After a lackluster year for American cinema, there seems to be some ligh ton the horizon. Up to this point in time there have been few films I felt were worthy of high praise. Those few films I felt were successful consisted of: Inside Man, V for vendetta, Cars, and Nanny McPhee. everything else I felt was run of the mill or incredibly disappointing.
Mission Impossible: 3 was a self-indulgent waste of time. This franchise has removed the actual spirit of the tv show, which was based around a team of super-brilliant individuals. This teamwork has given way to tom cruise taking care of every aspect of the global crime fighting in which he takes part. Maybe Tom Cruise should work on making himself seem a little less crazy in the real world, and give some work to the admirable people cast in teh film, including Jonathan rhys Myers, Ving Rhames, and Laurence fishburne.
Da Vinci Code, instead of reveling in some of the off-the-wall plot twists, insisted on remaining "true to the book and ended up with an overblown and over serious film starring tom hanks bizarre haircut.
X-men 3 was, obviously, the most disappointing film of the year and not just to those who worshipped Bryan Singer's first two films in this very promising franchise. Brett Ratner took over an candy-coated over the social relevance of the first two films with as many explosions as was possible in a two-hour time frame. The film had a spectacular opening weekend at the box office and then proceeded to crash in a blazing glory of light, topping its domestic box-office intake at $233 million (now surpassed by Cars and Pirates 2). Hopefully, Bryan can be persuaded to return to helm the next film in this franchise.
And while we are on teh topic of Bryan Singer, let us address Superman Returns. It is not a bad film by any means, but it is overblown and at times simply ridiculous. As David Denby of the New Yorker said, "Why would Superman care about saving the human race if they are so stupid they cannot recognize him with a pair of glasses on?" Superman has become the quintessential American superhero because it gives solace to those workers who put in their daily grind in their 9 to 5 jobs. The sense of wonder Superman imposes gives these men a chance to emasculate themselves and change identity by the simple jump into the proverbial telephone booth. Unfortunately, Superman may no longer be as relevant for he appears as nothing more than a cardboard character. Also, the $260 (!) million budget of this film was beyond ludicrous (It's entire world-wide gross has jsut reccently surpassed $200 mill).
Though Meryl Streep was able to turn in an amazing performance in the Devil Wears Prada (did we ever doubt her?), the film was based on a horridly written book, and tho far better than the book, the film still suffers from self-indulgence and cardboard characters.
Little Miss Sunshine has prompted me to think that this horrible state of affairs may soon change. A brilliantly touching piece that is able to amuse while not pandering, Little Miss Sunshine shines with an amazing ensemble cast led by Steve Carrell (as America's "pre-eminent Proust scholar"), toni Collette, Paul Dano, Alan Arkin (who could receive his first Oscar nom since The Russians are Coming), Greg Kinnear and Abigail Breslin. The script deserves a nomination as well. Basically, any film that brings a tear to my eye as the credits begin to roll is a goodie.
The following films I cannot wait to see and have incredibly high hopes for (hopefully these hopes wont be dashed--i just used the word hope in one of its incarnations three times in one sentence).
Almodovar's Volver... I was one of the ferw people who did not love Hable con Ella as much as Todo sobre mi madre, but Pedro redeemed himself with the amazingly brilliant and beautiful La Mala Educacion. I'm sure volver (which has grossed $35 mill overseas already) will be phenomenal.
Michel Gondry's Science of Sleep. One of the most inventive and creative directors has teamed up with our generation's most creative actor, Gael Garcia Bernal, and the results will probabyl be phenomenal.
Cuaron's Children of Men. The plot sounds a bit lame (or at least like it was based on a novel by Philip Dick or Thomas Berger) but Clive Owen and Julianne Moore have enough talent between them to make this a worhtwhile watch, esp helmed by the master of Y tu mama tambien.
Hollywoodland. Anotehr backstage film about Hollywood in the fifties, this may not be as brilliant as Hanson's LA Confidential, but Diane Lane's scintillating performance as Toni mannix may get her some Oscar attention.
Annette Bening has suffered at the Oscars herself because somehow Hilary Swank managed to coordinate her performances in the same year as bening showed that she had serious acting chops. Well, she has proven herself Helen Mirren's only competition for the Emmy in Mrs. Harris and Running with Scissors may be Annette's chance to walk off with the golden boy (fortunately Swank's perf in the Black dahlia would be considered supporting lol). There is some fondness in my heart for Bening because when she is over the top, she reminds me greatly of my mother...
Tho Inarritu's Amores Perros was underwhelming to me, 21 Grams was amazing and hopefulyl Babel will live up to some of its hype.
Stranger than Fiction. A movie that can somehow manage to put Queen Latifah, Will Ferrell, Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson in the same film deserves attention from teh get-go, but when it is an Adaptation like story about a woman writing the fictional sotry of an exisitng man that can hear her limited omniscient narrator, we should all be rushing to see it.
Notes on a Scandal.. Any movie that teams Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett together was made jsut for me.
Aronofksy's the Fountain... Requiem for a Dream is one of my favorite movies of all time. I wouldnt miss this for anything (well for $500,000 i would)
Movies that may suck ass, but which I will see anyways:
Casino Royale: I have never missed a Bond film in my life and i aint going to make this my first.
The Illusionist and the Prestige: I can't tell these two magic films apart. To throw into this melange of films about the dark arts put in Woody Allen's Scoop--tho i loved match point, i still believe Allen is the most overrated American auteur ever. Even in Manhattan, his masterpiece, he played a neurotic pedophile... the man is the most irritating actor ever.
Coppola's Marie Antoinette. Is there any way I can miss a movie about the most maligned woman in french history? I think not.
Fast Food Nation. Im not sur ehow this is going to translate as a film.
Stephen Frears' The Queen. I gotta see this jsu tbecause Helen Mirren is QE2, but dont think itll be any good.
A good Year. Don't know a damn thing bout this one but its Russell Crowe and Albert Finney in a ridley Scott film written by Peter Mayle.. it definitely has potential.
In a way, I hold very high hopes for Dreamgirls, but am very afraid they will not live up to my expectation. The musical came out in 1982, and it is only now coming to the screen... its expiration date may certainly have come...
Movies I dont understand why they would ever be made:
The Santa Clause III
The remake of The WIcker Man
The Grudge 2
The Nativity Story