Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Fall Movie Preview Part 1

Not a baseball movie
The summer theme was “sequels”. For the fall it’s “apologizing for the premise because it’s not an easy sell”. Filmmakers are saying their movies are not what they clearly are. First up are a few examples as we begin our annual Fall Movie Preview.

As always, these are my impressions based on loglines, articles, trailers, hearsay, and everything except actually seeing any of these movies.  But that's what makes my capsule reviews so gosh darn accurate. 

MONEYBALL – Baseball is a hard sell internationally. Fortunately it’s not a movie about baseball. Star Jonah Hill claims, “It’s about thinking differently.” A movie about the Oakland A’s trying to win a pennant is NOT about baseball. How stupid does he think the French are?

DRIVE – Not an action-thriller about a guy driving getaway cars starring Ryan Gosling. No, according to director Nicolas Winding Refn, after the two were listening to REO Speedwagon on the radio, “It became a completely different movie out of this strange, mystical relationship between Ryan and me in that moment in the car.” 90 minutes of car chases and crashes are just coincidental.

THE IDES OF MARCH – Director/star/co-writer George Clooney insists this movie about a presidential campaign is not a political movie. “It’s about a guy doing anything to win at the cost of his soul. Those are universal themes you could play with in any genre or in any workplace.” Clooney plays a presidential candidate trying to win a state primary. So I guess, what? It’s ON THE WATERFRONT with campaign buttons?

THE BIG YEAR – This is a film about competitive bird watching. Or is it? Director David Frankel says, “For me, it was never really a movie about bird watching. This is about three guys who want to be the best at something. There’s kind of a bromance at the heart of it.” If someone says, “Hey, there’s an eagle” it’s a friggin’ movie about bird watching.

PUSS IN BOOTS – You might think it’s just a spinoff of SHREK with Antonio Bandaras reprising his hilarious tabby role but no, director Chris Miller says “It’s a redemption tale. He’s searching for a way to clear his name and wash away the sins of his past.” No it’s not! It’s a goddamn commercial holiday family animated comedy that the studio is hoping will clean up at the boxoffice. Sorry. The cat’s out of the bag.

REAL STEEL – A robot boxing movie. But attention Academy voters, director Shawn Levy insists, “the movie is really about the father and son and the relationship between them.” Right. The thinking man’s TRANSFORMERS.

IN THE LAND OF BLOOD AND HONEY – First off, it was written and directed by Angelina Jolie so right away -- DANGER! DANGER! The subject: the Bosnia Civil War of 1992-1995. But according to Ms. Jolie, “It’s about what happens to people.” Later she says, “I felt like I didn’t make a film about people. I tried to make a film with people.” Please, Angelina, go back to acting and just do GIA 2.

WE BOUGHT A ZOO – but director Cameron Crowe says it’s about the human relationships that he’s emphasizing. That said, I’m a huge Cameron Crowe fan so am looking forward to it no matter what species gets the best lines.

Now here are some movies that do own up to what they are, although I’m sure they're chock full of universal themes, celebrations of the human spirit, and explorations of the truth.

A VERY HAROLD & KUMAR 3D CHRISTMAS – Holiday snowboarding and waterboarding.

THE MUPPETS – Either a comic romp featuring our beloved characters or a metaphor for how we’re all puppets in a decaying society. With songs. And toys for sale.

THE TWILIGHT SAGA: BREAKING DOWN – PART 1 – America’s favorite hickey couple are at it again.

CONTAGION – A contagious disease wipes out millions including many A-list actors. You know how stars love their death scenes. Especially good buzz on Gwyneth Paltrow’s seizure death.

DREAM HOUSE – THE SHINING goes suburban.

ANONYMOUS – Film maintains that William Shakespeare didn’t write those plays. They were really room written by Sir. Charles Lorre and his band of merry scribes.

More tomorrow...


RockGolf said...

My son decoded "Real Steel" about 10 seconds into the trailer: "It's Rock'em Sock'em Robots: The Movie."

Max Clarke said...

The Clooney movie about politics is interesting. Catchy title.

Not sure if Moneyball can find an audience. Me, for example. They could still rename it The Bad News A's.

Funny, I went to the U2 concert in Oakland in June. There were signs and banners everywhere about the A's, and the U2 giant stage was in centerfield. Not once did I think about the movie Moneyball, and I was sitting where they filmed a lot of the movie.

Stuart said...

Gia 2. We can only hope.

BigTed said...


-- I think you've hit on the pun that all the headline writers for the bad reviews will come up with independently.

Sir Chas Estevez said...

I've always been partial to Sir Charles Lorre's work, especially the Enormous Explosion Theory - and, of course, Michael is Mollyfied. Next, you'll try to tell us that Shakespeare never made fishing rods.

DonBoy said...

RockGolf: My reaction EXACTLY.

Tom Quigley said...

I'm still trying to figure out if the HARRY POTTER franchise wasn't really about young student warlocks and witches, but was actually an allegory for the larger issues we face in life today -- like what's going to happen when the world runs out of lowfat yogurt... Or whether proper dental hygiene is really worth all the trouble... Hell, no wonder theyre rioting in Britain these days!

John said...

Sire Charles Lorre and Lord Charles Sheen did have that legendary feud that has been the subject of literary scholars' debates for four centuries. It's also what made standing in the town square surrounded by serving wenches and yelling "Victorious!" popular during the Elizabethan era.

Moneyball probably would have a happier ending if Jeter hadn't been in foul territory to throw the ball Posada to get Giambi at home plate in the ALDS. It's kind of been downhill since then.

"Real Don Steel" would be an interesting movie about a radio station run by robot DJs. Which pretty much would include most of today's radio stations.

