On The Screen (1.09.09)
So Tuesday saw the first edition of "On The Shelf," the weekly round-up of what's new on home video, while today sees the first edition of "On The Screen," a similar round-up that deals with what we've got hitting theaters this weekend.
Consider these two columns your reminders, in case something slipped your mind. For this one, I'll do my best to differentiate between limited and wide releases, so you can plan accordingly.
So what's up for this, the second weekend of the New Year?
Almost nothing. It's a ridiculously light week. There are three films coming out. "Gran Torino," which has been playing in limited release for a little while now, is going to open wider this week, but as far as new stuff just entering the marketplace now?
"Bride Wars" (Fox 2000)
Not ever. I will never see this film. No chance. Nohow. No way.
I don't have a problem with romantic comedies. But I do have a problem with the mindset of the American wedding industry, and I don't think there's much about it that's funny.
Kate Hudson has burned any goodwill she ever had at this point, and her presence in a romantic comedy means that Sandra Bullock actually recognized that something was horrible and said no to it, which very, very, very, very rarely happens. How they got Anne Hathaway to say yes is... oh, that's right, they paid her. And I'm sure after "The Devil Wears Prada," they paid her very well. I wonder what these women really think about a film like this as they make it. I wonder if they ever get a twitch thinking about how morally awful this stuff is.
The premise has two best friends since childhood both becoming engaged at the same time. Their whole lives, they've both been talking about having a dream wedding at The Plaza, and they decide to do it on two different days in the same summer. When there's a mistake with the booking, and they're both booked on the same day, meaning someone's going to have to bow out, they go to war and do terrible, rotten things to each other. And that's supposed to be the "hilarity ensues" part of things, but... really? I'm not one of those people who harps on and on about how you have to "like" everyone in a film or how I have to "identify" with every character, but I think people who spend the cash equivalent of two new cars on a wedding are grotesque. I think they are insane and grotesque, and the entire practice makes me queasy. That sort of mammoth consumer diarrhea has nothing to do with making a spiritual commitment to another person in front of your family and your maker. It's a spectacle, a contest, a parade, and when people talk about ANYTHING tarnishing the sanctity of marriage... it's this garbage, and celebrating it with reality shows or big-budget studio farces seems to be feeding the problem.
"The Unborn" (Rogue)
My review for this new David Goyer horror film will be up mid-morning. Drawn from Jewish folklore, this is a new spin on the possession genre.
"Not Easily Broken" (Sony)
You hear that sound?
That's Sony, rolling the dice that they can tap into the lucrative Tyler Perry market, picking one of the few weekends in the last few years where it seems like Perry does NOT have a new movie of his own coming out. Perry's created a sort of subgenre of film that is all his own, the inspirational feel-good broadly exaggerated family comedy, and he's given it a sass that feels very 1978-Norman Lear, and it's making him buckets of cash. So why should he be the only one doing that sort of thing? Those movies cost nothing, and they make crazy bank, right?
I'd actually love to see director Bill Duke show up in this film playing a woman. If you know Bill Duke as a character actor (and he's a damn fine one), you know that he's about the last guy you would ever expect to see in drag. For that reason alone, I wish that's what this film was. Instead, it's Duke directing what professes to be a tender story about a couple forced to re-examine their relationship after a car accident.
Morris Chestnut and Taraji P. Henson are both very good actors, and if they've got chemistry, this could be a nice little date film. I just hate that the marketing I've seen is selling this to a very narrow specific audience instead of turning a colorblind eye and just selling the story.
Next week, I'll be at Sundance, about to start my first full day of movies right at this time, but I'll still have a column ready for you to talk about "Notorious," "Hotel For Dogs," and "Chandni Chowk To China", among others.