#47 - Night Tide

Dedicated To
Curtis Harrington
1926 - 2007

Added 5/14/07

I have a confession to make. This week sort of got away from me. Before I knew it, Sunday had rolled around without me making a single trip to the local Cineplex. Apologies all around. But rather than take the week off, I’ve decided to put together a Summer Preview installment of the Electric Theatre. In addition to most of the big guns, I’m also including the smaller movies scheduled to open over the next few months. In many cases, I’m considerably more interested in those than in the would-be blockbusters. With luck, you’ll be seeing reviews of all these titles between now and the end of August. For now, enjoy these prevues of coming attractions, presented in roughly their tentative order of release. If nothing else, this should give you a good idea of the preconceived baggage I’ll be carrying with me into each of these movies.

28 Weeks Later
This is what I would have seen this past weekend had I been more ambitious. I’m not all that excited about the prospect of a sequel to Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later but I’ve heard lots of good word of mouth with just one dissenting opinion, so I’m cautiously optimistic. Look for my take next week.

Fay Grim
The sequel I’m most excited about this summer doesn’t have any superheroes, pirates or animated ogres. It’s the follow-up to deadpan auteur Hal Hartley’s great 1997 film Henry Fool, with Parker Posey reprising her role and teaming up with CIA agent Jeff Goldblum to track down her ex. Hartley’s an acquired taste for many but I can’t wait to check this one out.

Paris, Je T’Aime
An international collection of filmmakers present short tributes to Gay Par-ee. The fact that the Coen brothers are involved insures my presence at the theatre. Bringing in the likes of Tom Tykwer, Alexander Payne and Alfonso Cuarón only sweetens the deal.

Shrek The Third
I thought the first Shrek movie was OK and, thanks to the inclusion of Puss in Boots, enjoyed the sequel more than its predecessor. The new sequel looks pretty uninspired, quite frankly, but with voice talent like John Cleese, Eric Idle, Amy Sedaris and Ian McShane and hopefully lots more Puss, I’ll try to keep an open mind.

The Boss Of It All
I never thought I’d be including a Lars von Trier movie in a Summer Preview but here it is. I’m a big fan of von Trier’s and this one, a comedy about a company that hires an actor to pose as its president to try and sell it to a big investor, sounds very promising.

I don’t know all that much about this movie but Luc Besson is usually worth checking out and since these days he’s more active as a writer and producer than as a director, I’ll give this a shot.

William Friedkin’s movies have been more miss than hit for the past couple decades but I’m still optimistic that he has at least one more great film in him. Bug, an unconventional-sounding horror film that apparently takes place almost entirely in a seedy motel room, may or may not be it. Nevertheless, I’m rooting for him, as well as Ashley Judd, an actress I love unreservedly despite the fact that she’s almost always wasted in the movies she chooses to do.

Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World’s End
I enjoyed the second Pirates movie quite a bit, despite the totally justified criticisms of overlength that were leveled at it. Hello, were you guys paying attention? The first one was waaaaay too long, too. Anyway, I’m hoping that the trilogy wraps up in high style. The promised presence of Keith Richards helps, although I’d prefer it if we had Keith and Johnny Depp teaming up against a rival band of pirates played by the Pogues in a movie directed by Alex Cox.

I’ve been hearing about this movie for awhile and while any British horror-comedy runs the risk of being compared to Shaun of the Dead, I like the premise behind this one, revolving around an office retreat gone wrong. The movie could too but at least I’m curious.

Knocked Up
Judd Apatow’s The 40 Year Old Virgin was surprisingly great so the bar is set pretty high for his follow-up. But the word-of-mouth has been good and Seth Rogen is a very amiable screen presence, so this might just be great.

Mr. Brooks
If this summer has a wild card, this is it. Kevin Costner is a mild-mannered guy with a serial killer alter ego, played by William Hurt. I can’t even begin to list the ways in which this could go terribly, embarrassingly wrong. But the premise is so odd, it could also be great. Either way, I’m betting this will either be one of the best movies of the summer or one that’s so bad that it ranks up there with Howard The Duck. I’d be surprised if there was any middle ground.

Anime tends to run either hot or cold for me but Satoshi Kon is responsible for two of the very best animated films I’ve ever seen, Tokyo Godfathers and the wonderful, underrated Perfect Blue. I’ve seen the trailer for Paprika and have absolutely no idea what it’s about but it looks incredible.

Brand Upon The Brain!
I’ve admired Guy Maddin for awhile but didn’t really embrace any of his movies until The Saddest Music In The World back in 2003. Brand Upon The Brain! may end up being one of his best films. It’s almost certainly one of his most ambitious. I hear it’s completely silent and often shown with a live orchestra and narrator. This isn’t going to make it any more accessible but, if you can see it, it could end up being one of the most memorable film-going experiences you’ll have this year.

Crazy Love
If you get tired of the big-budget, no-brain nonsense of the summer, this documentary might just be the perfect antidote. If nothing else, I guarantee you’re not going to see another movie this summer about a woman who marries a guy who sixteen years earlier threw acid in her face.

Ocean’s Thirteen
By the time most franchises make it up to part three, fatigue has set in. That could well happen here but I get the feeling that Steven Soderbergh, George Clooney and their pals all realize they owe us one after the abortion that was Ocean’s Twelve.

Fantastic Four: Rise Of The Silver Surfer
By all rights, the people responsible for 2005’s Fantastic Four shouldn’t be making a sequel. They should be drafting a letter of apology to everyone who paid good money to sit through it. But here we are. There aren’t many movies on this list that I have lower expectations for, so all these guys need to do is make a movie that’s merely competent. Yeah, I don’t really think they will either.

I’m sick to undeath of zombie movies but this one shows promise by casting Billy Connolly as a zombie who’s kept as a pet by a young boy.

