Cranky Hanke’s Screening Room: Looking ahead

Well, here we are at the first day of a new year and while Justin Souther and I are laboring away on end of year and indeed end of decade lists, I’m taking a break from looking at the past to look at what awaits us. Generally speaking, the first of the year traditionally means a certain number of films that have simply not made it to the provinces yet—and a lot of junk that the studios dump on us in the dead of winter as a kind of cinematic January white sale. In fact, except for the leftovers, the first three months of the year are pretty grim. This year stands at least a chance of being a bit different.

Oh, yes, we still have a certain number of interesting 2009 offerings to look forward to. Terry Gilliam’s The Imaginarium of Dr. Paranassus opens here next Friday. Also in the offing are Tom Ford’s A Single Man, Pedro Almodovar’s Broken Embraces and Peter Jackson’s The Lovely Bones. Granted, the last has been treated with surprising brutality by the critics who’ve reviewed it and hasn’t set the box office ablaze in limited release, but it’s a big enough film by a big enough director that it will probably show up. And I’ve been given to understand that Werner Herzog’s Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans is going to make it to town this coming week.

As for the usual crapfest releases, I’m pretty sure that they’re out there—just waiting to slink into multiplexes while we aren’t looking. I certainly can’t claim that I’m looking forward to The Spy Next Door, Hoodwinked Too! Hood Vs. Evil (the first wasn’t bad enough?), Tooth Fairy, Extraordinary Measures, When in Rome, Edge of Darkness, Dear John (two Nicholas Sparks adaptations in one year? Dramamine sales should skyrocket), and Kevin Smith’s Cop Out looks plain awful. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg in all likelihood. But at the same time, there are a surprising number of tantalizing titles—and a few others that offer the prospect of pleasant surprises or at least diversions.

Next week may not offer any sure bets, but it has a bit of potential. The Australian production Daybreakers with Ethan Hawke, Willem Dafoe and Sam Neill has a certain degree of promise. It’s kind of nice to see a vampire picture that isn’t a Twilight travesty and isn’t utter garbage like Transylmania. The trailer doesn’t look bad, but is certainly in the “could go either way” realm. The film’s twin brother directors Michael and Peter Spierig are an unknown quantity to me. What amuses me about this one is that it’s coming from Lionsgate as part of their latest new move to focus more on horror movies, which sounds a lot like their position pre-Joe Drake—the guy responsible for burying The Midnight Meat Train. I guess Mr. Drake’s insistence on “quality” pictures (which mostly seemed to mean more Tyler Perry) didn’t pan out so well. I’m not expecting much, but I’m intrigued.

Also up is Miguel Arteta’s Youth in Revolt. Now, Arteta hasn’t done much in the theatrical realm since the good, but not great, Jennifer Aniston vehicle The Good Girl. Plus, the film stars Michael Cera, who is going to have to work hard to win me over after Paper Heart and Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist. (I didn’t see Year One and have no intention of changing that.) For that matter, he needs to prove he can play more than one character, which this offers him the chance of doing. I’m not optimistic, but I’m willing to give it a shot.

And then there’s Leap Year. Yes, I know, it looks like pure formula romantic comedy—and PG-rated romantic comedy at that. But it stars Amy Adams, who can’t save everything as Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian proved spectacularly. Still, her presence is a plus. Also in the plus column is director Anand Tucker, whose Shopgirl (2005) was good and whose When Did You Last See Your Father (2007) was at least close to great. So who knows? The trailer is hardly inspiring, but it could translate into very high quality and pleasant frou-frou.

And those are just in the first week of new releases. Not inspiring perhaps, but neither are they exactly the sort of thing to send you cowering under the bed till the season blows over.

Further down the line is The Book of Eli from the Hughes Brothers and starring Denzel Washington and Gary Oldman. The Hughes Brothers haven’t made a movie since From Hell back in 2001, but From Hell is enough to make me anxious to see this. I’m not a huge fan of post-apocalyptic tales—and judging by the lame box office of The Road, I don’t seem to be alone in that—but this looks at least intriguing. Or it will be so if the trailer is something of a put-up job that isn’t quite telling you what you think it is. I’m hopeful that that’s the case and that the film goes down some paths that the trailer doesn’t suggest.

I’ll concede upfront that Scott Stewart’s Legion (no relation to the William Peter Blatty novel of that name that became The Exorcist III) looks like trash, and it’s not like Paul Bettany and Dennis Quaid haven’t been in some stinkers. But it also looks like it might be fun R-rated trash horror.

While January has the advantage—and for January this is saying something—of simply not looking like cinematic frozen tundra, February offers two movies that I’m officially excited about: Joe Johnston’s The Wolfman and Martin Scorsese’s Shutter Island. Even the fact that both were removed from the award season schedule and shunted into less prestigious February slots does nothing to seriously dampen my enthusiasm.

