With the passing of Sydney Pollack and Harvey Korman, it’s been a sad few days in movie land, but the weekend comes whether we live or die….
*This time, expect an unusually severe case of gender apartheid as the biggest new release to compete with all the action fare on tap is the much ballyhoed festival of contemporary femininity, “Sex and the City” — the further adventures of a bunch of characters I don’t know much of anything about, apparently because I’m an ungay guy and, yes, we critics and movie writers are now expected to divulge our our sexual orientations before discussing certain movies. (I’m actually sort of renowned in some circles for liking a great many things that some would consider girly, particularly musicals…but whatever entertainment-preference testosterone I have in my system seemed to go into overdrive the minute I caught even one second of this particular series, forcing me to change channels — and, yes, I like “Entourage” a great deal. I guess biology really is destiny when it comes to HBO comedies.)
In any event, the reviews are mixed, including that of our own Jason Zingale, who was man enough to admit to respecting the television series and critic enough to say the movie had some story problems. And both Jason and Roger Ebert, who was man enough to admit that this movie was not made for him, were charmed by “Sex” newcomer Jennifer Hudson, who really does seem to be one the positive by-product that I’ve noticed so far from this whole “American Idol” business. Female critics seem to skew a bit more positive, but as the WaPo’s Ann Hornaday honestly opines:
…the question isn’t whether it’s good. The question is whether it delivers the goods — the goods being shoes, romance, ribald humor, shoes, sex, shoes, pithy observations about single life in New York and more shoes.
And the general consensus is that the raunchy rom-com+ will provide roughly $30 million worth of goods from the domestic box office from those rarest of creatures at the American multiplex — post-college-age women. At least that’s what the usual experts say, noting that it’s already done well abroad.
Overall, “Sex” should put in a very respectable second place after the “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” juggernaut, which is expected to pull in a solid $50 million. I see no reason to disagree.
There’s another movie that perhaps skews to a younger female demographic, and that is “The Strangers,” a chiller about a couple being menaced at home starring beautiful Liv Tyler and himboish Scott Speedman. This one seems to deliver a certain amount of chills, even if many critics turn up their noses, while others, like Bullz-Eye’s Dave Medsker, see both good and bad. Regardless, it’s nice to hear this one isn’t another (physical) torture fest. Considering the scary commercials and the sex appeal to their respective audiences of the two stars, I’d expect this relatively low budget film to have much better prospects for a decent and long life than its characters might. Still, it will likely be bested by the waning, but still mass audience friendly, powers of “Prince Caspian.”
Meanwhile in Indiewood….There are a number of new films coming out in limited release this week, but it’s late, I’ve been fighting some kind of mini-micro-bug all week, and some lovely baked chicken is waiting for me downstairs. I will, however, mention two that should be interest to our audience.
First, there is the amazingly well reviewed (100% Fresh, RT-meter) documentary, “Bigger, Faster, Stronger*” about the widespread use of performance enhancing drugs in athletics. Considering the doc’s newsworthy subject matter and the fact that it’s about sports, and not politics or war, it sounds to me to have the makings of yet another break-out nonfiction hit.
Also getting mostly good reviews (though some are simply a bit appalled) is “Stuck” in which more than two decades after his gruesome horror-comedy, “Re-Animator,” director Stuart Gordon goes to a horrendous real life incident for some extra-extra-extra black grisly humor and chills. This time with Stephen Rea as a hapless man who finds himself in self-involved Mena Suvari’s windshield. As someone who had to knock back a few drinks to finally see Gordon’s signature horrorfest not long ago, but had a good time with it once I did, I’m not sure if I want to see this one or not. I am fairly sure it’s not dull.