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The Big Screen Bulletin 06.22.09: Red Velvet Repairs
Posted by Chad Webb on 06.22.2009













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Nether Regions



Nether Regions will be on ongoing segment of the Bulletin that showcases film that have been discontinued on DVD, are out of print in the United States, are only available in certain regions outside the United States, or are generally hard to find. You might ask "Why should I care about a film I have no access to?" My goal is to keep these films relevant because some of them genuinely deserve to be recognized. Every time I review a new film I will have a list of those I covered below so you can see if they have been announced for DVD release, or are still out of print.




MISSING:


Homicide






Starring: Joe Mantegna, William H. Macy, and Vincent Guastaferro
Written/Directed By: David Mamet
Theatrical Release Date: October 9, 1991
Missing Since: The late 1990's
Existing Formats: VHS only/Region 2 DVD discontinued
Netflix Status: Not Available/Can Be Saved in Queue
Availability: It will cost you


There are two scenes early on in David Mamet's third directorial effort, Homicide, that gripped my interest for the rest of the picture. Hostage Negotiator Robert Gold (Joe Mantegna) has just convinced the governor that the police department can bring in a dangerous criminal named Randolph. His department originally had the case, but the FBI took over, and Randolph escaped in a blood bath. Gold and his partner Tim Sullivan (William H. Macy) are ready to go apprehend Randolph's brother for use in hunting him down.

Along the way, Gold stops and assists young officers at the scene of a homicide. One is trapped by an angry Rottweiler, and Gold simply gets rid of the dog, and glances at the corpse. The victim's family arrives quickly, and begins asking Gold questions, but he says he is not the assigned officer. Shortly thereafter, a superior arrives on the scene and orders Gold to take over the case. No one in his department can help him. Instead of leading a huge bust on Randolph, he must deal with what appears to be an ordinary store shooting. This got to me because of how realistic it is in police work. What we thought was the main storyline is not at all. It is perfectly believable that someone would stumble on a case with less appeal accidentally.

As Gold is definitely stuck with the case, he also tries to assist Sullivan and the rest of the team with pursuing Randolph. Unfortunately every time the action occurs, he is called away to deal with the murder. The elderly woman who was killed was Jewish. Her family consists of a wealthy Jewish doctor who has clout in the area. He requests that Gold be put on the case. The same doctor then reports shots fired on a roof near his home. Gold responds, but clearly does not believe this claim. Gold then receives a phone call from Sullivan, which he takes in a private room. What follows is a vicious tirade on the Jewish family, boiling down to the fact that Gold does not want the investigation, and resents the family for their weight. He then turns around, and discovers that the doctor's daughter was in the room listening to everything he said.

This is not the first time nasty remarks in a movie were thought private, but actually overheard. However, the dialogue that David Mamet pens, and the way Joe Mantegna delivers the fiercely crisp lines is intense and powerful, so comfortably cool, and so authentically that when the camera pans to the doctor's daughter, the viewer truly understands the dread and embarrassment Gold is experiencing. Another intriguing aspect is that Gold is himself Jewish, thus listening to what he said is shocking. In concentrating on this investigation, Gold must disregard the allegiance to his cop buddies and battle internal struggles. While it might have a generic title, Homicide is anything but a generic thriller in terms of substance. It is a fantastic piece of work that has been unavialble for far too long.

I have watched David Mamet's films far enough apart from one another that I am almost always in awe of his talent. The meticulous way he stages scenes, the brilliance of his dialogue, and the profound themes of his stories always bedazzle me. Homicide involves many of Mamet's favorite devices such as cons, confidence, and the nature of trust. The number of times he utilizes these devices is not important. It is how he uses them that really matters. In Glengarry Glen Ross it was salesmen, in The Spanish Prisoner it was businessmen, and in Redbelt it was a mixed martial arts fighter, just to name a few. In Homicide it is a police officer, one that confronts his roots and the way he carries himself.

Many acclaimed filmmakers have actors they work the best with, and actors they commonly return to for roles. For David Mamet, one of those people is/was Joe Mantegna. Moviegoers might not be aware of it because he was only in two films of his, but Mantegna frequently led Mamet's stage productions. Mantegna attacks Mamet's dialogue as if the two were performing a dance. Together, they make the characters three-dimensional and organic. Mantegna's performance is bristling with vigor and soul. Along the way he comes to realizations and sees himself in a different light. When Mantegna is not nailing a key line, he is locking our attention with a genuine expression. It is a full-bodied, all encompassing performance.

The rest of cast includes many Mamet regulars such as William H. Macy as Gold's partner Tim Sullivan. It is certainly rare to see Macy embody such a blunt and energetic part. Sullivan is a loyal person, but he looks at Gold's murder case with just as much annoyance. Others notable faces lending rich depictions are Vincent Gustaferro, J.J. Johnston, Ricky Jay, Jack Wallace, Ving Rhames, and Rebecca Pidgeon. Aside from the known names, much of the supporting cast fades into their respective roles with ease, re-enforcing the illusion that they had been there all along.

