Sunday, September 17, 2006

Movie Releases, 9/22

The long-delayed All the King's Men finally arrives. Once considered for an Oscar-bait release last year, writer/director Steven Zaillian (He pulled the double-duty on Searching for Bobby Fischer and A Civil Action, and wrote the screenplays for Schindler's List and Gangs of New York, to name a select few) went back and tinkered with his adaptation of Vandy grad Robert Penn Warren's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. Sony thought so much of the movie, they're releasing it in September. Bad news. But I want to see this, if only for Sean Penn's performance, which looks dynamite from the trailers. Also starring are Jude Law, Anthony Hopkins, Kate Winslet, Last Castle alums James Gandolfini and Mark Ruffalo, and Patricia Clarkson. Warren's novel was adapted in 1949 and won Best Picture and 3 Oscars overall from 7 nominations. The task Zaillian had in front of him was daunting--not only adapting a book that is considered one of the best of the 20th century, but contending with a previous movie that garnered so much praise long ago.

Refined adults will have that and Jackass Number Two to pick from. The MTV phenomenon, which ended in 2002 and culminated in a huge film hit that same year (a $5 million budget, with a $64 million gross), gets the sequel treatment. If talking to some of the people at my theatre is any indication, there's still an appetite to see Johnny Knoxville, Bam Margera, Steve-O, Chris Pontius, and others do the title proud and risk injury and death to do some stupid stunts for your viewing pleasure. The first Jackass movie was a classic crowd flick; half the fun was being with a sold out group of people reacting to what they saw onscreen.

Then there's Jet Li's "final" martial arts film in Fearless, or Huo Yuan Jia. Ronny Yu, the longtime Chinese martial arts film director who came here to direct Bride of Chucky and Freddy vs. Jason returns to his roots in what promises to be some more gravity-defying wire-fu (yep, Yuen Woo-ping of The Matrix, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Kill Bill is involved) set in a period epic.

And James Franco...can this guy buy a break? Not if he continues to be in movies like Flyboys, the story of American fighter pilots who joined the French army before the U.S. found a loophole to get into World War I. Franco's career, only buoyed by the Spider-Man franchise, has taken a huge hit this year with two January movies--Tristan & Isolde and Annapolis, and now this September release. Even his cameo in Wicker Man was this month! Anyway, this movie has probably been sitting on a shelf somewhere, once owned by MGM before the buyout by Sony, and it has been unceremoniously dumped--it was supposed to come out next week but an inexplicable last-second change brings it to us early.


140 screens in this country will be graced with the presence of John Gulager's Feast this weekend. After Bravo's "Project Greenlight" ended in early 2005, people wanting to see the movie were never given any insight as to when that might happen. An estimate of January 2006 came up, and the whole Weinstein/Disney mess came up--but no one seemed to care about giving fans updates. Anyway, I want to see this--even though it apparently isn't as great as "Greenlight" made it out to be.

A documentary on the American punk scene from 1980-1986 called American Hardcore arrives.

And Michel Gondry of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Dave Chappelle's Block Party fame returns with The Science of Sleep (or La Science des Reves), where a man is being held prisoner by people in his dreams, and he has to wake up to get back control. Sounds interesting.

Also, Latina hotties Salma Hayek and Penelope Cruz rob banks in Bandidas. Steve Zahn and Dwight Yoakam also star, in what in some ways recalls the 1994 Madeleine Stowe/Drew Barrymore/Mary Stuart Masterson/Andie Macdowell stinker Bad Girls.


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