We leave behind the bone yards of January and February for the doldrums of March. Things get marginally better this month, thanks largely to the first round of festival pickings from TIFF holdovers and Sundance premieres, but the mainstream offerings remain decidedly slim. This is the stuff that wouldn’t cut it in the more competitive summer months, like “Gerard Butler saves the White House” and “G.I. Joe but with Bruce Willis and The Rock this time” and “Please like this as much as you liked Twilight”. March is always a weird month to me because there are genuinely good movies on offer, but there’s a lot of studio dross, too.
21 and Over
Half as grown up as The Hangover and twice as funny as Project X. Just once I’d like to see a young Asian character in a movie NOT trying to get into med school.
Jack the Giant Slayer
This looks terrible. But Ewan McGregor looks hot with his little Renn Faire beard, and it stars beautiful nymph-boy Nicholas Hoult, and also that sarcastic bitch Stanley Tucci. So I’m seeing it anyway. Which means it will probably do just well enough to keep the fairy tale train rolling a little longer, even though as a genre, I don’t think this is working out for anyone, really.
The Last Exorcism Part II
How can this be “part II” of something that was already “the last”?
This should be on TBS. Seriously. How is this a feature film?
This is amazing. You should see it. Full review here.
Beyond the Hills
4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days is one of the most depressing movies I have ever seen. Romanian filmmaker Cristian Mungiu may make depressing-as-shit films, but he has a strong narrative voice. I saw Beyond the Hills last fall at the Chicago Film Festival—it’s not as depressing as 4 Months but it’s still pretty bleak.
Dead Man Down
Niels Arden Oplev, director of the original (and best) Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, reunites with Noomi Rapace for a mob-revenge story. Also starring Colin Farrell—who needs a win after Total Recall failed to take off—this doesn’t look terrible (for instance, it doesn’t look nearly as bad as Olympus Has Fallen), but nor does it look like it would hold up in the more competitive summer months. Basically, this is the quintessential March movie.
Oz the Great and Powerful
I’ve never been a huge Wizard of Oz fan, so this is lost on me. It looks like pretty much every other fantasy-land film since Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, and goddamn but those flying monkeys looks fucking creepy in CG.
Clearly Halle Berry’s ongoing custody battle is getting expensive.
Ginger & Rosa
An arthouse coming-of-age story set in 1962 London, Ginger & Rosa garnered mixed reviews on last year’s festival ciruit, though the acting of the two stars, Elle Fanning and Alice Englert (Beautiful Creatures) was generally praised. It looks like a rote “burgeoning female sexuality” movie, and while I might get around to it eventually, mostly it just makes me want to watch Cracks again.
The Incredible Burt Wonderstone
There was a lot of hype around this Steve Carrell movie about a magician competing against his arch-nemesis (played by the desperately-needs-to-get-back-on-track Jim Carrey) for a plum Vegas gig, but the fact that it is coming out in March and not June makes me think it didn’t turn out as hoped. There are some funny bits in the trailer, but I wonder if that’s all there is. And Carrey is so far past his sell-by date I can’t stand it. I will always love his work from the early 90’s, but he, I, and everyone else has long since outgrown his schtick.
So far Tina Fey has given us her version of teen comedy (Mean Girls) and buddy comedy (Baby Mama), and now she’s tackling the rom-com with Admission. I hope this is more Mean Girls than Baby Mama, and I hope it is, and have no reason to believe it won’t be, at least a halfway decent rom-com. Could there be a more likeable pairing than Fey and Paul Rudd? No, I tell you. No.
Ugh, seriously, Dreamworks, just put out How to Train Your Dragon 2 already.
Olympus Has Fallen
The simple summary is “Australian Dreamgirls starring Chris O’Dowd”. The slightly more involved synopsis is that in 1968, four Aboriginal Australian sisters had a girl group that went to Vietnam to entertain troops. Reviews are mixed but it seems like a relatively harmless piece of fluff, a more cheerful option amongst the other, more depressing arthouse fare this month.
This has STUNT written all over it, from the stunt-casting of former Disney darlings Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens to the team up of filmmaker Harmony Korine (Gummo) and The Artist Formerly Known as James Franco. Reviews have been mixed—Korine is an acquired taste, to say the least—but this also has “cult classic” stamped on it. It’ll find an audience, probably a small, very dedicated audience.
Now here is an interesting spin on a classic fairy tale. Spain’s top film of 2012, Blancanieves is a silent film set in the 1920’s in which Snow White is the daughter of a famous bull fighter and has her own destiny awaiting her in Seville’s legendary Plaza de la Maestranza. This is a beautiful film which I enjoyed way more than The Artist, and where other fractured fairy tale films have claimed to a “new twist”, Blancanieves actually is a singular, new way of telling the story.
G.I. Joe Retaliation
G.I. Joe was horrible, but it was gilded with Channing Tatum’s Midas touch and so it did well enough to justify a sequel. Which is this movie, here, now. G.I Joe 2 was actually supposed to come out last year but was delayed for extensive reshoots because someone woke up one day and went, “Oh my God, we made another one of these shitty G.I. Joe movies, what are we doing?” and then tried to undo it. No such luck—it’s still a shitty G.I. Joe movie, but this time it stars The Rock and Bruce Willis (Tatum was rumored to have tried to get out of this sequel, making no secret of how little he liked the first one, and so his character, Duke, is “dealt with” early on, but wouldn’t the more fitting punishment have been to make him be in the whole thing?).
Between my apathy toward sci-fi in general and active hatred of Stephenie Meyer’s writing in specific, I couldn’t get with The Host. And though writer/director Andrew Niccol will always get a pass for The Truman Show and Gattaca, I think it’s fair to say he hasn’t lived up to the potential he showed in the 1990’s (2011’s In Time was ridiculous). The Host is basically Invasion of the Body Snatchers grafted onto a Twilight-esque love triangle and starring the very likeable Saoirse Ronan. I’m not convinced it will be Twilight huge, but it will probably do well enough to allow Meyer to continue deluding herself into believing she’s making valuable contributions to our culture.
The Place Beyond the Pines
Blue Valentine writer/director Derek Cianfrance reteams with Ryan Gosling for Pines, which was extremely well received at TIFF last fall, and is expected to have award season implications this year, especially for Gosling and co-star Bradley Cooper, who got some of the best reviews of his career for Pines. Gosling and Cooper both have two top-notch looking films this year—Pines and Only God Forgives and David O. Russell’s ABSCAM movie, respectively—so it will be interesting to see what kind of momentum they carry into award season.