The Media Morgue 2006 Year End Movie Guide

Ah, Christmas season is here once again. Which is funny since I started writing this article back at the end of August, when I noticed that the local home improvement megastore was already setting up their Christmas decoration section. Anything to get the consumers spending what little money they have to help keep America strong, right? Yeah. whatever.

Anyway, here are some movies scheduled to be released in the month of December, along with a few comments by JJ, one of the Media Morgue staff and myself. Keep in mind that this is by no means an exhaustive list, and we have no early reviews on most of them, so what follows is just our picks for what may or may not be good films to check out while you quietly fester in the saccharine hype of this annual contrivance:

THE NATIVITY STORY - Starring Keisha Castle-Hughes and Oscar Isaac

JJ - I’ve read the bible account a few times over my life and watching the preview it seems as if they follow how it is depicted. It’s iffy whether the movie is worth watching or not. Seeing Joseph holding Mary and begging to be let into someone’s house seems a little bit loud considering the King was after the firstborns to put them to death. I probably will see it just to see if they can keep close to what the bible states.

Judge - Hollywood is starting to realize that Christians can be marketable. Doing a story about Christ around the holiday season is a no-brainer. I am surprised to see that it’s take this long to get something to the big screen. Maybe it was held up in development as executives sitting behind a big table tried to figure out how they could sex things up a bit more. Maybe have Jesus blow up a few Muslims in the process or something. That’ll get the asses in the seats for sure!

APOCALYPTO - Written and Directed by Mel Gibson

Judge - Have Mel's Malibu antics swayed the decision of some people to boycott his film? Not sure. So long as he doesn’t set fire to a cross or in a drunken fog mistakenly think a statue of the virgin Mary is a urinal in the next few weeks, the film is going to be a big box office draw. Good or bad.

JJ - The previews are a bit chaotic and don’t seem to explain much of what is supposed to be going on. Neither does the little synopsis. If a movie is described as broadly as this one is, it usually means that the movie is going to be long and drawn out. The preview bores me so I don’t know if I’ll even bother.

BREAKING AND ENTERING - Starring Jude Law and Juliette Binoche

JJ- Ohhnoze! A landscape architect is yanked out of their comfort zone to check out burglaries of his state-of-the-art offices. They made this into a movie? I yawned when I read it. Jude Law tends to not know how to pick movies. Looks can only get you so far.

Judge – someone wake me if there are any boobies.

THE GOOD GERMAN - Starring George Clooney and Cate Blanchett

JJ - WWII seems to be a movie goldmine. Cate Blanchett is one of my favorite actresses. Any movie she touches seems to just blossom into greatness, or at least her role does. This movie deals with someone running away from a past and that can sometimes turn into a great thriller and a nice surprise ending. But I will be seeing it just because Cate is in it. She’s that good.

Judge – Same comment about boobies applies here.

BLOOD DIAMOND - Starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Connelly

JJ - Diamonds have been said to cause trouble but this diamond is just a world of trouble…hence the name. Leonardo DiCaprio has been in so many movies lately and each one he’s in he has not disappointed – though this movie might. Jennifer Connelly is also good - just not that good. This is a fence sitter for me. It all depends on what mood I’m in if this movie will draw me to the theater or not.

Judge - this one has been getting some controversy lately as allegations that the studios promised hundreds of African amputee children with prosthetic legs and arms as compensation for being in the film and then in a act that even makes Scrooge say "that's fucking low!" didn’t send them. Is the film any good? I don’t know. Its opening towards the end of the year so that it can attract some Oscar attention, which leads me to believe its going to be well shot, directed, etc. But will it be a good movie? Not sure.

DOA: DEAD OR ALIVE - Starring Jaime Pressly and Devon Aoki

JJ - Video games to movies have a 50/50 chance of being great. I like the Resident Evil movies and they were video games. Not everyone agrees on video game-to-movies as being good or HORRIBLE. So DOA has a chance of ROCKETING off into the box office green or just bombing into an early DVD release.

Judge – I can’t get past the fact that video game movies are so popular with the studios not because they have solid stories, but because they have a built-in fan base that will make the movie usually a one or two day megahit. Then, when the rest of the world has seen it, it quickly drops into oblivion. I havent heard anything about this one, so I cant really decide if its going to be good or not. Meanwhile, “HALO” directed by Peter Jackson gets shelved. There is no justice in the world.

THE HOLIDAY - Starring Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet

JJ - I’ve seen previews for this a lot and it seems like a good fun holiday movie. Lucky for it - it’s called The Holiday. Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet have proven that they are fun actresses so this one seems to have the power to not disappoint and that’s a good thing considering there are so many disappointing movies this year.

Judge - Probably the last film Kate will be making. Let’s hope she can go out on a high note and not fizzle into obscurity like so many other folks.

