Friday, November 4, 2011

IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS: November Movies - First Impressions

Lord how time flies!!!!  The Fall Movie season will soon be coming to an end and Christmas will suddenly be upon us.  After some extremely well-received movies in August and September (The Help, Moneyball and Contagion) and a lackluster October filled with sequels (Paranormal Activity 3), prequels (Puss In Boots), ho-hum star-driven vehicles (In Time and The Rum Diary) and snoozy remakes (Footloose, The Thing and The Three Musketeers); I thought we should take a look at some of the films coming out over the next month as we head into the Holiday seasons and the beginning of the Awards track (Golden Globe nods come out in mid-December!).

So, let's look at some of the trailers of the major studio films (and some of the Award-hopefuls) being released during November and talk about the first impressions based on the trailer (and whatever buzz may be surrounding the movie in question!).  Then, I'll give the verdict on whether I would personally take the time to see the movie.

RELEASE DATE: Friday, November 4, 2011
A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas
Starring: Kal Penn, John Cho, Neil Patrick Harris
First Impressions: The Harold & Kumar franchise has done quite well especially in its key demographic (audience ages 18-35).  Both stars Kal Penn and John Cho have been able to transition within their own careers thanks to the H&K brand, so why wouldn't a third film be in the cards.  However, comedy franchises tend not to do as well as their predecessors (as we learned with the highly-anticipated Hangover II earlier this year!).  Studios tend to expect more out of them than they end up getting.  And when they don't meet those expectations, they are counted as failures.  It's quite possible that the duo's trip to WhiteCastle should have been their one and only.
Would I See It?: Possibly (on TV or DVD though)

Tower Heist
Starring: Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy, Casey Affleck
First Impressions: Alan Alda as a Bernie Madoff-type living in what is obviously Trump Towers!  It's the kind of biting satire that worked back in the 1980s, but today its a little along the too esoteric lines.  Though the rest of the cast is likable in what seems to be their typical roles now (Ben Stiller as fumbling lead, Casey Affleck as sarcastic assistance, Matthew Broderick as nebbish friend, etc.), the only standout even within the trailer is obviously Eddie Murphy.  He seems to be in exactly the type of role that made us love him at the beginning of his career (i.e. Trading Places, 48 Hrs., etc.).  The problem is that right-off you can tell that Murphy in all his comic glory is probably only in about 20-25% of the movie.  Meaning the rest of the film would be kind of a snore when Murphy is not on the screen.
Would I See It?: Possibly (on TV or DVD though)

The Son of No One
Starring: Channing Tatum, Al Pacino, Juliette Binoche
First Impressions: I have not heard of this movie at all!  No buzz, no news, no early reviews, no nothing!  And yet there are actual people in this movie!  Like name people, A-Listers!  Is it because Channing Tatum is the first name on the list that I automatically ignored anything about this film?  It looks like it might actually be interesting and provocative with some pretty good performances (except for maybe Katie Holmes, although she could surprise us!).  Why have I heard nothing about this film?
Would I See It?: Maybe

RELEASE DATE: Friday, November 11, 2011
Starring: Henry Cavill, John Hurt, Mickey Rourke
First Impressions: Trying to capture what was captured a few years ago with 300, but probably being more like the horrendous remake of Clash of the Titans last year.
Would I See It?: Never

Jack & Jill
Starring: Adam Sandler, Katie Holmes, Al Pacino
First Impression: Adam Sandler dances on that line of clever parody (The Wedding Singer) to touching lead (Punch-Drunk Love) to trying to be serious (Spanglish) to just plain stupid (Grown Ups).  Unfortunately, this is way passed the latter of those options.
Would I See It?: Never

J. Edgar
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Naomi Watts, Dame Judi Dench
First Impression: This movie has the most going for it as far as I'm concerned.  Its directed by an accomplished and acclaimed director (Clint Eastwood!).  Its screenplay is by the smart and edgy Oscar-winning writer behind Milk (Dustin Lance Black).  And it stars Leonardo DiCaprio in what quite possibly could be his Oscar-winning performance (if the early critics are to be believed!).  It has the stylish qualities that went into last year's Oscar-winner The King's Speech and the political intrigue (and topical metaphors) that went into the previous Oscar-winner The Hurt Locker.
Would I See It?: Most Likely

RELEASE DATE: Friday, November 18, 2011
The Twilight Saga - Breaking Dawn Part I
Starring: Robert Pattison, Kristen Stewart, Taylor Lautner
First Impressions: Just when you think you're rid of these brooding "teenagers" who never seem to smile, they come back doing the exact thing the Harry Potter series did earlier by splitting its "final chapter" into two movies (because Stefanie Meyer can do anything J. K. Rowling can do! NYAH!).  So that just means they'll be boring boyfriends and putting husbands to sleep in two movies instead of one!
Would I See It?: Not even if you held a gun to my head! I would choose death! (Too much with the sarcasm?) 

