Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Winter Movie Preview -- Part Three

Live from New York City!  Here's the wrap-up on my Winter Movie Preview.  Safe traveling today, everybody.  Look good for the X-Ray.

TRUE GRIT – Remake of old John Wayne movie. But it’s by the Coen Brothers so it strays somewhat from the original. In the new version, it’s set in a Jewish neighborhood in Minnesota.

THE WAY BACK – Just in time for a white Christmas, a film set in a Soviet gulag.

I LOVE YOU, PHILLIP MORRIS – When a movie has been held from release for several years, that’s usually a clue. Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor are gay lovers. The studio has big concerns that the audience won’t accept Carrey in this role – not as a homosexual but in a drama.

SOMEWHERE – Stephen Dorff as a hard-living actor living alone until his 11-year-old daughter shows up on his doorstep. Didn’t James Brooks already make this movie? I’LL DO ANYTHING.

HOW DO YOU KNOW – This one is by James Brooks. A rom-com driven by intelligence and characterization; not studio formula or juvenile humor. So prospects are iffy.

SEASON OF THE WITCH – Nick Cage is a 14th Century knight who must escort a young witch to her trial. Townspeople with pitchforks he can deal with, along with dragons, and the Black Plague. But then he encounters Endora and she is PISSED.

BARNEY’S VERSION – Paul Giamatti as an irascible TV producer and his larger-than-life dad, Dustin Hoffman. It’s set over three decades. Based on the novel. It sounds very intriguing, even if it is released in January. Usually January is the dumping ground for duds.

THE DILEMMA – Schnazzy title.  Vince Vaughn must decide whether to tell his best friend, Kevin James, that his wife is cheating. Didn’t they do this on KING OF QUEENS... twenty times? But there is justice. Kevin James is doing movies. Lea Remini is now on THE TALK.

THE GREEN HORNET – Seth Rogen as a superhero. No, really.


FRANKIE & ALICE – Halle Berry’s shameless quest for an Oscar continues. This time she’s a stripper with multiple personalities. The good news is it’s like getting lap dances from eight girls at once!

NO STRINGS ATTACHED – Ashton Kutcher and Natalie Portman just want to be Fuck Buddies. I bet he falls in love with her and his guy friends tell him not to. January, people.

31 comments:

Tim W. said...

Ken, some questions for you.

How Do You Know looks like it might be good (James Brooks AND Paul Rudd!!), but I'm concerned that the trailer didn't show anyone get hit in the crotch. As an insider, can you tell me if there are any such scenes, because that would make this a must see?

I heard there's a scene in Season of the Witch where Nic Cage goes a little over the top. Have heard whether this is true? I find it hard to believe.

No Strings Attached seem to be Natalie Portman's first real comedy. Is it possible to see the version without Ashton Kutcher in the theatre, or do we have to way for the Directors Good Cut on DVD?

Thanks.

RockGolf said...

"THE GREEN HORNET – Seth Rogen as a superhero. No, really."

Hey, Ken. I just checked back on your Summer 1989 Movie Preview blog entry and found this:

BATMAN Michael Keaton as a superhero. No, really.

Irving the Explainer said...

At the risk of being the guy who missed the point and took the joke seriously, I have to note that the reason why I LOVE YOU PHILIP MORRIS sat on a shelf for years has nothing to do with the quality of the film or concerns about audience expectations for Jim Carrey. This was one of those cases in which the production company went bankrupt, and everyone sued everyone, and the film could not get released till that was settled.

Mac said...

There's some reasons to be (cautiously) optimistic on that list. That James Brooks film might just hit the spot. The Coen Brothers and The Dude has to be worth watching. Paul Giamatti and Dustin Hoffman - yup. I LOVE YOU PHILIP MORRIS had a limited European release in the Spring and was well-received. I like Natalie Portman, but I suspect any funny stuff she might do in that movie will get sucked into the comedy black-hole that is Ashton Kutcher.

Jim, Cheers Fan said...

BATMAN Michael Keaton as a superhero. No, really.

Also, too, Tobey Maguire as a superhero. No, really.

Nick Cage is a 14th Century knight
Maybe this one is such a no-really that it will turn out really good. Let's hope it's a comedy.

gottacook said...

A few years ago, a Superman feature was nearly produced that would have had our host writing: "Nicolas Cage as a superhero. No, really."

D. McEwan said...

The True Grit remake has to be better than the original; it won't have John Wayne in it. Instead, they've used an actor who can actually act! Novel approach. Anything is better without John Wayne in it, including the planet earth. Bela Lugosi was a better actor.

