Fall is officially here, and movies are officially coming out at a ridiculous clip: at least eight releases this weekend, plus another five next weekend. Next weekend your challenge will be to choose which movie(s) you want to see most. This weekend your challenge is to find one you’re actually excited about. Maybe the Michael Moore joint will be good. Maybe you should just catch up with Big Fan or Jennifer’s Body.
Capitalism: A Love Story: If you take Michael Moore as a free-associative essayist and not a reporter, his movies aren’t usually anything to get especially frothing about; it’s also why his grab-baggiest and most superficially disjointed movie, Bowling for Columbine, is actually one of his best. But let’s talk about the title of this new one for a second: it really sucks. Bowling for Columbine and Fahrenheit 9/11 obviously have their eye on headline-grabbing, and Sicko is pretty straightforward. But the vaguely-clever-sounding-but-not-actually-clever Capitalism: A Love Story makes it sound like an indictment of, you know, capitalism (which I’m guessing it’s not, as Moore hasn’t seemed particularly opposed to that), and/or some kind of ironic/poison-pen twist on the “love” part (by most accounts, it’s not). It’s just a clunky and not particularly catchy title; I guarantee more people will refer to this as “the new Michael Moore movie” than Capitalism. That is, if they refer to it at all: I’m getting a vague sense of disinterest around this movie, even among people who mourned the double-cancellation of TV Nation. For the first time in many movies, Moore sounds like he could actually be a bit behind the current-events curve.
Surrogates: A movie about humanoid robotic doubles living the virtual-reality-ish lives of humans makes sense for Bruce Willis, because whether doing action, sci-fi, comedy, or indie drama, there’s suspense over which version of Willis will show up: the plainspoken, charismatic, even sometimes subtle actor of 12 Monkeys, Nobody’s Fool, Pulp Fiction, The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, and Die Hard; or the humanoid surrogate who robo-walks his way through the likes of Hostage, Perfect Stranger, 16 Blocks, The Jackal, Armageddon, and The Whole Ten Yards. The last time Willis did a movie with such heavy sci-fi background, it was The Fifth Element, which is squarely in the middle of his continuum: enjoyable movie, but Willis himself doesn’t really do much in it. Even the ass-kicking is left to Milla Jovovich. Surrogates is directed by Jonathan Mostow, and looks about his pulpy, B-level speed, but the mere fact that it’s a thriller starring Willis bodes poorly, as he hasn’t done a good genre movie in ages. Still, I will see this because I will see just about anything with a science-fiction premise.
Pandorum: Yeah, speaking of which, I want to see this movie about people waking up on a spaceship with no idea what’s going on or how they got there or why they’re being pursued by some kind of space-zombie creatures, pretty much entirely because it’s people in space. Remember the mid-nineties, when space disaster horror movies were made like all the time? This raises the completely superfluous and moot question of whether Pandorum will be the Event Horizon of its time, or merely the Supernova.
Fame: When I couldn’t make the rain date for The L’s Summerscreen presentation of the original Fame, I was secretly relieved, because that movie is apparently over two hours long. Yikes. This one runs a comparably trim hour forty-seven, so there you go, sometimes remakes can improve on the original. Although: I hear the original Fame has a bunch of sex, and this one looks like After School Musical. I have some friends who really, really want to see this, though; it remains to be seen if seeing the remake will create two-hour-plus hole in my heart.
The Boys Are Back: Clive Owen learns to be a dad, which I assume involves forgetting how to be Clive Owen, harried badass, and also involves people forgetting to see this movie.
Brief Interviews with Hideous Men: I knew when I decided that I couldn’t read any more of this book that eventually a movie might save me the trouble of finishing it. But what I couldn’t predict was that it would co-star then-future SNL star Will Forte. Everything’s coming up Jesse! But only for a little while, because this movie is only playing at the IFC Center, and probably not for long. [No? I think you underestimate the combined appeal of Jim from The Office and David Foster Wallace. But then again, I'm generally very bad at anticipating the tastes of people who are not me, so take that with a droplet of saline solution. -Ed.]
I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell: Can’t wait for this cheap-looking presumed abomination based on a book written for people who can barely read to be rounded out to a trilogy with I Hope They Show Football Games in Hell and I Hope the Date-Rape Sentencing in Hell is Relatively Lax.
Coco Before Chanel: Finally, a movie vaguely capable of making me want to see The September Issue (assuming it would somehow get me out of seeing Coco Before Chanel, and that I could just sit there hating on Anna Wintour’s imperious dullness, whereas no one can really hate Audrey Tatou, but I’m sure one could fall asleep during one of her movies).