Monday, September 14, 2009

Bring It On: Fall and Holiday Season '09

Most of the titles I'd be most excited to see are either still on the fence as to whether they'll even be released this year or they're starting to pick up deeply divisive word of mouth (though this, in itself, is usually catnip to me). I can't say my felt level of enthusiasm for the next three months of moviegoing is all that high, but it's comforting when I sit down with this list to realize how many more temptations still fall on the horizon than I have really been acknowledging. Grab a jacket and a scarf, hold your nose, and hope for the best!

A completely precise, most-to-least-anticipated lineup is too hard, and the previous eight years of airline travel and American government mean that I don't even know what "Code: Red" or "Code: Orange" or whatever even means anymore. So, as is my past custom, these previews of coming attractions (and repulsions) are scaled according to levels of enthusiasm that would actually make sense in the context of my life. As is equally my custom, I'll update with one-line responses as I "check" these titles off my list, and attempt to keep up with shifting release dates and fluctuating buzz.

The Day My Credit Balance is Zero
Bright Star - Shut it, "comeback" mongers; Jane has Brought It every time
   B+ - Occasionally blunt, but mature and irreverent, and very moving
The Headless Woman - Come on, Chicago, come through with a release!
   B - Martel's skills still dazzle, but they slide here into mannerism and vagary
The Sun - I've already waited breathlessly for four years
   B+ - A few wobbles, especially early, but provocative and moving
Where the Wild Things Are - I hope it's every bit as unusual as they say
   B - Snags in shape and momentum, but still an engaging wonder
Antichrist - I might be indignant, but I cannot possibly be bored
   D - But I was! What's duller than shapeless, self-diluting provocation?

The Day I Meet Jessica Lange
35 Shots of Rum - Denis, Godard, Descas, Colin: I love when they hang out!
   B+ - Almost too low-key, but fully controlled; great last shot
Precious - Almost in the top bracket; all my fingers are crossed
   B - An odd, impassioned, erratic, well-acted film with some dubious biases
Nine - I hope it's got more depth than Chicago, but I'm already hooked
   D+ - A staggering inattention to whether the audience has any reason to care
An Education - A scrumptious cast, great preview, and star-is-born potential
   C - Carey charms, but no one, least of all Scherfig, pushes hard enough
A Single Man - Thanks, Harv! Now let's see what Tom, Colin, and Juli can do!
   D+ - A very old boxed wine, embarrassingly masked as a $15 cocktail

Oscar Nomination Day
A Serious Man - I blow hot and cold on the Coens but love the trailer
   C– - An endurance trial; the Coens at their most stiffly obnoxious
The Road - Inevitably a softer beast than the book, but does that matter?
   B - Lighting and music problems, but sturdy and extremely moving
The White Ribbon - The split votes persuaded more than the real raves
   B– - Crisp b&w imagery can't hide the diffuse, overfamiliar ideas

Oscar Day
Whip It - I think this looks like a blast. Plus: Juliette! And Kristen Wiig!
   B+ - Bright, pert, very funny, economically edited, specific to its milieu
The Private Lives of Pippa Lee - Miller's stuff usually sounds better than it is
Up in the Air - Sure seems to be affecting people; bonus point: Vera!
   C– - As evasive and canned as the firing rhetoric in the film
Disgrace - An adult-sounding adaptation of promising material
   D - Club-footed, cruddily photographed stab at a very tricky story

My Birthday
Broken Embraces - I'm not as pro-Pedro as some, but I'm sure it's tasty
   C - Needlessly convoluted; hard to find a new idea here
The Informant! - Hoping for inspired cheekiness, not Schizopolis
   C– - Tediously facetious; less revealing of character than it should be
Crazy Heart - Great cast, but I hope this trumps Tender Mercies
   C - Trumps it a little, but not by much, though Bridges is great
Invictus - Just hoping it's not too, too on-the-nose with its nobility
   C - Eastwood never gets past the surface, maybe because he doesn't try

The Average 3-Day Weekend
Paranormal Activity - If it's as nail-biting as they say, I'll be elated
   B - Several structural flaws, but it still scared the @#$% out of me
The Messenger - Strong notices; bonus: from Velvet Goldmine co-writer!
   B - Modest but moving; Foster and Harrelson are great
La danse - Wiseman's a legend, and if it's half as good as The Company...
   B+ - Splendid; the To Be and To Have of ruthless artistic training
Avatar - It's just so hard to bet against Cameron, but that teaser smells
   C - Fine, it "moves," but it's wispy and politically off-putting
Me and Orson Welles - Lots of great names attached, plus McKay buzz
   D+ - Dim and diffuse; Linklater never gives it any point

