Thursday, August 23, 2007

Fall Movies Preview Part Last

As I wing to Dallas, Texas for the weekend to speak to the Dallas Screenwriters Association on Friday night and fill-in broadcasting for the Seattle Mariners (in town to play the Rangers) on Sunday night, here is the final installment of my Fall Movies Preview. Sign up for Netflix NOW.

THIS CHRISTMAS – Oh God no, another “going home for the holidays and confronting where you are in your life” pictures. It’s the fruitcake of Christmas movie themes.

MARGOT AT THE WEDDING – Nicole Kidman – THE INVASION, FUR, and BEWITCHED – is only one bomb away from television. Will this family drama by Noah Baumbach (THE SQUID AND THE WHALE) save her, or does she join the cast of BONES next fall?

BEE MOVIE – Jerry Seinfeld as an animated bee. Probably has some laughs but good luck being funnier than THE SIMPSONS MOVIE.

FRED CLAUS – Another Santa Claus high concept commercial holiday comedy. But the real Christmas miracle is that they got Vince Vaughn, Paul Giamatti, Kevin Spacey, and Rachel Weisz to be in this thing. Tim Allen surely fired his agent.

IN THE VALLEY OF ELAH – CRASH writer/director Paul Haggis is back with this tale about a returning Iraq soldier. Haggis promises lot of exploration on the morality of this war. The first of what seems like twelve “explorations of the war” films lined up for your popcorn pleasure this fall.

THE KITE RUNNER – From the best selling novel. Friendship in Afghanistan. “Exploration of the war” #2.

LIONS FOR LAMBS -- #3. Robert Redford directs and stars as a professor who’s had too much plastic surgery (one operation more than Buzz Aldrin, six less than Mary Tyler Moore) and is unable to prevent some students from signing up for the war. Meanwhile, Tom Cruise, in a real departure, plays a slick guy. And Meryl Streep plays…aw, what difference does it make? She’ll be nominated for an Oscar.


CHARLIE WILSON’S WAR -- #5 but might be the best. All-stars at every position. (pictured above) Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, and Philip Seymour Hoffman star. Aaron Sorkin wrote the screenplay and Mike Nichols directed. And if that isn’t intriguing enough – it’s a comedy.

LOOKING FOR CHEYENNE – A film about French Lesbians. Opens November 16. I’ve already got my ticket.

ELEVEN MEN OUT – Ho hum. Yet another gay Icelandic soccer player movie.

ALL THAT REALLY MATTERS – Michelle Pheiffer makes up for her acting hiatus by being in every movie this season. This time she falls for Paul Rudd. Depending on the make-up and cinematography she’s either twenty years or twenty months older than him.

FLAWLESS – Michael Caine and Demi Moore try to recreate the magic they created together in BLAME IT ON RIO with this jewelry heist caper film.

I AM LEGEND – Another Will Smith desperate attempt at an Oscar. In this one he’s the last man alive. It’s CASTAWAY in New York City. Not only will we better appreciate Tom Hanks, we’ll better appreciate “Wilson”.

GOLDEN COMPASS – Brace yourselves – another epic journey, another trilogy, another book adaptation, and another Nicole Kidman attempt to open a movie.

THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD – long title usually mean pretentious movie. Three years in the making, 34 different cuts, and five test screenings. Uh oh.

THE BUCKET LIST – Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman as terminal cancer patients who live to the fullest. They jump out of airplanes, drive race cars, go to Knicks games and root for the Lakers.

I WANT SOMEONE TO EAT CHEESE WITH – I’m assuming the autobiography of Victor Buono.

SWEENEY TODD – Tim Burton adapts Stephen Sondheim’s masterpiece. With Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter (duh), Alan Richman, and Sacha Baron Cohen. My question: Can Helena Bonham Carter (Burton’s girlfriend) sing? Or bake?

YOUTH WITHOUT YOUTH – Francis Ford Coppola directs his first movie in ten years. Financed by his winery. There was going to be a big car chase scene but the 2005 Zinfandel crop was disappointing.


WALK HARD – Another Judd Apatow comedy, this one starring John C. Reilly as a six decade rock star. FORREST GUMP meets VIVA LAS VEGAS. The only movie I’d see before this is the one about the French Lesbians.


Anonymous said...

Ahhh, you weren't joking about Alvin and the Chipmunks on your previous post...

...I wish you were. :P

Anonymous said...