What Mamet accomplishes with Homicide is taking a conventional police procedural and turning it on its head. Instead of aiming for ordinary thrills and relying on twists to drive the narrative, he explores issues of racial consciousness, abiding by the rules, and losing one's identity via contradictions, symbolism, and metaphorical situations. He constructs this using his signature method of screenwriting, inserting staccato, rhythmic, and eloquently fast-paced dialogue that separates him from the pack. Mamet's script began as an adaptation of his friend William J. Caunitz's novel Suspects, but the more Mamet wrote the more his story diverged from the book. Eventually it became an original screenplay. If any clichés are present in Homicide, then they have been manipulated to be a strength for the final cut instead of a flaw.

Homicide incorporates historical elements and combines them with the standard mystery thriller trimmings, but does so in an intelligent fashion. It also has a lot to say about the extent with which cops are immersed in their jobs to the point of suppressing other facets of their lives. Mamet suggests the audience peer beneath the surface during the 100 minute running time. In the beginning, Gold and his fellow officers toss profanities and racial slurs around like they were going out of style, but in Gold' journey, that hard-boiled manner and rough exterior collapses once he winds up in a room full of Jews. Homicide is an exhilarating nail-biter saturated with tension and force.

It should be said that some view Mamet's material as off-putting, but I think this is very far from the truth. Whether or not this is accessible depends entirely upon your opinion of Mamet's other offerings, but casual audiences should have no trouble adapting to Homicide's themes. He paints pictures that are similar, but in an alternate manner, and with a broader brush. This is one of Mamet's finest films, one that is visceral and gusty. Word around the rumor mill is that Homicide's days of being out of print are numbered. This is wise because more people should see it.

Final Rating = 9.0/10.0

ARCHIVES

The Heartbreak Kid - Still OOP




The News Bulletin










A Successful Proposal

BOX OFFICE TOP TEN
1. The Proposal - $34.1 million ($34.1 million)
2. The Hangover - $26.8 million ($152.9 million)
3. Up - $21.3 million ($224 million)
4. Year One - $20.2 million ($20.2 million)
5. The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 - $11.3 million ($43.3 million)
6. Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian - $7.3 million ($155.9 million)
7. Star Trek - $4.7 million ($239.4 million)
8. Land of the Lost - $3.9 million ($43.6 million)
9. Imagine That - $3.1 million ($11.3 million)
10. Terminator Salvation - $3 million ($119.5 million)

Well, as far as my top 5 predictions, I should have stayed with my first choice of Up at #3 and Year One at #4, but Jeremy looks to have won that since I flipped them at the last minute. I did guess right for The Proposal though. Imagine That is dropping fast, making another flop for Murphy. He should seriously rethink his next career move. The holdovers are obvious ones that have been dominating for awhile. Land of the Lost is not dipping as fast as I would have expected or hoped, but whatever. Next week is not tough. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is likely to be one of the biggest earners of the summer, unless of course it sucks.






A Facebook Update Becomes a Film?

Lisa Hamilton Day, a book executive for Dreamworks, has a book and film deal being shopped around by UTA and Fletcher & Co. based on a Facebook update she posted last week says Publisher's Weekly. The update in question? "Lisa Hamilton Day's Pomeranian raided Chinese takeout bag overnight, opened and ate a fortune cookie. Her fortune: You have strong spiritual powers, and you should develop them." Thus the aim is to make what could be the next "Beverly Hills Chihuahua" or "Underdog". Sigh, next thing you know it'll be a tweet on Twitter that becomes a movie.
-From Dark Horizons


I won't lie. This is disappointing, but no one should be surprised by this. Hollywood's recent streak of greenlit projects have been less and less creative (Where's Waldo, Bazooka Joe), and this ridiculous concept goes right along with that trend. Of course studios love dog flicks, so this should have no problem moving forward fast. However, this also says Day is looking for a book deal, so until we actually see the book, I wouldn't be too worried about this Facebook update ruining Hollywood. On a side but related note, a few months back I read about a Facebook movie, but that idea has not circulated since then. Ugh, I hate posting trivial news bits like this, but I know it will get a lot of attention.






Release Date Changes!!

Everybody's Fine
The Miramax comedy starring Robert de Niro, Kate Beckinsale, Drew Barrymore, and Sam Rockwell has been pushed back from November 20th 2009 to December 4th.

All Good Things
The Weinstein Company thriller starring Ryan Gosling, Kirsten Dunst, Frank Langella, and Jeffrey Dean Morgan has been delayed from July 24th 2009 to an undetermined date.

The Collector
A horror-thriller from Freestyle Releasing will come from July 31st 2009.

The Janky Promoters
The urban comedy starring Ice Cube and Mike Epps has been scheduled for July 31st 2009.

