Opening in Chicago, 01/20


Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (trailer)
Director: Stephen Daldry (Billy Elliot, The Hours, The Reader)
Personal Interest Factor: 6
Daldry has been somewhat comically nominated for Best Director Oscars for each of his first three efforts, but it sure doesn’t look like it’s going to happen this time. On the other hand, The Reader was not particularly well-reviewed either (58 Metacritic score), so who knows, although this time he doesn’t have the Weinsteins threatening to take hostages if the Academy doesn’t cooperate. I honestly don’t know what to make of the trailer.
Metacritic: 46

The Flowers of War (trailer)
Director: Zhang Yimou (House of Flying Daggers, Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles, Curse of the Golden Flower, A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop)
Personal Interest Factor: 6
Indifferent reviews have greeted Zhang’s latest, starring Christian Bale in a movie about the rape of Nanking. I had no idea this film had already been released until I saw it was opening here this week, although I managed to see the trailer before Sherlock Holmes yesterday. Apparently it’s been hugely successful in China.
Metacritic: 46

Haywire (trailer)
Director: Steven Soderbergh (Che, The Girlfriend Experience, The Informant!, Contagion)
Personal Interest Factor: 8
By my count (and counting Che as one movie), this is the seventh Soderbergh movie released since I started writing Openings almost 6 years ago. I’m not going to research it too extensively, but I assume that moves him into the lead over Werner Herzog and Woody Allen, who both have six. Can’t think of any other serious contenders. Soderbergh actually has eight if we count Che as two movies, and nine if I count And Everything Is Going Fine, his Spalding Gray documentary that I think played a few shows here last year but didn’t get a real week-long run. Anyway, I’m interested to see if Haywire is any good.
Metacritic: 68

Norwegian Wood (trailer)
Director: Tran Anh Hung (The Scent of Green Papaya, Cyclo, The Vertical Ray of the Sun)
Personal Interest Factor: 6
Documentary about the Scandanavian lumber indust … wait, no, it’s a Japanese film about Tokyo students in the 1960s. My mistake. I thought I remembered this being a big critical hit that I’d have to see but the Metacritic score tells me that’s not quite right. Now I wonder if I just don’t remember hearing about it because Jonny Greenwood did the score.
Metacritic: 59

Pina (trailer)
Director: Wim Wenders (Buena Vista Social Club, The Million Dollar Hotel, Land of Plenty, Don’t Come Knocking)
Personal Interest Factor: 6
Documentary about choreographer Pina Bausch. This is Wenders’s highest profile release since Buena Vista Social Club, which was over a decade ago already. Problem is, it’s showing in 3D, and I don’t think I want to subject myself to that again. I’ve been meaning to watch Wings of Desire again for months; maybe I’ll just do that instead.
Metacritic: 82

Red Tails (trailer)
Director: Anthony Hemingway
Personal Interest Factor: 5
It’s probably just my imagination, but it seems like there’s a real WTF moment with audiences when the Lucasfilm logo shows in front of this trailer, followed by a WWII dogfight movie. Lucas used to produce non-Star Wars stuff from time to time, but these days Lucasfilm is almost 100% associated with Star Wars and, to a lesser extent, Indiana Jones. It’s been since 1994 that Radioland Murders came out, the last Lucas production that wasn’t part of either of those two franchises.
Metacritic: 43

Also this week:
King of Devil’s Island (trailer) – an actual Norwegian movie
My Reincarnation (trailer) – doc about a Tibetan Buddhist and his Italian son
Underworld: Awakening (trailer) – now in 3D!
The Wages of Fear – a new reissue, great film


7 responses »

  1. Apparently it’s been hugely successful in China.

    It’s been close-to-savaged here.

    I’m interested to see if Haywire is any good

    It HAS to be better than Contagion. Rob said on his twitter that the worst thing he can say about it is that Gina Carano is out-acted by Channing Tatum, so at least there’s that-oh, wait-

    It’s been since 1994 that Radioland Murders came out, the last Lucas production that wasn’t part of either of those two franchises.

    I had totally forgotten about this movie. I mean, this one, Howard The Duck….wonder why it’s been associated with Star Wars.

  2. Speaking of Channing Tatum, I’ve seen the trailer for The Vow several times, I movie I will probably never see, and he comes across so bad it defies description. It’s as if he was pulled off the street and just barely memorized his lines. I wonder if he’s playing a hockey player who’s had too many concussions. This guy is a bad actor.

  3. Think of poor Rachel Adams, the force behind the Notebook, the personality that carried Morning Glory…forced to act alongside him. I wondered when I saw the trailer how many actors turned it down before they landed on Tatum.

  4. Don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before, but I was walking around downtown one day and came across shooting for The Vow in Millenium Park. I watched McAdams and Tatum run at the camera for a few takes before getting bored and leaving – watching people shoot movies is really an incredibly boring thing to do.

    They also did some filming at the Music Box, or at least on Southport where the Music Box is, although I wasn’t around for any of that.

  5. I wondered when I saw the trailer how many actors turned it down before they landed on Tatum.

    I imagine it was quite possibly zero. His merits as an actor aside, he’s pretty well-established in multiple genres (including weepie romances) these days.

  6. It’s pretty funny re-reading these comments in light of Tatum pretty much having the best year of any actor, well, almost ever. I still don’t know if he can act, but he certainly figured out a way to connect with audiences.

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