Please, DALLAS was cancelled years ago. Isn't it a fictional city?

Many years ago I remember hearing Lohman & Barkley do a commercial for a luxery flight to Houston. They described all the great bonuses and treats and wonderful service you'd receive on this flight. Then Al said, "Unforunately however, at the end of the flight, you are in Houston. There is that big drawback."

Better title for EIGHT MEN OUT would be BENT LIKE BECKHAM.

No matter how old she is, Michelle Feiffer is still so much more beautiful and so much more interesting than most all teh 20something starlets around combined. My guess is that Paul Rudd didn't complain.

I AM LEGEND isn't eactly an urban CASTAWAY. He's the last human being, but a lot of mankind is still around, as zombie vampires! It's rich with huiman experience. Actually it's a remake of Vincent Price's THE LAST MAN ON EARTH & Charleton Heston's THE OMEGA MAN. It has a chance to be better than either, sicne the Price film is - well - lousy, and Smith's movie won't have Charleton Heston in it. It's based on Richard Matheson's novel, which despite the silly-sounding, over-the-top premise, is actually a really good book.

GOLDEN COMPASS is based on the first book in a fantasy trilogy I'm told is really excellent, asn really blasphemous, and a MAJOR attack on the Catholic Church. Sadly, the Catholic Church in the movie has been replaced in teh movie with a fictional magical consortium. They didn't want to offend the church that the book was written INTENDING to offend. It's like making a film about The Spanish Inquisition, and blaming the inquisition on Princess Ozma. Nocille Kidman plays a witch, so she learned nothing from BEWITCHED. And Daniel Craig is in it, showing he learned nothing from THE INVASION, and Eva Green is in it, hoping to reignite their CASINO ROYALE chemistry.

I can't wait for SWEENEY TODD. Maybe Marni Nixon can sing for Helena.

Anonymous said...

Oops. I forgot to proof read that, didn't I? Sorry for all the gibberish misspellings.

Anonymous said...

"Michael Caine and Demi Moore try to recreate the magic they created together in BLAME IN ON RIO"

How could you get the title wrong Ken? "Blame It On Rio" featured a classic pair... of actresses.

Have fun with the Mariners, although as an Angels fan I have to say they're starting to get on my nerves.

Anonymous said...

I realize there's such things as makeup, lighting, blah diddy blah, but it ALMOST looks as if Michelle Pfeiffer is getting younger.

Kind of "Picture of Doris Gray".

VP81955 said...

Nicole Kidman plays a witch, so she learned nothing from BEWITCHED.

This will then be at least Nicole's third go-round as a witch (remember "Practical Magic"? Don't worry, no one else does, either). But if Nora Ephron isn't involved with this movie, then she at least learned something.

Anonymous said...

I'll only go see the Alvin movie if there's a Clyde Crashcup feature.

The Minstrel Boy said...

i will probably buy a ticket for sweeny the rest sounds like total netflix fodder. i am waiting more eagerly for DEXTER season 2 to hit the lists than any of these movies.

moe berg said...

saw "elah" this week. that's some heavy duty stuff right there.

i also the "alvin" trailer, which, in its own way, was 100X more disturbing than anything in "elah".

Jim Endecott said...

I Am Legend is based on Richard Matheson's book of the same title. At least I hope it is. Omega man was a distant deparcher from the book as well. I hope they do the book at least civil justice.

Gonna be awesome to hear you on Sunday night Ken. I am looking forward to it. Mariners are really playing well.


Emily Blake said...

Jesus Christ. When does Judd Apatow sleep?

Anonymous said...

"Jesus Christ. When does Judd Apatow sleep?"

On a mattress made of gold.

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R.A. Porter said...

I must be the only musical lover in the world who thinks Burton is going to massacre Sweeney. To put myself in the right mood for this comment I just cued up the original b'way cast recording. For those worrying whether Mrs. Burton can sing...Angela Lansbury doesn't exactly have the must honeyed voice.

My fear with the movie, as with every Burton movie based on an extant property, is that he doesn't give a s**t about your feelings, he doesn't give a s**t about your childhood memories, and he certainly doesn't give a s**t about other creators' visions. He doesn't care about Pierre Boulle or Rod Serling or Frank Miller or Bob Kane. His own ideas are sooo much better than all of those hacks.

Tim Burton: "Anybody who knows me knows I would never read a comic book."
Kevin Smith: "Which I guess explains Batman."