The Zookeeper
The MGM comedy starring Kevin James, Rosario Dawson, and Leslie Bibb has been delayed from July 23rd 2010 to October 8th 2010.

Straw Dogs
The Screen Gems remake starring James Marsden has been delayed from August 13th 2010 to an undisclosed date. It was an expected delay considering Screen Gems had also scheduled the live-action adaptation of "Priest" for the same date.

The Zookeeper move is a mistake. Kevin James proved with Paul Blart: Mall Cop that he was a destined box office champ, and without that summer slot, it will not make the amount it could have. I had not heard about Everybody's Fine or All Good Things but both casts seem appealing and intriguing to me, so I'm in whenever they are released. The Janky Promoters is yet another attempt by Ice Cube and Mike Epps to cash in on the chemistry they possessed in Next Friday. What a shame. They should move on with their lives. I did not know the Straw Dogs remake starred James Marsden. Not that I expect a classic, but my heart sinks at the thought of Marsden leading that film. He is a satisfactory performer, but in a supporting capacity, not a leading one. But, at least it is getting delayed for quite some time.






Domestic vs. International Box Office Numbers

There's always been a few trademark examples of differences between US and global audiences when it comes to tastes in American studio films. In terms of the biggest films of all time, there's a general consistency that whatever it earned at the US box-office it makes 1.5-2X that amount in foreign revenue. That estimate holds true for film series like "The Lord of the Rings", "Pirates of the Caribbean", "Harry Potter", "Jurassic Park," "The Chronicles of Narnia," "The Matrix" and many of the Pixar films.

Yet there are always some fascinating exemptions to the rule. Superhero movies are lucky if they earn half as much globally as they do domestically, Judd Apatow's movies barely do any business overseas, and Jason Bourne fares a decent margin better States-side. On the flipside historical dramas, disaster movies, James Bond films, and the works of Will Smith often do significantly better globally - sometimes three times as much or more. Last year films like "Mamma Mia!" ($144M domestic vs. $458M foreign), "The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor" ($102M domestic vs. $298M foreign), "Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa" ($180M domestic vs. $422M foreign), "The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian" ($141M domestic vs. $278M foreign), and "Kung Fu Panda" ($215M domestic vs. $416M foreign) demonstrated the big differences of blockbuster fare in terms of foreign tally.

This year is no different with some notable discrepancies already appearing thanks to the often simultaneous global launches of many titles these days. The most notable discrepancy one way is "Star Trek", J.J. Abrams reboot of the sci-fi franchise has scored $233M so far domestically but only half that internationally ($118M). That global number is impressive as it's double the highest gross of a previous Trek film (1996's "Star Trek: First Contact") but shows the franchise has yet to really breakthrough outside the US. Others are more expected such as Kevin James comedy "Paul Blart: Mall Cop" (146M domestic vs. $34M overseas), Liam Neeson kidnap thriller "Taken" ($145M domestic vs. $77M overseas), "Race to Witch Mountain" ($66M domestic vs. $33M overseas), and the "Friday the 13th" remake ($65M domestic vs. $25M overseas).

On the flipside the Da Vinci Code sequel "Angels and Demons" has pulled in only a so-so domestic cume of $124M, but has raked in a whopping $316M overseas making it easily the biggest global earner of the year thus far. The panned "Terminator Salvation" has crawled to just $115M domestic, but is already at $164M globally and it didn't start opening outside the US until two weeks ago with plenty of territories still yet to receive it. The oddest anomaly though is the 'Wolverine' film which has achieved the rare feat for a comic book film of doing almost equal business domestically as it has globally ($176M domestic vs. $179M globally).
-From Dark Horizons


This is fascinating because it should make American audiences think about more than just what happens in their own country. These numbers show what foreign viewers veer towards. The Angels & Demons news is exciting because it gives a hearty push to that franchise after being swallowed in the crammed month of May. Those high numbers mean that Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol has a better chance of being made. In my mind at least, the fate of Brown's other books were in question after the first lukewarm weeks of release, but not now. Star Trek should not be so shocking. It is simply not as popular in other areas of the world. Many people will never be able to get into it, and that is understandable because after all these years, if you are not contemplating taking the chance, you never will. I'm certain that Angels & Demons will be beaten as the biggest global earner as the year ends, but right now, it gives hope for those fans. This bit calls the Wolverine numbers an anomaly. They are not odd if you consider how bad the movie is, and how word of mouth can make a difference.






Updates on "Indiana Jones V"

Following on the heels of Shia LaBeouf's reveal earlier this week that another Indiana Jones movie may be in the works, producer Frank Marshall has chimed in on the matter. And he's pretty much confirmed that a story is being worked over for Indy V. While speaking to Empire, Marshall said that "ideas would be worked on with a view to green-lighting production sooner rather than later."

