Sunday, June 12, 2005


Never Give a Sucker A Even Break: Probably better than anything that'll be released during the summer of 2005

Part 2: Coming Attractions

So, what, then, about what’s coming up? Since it’s clear to me there is virtually no chance that I’ll get to see more than a quarter of the movies on the following lists before year’s end, and that I might be able to catch up to some of them only after they’ve arrived on DVD, I’ve allowed myself a little more indulgence of my preconceived notions than I normally would if I felt I might actually see most or all of the titles in a reasonable period of time. I’ve categorized most of the upcoming summer releases in four slots: MUST SEE, which ought to be fairly self-explanatory; OF INTEREST, which simply means I’d love to see it, but given my newly realistic assessment of how much time I have to devote to seeing films, other titles will likely—though perhaps not absolutely—come first; IN MY QUEUE, meaning that I’ve already pretty much decided that Netflix is going to have to be my avenue for accessing the films in this category; and perhaps the most devilishly fun category to assemble, I DON’T CARE!, in which I allow myself to publicly admit to my absolute disinterest, and sometimes deliberate avoidance, of certain high-profile titles being let loose on the unsuspecting public this summer. Of course, I reserve the right to keep an open mind about any or all the movies in this particular category, because, as any regular filmgoer knows, great movies often sneak up on you when and where you least expect them. I sincerely hope that my worst prejudices will be trumped with high art and/or terrific entertainment by several of the movies in this final section. To the callous and insight-free categorizations, then!


BATMAN BEGINS I know, I know… bring on the live chickens, circus geek. (June 15)
A LEAGUE OF ORDINARY GENTLEMEN Documentary about one of my favorite things when I was growing up, the Pro Bowlers Tour… What’s holding up those chickens? (Now Playing)
SHAKE HANDS WITH THE DEVIL (The Journey of Romeo Daillaire) Documentary revolving around the UN general, haunted by his inability to prevent the Rwandan genocide, who remains tied to the country of the people he couldn’t help save. (Now Playing)
HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE Alison Veneto talks about the latest from master animator Hayao Miyazaki, as well as High Tension and Night Watch, two other movies found on this massive list, in her International Intrigue column on
WAR OF THE WORLDS I never liked Tom Cruise much, and now that he’s the poster boy for the Let GNC Get You Past Your Post-partum Depression campaign, I have even less respect for him. That said, this movie looks like fun, though being late-period Spielberg I’m not expecting a flawless ride. And to be quite honest, as soon as I heard that the first trailer for Peter Jackson’s King Kong would be attached to this movie, I knew I'd go see Spielberg's contraption. I know, I know… get to biting off those chicken heads! I will, I will! (June 29)
ROCK SCHOOL The trailer for this real-life Jack Black and his School of Rock sold me. You can see it here. (Now Playing)
DEEP BLUE Another gorgeous nature doc from the creators of the BBC series Blue Planet. That kind of imagery on the big screen sounds impossible to resist (Now Playing)
LAND OF THE DEAD I realize this is, in some circles, a heretical comment, but last year’s remake of George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead far outstripped that overrated original work, and the remake, not the two sequels in Romero’s own trilogy, seems to be not only the template for this new chapter (from what I can gauge from the trailer, anyway), but the real standard to which the new movie must live up to. (The original Night of the Living Dead has already proven its unassailable stature in the canon of great horror films by withstanding its own crappy remake as well as nearly 40 years of rip-offs and wanna-bes—it’s still one of the most terrifying of all.) I can’t wait to see how this new chapter stacks up.
ME AND YOU AND EVERYONE I KNOW Entertainment Weekly’s brief synopsis—“Writer/director Miranda July captures the idiosyncrasies of a dysfunctional family in this offbeat dramedy”—makes this sound like every Sundance award-winner you ever wanted to avoid. But advance word from trustworthy sources has been very enthusiastic about this one. (June 24)
THE ISLAND My intense love for the oeuvre of Michael Bay might make the inclusion of this film on my “Must See” category seem a little odd. But I don’t know, Ewan and Scarlet just look so damned sexy with all those vehicles exploding around them and such… (July)
CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY I base my interest not on the arch trailer so much as my faith that the Depp/Burton combination, along with an alleged faithfulness to the spirit, if not the letter, of Roald Dahl’s story, might cough up something interesting here. But to those who dismiss the original as being treacly sweet and a betrayal of Dahl’s sensibility, I urge another look. That Gene Wilder musical is a fairly nasty creation in its own right. (July 15)
THE ARISTOCRATS Documentary account of the telling, by a hundred different comedians, of the same filthy joke, is reportedly fall-down hilarious, as well as an vivid portrait of the art of improvisation. (August 5)
THE 40-YEAR-OLD VIRGIN Self-explanatory comedy starring Steve Carell (Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy), written and directed by Judd Apatow (Freaks and Geeks). Good enough for me. (August 19)
GRIZZLY MAN Werner Herzog delivers a documentary, as only he can, about Timothy Treadwell, who spent his life among Alaskan bears, and who was eventually killed by one. (August 5)
BROKEN FLOWERS The third seriocomic showcase for Bill Murray in as many years, this one courtesy of director Jim Jarmusch. (August 5)
UNTITLED MIKE JUDGE COMEDY On the strength of Office Space, I’m willing to give Mike Judge a lot of rope, but this premise sounds irresistible: an “average dumb-ass” (Judge’s description) wakes up 500 years in the future, as part of a military experiment, and discovers that he’s the smartest person alive in a world of the future that has been dumbed-down beyond imagination. (August 5)
ZU WARRIORS Gosh, another lush martial arts spectacular starring Ziyi Zhang? Well, there were those major disappointments, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Hero and House of Flying Daggers-- maybe they’ll get it right this time? (September)
2046 The long-awaited, long-delayed new film by Wong Kar-wai. (August 5)
LAST DAYS Gus van Sant’s Cannes sensation, shot in the elliptical style of Elephant and the brilliant Gerry, based loosely on the life and death of Kurt Cobain. (July 22)
THE BROTHERS GRIMM Terry Gilliam lends his eye to a fantasia built around the titular fraternal storytellers, played by Heath Ledger and Matt Damon. (July 29)
PULSE More insinuating creepiness from Kiyoshi Kurosawa, director of Cure and Bright Future. (July)






