If Oscar bait is your delight, this is your week — Frost/Nixon, Revolutionary Road, Slumdog Millionaire and The Wrestler are all finally expanding to theaters where you might actually be able to see them. Even The Dark Knight (which didn’t really receive the scads of Oscar nominations that everybody but me thinks it deserved) is being re-released to a select number of theaters. Also, opening in New York and L.A. is something called Donkey Punch…which sounds, um, extremely sophisticated.
This is the Golden Globes’ choice for “best drama” of the year, and I think I’d have to say that I agree. It’s the story of a kid from the slums of India who wins on the local version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire (thus making trouble with some crooked cops), but it’s not really about slums, or game shows, or even corruption. What is it about? Well, you’ll just have to see it for yourself, but here’s a hint: it starts with “the triumph of” and ends with “the human spirit.”
Recommended if you like gameshows, gangster films, and Bollywood dance videos.
The Wrestler –
Another excellent film, just barely edged out by Slumdog. This one tells the story of a washed-up professional wrestler and his friendship with a stripper. It’s a sad, quiet tale of two people desperately selling their bodies, directed by critical darling Darren Aronofsky (Pi, Requiem for a Dream, The Fountain). In some sense, it doesn’t really overcome its “sports movie” roots, but there’s no reason that it should have to. Also, it ends with the triumph of the…ah, never mind.
Recommended if you wished Rocky Balboa was more tragic, or that Bigger, Stronger, Faster*was more fictional. (Or, alternatively, if you sit up late at night listening to Weird Al Yankovic’s 1984 classic “Theme from Rocky XIII (The Rye or the Kaiser)” over and over again.)
I was hoping this one would be about Opus the Penguin discovering he was part of an ancient race of immortals (and thank you to the one person out there who actually got that). It turns out that it’s actually just a science fiction film about ancient Vikings fighting alien monsters with a fusion of space-age and iron-age technology (and stars James “Jesus H. Christ” Caviezel). Well, that’s almost as good, I guess.
Recommended if (and only if) you liked all of the following: Aliens, Wild Wild West, and Highlander.
Brendan Fraser plays a guy who can bring storybooks to life. Hey, haven’t we seen this before with some other equally talentless actor?
Recommended if it really bothered you that The Mummy and Bedtime Stories were two separate movies.
Underworld: Rise of the Lycans
The Underworld franchise has lasted long enough for a third installment? Believe me when I say that no one is surprised as I am. Apparently, its not-all-that-novel take on werewolves-vs.-vampires struck a chord with six-year-old boys with fake IDs everywhere. Anyway, this installment apparently takes you far into the past so you can learn the sordid backstory of the werewolf tribe. Not since The Godfather Part II has such prequelic gravity graced the silver screen.
Recommended if you’ve never heard of House of Frankenstein.