The Average 2-Day Weekend
The Last Station - Sounds worth a look, though I'm not panting
A Woman in Berlin - Still intrigued by Nina Hoss after Yella
   B– - Important story, polished style, but overlong and a bit too opaque
The Bad Lieutenant... - It'll have to be the right kind of nutso
   B– - A bit mangy, but gets more interestingly nutso as it goes
It's Complicated - Despite Meyers' record, I'm really holding out hope
   B - Kinks more than compensated by three luminous star turns
The Lovely Bones - Could be great, but premise and trailer turn me off
Amreeka - The previews and reviews are selling it to me
   C+ - Well acted, some pert details, but the script is much too klutzy
Good Hair - The trailer's a stitch, and I'm interested anyway
   C - Good chuckles and tidbits, but too slapdash and superficial
Bronson - Strong reviews from across the Pond; curious about Hardy
   C+ - Starts out awfully and over-acted but grows oddly absorbing
Fantastic Mr. Fox - Looks like less of a real stretch than I'd hoped
   C+ - It passes the time, but there's just no soul to it

The Average Workday
Big Fan - Confused by what I'm hearing; should I make an effort?
   B– - Homespun and limited, but savvy moments and a killer climax
Coco Before Chanel - Unsure about Tautou, but few female leads this fall
   C - Good work from Tautou and Poelvoorde can't quite elevate the film
Skin - I'd get even more bent out of shape if the UK reviews were better
   C– - Intriguing, but pitifully disjointed and erratically acted
Brothers - Would it have killed 'em to hire a less callow cast?
The Princess and the Frog - I appreciate the gesture... but how's the movie?
   B– - Enough high points to count as a more than honorable try
The Young Victoria - I'm just not sure that Blunt is really working out
   C+ - Actually, she and Friend do very well, but the movie's still gratuitous
The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus - Even in good weather, Gilliam can grate
Sherlock Holmes - Many ways to go wrong, but duds and dudes could be fun
   F - A crass vandalizing of the brand, and joylessly incompetent as reimagined

The Average Cold
The Blind Side - Mayyyyyybe, unless it's limo-liberal porn
   D+ - Plennnty of problems, but enough heart to squeak by

The Average Broken Face
(i.e., And I am telling you... I'm not going...)
The Other Man - If someone you love messed up, would you want to watch?
Motherhood - The dread Uma, forever trying her hand at "comedy"
Ninja Assassin - By the V for Vendetta guy? No, thanks. Really.
Couples Retreat - A genre I dislike, saddled with unenticing actors
Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel - That title! [shudders]
Saw VI - Five years ago, I thought this looked like a pip. It wasn't. Go away!
Old Dogs - Only if my other option is to drown in a grain silo

Hope Springs Eternal for...
The Tree of Life - Malick + Penn + Lubezki + Desplat. Please open!
A Prophet - Reviews are dreamy, but looks slotted for February
   B+ - Not unfamiliar material, but strongly acted and helmed
Vincere - Apparently has a web-stream release, but big screen?
   D+ - An opulent ordeal, empty, static, and weirdly self-monumentalizing
Lovely, Still - I thought this would be a sure thing, with Best Actress so sparse
   D - TV-ish at best, tacky, show-offy, and ridiculous at worst
Beeswax - Hasn't bowed in Chicago yet, so I'm hopeful
Creation - I applaud the chutzpah of a mainstream film inclined to atheism
The Vintner's Luck - I'm guessing this depends on Toronto buzz?

