Tag Archives: Marie Antoinette

Film on TV: March 5-11

Another week, another bunch of film programming to run down for the Film on TV column on Row Three. Here are my top five picks coming up this week, and of course, you can head over to Row Three for all the rest. A note on these picks – I usually put a “must see” tag on my most recommended films on the post on Row Three. These are not necessarily just those films; these may be absolute must-sees, or they may be things that I think are underseen, or underrated and deserve another look. It’s also not necessarily things that haven’t been featured in the column before. So there’s an arbitrary nature to the picks, but I’ll always put my wholehearted support behind any of the ones I pull out to mention over here.

Pan’s Labyrinth

Monday, March 5 at 8:00pm on IFC
One of my absolute favorite films of the past decade (or ever, really), an absolutely beautiful and terrifying fantasy that juxtaposes the gruesome horrors of the Spanish Civil War with an equally horrifying fantasy world that provides, if not escape, at least some measure of importance and control to the film’s young heroine. Guillermo Del Toro solidified my view of him as a visionary filmmaker with this film, and it still stands to me as a testament to what fantasy can and should do.
2006 Spain/Mexico. Director: Guillermo Del Toro. Starring: Ivana Baquero, Sergi López, Meribel Verdú, Doug Jones.
Must See

Marie Antoinette

Tuesday, March 6 at 11:30am on IFC
Though Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette is unconventional, it is a solid and riveting re-interpretation of the giddy but not untroubled courts of Louis XVI and Louis XVII. The use of actors like Kirsten Dunst and Jason Schwartzman, who are not known as period actors, as well as anachronistic music, sounds like an ill-conceived attempt to make the story feel contemporary, but it actually works. Coppola took some serious risks with this film, but they paid off beyond all expectation.
2006 USA. Director: Sofia Coppola. Starring: Kirsten Dunst, Jason Schwartzman, Judy Davis, Rip Torn, Rose Byrne.
(repeats at 8:00pm and 12:45am on the 7th)

A Town Called Panic

Tuesday, March 6 at 7:45am on Sundance
One of the most delightful films I saw in 2009, a whacked out stop-motion film from Belgium that follows Horse, Cowboy, and Indian throughout a series of adventures, mostly focused on trying to rebuild their house which keeps getting stolen every night. This is mile-a-minute absurdity with more inventiveness in 75 minutes than I usually see all year.
2009 Belium. Directors: Stéphane Aubier, Vincent Patar. Starring: Stéphane Aubier, Jeanne Balibar, Bruce Ellison, Vincent Pater.
(repeats at 1:00pm)

The Big Sleep

Thursday, March 8 at 11:00am on TCM
One of the greatest detective/mysteries/films noir ever made. Humphrey Bogart is the definite hard-boiled detective, Lauren Bacall is the potential love interest/femme fatale. Don’t try to follow the story; whodunit is far less important than crackling dialogue and dry humor. Watch out for future Oscar-winner Dorothy Malone (Written on the Wind) in the small but extremely memorable part of the bookshop girl.
1946 USA. Director: Howard Hawks. Starring: Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Martha Vickers, Elisha Cook Jr., Dorothy Malone.
Must See

The Razor’s Edge

Saturday, March 10 at 8:00pm on TCM
There’s a lot going on in this film based on the W. Somerset Maugham novel, from rich young Tyrone Power heading off to India to “find himself” to the financial troubles facing his socialite ex-girlfriend Gene Tierney and her husband to their rekindled affair when Power returns, but what you’ll mostly remember is Anne Baxter in a deservedly Oscar-winning performance as the former friend whose life has hit rock bottom. It’s one of Baxter’s best roles (Eve Harrington notwithstanding), and it’s worth watching just for her.
1946 USA. Director: Edmund Goulding. Starring: Tyrone Power, Gene Tierney, John Payne, Anne Baxter, Clifton Webb, Herbert Marshall, Lucile Watson.

Scorecard: September 2011

[At the end of every month I post a rundown of the movies I saw that month, tallying them according to how much I did or didn’t like them. You can always see my recent watches here and my ongoing list of bests for the whole year here.]