"It's really about the script," says Marshall, who has produced all four movies in the series. "Once we see that, we'll see. We're not going to wait another 20 years. We'd all love to make another one. I'm anxious to hear the idea!" He also says that Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, and Harrison Ford are all game for another outing with the character. "We had a great time making the last one and, as Harrison said, we need to make this one soon," says the producer. "We're not getting any younger."

The implication in that statement is that Ford would still be a big part of any such sequel, which would seem to mean that speculation that LaBeouf's Mutt character might take over for Ford's Indy is not the way things are going to shake out. We'll see…


I am in favor of another sequel as long as the amount of screen time is equal between Ford and LaBeouf. Obviously they will lean somewhat towards Shia if he is to take over the franchise, but Ford has shown he can still go. The problem is they need to pay closer attention to the story, and make sure Shia‘s action scenes are not as corny as they were in Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. LaBeouf has the talent and charisma for the series, but if he is handed sequences like swinging on vines with monkeys, everyone will blame him for the demise in the series. They need to include someone other than Spielberg and Lucas, who seem to be losing it just a tad in their old age. This new sequel needs a better story and some creativity. It should avoid going over the top with the action, and stay focused making it inventive and suspenseful. And they cannot wait as long for a follow-up either. I am sure many will bash this idea incessantly, but I have faith that it could be entertaining.





The 20 Second Sermon



Earlier this week Michael Bay claimed he was leaving the Transformers franchise. That news bit has been updated and apparently it was greatly exaggerated. Bay laughed and said that all he meant was he needed a vacation. It is more and more of a pain to find good news these days. The false rumors are getting way out of hand. J.J. Abrams and Tom Cruise will co-produce Mission Impossible IV. Fine, but the director is the most important thing with these. It can make or break a sequel, and if you ask me, this series peaked with III. In yet another fictitious news bit, it was announced last week that 3 actors from the Lord of the Rings franchise would be reprising their roles, including Hugo Weaving. Weaving stated that this is not true. He wants to come back, but has not received any paperwork. Can we please display semi-truthful news? Sam Mendes signed a two-picture with Focus Features, which includes the possible projects Butcher's Crossing, a revisionist western, and the British period piece Middlemarch. Kevin Williamson has stated that a deal with Neve Campbell reprising her role in Scream 4 is not working out. Now he does not know what to do. I say the series should either stop, or have completely new characters. That is what Craven wanted anyway.


The DVD Release Rundown for May 23rd


DVD Headline of the Week



My Dinner with Andre - Criterion Collection - For those of you who loved the non-stop conversation in Before Sunrise/Sunset, you need to see this 1981 arthouse film that had the guts to do the same thing for a near 2 hour running time. Criterion finally releases this after being out of print for a long time. It might not be for everyone, but I found it fascinating. Buyable

Inkheart - This did not look all that special, but I usually give Brendan Fraser a chance whereas others dismiss his flicks. I wouldn't mind seeing this sometime.

Confessions of a Shopaholic - I think Isla Fisher is a fine actress, and very cute, but I have approximately zero interest in this movie. It looks like something Amy Adams passed on.

The Pink Panther 2 - Continuing the trend of releases I have not seen this week, this sequel slipped past my radar. One of these days, I'll watch it, but I doubt it'll be anytime soon.

Waltz with Bashir - The acclaimed independent movie everyone "knew" would win Best Foreign film at the Oscars, only it didn't. I went to a theater to see this, but it was in the midst of Oscar season when all the last minute people decide they want to see all the nominees. I'll definitely rent this soon.

Last Year at Marienbad - Criterion Collection - A hit in terms of French New Wave, this 1961 feature explores the mystery surrounding an affair that may or may not have transpired. I'm intrigued enough, and am ashamed that I know little of Director Alain Resnais.

The Code - Also known as "Thick as Thieves", this stars Antonio Banderas, Morgan Freeman, and Robert Forster. Ok, this thriller should not be DTV. It is also directed by a woman named Mimi, and that name is off the hook.

Catlow - Yul Brynner, Richard Crenna, and Leonard Nimoy star in this western based on the novel by Louis L'Amour. It deals with friendship. Nimoy in a western has my attention, but I read something about his butt being shown, so I think I'm afraid.

Phoebe in Wonderland - This stars Elle Fanning, Felicity Huffman, Patricia Clarkson, and Bill Pullman. It is about a child with Tourette's syndrome set against imaginative sequences. Not something I'm interested in.

Bob Funk - 411's own Dave Schilling helped work on this comedy starring Rachel Leigh Cook and Amy Ryan. I'm anxious to see it since I've heard about it for awhile now.

Choke Canyon - A B-movie action flick from 1986 starring Stephen Collins from 7th Heaven, Lance Henriksen, and Bo Svenson. It involves experiments and nuclear waste. I am so there!