(i.e., I meant to go but played myself)
Import/Export - Missed out, despite my love for Lachman
Afterschool - One-night showing sold out before I could get to it
Still Walking - I should've cared more, but it just sounded so tepid
The Box - Can Richard Kelly woo me back after Southland?
The Damned United - Rooting for Sheen after Queen, less post-Frost
Zombieland - Zombie-comedy is getting weirdly rote; neat cast, though
Cloud 9 - Could be a genuine boundary-pusher; lots of strong notices
The Burning Plain - Charlize and Kim entice, but Jennifer's got the buzz
Amelia - Potential for a good story, but the trailer's so kitschy
The Fourth Kind - Wouldn't give it a thought, except the trailer's nifty
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs - Who knew? Reviews are bubbly
What's the Matter with Kansas? - I've now missed the book and the film

The Boneyard
(i.e., My eagerness has died on the vine)
2012 - So plausible at some core level, it's unseemly as entertainment
9 - I needed convincing, and the reviews didn't achieve that
The Baader Meinhof Complex - I'd hoped for edge, but no one's implying any
The Boys Are Back - Best of luck to Clive, but the trailer oozed
Capitalism: A Love Story - I'm worried he's jumped the shark
Did You Hear about the Morgans? - Review-dependent; Parker's a liability
Disney's A Christmas Carol - I'm guessing sub-Lemony, which isn't good
Il Divo - Not a huge fan of florid Italian drama, but I'll try it
Endgame - Not Beckett, sadly, but is there room for a buzzy performance?
Everybody's Fine - I can be sweet-talked, if De Niro's really "back"
Fame - I don't much care, but several friends might; I like Naughton
I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell - For fortuitous personal reasons
The Invention of Lying - My only hook was Garner, and she wasn't enough
Jennifer's Body - Sounds like a missed opportunity, if even that
Katyn - Embarrassed to say, it will be my first Wajda
Law Abiding Citizen - Any film with Viola as mayor works for me
Love Happens - I never was eager, considering the titular allusion
The Men Who Stare at Goats - Promise me it's not just A-list smuggery
My One and Only - Renée buzz only lasted 5 secs! Safe to avoid! YAY!
New York, I Love You - Expecting good bits amid a lot of floss
Pandorum - It all rests on the reviews; I'm not hopeful
Paris - Sounds iffy, but Duris and Binoche have sure been on a roll
Pirate Radio/The Boat that Rocked - New title, same lukewarm reviews
Planet 51 - I'm almost sure to skip it, unless someone really goes to bat
Red Cliff - Loved Face/Off, but often bristle at Chinese action epics
The Stepfather - The original's a cult classic, and the trailer is a snooze
The Stoning of Soraya M. - Intriguing, but sounds like rhetoric > substance
Surrogates - Hate to miss a Mostow pic, but this looks so desperate
Trucker - I actually showed up and couldn't make myself stay
The Twilight Saga: New Moon - I haven't so far; why start now?
Women in Trouble - What is this? Is it for real? A real part for Gugino?

Meanwhile, Titles to Catch on DVD
12 - Some Foreign Film nominees really stink, but I'm hopeful
Adventureland - I wasn't prepared for such strong reports from friends
   B - Sober and comical and nostalgic and tough: quite a combo!
American Violet - I was especially sorry to miss this in theaters
   D+ - Depressingly soft-headed and hypocritical; mishandled cast
Anvil! The Story of Anvil - I've only heard affectionate responses
   A– - Could this be the deftest, most rounded film I've seen this fall?
The Beaches of Agnès - Hafta admit, it looked too "cutesy" for me
The Betrayal (Nerakhoon) - I'm in it for Kuras but heard few raves
Everlasting Moments - Another film I especially regret missing
   B - A poem in light, good perfs, a bit too self-consciously quaint
Funny People - I only heard bad reviews until too late
   B - A funny, usefully stilted film about Hollywood hating itself
Goodbye, Solo - Is Bahrani the Real Deal people say he is?
   B - Buoyed by its strong sense of place and a gracefully handled finale
Grey Gardens - Sure, it's TV, but I need to have an opinion
   B– - Unexpectedly moving; a welcome antidote to the doc's coldness
The International - Color me shocked, but I keep hearing raves
   C - Bits of flash and punch, but just as often flat-footed
Lake Tahoe - Duck Season was good enough to sell me on the follow-up
   B– - Unabashedly slim, but some nicely wry, succinct observations
Lemon Tree - Hiam Abbass draws raves every time she shows up
   B– - Despite overt bias, conjures estimable feeling and tension
Leonera/Lion's Den - I had no idea this had finally opened
Life Is Hot in Cracktown - High hopes for Kerry Washington
   D+ - A few moments pop, but it's all risibly pedestrian
Medicine for Melancholy - The second coming of love jones?
   B - Tougher and more tender than its slimmish first impression
Orphan - Is this just Joshua again, with anti-Semitic overtones?
   C+ - More sadistic, more cheats, but admirably weird, and Vera's great
Séraphine - I meant to catch this; now the LAFCA is rubbing it in
Spread - Missed in theaters, but like Mackenzie, love Heche
   D+ - Vacuous, show-offy, and erratic, but yay for Heche and that toad
Three Monkeys - Intriguing, though Ceylan and I haven't sparked before
   C+ - Clicks for a while, but awfully overbearing by the end
Tokyo Sonata - Strong buzz in the winter, but it passed me by
Treeless Mountain - A nice change from all the Korean genre stuff
   B - Beautifully lit and empathetic with the kids' POV, if a bit soft
Valentino: The Last Emperor - This sleeper hit is getting me curious
   B– - Glorious clothes, vivid subject, but gauzy and a bit gross
World's Greatest Dad - Goatdog swears by this one, so I'm suddenly curious
   C+ - Thrilling, scabrous fun... till the main plot kicks in