What. I actually got a monthly recap type post in on time? Even early (which is okay, I’m not planning to watch a movie tonight)! This has never happened, to my remembrance, in the history of my blog. Don’t get used to it, though I’m going to try to stay on task. A decent variety this month. Incidentally, in other postings about the two silent films, people have asked me where they can see them. I wish I had a better answer, but as of right now, both these films can only be seen if a repertory cinema in your area screens them. They’re not on DVD, and both of them are rare enough, I think, that they can’t be found online. I’ll see if I can find out more next time I see the archivists who run The Silent Treatment shows; a web archive of some of these harder-to-find movies would be fantastic, but either the archives that own the prints aren’t interested in doing that or they simply don’t have the funding.

What I Loved

Changing Husbands

I always love the Silent Treatment nights at Cinefamily, where a couple of UCLA and Academy archivists bring in rare silents, but I have to admit (as do they) that a lot of the films are more historically/academically interesting than actually good. But this one is genuinely charming and entertaining, and I pretty much loved every second of it. Leatrice Joy plays two roles – one a bored wife of a rich man who only wants to be a stage actress despite her husband’s wishes to live a quiet life, the other a struggling actress who just wants to be out of the spotlight. Yep, you guessed it, these women meet, realize their resemblance, and switch places – supposedly just for a few days, but the rich husband turns up and takes the actress home for the holidays, never suspecting the switcheroo. Joy does great in both roles, and the two men who confuse the women are charmingly hapless. There’s quite a bit of wonderful innuendo, giving pre-Code fans a lot to enjoy in the film.
1924 USA. Directors: Paul Iribe and Frank Urson (supervised by Cecil B. DeMille). Starring: Leatrice Joy, Victor Varconi, Raymond Griffith.
Seen September 7 at Cinefamily.

Night Train to Munich

A recent addition to the Criterion library, but I recorded it from TCM a few months ago and just now got around to watching it. Well, that’s not QUITE true. I started watching it a while back, but my mood wasn’t right and I wasn’t paying close enough attention and I was missing stuff…so I held off until I could concentrate on it. And I’m really glad I did, because though it’s not a particularly complicated film, it does have a number of plot turns, as befits a WWII spy thriller. Margaret Lockwood’s dad is a Czech scientist who needs to escape before Prague is taken over by the Nazis; he does, but she gets intercepted by the Gestapo and sent to a concentration camp, where she meets Paul Henreid, a freedom fighter who manages to help her escape. But is he what he seems, and what of the dashing British agent played by a very young Rex Harrison? Double-crosses abound, and it all leads to a tense cross-continent train trip where precarious identities may be uncovered at any second, and a final action scene that prefigures whichever Bond film had the gondola setpiece. It starts off a little slow, but man does it pay off by the end, and they know just when to stop it, too. No awkward overlong coda, just DONE. Love it.
1940 UK. Director: Carol Reed. Starring: Rex Harrison, Margaret Lockwood, Paul Henreid.
Seen September 19, on TCM (via DVR)

What I Liked

Contagion

I wasn’t too interested in the plot of this film when I first heard about it, but with Soderbergh directing and a cast like THIS? I mean, look at it. Yeah. In an all-too-possible scenario, a deadly virus quickly spreads across the whole world, involving the CDC, the WHO, bloggers and media, ordinary citizens, scientists, government officials, etc. as they try to stop the spread of both the virus and the growing panic of the population. There’s a LOT going on here, and the pace is brisk, but steady. The balance between micro and macro is held quite well throughout, though the connections of the Marion Cotillard story and to some extent the Jude Law story were a bit tenuous. Overall, though, it’s a tremendous achievement of pure craft, and the use of major stars allow quick identification with characters that otherwise have little time to develop. Full review here.
2011 USA. Director: Steven Soderbergh. Starring: Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Laurence Fishburne, Kate Winslet, Marion Cotillard, Jude Law, Jennifer Ehle.
Seen September 10 at an AMC multiplex.

My Winnipeg

There aren’t any other filmmakers quite like Guy Maddin. Not that I’ve seen anyway. A Canadian filmmaker working somewhere on the fringe of experimental, Maddin uses styles and techniques from early cinema that have all but faded from use by pretty much everybody else. It’s as if in some alternate universe, German Expressionism and Soviet montage live side by side, accompanied by classic Hollywood tinting and iris fades, with voiceovers, dialogue, and title cards all working together for maximum effect. This is one of the more accessible Maddin films I’ve seen, a sort of documentary, sort of memoir, sort of fantasy about his home town of Winnipeg, Manitoba. It’s mesmerizing and fascinating.
2007 Canada. Director: Guy Maddin. Starring: Darcy Fehr, Ann Savage.
Seen September 22 and 23 on Netflix Instant.