Simon Says - This was released in a limited capacity in 2007, but isn't hitting DVD until now. Ready for the plot? Crispin Glover stars as twin brothers knocking off campers. Hahahaha...this is the greatest plot for a horror movie.

The Critic's Quickee







The Taking of Pelham 123 - After 3 tries at adapting John Godey's novel; I sure hope they hang it up now. I really dug the 1974 film with Walter Matthau and Robert Shaw. It took a conventional thriller premise and mixed it with humor and quirky characters. Then you had a 1998 made-for-TV movie which I still have not watched but will be featured in my Nether Regions segment soon. Tony Scott stands at the helm for this 2nd remake, and surprisingly he holds back the incessant camera flourishes he is known for. This is a satisfactory effort, and I really did not expect that. Scott needed this after the duds that were Deja Vu and Domino. He recycles much of the plot, and does not aim for the comedy Matthau used, but this does have plenty of wry humor that spices up the proceedings. Scott still is obsessed with special effects. He pans the camera to the control board you saw in the trailer any chance he gets. Though it might sound silly, that is the chief reason this story has been done 3 times. Every time they do it, the priority is updating the effects, mainly the control board. There are two reasons this movie worked for me. The first was John Travolta, who has not handed in a solid turn since 2004's Ladder 49. Finally he returns to play a villain, and his role here as Ryder is very reminiscent of his antics in Face/Off, but that is a good thing. Travolta carries most of this movie because he exaggerates just enough that everything that comes out of his mouth is interesting. Is he over the top? Of course. If he wasn't, this would be boring. Last week on the podcast Leonard said Martin Scorsese needed to get off of Leonardo DiCaprio because they do so many movies together. The same could be said of Tony Scott and Denzel Washington as this is their 4th effort together. I could describe Washington's performance the same way I did Tom Hanks in Angels & Demons. It is a great actor sitting back and relaxing. He's ok, but that's it. James Gandolfini is terrific as the Mayor of New York City, Luis Guzman takes a mostly serious part (and he should do it more: he's good at it), and John Turturro is fine as the hostage negotiator. The other part that I enjoyed, the one that separated this from the previous two attempts is the investigation towards Denzel Washington's character. It really deepens that character, and made for some truly moving moments. I also appreciated the Wall Street elements that were integrated into the script. The film falters in the final stretch mainly because it becomes hackneyed and predictable, but the first 3/4's were worthwhile. The soundtrack and score were also extremely humdrum. They used a Jay-Z song as bookends, which was weird. I was pleased with this. The cast had conviction, the pacing was energetic, and it is fun for the most part. Final Rating = 7.5/10.0


What Have I Done?




Monday - I picked up the debut, self-titled CD from Chickenfoot, the super group featuring Sammy Hagar, Chad Smith, Michael Anthony, and Joe Satriani. In terms of rock, it was adequate, but when it comes to evoking the strengths of the group members, it is mediocre. It blends different styles of rock together, and that was neat, but it is hard not to have high expectations for an effort like this. I'm sure a concert would be terrific, and maybe the album will get better with repeated listens. It definitely has a handful of stand out tracks that prove the foursome possess chemistry, and aren't just getting together and playing chaotically.





Tuesday - I finally watched Tokyo Story by Director Yasujiro Ozu. It is regarded as one of the best films of all-time in many circles, and although that is hard to live up to for new viewers, I still thought it was terrific. Ozu's style is often described as "slow", but patient is a better way to say it. The story stirs your emotions without cheating to achieve that, and it is sad without being depressing, which is important. If you haven't seen it yet, do yourself a favor and give it a chance. It is a great piece of work by a great filmmaker.








Wednesday - I listened to the new album by Tori Amos, Abnormally Attracted to Sin this week. I've always adored her music, and thought she was vastly under appreciated, not to mention good looking. This new set of tracks is right in line with her usual themes, and it is quite worthwhile for fans. Some of her more pop geared tunes are not memorable, but songs like "Maybe California" and "Ophelia" are terrific, and expose her strengths well. Her slower stuff is almost always superior.







Thursday - When I went to see The Taking of Pelham 123 on this day, the showtime started at 4:15, and I got off work at 4:00. It takes longer than that to arrive at the theater, and I was worried I would not make it in time. I arrived a full 15 minutes after the show started, and still sat down in time for 2 more previews. Normally I'm a stickler for wanting to arrive for all the trailers, but this time I was thankful for not missing the beginning. Amazing how much time the previews add though.






The Weekend - I finished reading a play by David Mamet recently called Speed the Plow. I picked it up in a book show in New York City. The original show starred Joe Mantegna, Ron Silver, and Madonna. I loved it. It was a hilarious story about Hollywood, how movies come to pass, and what the people are like. It helped that these playbooks told you who the original cast was, and had diagrams of the stage setup and costumes. Here is one good part: "If you don't have principles, whatever they are…then each day is hell, you haven't got a compass. All you've got is "good taste;" and you can shove the good taste up your ass and fart."