Blogger Andrew K. said...

Very amusing List. I thought I was the only one who wanted to see UP IN THE AIR because of Vera. George Clooney does nothing for me.

Amelia is too high up :D

9:14 AM, September 14, 2009  
Blogger Guy Lodge said...

Just to offer some friendly pointers on what I've seen from the list (that you haven't read my thoughts on already):

"The Private Lives of Pippa Lee": You're right about Miller's work sounding better than it is, and this didn't even sound that good to me to begin with. Wright is game, but this is Lifetime-with-faint-edge material.

"Disgrace": I might have been swayed by my personal connection to the novel, but this is really special. Malkovich's best in longer than I can remember ... and Jessica Haines is startling.

"Baader Meinhof Complex": Pretty much all the facts squeezed into a slick, eventful but wholly character-free package. A disappointment.

"Coco Avant Chanel": I can barely remember a single thing to say about it, though I think it was largely painless.

"The Damned United": Slightly spryer and wittier than previous Sheen/Morgan pairings, but still belongs on TV. When will they get this? Title of the year, though.

"The Boat That Rocked": Abysmal. And I'm not even in the large anti-Curtis contingent.

"The Other Man": So awful I still shudder when I think of it a whole year later. Don't be fooled by the presence of the Lovely Laura Linney ... she's barely in it anyway.

"Spread": I have no idea what Mackenzie was going for here, but this is an embarrassing miss. Heche is its brightest spot, though, so might that be enough for you?

2:06 PM, September 14, 2009  
Blogger tim r said...

Dare I admit it, but I love this feature even more than the Mid-Year Progress Report -- which is saying a lot. So much promise, so much missability, so many funny one-liners.

I would start by upgrading Cloudy... to the Average Workday, if not a Two Day Weekend: saw it today, and while I had issues with the visuals, the script's a peach.

The Malick, for me -- particularly after my Damascene conversion on The New World -- falls into the category of The Day My Credit Balance is About Plus Ten Thousand. Cannot wait. Ditto Headless Woman. And I'm psyched for most of what you are, Nine-wise and Precious-wise and Road-wise, though my excitement about Bright Star has dwindled a bit lately.

As for the other ones I've seen, I happen to think The Damned United is much better directed than it was scripted: it's the script that belongs on TV. (And from such an ace book!)

Guessing Three Monkeys might be your New Favourite Ceylan, even if it only gets a C+; really liked Katyn and Everlasting Moments, as you know.

Agreed with Guy on Boat That Rocked (blecch) and Pippa Lee (blah), but I might like Baader-Meinhof a little more (despite Martina, who got on my tits). Plus, I know you hated Rupert Friend in Chéri, but he sure is the best thing in The Young Victoria.

Have you seen that Women in Trouble already has a sequel in production?!

And finally, I had no idea what Whip It was, but I am suddenly All. Over. It. Juliette has been in these Orange phone ads in the UK which just make you desperate to see her in worthwhile employment.

4:54 PM, September 14, 2009  
Blogger Guy Lodge said...

I couldn't agree more with Tim about Friend in "The Young Victoria" ... he's really a revelation in it, infinitely sharper and more charismatic than a very, very wan Blunt. I think he's still in my Supporting Actor ranks, actually.

The film, though, is practically embalmed.

5:06 PM, September 14, 2009  
Blogger Sam Brooks said...

So glad to see Bright Star in the top bracket! I saw it at the NZFF, and it's easily Campion's best since Portrait of a Lady, perhaps even The Piano.

