February, like January, is not a good month for movies. It’s marginally better than January because Valentine’s Day means some deliberate content planning, but it’s not much of an improvement. If January is where studios go to bury their movies, February is where they leave them to die. Mostly dead > all the way dead, I guess.
Bullet to the Head
This February, Sylvester Stallone is…WAY TOO OLD FOR THIS SHIT.
This is an Oscar-nominated documentary about the Shin Bet, an Israeli security agency roughly comparable to the NSA. Agents and operations are heavily guarded state secrets, though the doc does interview all the living former heads of the agency. It’s a fascinating look into the decision-making and beliefs of the people responsible for protecting Israel’s statehood. It’s a pretty terrifying look at just how entrenched the prejudices (and they do run both ways) are, but it’s also reveals what both sides have in common—the deep yearning for a home. 2012 was a bananas year for documentaries, and this is among the very best of the lot. (The Invisible War is still my favorite, even if it did make blood curdle in my veins.)
The Haunting in Connecticut 2: Ghosts of Georgia
Should be: The Haunting in Georgia: Ghosts of Connecticuts Past
It can’t be a haunting in Connecticut if it takes place in Georgia. Just saying.
Another documentary, this time from rocker Dave Grohl, about a recording studio in Van Nuys, California. It’s getting pretty solid reviews, especially if you’re a fan of music/listening to musicians talk about making music. The recording studio environment is rich grounds for a doc, since it’s not an area even die-hard fans usually get to see. This strikes me as a good companion piece to Cameron Crowe’s Pearl Jam 20.
Stand Up Guys
Previewed for January. Not a good sign they can’t settle on a release date.
Jonathan Levine follows up the stellar 50/50 with a zombie rom-com fluff piece adapted from Isaac Marion’s novel starring Nicholas Hoult (X-Men: First Class, A Single Man) as a zombie who falls for a human girl (Theresa Palmer, I Am Number Four) after eating her boyfriend’s brain. It sounds twee, and the book was a little bit in that direction, but Levine’s script mines humor from a zombie state not being all that different from the disconnectedness we live with today, and precise casting yields a likeable ensemble. Rod Corddry (Children’s Hospital) is especially funny, and Levine riffs on rom-com tropes in a genuinely amusing way. Full review coming later, but this is a solid Valentine’s Day option and should please boyfriends and girlfriends alike.
A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III
Charlie Sheen went batshit insane and has ended up making hundreds of millions of dollars out of it, as well as getting a new sitcom, Anger Management, and re-starting his film career with Roman Coppola’s Long-Ass Twee Title. Early reviews are mixed, mostly down on Coppola’s lack of focus and narrative drive, but there’s praise for Sheen—remember when he was a good actor?—thrown in. I’m not a huge fan of the second generation of Coppola filmmakers, and I’ve only really liked Roman’s efforts when paired with Wes Anderson. But if you like meandering stories people with ridiculous characters who interact in wholly superficial and mannered ways, then this is the movie for you.
Jason Bateman is very funny, but he keeps doing his exasperated Michael Bluth bit in every movie. Melissa McCarthy is funny, too, but she’s also repeating herself with her loud-mouth, crass Megan bit from Bridesmaids. I want to like a road comedy starring these two, much like I wanted to like Due Date with RDJ and Zach Galifianakis. But like Due Date, I’m skeptical Identity Thief will yield anything but the most mediocre results.
I’m not sure what this is doing in February. Directed by Steven Soderbergh and starring the apparently-a-real-actor-now Channing Tatum, Jude Law and post-Dragon Tattoo Rooney Mara, Side Effects is getting solid reviews. Seems too good for February. But Soderbergh has lately been making some fairly inflammatory comments about studio interference, so maybe this is punishment. Dump his otherwise good movie in the death knell months, ensuring it won’t matter in any material way later in the year. There’s just something really off about this placement. This is an April film at least, if not September.
Top Gun 3D
Probably meant as a test to see what the interest is for Top Gun 2, definitely a total money grab.
One week only.
A Good Day to Die Hard
This February, Bruce Willis is…WAY TOO OLD FOR THIS SHIT AS WELL.
Due to Twilight’s monster success, we’re going to get adaptations of every shitty knock off in the YA market this year. The first of the lot is Beautiful Creatures, which is apparently about witches and not like, unicorns or anything that would be an acceptable definition of the word “creature”. And don’t come and explain how this is actually really popular—I’ve never heard of it and I read a lot.
Escape from Planet Earth
The Weinstein Company (??) is distributing a CGI-animated children’s film (???) on Valentine’s Day (????) because [reasons]. (?????)
This makes no sense.
Lasse Hallstrom (Chocolat, The Cider House Rules) has demonstrated a knack for telling small-scale love stories with sensitivity and humor and depth. But after directing Dear John he’s back for another inexplicable serving of Nicholas Sparks’ “the man is perfect and self-sacrificing while the woman is a horrible selfish bitch” storytelling. He should be better than this? And that he couldn’t pull talent better than Josh Duhamel (Transformers) and Julianne Hough (Ryan Seacrest’s dream of a world in which he’s straight) is a little shocking. This is Lasse Hallstrom! He made What’s Eating Gilbert Grape! I quite liked Salmon Fishing in the Yemen—I’d rather watch Hallstrom make more movies like that, even if they do horribly oversimplify very serious real-world situations, than have him make any more Sparks movies.
Well the trailer totally ruins this one. Seriously, if you’re cutting the trailer for a horror movie and the whole thing is built around “what is going on here”, how about not showing us, in the trailer, what is, in fact, going on here?
Of all the crap action movies coming out this month, this is the one that looks like it might actually be fun to watch. The Rock stars with Susan Sarandon (???) in an “inspired by true events” (which means something vaguely resembling this happened but the movie has blown it way out of proportion) story of a dad who goes undercover on a drug deal because his son’s been arrested. Sure, whatever. Just get to the blowing up of shit already.