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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

maybe the winter movie wasteland won’t be so bad after all…

When I look out over the next few months, I see a vast wasteland of stupid comedies, unscary horror movies, and insipid dramas: the studios know this is a fallow time, with the kids back at school and grownups nesting in the winter cold, and, as usual, they’re saving the good stuff for later in the year. But there are, surprisingly, quite a few films scheduled for January, February, and March that look like they might be okay, and that may help me retain my sanity till the likes of Indiana Jones 4 and the new Batman movie.
Movies I’m looking forward to in spite of myself:

Cloverfield (opens January 18), because I love a good disaster movie, and we New Yorkers always get a weird chill out of seeing our city wrecked on film (but only on film).

Rambo (opens January 25), because Stallone’s last foray into revisiting his past, with Rocky Balboa, was so shockingly good that it gives me unexpected hope for this one (he wrote and directs both films).

Jumper (opens February 14), because even though Hayden Christensen keeps trying to prove me wrong when I defend his acting skills, this SF action flick is directed by Doug Liman — who kicked cinematic ass with Mr. & Mrs. Smith and The Bourne Identity.

10,000 B.C. (opens March 7), because it’s got, like, mammoths and sabertooth tigers and other cool Ice Age animals.

Movies with a British provenance, and I am nothing if not an Anglophile:

The Other Boleyn Girl (opens February 29), because the script is by Peter Morgan (The Queen), and it’s got scrumptious people like Natalie Portman, Scarlett Johansson, and Eric Bana in period costume. Yum.

Inkheart (opens March 21), because it’s a fantasy about books, and making books come to life, and I’m as big a book nerd as I am a movie nerd (and plus it stars Brendan Fraser and Andy Serkis).

Run, Fat Boy, Run (opens March 28), because even though it’s a fairly standard romantic comedy (I saw it last autumn, when it was originally scheduled to open), it stars one of my boyfriends, Simon Pegg, and he’s just adorable.

Movies about oddballs, which are always fun:

Charlie Bartlett (opens February 22), because I saw this one last year, too, before its release was postponed, and it features future major star Anton Yelchin as a millennial Ferris Bueller.

Penelope (opens February 29), because this is yet another film pushed back from summer, when it would have gotten lost, and because it’s about a pig-faced girl (Christina Ricci) who gets wooed by James McAvoy, whom even non-pig-faced girls like.

Movies that might have a chance of being among the best of all 2008:

Be Kind Rewind (opens January 25), because writer-director Michel Gondry (The Science of Sleep, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) always makes wonderfully trippy movies, and this one has Jack Black and Mos Def remaking classic movies, and that’s gotta be gold.

Pride & Glory (opens March 14), because with Edward Norton and Colin Farrell bringing their intensity to a story of corruptin in the NYPD, via a screenplay by Joe Carnahan, who made the awesome and underrated Narc (I’m willing to forgive him the awful Smokin’ Aces), it could be this year’s The Departed.

Stop Loss (opens March 28), because Boys Don’t Cry filmmaker Kimberly Peirce is turning her unique eye on the mess that is the American military in Iraq, and she’s got Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Timothy Olyphant along for the ride, and they’re two of the best actors working today.



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  • e

    Inkheart was a good young adult series; I think I read the author really wanted Brendan Fraser as a lead and thats good she got it.

  • JT

    You mean you’re not looking forward to the two Uwe Boll films coming out in the next couple of months?

    From your list, I’m anticipating:

    Cloverfield, Jumper, The Other Boleyn Girl, Charlie Bartlett, Be Kind Rewind, Run, Fat Boy, Run and Stop Loss

    And I’m also going to watch –
    The Counterfeiters, because it seems to be another great German film. And Snow Angels, because David Gordon Green is a god.

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