Hard Boiled

I’ve been meaning to see this for quite some time, but my desire got stronger after seeing the film name-checked in Matthias Stork’s video on chaos cinema, as a stellar example of action setpieces. He was talking about the final shoot-out, which unfolds in a few very long traveling shots that manage to never lose spatial orientation no matter how hectic the action gets. And that sequence is for sure incredible, the standout in the film. The rest of it is good, too, but I have to admit to zoning out a bit here and there during some of the “plot” parts due to tiredness – thankfully it didn’t seem to matter too much, but I would like to go back sometime and fill in the gaps. It gets a little ridiculous what with the baby and all (pretty sure this was a major influence on the goofy Shoot ‘Em Up), but Chow Yun-Fat is earnest enough in his role to make it work.
1992 Hong Kong. Director: John Woo. Starring: Chow Yun-Fat, Tony Leung Chiu Wai.
Seen September 2 on DVD.

Falling Down

My boyfriend Jonathan and I have been taking turns showing each other films that mean a lot to us, and this was one of his for me. I’d never ever heard of it before he started talking about it, but since then I’ve come across a lot of other people who think pretty highly of it, too – a good sign that Schumacher can’t be simply written off based on his involvement in Batman & Robin. When he does smaller things or more indie things, he’s got quite a good eye and sensibility. This film has Michael Douglas basically in “I can’t take this anymore” mode as he leaves his car in a huge traffic jam and heads across Los Angeles on foot to see his daughter on her birthday – sounds like a great idea, except his ex-wife has taken out a restraining order against him, our first sign that maybe not all is quite right with Mr. Douglas. It’s kind of fascinating though, how the script and Douglas’s performance paint this character – he’s psychotic to some degree, but at the same time, you kind of totally understand where he’s coming from, and a good bit of the financial angst it is certainly still relevant. And it’s pretty clear that he doesn’t even realize how his actions come across to others – when he invades a pool party with a machine gun he’s picked up along the way, it doesn’t occur to him why the people are scared of him. I didn’t love it as much as Jonathan does, but it’s certainly solid, and I’d rewatch it at some point.
1993 USA. Director: Joel Schumacher. Starring: Michael Douglas, Robert Duvall.
Seen September 17 on DVD.

The White Shadow

In a way, it’s tough to review this one, since only three reels of it exist. But on the other hand, it’s not like I’ll ever get to see the rest of it. Unless by some miracle the rest of it pops up somewhere. This film was discovered among the New Zealand Film Archive silents by an Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences archivist working to catalog the American films being held there. You may recall the big “discovery” of these films a couple of years ago – a lot was made of finding John Ford’s Upstream and some others. More are being identified all the time, and this one turns out to be one of the earliest films Alfred Hitchcock worked on, as assistant director to Graham Cutts. The story involves a pair of sisters played by Betty Compson, one sweet and demure, the other wild and “soulless”. The rather convoluted plot involves mistaken identity, the wild daughter running away, the repentent father trying to find her, and the sweet girl marrying a man who was attracted to the wild daughter and never realized she had a double. Yeah. It’s pretty crazy, and the ending (read to us at the screening by Eva Marie Saint based on the copyright documents, since the last two reels of the film are still lost) sounds even crazier. But the opportunity to see films like this is such a treat – it’s both a saddening reminder of the state of silent film preservation (some 50-80% of all silent films are lost) and a hopeful indication that perhaps some films long thought lost actually do exist somewhere, in some form.
1924 UK. Director: Graham Cutts. Assistant Director: Alfred Hitchcock. Starring: Betty Compson.
Seen September 22 at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

A Foreign Affair

I’m a big fan of Billy Wilder and have seen most of his films, but I put this one off for quite a while because I’d heard mixed things about it, and that’s pretty close to right. Jean Arthur as a stuffed-up congresswoman investigating the unseemly conduct of American servicemen in post-WWII Berlin doesn’t quite fly, and her transformation into someone with actual emotions thanks to the attentions of a not-quite-on-the-level John Lund is a bit unbelievable. I frankly found her character so irritating in the beginning I didn’t care much about the turn, which says a lot, because I LOVE Jean Arthur. That said, all the parts with Marlene Dietrich are ace, especially the two nightclub numbers she does in her inimitable way. Arthur has some good isolated scenes, like when she breaks down telling about a past failed love affair, but they’re not enough. There’s also a Nazi spy subplot that’s intriguing but doesn’t quite go anywhere. When the ending came, it felt pretty opposite what I wanted to happen. Some really good parts, fairly unsatisfying whole.
1948 USA. Director: Billy Wilder. Starring: Jean Arthur, Marlene Dietrich, John Lund, Millard Mitchell.
Seen September 26 on TCM (via DVR)