Based on the Trailer…







Newest Trailers

Paper Heart - This looks like a lovely indy film. The concept seems interesting, and it strikes me as very funny. This is the type of stuff Michael Cera should be doing, not Year One. Trailer Rating = 8.5/10.0

Old Dogs - John Travolta and Robin Williams lead an all-star cast in a comedy from the director of Wild Hogs. This will make a lot of money. I think it looks dumb and over the top, but it might be worth a laugh or two. Trailer Rating = 4.0/10.0

The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard - Jeremy Piven leads this comedy that has many of the actors from The Hangover. This is obviously similar to his Entourage character, but I'm on board just because Piven can be very funny when he wants to be. The "Pearl Harbor" bit is hilarious btw. Trailer Rating = 7.0/10.0

2012 (2) - This looks insane, but right up Roland Emmerich's alley nonetheless. The special effects look incredible, but plot seems to be an exact replica of the last 20 disaster epics. Still, the powerful images will probably be enough to drag me to the theater. Trailer Rating = 6.0/10.0

Cold Souls - A famous American actor explores soul extraction as a relief from the burdens of daily life. Paul Giamatti, Emily Watson, and David Straitharn star in this, and looks very funny, exactly the type of movie I'll love and no one else will see. Trailer Rating = 9.0/10.0

Zombieland - This looks hysterical, and very much in the vein of Shaun of the Dead, but that's ok because Woody Harrelson rocks, and if he's killing zombies, I'm paying for a ticket. Nuff said. Trailer Rating = 8.0/10.0

June Releases

$9.99 - A stop motion animation film that is very much geared towards adults, and is based on the short stories of Etgar Keret. This is right up my alley, so I'll be seeing it for sure. It looks to be funny, engaging, and heartfelt from this footage. Trailer Rating = 9.0/10.0

Cheri - This is a turn of the century story about a French courtesan and her young lover. It is directed by Stephen Frears, and somehow he managed to make a movie with Michelle Pfeiffer that will not go DTV. Bland, bland, bland. Trailer Rating = 5.5/10.0

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (Super Bowl spot) - I was little late with this one, but it's too early to tell how good or bad this will be anyhow. I'm betting it's more bad than good. Trailer Rating = 5.0/10.0

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen - During the first few seconds, I thought I had clicked on the trailer for Armageddon. I see robots, explosions, and the LaBeoufster. Other than that, what is happening is anyone's guess. Trailer Rating = 6.0/10.0

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2) - I thought the first previews were absolutely horrendous, but this trailer actually shows more than explosions, which is nice. I am a little more enthused about this sequel now…just a little. Trailer Rating = 7.0/10.0

My Sister's Keeper - Cameron Diaz shows she will not be counted out after What Happens in Vegas because she stars in this film with Abigail Breslin, which looks very good from this footage. When a trailer manages to tug at your heart strings, then you know the film has the chance to be solid. Trailer Rating = 9.0/10.0

July Releases

Public Enemies - This is my type of film. You have Michael Mann, Johnny Depp, Christian Bale, and a bunch of tommy guns. I am so there. Trailer Rating = 9.0/10.0

Bruno - This is the red band trailer. It looks really funny, and I'll definitely be seeing it, but I do question the legitimacy of the "real situations" they display. We all heard the rumors after Borat. Regardless, Cohen is hilarious. Trailer Rating = 8.5/10.0

G-Force - Is Disney greenlighting anything that can be 3-D now? They also seem to love talking animals. This looks so gigantically awful. Will Arnett is in this, and that makes me sad. Wow. Trailer Rating = 1.0/10.0

I Love You, Beth Cooper - The new film from Chris Columbus starts out promising, and Hayden Panettiere looks good, but this reeks of like 20 other high school comedies. Count me out. This is disappointing from a guy who normally understands what it takes to make a solid kid movie. Trailer Rating = 2.5/10.0

Adam - A quirky romantic comedy where one has a disability of some sort. One of these comes out every so often. This looks like it could provide some laughs, but I doubt many will see it. Trailer Rating = 6.0/10.0

Orphan - Well, if there is a chance of Vera Farmiga nudity, I'm there, and Peter Sarsgaard is cool, but this looks like The Omen with a girl character instead of Damien. In other words, this evil child outline needs to have a break. Trailer Rating = 5.0/10.0

Funny People - The new dramedy from Judd Apatow starring Adam Sandler, Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, and others. This looks very funny and touching at the same time, and that's what Apatow does best. I hope this can salvage what if left of Sandler's dignity. Trailer Rating = 9.0/10.0

Shrink - Kevin Spacey stars as a shrink who has his own issues. I don't know. This looks like it could be funny, but some of the acting looks too exaggerated for the tone they want. Maybe I'm wrong. It could be decent. Trailer Rating = 6.5/10.0

