Monday, October 13, 2008

Fumbling Towards Ecstasy

Well, things have already gotten more interesting since I published The Fifties a few weeks ago. Conceding some grotesque misfires, the broadly inept Hamlet 2 unquestionably the worst of them, I was extraordinarily moved by Trouble the Water, then richly entertained by Tyler Perry's The Family that Preys, and then coaxed out of my early skepticism toward Rachel Getting Married. All three movies will furnish fond memories at year's end... and that would be true even if the "competition" weren't shaping up so grimly. Sitting through preview trailers is becoming an endurance trial lately, given how bad they are for some of the ersatz big-ticket items. Frankly, I'm more excited to track down some winter and spring releases I missed in theaters, like Snow Angels and In Bruges and The Band's Visit, than I am to spend time with a lot of the Turkey Day and Yuletide menu items. But I've been wrong before, oh so many times: just last year, I couldn't wait for the turgid Youth Without Youth and expected Stephen King's The Mist to be a lump of coal. If Tyler Perry didn't already prove it, I really don't know what I'm going to like till it comes around. But I know what I expect to like, or at least what I'm excited about...

Che, Hunger, Milk, The Wrestler

A Christmas Tale, Wendy and Lucy, Ballast, The Secret of the Grain, Happy-Go-Lucky

Waltz with Bashir, Synecdoche, New York, The Class, I've Loved You So Long, Quantum of Solace

Changeling, Let the Right One In, Nothing But the Truth, Slumdog Millionaire

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Appaloosa

W., Defiance, The Reader

Doubt, Australia, Frost/Nixon, Last Chance Harvey, Revolutionary Road, The Day the Earth Stood Still, The Brothers Bloom, Gran Torino, The Duchess, Valkyrie

Ashes of Time Redux, Body of Lies, Good, Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, Passengers, The Secret Life of Bees, Seven Pounds, Soul Men, The Tale of Despereaux, Yes Man

Twilight, Transporter 3, Pride and Glory, Four Christmases, Zack and Miri Make a Porno, RocknRolla, Marley & Me

The Spirit, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, Max Payne, Bolt, Bedtime Stories, What Just Happened?



Blogger Sam Brooks said...

The only one of those I can definitely vouch for at this point is Ashes of Time Redux, which I saw at the film festival. It matches up to the rest of the director's oeuvre, and that's heavy praise from a massive Wong Kar-Wai fan.

I've also seen Happy Go Lucky, and if you like Mike Leigh's other movies, you'll like this one. That's pretty much all there is to say about it. (I don't think he's going to ever top Secrets and Lies.)

11:29 PM, October 13, 2008  
Blogger tim r said...

First up, I can't believe they're translating La graine et le mulet semi-literally for you guys as "The Secret of the Grain"! That'll get them queuing round the block. Still, it's ace. I must admit I'm maybe a couple of notches less optimistic than you about Che, but we shall see.

I saw Rachel Getting Married last night and I'm giving it the same grade. Agreed that it starts rather clunkily, but Hathaway, DeWitt and Irwin all rocked the house, I thought.

We should catch Happy-Go-Lucky while you're over, since I still can't believe I haven't seen it; maybe In Bruges too, if we can find it on a big screen anywhere.

I've Loved You So Long is for me one of the more overrated of this
year's specialised releases -- it's not bad, but a good deal less interesting than everyone's saying. I just can't see what all the fuss is about.

Like you, cannot wait for The Road, A Christmas Tale, Wendy and Lucy, Ballast...

3:43 AM, October 14, 2008  
Blogger NicksFlickPicks said...

@Brooke: Glad to have the encouragement about Ashes Redux, even though I admit I've gotten a bit tired of Wong lately. 2046 didn't truly satisfy me the first time I saw it (though I admit it only got better the second and third times), and I really hated his section of Eros. Though, to be fair, I hated everyone's section of Eros. Still, this is a big event, and I'm thrilled about it.

