Your Lost Weekend at the Movies

09/11/2009 8:26 AM |

Save 9, the animated sci-fi movie that opened on Wednesday, this weekend after Labor Day is a cornucopia of wide releases not screening particularly widely for critics. Oddly, Sorority Row seems to have screened more widely in Australia and England than in the U.S., where as of this writing its only review comes from Variety (not so positive!). Amateur critics, take up arms! Start your own blogs, go see these underscreened movies, and get your dubious reviews posted to Rotten Tomatoes! Or: find Bandslam at your local two-dollar theater (other areas still have those, right?). Or: go outside if it doesn’t rain. Check back next week, when the coast is clear for interesting-looking movies again.

9: Actually, this movie looks pretty cool, although the consensus seems to be that the eighty-minute feature version can’t match the Oscar-nominated twelve-minute version director Shane Acker made a few years ago. But good for him for pushing an action/sci-fi cartoon through the studio system; it’s not even anime! I want to see this, though it’s more out of a sense of obligation to cool-looking, non-pandering animation.

Whiteout: This Dark Castle thriller has been on the shelf for awhile now; obviously its dumping-ground choices were September and January, and I’m a little bummed that they didn’t go with the obvious January/snow connection. Whiteout is based on a comic book that my personal comics expert tells me is a murder mystery set in Antarctica, and not the vaguely supernatural slasher movie promised by this trailer. Also promised by this trailer: Kate Beckinsale taking a shower. I’m expecting disappointment on all fronts, so I wouldn’t recommend going unless you, like me, have a bizarre affinity for mediocre Dark Castle thrillers. Joel Silver’s horror imprint has actually classed it up a bit since its beginnings with C-list ensembles (Thirteen Ghosts; The House on Haunted Hill). Beckinsale, who swings even more violently between junk and seriousness [Look at Beckinsale's CV and marvel at how long Jesse's memory is: Much Ado About Nothing was like 16 years ago; she's a B-Girl with a British accent and killer cheekbones. -Ed.] than most second-tier actresses, is actually joining the esteemed company of Oscar winners Halle Berry (Gothika) and Hilary Swank (The Reaping) as a Dark Castle leading lady. So basically, Dark Castle has begun making women’s pictures, only with killing. Who says there are no good roles for women? Oh, right: everyone.

I Can Do Bad All By Myself: I’ve never seen a Tyler Perry movie, so my impressions of them are based largely on the likelihood of giant goofy-looking Perry himself turning up in drag to play sassy grandma Madea. This one looks to have about fifteen percent Madea, and lots of Taraji P. Henson of Benjamin Button and Hustle & Flow, which means were it to simulcast on a cable system showing only Tyler Perry movies, I’d be more likely to watch this than Madea’s Family Reunion, but less likely than The Family That Preys, which I understand to contain no Madea whatsoever. I dig the title of this new one, though. [Incidentally, sorry we've never reviewed a Tyler Perry movie here at The L—Lionsgate is in the habit of circumnavigating all critics whenever a new one is coming out, which is frequently; they're apparently operating under the misapprehension that we're just salivating to condescend to him, and not, you know, eager to dissect a popular and prolific filmmaker who seems to speak for a rising African-American middle class. Anyway. This is why Jesse writes these columns and not me, as you can see. -Ed.]

Sorority Row: So let’s get down to it: how bad a person am I for kind of wanting to see this? [Like the movie, not as bad a person as you would be if you hadn't gone straight out and admitted it. Barely legal co-eds! In skimpy outfits! Getting menaced and killed! This is in many ways the most honest movie ever made (suck it Fred Wiseman). -Ed.] Next week’s Jennifer’s Body looks like a far more effective venue for bitchy quips and gore, but there’s something irresistible about the first theatrical release to cast (and from the looks of the trailer, kill!) Audrina Partridge. I once again submit my plea for someone to cast everyone from The Hills in a single awesome/terrible horror movie.

Beyond a Reasonable Doubt: The number of stars who could be accurately described as schlock-proof seems to be diminishing. I’m not saying Michael Douglas is some kind of infallible superstar, but for awhile he seemed to be moving toward that old-guy star thing where you don’t do so many movies, which makes your occasional appearances seem classier (take a bow, Jack Nicholson). But then he started doing almost exclusively leads in crummy thrillers (Don’t Say a Word; The Sentinel) and supporting work in crummy comedies playing someone’s crazy dad or uncle (You, Me, and Dupree; Ghosts of Girlfriends Past), and now he’s showing up in some barely-releasing crime thriller from the director of The Relic that is somehow a remake of a Fritz Lang movie. Get it together, M-Doug.

Crude/No Impact Man: Between this two week’s documentaries that, if I’m being honest with myself, I want to see less than Sorority Row, I’m more interested in No Impact Man (guy tries to limit or maybe even stop his environmental impact, much to the inconvenience of his family), though I’ve heard that Joe Berlinger’s Crude is quite good.

3 Comment

  • RE: Beckinsale, I said she swings between junk and serious movies, not necessarily good movies. But apart from Snow Angels, one of my favorites of the decade, she’s also been in the barely-released, not very good, but quite serious Nothing but the Truth; The Aviator; Laurel Canyon; Brokedown Palace… all more recently than Much Ado. Her next movie is some kind of family comedy-drama with De Niro and Sam Rockwell. I think also the degree of schlock in her B-movies makes the contrast more striking.

    Although: I did forget she was in Click. Yikes.

  • I almost made a caveat for Snow Angels, which was Very Serious; I liked Laurel Canyon a lot but found it appealingly trashy; she barely registered (through no fault of her own) in The Aviator; nobody saw Nothing But the Truth; your opinions and mine, um, differ about where Brokedown Palace exists on the seriousness/junk continuum. Mostly that parenthetical was a note to myself: I’m always bizarrely excited to see her doing campy stuff, when that kind of stuff actually represents a disproportionately large percentage of the work.

  • Oh, I dig her camp career, too (obviously). I can’t really explain how/why I find her particularly hot and charming in Van Helsing of all things (possibly the Transylvannian accent?) but there it is.

    I actually haven’t seen Brokedown Palace all the way through — I only recently caught a bit of it on cable, in fact. But it seemed pretty clear to me that this was a movie that was *trying* to be serious, even though it was actually kind of trashy. That’s kind of part of it, too: she takes parts in these movies that at least sound like serious dramas, that pretty much no one sees. So it’s like she’s continuing her early-nineties Serious Brit Actress career on the sly. While mostly wearing skintight leather and shooting werewolves.