2012: I am so not even kidding when I tell you I am fucking pumped for this movie, like a bro before a beer-pong tournament. From what I’ve seen, it looks like the filmmakers made a list of notable monuments that had not yet been pitilessly destroyed in a movie, then destroyed them all on their supercomputers. Then they made a second list of monuments that had already been pitilessly destroyed in a movie, then destroyed them all again on their supercomputers, but in far worse and more elaborate ways, like having an aircraft carrier ride a tidal wave into the White House somehow, or having a tornado drop the Great Wall of China into a volcano (I’m just assuming that second thing happens in the movie, because I’m assuming the filmmakers also had a computer program running through every possible combination of monumental destruction and pitiless loss of CGI lives). Said filmmakers include director Roland Emmerich, master of the extremely stupid large-scale spectacle. One of his massive-disaster movies delivers the stupid, stupid goods (Independence Day) while another mostly doesn’t (the one where the cold chases people around a building). Although: the two-and-a-half-hour running time brings to mind my younger days, when I was totally pumped to find out the Godzilla remake was going to be about two-and-a-half hours, because I assumed, erroneously as it turned out, that it would have ten minutes of plot and 130 or so of Godzilla smashing the ever-loving fuck out of the world. That, for the record, is the folly of Emmerich’s Godzilla, not that it doesn’t have a dude in a suit: that its destruction is far less spectacular than a Godzilla-as-natural-disaster movie warrants. Looks like my incompetent German friend saved all of the goods for what I’m hoping will be a marathon of ridiculous apocalyptic crap that’s nowhere near as actually-effective as, say, War of the Worlds or Cloverfield. You’ve had the best, Emmerich seems to be saying; now it’s my turn (again).
Fantastic Mr. Fox: Wes Anderson plus Noah Baumbach plus Roald Dahl is almost too many beloved-by-me writers at once, but for actual craft in your entertainment this weekend, I’m assuming this is the one to see before 2012 ends the world. The old-timey stop-motion looks neat, the voices sound good (especially a meekified Jason Schwartzman), and the trailers have made me laugh a bunch. I do wonder if Anderson will dress up Dahl’s brand of whimsy in his vintage too-tight clothes, but for all of the accusations of Anderson as an airless stylist, he seems to welcome collaboration, always working with a writing partner and calling back many of the same excellent actors. If you haven’t already, please check out Nicolas Rapold’s well-considered review, a piece of criticism that manages to convey respect and enjoyment of Anderson’s work in a critical context, giving him neither a fan’s free pass nor a detractor’s instant dismissal.
Pirate Radio: I’m not sure if I can adequately explain how a movie starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, Bill Nighy, and Nick Frost could be something I would actively avoid ever seeing. Writer-director Richard Curtis, of Love Actually, might suffice, but I didn’t even hate Love Actually; it’s pretty much an anthology movie, and so some of the stories are actually pretty decent—although not necessarily, it should be said, many of the those intended to be especially funny or romantic. But Pirate Radio somehow looks much, much worse, maybe because it applies the queasy mixture of the cutesy and the smutty that’s been a trademark of his recent work—that insufferable tee-hee British faux-bawdiness—to music and, I assume, history that deserves better. I have no idea what Curtis’s age is, but he seems to have a talent for squishifying, neutralizing, and whitewashing rock and roll that can match any baby boomer. Mimi Luse’s none-too-positive review nonetheless actually makes it sound better than I’d hope, if only by virtue of it not sounding like the nadir of all Britcom filmmaking.
Women in Trouble: It’s my review at the link, and if writer-director Sebastian Gutierrez wasn’t stylistically upfront enough about his imitation of Pedro Almodovar, he thanks the dude in the end credits. This movie isn’t great, but watching a horror vet try on Almodovar drag makes for an interesting, semi-enjoyable experience, helped along by the attempt to write not one, not two, but a whole bunch of decent roles for women. It’s the kind of movie that isn’t all that stellar, but makes me curious enough to see the linked-stories follow-up, already in the can and focusing on the wonderful Carla Gugino, who gets a rare showcase in Trouble as porn star Elekra Luxx.
Uncertainty: I had literally never heard of this movie until last weekend, when a friend of mine casually wondered if this is maybe what Joseph Gordon-Levitt will be promoting when he hosts Saturday Night Live on 11/21. Further research indicates that this is probably not what he’s promoting, as it is opening on exactly one screen at the IFC Center for what sounds like a ten-day run (maybe he’ll hand out flyers to the SNL in-studio audience). This seems kind of bizarre because it’s from the filmmaking team who did the quite-good thriller The Deep End, stars Gordon-Levitt, and has what seems like a decent indie hook: a couple flips a coin to make a decision the film shows the divergent possible paths of their day. So sort of a Run Sliding Doors Run situation. I’m totally seeing this while I can; the last movie that was dumped into the IFC Center for a cursory few-week run was Smiley Face, and I wound up buying the DVD. Wait, what?