Opening in Chicago, 06/22


Brave (trailer)
Directors: Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman
Personal Interest Factor: 8
I’m always eager for a new Pixar, but some warning signs on this one, starting with mostly middling reviews, and a general feeling on my part that the Pixar emphasis on character and story has been slipping lately. I guess we’ll see.
Metacritic: 68

Dark Horse (trailer)
Director: Todd Solondz (Happiness, Storytelling, Palindromes, Life During Wartime)
Personal Interest Factor: 4
Somehow, I’ve never seen a Todd Solondz film, although I remember when Welcome to the Dollhouse came out and I felt like I ought to see that one. This one’s about “a besieged man-child and his fractured family” … oh joy.
Metacritic: 66

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (trailer)
Director: Lorene Scafaria
Personal Interest Factor: 6
I dunno about this one. As I’ve said before, I like Steve Carell, but this one just seems too Carell-ish, and besides that, the trailer really emphasizes the sitcom-like aspects of an end-of-the-world plot (e.g., that policeman, or the manic TGI Friday’s-like restaurant that has been overparodied). I’m really on the fence with this.
Metacritic: 60

The Woman in the Fifth (trailer)
Director: Pawel Pawlikowski (Last Resort, My Summer of Love)
Personal Interest Factor: 6
Thriller starring Ethan Hawke and Kristen Scott Thomas, about an American professor involved in some kind of sleazy underworld hijinks in Paris.
Metacritic: 57

Also this week:
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (trailer) – somehow this DTV-caliber shlock gets a summer studio release
Bel Ami (trailer) – Robert Pattinson as 19th-century Parisian womanizer
The Color Wheel – “misanthropic comedy … of pettiness and failure”
Natural Selection (trailer) – indie comedy(?) about a woman trying to reunite her husband with his illegitimate son
Payback (trailer) – doc about the abstract concept of debt


4 responses »

  1. Pixar will rebound and eventually settle into a series of good and bad patches like every other studio in town. It’s hard to keep up a record of near-perfection indefinitely. At this point: I guess we have to say the peak was Wall-E? Toy Story 3 and Up were good, but the former still feels unnecessarily to me and the latter stumbles a bit in the third act.

    What surprises me is that the reviews of Brave cite the story as one of the weaknesses (obviously Pixar’s strength) so I’m curious to know where it went wrong in the development process.

  2. I’d say that the two Bird films are on top, the two Stantons slightly below that, and the first two Toy Storys after that. I’m not sure how that translates to a “peak” but I’d agree that Wall-E was the last first-tier effort from them.

  3. Seeking a Friend for the End of the World: Man, what a snooze-fest. I’ve always seen Carrell as a great supporting actor (Little Miss Sunshine), but seeing too much of him just wears. Keira Knightley has never looked worse (how hard did they work to achieve that and why?), the plot meanders along with nothing happening, they meet people who are handling the impending doom remarkably well (we all remain calm, collected, suburban denizens during mankind’s impending doom? Really?) and the ending is so contrived the effectiveness of Knightley’s final bit of acting is ruined, and they do nothing with what could have been the best moments of the movie.
    I almost got angry at this movie. But there wasn’t enough to care about to get angry. Never should have been made.
    Thinking of it now, I haven’t said that about many movies. This one should not have existed. It had nothing to say about its premise, it added nothing to the dialogue of end of the world movies, it added nothing to how people would act and react, it said nothing about the premise of a love story set during end-times (all these dudes would just let Keira Knightly walk through them without wanting to, you know…), it added nothing to any of the ideas it proffered. Completely useless reasons to exist. And the way he talks to his dad? With the, you know, end of the world coming? Please. You would still have the same feelings, perhaps, but you wouldn’t argue over them. If anything, human emotion would be writ crystal-clear in that situation, with no bullshit.

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