I can’t say that I’ve ever been all that impressed by Joe Johnston’s work, but The Wolfman trailers have only gotten better as they’ve come out. Of course, Universal is taking a huge chance with this one any way you look at it. In general terms, the fact that it’s a period piece may make it a hard sell, though Sherlock Holmes may have improved chances there. It’s also a classic-styled horror movie. While it very obviously uses CGI, it appears to be a return to something of the traditional werewolf—you know, the kind that wear trousers and are, at least in part, the actual star of the movie in make-up—which may seem a little old-fashioned. But that’s only the general public.

The Wolfman also has to face the scrutiny of classic horror movie geeks—and that’s going to be a tough crowd. Remember Van Helsing (2004)? It’s a wonder writer-director Stephen Sommers wasn’t lynched over that. And here we have an actual remake of an actual beloved classic. They’ve already made one mistake, since the 1941 film is The Wolf Man, not The Wolfman. Think that’s minor, do you? Then you don’t know classic horror fandom. What else? Well, The Wolf Man was set in contemporary times. The Wolfman is clealy a Victorian period piece. It also obviously departs from the original in a number of ways—not the least of which involves those scenes in the trailer of the title character being treated for mental illness, something that actually seems more related to Guy Endore’s 1933 novel The Werewolf of Paris. How these things will go down with the hardcore is anybody’s guess.

On the plus side there, is the fact that it’s apparently straightforward horror and respectful of its source. Character names have been retained and the central premise. Even the embellishments appear to be drawn from the old film. There is a psychiatrst in the original, which might be the source of the mental illness angle. Though he’s a fairly minor character in the film (as well as a rather dull one) there’s also a policeman, Captain Montford (Ralph Bellamy, who probably accounts for the dullness), who seems to have been enlarged upon for the Inspector Abberline character played in the new film by Hugo Weaving. (That there’s also a Captain Montford in the cast argues against this, however.)  The casting is good. Benicio Del Toro even looks a little like Lon Chaney Jr. No one’s likely to complain about Anthony Hopkins as Sir John Talbot—except maybe Claude Rains, who was pretty much wasted in the original and might resent the obvious scenery-chewing Hopkins gets to indulge in.

The truth, however, is that the original isn’t really all that great of a movie. It’s just one some of us grew up with and have a great sentimental fondness for. There’s every chance that the new film might even be a better movie. There I’ve said it. The problem with that is that being better might be the greatest affront to fandom imaginable. Sometimes you just can’t win.

What to make of Martin Scorsese’s Shutter Island? Though the studio likes to call it a thriller, the trailers scream “horror movie.” That may or may not account for moving it to February from an Oscar-bait position in the fall. I’m not sure it matters all that much. I certainly don’t care—and I like the idea of Scorsese making a horror movie. We haven’t seen him use his considerable talents in this realm before, so it’s kind of refreshing and maybe even exciting. The trailer certainly looks stylish and creepy—and even blessed with some degree of fun to judge by the nicely ripe performances we glimpse from Ben Kinglsey and Max von Sydow. I know there’s a standard resistance to horror movies being taken seriously. But hey, Stanley Kubrick made The Shining.

Then there’s March—and most especially, March 5 and the release of Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland. OK, I freely admit to being predisposed toward Burton’s work, but that’s not news and I’m certainly not alone. But goodness knows if ever there was a match made in heaven, it’s Burton and Alice in Wonderland. However, it’s as well to note that this isn’t another version of the story. It’s more of a sequel with 19-year-old Alice (Mia Wasikowska, Amelia) returning to Wonderland to help overthrow the power-crazed Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter).

At the same time, it’s apparent that Burton was careful to preserve favorite characters and even aspects of the original into this new version,so it’s a case of expecting a grand collision of the original with a new vision. It might just be spectacular. The early teaser trailers were intriguing to say the least. The longer trailers that have started appearing suggest a film more and more worth getting excited about.

At the end of March we have How to Train Your Dragon, which initially didn’t strike any kind of a chord at all. Then I saw the trailer and thought it looked better than I’d expected. But the kicker was when I learned it was by Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders—not exactly household names, no. But if they sound familiar, that’s because these are the guys responsible for Lilo & Stitch (2002), and that’s enough to fully engage my interest in this new offering from them. It’s about time.

And that’s just a glimpse at the first three months of movie offerings for 2010. If this is any indication, we might be in for a pretty good year. Here’s hoping.

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About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress from December 2000 until his death in June 2016. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

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69 thoughts on “Cranky Hanke’s Screening Room: Looking ahead

  1. Vince Lugo

    And don’t forget that in April we get Kick Ass, which looks like the first good superhero parody since Mystery Men. I’ve been waiting for someone, ANYONE, to make a movie like this, so I’m excited. I hope it lives up to the title.

  2. Ken Hanke

    And don’t forget that in April we get Kick Ass

    I can’t tell enough from the teaser trailer to get excited over this one. That it was made by the guy who made Layer Cake and Stardust, however, makes it more interesting than not.

