Opening in New York, February 22

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It’s early in 2013, but this certainly will end up the most depressing weekend for new movies all this year. In multiplexes there is Snitch (53), starring Dwayne Johnson. Reading the plot summary, it’s a bit more gritty and socially conscious than most of his films, and who would have figured him in a movie with Susan Sarandon? But has Johnson made any good movies? The Rundown wasn’t bad, but anything else?
Not screened for critics is Dark Skies (46), presumably a standard alien invasion movie. I will probably rent this some day, because it stars Keri Russell, who is just dreamy.

The major art house release is two films, Rubberneck (56) and Red Flag (65) by Alex Karpovsky, who is not a Russian but an American. In the Times review of the two films, Lena Dunham is mentioned in the first sentence, so be either encouraged or forewarned, depending.

The discerning moviegoer in New York will be at Film Forum, which is doing a massive retrospective of films from 1933. It was the last year pre-Code, and somehow they got 66 films from that year, most in 35 millimeter. Some of the films that have already screened are Duck Soup, Dinner at Eight, 42nd Street and Sons of the Desert. This weekend is a Katharine Hepburn double feature: Little Women and Morning Glory (her first Oscar-winning role). On Sunday is Cavalcade (written by Noel Coward, and the Oscar-winning Best Picture) and The Private Life of Henry VIII (Charles Laughton won the Best Actor). Coming up is She Done Him Wrong, The Invisible Man, The Island of Lost Souls, and King Kong, playing on March 3rd, the 80th anniversary of its release at Radio City Music Hall. Oh, for a time machine to go back to that day! Instead we get Snitch.

 

About Jackrabbit Slim

Location: Vegas, Baby! I’m much older than the other whippersnappers here, a baby boomer. I tend to be more snobbish about film, disdaining a lot of the multiplex fare for “cinema.” My favorite films: Woody Allen’s oeuvre (up until about 1990), The Godfather, The Graduate, A Hard Day’s Night, Pulp Fiction. Politics: Well, George McGovern was my political hero. I’m also a prickly atheist. Occupation: Poised to be an English teacher in Las Vegas. For many years I was an editor at Penthouse Magazine. My role on this blog seems to be writing lots of reviews and being the resident Oscar maven.

8 responses »

  1. Johnson is a odd case. He’s been trying to become a leading man for a dozen years and has yet to become a proven draw…yet he keeps getting opportunity after opportunity. His only successes have been in sequels to franchises where he wasn’t an original player (Fast 5 & 6, Journey 2, The Mummy films).

    I thought Dark Skies looked a little interesting, then The Weinsteins cancelled all the press screenings and midnight showings out of the blue – so I assume it’s a stinker.

  2. Die Hard is absolutely free-falling, should wind up in 5th or 6th for the weekend. Pretty sad end (maybe) to one of the biggest franchises ever.

  3. Maybe Fox should have actually tried to make a movie that was good; this one had the stink of minimal effort from the start. It currently has an IMDb rating of 5.8, which is really awful under the circumstances. Even Live Free or Die Hard has a 7.3, and it’s not like that one is super-fondly remembered.

  4. Oh absolutely, that’s actually what I meant by it.

    Pre-release tracking (and even the opening day) proved there was still plenty of life left in the franchise. It’s 100% the lack of quality that killed it.

    The film will still be profitable (thanks to international) despite an embarrassing performance in the states. The question now is whether FOX and Willis pull their shit together and try and end the franchise with some dignity or whether they just go with a remake in 8-10 years.

  5. The question now is whether FOX and Willis pull their shit together and try and end the franchise with some dignity…

    They did. It was 1995, and the movie was called Die Hard: With a Vengeance. Those were heady times, when people under the age of 30 still knew what the hell Die Hard was.

    The interesting thing about the Die Hard series is that, it’s not really all that great of a series. The only movie that has anything resembling consensus acclaim behind it is the first one (which is, of course, a touchstone of the action genre), but the best you can say about any of the sequels is that they have their fans here and there. They’ve made money, but creatively speaking, the series has been wheezing and sputtering since the planning for Die Hard 2 commenced.

  6. I don’t disagree that the third installment (which I enjoy equally to the first for much of it’s runtime) was FOX’s original attempt to end things well. However, it should be noted that they began development on DH4 less than a year later with the whole McClaine-in-the-jungle concept.

    But I do disagree that the franchise was sputtering before last weekend. Live Free or Die Hard only grossed a few million less than the original adjusted. It sits at a very respectable 81% on RT/69% on MC and was also the highest testing film in FOX history (it still may be, not sure).

    Yes, the audience is older and male – but so is James Bond’s*. FOX just churned out a License to Kill rather than Skyfall and buried their own franchise. A decent effort would have likely matched or come in slightly below the previous installment.

    * Skyfall’s audience was 75% over 25 and 60/40 male/female.

  7. There’s a great article in the NY Times magazine this weekend about the appeal of Die Hard. I think most of its legacy is in spawning similar films–how often do you hear a movie described as “Die Hard on a (fill in the blank).” The idea of a hero fighting villains in an enclosed space basically goes back to the original premise.

  8. In multiplexes there is Snitch (53), starring Dwayne Johnson. Reading the plot summary, it’s a bit more gritty and socially conscious than most of his films, and who would have figured him in a movie with Susan Sarandon? But has Johnson made any good movies? The Rundown wasn’t bad, but anything else?

    I was reading an interview with Sarandon recently where she said that she does a lot more supporting roles due to her reluctance to want to spend lots of times on film sets (probably also because her time as a leading lady in major films has passed) – she has popped up in some surprising places lately, including the Adam Sandler film ‘That’s My Boy’!

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