What I Didn’t Like

Stone

I mostly watched this so I could have another film to add to my Milla Jovovich post on Row Three, but I did think I’d like it more than I did. Edward Norton is a guy in jail about to come up for parole, Robert De Niro is the case officer who will decide whether he’s fit to leave or not, and Milla Jovovich is Norton’s wife who tries to get De Niro to look favorably on her husband. Which she does by seducing him. It looks like a cat-and-mouse thriller, but it’s a lot more about De Niro’s own demons and how the situation with Norton and Jovovich affects him. Meanwhile, Norton has a whole religious experience that didn’t work for me at all, and while Jovovich gives a really good performance, I couldn’t ever really grasp her character’s motivations. Plus the whole thing has this dour, broody feel going on – and not in a good way.
2010 USA. Director: John Curran. Starring: Robert De Niro, Edward Norton, Milla Jovovich.
Seen September 5 on Netflix Instant Watch.

Rewatches – Love

Drive

I saw this back at the LA Film Festival (my review) and promptly declared my love for it. I was curious whether a second viewing would diminish my love, as festival screenings carry their own high with them that sometimes fades under normal moviewatching conditions, but no. If anything, I liked it BETTER the second time, because I could just sit back and enjoy the leisurely pacing, the gorgeous cinematography, the bursts of violence, and the whole dreamy/brutal tone of it all without worrying about what I thought about it or what to write about it. It will almost certainly be near the top of my Best of 2011 list.
2011 USA. Director: Nicholas Winding Refn. Starring: Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston, Albert Brooks, Ron Perlman, Christina Hendricks.
Second viewing September 17 at an AMC multiplex. First seen June 2011 at the LA Film Festival.

Bringing Up Baby

It’s been a long, long time since I saw this movie, and I was really glad Jonathan picked it out of my collection to watch. It’s still among the zaniest movies ever made, and I can’t help but get caught up in its breakneck pacing. I don’t care if Hepburn’s character is a manipulative, conniving piece of work, or that Grant’s 180 degree turn towards loving her is totally unbelievable. She’s a force of nature in this film, and it somehow seems natural that everything else gets caught up in her wake. And as utter farce, it’s jaw-achingly funny.
1938 USA. Director: Howard Hawks. Starring: Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, Dame May Whitty, Charlie Ruggles, Barry Fitzgerald.
Umpteenth viewing September 25 on DVD. First seen many, many years ago, probably on VHS.

Marie Antoinette

Can I just say how much I love that Jonathan chose this himself as one to watch, because he wanted to get more familiar with Sofia Coppola’s films? I figured he would like it, because its pop-art take on history is a flavor that both of us like, and he did. I did, too…I actually haven’t seen it since it first came out on DVD, so I was glad of the rewatch on it to confirm that it really is as surprisingly good as I thought it was.
2006 USA. Director: Sofia Coppola. Starring: Kirsten Dunst, Jason Schwartzman, Rip Torn.
Second viewing September 18 on DVD. First seen soon after DVD release on DVD.

Totals:

Films seen for the first time in September: 9
Rewatches in September: 3
Films seen in theatres in September: 4
List of Shame films seen in September: 0
2011 films seen in September: 2 (1 rewatch)
2000s films seen in September: 5 (2 rewatches)
1990s films seen in September: 2
1940s films seen in September: 2
1930s films seen in September: 1 (1 rewatch)
1920s films seen in September: 2
American films seen in September: 8 (3 rewatches)
British films seen in September: 2
Canadian films seen in September: 1
Hong Kong films seen in September: 1

April 2007 Reading/Watching Recap

Guess what! I finally finished April’s recap! I know, right? April was the month in which I rediscovered Turner Classic Movies during a few weeks of relative dead time at school and, between that and an active month of Netflixing and theatre-going, watched a total of 24 movies. I think that’s a record. And that’s not even including the four or five rewatches. So without further ado, here are my reactions to Marie Antoinette, Band of Outsiders, Kiss Me Deadly, Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story, The Lives of Others, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Through a Glass Darkly, Hot Fuzz, and many others. Plus some books.

