Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Musings Through Filtered Ears #8

It's been a while since I've done one of these. For those new to the game, these are just random thoughts from an obsessive listmaker...


"Why did you run away? What did you feel you had to run from?"

"Doctor, my wife is seven months pregnant with a baby we didn't intend. My 15-year-old son has cerebral palsy. I am an extremely overqualified high school chemistry teacher. When I CAN work, I make $43,700 a year. I have watched all of my colleagues and friends surpass me in every way imaginable, and within 18 months, I will be dead. And you ask why I ran?"

Breaking Bad is one of the best shows I have ever had the pleasure of seeing.


So, I went to the movies for the second time in 2012. Ever since I had children, I never made much time to venture out to the theaters. Quite frankly, I don't miss it too much. I'm perfectly happy with my home viewing experiences (Netflix is in my bloodstream; I'm still beating myself for not buying stock in it when I first joined in 1999). But every now and then, an opportunity arises to grace my presence in a movie theater and I grab it. This weekend, I saw The Cabin in the Woods. I won't review it here, but suffice to say, I enjoyed it quite a bit. It was opening weekend, I was not spoiled, and I didn't let the deafening buzz kill the experience. Sure, I could have waited for DVD like I do with hundreds of other titles but there was something about this one that made me want to see it in a theater. I knew I needed to go in as blindly as I could. I'm glad I followed my gut. The film just kept unraveling its surprises while spinning in new and exciting directions. It felt so good not knowing what the hell was going to happen next. For a well-worn genre like horror, that's refreshing. Full credit goes to my Buffy heroes, Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon.

Giles would be proud.


I've been reading Entertainment Weekly since its inception many, many years ago. I'm a faithful subscriber. There are a handful of issues I look forward to every year, and The Summer Movie Preview is one of them. Summer films don't quite have that magic as they used to. I'm not sure if the quality of the films have deteriorated over the years or if I've become cynical in my old age of 35. Maybe it's a little bit of both. That said, when I see these movie preview issues in my mailbox, I get a little excited inside. The magazine is heavier than usual. Maybe a little glossier. I dig into the anticipation of what's to come in the hot, summer months ahead. As I've said earlier, I don't venture out to the movies as much as I used to, but for some hotly anticipated summer films, I'll make the trip. So after studying this issue closely, which films do I want to see the most?

In true cinephile tradition, here's a list. We all love lists, don't we?

The Top Ten Nine Eight Films I Will Make Some Sort of Effort To See in Theaters in Summer 2012
(I couldn't get excited over 10 films.)

8. Expendables 2
All you have to do is say, "Stallone, Schwarzenegger and Willis do battle. And somehow, Van Damme is involved." Do I really need to know more? Even though the original was just so-so, these guys pump me up more so than those wimpy superheroes in spandex costumes.

7. Brave
I'm a little nervous about this one but I'm blindly trusting my faith in Pixar. The story and setting don't thrill me but it does look gorgeous. I'm not a hater of Cars 2, but it was a bit of a step down for the greatest animation studio in the history of the world. Time for them to step back up.

6. The Bourne Legacy
I wasn't initially a Bourne fan. The series got better as it went along, and The Bourne Ultimatum was actually one of my favorite films of '07. I'll miss Damon but Jeremy Renner and the rest of this pretty awesome ensemble looks right at home.

5. Safety Not Guaranteed
Not featured prominently in EW (they just had a one line summary, really.) But I had learned about this when it played in Sundance and the whole thing just jumped at me. It's a time travel comedy with Kristen Bell, Audrey Plaza, Mark Duplass and one of the dudes from New Girl. Count me in!

4. Take This Waltz
Michelle Williams is married to Seth Rogen (how cute is that pairing?). But she's tempted to cheat on him with some dreamy guy. Sarah Polley directs. I saw the trailer and I gotta say, I'm smitten. Looks like a heartfelt romance and Williams looks absolutely resplendent.

3. Ted
I have never seen anything with Seth McFarlane. I have not witnessed a single minute of Family Guy. But this trailer made me laugh. Hard. Mark Wahlberg is a gifted comedic actor.

2. Prometheus
Well, OK, it depends. If they PG-13 this sucker, I'm not all that interested in seeing it. This is an R-rated film series. Once you soften up the Alien franchise, you suck the life out of it. See also: Die Hard 4. So don't fuck it up again, 20th Century Fox! This has the potential to really scare the shit out of us.

And the number one movie I'm most looking forward to this summer is:

1. Premium Rush
The action thriller I'm most stoked about. Why? Mostly because it's from David Koepp, an extraordinarily gifted writer and director (check out his credits on IMDb). But also because Joseph Gordon-Levitt is our next Bruce Willis - a chameleonic action star with strong acting chops given the right material. And Michael Shannon is the villain! No monsters. No aliens. It's not a sequel or based on a comic series. It's an original old-fashioned old-school Hollywood thriller.

