Lawless: In yet another bizarre example of release-date parallelism, the Weinstein Company has decided that vaguely prestigious movies can make $35 million or so if they come out around Labor Day, so in the tradition of The Constant Gardener and The Debt comes Lawless, the newest semi-art thriller to say, “I may not win any Oscars, but I’d be open if it turns out to be a light year!” I wasn’t a huge fan of John Hillcoat’s grubby, tedious The Proposition, nor his perfunctory adaptation of The Road; I’m hoping Lawless adds some much-needed pulp into his dusty-misery routine.
For a Good Time Call…: My heart swells whenever a scene-stealing second banana scores a lead role. Ari Graynor has provided ace support in Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, The Sitter (seriously, her angry insistence, regarding a skeezy gathering, that “this party is breathtaking!” is Classic Graynor), and (just a few weeks ago) Celeste and Jesse Forever; she has even played second banana to queen of scene-stealing second bananas Anna Faris in What’s Your Number?—appropriately enough, she played Faris’s sister, establishing that they’re obviously kindred spirits. Now Graynor is having her leading-lady moment, and her indie comedy passion project will almost certainly be seen by more people than Faris’s barely released Smiley Face, which will hopefully, in turn, keep her leading-lady and scene-stealing careers going without requiring any association with Yogi Bear. That guy’s a real jerk.
The Possession: Well, last weekend when I wondered if The Apparition would wind up making $40 million when all is said and done, I was unaware that Warner Brothers was dumping the movie onto 800 screens rather than giving it the full-horror 2700. Lionsgate, though, knows how to treat its bread-and-butter—it’s the house that Jigsaw built, after all—and will give The Possession a real last-ditch-summer push. It even screened the movie for critics! More than 24 hours before it hit general release! You can check out my review to see how that went. But I revise last week’s prediction: this is the movie that will make $40 million (total, not this weekend; it’s still the Labor Day moviegoing dead zone, after all) even though audiences will boo at the end because horror movie audiences boo at the end of everything.
Oogieloves in the BIG Balloon Adventure: The existence of this movie has baffled me for months now; Barney and the Teletubbies and the like may not have targeted my demographic, but I’d definitely heard of them. Strangely, they didn’t seem to have friends as famous as Chazz Palminteri, Jaime Pressly, Cary Elwes, Christopher Lloyd, and Cloris Leachman, who all apparently turn up in this movie. For some reason, the most logical presence in an obscure-ish children’s film is the one that disappoints me the most (I’m looking at you and shaking my head, Christopher Lloyd; you were my favorite actor when I was 10 and even then I would’ve thought this was lame!). Hopefully this movie will get famous primarily as the one that broke A.O. Scott’s brain! Even part-time film critics know the sensation of having to writing about a movie you normally wouldn’t see and have no idea how to write about; Scott’s review goes into the pantheon of how to deal with that particular ultra-first-world (but still challenging!) problem.