The last hurrah for 2006 is upon us and what do the local theaters have to show for it? Nothing. At least, nothing in my area. There is not a single new release arriving locally for me to see. That means one thing, time to catch up on a couple that I have missed. It is also a time to recommend a few movies that are on the big screen and well worth the visit. There are a few major films that are not playing in my area, most notably Dreamgirls and Children of Men.
This weekend I am hoping to catch Black Christmas. I am a big horror buff, and although I am generally let down by Hollywood's offerings I am looking forward to this. It is a remake of Bob Clark's cult flick from 1974, and being such is an automatic target of derision from fans. However, the drubbing it has taken may not be completely without reason, as at the moment the critical consensus rates a whopping 14% at Rotten Tomatoes (narrowly outranking the current king of rotten, Eragon).
I am like a moth to a flame in my desire to go and see the movie, of course. I have not seen the original film and therefore lack the baggage that such a thing would entail. All I am really hoping for is a horror movie with a decent amount of blood and a moderate entertainment level — anything else would be setting myself up for massive disappointment. I do have a little faith in director Glen Morgan, who is behind the entertaining Final Destination series and cut his teeth in the business with the Chris Carter-created X-Files.
Following the holiday horror, I am looking to give myself an inspirational boost by taking a journey in the Pursuit of Happyness. This one is responsible for some of the best reviews of Will "Awww hell no" Smith's career. Perhaps it is his straying from the action genre, or perhaps working with a director making his English language debut, or maybe it is acting alongside his real son that inspired his performance. Whatever the case, he should try it again. The movie is the inspirational, true life (aren't they all?) tale of a man trying to create a beter future for his son as he battles out of homelessness through an unpaid internship where he hopes to become a stock broker. It looks like a good movie, and it has been receiving generally strong notices. It was directed by Gabriele Muccino, who recently had one of his films remade by Hollywood, L'Ultimo bacio, which became the Zach Braff vehicle The Last Kiss.
The third entry in my year-end marathon is a toss up. The first film being considered is the Robert DeNiro-directed spy drama The Good Shepherd. This has been getting middling reviews while being almost universally criticized for being too long. It looks like a movie that I would be interested in, but the near three-hour length and the potentially dry matter has given me pause. The next film under consideration is We Are Marshall, which is also getting middling reviews. It looks like it could be good, but I am not sure I need to see another inspirational football movie after already seeing Invincible and Gridiron Gang this year; you can expand that to sports in general and include the very good Rocky Balboa in the mix. The third features an actor I never thought I would see among the leads of a romantic comedy, Jack Black. The movie is The Holiday, which also features Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet, Jude Law, and Rufus Sewell.
Now, here are a few movies that I would recommend you try, if you haven't already. First is Mel Gibson's Mayan language film, Apocalypto, which is one of the best pure action movies of the year. Leonardo Dicaprio stars in his second excellent film of the season with Blood Diamond, which is a rather thrilling ride despite a few plot contrivances. The previously mentioned Rocky Balboa was a pleasant surprise, bringing big speeches and a strong performance from the aging Sly Stallone. For the families out there I would suggest seeing either Charlotte's Web or Night at the Museum. The former film is a fine, sweet natured tale of the little pig who could, and the latter is a fun night among living museum displays.
There are a few films that are opening in a few parts of the country, but none of them are around me:
- Arthur and the Invisibles
- The Dead Girl
- Factory Girl
- Fast Track
- The Flying Scotsman
- Miss Potter
- Pan's Labyrinth
- Perfume – The Story of a Murderer
Normally this is where I would take wild stabs at what the top ten films will be and what their box office grosses will be. If you didn't guess, you will not be able to see them this week. With no new films opening, and the tiring holiday season, I have decided to take a little break from them, but do not fear, they will be back next week!
So, what are you seeing to finish off the year?