MCN Columnists
Noah Forrest

By Noah Forrest

Summer 2009 Preview, Part Two

I wrote last week about the first two months of summer, which promise to offer lots of action, from Wolverine to Star Trek, from Angels and Demons to Sam Raimi dragging us to hell with his return to the horror genre, and new flicks from the Terminator and Transformers franchises.

July and August are loaded this year with a ton of films that also promise to bring some excitement to those lazy summer days.  As always, release dates could shift, but as of now, here’s a look at the hot summer action heading our way.

July 1st

Public Enemies (Dir. Michael Mann)

I’m a Michael Mann fan, but I’m not an apologist like a lot of my friends. I know people that will defend Miami Vice to no end, but I thought it was a giant disappointment outside of one really terrific shoot-out that still wasn’t anywhere near the one Mann orchestrated in his masterpiece Heat. Mann has, let’s face it, had an up and down career for the most part; Last of the Mohicans is great, but Ali is so unspeakably awful — I mean he actually managed to make the most interesting man of the century boring.

Ali will always go down as one of the most disappointing films I’ve ever seen because it should have been so much better than it was and it had an opportunity to shed a light on who Ali was, but instead seemed more interesting in making Ali the focal point for other famous historical figures to interact with.

So now that Mann is making a film about John Dillinger, I’m excited because it’s a film about a bank robber (shades of Heat) but it’s also a biopic (reminding me of Ali), so I’m a bit torn. But the cast of Johnny Depp, Christian Bale, Billy Crudup, Marion Cotillard and others puts me over the edge and the trailer looks outstanding. So, I feel strongly that this will be a solid entry in Mann’s filmography, but let’s keep our fingers crossed.

Also Opening: Nia Vardalos pops up once again, re-teaming with My Big Fat Greek Wedding co-star John Corbett for the cleverly titled I Hate Valentine’s Day; those loveable creatures return for the sequel that nobody was asking for with Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs.

July 10th

Bruno (Dir. Larry Charles)

Da Ali G show was hysterical and my favorite character on that show was Bruno, the gay Austrian fashonista who helped to expose the shallow nature of a lot of folks in the fashion world and the homophobia in some places in this country. The great thing about Bruno was that he was both hilarious and enlightening, but also frightening in the way that he exposed the intolerant nature of some folks. We live in a country now that is both depressed, but hopeful and I think this is the perfect time for Bruno to grace our screens because he will be a stark reminder of how far we really have to go.

Also Opening: Chris Columbus directs Hayden Panetierre in the sure-to-be-lame-in-light-of-movies-like-Superbad teen flick I Love You Beth Cooper.

July 15th

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Dir.David Yates)

I never read J.K. Rowling’s books, but I’ve been a fan of this series of movies since the first one. I’ve been tempted to pick up one of the books now, but I’d rather keep myself fresh for this franchise that has become more exciting and darker as it goes along. Each of the young actors has grown believably into young teenagers and while they might all be wizards, they also seem to be going through the normal progression of emotions and hormones that most young people go through. And that’s what makes this series so great; it is a fantasy that is grounded in the reality of human emotions. When a character dies in the fourth installment, it is shocking and heart-breaking and real despite the fantastical world that it is set in.

I was pleased to find out that this wouldn’t be the penultimate film, since the last book has been split into two movies. I would be happy to watch these young actors continue to grow and evolve as wizards and people for as long as possible.

Also Opening: Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel talk about The Smiths andDeath Cab for Cutie in the romantic comedy 500 Days of Summer; the long-finished and long-delayed horror flick All the Boys Love Mandy Lane finally opens.

July 24th

All Good Things (Dir. Andrew Jarecki)

Andrew Jarecki made a brilliant documentary called Capturing the Friedmans, which would have been haunting and disturbing for anybody, but doubly so for me since it was about a guy who taught in my elementary school. Jarecki really showed a wonderful ability for framing and telling a difficult and compelling story without being salacious or exploitative.

Moving from Long Island to New York City, Jarecki has loosely based his new film on a fictionalized account of another true story of real estate heir Robert Durst and is set in the early 80s, just like Jarecki’s previous film. The cast includes Ryan Gosling as the main character, as well as Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Kirsten Dunst. Gosling has proven to be one of the most talented actors working today, able to take even the most banal character and infuse them with humanity, but the casting of Dunst worries me. Dunst has been good in exactly one film, The Virgin Suicides, but has consistently been the same in every other role, seemingly unable to actually be anybody but herself; there is never a performance of hers where you believe that she is anybody other than Kirsten Dunst and it is due to the cadences in her speech and her body language which is always the same.

But, I believe in Gosling and I believe in Jarecki and this looks to be an adult film amidst the light fare of summer.

Also Opening: Computer-animated guinea pigs go crazy in Disney’s G-Force; Vera Farmiga corners the market on evil kids with the horror flick Orphan; Katherine Heigl andGerard Butler try to cash in on past successes with the romantic comedy The Ugly Truth.

July 31st

Funny People (Dir. Judd Apatow)

I’m an unabashed Apatow fan and I’ve enjoyed almost every film he’s been associated with, but especially the ones in which he’s stepped behind the camera. Knocked Up was a really well-done film in every way and The 40-Year Old Virgin is probably the funniest film in the last ten years, the kind of film that launches careers and stays forever in the minds of the people that saw it at the right age. Apatow really seemed to understand what comedy films needed and he injected new life into a genre that had descended into mostly gross-out humor. I think his first film is more successful because his main character was someone we immediately cared about, but his second film is more difficult because of the nature of its lead character.