@Tim: Clearly, the distributor for the Kechiche film didn't want Ridley Scott or the 007 folks just walking off with "Year's Worst Title" honors. Not without a fight, at least. I can see where Che may not work out as I'm hoping, but I'm still more excited to see a platypus of giant proportions than, say, Meryl Streep darting her eyes beneath that whimple. As for making other Leigh-related plans: I haven't even shouted out the big headline story yet! You are totally Jack Black to my Angelina, spilling the big beans. More on that soon. (But yes, it's a great idea!)

9:55 AM, October 14, 2008  
Blogger tim r said...

Oops! Well, it's appropriate punishment to be called Jack Black, particularly when you get to be Angelina...

I hated 2046, but I'm with with Brooke on AOTR, which has a Maggie Cheung monologue that'll absolutely floor you.

In this week's other news, The Class is pretty wonderful, I didn't get on with Burn After Reading all that well, and Eagle Eye, predictably, is a bad joke.

11:09 AM, October 14, 2008  
Blogger tim r said...

And we're snap on The Duchess! Just how huge, pray tell, is the Hayley Atwell Problem here?

5:08 PM, October 14, 2008  
Blogger NicksFlickPicks said...

Hayley Atwell in this movie is like a less interesting Elaine Cassidy. Which is, like, insane. And even worse is that this is my favorite performance I've seen her give. Precisely who is she related to? Or does she just have Cate Blanchett's agent?

8:04 PM, October 14, 2008  
Blogger NicksFlickPicks said...

Look, I had even more to say about The Duchess!

10:39 PM, October 14, 2008  
Blogger NATHANIEL R said...

oh :( was hoping you'd like Rachel more. But i'll take a B+ ;)

it just keeps getting better the further i get away from it. I can't say the same for SYNECHDOCHE which i don't think has the visual prowess a cerebral idea film needs to be accessible or WALTZ WITH BASHIR which is also, well, not enough notes. More range and tones in these movies, please.

I think this is why i'm loving RACHEL so much and why A CHRISTMAS TALE works. They made me feel several different things and not just one thing over and over and over and over and over again. and then again some more.

to use your post motif: I'm tired of single flavor entrees. Bring on the 7 course gourmet meals.

11:50 PM, October 14, 2008  
Blogger tim r said...

Great Duchess review. My main issue with the film, other than the disappointing blandness of all the performers except Fiennes, is how scared it is to admit that Georgiana was a fiercely intelligent woman with her own headstrong politics. (Check out these, and those real child-bearing hips at wikipedia -- it's an eye-opener.) They're terrified we won't like her. I have to wonder how much of this pussy-footing was scripted in pre/post the Knightley casting decision -- there's a degree of Keira loathing over here that's pretty scary in itself.

3:58 AM, October 15, 2008  
Blogger Bill C said...

I sure hope you review RACHEL..., Nick; you're probably the only critic who could talk me into liking it. (Still, nice to see some love around here for Bill Irwin, whose great work has been overshadowed by the Hathaway/DeWitt/Winger trinity.)

4:12 PM, October 16, 2008  
Blogger Sally Belle said...

Yes, yes, yes....drooling over MILK!

I'm seeing The Wrestler next week.

I am also a little drooly over Slumdog Millionaire.

I will be tres disappointed if it's another over rated Fox Searchlight delight.

Can't get worked up enough to see Rachel...sorry!

5:06 PM, October 16, 2008  
Blogger Glenn Dunks said...

I liked The Duchess well enough, although it did - at times - have me wondering why I should be caring about this woman in the grand scheme of HISTORY, you know? Apart from the obvious Princess Di similarities, which, in retrospect, seem like the cause for the film being made. Not a becoming trait, I must say.

However, my favourite part of the review was this exchange "or Charlotte Rampling sits on a cushion somewhere, waiting for someone to open some massive door"

I laughed quite heartily at that, Nick!

9:53 PM, October 17, 2008  

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