Continue reading

Trailer Watch 10/06

So my most-anticipated movie of the year (A Scanner Darkly) came out, so I had to pick a new most-anticipated movie, which forced me to catch up on my trailer-watching. You’d think I’d learn that it’s easier to keep up than catch up, but I haven’t yet. (And I started this post like a month ago.) Anyway, here we go: top upcoming movies, at least of those that have released trailers on Apple Trailers.

So Highly Anticipated I WANT TO SEE THEM RIGHT.NOW.

Renaissance (imdb | quicktime trailer)
I’ve been super-excited about Renaissance since I first got wind of the French-language trailer about six months ago. Now that the English trailer has come out, and I can actually sort of tell what it’s about, I’m even more excited. ;) Story is sort of a futuristic conspiracy-theory science-fictiony thing, but the real draw is the highly stylized animation. I’m not sure whether it’s going to be released dubbed or subtitled here, but I hope it’s subtitled. Dubbing always sucks. (9/22 – limited)

Keeping Mum (imdb | quicktime trailer)
I almost fell out of my chair laughing at this trailer. It’s sort of Arsenic and Old Lace meets British comedy, and it looks hilarious. Rowan Atkinson plays it straight for once, as an Anglican priest who takes on Maggie Smith as a housekeeper. Only, she’s actually escaped from a mental institution after a murder spree. And she’d be happy to get you some tea. Looks terribly British, but that’s awesome for me. (9/15 – limited)

Children of Men (imdb | quicktime trailer)
P.D. James is more well-known for her Adam Dalgliesh mystery novels, but Children of Men was actually the first book of hers I read. This was several years ago, but I think I finished in two days. Basically, somehow the whole world has become sterile through some unknown cause, which is emphasized by the death of the youngest person on earth, at age 21. It’s a creepy scenario in any case, and with the recent stories of falling birth rates in places like Italy, it strikes even closer to home. Good book, highly recommend it, and I’m really hoping the movie lives up. Clive Owen is a mark in favor, Julianne Moore is equivocal…she’s so untrustworthy as an actress lately. (9/29)

The Departed (imdb | quicktime trailer)
Scorsese and Di Caprio, together again. Wonder if they’ll ever get separated again? I’m not really complaining, though, because this film looks awesome. Cops vs. mobs, great cast beyond just Di Caprio, the sort of story that Scorsese does so well (and hopefully better than the pseudo-historical Gangs of New York, which was a little odd, to tell you the truth). (10/6)

The Fountain (imdb | quicktime trailer)
This was my new most-anticipated film, until Venice Film Festival audiences booed it off the screen, apparently. But what do they know? Anyway, Hugh Jackman plays a character in medieval times, current times, and the distant future–he’s discovered some sort of fountain of youth, and spans all three eras trying to save Rachel Weisz from dying. I think. Apparently it’s rather confusing, hence the booing. But I like confusing, I love time-bending narratives, I like Rachel Weisz, I think Hugh Jackman is hot, and director Darren Aronofsky (Pi, Requiem for a Dream) is a trip. So I’m totally in. (10/13 – probably limited)

The Prestige (imdb | quicktime trailer)
AKA the second magician movie of the year (third if you count Scoop). After seeing the trailer for The Illusionist, I was all over it, but then I saw the trailer for The Prestige, and there was no question of which one had my nod if I only got to see one magician movie this year. It was really the Jessica Biel vs. Scarlett Johansson question. I love Scarlett Johansson, and I wouldn’t care if the last time I saw Jessica Biel was the one episode of 7th Heaven I somehow tuned into like six years ago. Plus, The Prestige is directed by Chris Nolan (Batman Begins, Memento), and it is so hard to get better than that. (10/27)

Stranger Than Fiction (imdb | quicktime trailer)
Can I explain to you just how much of a me movie this is? Will Farrell’s just a normal guy, going about his normal life, right? Until he starts hearing narration of his life…not just describing it, but affecting it. Emma Thompson is writing a book about him. And we get to see both his side, trying to figure out what this voice that only he can hear is all about, and her side, as she struggles to keep her character under control. The blurring of reality and fiction? My single numero-uno favorite plot point. (Time-bending a close second.) And as if that weren’t enough, MAGGIE GYLLENHAAL. Who is enough to make me see ANY MOVIE, as will become clear if you read the rest of these rambling things. (11/10)

