It’s a busy week for film as the last of the summer dregs are cleared out to make room for the year’s first legitimate Oscar contender…and some other titles.
P.T. Anderson’s The Master is the clear star and just may be my most anticipated film of the fall. Its tale of a charismatic leader (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and an ardent follower (Joaquin Phoenix) may or may not be about the early days of Scientology. What’s clear is Anderson’s track record (besides Punch-Drunk Love). Even with staggeringly high expectations, early reviews have been positive.
From the writer of Training Day (and…um…The Fast and the Furious) comes End of Watch, another LAPD thriller. This one stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena as young cops who tussle with a cartel. A good deal of it appears to be handheld camerawork under the guise of Gyllenhaal’s character as a budding filmmaker, a hackneyed premise that nearly always backfires. Still, Training Day was an engaging, high-octane thriller, and End of Watch could easily provide similar quality thrills.
On the extremely artsy side is Farewell, My Queen, which examines Marie Antoinette’s (Diane Kruger) love for a subject (Virginie Ledoye) and the faithfulness of one of the monarch’s readers (Lea Seydoux). I typically like Kruger’s work and will be interested to compare the production design to Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette. Look for my review soon.
Unless you count his turn at the recent RNC (and, really, IMDB probably should), it’s been four years since Clint Eastwood’s last performance. That would be the quintessential “get off my lawn” picture, Gran Torino, after which Dirty Harry hinted at giving up acting and staying firmly behind the camera. He’s back in Trouble With the Curve, helmed by his frequent assistant director Robert Lorenz, given the reins for the first time. Eastwood plays an Atlanta Braves scout whose failing eyesight makes him reliant upon his estranged daughter (Amy Adams). I’m not a huge fan of either lead and the treacly trailer suggests a box of tissues might be included with admission, but I tend to love baseball films and with Justin Timberlake, John Goodman, Matthew Lillard, and Robert Patrick in supporting roles, there’s hope.
Adding a dose of horror is House at the End of the Street, starring Elisabeth Shue and Jennifer Lawrence as a new-in-town mother and daughter whose lives are, well, affected by the haunted house next door. Lawrence adds a little prestige to the film, which otherwise looks like a fairly standard scare-fest.
Speaking of horror, there’s also Dredd, a continuation…or sequel…or something having to do with the 1995 Stallone pic Judge Dredd. The latter has always seemed like a bad joke and/or a film to be viewed with a drinking game, and the latest iteration doesn’t look any better. After seeing its trailer before seemingly every film this summer, sitting through the actual thing, 3D or not, seems unnecessary.
Fleeing the Scene
Thursday marks the end of Killer Joe and Celeste & Jesse Forever. Both are certainly worth seeing, though there’s less pain in seeing Dark Horse sent to the glue factory after a mere week at the Carolina. As expected, Todd Solondz continues to be a tough sell.
The week’s small screen offerings are right up there with its theater brethren. In addition to the flawed but supremely entertaining The Cabin in the Woods are two (Hysteria and Best Exotic Marigold Hotel) that I’ve yet to see but come highly recommended. Less enticing, especially after Jeff, Who Lives At Home, is the latest from the Duplass Brothers (The Do-Deca-Pentathalon) and the Katy Perry concert film, Part of Me.
On Netflix Instant
The upcoming streaming slate has its share of impressive new titles, but this week the top pick is Oslo, August 31. The Norwegian film has received near-universal raves and sports an impressive 84 on MetaCritic.