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rare female film critic | by maryann johanson

my week at the movies: ‘Live Free or Die Hard,’ ‘Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,’ ‘Transformers,’ ‘Sunshine,’ ‘License to Wed’


I thought a press screening of Live Free or Die Hard was gonna come late in the week last week. It never did: it’s tonight, actually, only two days before the film opens… or, actually, only one, since there will be midnight screenings tomorrow night. I’ll head out in a few minutes to see the film, and — foolishly or not — I’m really looking forward to it. I adore Bruce Willis, which is a continual surprise to me, I admit, but there we are. And I love Timothy Olyphant, who’s playing the bad guy here — I do think he has the potential to be on a par with Alan Rickman’s baddie in the first Die Hard. The unknown variable is the script: it’s by Mark Bomback, whose previous credit is the truly godawful Godsend. But I really, really want to like this one, so be forewarned that that will bias me when I come to reviewing it. [opens June 27]


It’s kind of a blockbuster week for me: I’ll also see Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and Transformers this week… on the same day, in fact. My head might explode out of sheer geeky delight. What can be said about either of these movies? I expect to get a kick out of them no matter how bad they might be. And bad is pretty much a given when it comes to Michael Bay; Transformers could be his one chance to win me over, if only temporarily. We’ll see… [Harry opens July 11; Transformers opens July 3]

What else this week? Ah, yes, I’ll finally see Sunshine, Danny Boyle’s new SF flick — it’s been screening in NYC for ages now, it seems, and I keep missing it. The cast includes such way-cool but under-the-radar names as Troy Garity and Cliff Curtis — as well as somewhat better-known names, at least among geeks, as Michelle Yeoh and Cillian Murphy. All these quirky folk are on a mission to reignite the sun after it decides to give up shining on us. Sounds geek-a-licious to me… [opens July 20]


Speaking of missing screenings: I had to skip both Kim Ki-Duk’s Time and Kasi Lemmons’ Talk to Me last week , even though I announced them as a given. It sucks, but it happens sometimes, that I have to miss a screening I’ve RSVPed for… in this case, it was because of a non-movie-critiquing-project that I had to finish and that was taking much longer than it should have. It sounds weird, maybe, but even a 90-minute movie can mean five hours out of my day, when I factor in the commute from my outer-borough neighborhood to midtown Manhattan. Sometimes, those five hours really sting, particularly when it takes time away from another project that promises to pay the rent for a month. But it’s not too bad a sting: both films will have more screenings in July that I should be able to make. So all is not lost.

I’m making sure to make time this week, though, for the press day for Rescue Dawn, which I did manage to see last week. The chance to meet and chat with Christian Bale and Steve Zahn? Awesome.

The one moment of cinematic terror for the week is sure to be supplied by License to Wed, in which Robin Williams, of all people, plays a priestly marriage counselor. Oh god, I’m terrified just thinking about it… [opens July 3]

This week is pretty packed, but next week — with the Fourth of July holiday coming smack in the middle — is lookin’ pretty sparse, screening wise. I may not have any screenings at all next week, in fact (publicists know that lots of critics will be out of town — not me, of course, but others — and so don’t bother to schedule screenings no one will attend). So maybe I’ll finally get a chance to watch that DVD screener of Broken English or catch multiplex screenings of Eagle Vs. Shark, Golden Door, La Vie en Rose, or Once

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