Anonymous said...

Are you asking Jesus Christ when Judd Apatow sleeps? Don't you know the Lord doesn't read blogs?

Cap'n Bob said...

Why oh why do they keep ruining movies by putting Tom, "Smirking Dwarf" Cruise in them? Guess that'll be another one I boycott.

And "deparcher" was such an inspired misspelling, Jim, that I forgot the correct one for a moment. Departure.

Noah said...

I was at one of those test screenings for the Jesse James movie. Has excellent moments, but it's packed with this endless, flowery voice over stuff. Some of the verbiage is lovely, but it's not all that cinematic ... I'm guessing some or all will be gone for the theatrical release.

Anonymous said...

The original Last Man on Earth may not have been great, but it had its moments. Shot in Italy, with a primarily Italian cast save for Price, the widescreen B&W visuals had me thinking, "Hmm... La Notte of the Living Dead."

d. mcewan said, re The Golden Compass: "Sadly, the Catholic Church in the movie has been replaced in teh movie with a fictional magical consortium."

I think the first sequel will be titled "Mr. Monsortium's Magical Consortium."

Anonymous said...

Did I miss it, or did you? The Coen Bros "No Country For Old Men".
Looks like a keeper, judging by the trailer - very reminiscent of "Blood Simple".

Also, what's up with "Rochelle, Rochelle"? Did that get pushed back again?

Anonymous said...

Also, what's up with "Rochelle, Rochelle"? Did that get pushed back again?

For reasons having to do with studio accounting, it must be released on the same date as Prognosis Negative, which is currently in post-post-production.

Batocchio said...

I read a draft of Charlie Wilson's War, which I found very entertaining and sharp, and it's a tricky subject. I'm looking forward to seeing the movie.

As D. McEwan already noted - hey, if I Am Legend is Castaway, it's Castaway with vampires! Let's see how long "Wilson" lasts there!

Daphne C. said...

Spot-on for everything, especially the poised and ready slew of Christmas feel-goody movies.

Secondly, and I'm sorry for this but I'm such a stickler for some things, you spelled Alan Rickman's name wrong. :)

Anonymous said...

"The original Last Man on Earth may not have been great, but it had its moments. Shot in Italy, with a primarily Italian cast save for Price, the widescreen B&W visuals had me thinking, 'Hmm... La Notte of the Living Dead.' "

Now I am one of the biggest Vincent Price fans this side of Tim Burton (I'll get to Tim in a moment), and I have LAST MAN ON EARTH on DVD as well as having seen it in a theater when it came out, but it's a mess. Yes, it was shot in Rome, but it is set (As is the novel) in Los Angeles. Rome doubling for Los Angeles doesn't begin to work. (Our Coliseum is in MUCH better shape!) It's an earnest attempt, and it doesn't have Charleton Heston in it, which is always a plus, but it stinks.

I'm afraid Will Smith's I AM LEGEND will be something of a "departure" from the novel too, at least geographically, as they moved the setting to New York City, taking the revolutionary tactic of actually shooting it in New York City, and not Rio or Bangkok. I fear they will have "Improved" the very good book.

R.A. Porter, we disagree on Tim Burton rather radically. Although I found BIG FISH just Godawful, I LOVE his movies. (We have that mutual Vincent Price love thing.)

"he doesn't give a s**t about your feelings, he doesn't give a s**t about your childhood memories, and he certainly doesn't give a s**t about other creators' visions. He doesn't care about Pierre Boulle or Rod Serling or Frank Miller or Bob Kane. His own ideas are sooo much better than all of those hacks."

Since Tim and I both grew up eating Vincent Price movies with a spoon, he and I have a lot of the same childhood memories, so that's never been a problem. I don't see how you can say he doesn't give a shit (I'm too old for astericks.) about Frank Miller (Not that he was filming THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS) since his first BATMAN movie was so clearly strongly influenced by Miller.

Have you read Pierre Boule's MONKEY PLANET? Because if you have, as I have, you'd see Rod Serling didn't give a shit about Boule either, since his film is NOTHING like the book. Serling felt free to craft the movie he wanted, so why shouldn't Burton be free to film the movie he wanted? Burton's film owes far more to Serling than to Boule.

Besides, what would be the point of just re-filming Serling's movie? We already have that one, albeit with Charleton Heston in it, never a plus. Why should Burton give a shit about other artist's visions? He isn't making THEIR work; he's making HIS.