UNACCOMPANIED MINORS - Starring Lewis Black and Wilmer Valderrama

JJ - I work with kids and this movie just looks annoying.

Judge – I like Lewis Black and I think he can be a solid straight-man to Mr Big Penis, but this one is definitely going to be a “renter” for me.

DECEMBER 15, 2006

DREAMGIRLS (Limited Release) - Starring Beyonce Knowles and Jamie Foxx

JJ - Normally a movie that has an all black cast makes me wonder if it’s playing towards that crowd only because the market tends to do that. Though that doesn’t keep me from watching it just makes me go…why? This movie seems to have its act together and Beyonce Knowles has been great in every movie I’ve seen her in and the same with Jamie Foxx. I think I’ll see this one. It looks fun and it sounds like it’ll have a soundtrack that will sell like soundtracks use to.

Judge – Waitaminute...Jamie Foxx has been great in every movie you’ve seen him in? Clearly you must have mentally blocked “Stealth” from your mind. It’s OK, I can understand how traumatic things like that can happen.

The movie sounds interesting, although not to be confused with "Showgirls" which has become one of my favorite films to publicly laugh and quietly be aroused by.

DECEMBER 22, 2006

THE GOOD SHEPHERD - Starring Matt Damon and Angelina Jolie

JJ - It’s the movie about the birth of the C.I.A. As interesting as that sounds the preview makes it seem like it’s going to kill people with boredom. But then again it could be a nice thriller. But I don’t know if I’m willing to bet my hard earned money on something that might be better than Nyquil.

Judge – I’m a sucker for films like this. However, the problem with the cold war was that there really wasn’t that much action going on. Sure a lot of political saber ratteling, but not much of anything else. However, the film has been Robert De Niro’s pet project for over ten years and also stars Joe Pesci and Chazz Palmenteri, so I am planning on checking this one out.

ERAGON - Starring Ed Speleers and Garrett Hedlund

JJ - The book that I wanted to read ever since I found out a 16 year old wrote it. I also would love to meet him. What an imagination one would have to have to write three huge books about a world that only exists in his mind. I’m so looking forward to this dragon fantasy and I know it’ll be awesome. I am glad that I have something to really look forward to.

Judge – I don’t know. I’m not a huge fan of fantasy films and this one seems like its going to be very CGI-heavy. I’m calling this one a renter.

THE PAINTED VEIL (Limited) - Starring Naomi Watts and Edward Norton

JJ - I think Edward Norton is astonishing. American History X proves it and from that point on I think he just got better and better. A movie set in the 1920’s is interesting because that decade is just interesting to me. It’s one of my favorites and one I wouldn’t have mind living in. This movie seems a bit Oscar-ish and I am interested in seeing it even though it deals with infidelity but it deals with growth as a couple and that is good in this day in age.

Judge - Period pieces always do good. I am sure that the fact that its placed around the end of the year and near Oscar nomination time has NOTHING to do with it. Limited release, limited interest, good actors and lots of costumes and art direction. In other words, we’re looking at an Oscar winner here and I haven’t read one word of the script yet.

THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS - Starring Will Smith and Jaden Smith

JJ - Aww a father son duo, how awesome. Will Smith is a very entertaining actor and I am hardly ever disappointed in his movies (except for Wild Wild West and MIB II) so it’s not a shot in the dark when I see a movie he’s in that looks good. I will see this movie. It looks like a feel-good drama. The moviegoer watches and goes on a rollercoaster of emotions and at the end they smile because the ride was so worth it. I believe this movie will do that.

Judge – This smells like a feel-good movie. I hate feel-good movies.

DECEMBER 20, 2006

CHARLOTTE'S WEB - Starring Juia Roberts and Dakota Fanning

JJ - Who didn’t read this book? WHO? When I was in school we read this book and saw the cartoon. It’s a great story and it is a classic. If the book and the cartoon were models for this live action movie then I don’t see how it can disappoint…then again that is how it can disappoint if it doesn’t.

Judge – Oh look, another cutesy animal film that uses a boatload of A-list actors for character voices. Sure to be a hit with the kiddies.

NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM - Starring Ben Stiller and Dick Van Dyke

JJ - When I was a child and went to the Museum I thought it would be cool to be stuck there at night. Then there was the Sesame Street movie with Big Bird stuck in the museum and that made me wish for it more. So seeing this movie preview I just automatically marked it down as a movie I am so seeing. Who hasn’t wished, as a kid, to see things in the museum come alive? It’s like Toy Story with the toys…it’s something I used to imagine.

Judge – This is the perfect vehicle for Ben Stiller to be himself. If you like his style of comedy, you’ll probably love this movie. If you are not a fan of Ben Stiller, you’ll probably want to throw stuff at the screen. The trailer looks funny, so I’ll plan to catch this one.