I love how she refuses to have this film become a staid period piece (looking at you, Cheri and The Young Victoria) and everything in it feels fresh and sorry to bow to cliche, but real.

5:16 PM, September 14, 2009  
Blogger NicksFlickPicks said...

@AEE: Amelia might indeed be too high up, but I'm trying to stay positive. Ish.

@Guy: Sad to hear about Pippa and Baader Meinhof, but you make up for it with the hearty trumpeting for Disgrace

@Tim: You're too kind. These were written over about a week, and they all sound the same! You guys have got me interested in seeing a Rupert Friend performance, which is the last thing I expected. (And I loved those in-theater Orange ads when I visited... The one with Anjelica Huston was great. Why aren't American ads filled with actors like these?)

@Brooke: There was no danger of Bright Star being anywhere but the first or second spot. There are people I'm related to that I care about less than I care about Campion. Not immediate family, but you know.

11:01 PM, September 14, 2009  
Blogger Dr. S said...

Ooo, Nick, I could loan you my DVD of Young Victoria (thank you, Gatwick Airport HMV!), and then you could let that one go. You just let me know. There's a lot in it that's just downright silly.

I have just watched the Whip It trailer again, and if it's as good as it looks, it might join the shelf of DVDs that I play while I pack to move every summer. Bring It On, Strictly Ballroom, &c. Which is another way of saying that I'm hoping for it to be a classic straight out of the gate. It's got enough of my favorite sassy platitudes (find your tribe; be your own hero) that it might just hit that particular need-niche.

10:48 AM, September 15, 2009  
Blogger Glenn said...

As I wrote in my review, if you think you'll like The Young Victoria then you will. There is absolutely nothing surprising about that movie at all (well, except that Emily Blunt is what I'd wager as actually bad). Same goes for Coco Avant Chanel. Not exactly pulseless, but it's not exciting at all. Baader Meinhoff Complex trips up trying to throw so much in (historically) and yet feeling like they skimped on a personality, if that makes sense. Some great moments though (particularly the opening scene, which is a stunner).

Agreed on Disgrace. It's a great movie, but Malkovich is probably the best he's ever been and Haines is indeed superb.

The Boys are Back looks wet, which is sad because I don't like to outright negative towards and Aussie film before I see it, but... yikes.

I'm right in the middle with The White Ribbon. Not as good as Hidden or The Piano Teacher, on par with Code Unknown, better than Funny Games and Time of the Wolf.

Paris came and went when it was released here last year, which is surprising since these sort of French films are like crack cocaine to Australian arthouse cinemas.

2:45 AM, September 16, 2009  
Blogger NATHANIEL R said...

i am not looking forward to Disgrace at all (i feel like i've seen variations of that story every year) and I'm confused by people saying it's Malkovich's best. I mean that would REALLY have to be something, wouldn't it?

i love that Vera is "bonus point" singular. ha ha

i love Juliette Lewis more than any of you. BACK THE FUCK AWAY! She's mine!

11:44 AM, September 16, 2009  
Blogger JKlorfein said...

I think Sony is distributing A Prophet before the end of the year. Vincere is getting streamed by IFC to the cable boxes under Rainbow Communication. Giovanna Mezzogiorno was fabulous in it. My sympathies are with her the whole time, but the character is a total nut job, and you can see how she'd be a threat to Il Dulce.

1:30 PM, September 16, 2009  
Blogger Guy Lodge said...

"i feel like i've seen variations of that story every year"

I assure you that you haven't, Nat. Not sure if you've read the novel or not, but the whole disgraced-academic story is a mere set-up for a very daring study of post-apartheid racial power plays. It really doesn't go where you think it does.

And Malkovich REALLY is something.

2:51 PM, September 16, 2009  
Blogger NicksFlickPicks said...

@Dr. S: Hey, sure! I'm not trying to spend $10 on mediocrity, if that's what's in store.

@Glenn: See, I think Time of the Wolf is exceptional, so it's hard for me to know where to gauge myself in relation to other Haneke fans. And rest assured that American arthouse crowds are as crack-addicted to minor French diversions as Australian ones are.

@Nathaniel: I actually don't know what happens in Disgrace, which is exciting. As for Juliette: surely you remember when I started channeling her in Nashville? I think I have some claim here, but I'm all about sharing.

@JK: I love that you're so in the middle of all the action! Thanks for these updates. Glad to hear a thumbs up about Vincere.