  3. brianpaige

    I actually saw the trailer for Cop Out before Sherlock Holmes and just….wow. Even with a theater audience that was hyped for ANYTHING that trailer tanked. I mean there were people excited over whatever that new Robert Pattinson movie is (although with Brosnan and Cooper it might be sorta okay). People were laughing out loud at a trailer for a Jennifer Aniston/Gerard Butler movie that looked ** at most. But Cop Out? Just total silence. It looks like the sort of movie Kevin Smith used to make fun of in his earlier movies.

  4. luluthebeast

    Now I love post-apocalyptic tales and am looking forward to see both THE ROAD and BOOK OF ELI. And I wouldn’t be so tough on THE ROAD, it’s widest circulation was only 396 screens and at one point had a $13,534 per screen average.
    And I always look forward to a Burton/Depp collaboration!
    I enjoyed the book THE LOVELY BONES and am interested in seeing the movie.
    And I don’t remember the name, but the trailer for the Cruise/Diaz movie looked like fun.

  5. Ken Hanke

    People were laughing out loud at a trailer for a Jennifer Aniston/Gerard Butler movie that looked ** at most.

    That would be The Bounty Hunter and you’re being kind. And the Pattinson thing is Remember Me, which I don’t expect will appeal to the Twinklight crowd.

    But Cop Out? Just total silence. It looks like the sort of movie Kevin Smith used to make fun of in his earlier movies

    This doesn’t just look bad, it looks stunningly bad. I wonder whose choice it was not to promote it on Smith’s name?

  6. Ken Hanke

    And I wouldn’t be so tough on THE ROAD, it’s widest circulation was only 396 screens and at one point had a $13,534 per screen average.

    That’s not a good per theater average for something in limited release, though, and is probably why its widest release is 394. Bookers don’t get excited about a movie unless it does around $70,000 per theater in its NY/LA/Chicago openings. The theory is that if $13,000 is the best it can draw in a huge city, its take will be much less in an under 1 million people market.

    The interesting thing to me from personal observation is that The Road was easily the film I was most asked about. When is it coming to Asheville? When is it coming to Asheville? When it finally did, it was easily beaten by everything else in the same multiplex. It’s even currently being trounced by Old Dogs and Did You Hear About the Morgans?, which must be very embarassing indeed.

    I enjoyed the book THE LOVELY BONES and am interested in seeing the movie

    I’ve seen it and I don’t think it’s bad, but I was left with an overall “what was the point?” feeling. And at 135 minutes, it takes a while to get there.

    And I don’t remember the name, but the trailer for the Cruise/Diaz movie looked like fun

    It’s Knight & Day and I might be more receptive to it with different leads, even though it struck me as pure formula stuff no matter who was in it. But I’m not wild about her and I actively dislike Cruise.

  7. shadmarsh

    Do you have any idea when the Cohen brothers adaptation of Michael Chabon’s novel “The Yiddish Policemen’s Union” is coming out? When I was reading the novel I kept saying to myself “this would make a great Cohen brothers film” so I am quite excited about this, but can’t find any info other than “in production.”

  8. ashevillain7

    Any preliminary thoughts on the following remakes:

    1. Red Dawn (substitute China for USSR in WWIII)
    2. Karate Kid (substitute Chinese punks for SoCal punks vs. the new kid)
    3. Tron (can’t imagine how they could possibly work China into this one)

  9. Ken Hanke

    I am quite excited about this, but can’t find any info other than “in production.”

    Even IMDb Pro is light on details. It is listed as 2010, but that could change. It’s also listed as being released by Columibia (Sony), but that could turn into Sony Classics depending on the results and whether or not the cast is considered marketable.

  10. Ken Hanke

    Any preliminary thoughts on the following remakes:

    1. Red Dawn (substitute China for USSR in WWIII)
    2. Karate Kid (substitute Chinese punks for SoCal punks vs. the new kid)
    3. Tron (can’t imagine how they could possibly work China into this one)

    Remakes are such an integral part of the movies and always have been that I tend not to get worked up over them. After all, they don’t (these days anyway) banish the originals. In fact, a remake now tends to draw attention to the original and can even result in a previously unavailable title coming to DVD (the 1933 Alice in Wonderland finally coming out is a by-product of the new film).

    In the case of these particular titles, you’d need to find someone fonder of 80s movies than I am to get in a dither over them being remade. That said, I certainly don’t claim to be looking forward to the new ones.

  11. luluthebeast

    Learn something new every day! I didn’t know that about short-run movies. After seeing what a lot of “big-hitters” make per screen, 13 grand seemed pretty good to me. And while I wouldn’t even watch the two movies you mentioned, THE ROAD is probably a tough sell this time of year to the general population, even though I like that sort of thing.
    And I just noticed they spent 100 million on LOVELY BONES. That seems a bit exorbitant. And I didn’t think you’d be frothing at the mouth about Tom’s new movie, but I bet Ray will be.