ROCKY BALBOA - Starring Sylvester Stallone and Burt Young

JJ - If you’ve been waiting for a movie that has the following: “virtual boxing” and “cyber-fight,” then this movie is for YOU! Side note—this movie is NOT for me.

Judge – No. No. No. No. No. Its a stupid premise, a stupid idea and a TERRIBLE way to cap what once was one of the greatest sports films in modern cinema. Then again, just because a film has a stupid premise doesn’t usually prevent it from getting made. (see “Stealth” above)

- Starring Matthew McConaughey and Matthew Fox

JJ - Movies about tragedies are good because they remind people of what happened and they inform those that never knew about it. The latter is true for me on this one. I never knew about this story. A whole football team dies in a plane crash and I read it was 75 people in total. That’s a lot of people to lose when they came from a small town. I will see it. I hope it’s as emotional as it seems to be and now those people will be remembered as they should be.

Judge – Just what the world needs, another sappy, overcoming-all-odds football movie. So will it be as good as “Rudy” or “Brian’s Song”? The jury is still out on this one.

DECEMBER 25, 2006

BLACK CHRISTMAS - Starring Michelle Trachtenberg and Lacey Chabert

JJ - Oh this movie is about girls screaming, running away from a murder and then slipping, going into rooms asking “is anyone there” and picking up the phone when they know it’s the fun murderer on the other end. This one is not only dripping in sorority sister blood during winter break, it’s dripping in the over done idea of horror movies.

Judge - Are there any boobies? If so, Merry Christmas!

CHILDREN OF MEN - Starring Clive Owen and Julianne Moore

JJ - A different twist on world destruction movies via population and not an outer worldly rock headed to cause a second ice age. Women cannot have babies and it so happens there is ONE woman that is pregnant. Julianne Moore doesn’t disappoint me and I will bet she still won’t so I choose to mark this movie as a “worth seeing”.

Judge - Kind of has a gritty, Orwellian feel to it that might make for a fun watch. Good concept and good actors. I'll say yes to this one.

DECEMBER 27, 2006

PERFUME - Starring Ben Whishaw and Dustin Hoffman

JJ - Someone who creates great smells turned murderer? How is that not intriguing? Dustin Hoffman is a good actor and this movie has my interest but it’s another mood one. It all depends on my mood that weekend if I’m even going to venture out and see it. It’s sort of on the fence as a possible snoozer.

Judge - Interesting premise, great looking shots from the trailer, but can they sell it as something fantastic, or is this going to be something I’m left chuckling at the whole time I’m in the theater? Its a bit of a stretch, but I’ll give it a watch and see.

DECEMBER 29, 2006

FACTORY GIRL - Starring Sienna Miller and Guy Pearce

JJ - Andy Warhol is one of those interesting people I believe most would agree they’d like to meet. Guy Pearce is a great actor. I believe this movie will be an interesting jewel and maybe even a cult classic if it’s done right. Andy does have that following.

Judge - It's the fish-out-of-water story of Holly Golightly, a factory girl made famous by Warhol. I dont know about this one, as I think the "art" may get in the way of telling the story. I'll say go see it, but only because my coin-toss says so.

MISS POTTER (Limited) - Starring Renee Zellweger and Ewan McGregor

JJ - Renee Zellweger and Ewan McGregor are if-y to me. Sometimes they are good and sometimes they are just ‘huh?’ Then they add the love story and “change her life forever” and I think…meh and bleh and nah.

Judge – oh good. I was worried we weren’t going to see Renee pouting her way through another period piece this year. I think I’ll pass on this one.

PAN'S LABYRINTH - Starring Doug Jones and Ivana Baquero

JJ - A post-war story that has a child creating her own world in her imagination with creatures that have never been seen before other than inside her mind…just that idea alone makes me want to see it. Children’s imaginations are priceless and this movie can go in the right direction if it handles it right. It could be like Finding Neverland in that respect.

Judge – Have you seen the trailer they have on IMDB? There are two for this one. In the first its more of a teaser. I hate trailers with nothing but flashes of shots from the movie, all out of context, all intended to show how wonderfully mysterious or imaginative the CGI is. Its all designed to wow you into thinking you have a great film on your hands. Then you get to the theaters and find out you are barely watching the same thing.

The second trailer suffers from voice-overitis. A very common affliction in Hollywood where they use a really ominous voice-over to convince you the film is big and bold. They even used the cliché “In a wold...” line used in way too many trailers. Still, Guillermo Del Toro does have a great imagination, so perhaps this will be a half-way decent flick to catch.


So there you have it. Several films coming out for the end of the year, either to cash in on the holiday season, or because its close to Oscar nominating time. Either way, the consumer usually wins. Note: I say USUALLY. Your mileage may vary.

1 comment:

richard said...

i would say the best oscar opportunity here for the painted veil is naomi watts, next is edward norton.

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