I have to confess that I tried to watch Danny Boyle's "Sunshine" this past weekend and just didn't get it. I did stay through the whole movie, of course, but it just seemed to have little point or reason to exist at all (and I'm perfectly willing to concede that perhaps it all just went right over my head.)
It's the first Danny Boyle movie I've even mildly disliked, so I can definitely give him a pass and eagerly await his next move, especially when it's something as crazy as "Slumdog Millionaire," about an illiterate Hindi kid who conspires to get on the Indian version of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" to win the girl of his dreams. That should just be tons of fun.
But back to "Sunshine." I certainly think the big screen needs more intelligent science fiction, so I'm glad Boyle took a stab at it, but there have been much better examples of it in recent years. Alfonso Cuaron's "Children of Men" was my second-favorite movie of 2006, behind only Guillermo del Toro's "Pan's Labyrinth." And before that, of course, there was Joss Whedon's "Serenity," which gets the grand treatment it deserves this week on DVD.
"Serenity," based on Whedon's one-season-only "Firefly" (honestly, you folks who run the Sci-Fi Channel, is there anything better you could do than throw the money at Whedon to revive this show on your network? Just do it already.) What this space Western had, along with the smarts, was a lot of laughs. Even if his character was directly cribbed from Han Solo, Nathan Fillion makes Capt. Mal Reynolds his own and leaves a lasting impression.
For anyone who hasn't seen this one yet (and if you haven't, really, for shame!), it picks up the "Firefly" story with River Tam (Summer Glau) as the focus. The collector's edition claims to include more than 30 minutes of bonus features, including extended scenes, "Take a Walk on Serenity" featurette, "A Filmmaker's Journey" featurette with Mr. Whedon, "The Green Clan" featurette with cinematographer Jack Green, "Sci-Fi Inside: Serenity," an "in-depth look at the film and TV show hosted by cast member Adam Baldwin, and a commentary with Whedon, Fillion, Baldwin, Glau and Ron Glass.
As far as intelligent sci-fi with heart goes, I really can't recommend anything higher than "Serenity."
Other picks this week:
The Lives of Others
It seems like I've been waiting years to see the movie that somehow managed to beat out "Pan's Labyrinth" for the Best Foreign-Language Film Oscar, and now I'll finally get to. There's a listing on the IMDB for a "Lives of Others" coming in 2010, so I can only imagine there's some crap American remake coming soon, but do yourself a favor and watch this drama about the German Stasi police instead.
South Park: Season 10
I'll keep springing for "South Park" until it stops being bitingly funny, and that hasn't come to pass yet. Highlights of this tenth season include the two-part "Cartoon Wars," in which Trey Parker and Matt Stone declare war on Fox's "Family Guy" with help from Eric Cartman, and "TSST," in which a "dog whisperer" is brought in to try and curb Cartman's erratic behavior.
Pusan pays tribute to Yang
Edward Yang may not have made many movies in his short life (only eight, to be precise), but he did manage to craft easily one of my favorite in the sublime "Yi Yi."
And now he's getting an extremely fitting posthumous honor from the Pusan Film Festival, which will name him the Asian Filmmaker of the Year. Huzzah indeed!
Egoyan unleashes 'Adoration'
The world is certainly a better place with more Atom Egoyan in it, especially when he comes up with something as odd as this.
Egoyan has announced his next project will be called "Adoration." With filming beginning in Toronto in September, it will be about teems navigating "this brave new world and how people can invent themselves, or re-invent themselves, through technology." It will star Scott Speedman, Rachel Blanchard, Devon Bostick and, of course, Egoyan's wife, Arsinee Khanjian. Definitely keep your eyes on this one.
Carla Gugino makes a Righteous Kill
With "The Spirit" and now this, Carla Gugino has been on a real roll lately, and I can't think of anyone more deserving.
Her latest coup is the leading female role in "Righteous Kill," the Jon Avnet crime drama that teams up Robert De Niro and Al Pacino as New York cops chasing a serial killer. Gugino will play a crime-scene investigator who starts knocking boots with De Niro's character, apparently.
Sounds like a pretty blase story with, frankly, two actors who have been coasting for years now, but just about anything can go down a lot sweeter with a little Carla Gugino mixed in. And now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go to work. Peace out.