Go Home, Baby
The FREEindex
The Definitive Williamsburg Brooklyn Business Listing

DAN'S ALMOST
DAILY MUSING


LINK OF THE
MONTH


ADD ME TO YOUR
MAILING LIST


EMAIL THIS
SITE TO
A FRIEND



Search Us...
 




THE MAY MOVIE PREVIEW

I know last month I promised to devote this entire preview to The Olsen Twins movie. But it turns out that, for some reason, there are a lot of major films coming out in May. I don't know why these films think they can compete with The Twins. Clearly they should just take their chances against Harry Potter in June. But, I've never really understood Hollywood reasoning so I won't pretend to now.

So, with that in mind, I guess I should now say "Un-fuck Van Helsing"…

MAY 7


VAN HELSING

WHAT'S THE PITCH?
Wolverine goes up against the Wolfman, Dracula and Frankenstein. Okay, actually it's just the guy who plays Wolverine up against them, but wouldn't that be some bad-ass snickety-snick berzerker-style shit?

WILL IT SUCK?
They've got the right man for the job. Stephen Sommers brought campy fun to both "The Mummy" and "The Mummy Returns" so it makes sense to have him on board for the reinvention of the other Universal monster greats.

The presence of Richard Roxburgh as Dracula is a little unnerving because of the inevitable "League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" flashbacks (he played the main bad guy there, too) but then I remember that he was the baddie in "Moulin Rouge" as well and I calm down. Then I see that the fx look about as crappy as "League's" and I get nervous again. But frankly, if that flick had been handed to Sommers, I think he would've struck the right tone. Look for more yummy "Mummy" goodness here.

HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
This will probably be rated PG-13 (because both "Mummy" flicks were and Universal isn't that stupid). That will probably be the only thing that saves it from being crushed in its second week by the R-rated "Troy". Other than that, it's got a pretty clear field and a very big draw in concept and in Jackman (and Kate Beckinsale doesn't hurt either, especially after her stint in the vampire "Underworld"). Look for a huge opening and a sharp drop off. (You can pretty much assume I said that for every major release for the next four months). $208mil.

NEW YORK MINUTE

WHAT'S THE PITCH?
Get this. It's Mary Kate and Ashley. And they're playing twins! Eugene "I'll do anything" Levy actually finds a worse idea than "Dumb and Dumberer" to lend his talent to playing Ed Rooney to one of the twin's Ferris Beuller, tracking both twins to the Big Apple when the other sister gets involved. Hijinks and at least one scene blatantly ripped off from "Legally Blonde" ensue.

WILL IT SUCK?
Let me run some names by you. "Gigli." "From Justin to Kelly." "'Manos' the Hands of Fate." These will be classics by comparison. The only way this can not suck is if Andy Richter (who sadly plays a limo driver/hitman in the film) strangles the girls in the first five minutes and then Ozzy shows up suddenly to beat the crap out of Jack for being within five feet of this schlock.

HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
Not very. Mary Kate and Ashley had a following on TV that doesn't translate well to the cinema. See their first feature "It Takes Two". Apparently, it takes more than two because it cleared an underwhelming $19mil. Since then their appeal has, shall we say, diminished. $10mil if it makes a dollar.


VALENTIN

WHAT'S THE PITCH?
Geeky, well-meaning kid falls for his dad's girlfriend.

WILL IT SUCK?
I'm getting a very "Amelie-ish" vibe off this one. Little kid tries to solve everyone's problems but runs into romantic entanglements of his own. The reviews are pretty consistently positive and it's garnered plenty of advance buzz at international fests, scooping up a few awards along the way.

HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
Up against "Super Size Me," the audience should be pretty well split for limited release. Fortunately the doc crowd and the foreign flick crowd don't always overlap. There should be just enough room for both. $2mil.


SUPER SIZE ME

WHAT'S THE PITCH?
Imagine hearing "would you like fries with that" three times a day for thirty days. Doc director Morgan Spurlock goes on the anti-Atkins diet, eating only fast food for a month.