Burton, in interviews, described how SWEENEY TODD just grabbed him and thrilled him when he first saw it on stage, exactly how I felt when I saw it the first time. I felt like they'd written it just for me. The stills I've seen from it look just right. I am excited to see what he does with it. and if I don't like it when I see it, well, I still have my DVD of the production in Los Angeles with Angela and George Hearn, a production I saw twice that same week they shot the DVD. Those memories are safe.

And what is your problem with Angela's singing? You remind me of whoever the genius at MGM was who DUBBED a different, "Honeyed" singing voice over Lansbury in THE HARVEY GIRLS, even though she'd already been Oscar-nominated after singing, with exquisite charm, "Little Yellow Bird" with her real voice in THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY. You want to hear honey replaced with acid? Listen to Angela's recording of the MAME score, and then listen to Lucille Balls's.

Now THAT'S scarier than anything in SWEENEY TODD.

R.A. Porter said...

Personally, I've got no problem with Angela's voice for certain roles, Mrs. Lovett being a perfect example. I was actually defending Mrs. Burton's chances of performing up to snuff. As for the other Burton comments...

I have read Boulle's original (well, translated, my French is only restaurant-strong) which was a huge shock to me, having seen the radical departure Serling's movie took. It's fine for him to make whatever films he sees fit, but every time he does with existing source material, it feels like he's shitting on my youth. (Figured I'd drop the asterisks since you had already.)

And as for channeling Miller...I'll just agree to disagree with you on that point. I don't know how anyone could see that movie and not be disappointed. I didn't get it when I was 20, and I get it even less 20 years later. While moderately better than the schlock that followed, it was an abysmal attempt at telling that story.

I haven't liked a Burton film in a good long while. If I like his Sweeney, I'll be deeply shocked. Extremely happy (George and Angela always seemed tired to me on that DVD) to have a new version to pop in and watch, but deeply shocked.

R.A. Porter said...

Oh also...Sacha Cohen?

I've written up my very anti-Burton thoughts on this movie here, though a lot of them are rehashing what I said above. One point I made there that I think bears me repeating here is...Sacha Cohen, but no Victor Garber? It's not like he's not a recognizable face at this point in his career. Even a small role tossed Anthony's way would be an awfully nice gesture to Sweeney fans, I think.

ajm said...

The trailer for the Alvin and the Chipmunks film featured something about a chipmunk dropping being mistaken for a raisin. You don't have to be Michael Medved to find that in dubious taste.

The Sweeney Todd film won't be received halfheartedly -- either it'll sweep the Oscars and gross $600 million worldwide, or it'll be this decade's SGT. PEPPER: THE MOVIE.

Mary Stella said...

Given the dismal reviews, this may be the first time I'm happy that there's only a one screen movie theater in town. Plus the theater serves beer and wine. If I'm desperate to go to the movies, I can at least numb the pain. *g*

lump516 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

R. A.,
I didn't say Burton was "Channelling Miller". Merely that he was strongly influenced by him, which he clearly was. I am reminded of the insane fools at the time of that movie's release who complained bitterly because he hadn't cast Cesar Romero as The Joker.

What is wrong with Burton's first BATMAN movie was a writer's strike that hit just after the first draft was done. The script never had a rewrite or a polish, so there's lots of story problems. And I still don't get the casting of Michael Keaton myself.

Victor Garber? He's 26 years older than he was when Sweeney opened, WAY too old to play Anthony Hope. You're pre-condemning a film that isn't even finished based on his not casting an actor from the original production who is almost three decades too old for his old role? I can't think why Burton would go out of his way to cast Garber in some role, just to include him, nor any of the many, many other still-living original SWEENEY verterans. You might as well complain that Angela Lansbury isn't playing the beggar woman. And of course, it's possible that Garber was BUSY. He has a new TV series in the fall, I believe.

Not yet having seen Sasha Baron Cohen's performance any more than you have, I have no idea whether he'll be good or not (Neither do you.) but Pirelli is hardly a major part. One big number and he's dead. And Cohen is spectacularly talented.

"a small role tossed Anthony's way would be an awfully nice gesture to Sweeney fans, I think."

Who are you referring to by "Anthony"?

Having seen Hearn & Lansbury do Sweeney live three times, and having been thrilled by them (Hearn was VASTLY better than Len Carou on the album), I do not see them as tired on the DVD, but that may be a holdover from my being around that production a lot, including being taken backstage by Ken Jennigns and introduced to all the leads. I saw Angela's final performance ever in the role.