Black Sheep
Genetic experiments turn a flock of sheep into bloodthirsty man-eaters. That alone would get me to buy a ticket to this New Zealand horror-comedy. Early word compares this to Peter Jackson’s Bad Taste and Dead-Alive, which is high praise indeed.

The odds are heavily stacked against this controversial horror movie being worth the price of admission but the fact that it’s directed by Roland Joffe, director of The Killing Fields, and co-written by B-movie expert Larry Cohen has me curious.

Evan Almighty
I wasn’t a big fan of Bruce Almighty but shifting the focus to Steve Carell’s character could be inspired. If nothing else, I’m guessing this will be a better religious comedy sequel than Oh, God! Book II was.

Live Free Or Die Hard
The use-by date on this franchise expired over fifteen years ago and the reasons to be concerned over part four keep piling up. A rumored PG-13 rating? A teenage sidekick? Kevin Smith? Please let this be a pleasant surprise.

You Kill Me
John Dahl is a talented filmmaker and this neo-noir dark comedy looks to put him back in the territory of his best movies like Red Rock West and The Last Seduction.

Death At A Funeral
This movie wasn’t even on my radar until I saw a pretty funny trailer for it a couple weeks back. Director Frank Oz hasn’t made a really good movie since Bowfinger back in 1999, so I’m hoping this gets him back on track.

This apparently has something to do with a rat living in a restaurant in Paris. I don’t really care. After The Iron Giant and The Incredibles, all I had to hear was the words “directed by Brad Bird” to get me in the theatre.

Michael Moore’s back, this time taking on health care. Expect controversy, righteous indignation and inescapable media coverage.

Rescue Dawn
Christian Bale stars as a pilot shot down over Laos during the Vietnam War. Director Werner Herzog has already explored this story in the 1997 documentary Little Dieter Needs To Fly. Herzog’s a guy who knows a little something about obsession, so I can’t wait to see him return to a story that interests him so much even he can’t work it out of his system.

I swear, if one more person asks me if I’m excited to see Transformers. I’m flattered that people think I’m young enough to give a shit about the Transformers but I’m not and I don’t. Maybe this will be kind of cool but I haven’t really enjoyed a single Michael Bay movie and it’s a movie based on a line of toys, so forgive me if my enthusiasm is not at the level it should be.

John Cusack stars in this movie based on a Stephen King story about a paranormal investigator who checks into a haunted hotel room and finds debunking it isn’t so easy. The ratio of terrible Stephen King movies to good ones is disproportionately in favor of the crap side of the scale but the trailer for this suggests it could be an exception.

Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix
At this point, this franchise is so firmly entrenched that you pretty much already know if you’re going to like this movie or not. I’m curious to see it mainly because this is the only Harry Potter book I’ve read. Maybe now I’ll finally understand what everybody else is complaining about when they gripe about things getting cut.

John Waters’ 1988 movie was already pretty close to being a musical so the leap to Broadway wasn’t that big of a stretch. I’d be a lot more excited for this adaptation of the stage production if Waters himself was in the director’s chair. Having Michelle Pfeiffer and Christopher Walken in the cast helps make up for his absence.

I Now Pronounce You Chuck And Larry
I’ve tried and mostly failed to like plenty of Adam Sandler movies. Honestly, I have no reason to expect this one will be any different but I’m including it here because I assume I’ll end up seeing it.

The Simpsons Movie
The one big summer movie I’m genuinely excited about. Despite the past few years’ worth of underwhelming episodes, The Simpsons remains the best TV comedy of all time. If this movie can capture even a fraction of that magic, this will be well worth seeing.

The Bourne Ultimatum
The Bourne Identity was the surprise of 2002, coming from out of nowhere and redefining the spy movie. The Bourne Supremacy was the surprise of 2004, handily defusing my assumptions that they couldn’t possibly pull off the same trick twice. The bar is raised pretty high for part three but the return of Paul Greengrass to the director’s chair suggests this could be the surprise of 2007.

Rush Hour 3
I’ve never understood the appeal of the Rush Hour franchise. I don’t hate them but I don’t really like them much either. This one looks like more of the same, with the addition of a slumming Roman Polanski as a detective. Well, at least he hasn’t stooped so low as actually directing the thing.

I was an early admirer of Neil Gaiman’s work but as his reputation has grown, my interest has waned. Even so, I’m looking forward to this adaptation of his novel, mainly because it reminds me of movies like Ladyhawke and Labyrinth.

The Invasion
The planet did not need yet another adaptation of Jack Finney’s novel The Body Snatchers, already filmed perfectly in 1956, very well in 1978 and pretty badly in 1993. But we’ve got one coming anyway. I like the cast, including Nicole Kidman, Daniel Craig and Jeremy Northam, so let’s hope this doesn’t turn out to be a waste of their time.

Ordinarily I wouldn’t give this teen comedy a second thought. But it’s produced by Judd Apatow (see Knocked Up, above), co-written by Seth Rogen (ditto), and co-stars Michael Cera, the secret weapon of the beyond brilliant TV series Arrested Development. Could be high-larious.

Balls Of Fury
Another stupid-looking sports comedy but this one combines ping pong with kung fu and boasts Christopher Walken in full Fu Manchu get-up as the villain. It’s very likely that I’ve already seen the funniest parts of this in the trailer but do I really want to risk it?

And at the end of summer we have, of course, Halloween. Yeah, I don’t really get the release date either but what are you gonna do? For that matter, I still can’t tell if Rob Zombie’s Halloween is a remake, a sequel, a prequel or what. I guess I don’t care all that much since I bailed on the Halloween series after the third one and while I don’t expect much, if anything, from this, I am curious to see what it’s all about.

Your pal,