WILL IT SUCK?
Having seen this I can tell you that it fucking rocks. It's as funny, thought-provoking and disturbing as any Michael Moore film but without that filmmaker's confrontational style (which may disappoint some). Be warned - you will see some stuff you can't un-see, not the least of which involves a gastric bypass.

HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
Until "Coffee and Cigarettes" comes out the following week, indie audiences will divide their attention between this and "Valentin." It'll be interesting to see which has more of an edge - "Valentin," which has the support of Miramax, or "Super Size Me," with the sharper premise and mad Sundance hype. Advantage: "Super Size Me." $3mil.



MAY 14

TROY

WHAT'S THE PITCH?
Eric Bana and Brad Pitt fight over who's the hunkiest (and whether Troy or Sparta gets to keep newcomer Diane Kruger) for ten years. "No blood for Helen!"

WILL IT SUCK?
Director Wolfgang Peterson ("The Perfect Storm," "Das Boot," and, um, "The Never-ending Story") is up to the task. It doesn't hurt to have "25th Hour" scribe David Benioff on board, at least he understands the violence of male bonding. In true "Gladiator" style, the cast is a mix of old and new school talent, with Peter O'Toole and Julie Christie sharing the screen with Pitt, Bana, Brian Cox, Orlando Bloom, Brendan Gleeson and Boromir himself, Sean Bean. Also in "Gladiator" tradition, everyone in the past, regardless of nationality, speaks with a British accent. Should be fun.

HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
"Van Helsing's" second frame really shouldn't make much difference. The real threat comes the following week when "Shrek 2" promises to grab just about every audience available. For this weekend, though, it will reign. $197mil.

BREAKIN' ALL THE RULES

WHAT'S THE PITCH?
In the literary love tradition of "Down with Love," "Hav Plenty," and "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days" comes this romcom about a guy (Jamie Foxx) who writes a book about how to break up with women, but then has to swallow his words when the right woman comes along. In this case, the right woman is Gabrielle Union. I guess in many cases she'd be right.

WILL IT SUCK?
Writer/Director Daniel Taplitz hasn't done a major feature since 1987's "The Squeeze." Jamie Foxx's track record's not so hot, either. Even Gabrielle Union, who adds a touch of class wherever she goes, has "Bad Boys II" and "Two Can Play at That Game" to answer for. So there's not much here to indicate that this is going to rise above the fray of the other hundred and a half mediocre romcoms.

But hey, it has Morris Chestnut, and he's cool.

HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
It'll have its "urban" niche since the only other brother in sight is voicing a donkey. Of course, that donkey is gonna kick everyone's ass the following week. Until then, this'll get a trickle of cash. $18mil.

CARANDIRU

WHAT'S THE PITCH?
As bad as prison is in the US, it's nothing compared to, well, most other places. Especially Brazil, where a riot in 1992 claimed the lives of many in the Carandiru detention center. This fictionalized account shows the events surrounding the massacre. Between this and "City of God," book me on the next flight to Rio!

WILL IT SUCK?
Tough call. Audiences seem to be embracing it, and it's doing well with international fests. Brazil liked it enough to submit as their entry for the 2003 Oscars. (Like "City of God," it didn't make the cut.) This comes from the director of "Kiss of the Spider Woman," so you'd expect he understands prison drama. However, the early reviews aren't nearly as positive, with more than one critic comparing it unfavorably with "Oz."

HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
Going up against "Coffee and Cigarettes" won't do it any favors. And as international releases go, "Valentin" will be the bigger draw. And I don't know if Sony Pictures Classics has the clout to keep the movie in theaters for a year the way Miramax did with "City of God." Plus it won't have that film's critical support. $500,000.

A SLIPPING DOWN LIFE

WHAT'S THE PITCH?
Girl (Lili Taylor) falls for musician (Guy Pearce) and carves his name into her forehead. Backwards.

WILL IT SUCK?
Early buzz is good, crediting Pearce and Taylor with bringing life to an occasionally sprawling script. Anne Tyler novels have made good movies in the past ("The Accidental Tourist") so we'll see if it happens again. It premiered at Sundance in '99, but don't hold the delay against it. That's pretty typical for Sundance acquisitions.

HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
This probably stands the best chance of taking on "Coffee and Cigarettes," but it still won't make much of a dent. $1mil.

COFFEE AND CIGARETTES

WHAT'S THE PITCH?
All you need to know about this film is that it contains a conversation between Bill Murray and Wu Tang Clan. That alone should be worth the price of admission.

WILL IT SUCK?
It's also got conversations between such luminaries as Iggy Pop and Tom Waits, Cate Blanchett and herself, Roberto Begnini and Steven Wright, Meg and Jack White, Alfred Molina and Steve Coogan, Mary Kate and Ashley (psyche!) and Steve Buscemi is up in there somewhere, too. Plus a lot of drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes. Some conversations are improvised, some not so much. Either way, this looks to be fascinating. And have I mentioned it's written and directed by Jim Jarmusch?

Early buzz is mixed, but you're not going to beat this cast all year.

HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
This is probably his strongest (and most eclectic) cast since 1991's "Night on Earth." So he can draw on several different fan bases, including his own. And the extra glint off Murray's current upswing should help. $4mil.


 

MAY 21


SHREK 2

WHAT'S THE PITCH?
Shrek's "Meet the Parents."

WILL IT SUCK?
Well, it's got a lot going for it. All the original cast and the original director and writers. But they've added some things. Two new first time directors and writers from a bunch of "Rugrats" movies and (shudder) "Clockstoppers." Also, we've gone beyond the bounds of the original book, so we're in uncharted waters here narratively.

Casting-wise, though, you gotta love Larry King as the ugly stepsister.

HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
Audience-wise, this has a broader appeal than anything else this month. (Though next week's "The Day After Tomorrow" comes close). This should easily nab the crown of biggest b.o. for May, and may come in around third or so (behind "Harry Potter" and "Spiderman") for the whole summer. $282mil.


THE CLEARING

WHAT'S THE PITCH?
From the "abduction as therapy" school of narrative ("The Ref," "Ransom," "Ruthless People") comes this tale of Robert Redford being kidnapped by employee Willem Dafoe cos' his film didn't make it into Sundance. Okay, that's probably not the reason but I'm telling you a "Swimming with Sharks" style premise like that is bound to get made sooner or later.

In this movie, however, Redford bargains for his life while wife Helen Mirren deals with police scrutiny at home.

WILL IT SUCK?
The most interesting thing about this movie is that it's a limited release from a major studio. Is Fox trying to draw the indie crowd by doing a platform style assault? Or do they think that will generate better buzz than a wide release? Or do they simply not want to take "Shrek 2" head on? Whatever the reason, dressing it up like an indie won't make it one.

That's not to say all indies rock and all major studio films suck, but there are averages to consider. In any case, nothing, from the newcomer director and writer to the leads (for my money the last great Redford flick was "Sneakers"), inspires me with confidence.

Alessandro Nivola's involvement gets me a little interested, but not much.

HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
Whether they want it to look like an indie or not, they'll be able to capitalize on the leads' indie cred as they move into their first weekend. Nothing else in limited release really has this kind of star power (or, likely, advertising budget). $32mil.


LOVE ME IF YOU DARE

WHAT'S THE PITCH?
Remember on "Ed" how Ed and Mike would always give each other crazy dares ever since they were kids? Well, imagine if Ed and Mike were actually in love all that time. And one of them was a girl.

WILL IT SUCK?
Early buzz is fairly good. Many are comparing it to "Amelie" because of its quirkiness and creative animated sequences. No one seems to crazy about the plot, though.

HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
"Carandiru," will probably catch a bit more of the foreign film buzz, but not everybody's gonna wanna go see a prison drama. The only other indie romantic fare is "A Slipping Down Life," which, with bigger stars and the English language will probably dominate that niche in art houses. So this will do pretty typical foreign b.o. $500,000.


