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die hard is a xmas movie | by maryann johanson

my week at the movies: ‘Extract,’ ‘An Education,’ ‘Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs,’ ‘All About Steve,’ ‘Disgrace,’ ‘Gamer’

UPDATED: It’s turning out to be a much busier screening week than I expected. I’ve added two movies: The Boys Are Back (opens in the U.S. on September 25, and in the U.K. on January 15, 2010), starring Clive Owen as an Australian single dad, and Broken Embraces (opened in the U.K. on August 28; opens in the U.S. on November 20), Pedro Almodovar’s latest, starring Penelope Cruz as, I’m assuming, a woman on the edge.

I gotta say, I’m not gettin’ that Mike Judge buzz off of anything I’ve seen connected to Extract (opens in the U.S. on September 4; no U.K. date has been announced yet). I see a poster that informs me that this is “a comedy that hits you where it hurts” under a phallic image of a bottle and two walnuts, one of which is broken, which I can only take to mean that this is a movie that believes it has nothing to say to people who don’t have testicles. I see TV ads in which sexually frustrated Jason Bateman complains about his wife, who refuses to have sex with him if he arrives home after 8pm (why would a guy stay married to someone who didn’t want to have sex with him?), but hey, there’s a new tramp at work who’ll surely be delighted to help him with his frustration. Maybe that’s not how the story works out, but it’s how Miramax wants us to think the story works out. And that annoys the shit out of me. Because it means Miramax thinks that Mike Judge appeals only to sexually frustrated men. It means Miramax thinks we’re already living in the Idiocracy Mike Judge warned us about. And maybe we are.

I don’t know much about An Education (opens in the U.S. on October 9, and in the U.K. on October 30), except that star Carey Mulligan is getting a lot of Oscar buzz for what is her first prominent role in a feature film. Which doesn’t surprise me at all, because she had a magic about her that made Sally Sparrow — one of the best Doctor Who shoulda-been-companions — an absolute joy to watch in “Blink.” Also, the film is from Danish filmmaker Lone Scherfig, who is totally awesome: she wrote and directed the waaay underrated Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself a few years ago.

I just don’t see how a movie about food falling from the sky can go wrong. I hope Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (opens in the U.S. and the U.K. on September 18) bears me out on this.

I just don’t see how a movie about Sandra Bullock being cutesy and falling in love — again — can go right. I hope All About Steve (opens in the U.S. on September 4, and in the U.K. on January 15, 2010) proves me wrong. At least her costar, Bradley Cooper, is easy on the eyes.

John Malkovich is a college prof who has an affair with a student in Disgrace (opens in the U.S. on September 18; no U.K. release date has been announced). *yawn* Let’s have a movie about a guy who’s able to keep it in his pants: now that would be dramatic and unexpected. The movie is based on a Nobel Prize-winning novel, cuz, you know, anything men do, even if it’s the most ordinary, least surprising thing in the world — like bed younger women — is the stuff of myth and grandeur.

Gamer (opens in the U.S. and the U.K. on September 4) — the Gerard Butler-as-a-bloodsporting-convict flick — won’t screen for critics, but Lionsgate is nice enough to hold a courtesy screening on Friday afternoon, so at least I won’t have to pay for it. It should be a hoot, actually, because 4pm on the Friday of Labor Day weekend in New York City is sure to be like something out of a postapocalyptic movie, all deserted streets and one lone dog barking in the distance. Why, I might actually have the screening room all to myself…



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