@Guy: I actually have no problem believing in the prospect of Malkovich's best, since I think his performances almost always come with problems attached. Allowing that BJM is still inn a class by itself, he's due for a career-capper, and I don't think he's got another one. It'd be great if this were it.

10:12 PM, September 16, 2009  
Anonymous Ivan said...

Strange how a 90 Metacritic and 100% Rotten Tomatoes could make Still Walking sound tepid. This movie is nearly perfect. It's not nearly as slow and contemplative as you might think. It has distinctively Japanese elements, but it's more similar to Summer Hours than Ozu.

Unfortunately, Thursday is the last day for it and Import/Export. Both are must-sees.

12:34 AM, September 17, 2009  
Blogger NicksFlickPicks said...

@Ivan (so exciting that you commented!): I know, I know, to all of the above. What's to be done with me? You know this is the week where the whole campus is shrieking back to life, so it's been impossible to get to the movies, and I don't think I can talk my partner into a 10th anniversary date to either of these tomorrow night... I'm pretty broken up about missing I/E, and I'm glad to take your word about Still Walking. The first festival reports I read last year were kind of blandly approving but couldn't drum up any real enthusiasm; I think I've been stuck in that place despite hearing a lot of better stuff since. (And there are some movies that reap irreproachable Tomatoes and Metacritic scores, and I still wind up wondering why...) DVD, for sure, though I hate having to admit that I'm settling for that.

12:51 AM, September 17, 2009  
Blogger Glenn said...

Agreed with Guy re Disgrace.

1:34 AM, September 17, 2009  
Blogger Bill C said...

Dying to hear your take on UP IN THE AIR, Nick, which I saw this week at the TIFF. Vera's in fine form, but I think the real star might be Anna Kendrick.

Also, thanks to the elephantine touch of Tom Ford, A SINGLE MAN is virtually an Ed Wood movie. Firth and the love story at the heart of it are really quite affecting, but...oy.

7:03 PM, September 18, 2009  
Blogger NicksFlickPicks said...

@Bill C.: I'd be happy to chime in about Up in the Air if I were anywhere near it, or TIFF. That schedule, for all its glories, is about as inopportunely scheduled as possible if you're working on an academic timetable. Disappointed to hear that Single Man underwhelmed you so much. Another wait-and-seer, though even more in this case since the Weinsteins have already promised one of those one-week qualifying runs that everyone loves so much.

Just out of curiosity, re: Ivan's comment, do you have thoughts about Still Walking or Import/Export, Bill? Now that I've officially missed them?

7:45 PM, September 18, 2009  
Blogger Bill C said...

@Nick: The September conflict is, indeed, one of the many irksome things about TIFF. Didn't mean to rub it in or anything!

Sadly, have not seen STILL WALKING or IMPORT/EXPORT yet. I'm actually so shamefully behind I haven't even caught up with JULIA.

Something I did see, which has had surprisingly little fanfare, is the directorial debut of Samantha Morton (THE UNLOVED), which plays a little like ersatz Lynne Ramsay. Guess she's as impatient for a new movie from her as the rest of us.

8:14 PM, September 18, 2009  
Blogger tim r said...

Hey, hope the 10th anniversary was a night to remember. Champagne toasts from Spain. I´m being rained on in San Sebastián, and off to see Precious in a minute, though four people have separately warned me about the leaden hand of Lee D, so I´m suddenly approaching with renewed caution.

Not only will I fight you all to the death for Juliette Lewis, I´ll throw my hat into the Anna Kendrick ring too. Haven´t seen Up in the Air yet, but I´ve been hoping for a breakthrough since her "Ladies Who Lunch" showstopper in Camp. Rocket Science and Twilight sure didn´t provide it. Fingers very crossed, and especially pleased she gets Bill C´s seal of approval...

7:31 AM, September 19, 2009  
Blogger NicksFlickPicks said...

@Bill C.: Sam directs! I had no idea. Between this tasty tidbit and the fact that we are completely simpatico (and apparently close to alone) on the point of Lorna's Silence being more interesting than some of the Dardenne films it keeps being unfavorably compared to... I'm going to let the Julia thing slide.

@Tim: Under zero circumstances are you to sit on your reaction to Precious, even if it's off board. But, as if I needed further validation for my fairly easy decision to skip Whatever Works, your "F" is extra proof in my mind that I did the right thing.

