Monday, May 12, 2008


So SPEED RACER is the first big ole bomb of summer 2008; it's $20 million opening doesn't even cover half of the film's P&A (prints and advertising) budget. A major disaster. Of course, international box office will help the film and you could make the assumption that it will have some traction on DVD later this year. I know I'm skipping it in the theater but will check it out on DVD; it'll sell lots of BLU-RAY copies I am betting. IRON MAN (***1/2) finished extremely close to my $51 million second weekend prediction; the studio is saying $50.5 million. WHAT HAPPENS IN VEGAS made more money than it should have, and is now destined to be profitable. There are no major releases coming out till INDY 4 on 5/22 that are catching my eye; if I can, I am gonna check out Tarsem's THE FALL this weekend (on Sunday probably because I am going away this Friday and Saturday).

Over the weekend I re-watched the BACK TO THE FUTURE (****) trilogy. All three are four star films as far as I'm concerned. But what struck me this time around was how brilliant Part 2 was; I don't think there's ever been a sequel quite like it. The first one is a classic, one of my all-time favorites, and one of the best "popcorn movies" of all time. But there was a crazy, wild exuberance to the first sequel, and the film's mind-bendingly complex yet still coherent time-travel plot-lines are hysterical and incredibly ingenious. And Part 3, which took place in the old West, is just as fun as the first two but in completely different ways. I loved these films when I was a kid, and re-watching them just re-affirms my love for the work that Zemeckis, Gale, and Spielberg brought to the table with this series; it's pure movie magic.

I also watched (for the second time) Justin Lin's excellent debut film BETTER LUCK TOMORROW (***1/2). I had seen the film a few years ago but wanted to re-watch it and the local library provided me with a free way of doing so. Set in southern California among overachieving, overprivileged Asian-American high school students, the film is a stylish and occasionally dark look at the shenanigans that occur between a group of friends and how their choices leave lasting effects on their lives. The acting is strong, the directing is tight and on-target, and the writing seethes with knowledge and intelligence. Some of the plot twists might be a little over the top, but hey, just read the newspaper from time to time and you'll see real-life stories that closely emulate what happens in BETTER LUCK TOMORROW's forceful narrative. But what's strange is that the film's director, Lin, has gone on to direct one piece of Hollywood bull-shit after another; post BETTER LUCK TOMORROW (which one a handful of festival awards including a big one at Sundance) Lin has directed ANNAPOLIS (which is easily one of the lamest movies ever) and THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS 3 (which totally sucked). Next up is the fourth installment of the FAST AND FURIOUS franchise; why is he wasting his time with dreck?

I also re-watched HAROLD AND KUMAR GO TO WHITE CASTLE (***1/2) which is utterly hysterical. It's definitely got a retarded streak running through it (as any good stoner movie should) but some of the jokes are so pointed and so well observed that the film's more idiotic moments are balanced off with something of some weight and credibility. The lead performances from Kal Penn and John Cho are instant classics and some of the individual scenes are worth their weight in gold. I am looking forward to catching up with the sequel, which is currently in theaters (I will check it out on DVD).

Some interesting movie news is that Steven Spielberg has finally committed to directing his long gestating Abe Lincoln biopic, with Liam Neeson still attached to play honest Abe. The script is by Tony Kushner (ANGELS IN AMERICA, MUNICH). This would be the next film for The Beard after he finishes work on TINTIN. Shooting begins, tentatively, in 2009, for a 2010 release date (I bet November or December).

The Cannes Film Festival starts up at the beginning of next week; looking forward to hearing about some of the bigger titles that are debuting over there, including Charlie Kaufmann's SYNECHODE, NY; Steven Soderbergh's four-and-a-half-hour CHE; James Gray's TWO LOVERS; Fernando Meirelles' BLINDNESS; Woody Allen's VICKY CHRISTINA BARCELONA; Clint Eastwood's THE CHANGELING; and of course, Spielberg's INDY 4 (which is having it's world premiere).

Aint-it-cool-news has a link to the awesome looking new trailer for this summer's THE X-FILES: I WANT TO BELIEVE (love the title). Here's the link:


Wayne said...

I'm avoiding SPEED RACER like the plague, even on DVD. The 2 minutes I was able to watch of the 7 minutes that went online was plenty for me.

Love the BTTF trilogy. Glad you like part 2 as well, it's pretty underrated.

Franzi said...

I don't know what they were thinking with the Speed Racer previews. They're as dreadful as all the reviews, and that's pretty dreadful. Strangely, the movie itself isn't bad (too long, and intentionally cheesy, but I thought it was awesome). It's worth checking out in theaters. I'm thinking of seeing the IMAX version.

Actionman said...

The imagery certainly appeals to me in a "gee-whiz" sort of way, but the dialogue and line delivery that was on display in the 7 minute clip available on line was horrendous. I want to see it with the sound off, just as a visual experiment. Was never a fan of the cartoon so I have no emotional connection to the story.

Actionman said...

And Wayne, yes, BTTF 2 is an underrated gem; I am gonna try and throw a formal review up some time soon.

Working on a big piece about all of the restaurants I've eaten at in the six years I've lived in Hell-A.