As a gay man myself, I don't accept Jim Carrey as a gay man. Straight folks, you can have him. Please.

Now Ewan McGregor, on the other hand, mmmm. Ewan could do so much better than Jim Carrey! L.B. Mayer used to cast romantic leads based on the idea: "Would I want to watch these two people have sex?" Clearly that approach was not taken here.

WV: "Goonally" Where The Goon Show was performed.

Kiesy said...

Matt Damon in place of Glen Campbell counts as an upgrade, also.

Max Clarke said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kiesy said...

Actually, given the Coens's expressed intention of getting closer to the novel, the role of Rooster Cogburn should probably have gone to Brian Dennehy. He's really too old for the role, but otherwise he fits the description perfectly.

Somersby Creek said...

@D.Mcewan said, "Anything is better without John Wayne in it, including the planet earth. Bela Lugosi was a better actor."

Wayne himself said he wasn't an actor, he was a re-actor. His objective was simply to react to the situation thrown at him in the film. I think he did an admirable job of it. His "acting" was always natural, spontaneous and utterly convincing.

Can't say the same for Bella Lugosi.

Ref said...

I'd say John Wayne was just playing John Wayne. Sometimes it worked, and sometimes it didn't. When it did, it was great.

Matt said...

Hey Ken,

I live in the UK and I can tell you that "I Love You Phillip Morris" is actually a terrific piece of work from all involved. Also, it's actually quite a goofy and broad performance from Carrey, but it's wrapped up in this sociopathic character which makes it very compelling. Would definitely recommend.

Cap'n Bob Napier said...

John Wayne was a great actor.

D. McEwan said...

"Somersby Creek said...
Wayne himself said he wasn't an actor, he was a re-actor. His objective was simply to react to the situation thrown at him in the film. I think he did an admirable job of it. His 'acting' was always natural, spontaneous and utterly convincing."


First off, most good acting teachers will tell you acting is reacting. Trust Wayne to be unoriginal.

Wayne's "acting" was never natural, spontaneous, nor convincing, utterly or otherwise. I have never heard him speak a word that sounded remotely like an actual human speaking. His Oscar is the example I always cite when wanting to label the Oscars as meaningless.

Much as I loathed his politics, I hated his excuse for acting long before I became politically aware. Jimmy Stewart was highly conservative also, but Stewart was a great actor.

We agree than Lugosi was a piss-poor actor, but Wayne was even worse.

D. McEwan said...

@Kiesy, I didn't realize that was Matt Damon. You are right. He is very much an upgrade also. Nothing against Glen (as opposed to Wayne, whom I have much against), but acting was not high up on is list of talents.

WV: misma, which today I do. Store-bought pumpkin pie is never as spicy as the one's she made.

MBunge said...

"Wayne's "acting" was never natural, spontaneous, nor convincing, utterly or otherwise. I have never heard him speak a word that sounded remotely like an actual human speaking."


So, what's wrong with the overwhelming majority of people who find Wayne to be a good actor capable of great roles?

And you can bitch about his politics all you want, but a conservative willing to present himself to the audience as the face of American race-hatred in THE SEARCHERS can't be all bad.

mIKE

D. McEwan said...

"MBunge said...
So, what's wrong with the overwhelming majority of people who find Wayne to be a good actor capable of great roles?"


What on earth makes you think "the overwhelming majority of people" think that useless lump of meat was a good actor? You have some documentation of a scientific study or poll? He was a star and had lots of fans. So did Lugosi. So did Elvis (In fact Elvis's fan base was far bigger), and neither of them could act either. But by no stretch of the imagination does the portion of people so deluded they think Wayne could act constitute an "overwhelming majority".

Certainly most of the people I know, even the handful who like him, concede what a terrible actor he was.

As for Wayne not being "all-bad", yes he was. Plus a hypocrite, all gung-ho for sending my generation to die in Vietnam, while all the guns he ever faced were blanks on backlots. Jimmy Stewart at least actually went to war, which perhaps may be why Stewart wasn't so publicly gung-ho a hawk.

Matt Patton said...

I'm not going to wade into the whole John Wayne mess here -- On the other hand, Jeff Bridges seems less like an improvement than a sideways move. He's pleasant enough, but he's hardly an actor that makes me sit up and take notice. Did they even think of asking Robert Duvall? He played ornery old cusses very convincingly for years before he actually became one. He could have given a brilliant performance in his sleep.