  12. Jim Donato

    Kevin Smith still has a name!? That dried up long ago for me. Some time after “Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back.” Only the logo provided any laffs there. I’ll only watch “Clerks” and “Chasing Amy.” The rest? Fageddaboutit.

  13. brianpaige

    Perhaps Kevin Smith didn’t want them to promote Cop Out using his name? I only noticed his name on the credits at the end of the trailer. He didn’t write it though…wonder why? More and more Smith strikes me as a poseur cynic, someone who makes fun of certain genres but secretly likes this stuff. Next he can tackle the war action movie genre and come up with the next Navy Seals.

  14. Ryan

    “Am I the only one who is cringing at the Burton ALICE IN WONDERLAND? Is he in it only for the money?”

    Say Whaaaa? Burton has made every movie as if he is just depressed that he hasn’t had the inspiration to go after Alice, probably because it was too obvious. He butchered Charlie, Planet of the Apes, even took the fun out of Sweeny Todd, proved he wasn’t the real talent behind Nightmare with Corpse Bride, the list goes on, and for one reason, they were made as if they were Alice in Wonderland, but they really, really weren’t. ALICE is what he was born to do, and hopefully enough to be the last of it’s style, so we can see if he is capable of anything else. The bottom line is that this is the grand finale of the Burton style. Those of us who grew up on it, it’s the event of the year, and probably the last time we come out in numbers for Burton.

  15. T.H.X. Pijonsnodt, Esq.

    I’ll concede upfront that Scott Stewart’s Legion…looks like trash…

    The script for this one should have been a half page long.

    FADE IN:

    EXT. HEAVEN

    GOD: “I have decided to end humanity.”

    GOD ends HUMANITY.

    THE END

  16. Ken Hanke

    After seeing what a lot of “big-hitters” make per screen, 13 grand seemed pretty good to me

    Well, it would be — if the movie was in 2-3000 theaters. Though it was aberrant, the per theater average on Precious was $104,000.

    And I just noticed they spent 100 million on LOVELY BONES. That seems a bit exorbitant.

    I can’t even figure out where they spent it. Most of the special effects are that special and a good many of them are less believable and more cartoonish than the ones in Jackson’s Heavenly Creatures, which was made for a lot less than $100 million. It’s going to be virtually impossible for them to turn a profit on this. And I think Paramount knows it. They followed up the Up in the Air screening by sending us DVDs (which they said weren’t being made). They followed up The Lovely Bones with silence.

  17. Ken Hanke

    Kevin Smith still has a name!? That dried up long ago for me. Some time after “Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back.”

    I’m fonder of Smith than you are, though I hardly think he’s an important filmmaker or anything. I actually liked Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back and liked parts of Clerks II. The less said about Jersey Girl the better and I never saw Zack and Miri Make a Porno, which I think puts me in the majority. But it would seem that it was decided that his name wouldn’t be a plus factor on this. If the trailer is any indication, the only plus factor I can imagine would involve a can of gasoline and a match.

  18. Ken Hanke

    Perhaps Kevin Smith didn’t want them to promote Cop Out using his name?

    That seems unlikely. It’s usually the studio that makes that call. Smith’s not in such a position that he has the kind of clout to insist either way. He probably took a script he didn’t write because that’s all that was going.

    More and more Smith strikes me as a poseur cynic, someone who makes fun of certain genres but secretly likes this stuff.

    Maybe, but then again the people who traditionally have been the most successful at making fun of things are usually crazy about the things they make fun of. My real guess here, though, is simply that Cop Out was the only offer around.

  19. Ken Hanke

    Am I the only one who is cringing at the Burton ALICE IN WONDERLAND?

    Yes.

  20. Ken Hanke

    He butchered Charlie, Planet of the Apes, even took the fun out of Sweeny Todd, proved he wasn’t the real talent behind Nightmare with Corpse Bride, the list goes on

    You’re entitled to this view, but I don’t share any of these sentiments. With that in mind, I’m probably the last person you should ask whether or not Sherlock Holmes deserves five stars, since that’s the same number of stars I gave Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Sweeney Todd and Corpse Bride. My guess is that our tastes don’t have a lot of common ground.

  21. Ken Hanke

    The script for this one should have been a half page long

    Perhaps, but I’m betting it’s going to be funnier this way.

  22. brianpaige

    I run hot and cold on Burton. I’m not the biggest fan of the Charlie/Wonka book anyway so neither the goofy Wilder version or the Depp/Burton version do much for me. The less said about his Apes remake the better (though I did like Tim Roth in it).

    But Sweeney? Great movie. Ed Wood? Great movie. And I took a look at the 1989 Batman compared to The Dark Knight and dare I say I might prefer the 1989 film?

  23. Vince Lugo

    I’m probably in the minority here, but I think Cop Out looks funny. It certainly looks better than Hot Tub Time Machine or The Bounty Hunter.

  24. Ken Hanke

    The less said about his Apes remake the better (though I did like Tim Roth in it).