Casino Royale (imdb | quicktime trailer)
I don’t tend to advertise this around, but…*glances back and forth to check for eavesdroppers*…I’m a big James Bond fan. I’ve seen all but one of the Bond movies (A View to a Kill, which I’ve heard really sucks anyway, even compared with the other sucky Bond films), I’ve got about half of them on DVD, and I see them all in theatres with my dad. Now that that’s out, I’m even more excited than usual about this one: they’re going back to the books, back to the rugged Bond before he became so suave and debonair (they tried it with Timothy Dalton a bit, but he didn’t last too long), and DANIEL CRAIG is Bond. I fell in love with Daniel Craig in Layer Cake even though I didn’t really understand why. I don’t really think he’s that good-looking, but there’s something about him that’s just…magnetic. I have high hopes that Casino Royale can rescue the franchise from the last few sub-par outings. We’ll see. (11/17)

Eragon (imdb | quicktime trailer)
I haven’t read these books, but my fantasy-loving friends rave about them, and such great films have come from adapating fantasy novels in recent year that I have to believe this one is going to be good. The trailer definitely looks good.

Curse of the Golden Flower (imdb | quicktime trailer)
Let’s see, let’s see: Zhang Yimou (aka best Chinese director ever, Raise the Red Lantern, Hero, House of Flying Daggers), Gong Li (aka one of the top Chinese actresses ever, Raise the Red Lantern and many others), Chow Yun-Fat (aka one of the best current Chinese action actors, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon), story set in historical China, with full-on Crouching Tiger-style flying martial arts? I am so there. (12/22)

The Good Shepherd (imdb | quicktime trailer)
Matt Damon, Robert DeNiro, Angelina Jolie, and the founding of the CIA. I don’t even know how to express how much I am there. What can I say, I’m a total sucker for pretty spies. Note my five-year love affair with Alias, despite its ups and downs. (12/22)

Spider-Man 3 (imdb | quicktime trailer)
For the black suit, ALONE. I was a little disappointed by the second one, honestly, though I know a lot of people liked it better than the first. I wasn’t impressed with mechanical spider guy, I guess. Anyway, Spider-Man is my second favorite superhero (after Batman), so I would see this anyway. The awesomeness of the black suit only adds icing to the cake. (5/4/07)

Ratatouille (imdb | quicktime trailer)
Usually Pixar trailers underimpress me, then the films wow me. That’s just the relationship we have. But the teaser for Ratatouille? LOVED. The title character is a Parisian rat who, in the best Parisian tradition, is a gourmet and can’t settle for the garbage the other rats eat, but risks his life to get the good food from the Paris kitchens. Who knows what the whole story will be like–that’s the story of the teaser. Anyway, it looks beautiful and hilarious, and it’s Pixar. ‘Nuff said. (6/29/07)

Ever-So-Slightly Less Highly Anticipated

The Science of Sleep (imdb | quicktime trailer)
Michel Gondry directed Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, which is one of favorite films, so I have hopes that this one will at least be very good. The trailer isn’t intriguing me quite as much as I’d like, honestly, and I sort of doubt that it’ll match Eternal Sunshine…for one thing, the cast isn’t as amazing, and the lack of screenwriter Charlie Kaufman may be missed, but I’m still excited to see what Gondry can pull out. (in limited release)

Sherrybaby (imdb | quicktime trailer)
Maggie Gyllenhaal. I swear to you, I would go to see the woman read her laundry list, that’s how great she is. In this indie, she’s recently been released from prison and rehab, and now that she’s clean, she wants to go back and be a good mother to the daughter she hasn’t seen for four years. Except the girl’s father has moved on, and his new partner is less than receptive to Sherry’s return. I don’t really know that I expect to be a great film, but it looks like a good solid role for Gyllenhaal, and that’s really all that’s required. (in limited release)

A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints (imdb | quicktime trailer)
I have no clue what the title’s all about. The story’s all about a kid trying to get out of the tough neighborhood of Queens in the 1980s, and then having to come back several years later when his father is dying. It looks gritty, harsh, and unyielding…in other words, perfect for the type of story it’s telling. Plus, Robert Downey Jr. plays the man when he returns to Queens, and I have yet to see Downey turn in a bad performance. (in limited release)

Aurora Borealis (imdb | quicktime trailer)
This could be exactly the sort of slight, character-driven piece I like most this time of year. It’s always a gamble with these, but Donald Sutherland looks like a total delight, and I’m excited about Joshua Jackson doing something that actually looks good. It has a very Garden State-y vibe, which hasn’t been working out for me too well, because nothing’s been as good as Garden State, but I never give up hoping, you know? (in limited release)

