Wednesday, September 26, 2007

How far would you travel to see a Wes Anderson movie?

It's either a mark of devotion or a rather sad fact that, on the pretense of seeing some old friends (which I did), I once drove about two hours from Salisbury, Md., to D.C. to see Wes Anderson's "Rushmore." And if his new flick, "Darjeeling Limited," manages to open in Atlanta or Athens this weekend, I'll probably do something very similar this Saturday.

You know what would make more people want to go to the movies? Letting them know a mere two days in advance what movies are opening where. I've spent about a half hour now trying to determine if "Darjeeling Limited" indeed opens in Georgia this weekend, which I realize is not a heck of a lot of time, but it's still awfully frustrating to come up empty-handed. If anyone knows the answer to this, please do share.

Even if I don't make the journey north this weekend, there's still a great fall slate of new offerings that may have me hitting the theaters as many as three times (thanks to my spiffy new three-day weekend.)

Here, in descending order, are the flicks I'm planning (and not planning) to see this weekend (not including, for now at least, "Darjeeling Limited":

The Kingdom
If you haven't managed to catch up with NBC's sophomore series "Friday Night Lights," you're truly missing out. I know it's a show about high school football, but it's also about life in America, and it's just tremendously entertaining. You'll have to wait until Oct. 5 for the season two premiere, but Berg's new flick, "The Kindgom," hits theaters Friday. Out of respect for Mr. Berg and with love for Chris Cooper, Jennifer Garner and Jason Bateman, this hopefully-not-too-routine political thriller tops my viewing list this weekend.

Death at a Funeral
This has probably played most everywhere in the world except Macon already, so if you've seen it please let me know if it's anywhere near as funny as it should be. From American director Frank Oz, this otherwise very British flick promises a mix of dark and goofy humor, and should therefore be right up my alley. (Besides, it's always nice to see Spud working again.)

In the Valley of Elah
Am I the only person in the world who really just can't stand Paul Haggis? I thought "Crash" was a preachy, rather boring mess, and "Million Dollar Baby" just managed to suck the life out of a great boxing story by F.X. Toole. I'll most likely go see this, Haggis' latest, on Monday, but it feels more like an obligation (since it will be guaranteed at least 10 Oscar nominations) than anything else. Based, believe it or not, on a "Playboy" magazine article, this is about a father (Tommy Lee Jones) who enlists the help of a detective (Charlize Theron, just what I expect a cop to look like) after his soldier son goes AWOL shortly after returning from a tour of duty in Iraq. Frankly this doesn't sound much better than a souped-up episode of CSI, which I'm not sure I've ever bothered to watch in its entirety.

"Feast of Love"
Though it has a cast almost as strong as it title is banal, I have to admit I know next to nothing about this one. Starring Morgan Freeman, Selma Blair, Greg Kinnear, Radha Mitchell, Billy Burke and, somehow, Fred Ward, this is described at the IMDB as: "A meditation on love and its various incarnations, set within a community of friends in Oregon." Wouldn't a single word, "meh," have been just as accurate a summary?

"The Game Plan"
I really like the writing of Orlando Sun-Sentinel film critic Roger Moore, but I have to wonder lately if someone hasn't been spiking his drink of choice with wacky juice. Lately he's been handing out five-star reviews at least once a week, and he thusly even fairly enthusiastically endorsed this new flick starring "The Rock": Sometimes, it all comes together. You've got the personnel. The things they've been known to do well, they do very well. The leadership is all on the same page. The execution? Nearly flawless. Finally, for Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, The Game Plan pays off.

Really, Roger? I won't be seeing this one myself, so I won't be able to dispute that sentiment with any authority at all, but I do have to wonder if some very powerful people haven't gotten into Mr. Moore's head (and maybe his wallet, too, but we really shouldn't even go there.)

And there you have it. Two movies I'm excited to see, one I'll see out of obligation, one I'll see if I can manage to find it and get there, and two you'd have to strap me down to behold. All in all a pretty darn good multiplex weekend, I'd say.

And here, in honor of Mr. Anderson, is a sublime "Rushmore" clip set to the always-welcome strains of Cat Stevens' "The Wind." Enjoy, and have an entirely bearable Wednesday. Peace out.


Chris said...

As far as I know, Darjeeling is only playing the NYFF this weekend, and from there, I don't know if it's supposed to open (wide or limited) the next weekend or a little later.

As for The Game Plan it's better than your average family comedy but a glowing, top-notch review is overdoing it.

Bob said...

