So, after a couple weeks of doing this, I’m starting to realize they’re, like, twice as much work as the “Theater Releases” posts. Let’s all have a round of applause for Evan Derrick. (I’m waiting for my big bonus check, Evan.)
I missed this one when it was in theaters — being that I live in that cultural hotspot known as Tulsa, Oklahoma — but I hear that it’s quite a devastating little indie drama. It’s the sad tale of a starving woman who has to resort to working in the human trafficking industry — smuggling in illegals from Canada — in order to feed her kids. Not for anyone looking to have a great time, but certainly for those who want to ponder the dilemmas of humanity, be moved to create change, or just impress their self-consciously indie friends with some lo-fi goodness. Daniel Getahun gave it a B+.
Miracle at St. Anna
One of approximately a billion World War II movies to come out at the end of last year, this one bears the distinction of being one of the few that didn’t win much critical acclaim (let alone Oscar buzz). There are several reasons for that: (1) it came out too early in the year, (2) it was directed by Spike Lee (a bit too controversial for the Oscar voter crowd), and (3) it didn’t mention the Holocaust nearly enough times. Well, you can’t win ‘em all, Spike. I still believe in you!
Recommended if you liked Valkyrie, Saving Private Ryan, or Glory
My Name is Bruce
Bruce Campbell plays himself, except he has to fight Chinese war deity Guan Di (just like in real life, of course). If you don’t know who Bruce Campbell is, this film is probably isn’t for you. (But if you’re really wondering: He starred in Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead series, and went on to become the undisputed king of cheesy cult films, the best of which was arguably Bubba Ho-tep, in which he plays an elderly Elvis fighting an undead mummy. Highly intellectual stuff.)
Recommended if you’re a Canadian named Colleen who likes to write haikus
A woman finds out she has a terminal illness, and decides to pursue her dreams — dreams which apparently involve becoming a rockstar. Could be profound, could be the Lifetime movie of the week. Probably the latter, but I’d be willing to take a chance on it.
Recommended if Ikiru is out of your league
Sci-fi thriller in which Julianne Moore proves the old adage “In the world of the blind, the two-eyed girl is queen”…or, um, however that one goes. I was excited to see this one…until I saw the abysmal reviews. It seemed like every critic (including our own Josh Ickes) found something new to complain about. Well, I’m sure I could still enjoy it on some level. Like, maybe the “I’m-glad-I-didn’t-make-a-movie-this-bad” level.
Recommended if you liked REC or Children of Men (and have low standards)
I’d call this one 2008’s dumbest attempt at courting controversy…if it wasn’t for Expelled, Religulous, An American Carol, and whatever else I’m forgetting. I would have thought that Fox News had already proved it, but the movie business seems determined to show that the Culture Wars make for lousy entertainment. Well, good job guys. Those of us at MovieZeal were divided over this one: I thought it was a braindead hackjob of a schoolyard taunt; Josh thought it was a probing and thoughtful look at a figure cloaked in relative mystery. Truth be told, it’s probably a little of both — which just might be the nicest thing you’ll get me to say about it. (Read Josh’s positive review here.)
Recommended if Blockbuster runs out of All the President’s Men
Heath Ledger acts in a silly popcorn movie and then dies, and he gets an Oscar nomination for it; Bernie Mac acts in a silly popcorn movie and then dies, and what does he get? Nuthin’. I hope someone on the Oscar nomination committee lost his job for that particular oversight.
Recommended if you liked Blues Brothers, Almost Famous, or The Rocker
Nights in Rodanthe
Oh, Richard Gere. You probably/maybe have talent (The Hoax mostly worked, right?), but all you ever want to do is syrupy chick flicks. And I don’t even mean the good kind of chick flicks, like While You Were Sleeping orMusic and Lyrics. No, I mean the “Nicholas Sparks” variety of chick flicks, where impossibly sad women fall for impossibly perfect men. Y’know, the sort that ruin real marriages by distorting people’s expectations. I’ll forgive you for that, but I’ll never forgive Mr. Sparks for writing a book called Message in a Bottle. I just looked at his Wikipedia page, and now I can’t get that Police song out of my head.
Recommended if you liked A Walk to Remember, The Notebook, or Titanic