Zen Noir (imdb | quicktime trailer)
This looks just obviously ludicrous enough to actually work–a stereotypical private detective is faced with a puzzling murder, which baffles him even more because it throws him into the world of zen buddhism. It looks like it’s definitely over the top at times, and perhaps depends too much on stereotypes, but I’m enough into film noir that I want to see it. They seem to be having difficulty getting a distributor, though. (in very limited release)

Babel (imdb | quicktime trailer)
Again with the difficult-to-decipher story–but this time, largely because it’s an ensemble cast, with one of those unrelated people concidentally coming together sort of things. It’s directed by the same guy who directed 21 Grams and Amores Perros, so he’s got a lot of experience with this type of film, which bodes well. Some have suggested that he doesn’t know how to direct anything else, but hey. When you’ve got a good niche… (10/6)

The Queen (imdb | quicktime trailer)
Hello, Academy? Yes, Helen Mirren would like her Oscar now, if you please. It’s almost even clearer this year than usual which films are going hard after Oscar. Mirren plays Elizabeth II in the days and weeks just following Diana’s death. Interestingly, the film isn’t really about Diana’s death, it’s about how Elizabeth deals with the realization that the monarchy isn’t really the monarchy anymore…that not only has the balance of power shifted (it did that long ago), but the whole concept of the monarchy is being lost. It’s an intriguing subject, and one that has been discussed a lot in journalism and books, probably, but which I haven’t really seen in the cinema before. (10/6)

Running With Scissors (imdb | quicktime trailer)
Augusten Burrough’s mother is having a nervous breakdown, or something, and decides to give the teenaged Augusten into the guardianship of her shrink, who’s also a bit odd. I’m up for quirky most of the time, and this looks to be just the right amount of quirky, and a good cast to boot (Annette Bening, Brian Cox, Alec Baldwin, Joseph Fiennes, Gwyneth Paltrow). (10/13)

Flags of Our Fathers (imdb | not on Apple.com, but trailer here)
War movies bring out my inner sap every.single.time. There’s always a part of me that resists them, knowing that I’m going to give into sentimentality and make a fool of myself crying, but then I realize that, you know, if anything deserves my tears, war movies do. So then I see them, and I cry, and I’m glad I did. And this one looks quite good, and it’s on the Pacific front (Iwo Jima and aftermath), which I don’t see as often, so that’ll be interesting. (10/20)

Marie Antoinette (imdb | quicktime trailer)
Oh, Sofia Coppola. I do not know why you have chosen to cast Kirsten Dunst as Marie Antoinette. I like Kirsten Dunst, but I must admit a concern about her ability to pull off Marie Antoinette. On the other hand, I’ve heard that the film looks great, and has a very post-modern angle to it, which intrigues me. And you get at least my tentative support on your films based on Lost in Translation. So I am interested to see how this turns out, but I’m not at all sure it’ll actually work. (10/20)

The Hoax (imdb | quicktime trailer)
Okay, I hate Richard Gere. I mean, I don’t know the man personally, so perhaps that’s a strong word, but I’ve disliked him intensely in almost every film I’ve seen of his. And because of that bias, I fear that I will also dislike this film. But the story is at least superficially interesting–about a man who basically hoaxes his way into publishing books. But what I think is really attracting me? The font used in the trailer. Talk about superficial! But there it is. (11/22)

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (imdb | quicktime trailer)
Is it bad that I mostly want to see this because the title amuses me so much? I also like westerns and am glad to see them starting to try to come back…for decades it’s been practically box-office poison to release a western, and I don’t understand why. Westerns are awesome! (2007)

Just Feel Like Mentioning

Flicka (imdb | quicktime trailer)
How much did I love the book My Friend Flicka and the original movie and the TV show based on it when I was little? I had a stuffed horse named Flicka. My rocking horse was named Flicka for a while (it changed names every time I got a new favorite fictional horse). And you know, it doesn’t really bother me that the boy in the story was changed to a girl for this version. It only bothers me a little that Flicka has moved from being the center of the story to being a catalyst for the girl and her father to rebuild their broken relationship. You want to know what really bothers me? FLICKA IS CHESTNUT, YOU DOLTBRAINS! NOT BLACK! WHO TOLD YOU FLICKA COULD BE BLACK? Honestly. Some people with their stupid ideas of artistic licence. It may sound like I’m joking here, but I’m really not…I probably won’t watch this solely because they frelled up the color of the horse. (10/20)

