how this building complex has one of the most sophisticated and advanced security systems in the world. The people doing the heist are largely incompetent and unskilled… yet they manage to break in with barely any trouble whatsoever.

    – The bad guy is incriminated by a ledger book detailing all his corrupt activities. Firstly, why would he keep such a document in a non-secure environment when it is so potentially damaging. Secondly, what wealthy businessman maintains records on a hard-copy, hand-written book in 2011?

    – Is it conceivable that the group of people who are arrested in a robbery would share the same police van of the person they just tried to rob?

    – (from earlier in the film) apparently a person running can keep up with a van speeding at 50/60kms an hour

    (end spoilers)

    Therefore after a promising start the sheer slackness of the whole enterprise just a negative feeling. Tolerable, but should’ve been better

    Rating: C+

  6. What the hell is kms?

    And Tower Heist was terrible…strictly terrible. The ‘car beating’ scene alone deserves a razzie.

  7. kms = kilometres, what is used in Australia instead of miles (1 kilometre = 0.62 miles).

    As for the ‘car beating’ scene, what about that bit when Stiller tells Alda an employee has walked in front of a speeding train, and later on Stiller says the fact that Alda never asked whether the person was dead or alive as proof he was cruel and deceitful.

    If I was told someone had walked in front of a speeding train, wouldn’t the standard response be that the person has died?

  8. I was just being facetious, sorry. Giving the standard American response to anything other than mph….

    Ugh. Please don’t parse the semantics of a script that was so bad, I can’t even develop words to describe how awful the scene where they each had to steal something made me cringe worse than the scene in Country Strong when Gwyneth’s booze is taken away from her….

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