: Here it is: your motion picture experience of the fall. Or is it just a really, really well-wrought space-disaster thriller? Every step of waiting for Alfonso Cuaron's follow-up to Children of Men
has been such an epically slow drag: first there were a few silent years post-Men
as he weighed his options; then there was an endless pre-production phase where a variety of actors cycled in and out; then there was the production itself, which apparently wrapped a solid two years ago; then the movie was pushed out of 2012 and into 2013 as the post-production work continued; then the movie screened at a bunch of film festivals what now seems like months ago; now, finally, it's actually for-real opening in movie theaters, just shy of seven years after Children of Men
did. Just as a point of reference: Terrence Malick's last two movies (both of which have come out since Children of Men
!) took less time to come out than this one. With such build-up, and with Children of Men
held in such high esteem, disappointment in Gravity
is probably inevitable. After all, it's not really sci-fi; more of a woman-versus-nature survival-or-not story. It stars Sandra Bullock rather than Clive Owen. With its big stars and marketing campaign and 3D effects, it's the cool-weather version of a big summer movie. Note: I've just said all that mainly to keep myself from losing my mind with anticipation for seeing Gravity
in glorious IMAX and maybe-glorious 3D. I really, really want to see this movie.
: A few weeks back, there were lots of 15th anniversary pieces on Rounders
, the poker movie that disappointed with lukewarm reviews and middling box-office upon its initial release but which has since become something of a beloved semi-classic. Rounders
isn't a flat-out great movie, but it immerses the audience in its world, and has a hell of a stacked cast led by a young Matt Damon and Edward Norton; it seems vaguely laughable now that it was once considered an unsuccessful follow-up to Good Will Hunting
. Runner Runner
, the online poker movie that looks like more of a thriller with online poker in the background, looks like a cross between Rounders
and another relatively unheralded but well-cast and somewhat enduring movie of the same period, Boiler Room
; it even has Damon's buddy Affleck seemingly in Boiler Room
mode (which is to say poor man's Alec Baldwin in Glengarry
mode) as the villain. That's not to say that Runner Runner
will be beloved in 10 or 15 years; it could easily go the way of 21
, a gambling/crime movie that did strong business on its initial release only to be basically forgotten (right?) by the world at large (or at least by people who like good movies). Runner Runner
seems like it should be a Warner Brothers release—fall date, vaguely adult-targeted, Ben Affleck—it's actually Fox; I guess the Warner version would probably star DiCaprio or Jake Gyllenhaal, who would both be too old for the part, but then again so is Justin Timberlake. (Does he seriously play a college student in this? He must at least be doing grad school, right?) Warner has Gravity
this weekend, and I would not have guessed that a Cuaron space movie would trounce an Affleck/Timberlake programmer in terms of tickets sold, but it looks like that might actually happen.
and Bad Milo!
: Ok, here is where I get maybe kind of sort of sympathetic to the asinine TV-is-better-than-movies argument: comedies. There are plenty of funny movies out there, but there are also plenty of failed comedies, even/especially scrappy underdogs, starring people who have proven themselves funny on TV. I haven't seen A.C.O.D.
, in which Adam Scott plays a thirtysomething still dealing with the aftermath of his parents' divorce, but it seems fair to assume that this movie starring Scott with support from his Parks and Recreation
buddy Amy Poehler will be less funny and probably less affecting than three or four episodes of that show. And I can attest that the rare leading-man role Ken Marino scores in Bad Milo!
doesn't give him much to do besides try really, really hard to make something out of a part where a rubbery demon-child-creature repeatedly emerges from his ass and smites his enemies. Marino has been wonderful on The State
, Party Down>, and Veronica Mars, but he's adrift in the cutesiness of would-be cult work here, along with Gillian Jacobs (Community) and Stephen Root, among other funny and welcome costars. So yeah, I'm never going to pay much mind to arguments that Homeland is vastly preferable to watching The Master or Tree of Life, but, yeah, I admit that a lot of weeks, you'll get more laughs out of catching up with New Girl than catching a new comedy feature.