Lassie (imdb | quicktime trailer)
To start off, there’s no reason in the world to be remaking Lassie Come Home. It’s as perfect a dog-and-family film you’ll ever see, and it not really even dated. It looks they’re being incredibly faithful, though, which I’m actually not sure is a good thing or not…I love the story too much to have them change it around and mess it up, but then again, if you don’t bring something new to the party, why remake it at all? edit: Oh, I just pulled up the IMDb page and happened to see some of the posting board–not usually a terribly good idea–and found out the answer to “why remake it.” PEOPLE DON’T KNOW ABOUT THE ORIGINAL. They’re like, “so it’s just Homeward Bound, but with Lassie and without the other dog and cat?” *facepalm* I can’t believe there are people who haven’t seen Lassie Come Home. Please tell me y’all have seen it? Please? Roddy McDowall? Very young Elizabeth Taylor? Please?

And some I know about, even though no trailers out yet

Alatriste
It’s a sword-fighting movie! I love sword-fighting movies! The author of the book this is based on is Arthuro Perez-Reverte, and I’ve read one of his non-Alatriste books, which was very good and very literate. So if they keep half of the literacy of the book, it’ll have both a great story AND sword-fighting. What more do you want? (12/22)

Hot Fuzz (releasing 3/9/07) – Writer/star Simon Pegg is fresh off Shaun of the Dead, aka the funny British zombie movie from a year or two ago, and while I have no idea, really, what Hot Fuzz is about (I would if I’d take the time to go to the production website and watch the videoblog, but I haven’t), I’m interested. His Britcom Spaced is great, as well.

Grind House (releasing 4/6/07) – I’m a bit worried about this one, in a way–it’s a group project between Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez, two very individual directors. Grind House, as currently conceived, will be made up of two short films, one by each director, with trailers and commercials and stuff directed by them in between. I’m not sure how it’s all going to work out, but it has high probability for incomprehensible mishmash as well as high hopeful-bility for awesomeness. We’ll see. edit: Scratch this one. Just saw an early trailer, and it’s pretty much all the horrific/nasty sides of both directors, and not the sides I actually like.

Ocean’s Thirteen (releasing 6/8/07) – First one rocked, second one was rocky, but there’s just too much pretty in these movies not to give the third one a chance. And pretty people carrying out heists is one of my favorite sub-sub-genres.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (releasing 7/13/07) – Duh.

Beowulf (releasing 11/16/07) – Wow. There was a Beowulf & Grendel film released this year, and now there are TWO Beowulfs scheduled next year. This one has particularly exciting people attached to it: Neil Gaiman writing the screenplay, Crispin Glover as Grendel (he is creepy), Anthony Hopkins as Hrothgar, king of the Danes, Angelina Jolie as the voice of Grendel’s mother (should be…interesting). I think this brings the total number of Beowulf films up to…four. That’s incredible. You’d think it would be a popular thing to film.

His Dark Materials: The Golden Compass (releasing 11/16/07) – I probably shouldn’t support this trilogy, given that it’s explicitly anti-Christian (although more anti-Catholic-church), but it is well-written and fascinating, and they’ve gone and cast Nicole Kidman as Mrs. Coulter and Daniel Craig as Lord Asrael (perhaps–IMDb lists him as “attached”). I’m intrigued in a way I really wasn’t by, say, The Da Vinci Code film. (Perhaps because Philip Pullman can actually write, and Dan Brown…can’t.)

The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (releasing June 2008) – Prince Caspian is my least favorite of all the Chronicles, but still. You know? Gotta get through this one before we can do Dawn Treader and Silver Chair, two of my favorites.

Trailer Roundup

I try to keep up with watching movie trailers over at apple.com, partly because I enjoy seeing movie trailers (seriously, I cry if I get to the theatre too late to see the trailers), and partly because I like to make my movie-going decisions based on actual footage as well as word-of-mouth. Granted, the actual footage is chosen by marketing gurus whose goal in life is to make me want to see the film, but still. One you’ve seen enough of them, you can pretty much pick the good from the bad from the enjoyable from the excruciating.

So without further ado, my current list of must-sees, on-the-fences, and what-the-hell-where-they-thinkings. (These aren’t all the trailers that are up…just the ones that struck me.)

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