    It’s probably not worth arguing about — it’s not a great movie or central to Burton’s work — but I actually prefer it to the 1968 film, which I’ve thought was pretty bad ever since I saw it when it was new.

    And I took a look at the 1989 Batman compared to The Dark Knight and dare I say I might prefer the 1989 film?

    Well, I won’t argue with you. Others might. I’d rate Batman Returns over both of them, though.

  25. Ken Hanke

    I’m probably in the minority here, but I think Cop Out looks funny. It certainly looks better than Hot Tub Time Machine or The Bounty Hunter.

    I’d say you’re in the minority here, but the rationale of its relative quality seems a little like choosing being trampled to death by a herd of angry moose over dying from cholera.

  26. luluthebeast

    “The bottom line is that this is the grand finale of the Burton style. Those of us who grew up on it, it’s the event of the year, and probably the last time we come out in numbers for Burton.”

    Considering how many people have come out to see his movies and buy his dvd’s the last ten years, I’d have to disagree with you; people, like me, will keep coming out to see his movies.
    Even BIG FISH, one of my favorites, which made just under two times budget in the theatre, was the top selling dvd when it first came out, selling two million units in the first five days. The rest of his movies have made three to six times budget the last ten years. Does that sound like people are getting tired of them?

  27. Ken Hanke

    Would you still give WILLY WONKA five stars Ken?

    I would never give Willy Wonka five stars, but, yes, I’d still give Charlie and the Chocolate Factory the full five. (I couldn’t resist saying it that way, because I really do not like the Gene Wilder movie.)

  28. Ken Hanke

    The rest of his movies have made three to six times budget the last ten years. Does that sound like people are getting tired of them?

    No, it doesn’t, but that’s the pitfall of trying to speak for an undefined “we” in broad terms.

  29. luluthebeast

    True, it’s about as broad a term as you can get, but sometimes that’s all we have and I think it shows that there are a lot of people out there that haven’t gotten tired of his movies.

  30. Ken Hanke

    True, it’s about as broad a term as you can get, but sometimes that’s all we have and I think it shows that there are a lot of people out there that haven’t gotten tired of his movies

    I’m not disagreeing with you, but with Ryan’s rather bold statement about this being “the last time we come out in numbers for Burton.” Your assessment is backed up with some reasoned facts, not just an assertion.

  31. brianpaige

    Batman Returns? Bleh. I’m probably in a big time minority but I like it the least of any of the Batman movies. I’d watch Arnold crack bad ice jokes instead. Burton largely got Catwoman right (though the origin makes little sense) but his take on the Penguin is really, really ill conceived. An army of penguins with bombs descending on Gotham? Ugh. He took a gangster villain from the comics and made him into a villain…out of a Tim Burton movie.

  32. Ken Hanke

    He took a gangster villain from the comics and made him into a villain…out of a Tim Burton movie

    Well, after all, it is a Tim Burton movie. I suspect this is a basic difference of viewpoint. I’m much more interested in a Tim Burton movie than I am in the comic books, which hold little appeal for me.

  33. Steven

    Besides the rather small fan-base, I think I’m pretty much the only one looking forward to [i]Scott Pilgrim vs. The World[/i].

    Jason Reitman screened it, and was completely floored by what he saw.

  34. Ken Hanke

    Besides the rather small fan-base, I think I’m pretty much the only one looking forward to Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

    Well, it hasn’t a firm release date last I knew. I’ll go so far as to say I’m curious, but there’s the Michael Cera factor…

  35. My issue is not how popular Burton is… I feel he is creatively bankrupt. Anything “weird” gets thrown his way, and his films to me lately have been paint by numbers. The only exception this decade is BIG FISH, a smaller project with a lot of passion behind it.

  36. Vince Lugo

    I think Big Fish has been unfairly maligned. I thought it was wonderful, but you’d be surprised how many people I run into who hated it.

  37. T.H.X. Pijonsnodt, Esq.

    I feel he is creatively bankrupt. Anything “weird” gets thrown his way, and his films to me lately have been paint by numbers.

    I feel that question marks are the only adequate response to that comment.

    ????

  38. Ken Hanke

    My issue is not how popular Burton is…

    I never thought that was your issue. That was Ryan’s issue.

    I feel he is creatively bankrupt.

    That ranks high on the list of things I don’t agree with.

    Anything “weird” gets thrown his way, and his films to me lately have been paint by numbers.

    Again, I disagree in the strongest possible way, but what I really question is the idea that these things get “thrown his way.” That makes it sound like he’s some studio director who’s handed assignments. I kind of doubt that’s the case. I won’t say that you’re alone in your assessment — though usually when I hear this complaint about his work, it’s tied to a condemnation of him using Johnny Depp. In any case, I find him neither creatively bankrupt, nor painting by numbers (the closest to the latter would be Corpse Bride, but that didn’t bother me). In fact, I find Big Fish, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Sweeney Todd to be superior to his earlier films except for Edward Scissorhands and Ed Wood.

