Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Banks-ing on box-office?

Questions we got. Answers not so much. Opinions? We're lousy with them.
For example... what's the deal with how much work Elizabeth Banks is getting? The woman's appealing in that 1990's Meg Ryan kind of way but does she really have the talent to merit this much work? OK, stupid question, since when's talent got anything to do with it? Still, makes you wonder. For the record, as Laura Bush in Oliver Stone's W., she was no more than a walking talking prop, albeit a dead-on for looks prop. (Unlike Thandie Newton in the same flick as Congaleezza Rice, who was a walking talking parody, not of the Secretary of State, but of an actress. You can click here for more of that rant.)

Banks is also currently being seen, mostly by moviegoers who show little discretion in their ticket buying choices, in Zack and Miri Make a Porno and Role Models, the latter being the film to see if you must get a Banks dose this fall, only because of Paul Rudd's terrific sarcastic deadpan.

Here's another mystery... what's with the glut of scary movies scheduled for early next year? Wasn't that always the domain of the early fall? Another Saw came out last month and did some nice business, though others, like The Haunting of Molly Hartley, couldn't scare up an audience. And now, already being promoted, are at least three major scare flicks (the psycho type scares over the blood and guts stuff). The most promising is The Haunting in Connecticut starring Virginia Madsen and Martin Donovan, still without a release date from Lionsgate. Rogue Pictures will release The Unborn, starring Gary Oldman, James Remar and Carla Gugino, on January 9th (the same date a remake of Clive Barker's Hellraiser will make it back into theaters), and The Uninvited from Dreamworks SKG will none the less invite itself to your local cinema on January 30th, starring... wait for it... yes, Elizabeth Banks.

Also, on tap for January 16th with a full month to put you "in the mood", will be My Bloody Valentine 3D, the 3D being exploited as a marketing gimmick in all of it's 1950's red and blue lensed glory. (Although of course, the black shades hi-tech version is being used here.) There's even a sequel of sorts coming in February for New Line's classic franchise (read "why haven't we mined this resource lately"), Friday the 13th.

If you just can't wait to get your fright on, you can check out House, playing in near empty theaters as I write. Or you can just invest in the stock market then read the Wall Street Journal every morning.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

It was a wonderful night.

"Strange, isn't it? Each man's life touches so many other lives...".

That's Clarence from Frank Capra's classic It's a Wonderful Life. To a nation that did Frank Capra proud last night, we join with you in watching a brighter light shine out over a nation refreshed.

Congratulations to President Elect Barack Obama. Congratulations to Vice-President Elect Joseph Biden. And congratulations to each of you who cast your vote, no matter to what cause or what party.

God Bless all of us in this extraordinary new chapter in American History. 

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Craig List.

In just a little more than a week, Daniel Craig will reprise his role as 007, James Bond, in the latest installment of the most successful franchise in movie history, Quantum of Solace. As Craig has been forced to explain in nearly every press interview promoting the film, the unusual title refers to that moment of reconciliation when one finds an inner peace that satisfies, at least temporarily, some inner turmoil or angst. For James Bond, it's coming to grips with losing a great love as witnessed at the end of the last Bond (and Craig's first), Casino Royale. For Daniel Craig, his own personal quantum of solace may be arriving with an understanding that unlike most actors who put on the tux and slip in the Walther PPK (though I don't think they're using those anymore), he actually has an actor's life beyond Bond. Sure Connery and Brosnan had one - after leaving the franchise, and Moore had success before Bond, but it's Craig who seems to be living a double life in his acting and he's out to prove it over the space of the next three months.
Aside from next week's wide release which is positioned nicely to become the biggest box-office hit of the end of the year, Daniel Craig's film work has already been augmented this fall with Flashbacks of a Fool, a release from Anchor Bay Entertainment and Arclight Films which is currently both in limited release and just available on DVD. The film, a drama told through flashbacks, has Craig playing a washed out and angry actor who,  through dealing with news of the death of a childhood friend, must deal with past conflicts and present day redemption. The story feels compelling and Craig's image of arrogance and vulnerability nicely echo the conflict of the script.

Post Bond will be Defiance. The trailer, just reviewed on's Trailer Takes, puts Craig in the middle of a high tension drama set in Russia at the onset of World War II. Leading a community of Jews in an escape from Nazi soldiers, the film follows the odyssey of survival of a continually growing enclave holding onto its life's beliefs while constantly evading German capture. In Defiance, Daniel Craig is joined with strong support by actor Liev Schreiber. Directed by Edward Zwick who was responsible both for 2006's excellent Blood Diamond starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Connelly and 2003's masterful The Last Samurai with Tom Cruise and Ken Watanabe, Defiance looks to be another performance driven historic piece set in convincing backgrounds and conditions. Daniel Craig looks to live up to every aspect of the past excellence that Zwick has drawn from his previous stars.

With the 007 franchise knee deep in hype over critical claims of reinvention and a new hard edged realism, it's refreshing to see its new star looking beyond the Bond girls, fast cars and high tech weaponry. Daniel Craig appears to be looking to live beyond Bond and to establish some high ground for his career and his fans. We think the last few months of 2008 will be a memorable time for Daniel Craig's career and a strong indication to his fans that there's much more of interest in what lies ahead. And of course, the Bond thing isn't about to be over anytime soon.