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - This was a great book, the darkest of the set, and this trailer rocks. I'm anxious to see this. The franchise has not decreased in quality, and here's hoping this continues that trend. Trailer Rating = 9.0/10.0

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2) - Yes, I am a bit skeptical of the director, but this looks very good. This teaser gave me hope that Yates knows what he's doing. The comedy part at the end was terrific. Trailer Rating = 9.0/10.0

August Releases

G.I. Joe (Super Bowl spot) - Oh my Lord. This looks ten thousand ways of awful. I cannot believe that the cartoon I watched as a child, has been adapted in this way. Holy schnikes. Trailer Rating = 2.0/10.0

Taking Woodstock - If this wasn't directed by Ang Lee, I would probably not be interested, but it is, so I'll be seeing it for only that reason. I must agree with Mr. Luers and say this looks like Ang Lee's Almost Famous. Trailer Rating = 6.0/10.0

G.I. Joe: Rise of the Cobra - I'm sorry, but this is not anything remotely similar to the fun show I watched as a kid. I may be older, but I know a travesty in the making when I see one, and this has all the markings. This looks like total and utter horse dung. I don't know how else to phrase it. Trailer Rating = 2.0/10.0

Julie & Julia - Starring Meryl Streep and Amy Adams, this is based on 2 true stories, one is of Julia Childs. These women are great actresses, and even though Streep's accent seems a bit off, and the story strikes me as disjointed, I have a feeling this will be terrific. Trailer Rating = 8.0/10.0

Shorts - I have seen at least a dozen trailers involving aliens lately, so when I saw this, I thought it looked terrible, but then I noticed that Robert Rodriguez was directing, and so I watched it again. It has me interested, and it may be fun. Trailer Rating = 7.0/10.0

The Time Traveler's Wife - Initially, this strikes you like The Lake House in some way, but hopefully it is nothing like that. Plus, this has better leads in Eric Bana and Rachel McAdams. For a romance, this looks pretty darn good. Trailer Rating = 8.5/10.0

District 9 - Peter Jackson produces this Neill Blomkamp feature. This guy was originally slated for the Halo film, but this is not far off. The trailer certainly gets your attention, and has a Signs vibe to it, which I like. Color me intrigued for now. Trailer Rating = 7.5/10.0

The Final Destination - What a dumb title. Why not just say "Final Destination 4"? People see these movies to watch the creative ways of dying. That's it. All the installments have been mediocre with a possible exception of the first film. This looks dumb. The well has run dry. Trailer Rating = 5.0/10.0

H2 - The Rob Zombie Halloween sequel looks a lot better than I anticipated with a definite Friday the 13th/Pamela Voorhees vibe going on (as Mr. Luers told me). I really hope this turns out well because Zombie deserves more respect as a filmmaker. Trailer Rating = 8.0/10.0

The Boat that Rocked - I love music, so this is right up my alley. It's about a radio station on a boat, one that helped give rock music to the world. It stars Philip Seymour Hoffman and Nick Frost. Trailer Rating = 8.0/10.0

Inglorious Basterds - Many expressed disappointment with this, but it is a WWII film from Tarantino, so what were you expecting? I think it looks awesome. I can't wait to see it! Trailer Rating = 9.0/10.0

September, TBD, and Beyond Releases

Surrogates - Here is another film that has the potential to be very good, or very bad. The director is Jonathan Mostow (Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines), so I hope this is solid. Bruce Willis looks bizarre, but maybe that's a positive, and the plot has echoes of other sci-fi flicks, but you never know, this might surprise us. Trailer Rating = 7.5/10.0

Planet 51 - This could be a fairly amusing CGI film. The animation looks nice, but this has few voices, and no real clue as to how funny it will be. I am still unsure, but it might be good, and it might not. Trailer Rating = 6.5/10.0

Where the Wild Things Are - I know this production had loads of trouble, but this looks outstanding by the trailer. I can't wait to see it. The creatures look good and Spike Jonze usually doesn't disappoint. Trailer Rating = 8.5/10.0

Sherlock Holmes - Guy Ritchie is sending mixed signals with this one. I am anxious to see it, but this trailer shows an action film, and call me old fashioned, but I kind of prefer the mystery to outweigh the action. However, Rachel McAdams looks damn sexy and Kurrgan is involved, so those are both positive points. Trailer Rating = 6.5/10.0

Tyler Perry's I Can Do Bad All By Myself - This is just a teaser, but you know what you're getting when Madea is the main character of a film. This is what keeps Perry relevant, so logically he continues to make films with her. This is somewhat humorous, but nothing I'm interested in. Trailer Rating = 6.0/10.0

Beyond a Reasonable Doubt - A generic looking courtroom thriller complete with generic title. Jesse Metcalfe, or John Tucker from John Tucker Must Die is not a good actor, and aside from Michael Douglas outshining everyone as a scumbag attorney, I have no reason to see this. Trailer Rating = 4.0/10.0

