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Monday, October 29, 2012

Great news! After what feels like a whole year of being insanely grouchy about every single new release coming down the pike, we've hit a month with not one, but several films that I'm hugely enthusiastic for, at least sight-unseen. Or, you know, three. Is three several? It's some, anyway.

And if we throw in the movies I'm ironically fake-excited for, that number doubles! Oh prestige movie season, you always do save the day, don't you?


But before we get all ahead of ourselves, some residual grouchiness.

I am nothing if not a Disney aficionado in good standing, so I should theoretically be at least intellectually excited for the release of the 52nd entry in the Official Disney Animation Feature Canon; but dear Lord, am I ever not looking forward to Wreck-It Ralph. A big part of this - a part that any sane person would consider excessive to the point of real psychological dysfunction - is that I am completely pissed-off about the character designs, which from the vantage point of not having seen the thing strike me as completely missing the point. For the game does, does it not, consist entirely of video game characters from 1982 to the present day? And video game graphics have, have they not, evolved in indescribable ways in that 30-year span? So would it not be more true to the spirit of the thing to represent the various character in the style of their generation of gaming, rather than just have a whole movie full of fully-rendered CGI characters designed to varying level of caricature? It's the kind of obvious missed chance at the conceptual level that angers me so much that even if the script was the fucking Hedda Gabler of video game cartoon comedies, I'd still be hard-pressed to imagine myself actually liking the movie. But we'll see.

The movie that I am looking forward to, though apparently nobody else is, is Flight: Denzel Washington's long-awaited return to character drama, Robert Zemeckis's long-awaited return to live-action filmmaking, and the two men's first collaboration ever, which feels a couple of decades overdue. Anyway, I've been hoping and wishing for a more intimate, less gruelingly mo-capped Zemeckis movie for many years, and for that alone this would be near the top of my list.

Other wide release: The Man with the Iron Fists, or Things That RZA Likes: The Movie. Score one for personal vision, I guess, and I'm ecstatic to get drunk and watch it on Netflix sometime next year, but does this seems like a deliberately alienating movie to anybody else?


We don't need to waste time talking about Skyfall, right? Just assert that it is going to be all the kinds of amazing that there are, that the theme song burns across the heavens like a beacon, that Daniel Craig was a great Bond even in the dire Quantum of Solace, and that Javier Bardem's delivery of the line "Mommy was very bad" in the trailer is the stuff that dreams are made of? Because we can talk about it now, or we can talk about it in two weeks, and I can be patient at this point for the film I've been most excited about in the last quarter (last third, really) of the year.

Coastal release: Lincoln, so that you New Yorkers and Los Angelinos can be suitably impressed and overawed by the gravity and seriousness with which Steven Spielberg informs us that Abraham Lincoln was a Great Man.


Oh man, it's going to be sad when The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2 opens, and there will be no more Twilights, because they make such easy targets.

Over in limited release land, there's Anna Karenina, which doesn't "need" to exist, but neither did Joe Wright's Pride & Prejudice, and clearly that turned out well; frankly, this one, with its Tom Stoppard script and meta-theatrical mise en scène, looks even better.

Wide expansion: Lincoln, so that the rest of us can be suitably impressed and overawed by the gravity and seriousness with which Steven Spielberg informs us that Abraham Lincoln was a Great Man.


The Thanksgiving releases! Those wonderful movies designed to be seen the following Friday by families still overloaded on carbs from the day prior, while also ushering in the exciting days of fifteen Oscar hopefuls all getting released every weekend, so it's not even worth bothering to keep up with them all. In descending order of family friendliness:

-Rise of the Guardians, in which Russian Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny and other characters team up to fight Pure Evil, because sometimes projects get green-lit by major studio executives when they are stoned and later it's too embarrassing to go back and admit it;
-Life of Pi, a shiny, pretty story of life-affirming spirituality based on a book that I hated so much after the first 100 pages that I literally could not summon up the stamina to keep reading it;
-Silver Linings Playbook, in which the great director of dubious actors David O. Russell sets his sights on my great bête noire, Bradley Cooper
-Red Dawn, because even being caught in the flames of MGM's death throes wasn't enough to convince anybody not to.


The traditional day of shoveling in limited release films that you need to have an awards-qualifying run, but don't actually care if the audience finds you: chief victim being Hitchcock, which finds Anthony Hopkins playing the once-in-a-lifetime role of Anthony Hopkins in a fat suit. The other loser is Rust and Bone, but that was subtitled and was therefore never going to do well in America, regardless.


And thus we close the month with sad little orphan Killing Them Softly, which used to have an indescribably better title before the marketing men decided that Cogan's Trade was, I don't know, vague. The trailer looks a little sleepy, but I remain passionately in love with previous Brad Pitt/Andrew Dominik collaboration The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, and thus consider myself at least potentially interested.


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