The Oscar nominations were announced last week and, for the most part, there’s not much reason for me to complain. The films nominated were the top films last year, and, while I would have liked for Moonrise Kingdom to have snuck in, there really isn’t a film that it could replace. The only big snub that I can see would be leaving Ben Affleck off the best director nods, but then again, who could be taken off? Perhaps David O. Russell could have been taken off but I really liked Silver Lining’s Playbook and the nomination was deserved. Someone was going to draw the short straw for this year, and Affleck and Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty) happened to end up on the outside looking in.
I’ll have more on the Oscars as the ceremonies approach. In the meantime, January continues its dominance in theaters. This time, three films are opening to try and convince me that this month may be worth salvaging. All three have their merits but I’m not holding out any hope. The first to try and persuade me is…
In a city rife with injustice, ex-cop Billy Taggart seeks redemption and revenge after being double-crossed and then framed by its most powerful figure: Mayor Nicholas Hostetler. *
The Good – Russell Crowe is a damn fine actor. I see his name and I immediately take notice. Throughout his many years in the industry, he has taken on many different types of roles, excelling at many. Whether it’s as a dirty but honorable cop (L.A. Confidential), as a General turned slave (Gladiator), a whistle blower (The Insider), a disturbed genius (A Beautiful Mind) or as a ship’s captain (Master & Commander: The Far Side of the World), he can usually be counted on being the best thing about any given movie. The only problem is, in Broken City, he is not the headliner.
The Bad – Mark Wahlberg (Max Payne) is the headliner. It seems he can only be decent in cops or robbers parts. His mannerisms and acting are always the same as his previous movies. I don’t think I’ve ever liked a role that he has played. (For the record, yes, I’ve seen The Fighter and came away not too impressed by him there either. Christian Bale made that movie. As for Ted, the talking bear was the highlight.) Even in The Departed, his character was the same as everything he had done previously. I don’t see variety in him, and I doubt I ever will.
The Ugly – We Broke this City. We Broke this City on Rock and Roll. Broke this City. We Broke this City on Rock and Roll… Sorry.
Broken City is rated R for pervasive language, some sexual content and violence.
THE LAST STAND
The leader of a drug cartel busts out of a courthouse and speeds to the Mexican border, where the only thing in his path is a sheriff and his inexperienced staff. *
The Good – I’ve just spent the past movie bashing Mark Wahlberg for being the same in every movie. Now I’m turning around and praising Arnold Schwarzenegger for doing the same. It’s because I actually like his character; the snarky action hero who is quick with a quip as he dispatches another in a long line of nameless villains. It takes charm and charisma to pull it off well, and Arnold has that in spades. His personal life aside, there is something about him that makes the audience want to root for him.
The Bad – But will this movie remind me of the old late 80’s, early 90’s Arnold (like Total Recall, True Lies or Commando) or will it more resemble his dull late 90’s output (like Collateral Damage or The Sixth Day). Hopefully, the decade long absence from a starring role will reinvigorate the old guy. Then again, it could show the rust in the bones that inevitably comes with age. We’ll find out soon.
The Ugly – Schwarzenegger’s next movie is another in the Conan series. I can’t be the only one that is frightened by the prospects of a 65 year old man running around in a loin cloth. Normally, that stuff will get one institutionalized.
The Last Stand is rated R for strong bloody violence throughout, and language.
Annabel and Lucas are faced with the challenge of raising his young nieces that were left alone in the forest for 5 years…. but how alone were they? *
The Good – Jessica Chastain has built up a solid working record in film, which could culminate in her winning the Best Actress Award for Zero Dark Thirty (my personal hope is that Jennifer Lawrence can pull off the upset but it will be very tough). Like her fellow nominee, she filmed a horror movie before her recent break into mainstream stardom. Mama is based on a short film by Andrés Muschietti, who expands it to feature length with the help of producer Guillermo Del Toro, who is a fantastic director in his own right (the Pan’s Labyrinth poster is currently hanging in my apartment). Normally, I associate quality when I see his name.
The Bad – However, there is not much to entice me into the theater for this one. While I am a fan of Guillermo Del Toro’s work, here he is only a producer. As for the film itself, the trailer reminded me of another film, 2008’s The Uninvited. That movie was dull, boring and a poor excuse for a horror film. It does not bode well for Mama for this trailer to remind me of that snooze fest.
The Ugly – I see the title and my mind flashes back to all those old annoying talking baby dolls. Mama. Mama. Mama. SHUT UP ALREADY!!!
Mama is rated PG-13 for violence and terror, some disturbing images and thematic elements.
That will do for this week. Tune in next time when we go looking for candy at a witch’s house. Until then, I’ll be back.