The BEST Mrs. Lovett I've ever seen was Julia MacKenzie in London in 1994. She was SPECTACULAR. But I'm not pouting that Burton didn't cast her.

"it feels like he's shitting on my youth." Just exactly why should Tim Burton try to carefully reproduce YOUR youth? He's not doing anything to your youth. He's making his own movies. Your youth is your problem. He is making my middleage a lot better.

For myself, while I hated BIG FISH and was indifferent to PLANET OF THE APES, I loved SLEEPY HOLLOW (Like a new Hammer Horror movie 30 years later.), CHARLIE & THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY (Except for Johnny Depp's weird performance, which ALMOST works, it is otherwise a VAST improvement over the cheap, slapdash earlier film.) and THE CORPSE BRIDE. Hell, I even liked most of MARS ATTACKS.

I also read Boule's MONKEY PLANET in English, as French is gibberish to me, but it was the Heston film which was the shock, as I read the book before the Heston film was shot. But I didn't write Serling, complaining about him shitting on my youthful reading.

I'll read your linked comments, but I fear the worst. YEs, I'm pre-judging them before I read them, like you're pre-judging a film that is still shooting.

Anonymous said...

Why would anyone cast Jerry Seinfeld to be a voice actor? Ever? Better still, why would anyone cast Jerry Seinfeld to be anything besides Jerry Seinfeld on a show named after him?

Are these the same people that let Josh Hartnett have a career? Are these the same people that have the balls to go into an interview and talk like they know what good acting and choosing good actors is all about? Are people just entirely this stupid and self-deluded, or is all this a sham and every producer in Hollywood knows it so long as it gets them the money? I can at least understand it if it's all for the gain, but if they honestly think that they're making quality entertainment... oh, dear God.

Don't get me wrong. It's not cheap laughs and mindless entertainment that I have a problem with. It's how low the bar is for that entertainment.

And it also gets to me that someone could hear Seinfeld voicing an animated bee without his head exploding. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Anonymous said...

Doug...does Talullah have any comment about today's films, other than Hollywood's willful ignorance in refusing to cast her?

And do you think she'd let little Kent do her the honor of escorting her to the opening of WAITING FOR CHEYENNE (assuming he didn't ask her when they met at the box office)?

Anonymous said...

Tallulah may comment on today's films (Though she sees very few of them.) but she'd do it over on her own blog, rather than rudely upstage Ken. She just posted a piece on today's Hollywood stars a few hours ago.

Anonymous said...

"I’m assuming the autobiography of Victor Buono."

Wow. I was just looking at Victor Buono's profile on IMDB (I followed a link from Clevon Little's - they both appeared on Super Train - because I watched Blazing Saddles last night).

What's the word for almost-synchronicity?

Anonymous said...

"Nocille Kidman plays a witch, so she learned nothing from BEWITCHED."

Nicole Kidman does not play a witch in "The Golden Compass." She plays a very wicked woman, but she is not a witch.

The "His Dark Materials" trilogy, including "The Golden Compass," is being written off by many as just another fantasy trilogy, when it is so much more. At least, the books are. I can't really speak for the films given that the books explicitly question religion, and it appears that is going to be toned down in the movies.

Anonymous said...

"Nicole Kidman does not play a witch in 'The Golden Compass.' "

Sorry. My goof. Eva Green plays a witch, judging by the photo of her flying on a broomstick in Entertainment Weekly, which also quoted Kidman saying, "The Catholic church is part of my essence. I wouldn't be able to do this film if it were at all anti-Catholic." which is supposed to make fans of the books okay about the Catholic church being replaced in the "watered-down" (Kidman's term) movie with "The Magisterium". I'm sure that's cold comfort to Phillip Pullman, the author of the fine (I'm told by a friend whose opinion I respect) fantasy trilogy. I look forward to reading the books. I may skip teh movies, unless Daniel Craig undresses.

Anonymous said...

First he helps to ruin Underdog and now he's gonna ruin Alvin and the Chipmunks....Jason Lee must be stopped before he he ruins an more cartoon memories!

I saw the trailder today....Ross Bagdasarian, Sr. must be spinning in his grave!

Anonymous said...

"he's gonna ruin Alvin and the Chipmunks"

What's to ruin? It's not like they were any good in the first place.