Happy Feet Two
Starring: Elijah Wood, Pink, Robin Williams
First Impressions: I really liked the first one.  It was touching, funny and surprisingly well-crafted.  But I'm not sure all of that positive reaction the first one got (including an Oscar for Best Animated Film beating Cars!) warrants a sequel.  It seems like it could be cute and funny and maybe even touching.  But it also seems like its over-reaching and re-hashing some of the same jokes and plotlines that fueled the first one.
Would I See It?: On the Fence

The Descendants
Starring: George Clooney, Judy Greer, Matthew Lillard
First Impressions: Another potential Awards grabber and George Clooney already had one earlier this fall with The Ides of March.  It may be hard to decipher which George Clooney Oscar-bait movie audiences need to see.
Would I See It?: On the Fence

RELEASE DATE: Friday, November 25, 2011
Starring: Asa Butterfield, Sasha Baron Cohen, Christopher Lee
First Impressions: At first look, its family-friendly and filled with a typical mix of fantasy and comic relief (Thank You Borat!).  It seems to have charm and kids and period costumes and....wait a minute...did that say "Directed by Martin Scorcese?!?!"  Martin "Mean Streets-Taxi Driver-Raging Bull-GoodFellas-Gangs of New York-The Departed" Scorcese?!?!  I know he's taking risks now and doing things he wouldn't have done 20 years ago (hence his Emmy-winning work on the HBO drama Boardwalk Empire!), but how opposite from his canon does he have to go in order to prove he's a risk-taker?  Wait, Does he need to prove he's a risk-taker?!?!  Maybe he figures: He has an Oscar and an Emmy, now he needs the children to like him!
Would I See It?: Likely (but probably on TV or DVD)

The Muppets
Starring: Jason Segel, Amy Adams, Chris Cooper
First Impressions: It has Muppets! It's their first theatrical venture since the somewhat average Muppets From Space over a decade ago.  It has celebrity cameos, self-referential humor...oh, and did I mention: IT HAS MUPPETS!!!!
Would I See It?: Try and stop me!!!

Arthur Christmas
Starring: James McAvoy, Jim Broadbent, Bill Nighy

First Impressions: Sure, there of course is bound to be a Christmas-themed animated movie this year (we've had The Polar Express and Jim Carrey in A Christmas Carol).  This movie seems like it might be charming and sweet with a anything-can-happen and anyone-can-do-anything message.  But on the other hand, everything that makes it so cute and special also could make it so gratingly irritating.  Since PIXAR revolutionized Disney, every studio has to get into the game and do it in some way (see Happy Feet Two above!).  But I just don't know if I can take much more of this.
Would I See It?: Possibly (on TV or DVD though)

A Dangerous Method
Starring: Viggo Mortensen, Michael Fassbender, Keira Knightley
First Impressions: The last Viggo Mortensen-David Cronenberg venture (Eastern Promises) resulted in an Oscar nomination for the former Lord of the Rings star.  Plus, Michael Fassbender (who first charmed audiences a few years ago in Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds!) is quickly becoming one of the most welcome additions to any movie this year (a well-received version of Jane Eyre and the surprisingly well-done X-Men prequel).  And its been a while since Keira Knightley steamed up the screen in a racy role that could result in some awards attention.  And its about Freud and Jung and their tenuous (re: stressful) work relationship.  The two are the greatest influences on the psycho-analytical world and a dramatic depiction of their (possible) "friendship" would be quite interesting.
Would I See It?: Quite Possibly

My Week With Marilyn
Starring: Michelle Williams, Eddie Redmayne, Kenneth Branagh

First Impressions: A movie about Marilyn Monroe while she was making the somewhat charming 1957 film The Prince and the Showgirl with Sir Laurence Olivier...interesting.  Michelle Williams looks gorgeous as the iconic blonde.  Branagh is the perfect choice to play Lord Larry.  And Tony-winner Eddie Redmayne seems to be in a star-making performance as the man who was Monroe's confidante and friend for that titular "week."  It is definitely an Awards-grabber (especially with Williams' rising Oscar profile receiving nods for Brokeback Mountain and Blue Valentine).
Would I See It?: Maybe

The Artist
Starring: Jean Dujardin, Berenice Bejo, John Goodman
First Impressions: It has already won fans at both the Cannes Film Festival and the Toronto Film Festival.  It is become so beloved by the early critics that this will certainly not be the last time we will hear this film's name over the next Awards season.
Would I See It?: Maybe

1 comment:

  1. Thanks!! That was really interesting. I LOVE MUPPETS!!!