It’s the new Ridley Scott movie, but I just don’t care… (That said, I’m scheduled to see it at work this week…)
Nothing like an Adam Sandler remake to make the raucous, rough-edged 1974 original look like holy text.
Bancini, a fellow patient on the ward with R.P. McMurphy in the film version of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest summed it up best when he said, “I’m tired… I’m tired… I’m tired…”
This is a Hilary Duff movie. They already suckered me into one teen queen movie this summer by teaming her with a 1968 Volkswagen. Using Heather Locklear in the same fashion is not going to work.
I admit it—I just don’t think I’m the target demographic here.
Leave me alone, Virtuoso Homemade Filmmaker Genius Boy, you bother me!
A futuristic geopolitical thriller starring Christian… Slater… and…zzzzzz….Selma….Blair—Hunh? Selma Blair? Okay. I’m listening. Oh. Geopolitical thriller with Christian Slater. Wake me when it’s over…zzzzzzzzzz
Looks to be a raven-haired, long-locked Glenn Close as a Mrs. Robinson-type in a dysfunctional romantic foursome involving Close’s daughter. I could be wrong, but based on the trailer… I don’t care!
The Los Angeles Times describes it as a movie about an American scientist who “embarks on a passionate affair with a Lebanese cook as a response to her suffocating marriage to an adulterous British politician.” The scientist is played by Joan Allen. The British politician is played by Sam Neill. The cook is played by Simon Akbarian. The film is directed by Sally Potter (Orlando, The Tango Lesson, The Man Who Cried). Heard enough? No? Okay. And the entire movie is performed in iambic pentameter verse.
Another extreme action thriller from the supreme hack Rob Cohen, whose entire output over the past 10 years seems directly attributable to mid-life crisis.
Kid has superhero parents, tries to live a “normal” life. From the director of Deuce Bigalow, Male Gigolo, Surviving Christmas and the recently announced update of H.R. Pufnstuf.
Martin Lawrence teaching basketball to wacky group of junior high school kids. You so craaa-a-a-azy!
See entry for The Longest Yard, substitute “Jessica Simpson” or “Seann William Scott” for “Adam Sandler." Consider seppuku before mentioning title of this movie and the phrase “holy text” in same sentence.
Horror movie starring Cole Hauser. But isn’t any movie starring Cole Hauser a horror movie?
Hey, it’s directed by a guy named Mike Bigelow. That means this one’ll probably be pretty good.
Does anyone else detect the lingering stench of The Stepford Wives? And the name Nora Ephron attached as director isn’t exactly a can of Glade.
Please, Diane Lane, no more fuzzy romantic comedies! You’re too good to be nuzzling with John Cusack!
Seems no one listened to my impassioned plea for an embargo on any combination of pairings of Owen Wilson, Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn. Vaughn and Wilson are the stars, and I have no inside information, but would anyone like to wager on the probability of a hilarious cameo appearance by Stiller somewhere in the middle of this thing?