My other potential problem with the remake of TRUE GRIT is that it was written and directed by the Coen Brothers. Charles Portis, who wrote the original novel, is a witty man. The Coens are not witty--they're smartasses. I can see them trying to pump up the laugh quotient by turning things up to 11 and making an ever bigger mess of the material than old Henry Hathaway did.

jbryant said...

Well, every time John Wayne gets mentioned here, D. swats him down and I try to prop him back up. I don't want to repeat myself too much, but I'll just say that I think Wayne, whatever his personal flaws, was generally a great movie actor. Like many big stars, he mostly worked within his limitations, and savvy directors knew how to use him effectively. I don't think an untalented oaf could've accidentally given those superb performances in THE LONG VOYAGE HOME, SHE WORE A YELLOW RIBBON, RED RIVER, FORT APACHE, ISLAND IN THE SKY, HONDO, THE SEARCHERS, THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE, IN HARM'S WAY, to name a few.

I don't know what "most of the people I know" think about Wayne; I haven't asked. But he has major defenders among the serious cinephiles and major film writers who frequent places such as Dave Kehr's blog, none of whom endorse his politics. Wayne's talent or lack thereof is the kind of thing intelligent folks can disagree about.

D. McEwan said...

Out comes the swatter. If Wayne had worked within his limitations, he would have been a truck driver. He never gave a "superb" performance in anything. He never gave an adequate performance in anything.

When I was 19, I worked holding cue cards on a Bob Hope TV special shot at The LA Sports Arena as a tribute to Wayne, so I met him the once, though my job was such that I had to keep my opinions on the oaf quiet. The closest to any interaction between us was the quizzical looks he shot at the cue card kid who was always scowling at him.

I spent years as an actor, and I have respect for acting and those who do it well. Wayne didn't simply do it badly. He couldn't do it at all.

jbryant said...

I've also acted and respect the craft and those who do it well. So I guess we're both right.

D. McEwan said...

Excpet for your wild, utterly wrong theory that John Wayne could act.

MBunge said...

"Certainly most of the people I know, even the handful who like him, concede what a terrible actor he was."


That only proves you need to get out more.

Mike

MBunge said...

"I spent years as an actor, and I have respect for acting and those who do it well. Wayne didn't simply do it badly. He couldn't do it at all."


John Ford clearly thought otherwise, or was someone forcing him to make all those films with Wayne.

Mike

D. McEwan said...

John Ford did indeed think differently. But then, he had only one eye, so it's understandable that he couldn't see how two-dimensional (Well, actually, none-dimensional) Wayne's alleged "acting" was.

However, having witnessed Wayne's "acting" for myself, I'll take the evidence of my own eyes over Ford's mistaken opinion.

jbryant said...

D.: My assertion that John Wayne could act is not a theory; it's an opinion. One shared by many respectable and knowledgeable critics and actors -- as well as many mouth-breathing dumbasses, sure. Those who share your opinion undoubtedly span a similar spectrum. We're all taking "the evidence of (our) own eyes" on the matter.

D. McEwan said...

I never said that the myth that John Wayne could act was a "Theory." Scientific evidence is required for evidence. The myth of Wayne's talent is indeed an opinion, an incorrect opinion.

D. McEwan said...

Okay, scanning up the column, I see I did say it was a theory. (it's late.) I stand corrected by myself. But I stand by my assertion that it's a myth.

MBunge said...

"However, having witnessed Wayne's "acting" for myself, I'll take the evidence of my own eyes over Ford's mistaken opinion."


Thanks. I wanted a measure of how cluelessly arrogant you are, and putting yourself above John Ford gives me a pretty good sense of it.

mike

D. McEwan said...

John Ford was a great director. How Green Was My Valley is one of my favorite movies. It's a shame he wasted so much of that talent on westerns.

But you know, when Ford says "John Wayne can act" and I can see for myself that he can't, I am going to rely more on my own observation than his opinion to the contrary. Maybe the eye that could see could good acting from bad was the one he lost.

The Pope says there's a God, that women are inferior to men, and that gay people should not be allowed to marry, but I arrogantly ignore his opinions too. My mother and father told me to ignore medical science and rely only on Mary Baker Eddy and Christian Science for healing. Had I heeded their advice, I'd have died before Mother did. President Bush told me we had good reason to invade Iraq,and that our mission was accomplished there years and years ago.

If I've learned anything at all, it's to rely on what I see and hear more than on the opinions of "experts".