  39. Ken Hanke

    I think Big Fish has been unfairly maligned. I thought it was wonderful, but you’d be surprised how many people I run into who hated it.

    Not necessarily surprised. I was told the other day that someone hates me as a critic solely because I picked it as best film of its year.

  40. Tonberry

    “Shutter Island” has to be the movie I am most looking forward to in the brand new year. I just finished reading the novel a few weeks ago, and while there are moments of horror, I would say the book is distinctly a psychological thriller.

    I am also very interested in seeing “Kick Ass” as well as “The Wolf Man” and “Iron Man 2.” The trailer got me pretty excited (Don Cheadle! Mickey Rourke! and a very fine looking Scarlet Johansen!) for what I hope will be a fun summer blockbuster. I just hope it doesn’t have an underwhelming 1st and 3rd act that the first “Iron Man” did.

    And then there is “Let Me In.” I’ll let you fill in the blanks.

  41. luluthebeast

    “Not necessarily surprised. I was told the other day that someone hates me as a critic solely because I picked it as best film of its year.”

    That’s being a bit short-sighted and rude, don’t you think?

    I don’t like getting into lists of “best of”, but it is one of my favorite movies of his. He handled a delicate subject with grace, humor, whimsy and wit.

  42. Ken Hanke

    I just hope it doesn’t have an underwhelming 1st and 3rd act that the first “Iron Man” did.

    I didn’t so much mind the first act, but that third act — sheesh.

    And then there is “Let Me In.” I’ll let you fill in the blanks.

    Too terrible to contemplate.

  43. Ken Hanke

    That’s being a bit short-sighted and rude, don’t you think?

    Well, yes.

  44. davidf

    I’m very curious about INCEPTION, though I don’t think that’s coming til summer.

  45. In fact, I find Big Fish, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Sweeney Todd to be superior to his earlier films except for Edward Scissorhands and Ed Wood.

    I’m only with you on BIG FISH.

    Since you’ve written about Burton Ken, do you know if he developed these movies or was just a hired gun?

    Maybe I’m just tired of remakes and reboots and want to see him tackle more original material. It looks like he’s making a feature length version of his FRANKENWEENIE, which looks more promising than Alice.

  46. Ken Hanke

    Since you’ve written about Burton Ken, do you know if he developed these movies or was just a hired gun?

    That’s always a tricky question unless you were actually there, but it’s my understanding that he developed them. That doesn’t mean that no one suggested the projects to him. It doesn’t even mean that he didn’t read a stack of scripts and chose one. (I think we can exempt Corpse Bride from this.) Of course, I’m not sure if you’re asking if he developed them — it’s pretty obvious that he did — or if you’re asking did the idea originate with him. The thing is hired guns come into a project at a late stage and shoot the film. They don’t come in and start altering things and bring in their wife and friends and composer. You may think he’s spinning his wheels and all that, but I don’t think you’d argue that the films — for better or worse — have his fingerprints all over them.

    Maybe I’m just tired of remakes and reboots and want to see him tackle more original material. It looks like he’s making a feature length version of his FRANKENWEENIE, which looks more promising than Alice.

    A small point perhaps, but with the possible exception of Planet of the Apes, he hasn’t really done a remake or a reboot. Charlie is hardly a remake of the Wilder picture. It’s instead a different approach to the book. (I’d similarly not call Horror of Dracula a remake of Dracula, nor BS’ Dracula a remake of either one.) The musical of Sweeney Todd hadn’t been filmed before, though there are certainly other versions of the story. And Alice isn’t a remake, but an imagined sequel to the book. Actually, Frankenweenie — which seems kind of thin for a feature to me — is closer to a remake than any of these.

  47. Dread P. Roberts

    Am I the only one who is cringing at the Burton ALICE IN WONDERLAND? Is he in it only for the money?

    When I first heard that Burton was making an Alice in Wonderland adaptation I was thrilled. Like most, I thought the concept just sounded like the perfect match. I’ve been waiting for this for a long time now, so it would be hard to fully kill my enthusiasm, but I will admit that, to me, the trailers reek of overused CGI effects. (Did the Red Queens head really need to be three times her body-size?) The truth is that I’m really just sick to death of overused CGI. The effects should compliment the movie, not saturate it. However, the scenery looks gorgeous, in large part thanks to CGI. So I guess it’s a double-edged sword for me. And even though I know people that are sick of the whole Depp/Burton match-up, you won’t get any complaints from me. In fact, I think the whole cast seems pretty spot on. This is probably the movie the I’m the most nervous about, because I think it has so much potential to outstanding in Burton’s hands, but the CGI saturated trailers haven’t quite won me over as much as they have others. We shall see.

    And no, Burton is the last director that I would imagine being “in it for the money.” From the interviews that I’ve seen, and the things that I’ve read, he’s very adamant about capturing his own artistic vision on the screen, regardless of what people think. In his early days he’s been known to fight with big-name studios (like Disney) over this very thing. His so-called ‘weird’ style hasn’t always been appreciated the way it is these days. I believe that just because he’s become a popular director as a result of the unique quality of his work, doesn’t mean that he should do something that people wouldn’t expect from him. I’d say that my perception of him as being more interested in achieving his artistic vision, rather than just cashing in, is one of the things that I admire and respect most about Burton.