…and last, and almost certainly least, GOING SHOPPING, the latest self-indulgent pile from the supremely narcissistic and solipsistic Henry Jaglom. Is there anyone left who would willingly pay to see a new Henry Jaglom film? I can honestly say I’d rather see a Dukes of Hazzard/Deuce Bigalow, European Gigolo double feature at a drive-in during a massive electrical storm than think one more thought about this or any other film in Jaglom’s oeuvre. But now, as I turn in for the night, my head is going to be filled with all the unleashed memories of all the horrible Jaglom films I’ve seen-- Somebody to Love, Eating, Venice/Venice, Last Summer in the Hamptons and New Year’s Day. Not to mention that smug mug with that ever-present hat. All these things are swirling around in my mind now as I go off to sleep. Thanks a lot, Henry, for your films, for all those indelible images, the warm, probing conversation, and that smug mug and that ever-present hat. Michael Emil never wore a hat. He was proud of his bald head. Thanks a lot, Henry. Thanks a lot.


Thom McGregor said...

RE: Revenge of the Sith-- Sorry. I just can't help it.

Thom McGregor said...

Oh, thanks a lot! You tricked me into clicking on that Jaglom picture twice, and now his smug mug is haunting me! And you already know how I feel about him. It's all Les's fault, you know-- my hatred of all things Jaglom. But I have to blame you for making me click on that image twice. Anyway, I agree with you on a lot of these. But I predict I'll see all of 3 movies in the theater before end of the year, much less the summer. But one will NOT be Herbie Fully Loaded, thank you.

Benaiah said...

I don't know if you are doing a list for the entire year, but one movie that I am really looking foreward to is V for Vendetta. The comic book was amazing and the cast is solid. The only worry is that the Wachowski brothers are associated with it and they have a tendency to pump their movies full of cheesy CGI (my ahs have turned into groans with CGI).

Dennis Cozzalio said...

Benaiah: Are the Wachowskis directing? And I must confess, I'm not very up on the current comics/graphic novel scene, so I don't know V for Vendetta, but I'll keep my eye out. And I'm with you as regards CGI. It tends to shut me down psychologically-- the more it tries to dazzle me into believing things I couldn't possibly be seeing, especially in the context of an otherwise "realistic" event, like the car chase in The Matrix Reloaded, for example, the more I entrench myself in disbelief. One of the few guys doing interesting things with CGI right now is Stephen Chow, in Shaolin Soccer and, of course, Kung Fu Hustle, which, significantly, never asks you to "believe" what you're seeing-- he uses the computer to elasticize his already cartoon-informed world. I think I will try to do another list around October, and by then I should have a little more info on V for Vendetta, that is unless you can point me somewhere now...

Anonymous said...

Henry Jaglom! Wow, I have not thought about him for years, and that's a good thing. The old Z Channel used to offer up mini-fests of his work, so I would read the write-ups of each film in the Z Channel Guide and think, what the hell, and watch his movies, and I can confirm that every dog does have his day. SITTING DUCKS is actually amusing and entertaining.

Now that I think about it, Zack Norman and Michael Emil seem less annoying to me than Ben Stiller and, well, anyone, particularly if anyone is Owen Wilson or Vince Vaughn or Edward Norton or... okay, just anyone. Maybe Robert Rodriguez can cast Ben in a movie, blow him up, in 3-D, of course, and then follow around Henry Jaglom with a camera (and his guitar) for a hour and a half.

This might effectively kill off two careers and satisfy a fantasy of mine (Stiller's explosion, much as I'd like to see what Jaglom does all day) all at once. The only problem I have is that I'd see it to truly enjoy it. Dang, it's always something, isn't it?

