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Jahnke's Electric Theatre

Jahnke's Electric Theatre #37
Curtain Call


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Hey there, theatre lovers. Welcome to the final installment of Jahnke's Electric Theatre, at least for awhile. Now now now, turn that frown upside down. I'm not giving The Electric Theatre the brush-off. It's just time for your obedient servant to turn his attentions to some other matters. In other words, opportunity is ever-so-softly rapping on my chamber door and I need to swing it open and haul the bastard inside before he realizes he got the wrong address. Unfortunately, this'll severely cut into my hanging out at the Cineplex time and even more severely cut into my trying to figure out what the hell to say about what I saw at the Cineplex time. Thus, a brief hiatus is in order for both The Electric Theatre and The Bottom Shelf.

However, I wouldn't dare dream of leaving you all to navigate the wilds of the upcoming fall and holiday movie seasons on your own. So I thought I'd bang out one last entry, a guide to the movies that I hope might not completely suck for the rest of the year. Keep in mind that this guide is really valid only for as long as I'm typing it. Anything could happen between now and the time these movies creep out to make me lose interest. So if I suggest something that turns out to be the next Battlefield Earth, please realize that I've probably already acknowledged my own stupidity before you hit send on your bile-filled e-mail. Future Jahnke thanks you.


Babel

Director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu has yet to wow me as thoroughly as he has so many others. Neither Amores Perros or 21 Grams impressed me nearly as much as other folks seemed to think they should. Babel looks like more of the same but I'm willing to give him one more chance to really win me over.


The Black Dahlia

Prior to L.A. Confidential, I was of the opinion that James Ellroy's novels couldn't and shouldn't be adapted to film. But even though Curtis Hanson hit that one out of the park, I'm still nervous about Brian De Palma's upcoming film. Partly this has to do with De Palma's recent track record. Mostly it's because The Black Dahlia is one of my personal favorites of Ellroy's books. Not because it's his best, but because it was the first one I read. This could turn out to be awful but as long as the Brian De Palma who gave us The Untouchables is behind the camera, and not the Brian De Palma who gave us Mission to Mars, I'm cautiously optimistic.


Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan

Just typing that title makes me laugh. The trailer for this movie is one of the first in many a year to make me laugh out loud. A lot. If I only get to see one more movie this year, I'd make it this one.


Casino Royale

I'm a big Bond fan. Read all the books. Loved them. Seen all the movies. Loved them too, even the ones that really truly suck. Now we've got Daniel Craig getting his license to kill. I don't know about the rest of you but I think he looks fantastic and the trailer makes this seem like it could be one of the best in the series. Fingers crossed.


Children of Men

I was totally unaware of this movie's existence until about two weeks ago and now, I can't wait to check it out. I love low-tech sci-fi movies and the vibe of this one looks to be right in line with some of my favorites. Add in the fact that it's directed by Alfonso Cuaron of Y Tu Mama Tambien fame (I guess he also directed a Harry Potter entry that was pretty good) and that it stars Clive Owen, one of my favorite brooding British actors, and you've got a movie that stands a good chance of knocking my socks off.


The Departed

I haven't seen Infernal Affairs, the Hong Kong action movie this is a remake of, and know just a little bit about the story. But the promise of Jack Nicholson finally starring in a Martin Scorsese picture is enough to get me in the theatre. This could be a remake of Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm for all I care, I'd still go.


Fast Food Nation

I loved Eric Schlosser's nonfiction book with this title and I'm fascinated to see how he and director Richard Linklater will make it into a movie that covers the same ground while at the same time having virtually nothing to do with the text itself.


Flags of Our Fathers

Clint Eastwood is far too good a filmmaker to dismiss any new project he decides to do. So despite my slight antipathy toward seeing yet another World War II picture, I'll be checking this out.


For Your Consideration

Christopher Guest and company tackle the indie film scene. Not enough to make this a must-see for you? How about Ricky Gervais as a studio head? Still no? Then I have nothing more to say to you.


49 Up

It's been another seven years, so it's time for Michael Apted to return to the endlessly fascinating group of Britons we first met back when they were just 7 years old. If you've seen any of the previous entries in this series you'll know that this as close to a sure thing as you're going to find in theatres this year.


