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Monthly Archives: May 2009

summer films

ingloriousI’m not usually a huge summer movie fan, but last year two of my favourite three movies were big-budget studio summer fare (Dark Knight and WALL-E for those keeping track at home, with My Winnipeg filling out the trifecta). So as the hype machine rolls into gear, I figured I’d better get psyched up for the inevitable letdowns. Here are the movies I’ll have my eye on between now and September.

Star Trek (may 8). The only Trek that ever really connected with me was the original series and Wrath of Khan. I’m kind of skeptical of this one, which looks more like big budget outer-space action than the retarded-brilliant overacting and social commentary I dig, but let’s face it — it’ll be fun just to see a crop of new actors doing their takes on familiar characters. Plus, it’s been getting huge buzz, and when has pre-release internet buzz of a highly anticipated film ever been wrong before? Never, that’s when.

Up (may 29). I’m not one of those people that thinks Pixar can do no wrong (and if you are, you need to watch Cars again in the cold light of day). And the trailer… did not blow me away. But I’m fully prepared to have my expectations wildly exceeded in every way imaginable. Nay, I expect it. Deliver.

The Hurt Locker (june 26). The first Iraq war movie I actually want to see.

Public Enemies (july 1). Despite having Johnny Depp and Christian Bale starring and Michael Mann directing, I was on the fence about this 1930s gangster movie, half-suspecting it would be the kind of gauzy, set-designed period piece that I find annoying. And then I saw the trailer, and now I think my previous opinion is that of an idiot douchebag.

BrĂ¼no (jul 10). Sasha Baron-Cohen’s followup to Borat, featuring the titular gay Austrian fashion reporter. And a freaked-out Ron Paul. I always liked the Bruno character on Ali G, probably because the fashionistas and homophobes he went after seemed like such deserving targets.

Funny People (july 31). My faith in Judd Apatow is so strong, I’m even excited to see him direct a film about a dying comedian played by Adam Sandler. I just hope Apatow doesn’t turn this into sentimental Oscar bait, ’cause as much as I love him, I can kind of see him doing that one day.

District 9 (august 14). I don’t actually know much about it, but the trailer is intriguing and it’s produced by Peter Jackson, who I suspect may just have his pick of projects these days.

Inglourious Basterds (august 21). There was never any doubt that I was going to see Tarantino’s campy, gory WWII film, but every detail I hear just makes me more intrigued. Brad Pitt leading a squad of badass Jews behind enemy lines to collect Nazi scalps? Yes, please! Maggie Cheung as a French movie theater owner? In a sequence shot like a Nouvelle Vague film? Oui! Eli Roth directing a Nazi propaganda film-within-a-film? Well, who else would you get to do it? Mike Myers as a British general? Okay, I’m going have to assume you know what you’re doing, Quentin. Plus, the trailer alone pissed off one of The Guardian’s crew of pompous, self-righteous film critics, so it’s got that going for it.

And after the summer, there’s quite a list of films I’m interested in, including: This Side of the Truth, Ashcliffe, A Serious Man, Where the Wild Things Are, The Fantastic Mr Fox, The Road, Sherlock Holmes, Bad Lieutenant: Port of New Orleans, Scott Pilgrim vs The World, Satisfaction, Big Fan and Thirst. All in due time.

Crank: High Voltage (2009)

crank_high_voltage01jpgHow’s this for a premise? Jason Statham falls about a mile from a helicopter and is literally shovelled off the asphalt by Chinese organ thieves who steal his heart for their 100-year-old boss (David Carradine). He wakes up to find he’s been fitted with an artificial heart, and proceeds to tear apart the Los Angeles underworld to get back his “strawberry tart”. Only catch is, to keep going, he needs to constantly charge up by electrocuting himself. I know it sounds like I’m pranking you, but I swear, it’s a real movie. And Jesus, what a movie.

With a premise like that, backed by utter conviction and an understanding of the world apparently formed solely from video games, porn, daytime talk shows and Godzilla movies, Crank: High Voltage delivers… something. I’m not quite sure what it delivers, but it’s something pretty great. You should probably go see it now so that when the inevitable cult forms, you can say you were into it before anyone.

Troll 2 (1990)

So according to internet legend, Troll 2 was made with an American cast by an Italian director who barely spoke English and insisted the lines be read verbatim from his script. That maybe begins to explain this insane and insanely-bad film, but can’t fully account for the ludicrous acting, amateurish “monster” effects (burlap sacks and immobile masks) or the complete lack of trolls of any sort. It also can’t explain the film’s bizarre fixation on vegetarianism as the moral equivalent of a death cult — it approaches plant-eating with the prurient tut-tutting of a 1960s exploitation flick. But with less nudity.

We watched the RiffTrax version, which was entertaining, but even without it, I think this is probably one of the very films that’s so bad it’s better than good. Even at it’s most retarded, it’s rarely boring.