Virgil Hilts

Benaiah said...

The problem with CGI is that we (the informed movie-goer) can always tell and so you just sit there obstinately disbelieving. If filmmakers used it sparely (or totally a la Sin City or Sky Captain) then the audience wouldn't just turn off to it. V for Vendetta is being directed by James McTiegue, who seems to be a puppet auteur (this is his first movie and his past assistant roles include the last two Star Wars prequels and the three Matrix movies). V for Vendetta is the brainchild of Alan Moore and is a futuristic story about a post nuclear war England (I know it sounds awful). However, the story isn’t about radioactive zombies, but instead using the nuclear war as a pretext for Fascists to seize control of the government and now years into their iron rule a man in a Guy Fawkes mask is running around causing havoc and giving lengthy soliloquies of justice, anarchy and all manner of other things. It is a fascinating read and it has enough material in it to make two movies (so no doubt it will end up not making one good one). It is coming out on Nov 4 (the day before Guy Fawkes day).

blaaagh said...

Actually, watching DUKES OF HAZZARD and DEUCE BIGALOW, EUROPEAN GIGOLO at a drive-in might be fun, without the electrical storm and with a supply of beer. And yes, you are evil to trick your readers into TWO stomach-churning glimpses at Henry Jaglom...I'm just grateful I haven't ever forced myself to sit through all of any of his movies--can't believe how many you've seen!

Dennis Cozzalio said...

Thanks, Benaiah, for the info. That actually sounds intriguing. Would you recommend the Moore graphic novel to one so relatively unfamiliar to the medium as I? Because you have made it sound very interesting. I guess what turns me off most, and what I'm tired of in films these days as well, is the relentless bleak nihilism and violence painted with that veneer of juvenile cool that seems the hallmark of something like Sin City, at least as interpreted by maestro Riodriguez. V for Vendetta sounds more politicaly engaged, which would be more up my alley, I think, these days. Who is in the movie, BTW?

Blaaagh: I was looking for a worst-case for dramatic effect, but your comment made me realize I failed to find it. You're right-- that double feature might be all right, after all. Seems to me I remember sitting through some pretty bad ones, made much more palatable by the drive-in setting, a beer or two, and your fine company. Remember Daylight plus co-hit Dante's Peak? Or what about Apocalypse Now and Goldfinger at the long-gone Motor-Vu Drive-in in Eugene? And that electrical storm scenario reminded me of our ultimate drive-in triumph: the Dirty Harry triple-feature at the long-gone Eugene Drive-in (nope, not in Eugene, but in Springfield). It was February, according to my notes, not a big drive-in month much of anywhere, but certainly not in the Willamete Valley, and we arrived in my '68 VW Bug, armed with blankets and pillows for the near- six-hour haul. The only problem was, the '68 VW Bug featured a heater that would only function if the engine was running. And we would need the heater, because it was cold as witchy nipplage out there. So we had to rent a portable electric heater from the none-too-busy snack bar staff, which plugged into the base of the speaker pole. And that meant having to have the window partially cracked in order to allow for the cord. All was chilly but still fun, when somewhere in the middle of Dirty Harry, with about two and a half movies to go, it started snowing. A very rare occurrence in Eugene, but it did it that night. And I recall the temperature dropping to about 30 degrees before we finally packed it in as the last notes of Jay Chattaway's rousing score for The Enforcer played out of the Warner Bros. logo. Wipers and even an occasional swipe with the de-icer was required more than once that night, as would be rolling down the windows mid-snowfall in order to defog the windshield! So, if I look back on that drive-in experience fondly, I guess I would be up for that Dukes of Hazzard/DB,EG double feature. And who knows, maybe I'll make it up to Newberg this summer, and it'll be playing under the stars at the 99W. Hold the snow this time. Or at least wait until February! Got those travel plans made yet?!

Benaiah said...

I would recommend buying the book, it is a great read (it is very political, though it has its moments of depravity befitting fascism). To be fair to Rodriguez he was following the original Sin City very closely (though I guess Once Upon A Time in Mexico is pretty violent too). Natalie Portman and Hugo Weaving star in V for Vendetta (in the book V never removes his mask so I hope that he isn't revealed as Agent Smith in the movie).

Dennis Cozzalio said...