With his new film, Apatow is working in the milieu of stand-up comedy and I can’t wait. The world of stand-up comedy has long been ripe for a great film about the nature of performing and the people you meet backstage and there hasn’t really been a film that nailed it (except maybe Lenny). And with a cast including stand-up star Adam Sandler along with Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, Jason Schwartzman and Eric Bana, I feel like this might finally be the film about stand-up comedy that I’ve long waited for. Apatow has also included a subplot about cancer that seems to be the catalyst for much of the action and if there’s a person who can find the comedy in cancer, it’s Apatow.

Also Opening: Ashley Tisdale ditches High School Musical for the alien fantasy-adventureThey Came From Upstairs.

August 7th

Julie and Julia (Dir. Nora Ephron)

Nora Ephron gets knocked around a lot and I don’t think it’s entirely fair since this is a woman responsible for two of the greatest romantic comedies of the last thirty years:Sleepless in Seattle and When Harry Met Sally. The last three films she’s directed –Lucky Numbers, Bewitched, and You’ve Got Mail – weren’t exactly classics, but she clearly is an intelligent and funny person, so it’s only a matter of time before she hits again.

A good way to hit is to take the greatest living actress Meryl Streep and pair her with the wonderful Amy Adams in a biopic about wacky chef Julia Child. True, I might always associate Child with Dan Aykroyd’s wonderful impression of her, but if there’s anybody that can make me forget about that classic SNL sketch, it’s Meryl Streep.

Also Opening: Channing Tatum, Dennis Quaid and Sienna Miller star in a film that I’ve already forgotten even though I haven’t seen it yet: GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra; the talented and adorable Kristen Bell tries to find love in When in Rome; Robert Rodriguez returns to the world of family films with Shorts.

August 14th

Taking Woodstock (Dir. Ang Lee)

This looks like a whole lot of fun and it’s been a long time since I’ve associated “fun” with anAng Lee movie, which have always been great but usually short on the fun, including his comic book movie Hulk. Woodstock is one of the most talked about events of the 20th century and there’s a great documentary showcasing all the bands, all the mud, and all the hippies on acid but it doesn’t really capture what it was supposed to mean and why it had the effect it did. Because the documentary Woodstockwas made at the time of the event, there was no perspective, it merely did what great documentaries do: showcase a time and place.

But this film, starring Demetri Martin and the exciting Emile Hirsch, looks to be similar in tone and scope to something like Almost Famous, which would be a wonderful sight to see this late into the summer. What that film did so well was capture what made music important at that time to certain people and hopefully Ang Lee’s new film will be able to do the same thing. I’m excited for this one.

Also Opening: The beautiful and talented Alexis Bledel tries to move on from Gilmore Girlswith The Post Grad Survival Guide; Eric Bana and Rachel McAdams star in the long-awaited adaptation of The Time Traveler’s Wife; Michael Cera and Charlyne Yi try to out-awkward one another in Paper Hearts; Jeremy Piven stars in Neil Brennan’s The Goods: The Don Ready Story.

August 21st

Inglourious Basterds (Dir. Quentin Tarantino)

I don’t quite know where to begin with this one. After Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown, I was convinced – like most folks – that Tarantino was going to go down in history as one of the greatest filmmakers of our time. Sure, he borrowed heavily from some classic films, but he imbued them with a spirit and personality that was uniquely his own and he carved out a niche for himself as someone who could make a deliberately paced scene that was mostly dialogue-based seem riveting.

But, it seems like Tarantino didn’t want to take the path of a trailblazing filmmaker, instead focusing on making films that were fun throwbacks to the B-movies that he loved so dearly. He threw away Godard in favor of Corman. And all of that is fine and great, but it wasn’t what I expected, which is why I didn’t respond favorably to the forced-kitsch of Kill Bill andGrindhouse. I didn’t want Tarantino to make films that were purposefully kitschy, I wanted him to make films that actually tried to be great.

But I’ve now accepted that the fact that this is who Tarantino is as a filmmaker and while he probably won’t ever direct a film that isn’t trying to be a B-movie again, I can at least enjoy what he’s trying to accomplish – and succeeds at doing. So it’s with that attitude that I’m going to see his kitschy Inglourious Basterds, about a team of mostly Jewish soldiers scalping Nazis in WWII. I do enjoy watching Jews kill Nazis, so I hope to enjoy it on that visceral level and there seems to also be a Last Metro type of subplot involving a movie theater too; so I’ll enjoy the homage to Truffaut, even though Tarantino has decided to becomeMonte Hellman.
August 28th

The Boat that Rocked (Dir. Richard Curtis)

I’m not afraid to admit that I really enjoyed Love, Actually for all its saccharine and goofy talk about love. It’s a feel-good film that actually made me feel good, so sue me and take away my film snob card if you must. And truthfully, I’ve enjoyed most of the films that Richard Curtishas written as well, especially Notting Hill, which is a pretty perfect romantic comedy. This is the genre which Curtis works in and he does it better than pretty much anyone else, but if you go in expecting anything resembling originality or greatness, you’ll most likely be disappointed.

So, Philip Seymour Hoffman in a Richard Curtis movie about a (literally) pirate radio station on a boat off the coast of Britain in the 60s? Sounds like a perfectly happy way to end what looks to be a fun summer.

Also Opening: Rob Zombie continues to be original with H2: Halloween 2; kids die in extremely entertaining and hilarious ways, but with an extra dimension added in Final Destination: Death Trip 3D.

Read Summer 2009 Preview, Part One

– Noah Forrest

April 20, 2009

Noah Forrest is a 26-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