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Noah Forrest

By Noah Forrest

Spring Preview ’09 – Part One

Now that 2008 is behind us, it’s time for us to start looking forward to what 2009 might bring us at the multiplex. The period from January to April is generally the weakest period of the year in terms of quality films, but there are usually a few that manage to provide some light in this fog of mediocrity; last year, Paranoid Park came out in early March, so there is some hope.

Let’s take a look at what this Spring has to offer.

January 9

Bride Wars (Dir. Gary Winick)

Anne Hathaway pulls an Eddie Murphy a la Norbit, following up a critically acclaimed film (Rachel Getting Married for Hathaway,Dreamgirls for Murphy) with a paycheck job. If this film turns out to be Godard, I will be the first to sing its praises, but it seems we get this same film in this slot every single year (27 Dresses, The Wedding Planner).

Opposite Hathaway is Kate Hudson, who continues to blow all the good will given her after Almost Famous. I can’t tell if that film was an aberration for her and she’s not as talented as we originally thought or if she’s simply content to star in below-par films. A look at her credits following that Cameron Crowe film is like reading a list of Golden Raspberry winners: Gossip, Dr. T and the Women,The Four Feathers, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, Alex and Emma, Raising Helen,Skeleton Key, You Me and Dupree, Fool’s Gold, My Best Friend’s Girl. At least in the beginning she was working with Altman and Shekhar Kapur, but lately it’s just been absolutely brutal. Hopefully working with a talented cast and director in Nine (out later this year) will remind her of what she’s been missing.

The storyline here is about two best friends who schedule their weddings on the same day and apparently become enemies. I can’t wait to find out why neither one of them is able to reschedule. Actually, I can.

Also Opening: David Goyer’s The Unborn, which has a creepy and effective trailer; the drama Not Easily Broken, starring Morris Chestnut, who I figured would be a huge star after his terrific turn in Boyz ‘N the Hood.

January 16

Notorious (Dir. George Tillman, Jr.)

I don’t understand how anyone who grew up in the late 80s/early 90s wouldn’t be stoked by this film. I wasn’t the biggest rap fan as a kid, but Biggie and 2Pac were constantly on the radio, their feud reported every half hour on MTV and their music transcended the genre. Despite growing up on the East Coast, I was more of a 2Pac fan because he was also a talented actor (Juice, Poetic Justice, the criminally underrated Gridlock’d); but I definitely appreciated Biggie, amazed at his freestyle abilities.

Now, this Notorious B.I.G. biopic looks a little bit cheesy, but I can’t help myself, I want to see it. Angela Bassett stars as Biggie’s mom, Voletta Wallace, Derek Luke is playing Puffy and the talented Anthony Mackie is playing Tupac Shakur. Starring as Biggie Smalls is first-timer Jamal Woolard.

The story of Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur is ripe for a cinematic retelling and I hope to see some of it brought to life in Notorious (not to be confused with the Hitchcock film).

Also Opening: Kevin James beats Seth Rogen and Jody Hill’s Observe and Report by putting out the similar Paul Blart, Mall Cop, shades of Armageddon versus Deep Impact; a remake of the 80s horror flick My Bloody Valentine is brought to life with the aid of a brand new technology: 3-D!

January 23

Killshot (Dir. John Madden)

The film originally finished shooting in 2005 and has had its release date jerked around several times, so don’t be surprised if this one gets moved again. But, I have to say I’ve always been intrigued by the film because the Elmore Leonard novel that it’s based on is one of his best and chilliest. It’s about a couple who are placed in the Federal Witness Protection Program, only to be hounded by two hitmen – one older, the other younger and crazier.

And I was definitely pleased by the fact that Diane Lane andThomas Jane were cast as the couple while Mickey Rourke andJoseph Gordon-Levitt were cast as the hitmen. It seemed like a slam dunk once Academy Award Winner John Madden was attached to direct Hossein Amini’s adaptation. I saw a decent trailer for it in 2006 and since then … nothing.

Apparently it’s gone through a series of reshoots, but the timing seems to be fortuitous now that Mickey Rourke is something of a name again. The timing might be perfect if he gets his expected nomination for The Wrestler the day before Killshot opens.

Also Opening: I wonder what Hotel for Dogs could possibly be about …; Inkheart, directed by Iain Softley and starring Brendan Fraser, could be Bridge to Terabithia or The Spiderwick Chronicles, let’s hope for the former; because the idea of vampires fighting werewolves is too irresistible, prepare for Underworld: Rise of the Lycans; starring Sarah Michelle Gellar and Lee Pace, Possession has one of the most confusing loglines I’ve ever read on IMDb.

January 30

Taken (Dir. Pierre Morel)

From the director of the exciting French flick District B13 comes this film starring Liam Neeson as an ex-spy/badass whose daughter gets kidnapped during a trip to Paris. Neeson then decides he’s going to get his daughter back, destroying as many bad guys as possible in the process.

The film came out last year throughout much of Europe and I had a chance to see it and while this isn’t going to win any awards, it’s definitely a fun ride. It’s kind of like (or exactly the same as) the 1985 Schwarzenegger flick Commando, which was one of my very favorite ’80s action flicks. So if you miss the kind of action flicks where the main character tells the bad guy what he’s going to do when he finds him and then backs up his word by doing exactly what he said, this is your movie.