Clooney's movie ought to find a spot for a cameo by Robert Redford, as an aging Senator who still doesn't know what he's supposed to be doing in office after 39 years. Just to show things really haven't changed all that much since the early 1970s when it comes to marketing political candidates.

Mr. Snrub said...

"Anonymous" - a movie about proper writing credits. Wow, I can't think of anything more exciting.

danrydell said...

Can you IMAGINE how insufferable Angelina must be when she talks? How absolutely mind boggling pretentious it gets? You probably need hip waders for interviews.

Frank Paradise said...

I bet Cameron Crowe gives the birds the best lines.

Graham Powell said...

REAL STEEL is actually based on an old episode of The Twilight Zone (with Lee Marvin), which itself was based on a short story by Richard Matheson. It's possible some fragments of quality might make it into the movie.

Not likely. But possible.

D. McEwan said...

"Tom Quigley said...
I'm still trying to figure out if the HARRY POTTER franchise wasn't really about young student warlocks and witches, but was actually an allegory for the larger issues we face in life today."

Actually, it's pretty clear that the Harry Potter movies and books are allagories about racism and Fascism, with Voldemort as Hitler and "mudbloods & muggles" as the Jews. It's fairly baldy put out there. Not subtle.

Back before being gay was cool, gay movies got this sort of treatment all the time. Some examples, followed by Sir Dirk Bogarde showing some (metaphoric) balls:

"The Children's Hour is not about Lesbianism; it's about the power of lies to destroy people's lives." - William Wyler, 1962.

"The Sergeant is not about homosexuality; it's about loneliness." - Rod Steiger, 1968.

"Windows is not about homosexuality; it's about insanity." - Gordon Willis, 1979.

"Staircase is not about homosexuality, it;s about loneliness." - Rex Harrison, 1971

"Sunday, Bloody Sunday is not about the sexuality of these people; it's about human loneliness." - John Schlesinger, 1972. (Gee, I'm glad it's not about canine loneliness. Since Schlisnger was gay himself, this one is particularly shameful.)

"It was the first film in which a man said 'I love you' to another man. I wrote that scene in. I said: 'There's no point in half-measures. We either make a film about queers or we don't'." Sir Dirk Bogarde on Victim.

"Later she says, 'I felt like I didn’t make a film about people. I tried to make a film with people'.”

Man, that is funny. I guess you could say that about Rise of the Planet of the Apes It's about apes, but made with people.

jbryant said...

Hey, wait a sec -- this isn't a blog post about upcoming Fall movies...it's a comic essay!

As for REAL STEEL, regardless of the Matheson/Twilight Zone connection, you just know the pitch to the studio was, as others have said here, Rock'em Sock'em Robots: The Movie. The studio said, "Great idea, but we have to draw the line at that title, even if does have a high recognition factor. Find another approach and you've got a greenlight."

Greg Ehrbar said...

MY MOTHER THE CAR was not about a man whose car is the reincarnation of his mother, it's about the metaphysics of existence and the hereafter.

THE FLYING NUN wasn't about a nun who flies, it was about the changing role of the church after Vatican II.

HOW TO STUFF A WILD BIKINI wasn't about fun loving kids frolicking on the beach, it was a statement about the pursuit of simplicity and artistic expression through dance and surfing in otherwise turbulent times.

LIPPY THE LION AND HARDY HAR HAR wasn't about a hobo lion and a pessimistic Hyena's schemes to get money or food, it was about the plight of the wild beasts as progress hems them in.

GILLIGAN'S ISLAND was not about a seven castaways stranded on an island, but a microcosm of society.

(Oh wait, that last one was real. Sherwood Schwartz pitched the show with that phrase and almost lost the sale until he assured the CBS brass that it would be a FUNNY microcosm.)

chalmers said...

I remember when Brandon Tartikoff hosted "Saturday Night Live" and while he was giving his monologue, they put up chyrons mocking him.

The one I remember was: "This is the guy who tried to convince you that 'Love Sidney' was straight."

Pat Reeder said...

I was really excited to learn about "The Big Year" until I found out it wasn't about birds, it was a bromance. I like birds.

So much for that!

Emily Blake said...

Wait what?

There's a robot boxing movie? Why am I just now hearing about this?

Anonymous said...

RockGolf - I was really fucking surprised that "Rock'Em Sock'Em Robots" didn't come up as the title.

I mean, they're doing that movie about Monopoly still, right?

Foledan said...

There actually is a movie based on the game "Battleship." Starring Liam Neeson--I started to add "of all people," but then I thought this is not really a step down from THE A-TEAM. (Remember when, after making STAR WARS and THE HAUNTING back to back, two movies for which Neeson spent most of his time in front of a blue screen, he announced that if that was what acting involved nowadays he wasn't interested, and he would retire? He seems to have lost a few scruples since then.) (Okay, I suppose we have to cut a little slack for a suddenly single father who presumably wants to collect a few big paychecks to provide for his children...but, really, "Battleship"?)

chalmers said...

Hopefully, the "Battleship" movie will at least use a tagline like "C-4 yourself B-4 your friends!"

RockGolf said...

Battleship: The perfect D-8 movie.

DawnMarie said...

I'm waiting for 'A Harold and Maude Christmas'

Matt Patton said...

GIA 2 would be kind of difficult, since the main character died at the end. I suppose she could come back as a flesh-eating zombie doing the pony-walk in 12-inch heels (which she runs people through with), but otherwise . . .

Actually, that might be better as GIA 3-D

bevo said...

danrydell: I really hope Angelina and Gwyneth co-host the fifth hour of the Today Show. I would watch these two moo for an hour on lord knows what.

Matt: Gia2 in 3D. I am there.

wv - predler: a predator who offers his or her victims items for sale before offing them.