9:48 AM, September 19, 2009  
Blogger tim r said...

The Precious dilemma: how much slipshod direction/editing can you forgive when magic is striking on set, right down the cast list, and you believe every word? The answer, at least in my case, is a lot.

The Woody is a health hazard, and the creepiest thing he´s ever made. It´s like Anything Else, but three times worse. There´s a comedy gay twist followed by a suicide attempt, which amazingly wasn´t mine. A new low.

8:12 AM, September 20, 2009  
Blogger Glenn Dunks said...

I didn't like Treeless Mountain much either. Felt like one of "those" movies. I could all but see the director nodding their head and saying words like "ambiguity" and lines like "you have to make your own interpretation" as a mask to cover the fact that they just have nothing to say. Just because you have nice photography-like cinematography and minimal dialogue, doesn't mean you automatically more meaningful or whatever.

9:38 AM, September 21, 2009  
Blogger NicksFlickPicks said...

@Tim: You do "exacting but generous" better than anyone.

@Glenn: Thanks for the tip-off. Whether or not I end up agreeing, I totally agree that certain types of movies earn stronger reviews than they deserve based on the kinds of specious reasons you capture so well here. For example, I liked Kore-eda's Nobody Knows, but I certainly thought it had major problems with over-length despite its obvious goal of capturing the inertia and hermeticism in which those kids were trapped... which gets back to my reluctance about Still Walking, even though it sounds like I goofed there. (Though Lord knows I'm also a champion of lots of slow, quiet movies that other folks find plum frustrating, so I know a good deal of these arguments come down to the eye of the beholder.)

9:58 AM, September 21, 2009  
Blogger Colin Low said...

As I intimate in my short review, Tokyo Sonata was a frustratingly proficient movie, as plodding for urban-malaise drama fans as Moon was for true scifi fans. Would it discourage you more if I point out that the closest screenwriting parallels I could come up with for its characters and narrative were Little Miss Sunshine and a Paul Haggis film respectively?

1:26 AM, September 22, 2009  
Blogger tim r said...

Hear, hear. Did not get the fuss about Tokyo Sonata at all. I think it's lousy.

3:37 AM, September 22, 2009  
Blogger NicksFlickPicks said...

I love this! My own (Inter)National Board of Review! With the fall I'm anticipating at work, I'm afraid I'm already going to be seeing many fewer movies than normal: even Baader-, Fame-, and Burning Plain-level attractions will really have to struggle to fit my schedule. So I'm all the more grateful to have things pruned on my behalf.

Finally saw a trailer for Pirate Radio/The Boat that Rocked, which sure substantiated every sad, exasperating thing that's been said already about that film in these comments. Unfortunately, despite some chipper moments, I didn't find a whole lot more to love in my fall kick-off movie, The Informant!

8:38 AM, September 22, 2009  
Blogger NATHANIEL R said...

oh no. you're first movie, your birthday no less, was "tediously facetious"

better luck next time, literally.

11:20 AM, September 22, 2009  
Blogger Glenn Dunks said...

It does seem like a larger amount of films are being released internationally earlier than the US. Stuff like The Young Victoria, Coco Avant Chanel and Baader-Meinhof Complex have all done reasonably well at the box office (Chanel has especially been a huge arty success, making the equivalent of nearly $30mil in US terms). But, of course, international distributors aren't bound by awards season and realise people like to go to the movies throughout the year.

Having said that, stuff like Precious and The Hurt Locker and plenty of others are scheduled for Feb/March to capitalise on any Oscar love. The latter thankfully avoiding the direct-to-DVD fate that its distributor had assigned it.

3:26 AM, September 23, 2009  
Blogger Nick Duval said...

Tokyo Sonata is freaking extraordinary. It's flawed, but it's really good. Check it out. It's really touching.

4:08 PM, September 24, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sandra Bullock? I'm dying to know how you thought of her in The Blind Side.

4:09 PM, December 07, 2009  
Blogger NicksFlickPicks said...

No fair: I'm not giving up the goodies on Bullock unless you at least let me know who you are! :)

9:18 PM, December 07, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, that last comment was me! Blogger is a rather pesky site at times and wouldn't let me put any names in unless I had an account at the time. Just a casual lurker who found you through a link a while back from The Film Experience, and I've been gawking at your actress section, and thought you'd have a mouthful to say about Bullock.

12:49 PM, December 08, 2009  

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