STATESIDE

WHAT'S THE PITCH?
True romantic tale of a soldier in '83 Beirut (bad times) with a girl (Rachel Leigh Cook) back home.

WILL IT SUCK?
That depends. Can you buy Val Kilmer as a drill sergeant? Rising indie "it" girl Agnes Bruckner also makes an appearance. Nothing in the films' pedigree suggests that it's going to be particularly good. The writer/director is kind of a newcomer, and his earlier work isn't terribly highly rated.

HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
This doesn't have the star power to contend with "Coffee & Cigarettes" from the week before, much less "The Clearing" this week. The following week, "Saved!" has far more hot teen names on its roster. $200,000.


MAY 28

RAISING HELEN

WHAT'S THE PITCH?
Think "Uptown Girls" or "Baby Boom" (or even "Jersey Girl") with Kate Hudson becoming the caretaker of three children.

WILL IT SUCK?
This is from Gary Marshall ("Beaches," "Pretty Woman," "The Other Sister") so expect the cheese in a big way. Still, he helped make "Princess Diaries" far better than expected. But he'll have to work with a script from "The Prince and Me" scribes, so think more "Uptown Girls" than "Baby Boom" in this case.

Having Felicity Huffman and Marshall standby Hector Elizondo on board doesn't hurt, but there's a Paris Hilton cameo, too, so watch out.

HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
The closest thing to direct genre-competition ("Breakin' All the Rules") will have come and gone by now (and even if it hadn't, Hudson is a slightly bigger draw than Fox). On the other hand, Kate was box office gold until "Alex and Emma" proved that her name alone can't save a project (even with Luke Wilson attached). So it's a bit of a toss up. My guess is this won't get the critical or, more importantly, word of mouth support it needs to stay big, even if it opens that way. $24mil.

THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW

WHAT'S THE PITCH?
Global warming will fuck your shit up.

WILL IT SUCK?
Roland Emmerich films aren't exactly good so much as they are entertaining. ("Godzilla," "Independence Day" - Well, "Independence Day" anyway). So if you like watching natural disasters, strap yourself in. The trailer alone is worth the price of admission (to some other, better film). My favorite part is watching tornados destroy the Hollywood sign. I should see if I can get that as a screensaver.

Jake Gyllenhaal is sure to bring a little indie cred to the proceedings, but I'm more psyched to see him in the rerelease of "Donnie Darko." Ian Holm is up in there somewhere, and I'm sure that'll be nice. And Dennis Quaid can carry a film, but he won't need to because all the flooding and ice will do that for him.

It won't be good, but it'll look cool sucking.

HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
It'd do a lot better if it weren't sandwiched between "Shrek" and "Harry Potter," which are likely to be #2 and #3 for summer box office (though not necessarily in that order). If I were Fox, I'd take my chances and just move this to late July or early August. Still, it's hard to go wrong blowing up the world. $176mil.



SOUL PLANE

WHAT'S THE PITCH?
Black "Airplane." Features NWA Airlines, which, if you look at the way Northwestern is billing itself now on tickets, is a real thing.

WILL IT SUCK?
Hard to say. There are a lot of unknowns. New writers, new director. But it's got Snoop Dogg and it's called "Soul Plane." I'm not sure you need much more than that to decide one way or another.

HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
There's nothing like it for miles. Even "Breakin' All the Rules" is a different kind of comedy. It has a built-in niche and if word of mouth gets going, it might even break out of that. I think this could be a sleeper hit. $40mil.



SAVED!

WHAT'S THE PITCH?
"Mean Fundamentalist Christian Girls."

WILL IT SUCK?
Actually, it won't. I saw this at the Philly Film Fest. It's a nice little satire. Not as mean as you might think, but not all that gentle either. And a great indie all-stars cast - Jena Malone, Heather Matarazzo, Martin Donovan, Macaulay Culkin (no, really, he's getting tolerable), Patrick Fugit, and a hilariously cast-against-type Mandy Moore. It gets a little sit-commy at the end, but for the most part it's a funny ride. And that's coming from a guy who liked "The Passion."

HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
Pretty well. There's a groundswell of good buzz from this audience-pleaser. That plus the individual followings of the indie castmembers should equal a pretty good opening. A lack of indie comedy the week before or after should keep that number relatively high. $18mil.



BAADASSSSS!

WHAT'S THE PITCH?
Who'd have thought that the two films opening on the same weekend with an exclamation point in the title would be indies? Anyway, Mario Van Peebles plays his own father Melvin in this story of the making of daddy's seminal blaxploitation opus "Sweet Sweetback's Badasssss Song."

WILL IT SUCK?
The original title of this was "How to Get The Man's Foot Outta Your Ass." I kind of like that better, but The Man probably made him change it.

Mario hasn't directed a really great flick since "New Jack City," but the initial buzz on this is very strong. It was a hit at Sundance and Toronto and, though it garnered no honors at either, the audience and critical reaction has been positive.

Keep an eye out for Adam West in what I'm sure is not a pivotal role.

HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
Outside of a tight clique of folks who understand the importance of blaxploitation and, by extension, Melvin Van Peebles, the audience for this film is slim. It will not outdo the bigger-name cast in "Saved!" this week and may even have trouble from foreign actioner "Zatoichi" the following week. Here's hoping for a better life on DVD (just like "Sweet Sweetback's Badasssss Song"). $1mil.

THE MOTHER!

WHAT'S THE PITCH?
All sorts of taboo. Grandmother sleeps with younger man who happens to be the same man with whom her daughter's cheating on her husband.

And, no, it doesn't really have an exclamation point. I just got carried away.

WILL IT SUCK?
Nice pedigree. Director Roger Mitchell did "Persuasion," "Notting Hill," and (personal fave) "Changing Lanes." Screenwriter Hanif Kureishi did the acclaimed "My Son the Fanatic" and "Sammy & Rosie Get Laid." Early buzz is very strong, and lead Anne Reid got nominated for a BAFTA and won the London Critic's Circle Award for Best Actress for her portrayal of the randy grandmother.

HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
It fills kind of a weird niche that draws the "Swimming Pool" crowd that can do without the really hot babe or the mystery. A small niche. $500,000.

FRANKIE AND JOHNNY ARE MARRIED

WHAT'S THE PITCH?
Docu-drama chronicling the woes surrounding Michael Pressman's stage production of "Frankie and Johnny at the Claire de Lune," starring his wife and, ultimately, himself.

WILL IT SUCK?
Early buzz is good. Should interest anyone who's a big David E. Kelley fan. Pressman's one of his go-to directors ("Boston Public," "The Practice") and Kelley even makes an appearance in the film. Also, Pressman directed "Doctor Detroit" and "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze," but I doubt he'll talk about it in the film. But we can always hope.

HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
Movies about plays - especially indie docs about plays - are a hard sell. $400,000.


TIME OF THE WOLF

WHAT'S THE PITCH?
Isabelle Huppert and daughter find out you can't go home again when they find their vacation residence occupied by strangers. And then it goes all post-apocalyptic for some reason.

WILL IT SUCK?
Hard to say. The nature of the apocalypse is never fully explained. If that's the kind of detail that's gonna nag at you, you probably shouldn't see this. However, if the social chaos of "Funny Games" or Huppert's performance in "The Piano Teacher" did it for ya, you might want to check this out since this is the latest from the guy who wrote and directed both of those films. Early buzz has audiences liking it more than critics.

HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
With so many options, I don't think existential post-apocalyptic angst is gonna cut it. $200,000.

Next month, Harry Potter meets Gary Oldman, Bill Murray voices a cat, and two lesser Wayans disguise themselves as white girls. Ya gotta love the summer!


- Dave Thomas
http://travelindave.blogspot.com

 


Back   Back

Free Williamsburg© | 311 Graham Avenue | Brooklyn, NY 11211
[email protected] | May 2004 | Issue 50
Please send us submissions | Advertise with us!
Reproduction of material found on FREEwilliamsburg without written permission is strictly prohibited.