    “Shutter Island” has to be the movie I am most looking forward to in the brand new year.

    Hear, hear! As of now, this is the film that is on the top of my anticipation chart for the first part of 2010.

    I’m very curious about INCEPTION, though I don’t think that’s coming til summer.

    I think ‘curious’ is a good word to use. When I saw the trailer I found myself thinking, “wow, that looks great…wait…WTF was that?” It looks to me like Christopher Nolan is trying to get back to his somewhat signature psychological-ish stuff, along the lines of Memento. From what I understand, Ken isn’t really a big fan of Nolan’s movies (or style?), so that might attribute to the lack of mention over this. Although, despite the fact that I love The Prestige, you probably won’t catch me arguing over the fact that Nolan has become a bit overrated. It seems that I tend to think a little higher of Nolan than Ken does, but I do often agree with what Ken has to say about his movies. The guy just needs to lighten up a little, and quit taking his work so darn seriously. Nolan should take the advise of his joker, if you ask me. (Please note: I’m really not trying to open the old Dark Knight can-of-worms.)

  48. Ken Hanke

    This is probably the movie the I’m the most nervous about, because I think it has so much potential to outstanding in Burton’s hands, but the CGI saturated trailers haven’t quite won me over as much as they have others. We shall see.

    I admit to a certain nervousness, too, though the longer trailers have quelled that somewhat.

    From what I understand, Ken isn’t really a big fan of Nolan’s movies (or style?), so that might attribute to the lack of mention over this

    I didn’t mention it mostly because I was only looking at the first part of the year.

    Although, despite the fact that I love The Prestige, you probably won’t catch me arguing over the fact that Nolan has become a bit overrated.

    The Prestige is the only of his films I actually like. Some of the others, I respect, but I don’t like them much.

  49. Dread P. Roberts

    I admit to a certain nervousness, too, though the longer trailers have quelled that somewhat.

    There is a very good chance that I haven’t yet seen the longer trailer(s), since I haven’t gone out of my way to watch a trailer for this anytime recently.

    I didn’t mention it mostly because I was only looking at the first part of the year.

    Fair enough. Now that we’re in the comments section, if you don’t mind commenting on it, what are your personal thoughts on the trailer for Inception.

  50. Dread P. Roberts

    I admit to a certain nervousness, too, though the longer trailers have quelled that somewhat.

    There is a very good chance that I haven’t yet seen the longer trailer(s), since I haven’t gone out of my way to watch a trailer for this anytime recently.

    I didn’t mention it mostly because I was only looking at the first part of the year.

    Fair enough. Now that we’re in the comments section, if you don’t mind commenting on it, what are your personal thoughts on the trailer for Inception?

  51. davidf

    “The Prestige is the only of his films I actually like. Some of the others, I respect, but I don’t like them much.”

    I’d say that sums up my feelings about Chris Nolan pretty well, too. But the thing is, I love THE PRESTIGE so much. It’s the rare movie that I can watch repeatedly and enjoy more every time. It’s making me keep my fingers crossed for a pleasant surprise with INCEPTION. I’m curious if Nolan will ever overcome his nihilism, which is usually what leaves me thinking at the end of his films: “that was impressive, but what was the point?” Even though I got a lot more than that out of THE PRESTIGE, the nihilism is still there in full force.

    On a completely different note: is CRAZY HEART ever coming to town?

  52. Ken Hanke

    Now that we’re in the comments section, if you don’t mind commenting on it, what are your personal thoughts on the trailer for Inception?

    I wouldn’t in the least mind, but all I’ve seen is a short teaser and the best I can say based on that is that I’m intrigued.

  53. You may think he’s spinning his wheels and all that, but I don’t think you’d argue that the films—for better or worse—have his fingerprints all over them.

    Oh, no argument there. All his films have his distinctive stamp on them.

    I also want to add that I’m a huge Burton fan. I want to love every film he’s done this (now) past decade, but I think he’s in a rut. His movies’ title fonts are even bleeding together. With all the money that he is making I would love to see some more challenging work from him.

    As a video store owner, another reason why I like him is that he is a “gateway drug” for younger customers. If they are really into Burton, we suggest other films.

  54. A small point perhaps, but with the possible exception of Planet of the Apes, he hasn’t really done a remake or a reboot. Charlie is hardly a remake of the Wilder picture. It’s instead a different approach to the book. (I’d similarly not call Horror of Dracula a remake of Dracula, nor BS’ Dracula a remake of either one.) The musical of Sweeney Todd hadn’t been filmed before, though there are certainly other versions of the story. And Alice isn’t a remake, but an imagined sequel to the book. Actually, Frankenweenie—which seems kind of thin for a feature to me—is closer to a remake than any of these.

