Two different takes on vengeance
The story lines are very similar: protagonist loses a loved one to random thug violence. The system fails to right wrongs and the protagonist is left to turn to vigilante justice to regain power. However, Death Sentence stars Kevin Bacon and is directed by the guy who did Saw. The Brave One stars Jodie foster and is directed by the guy behind The Crying Game. Can you guess which one approaches the topic of revenge like an raging orgy of violence and which one focuses on the uneasy transition from victim to vigilante?
Clue: In the trailer, Kevin Bacon changes from mild-mannered suit into a crazed skinhead. Jodie Foster sports hair reminiscent of her character in The Accused. Think about it.
Another very special little boy
Being the cash cow that it was, The Lord of the Rings movies have spawned a lot of crappy clones: Eragon, The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe (protest all you want but the best thing about that movie was Tilda Swinton as the Witch), and now, The Seeker: The Dark is Rising. Once again, we have a seemingly ordinary boy who turns out to be the saviour of the world. This one, played by Alexander Ludwig, appears to have the charisma of particle board.
Do we really need another story about a special little boy? At least with the upcoming release of The Golden Compass, I can look forward to the story of a very special little girl. That's different!
The trailer for The Kingdom appears very 'us vs them' about the Middle East, which I found very strange in this day and age. That kind of black and white cinematic depiction was harmless fun back in the 80s but it hits too close to home in the post 9/11 world. Of course, a promotional behind-the-scenes feature about the movie shows the gung-ho Americans (Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Garner) cooperating with a helpful Arab cop. However, the overwhelming story arc in the trailer is of an "elite FBI team" entering "a hostile country" to investigate the bombing of a wholesome game of softball (!) in an American compound in Saudi Arabia. Then one of their team members is taken hostage and this throws everyone into a tizzy. If the only way this movie feels that it can compel its audience to care is to put American characters in danger then I know that The Kingdom is as bad as any boneheaded anti-Arab action movie of the past.
Things We Lost in the Fire - Harlequin romance in the guise of a deep drama. Woman loses husband unexpectedly, husband's no good friend moves into the house to "help", woman ends up becoming attracted to friend, everyone gets angsty and guilty. My favourite scene from the trailer: Halle Berry convinces Benicio Del Toro, the no good friend of her husband, to climb into bed with her so that she can hold onto some male flesh and thereby, overcome her insomnia. Second favourite scene: Halle Berry frolicking in a bikini. Berry muses, "I don't know if I'll ever feel happy again" but is there ever any doubt when Benicio is lurking in the background?
Into the Wild - you suspect that this movie is pretentious because it lists 10 actors' names before the title even shows up. Then you know it will fart in your general direction because it is written and directed by Sean Penn. The movie is about a well-to-do hippie kid who decides to literally burn his money and become an adventurer headed for Alaska. This is the kind of movie that is supposed to make you regret scratching your ass while sitting in the movie theatre. Yet, I find myself wishing Sean Penn had filmed himself burning his millions in a bonfire then treking through the wilderness of America without any hair pomade. Not going to happen.A glimmer of hope
Not everything is crap. 2 Days in Paris looks hilarious. Who knew that Julie Delpy, the director, writer and lead for the movie, was such a brain in addition to being a looker? Julie Delpy and Adam Goldberg play a New York couple on hoiday in Paris during which they encounter Julie's stereotypically French parents and numerous overly friendly ex-boyfriends. The film features the winning line spouted by Delpy's real-life mom: "Sex fun! Everyone with everyone." to which Adam Goldberg mutters, "The mother's a slut, too."