Sunday, May 31, 2009

Getting Pithy

The following column is reprinted from the June issue of Providence Monthly. (Including the stuff my youthful editors deem to leave out.)

Popcorn and Cheese
By Scott Duhamel

One of the easiest (and most) common parlor/barstool/internet games of the pop culture vulture is sussing out the soon-to-be released, whether it be musical, theatrical, literary or cinematic. Every other know-it-all, self-proclaimed maven, or spouter of all things coolio wants to be the one to foretell the next big thang, to be the human pop cult divining rod, to be the prognosticator with the mostest laying it on the hostess. The luckier ones, like yours truly (heh-heh), get to do it print. Let’s get pithy now..

The Hangover (6/5). Yet another dudes-in-diapers ha-ha fest? Possibly, but the trailers hint at something potentially hilarious, maybe even funny-not-dumb. Todd Phillips (Road Movie, Old School) lets both barrels go with Vegas as the background and a never-seen bachelor party as the launching pad, along with chickens, tigers, a baby, a holocaust ring(?), and Mike Tyson.

Away We Go (6/5). A comedy with a grafted on life message, as evidenced by the high brow pedigrees of its creators, filmmaker Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Revolutionary Road) and wunderkind author Dave Eggers (A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius). John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph are featured as a young couple about to have a baby off on a road trip of self-discovery.

Land of the Lost (6/5). Is this remake of Sid and Marty Kroft’s unintentionally surreal 60’s TV cheese fest the right place for funnyman Will Ferrell to score with his brand of doofus shenanigans? Let’s hope that the initial peekabos-which look like too much Ferrell and not enough dada—ain’t exactly right.

The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 (6/12). The original 1974 movie was a gritty urban crime tale, short on frills and heavy on character, as evidenced by its blue collar cast—Robert Shaw, Hector Elizondo, Martin Balsam and Walter Mathhau at his put-upon hangdog best. Macho Brit Tony Scott (True Romance, Man on Fire) may notch himself down enough to deliver the goods, Sidney Lumet-style (although the original was not helmed by Lumet, but by the consistently middle-of-the-road Joseph Sargent), and new players Johnny Boy Travolta and Denzel Washington might be able to muster up the needed earthiness to get it done right.

Whatever Works (6/19). Irresistible, right? Angry New York neurotic Larry David stars in neurotic New York/philosopher Woody Allen’s 39th film, as a misanthrope who gets involved with Southern belle Evan Rachel Wood and her disapproving family. We gotta approve.

The Hurt Locker (6/26). Director Kathryn Bigelow comes armed with the proper smart/action cred (Near Dark, Point Break), a crackerjack film title, an a potentially intense focal point ( Iraq bomb disposal squad), and a sharp group of sturdy faces (Ralph Fiennes, Guy Pearce, Anthony Mackie, Brian Garaghty, and Jeremy Renner) to truly come up with some fare with some insight and bite.

Public Enemies (7/1).Michael Mann (Heat, Collateral) can paint one purty cinematic picture, especially when crime is the genre and tough guys are the focus—in this case depression era bank robber John Dillinger and his own dogged manhunter, G-man Melvin Purvis, respectably played by real purty (and gritty) boys Little Johnny Depp and Christian Bale.

Bruno (7/10). Sacha Baron Cohen’s back with another docu-comedy, as a gay Australian fashion reporter once again set loose on unsuspecting and forever uptight America.

(500) Days of Summer (7/17). A picture puzzle romantic comedy with much accompanying festival buzz, this puts quirky leads Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the midst of a stop-and-go time-jumping tale, replete with split screens, animation, and huge dollops of wistfulness.

In the Loop (7/24). All sorts of film nitcrits are enthusing about this left-field entry, a Strangelove-like farce with an international cast headed up by James Gandofini, Steve Coogan, peter capaldi and Mimi Kennedy.

Funny People (7/31). Comedy King Judd Apatow (The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up) hooks back up with his old real life roomie Adam Sandler attempt to get all grown-up (uh-oh) with this thinly disguised of the latter’s actual true show biz trajectory, with not-so-secret weapon Seth Rogen co-starring.

Julia & Julia (8/7). Smart gal Nora Ephron (Sleepless in Seattle, You’ve Got Mail) adapts the book by Julie Powell (Amy Adams), the regular gal the decided to cook all 524 recipes in bon appetit gal Julia Childs cookbook. La Meryl (Streep) is on hand for the flashbacks to the pre-famous Child’s French-based gastronomic awakenings.

Taking Woodstock (8/14). Ang Lee goes back to his The Ice Storm roots after his last effort, the Chinese spy thriller Lust, Caution, with a cheerful take of Elliot Tiber’s age-of-innocence memoir. Tiber (Demetri Martin) was the host of the iconic fest, and he happened to be a gay man smack dab in the summer of love. With Kelli Garner, Paul Dano, Emile Hirsch, Live Schreiber, and old reliable Eugene Levy as Max Yasgur.

Inglourious Basterds (8/21). High expectations for the only and only QT, aka Quentin Tarantino, who very purposefully turns his lens backward for this WW II squad-on-the-loose genre film, with Brad Pitt as as a hard core redneck leader of an all-Jewish soldier boy pack. The QT fanboys have been waiting for some time for this long-in-gestation exercise, and it promises to be loud, splashy and in-yer-face, just hopefully not as irritating as the misspelled title.


Anonymous said...

Scott, have you heard about "Moon"? David Bowie's son, now going by Duncan Jones instead of Zowie, is releasing his directorial debut (I think it's his debut, anyway) on June 12: it is (unsurprisingly, sorta) a story about a guy who lives alone on the moon.

Scotty D said...

Yeah, it features the always cool and quirky Sam Rockwell, making it one that should be checked-out.