Archive for January, 2008

Roger Ebert Undermines Cloverfield’s Campaign

January 18, 2008

After months of witnessing one of the best ad campaigns for a movie since The Blair Witch Project I’ve just had the surprise of Cloverfield given away in the blurb at the top of Roger Ebert’s review in his weekly email update that innocently appeared in my inbox.

After months of speculating and not knowing, the fun of the event surrounding Abram’s new film has been crushed.

I would say this is breaking movie etiquette just as much as talking on your cell phone during a movie would be.

Here are some other spoiler blurbs for movies that have come and gone that Ebert could have ruined, but was smart enough not to.

“Man escapes deserted island to find that things can change.” — Cast Away

“He can’t see the ghosts, because he’s one himself.” — The Sixth Sense

“Have you ever tried beating up yourself? Ed Norton and Brad Pitt are the same person!” — Fight Club

“Oh, my goodness, he’s been on Earth the whole time!” — Planet of the Apes

“I guess all it takes is your wife’s head in a box to push you over the edge.” — Seven

Thank you Roger Ebert for not making those mistakes. If there was only a way to reverse time and stop you from ruining the surprise of Cloverfield for half of America…in a blurb.

“Charlie Wilson’s War”: Fights the Good Fight

January 11, 2008

Charlie Wilson’s War

Perspective, that’s what Charlie Wilson’s War keeps in mind. While other political war movies this season are caught in the quagmire of the news of our current world wide screw ups, Charlie goes back to one that could have started or (at least worsened) many of our current problems. At the very least it takes apart the thought processes of our political system. It does so by telling the story of Charlie Wilson and how he waged a covert war that helped end the Cold War. In short, by supplying Afghanistan with billions of dollars worth of military equipment they were able to stick it to the Soviets. It’s funny to think of a time in which we were helping Afghanistan and not tearing it apart.

There’s no grandstanding here. There’s never a “we’re better than they are” mentality. Writer Aaron Sorkin knows we all have a little dirt on our hands and he points it out. Sure we’re helping murderers and backstabbers, but we’re not so righteous ourselves. Charlie Wilson, a military advisor is, in fact, the least righteous person for the job. Tom Hanks has always had a hard time really digging into the darker sides of his characters, but here he takes full strides as an actor bringing to life this sordid, womanizing personality. He’s not stupid, just brazen, which is probably why he got along so well with Gust Avrakotos, the CIA operative that Philip Seymour Hoffman throws himself into.

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“In the Valley of Elah”: The More Things Change…

January 9, 2008

In the Valley of Elah

There’s a great cast of supporting actors in In the Valley of Elah, a film that deserves far more attention than its received. There’s Jason Patric, Josh Brolin, Susan Sarandon and about half the cast from No Country for Old Men. Charlize Theron as Detective Emily Sanders does some of the best work I’ve seen her do (and it’s done without boasting about the paring down of her beauty.)

But the performance that steals the show is Tommy Lee Jones as Hank Deerfield, creating the third best character I’ve seen at the theatres this year (just behind Daniel Plainview and Anton Chigurh.) Hank is a man of simplicity, a man of strong religious values, a military man who continues to live the rituals that were ingrained in his head. The blankets have to be perfectly tucked under the bed, face cleanly shaved to a fault, shoes shined and cleaned…everything he does is by the book. Jones instills such a strong sense of virtue in this former Military Police Officer that it’s easy to love him despite his hard headed nature, and the fact that he sees himself as more capable than those around him.

Hank’s a man who doesn’t believe that his son, also military, would go AWOL, but when the son doesn’t answer phone calls or emails Hank steps out on his own to do some investigating. He hits a road block going the military route and seeks help at the local police station where he meets and butts heads with Det. Sanders. Theron isn’t afraid to play Sanders with the humility of a great actor. Even though she finds Sanders strength in the character’s son and a drive to prove herself among her fellow detectives, she remains far from perfect.

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“One Missed Call”: Taking a Break from the Awards Season

January 7, 2008

One Missed Call

After the movie this evening I sat in the dark theatre by myself waiting for the credits to finish. I had an eerie sense that something was under the seats and surrounding me in the darkness. But the five or six audience members around me had already left. Then as the credits were about done a shadowy figure arose in the front row, ambled slowly up the aisle towards me and I watched him pass out of the corner of my eye hoping that he wouldn’t rush me with a knife. In the car on the way home, rain covering my window I thought I saw a figure standing in the shadows, hit my windshield wipers and it was just a black metal grating on a door. I’m not going to say One Missed Call was a good movie, because it wasn’t. But at a certain point it started hitting the right buttons and left my common sense running from my imagination.

It’s like eating through most of a rotting apple before getting to a healthy core watching this film, and I had to eat through a lot of rot. I almost left. The healthy core comes from the fact that it is based on a Japanese film directed by prolific and effective Takashi Miike. He’s one of the directors I go to when I’m bored with the common movies that pour into our multiplexes on a weekly basis. He’s a master of the macabre and the surreal many times pushing envelopes I didn’t know existed. I go into greater detail about Miike here.

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“Atonement”: She Gives Anton Chigurh a Run for the Money, A Critical Continuation

January 5, 2008

AtonementIf you wish to read my review of Atonement. Go here.

*Major Plot Spoilers Ahead; Read With Caution. The First Paragraph Gives Everything Away!*

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The Awards Season Has Begun or Has Anyone Seen These Movies?, Part 1

January 4, 2008

There WIll Be BloodThere’s a conundrum this year within the awards ceremony realm and that is There Will Be Blood. It’s a big, bold film detailing the outer rise of an oil man Daniel Plainview and his inner fall as a man. It’s a film that’s been nominated for numerous Golden Globe Awards, and has now been nominated for SAG Awards, and will surely be nominated for an Oscar or two. And it certainly deserves to be. I go into extensive detail in my review.

The bewildering thing isn’t that the movie doesn’t deserve these nominations, it’s that no one has seen it. Even before it’s limited release it was nominated for the Globes. Now in limited release it’s up for SAG awards. It’s definitely helped its financial take generating curious spectators to see the film. In 2 theatres over the New Years Holiday weekend it made $302,845 (as reported by boxofficemojo.com). I was lucky enough to find a seat in one of those theatres and it was playing on two screens!

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