On the fence
I will most likely be renting these flicks, unless word of mouth tells me that it's a helluva lot better (or worse!) than it looks. We'll see about that.
The Amazing Spiderman. Looks great! Awesome pedigree in front of and behind the camera. But isn't it too soon? Why do we need this? Feels so arbitrary.
The Avengers. The previous "spin-offs" were a mixed bag, but Joss Whedon directed this one. This alone makes me cautiously optimistic about it. Anything Whedon touches is worth a look.
People Like Us. Sounds like a soap opera, but I really like this cast. I'd give it a shot. On Netflix.
The Dark Knight Rises. I know, why aren't I excited about this like the rest of the world? Because I'm just not in love with the Christian Bale/Christopher Nolan Batman series. I'd vote for Keaton over Bale, but that's a moot point, really. I'm just not a Batman kind of guy. Still, these are well-made films. I'll Netflix it.
Men in Black 3. It could be absolutely terrible. But Brolin really nails his Tommy Lee Jones impersonation. Is that really enough to warrant a big screen trip? Probably not.
To Rome With Love. I like this cast, but I was never a big Woody Allen fan. Still, he's on a roll, and it's probably worth a look. 
Dictator. The man who gave me a 1000 laughs with Borat will always get a chance from me. Even if it doesn't look all that funny. Come to think of it, I think I'd rather just see a Borat sequel. 
Rock of Ages. Again, great cast. Love the fact that Tom Cruise continues to take risks. The play is a smash hit on Broadway. So why does this look so cheesy?
Seeking a Friend for the End of the World. A high concept Steve Carell vehicle. It's risky. But the trailer made it look somewhat charming enough for a Saturday night rental.
Savages. Taylor Kitsch a.k.a. Tim Riggins needs to be in at least ONE good movie this year, right? And Oliver Stone hasn't made much of a splash in a long, long time. Not feeling the love, but I'm curious about it.
Hope Springs. Anything Meryl does is worth a look. She's our goddess of the cinema. And Carell (again) and Tommy Lee Jones (again) are in it too. Could be a sweet movie. Could be a piece of canned shit. Only time will tell.
Magic Mike. I run hot and cold with Soderbergh. I don't think he's as great as he once was. But it looks like an intriguing film, a small-scale human interest story. With Channing Tatum's abs.
Total Recall - They may be raping my childhood yet again, but Bryan Cranston is the villain! It all feels so unnecessary but I am oddly intrigued by it.
Your Sister's Sister - Emily Blunt and RoseMarie DeWitt play sisters. That's all I really need to know.

If I left something out, then that just means I'm not interested in it (ahem, Dark Shadows). But who knows? A lot can happen in the summertime!


Speaking of lists, my Best of 2011 is beginning to shape up. I typically release it in May or June, when I've just about dried up the well of 2011 releases. I should be on schedule this year. Still on tap: Shame, Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, A Separation, We Need to Talk About Kevin, and about ten to fifteen others. All in due time! It has shaped up to be a pretty strong year.


Fernando Quintero said...

Very cool post. I'm looking forward to most (if not all) of the movies in your summer list and I agree that Wahlberg is a fine comedic actor!

Ann said...

I completely agree with your opinion on Breaking Bad. It has made me see where Dexter has been lacking after a stellar 2nd season.I am jealous that you saw Cabin in the Woods already. I hope to in the next couple of weeks. Really enjoying your blog and have added it to my blog roll. I hope you do not mind that I nominated you for the Sunshine award at this link http://whatisannwatching.wordpress.com/2012/04/17/a-return-to-classic-film-and-a-surprise-award/

Pete said...

Just finished the 3rd season of Breaking Bad and I'm desperate to get the 4th. It's absolutely brilliant. Really stepped it up a gear in the last few episodes! I'm probably most excited about Prometheus and Dark Knight in the summer. But Premium Rush should be awesome too. I too am damn near ready to make my best of 2011 list! haha

Dave said...

Fernando - Thanks! We'll see what the hazy days of summer brings us!

Ann - Glad you agree with Breaking Bad, but I'm sorry, it's not in the same league as Dexter. I am a fan of Dexter, but the quality has been so inconsistent for as long as I can remember. I have a like/hate relationship with Dexter; can't say I ever really loved it. I loved Breaking Bad from the very first frame and never looked back.

And big, big thanks for the nomination! I'm flattered you even thought of me. Very touched!

By the way, you've been on my blogroll since I first "met" you! Glad the feeling is mutual.

Pete - I'm not as far along as you in Breaking Bad (only midway through season 2) but plan to be caught up in time for season 5 to kick off this summer. I'm taking my time. As for the 2011 list... what's the rush, dude?? :-)

Thanks for writing everyone!


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