Extract - Mike Judge is delivering another comedy set in the workplace, and I can't wait. Ben Affleck has a cool look going on, and Jason Bateman is usually golden in comedies these days, so this should be terrific. Trailer Rating = 8.5/10.0

Astro Boy - A lot of bright colors, fancy CGI, an all-star cast, and not much else. I realize fans of the many TV series' will be excited, but this character just translates as ordinary to the big screen. Trailer Rating = 5.0/10.0

Fame - This looks…..just like every other dance flick we've seen in the past decade, only this is a musical. Yay. The Wayans are parodying movies likes this for goodness sakes! This is a skip it, and I'm not talking about the girl toy from the 90's. Trailer Rating = 2.5/10.0

9 - This looks amazing, and the song in the background only makes me want to see it more. This will be a mighty tough year for Pixar to reign supreme in. Trailer Rating = 9.0/10.0

The Perfect Game - Though I'm not a baseball fan, I always enjoy watching the Little League World Series. The problem with this film, despite a bad title, is that the preview reveals way too much, so hopefully it has more going for it besides the story, which I'm sure is inspirational. Trailer Rating = 6.5/10.0

Antichrist Lars Von Trier, the director of Dogville and Manderlay, is behind this new psychological thriller/horror effort. It just might be decent, but with Willem Dafoe, one never can tell. Trailer Rating = 7.5/10.0

More than a Game - If this focuses on the entire high school team, and not just LeBron James, it could be a very decent documentary. The trailer certainly spreads the wealth, so that's good. Trailer Rating = 7.0/10.0

New York, I Love You - The first film, Paris, Je T'aime was one of the best films in recent memory that few knew about. So I am very excited about this second installment. The cast and directors look amazing. It should be a terrific experience. Trailer Rating = 9.0/10.0

Shutter Island - Martin Scorsese's new film looks outstanding, and yes, it stars Leonardo DiCaprio, but who cares? They do great things together. The cast looks terrific, and the plot seems intriguing. Trailer Rating = 10.0/10.0

Untitled Michael Moore Documentary - This was a very funny teaser. It is typical Moore comedy, but I appreciated the way it was set up. No one gets the world interested in documentaries (or whatever you call Moore's stuff) like he does. Trailer Rating = 7.5/10.0

2012 - This teaser has been circulating for awhile, but I felt the need to rate it anyway. Roland Emmerich tackles another disaster epic, this one showcasing a flood. Gee, we have never seen any movies about cataclysmic floods before. I suddenly long to watch Knowing again for originality. Trailer Rating = 6.0/10.0

The Princess and the Frog - It's about time Disney returned to hand drawn animation. This looks to be a lot of fun, and very much in the spirit of the classic tales they used to adapt when Walt was around…maybe he still is. Trailer Rating = 8.5/10.0

The Road - This is based on a Cormac McCarthy novel, the same person who wrote the book to No Country for Old Me. I had no idea this was about the end of civilization. I am disappointed somewhat, but it could be good since Viggo and Charlize are the leads. These types of storylines always have the potential to be terrible though. The release date for this has already been pushed a number of times. I hope the final cut is better than this trailer. Trailer Rating = 6.5/10.0

The Twilight Saga: New Moon - Boy does this look retarded. The sequels will no doubt increase the hatred for this series. The were-wolf morphing is truly retarded. I say pass. Trailer Rating = 4.0/10.0

Toy Story 3 - This is an early teaser, but it still gets me excited. I can't wait for this, and I've heard it if fantastic from footage screened early. It has a tough act to follow, but I have faith. Trailer Rating = 8.5/10.0

Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans - Nicolas Cage, Val Kilmer, and Werner Herzog. Hell yes! This could be bad or good, but I have faith in Herzog to elicit the best from this quirky cast. This story looks bizarre, but with Herzog, a trailer is never as good as the full feature. Trailer Rating = 8.0/10.0

Nine - The new musical from Rob Marshall (Chicago) looks to be infused with Fellini-esque qualities, which is a good thing. The cast certainly qualifies for the all-star label, and story looks entertaining, so I'm there. This should be fantastic. I mean come on, Dame Judi Dench and Daniel Day-Lewis are just the tip of the iceberg. This is one of my most anticipated for 2009. Trailer Rating = 9.0/10.0

Other Stuff to Read







The Best Movies of the Alphabet
The Best and Worst Bond Films.
411 June Roundtable - This month Owain J. Brimfield continues as roundtable host and compiles the thoughts of the movie zone staff on the summer releases for June! The MeeThinks Friday FreeThinks - Thanks again to John Meehan for providing my banner here, and for the Alphabet feature.

Also, keep an eye out for more comic book character timelines in the future. Here are the first two:

The Ultimate Batman Timeline
The Ultimate Daredevil Timeline



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