Also Opening: Creepy ghosts and creepier mental hospitals combine in The Uninvited;Renee Zellweger goes from Miami to Minnesota in the fish out of water/romantic comedyNew in Town, which sounds at the very least, like it has been appropriately titled.

February 6

He’s Just Not That Into You (Dir. Ken Kwapis)

I watched Sex and the City religiously, I remember the episode when this term was coined and I remember the ensuing frenzy that followed, but guess what? It’s bullshit. He’s never just not that into you, there’s almost always a reason for it. That phrase was written by a guy, Greg Behrendt, who doesn’t speak for anybody but himself and he’s since gone on to sell millions of books spouting out his nonsense as if he is the great orator of manly truth. It made a great Sex and the City episode, but really, an entire film based on that stupid line?

The film has managed to wrangle a talented cast of Ginnifer Goodwin, Jennifer Aniston, Jennifer Connelly, Scarlett Johansson, Drew Barrymore, Ben Affleck, Bradley Cooperand others in a bunch of interconnected stories about love and misreading people. Hopefully it will hit the highs of something like Love, Actually but the fact that its release date has been shuffled doesn’t bode well.

Push (Dir. Paul McGuigan)

Last year I was excited for Jumper based on the premise and that didn’t turn out too well, but again I’m intrigued by a high-concept film rife with “what-ifs?” Push is about three people with different types of ESP; one can move things with his mind, one can get inside people’s heads and find out what they are thinking and the other can see into the future. Chris Evans, Dakota Fanning and Camilla Belle play these talented individuals and Djimon Hounsou plays the government agent trying to capture them. The film is set and filmed in Hong Kong.

Just like with Jumper last year, I’m of two minds: the serious critic part of me feels like this is probably just big-budget pap, but the other side of me feels like this might just been an original, fun big-budget adventure. McGuigan’s got a spotty history with the weak Wicker Park but the surprisingly entertaining Lucky Number Slevin on his resume. Hopefully he can take that same sense of fun he brought to Slevin and apply to Push.

Also Opening: Steve Martin makes me cry by wasting his talents on The Pink Panther 2;Henry Selick does his stop-motion thing with Coraline; Fanboys finally opens, right at the height of Star Wars mania…

February 13

The International (Dir. Tom Tykwer)

Tykwer is just one of the most fantastic and underrated filmmakers, his films hanging together almost solely on viscera and gorgeous imagery. His Perfume is one of the most beautiful-looking films I’ve ever seen and his short film in Paris je t’aime is an incredible, goosebump-inducing five minutes. So giving him the reins to an action-suspense flick starring Clive Owenand Naomi Watts definitely has me jazzed.

The film was on my Summer Movie Preview last year because it was originally supposed to be released in August. Let’s hope the long delay isn’t indicative of quality.

Two Lovers (Dir. James Gray)

This film played at Cannes last Summer to good reviews, so it’s somewhat surprising that it’s taken this long to get it released in the U.S. James Gray’s Little Odessa is a remarkable achievement; its setting really seeps into the celluloid and comes alive on the screen in a film that is completely devoid of cliché. I thought Gray was going to be the next Lumet. But besides the fact that Gray clearly doesn’t have Lumet’s work ethic (Gray has only released two films in the 14 years since Little Odessa), his next two pictures, The Yards and We Own the Night, were disappointments that seemed a little too concerned with the places they were set rather than the characters populating those films.

With Two Lovers, Gray uses his muse Joaquin Phoenix as the lead character once again, but he has eschewed a hard-boiled storyline about cops, hitmen or robbers in favor of a simpler tale of a man torn between two women and two worlds. The women are played by Gwyneth Paltrow and Vinessa Shaw. This is one of my most anticipated films this Spring and I hope Gray bring that same delicate touch to this story that he brought to his first film.

Also Opening: Marcus Nispel continues to astound us with his genius by unveiling the innovative and original horror film Friday the 13th … sounds familiar; P.J. Hogan resurfaces with Confessions of a Shopaholic, starring the adorable Isla Fisher.

February 20

Youth in Revolt (Dir. Miguel Arteta)

Michael Cera continues his trend of playing boys that want to awkwardly lose their virginity by starring in this adaptation of C.D. Payne’s book. Besides an interesting cast includingJustin Long, Zach Galifianakis, Jean Smart, and Steve Buscemi, this film has one thing that makes me curious: Miguel Arteta, director of the fascinating Chuck and Buck and The Good Girl. So far, he’s proven to have an adept hand at taking simple material and making it something more. So while this is a film ostensibly about a boy trying to lose his virginity to a local girl, something tells me that with Arteta at the helm this will be something a bit more incisive than American Pie or Superbad.

Also Opening: Tyler Perry pays homage to the Ernest series with Madea Goes to Jail; jocks join cheerleading camp, a premise so dumb that it’s impossible to make fun of, in Fired Up.

February 27

Opening: Street Fighter gets a reboot in Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li, which will surely appeal to the tens of people who loved the videogame so much that they’ll see a movie about it fifteen years after it lost popularity; Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience is, um, well, I’ve got nothing.

Noah Forrest
January 5, 2009

Noah Forrest is a 25 year old aspiring writer/filmmaker in New York City.

The opinions expressed in these columns are the writers and do not neccessarily reflect the opinions of Movie City News or any of its editors or other contributors.

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon