MCN Columnists
Noah Forrest

By Noah Forrest

Spring Preview ’09 – Part Two

March 6

Watchmen (Dir. Zack Snyder)

I read the graphic novel quite recently; I was worried that if the film wasn’t any good, then the novel would be ruined for me so I wound up reading the thing in an afternoon and found out why the comic was so lauded. Now, my anticipation level is through the roof and I’m praying that Zack Snyder has done justice to this fascinating, difficult material that transcends the superhero/comic book genre. I really detested Snyder’s 300, finding it to be nothing more than visceral visuals with no real substance behind it, but I admired his take on Dawn of the Dead, which showed a skilled command of playing with genre and that’s a skill he’s going to need to use with Watchmen.

The book and the film follow an alternate reality 1980s whereRichard Nixon is still the President and superheroism has been outlawed after years of safeguarding our cities. What the book did so well was to portray the heroes as regular folks – with the exception of Dr. Manhattan who is something like Superman – behind their masks, folks who feel vulnerable and insecure. There is a lot of profundity in the subtext, about hiding behind masks, about getting older, about atomic warfare, and about placing so much power in the hands of so few. If the film is able to translate half of that onto the screen, then it will be a flat-out masterpiece. But if it fails…well, Zack Snyder would forever be a pariah to the geek community.

The cast seems appropriate for their roles and I was pleased that there weren’t any big stars that would overpower the material. We need to not have any preconceived notions of who these heroes are and with actors like Patrick Wilson, Malin Ackerman, Jackie Earle Haleyand Matthew Goode, I’m confident that they’ll be able to disappear into those costumes.Billy Crudup as Dr. Manhattan intrigues me the most, mostly because the character is one of the most complicated and because Crudup has made so many interesting choices as an actor and has been impossible to pin down.

This is definitely one of my most anticipated films of the year and March 6th can’t get here soon enough.

Also Opening: Sandra Bullock and Thomas Haden Church do the rom-com thing in the cleverly titled All About Steve; Elle Fanning stars in Phoebe in Wonderland as a girl who longs to be in the school production of Alice in Wonderland; Mariah Carey tries to make us forget about Glitter with her new film Tennessee.

March 13

Sunshine Cleaning (Dir. Christine Jeffs)

Despite the so-so response at last year’s Sundance, this film is still intriguing to me because of Amy Adams and Emily Blunt, two of the most exciting and charismatic young actresses we’ve got today. Both of them have proven in the past to be able to take well-worn characters and give them a new spin, notably Adams in Junebug and Blunt in The Devil Wears Prada. Both of those characters are people we’ve seen before in movies we’ve seen before, but by not making the easy choice as actors they were able to breathe fresh life into their parts.

The premise of Sunshine Cleaning has these two great actresses as sisters who start a business that involves cleaning up crime scenes. Alan Arkin and Steve Zahn add to the quirkiness of the project.

Also Opening: AnnaSophia Robb continues to take the ‘talented kid actress’ trophy fromDakota Fanning when she stars alongside The Rock in Race to Witch Mountain; Milla Jovovich and Steve Zahn’s honeymoon goes horribly awry when Timothy Olyphant andKiele Sanchez show up in David Twohy’s thriller A Perfect Getaway; Keira Knightleyand Sienna Miller star as young bohemians in war-torn London in The Edge of Love.

March 20

Duplicity (Dir. Tony Gilroy)

I was fairly excited to see this film considering Tony Gilroy was following up the excellent Michael Clayton (one of the most watchable cable flicks since Rounders) and pairing up Clive Owen and Julia Roberts for the first time since they mesmerized in Closer. I was expecting a dark thriller about corporate espionage and was relatively anxious to see it. And then I saw the trailer and found that — unless the trailer is misleading — the film is actually a jaunty, twisty romantic caper flick. Now, I’m completely stoked for this one, excited to see Gilroy take his Bourne sensibility to an Ocean’s film.

Tom Wilkinson is also back on board as a big shot CEO and he is probably one of my favorite underrated actors ever since he blew me away in In the Bedroom. Paul Giamatti is playing Wilkinson’s corporate rival and Owens and Roberts play two undercover spies/lovers who work for each CEO and are trying to swindle their bosses and live happily ever after. Sign me up.

Knowing (Dir. Alex Proyas)

Alex Proyas was a filmmaker I had incredibly high hopes for after he knocked me on my ass with Dark City. I was about fifteen when that movie came out and I went opening night and wound up astounded by the vividness of the images, recognizing the power in his shading, the way that the dingy green permeated through the screen to make me feel uncomfortable and shifty. The story was interesting, but the way that Proyas decided to bring that story to life really elevated the material, much the way he had with The Crow — the shallowness of the material shining through in every incarnation that followed the original.

Garage Days was okay and I’m willing to give him a mulligan on I, Robot since he was working with an enormous star in Will Smith and when you work with a star of that magnitude, it’s hard to really be an auteur. So with Knowing, I’m really considering this a make or break picture for Proyas where he can show me that he’s either a true visionary filmmaker or just another talent that doesn’t care to push the envelope.

The material is certainly intriguing for this one: fifty years ago, elementary school kids put a bunch of stuff into a time capsule. The time capsule has now been opened and Nicolas Cagefinds that the capsule holds a sheet of paper with random numbers written on it. Except the numbers aren’t so random; they are dates that correctly predicted every major disaster in the last fifty years. There are three more dates left, the last one predicting something globally catastrophic.

I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed that Proyas brings this story to life effectively.

I Love You, Man (Dir. John Hamburg)

John Hamburg’s last film was the uninspired Along Came Polly, but he’s also the guy who wrote the very funny Meet the Parents and Zoolander. Now he’s replaced his favorite leading man Ben Stiller with the infinitely funnier Paul Rudd in a picture about a groom without a best man or a best friend. Rudd’s fiancé is played by the adorable Rashida Jones, who encourages him to go out and meet some guys who could potentially be his buddy. Eventually he meets the wild, uncouth Jason Segal and they start to hang out and pal around.

Rudd is fresh off Role Models and Segal is fresh off Forgetting Sarah Marshall, both of which were the two funniest movies of last year in my humble opinion. The trailer looks pretty funny, so I’m looking forward to this one.

March 27

Adventureland (Dir. Greg Mottola)

I grew up not too far from the real Adventureland and despite my loathing of theme parks, I had a few good memories there as a kid. Apparently so did Greg Mottola, who wrote and directed this autobiographical film for his follow-up to Superbad. Set in 1987, the film is about a recent college grad who is working at the theme park and the various people that populate the place.

Jesse Eisenberg plays the lead and I’ve found him to be an appealing young actor since I first saw him in the fantastic Roger Dodger and then in the masterpiece The Squid and the Whale; he’s awkward and real and seemingly a perfect fit for Mottola’s sensibilities. Starring along with him are Kristen Stewart, now a star thanks to Twilight, and Ryan Reynolds, who seems to be reprising his role from Waiting. SNL’s talented Bill Hader and even more talented Kristen Wiig are also starring.

Also Opening: the animated Monsters vs. Aliens will presumably be about monsters against aliens; Renny Harlin is back with 12 Rounds, starring professional wrestler John Cena; Ice Cube and Mike Epps try to recapture that Next Friday magic with Janky Promoters; Uma Thurman tries to do romantic comedy once again with Jeffrey Dean Morgan in The Accidental Husband.

April 3

Fast and Furious (Dir. Justin Lin)

Finally, the film you’ve all been clamoring for! Seriously though, what happened to Justin Lin? I really though, after his debut film Better Luck Tomorrow, that he would be making interesting and provocative films. Instead, this will be the second Fast and the Furious film he’ll have directed, following up Annapolis. I cannot believe that there is still an audience for this film, one that can’t wait to see Vin Diesel and Paul Walker paired up again in a film about pimped out cars that go really fast.

The thing that kills me about this franchise is that it’s not like there’s anything particularly exciting or different about it; in fact, its utter lack of originality is what differentiates it from most other films. This is the cinematic equivalent of painting by numbers where there will be a car chase every fifteen or twenty minutes and then you just have to fill in the blanks with hot chicks in bikinis or chrome rims or put shootout here. Bad film franchises are always frustrating, but one that doesn’t even try that hard is even more infuriating.

Also Opening: Katherine Heigl and Gerard Butler team up for the romantic comedy The Ugly Truth, which has an ugly trailer; Half Nelson filmmakers Anna Boden and Ryan Fleckbring us Sugar, about a Dominican baseball player.

April 10

The Informers (Dir. Gregor Jordan)

This is one of my most anticipated films of the year simply because I’m an enormous Bret Easton Ellis fan. Although this isn’t based on one of my favorite Ellis books, this collection of short stories is definitely rich with interesting characters and the usual ennui that is prevalent in Ellis’ work. Like his first novel Less Than Zero, The Informers is set in Los Angeles in the early Reagan 80s when cocaine was exploding all over the scene and Spago was the only place to eat.