My objecton to Rodriguez isn't specifically tied to Sin City-- in fact, I thought it was pretty effective. And I certainly don't have a beef against violence in movies. But as a director overall Rodriguez has, for me, become somewhat emblematic, much more so than Quentin Tarantino, of a kind of desensitization of violence that is often fretted about by critics over work that is a lot more serious than what Rodriguez does. His movies have always been shallow (the original Spy Kids is a glorious exception), but I think they've also become more cynical, less concerned with narrative craft than splash and effect and that self-created image (thanks to his boundless energy with DVD extras) of the laid-back director with the cowboy hat and the ever-present guitar who makes movies where people get sliced and diced and blown up, and none of it matters, and it's just so damn cool.

And I will get me henceforth to a bookstore soon and pick up V for Vendetta! Thanks!

blaaagh said...

Somehow the combination of Natalie Portman and Hugo Weaving seems like good chemistry. V for Vendetta does sound intriguing, too; I'm as wary of comic book adaptations as anyone; I couldn't even make it all the way through "Road to Perdition." As for the drive-in memories, YES! I remember the Snowy Night of Dirty Harry well, though you conjured it up vividly with details I had forgotten (I think my brain was partially frozen that night). I also remember that fun time at the Sunset drive-in (or whatever it's called)in San Luis Obispo; that drive-in has to be the best-preserved and most lively one I've been to in recent years. If they can make it fun to see "Dante's Peak" and "Daylight," they're doing the drive-in experience right!

Benaiah said...

Yeah I know what you mean about comic book adaptations. Alot of great stuff is turned into drek on the big screen. Alan Moore, the writer of V for Vendetta, is widely regarded as one of the best, if not the best, comic book writer around today. Yet, the movies made from his books are among the worst movies I have seen (LXG, Constantine, From Hell). Moore doesn't have control over any of his work and he has asked to not recieve royalties in exchange for not having his name on any of the films. That said, this movie is less conceptual than LXG or From Hell (where the premise was the only thing taken from the original book) and so I have high hopes.

blaaagh said...

H'mmm...I hadn't known that "From Hell" was based on a comic book. It was pretty bad, wasn't it? Maybe I ought to start reading more comic books, or graphic novels, or whatever the current term is, and watching fewer lousy movies.
Interesting discussion earlier about CGI; we saw the first "Lord of the Rings" again the other night, and it struck me that the effects don't always look totally real, but they're so beautiful and/or imaginative, and so well-integrated into the story--and the story and characters are so strong--that I don't feel distanced by them. Of course, it helps that it's a fantasy, but still.

Dennis Cozzalio said...

I had forgotten about From Hell's source material too. Hard to imagine that Moore's book would be as awful as the Hughes Bros. movie. (I recently saw Naked and was reminded, of course, of the late Kaitlin Cartridge, who was so good and believable in both those movies...) Anyway, Blaaagh, it's a good point you make about the CGI in Lord of the Rings, and it works for Kung Fu Hustle too, I think, and Spy Kids and The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (best examples I can think of right now)-- as long as the director is engaged with the material or telling a story in a compelling or masterful way, then you sense that as a viewer and the effects become a complement to what's really important to the dirctor, rather than the be all/end all, and it doesn't matter if they occasionally come up short.

blaaagh said...

Forgive me: we're engrossed in watching all of the extended version of "The Lord of the Rings"--but we're into "The Two Towers" about halfway, and I'm struck by how good it is, more powerful even than on previous viewings. But if you want a wonderful example of CGI well-used, watch the scene where the possessed-by-Saruman King Theoden transforms back to himself--it's magical--and then try not to be moved by his discovery that he's lost his son. His raw, passionate performance overpowers any thoughts I have of "look at that makeup job...nice transformation," or whatever. Oh man, I can't wait to watch more of it.

Kim R said...

Saw 40 Year Old Virgin.

Hillarious. DO NOT bring Nonie or Emma. A few "possibly offensive" comments... okay, well, a lot. Still funny as hell.

Dennis Cozzalio said...

How does Steve Carell's performance stack up against his brilliant turn in Anchorman? And no, Nonie and Emma will be staying at home. Their tastes run more to the George Romero film...

blaaagh said...

I hear kids today are really into "Salo: 120 Days of Sodom." (Not that I've ever seen my day we watched wholesome things!)

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