    Come on Ken, you’re being too technical. All of these have drawn on popular source material. The masses will say, “Cool! He’s doing this!” and will flock to the theater to see something with the Burton touch.

  55. Ken Hanke

    Even though I got a lot more than that out of THE PRESTIGE, the nihilism is still there in full force

    Yes, I’d say that’s true.

    On a completely different note: is CRAZY HEART ever coming to town?

    Apparently it is. (Not sure when.) Frankly, I would as soon it wasn’t because that means I’ll have to watch it. That’s less an assessment of the quality of it than a matter of taste. I made it exactly 38 minutes into the screener before giving up on it out of finding it something I just couldn’t relate to. Maybe when I have to watch the whole thing, that will change.

  56. davidf

    “I made it exactly 38 minutes into the screener before giving up on it out of finding it something I just couldn’t relate to.”

    Yeah, the old-washed-up-country-fella story line isn’t something that would usually get my attention, but I’m a songwriter, and when I saw the CRAZY HEART preview that played before ME AND ORSON WELLES last week, it got me.

  57. The big news this week is in the tv shows.

    After a two year delay the popular HBO series BIG LOVE SEASON 3 is finally upon us. Also out is the cult NBC show CHUCK SEASON 2. Finally, if you ever wanted to see Mighty Mouse snort cocaine, the Ralph Bakshi version of the cartoon is now out (1980s). The creative team for this kids show went on to create REN AND STIMPY.

    I’m looking forward to next week, where there is half a dozen killer indie films coming out.

  58. I’m probably the last person you should ask whether or not Sherlock Holmes deserves five stars, since that’s the same number of stars I gave Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Sweeney Todd and Corpse Bride.
    This post triggered an idea in my head – a Sherlock Holmes picture directed by Tim Burton. Wouldn’t that be something? Presumably starring Johnny Depp as Holmes.

  59. The big news this week is in the tv shows.

    After a two year delay the popular HBO series BIG LOVE SEASON 3 is finally upon us. Also out is the cult NBC show CHUCK SEASON 2. Finally, if you ever wanted to see Mighty Mouse snort cocaine, the Ralph Bakshi version of the cartoon is now out (1980s). The creative team for this kids show went on to create REN AND STIMPY.

    I’m looking forward to next week, where there is half a dozen killer indie films coming out.

    Oops! Meant for another thread… sorry!

  60. Tonberry

    The guy just needs to lighten up a little, and quit taking his work so darn seriously.

    “THIS CITY *DEEP INHALE* HAS JUST SHOWN YOU *DEEP INHALE* WHAT IT IS WILLING *DEEP INHALE* TO DO *DEEP INHALE* FOR GOOD!!!!!!!!!!” –Batman played by Christian Bale in Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight.”

    I think that part of the movie is hilarious.

    Presumably starring Johnny Depp as Holmes.

    I may pick Mr. Depp as Moriarty. With Mr. Ritchie still directing of course.

    (On on the topic of “Inception”)
    The second trailer for “Inception” got me pretty hyped. More so than that whole “Avatar” movie ever did.

  61. I may pick Mr. Depp as Moriarty. With Mr. Ritchie still directing of course.
    He could work wonders with the part, I agree. Russell Crowe would probably do excellently, based on his work in 3:10 TO YUMA.

  62. I may pick Mr. Depp as Moriarty. With Mr. Ritchie still directing of course.

    The rumor is that Brad Pitt was Moriarty. He was hanging around and Ritchie put him to good use.

  63. Ken Hanke

    Come on Ken, you’re being too technical. All of these have drawn on popular source material. The masses will say, “Cool! He’s doing this!” and will flock to the theater to see something with the Burton touch.

    Oh, I don’t think it’s a technical issue at all. If a film has an established source and that’s what you work from, it’s simply not a remake. The 1932 Jekyll and Hyde isn’t a remake of the 1920 film. They merely have the same source, However, the 1941 Jekyll and Hyde is a remake of the the 1932 film — it’s based on the film’s script. In fact, MGM bought the 1932 film to get those rights. The Ian McKellen Richard III is certainly not a remake of the Laurence Olivier film.

    I might concede that Planet of the Apes at least might be called a remake, since neither film seems to have much to do with the source novel. But I would not call Charlie a remake and Sweeney Todd is a film of a stage show that has never been filmed. I’d kind of agree with the way the public might perceive these — though you’d have a hard time convincing me that Sweeney Todd was wildly popular outside of a pretty select crowd. But this is hardly an immediate plus. For ever person who goes, “Cool,” there are 10 people whose childhood is imperiled by Burton “ruining” something they’ve always loved.

  64. Sean Williams

    Christian Bale’s Batman talks like he gargles with whiskey and thumbtacks.

    I’m in the respecting-but-not-actually-liking-Nolan club. However, I did very much enjoy the review that described The Prestige thus: “David Bowie invents a teleportation machine for Wolverine because he thinks Batman killed his wife.”

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