The Fountain

Since he's only made two other pictures, I can't in good conscience call Darren Aronofsky one of my favorite filmmakers. But so far he's proven himself capable of blending real emotion, big ideas and technical virtuosity at a level few of his contemporaries can touch. I look forward to seeing what he can do with a canvas as big as this one.


The Good German

It just wouldn't be Christmas if I couldn't get my man-love for George Clooney on. He's back with Steven Soderbergh for this black-and-white drama with a heavy Third Man feel to it. I am officially intrigued.


Happy Feet

OK, I'll admit... truthfully, I think this looks really bad. But it's directed by George Miller, the genius whose too-infrequent works include Babe: Pig in the City (an underrated gem, thank you very much) and the Mad Max series. I haven't disliked a single film he's made and can't believe for a second that he'd put so much effort into something that he didn't believe in. Don't make me look like an idiot here, George.


Hollywoodland

Truth be told, I'm mainly interested in seeing this because of my interest in the death of George Reeves and not because of anything inherently terrific-looking about the film itself. But Adrien Brody and Diane Lane are capable of great things and Ben Affleck might just surprise us all as the ill-fated Superman.


Jackass: Number Two

Yeah, yeah, whatever. I thought the first Jackass movie was really funny. If you didn't see it or don't want to see this one out of principle, you're a snob.


Let's Go to Prison

Will Arnett from Arrested Development goes to prison. Bob Odenkirk from Mr. Show directs. Ticket, please.


Pan's Labyrinth

Director Guillermo del Toro hasn't had enough opportunities to let his creativity run wild but on those occasions where he isn't hamstrung by studio notes (and even on some where he is), he's one of the most impressive dark fantasy filmmakers working today. This looks like it might just be his best work to date.


Perfume

Tom Tykwer (of Run Lola Run and The Princess and the Warrior) tells the tale of an 18th century perfume maker with no sense of smell who obsessively quests to create the perfect scent. I've read that Stanley Kubrick once wanted to make this but decided that Patrick Suskind's novel was ultimately unfilmable. I hope Tykwer can prove him wrong.


The Prestige

Christopher Nolan looks to be making something of a return to Memento territory with this mindbender about a pair of competitive magicians in the early years of the 20th century. I'm more than happy to follow him there, even if I assume I will inevitably get lost at some point.


Renaissance

This French animated sci-fi thriller came highly recommended to me by my friend, fellow film critic and Hollywood man-about-town Luke Y. Thompson, so I'll check it out on his say-so. Plus, the trailer does make it look pretty damn cool.


Rocky Balboa

Oh, like you're not curious to see it, too.


Running with Scissors

Haven't read Augusten Burroughs' memoir, though I understand just about everybody else in the world has. But I saw the trailer and Annette Bening looks like she's working at the top of her game, so I'm excited.


This Film Is Not Yet Rated

I've been waiting a long time for some muck-raking documentarian to take on the MPAA's Ratings board. Happily, director Kirby Dick is no mere gossip hound. He's a terrific filmmaker responsible for such exceptional non-fiction films as Sick: The Life & Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist and Chain Camera. If I have to, I'll go far out of my way to catch this one.


Tideland

Despite The Brothers Grimm (and some lackluster word of mouth on this one), I have yet to give up on Terry Gilliam. This one reteams him with his Fisher King star Jeff Bridges, so this could be terrific. I'm rootin' for you, Terry.


So as you can see, there's quite a variety of movies coming your way for the rest of 2007 and at least a couple of them have to be worth watching. Right?

OK, before I ride off into the sunset, last time I promised to bring along some snakes. So without further ado, allow me to present my final review...


Snakes on a Plane

Fuckin' rocks! (* * *)


That'll do it for me, buckaroos. Thanks for coming along on the ride so far and I hope you'll all saddle up with me again when I relaunch The Electric Theatre: Version 2.0 in January 2007. To paraphrase Mr. Michael Palin, if you've enjoyed reading these columns just half as much as I've enjoyed writing them, then I've enjoyed them twice as much as you.

Adam Jahnke
ajahnke@thedigitalbits.com


Dedicated to Chris Jahnke, who hated all movies except The Cat from Outer Space and The Aristocats... we'll miss you

Chris Jahnke

Adam and Chris... "In the balcony" so to speak

"Electric Theatre - Where You See All the Latest Life Size Moving Pictures, Moral and Refined, Pleasing to Ladies, Gentlemen and Children!"

- Legend on a traveling moving picture show tent, c.1900


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