The short stories vary in terms of quality and in terms of tone, veering from literal vampires to emotional ones, from rock stars to housewives, from pool boys to doormen. Like a lot of Ellis’ work, it’s hedonistic and sadistic but at its core it exposes the way that while the surface may look clean, the insides are dirty.

Gregor Jordan directed the underrated and darkly hilarious Buffalo Soldiers and I’m anxious to see if he captures the spirit of Ellis the same way Roger Avary did with Rules of Attraction. He’s assembled an all-star cast including Winona Ryder, Billy Bob Thornton,Kim Basinger, Mickey Rourke, Jon Foster and Amber Heard. It’ll be playing at Sundance, so we’ll hear the early word next week, but I’ll be seeing it no matter what.

Observe and Report (Dir. Jody Hill)

Okay, I have to say that I’m officially off the Seth Rogenbandwagon. I was singing the guy’s praises after 40 Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up and Superbad but after the disappointingPineapple Express and Zach and Miri Make a Porno, he’s lost a bit of his luster. It’s not that the latter two films were bad, just that they were easy and repetitive of his earlier work. I’m beginning to wonder if he’s a one-trick pony, only able to play slackers and potheads and only able to produce stoner comedies. I think he’s an enormous talent, don’t get me wrong, but I think he’s starting to pigeonhole himself. And since I’m not a fan of Jody Hill’s Foot Fist Way, I’m looking forward to seeing Rogen paired up with Adam Sandler in Judd Apatow’s Funny People.

Observe and Report is, like Paul Blart Mall Cop, about a mall security guard. In this film, Rogen plays the mall cop who is trying to nab a flasher. When it comes to comedy, the logline will never do it justice, it’s always about the execution. And I really hope that Rogen pulls this one off because I’m rooting for him, we need more young funny minds like his and we need them to put themselves in a position to succeed.

Also Opening: Derek Martini mines the Long Island suburbs (my old stomping grounds) with the help of Rory and Kieran Culkin and Alec Baldwin; Chow Yun-Fat stars in something called Dragonball: Evolution; Miley Cyrus takes over the big screen in Hannah Montana: The Movie.

April 17

State of Play (Dir. Kevin MacDonald)

Originally set to star Brad Pitt and Edward Norton, the film now stars Russell Crowe andBen Affleck in their respective roles. All four are good actors, but it does strike me as worrisome that Pitt and Norton would walk away. Regardless, Ben Affleck plays a U.S. Congressman whose mistress is murdered and Russell Crowe is his friend who is also a reporter trying to unravel the mystery. Rachel McAdams co-stars as Crowe’s partner andHelen Mirren plays their editor.

MacDonald directed the well-made Last King of Scotland and while I enjoyed that film, I hope this one cuts a little bit closer to the bone. Scotland had the terrific lead performance byForest Whitaker, but it was problematic because he so overshadowed James McAvoy’s character. With actors like Crowe and Affleck, MacDonald needs to make sure that one doesn’t dominate the screen at the expense of the other, but I worry about the disparity in their acting styles and whether Affleck’s slight charm can withstand Crowe’s booming hysterics.

Either way, this is one of the more intriguing Spring films and I can’t wait to hear more.

Also Opening: Burr Steers follows up the brilliant Igby Goes Down with the Zac Efron film17 Again, which is oddly reminiscent of 80s (non-)classic 18 Again!; because Jason Statham loves to make unnecessary sequels to moderately successful films, here comesCrank 2.

April 24

The Soloist (Dir. Joe Wright)

Robert Downey, Jr. and Jamie Foxx are two of the hottest actors right now and Joe Wrightis on a roll after Pride and Prejudice and Atonement, so what does it mean that this finished film was pushed back from Oscar-season (November) to the start of a blockbuster season? Well, it either means that the film is not very good or that it’s good, but is more of a moneymaker than awards contender … or it means nothing at all.

Jamie Foxx plays a former Juilliard-trained musician who now lives on Skid Row and is suffering from schizophrenia. Robert Downey, Jr. plays Steve Lopez, a newspaper reporter who discovers him and tries to help him get help and eventually play at the Disney Concert Hall. It’s based on a true story.

I’m usually a sucker for these kinds of films and the talent assembled is definitely top-notch, but the trailer looks a little sappy.

Also Opening: Dito Montiel and Channing Tatum reteam after A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints with Fighting, which is about the world of underground street fighting; inObsessed, Beyonce Knowles stars as the wife of a man who is being stalked by Ali Larter… lucky guy.

Noah Forrest
January 13, 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.

Be Sociable, Share!

Comments are closed.

Frenzy On Column

Quote Unquotesee all »

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