After a couple of thin weeks, late summer starts to get interesting, as it often does when studios offload movies that aren’t surefire hits, which is to say have the potential to be interesting or at least unfamiliar in some way.
The Time Traveler’s Wife: I fear this movie. Typically I live in blissful ignorance or indifference of whatever bestselling book is the basis for the movies I see, but I read The Time Traveler’s Wife (albeit way late [When is it “late” to read a book? -Ed.) and, here’s the catch, really loved it. At which point I felt immediate apprehension over the movie: good casting (Rachel McAdams and Eric Bana as the central couple; McAdams makes a lot of my fantasy-casting lists), but the director of Flightplan and the writer of Ghost, a recipe for the kind of potential emotional string-pulling the book pretty studiously avoids. Then I saw the twinkly trailer, which confirmed some of my worst fears, namely, that someone would use soft focus at any point during the movie. But, breathe: some of the reviews have been decent — in fact, several of them seem to be complaining about the story’s implausibility and/or ridiculousness or something else I’m pretty sure I don’t care about. What I care about is the movie capturing the book’s mixture of delight and sadness, its cleverness and its empathy. What I care about is not using time travel as an excuse for the kind of maudlin weepiness that could employ Diane Lane and/or Richard Gere.
District 9: The internets have damn near caught fire with excitement over this Peter Jackson-produced sci-fi thinkpiece slash apparently badass action movie; I wonder if this might be a case of net-hype amounting to a couple of extra dollars a la Snakes on a Plane, but supposedly District 9 is tracking better than the similarly star-free Cloverfield did at the same point. If the rest of the moviegoing nation is ready to do one of those occasional things where they roll with the kind of nerdy sci-fi stuff I want to see, I’m all for it.
The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard: This Will Ferrell/Adam McKay production (though not screenplay) was, despite a funny trailer, flying a bit below my radar until I saw this scene of Ferrell’s cameo in the film on Funny or Die. For all I know, this could be the funniest scene in the movie, so click at your own risk of ruination. But it made me laugh really hard. I’m a little skeptical of a slightly past-his-prime Jeremy Piven playing the goods-having car salesman main character, but his supporting cast is a crack B-team, including Kathyrn Hahn (hilarious in Step Brothers), David Koechner (Champion Kind!), Ving Rhames, and several fellows from The Office.
Ponyo: Princess Mononoke is better than Spirited Away. There, I said it.
Bandslam: Word to your tween. Vanessa Hudgens had to throw some clothes on and learn how to mime an instrument to star in a movie about some scrappy high schoolers in a battle of the bands. Presumably she got fake-rock lessons from Aly (suck it, AJ, I guess! Is anyone even getting these jokes?), who co-stars. ‘d be prepared to make several more lame jokes about lame tween stuff, but take note: Bandslam is in fact directed by Todd Graff, the guy who made the indie musical Camp, which was pretty fun, at least if you saw it in Chelsea. And I guess David Bowie is in it. Crap, I think I just talked myself into seeing this.
It Might Get Loud: I’ve seen this one, and while fans of Jimmy Page, Jack White, or The Edge will probably want to check it out at some point, as all three share the spotlight as they convene to talk guitar and rock history, it has the kind of VH1 feel better seen on TV on a lazy weekend afternoon. In other words, it would be pretty enjoyable to watch while folding laundry, and they probably won’t let you fold laundry in the theaters, although I’ve seen people smoke, sleep, and chatter through movies in NYC, so who knows.
Spread: Ashton Kutcher as an unofficial man-whore who fucks his way to a Hollywood dead-end. Not a documentary.
Pool Boys: I don’t really know what this is, except that it’s apparently going out in at least 400 theaters this weekend, and co-stars Matthew Lillard. Matthew Lillard was on my mind recently because I bought a copy of SLC Punk at Best Buy for four dollars. That movie is awesome.