Chris is correct I think. Seattle's not getting it this weekend (I definitely looked!) and according to boxofficemojo, it's only NYC this weekend.
"Death at a Funeral" is very funny. It starts out a bit slow but once everyone arrives at said funeral it really kicks into gear. And I always love to see Spud too!
I have no actual desire to watch "In the Valley of Elah" either. I'm wary of film as political rant, regardless of what side it's from. I just don't like being bludgeoned over the head with a message stick.
But to answer your question, I would go a very very long way indeed to see a Wes Anderson movie. In fact, your question should replace "What would you do for a Klondike bar?"

"I'll take punctuality."

kat said...

I'm going to take the opposite view. I found "Death a Funeral" to be shockingly unfunny. Being a fan of Matthew McFadden I really expected to like it I found it all a bit try-hardish.

Linda said...

I liked Death at a Funeral. I thought it was a solid, dark British comedy. I found the character's quirks highly entertaining.

Reel Fanatic said...

Hmmmm ... It definitely sounds like Darjeeling Limited is out for this weekend, which will at least save me $5 bucks ... and it's a split decision on "Death at at Funeral," but two to one in favor ... I'm leaving that one on the list for Sunday, before In the Valley of Elah

Marina said...

Oh, you're not alone on your Haggis dislike. I find that Eastwood manages to take some of the (to quote Bob) "bludgeoned over the head with a message stick" but when he's at it alone, it's a shambles.

As for Anderson...I'm not sure I'd go particularly far. I like his work but don't *love* it as much as some.

Ashok said...

My opinion on "Death at a Funeral",

J.D. said...

The Kingdom is pretty good, but it's style and especially the third act are INCREDIBLE.


Reel Fanatic said...

Thanks for the good word on 'The Kingdom," JD .. I'm not looking for anything terribly deep with this one, so it sounds like I'll enjoy myself just fine ... And I concede that Wes Anderson isn't for everyone, Marina, so we'll have to just agree to disagree, perfectly politely of course, about this one

J.D. said...

It's politically charged yet politically neutral, not really deep, and the end point of the movie does seem pointless and it's like we're all going around in circles, which is perhaps a deepness, if you look at it that way. It's definitely entertaining though. :)

JMW said...

No love for Haggis here, either. Million Dollar Baby was bad, Crash was massively over-rated. The guys over at detest him, too...

Fletch said...

To sum up:

I would drive probably an hour and a half to see a Wes Anderson film, but luckily (being in Phoenix) I don't have to. That said, it's not opening here this weekend, either.

Death at a Funeral was pretty good, but I wouldn't go overboard in either direction.

What about Eastern Promises? Not playing in your neck of the woods, either? Saw it last night...very, very good.

Reel Fanatic said...

Actually, I did get to see Eastern Promises, Fletch, and I enjoyed it quite a bit ... I didn't think it was quite as good as Cronenberg's best works (I'd have to list "Spider" as my favorite), but still thoroughly entertaining

renee said...

Oh, you've stumbled on one of my pet peeves. I just can't STAND that you can't find movie listings more than 2 or maybe 3 days before the weekend. I just can't understand why that is. They have to order the films ahead of time, so it seems like they should have a good idea of what is going to be playing the next weekend by Monday. It makes it really hard to plan a movie outing with a group of people.

I had to laugh at your comparison of Valley of Elah with CSI. I just read a review of The Kingdom in Entertainment Weekly that called it CSI: Saudi Arabia. Great minds thing alike, eh?

Reel Fanatic said...

I'm pretty good friends with the manager of our best multiplex, Renee, and when I asked him why they can't put the listings up before late Tuesday or early Wednesday, he really didn't have an answer other than that that is how he's told to do it ... You're definitely right that they have the movies in hand before that, and could easily move up the announcement schedule

Kris said...

Did you find out whether Darjeeling is playing nearby?

Death at a Funeral was pretty funny. I ended up seeing it twice on the same day, and I didn't mind at all. It still got me laughing throughout the movie....

Reel Fanatic said...

After some sleuthing and some help from people who commented here, Kris, I've unfortunately figured it's pretty much only playing New York this weekend .. I hope it gets a much wider release soon, but I'm not sure yet when that will be

renee said...

I saw that Darjeeling opening here in the Twin Cities on 10/12, but they are having free screenings in other cities all the way until 10/23, so I'm guessing they're doing some sort of rolling release schedule.

Reel Fanatic said...

That makes sense, Renee ... If there's anything at all good that can come from Owen Wilson trying to kill himself, and I really don't think there can be, it's that that bit of publicity just might be enough to get the movie out here to the hinterlands by 10/23 .. Thanks for the head's up