Thursday, December 13, 2012
Doug Asks Patrick Questions About Movies
In a few days, the world is predicted [by idiots] to end [what a bunch of idiots]. Give me your top five apocalypse movies. Not your "deserted island"/favorite films, but the best movies about the actual end of the world.
In no particular order:
1. The Road Warrior
2. Dawn of the Dead (1978)
3. Planet of the Apes
4. Night of the Comet
5. Southland Tales
Ironically, putting Southland Tales on that list is a sign of the apocalypse. The end-of-the-world dog is eating his end-of-the-world tail.
Honorable mentions: 12 Monkeys, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, Waterworld, Cyborg
As a cinephile (WHAT?) and a film website founder, do you still feel an obligation to see Oscar-bait movies (i.e. serious films that are designed to win awards), or do you stick to seeing only those movies that you really want to see?
First of all, never call me that again.
But more to your point, I'd say I'm somewhere in between -- there are movies I think I SHOULD see and there are movies I WANT to see. The more years pass, the less stock I put in "Awards Season," so I find myself checking out certain titles more to be a part of the cultural conversation than to follow along with what the Academy is doing. I have no tolerance for movies that are engineered specifically to win awards, but I also think people are very quick to throw out the term "Oscar bait" (I'm not accusing you, of course...I just happen to be looking right at you and POINTING) at any movie that might be pitched at adults, or which has serious subject matter that it takes seriously. Argo is not awards bait just because it's about the hostage crisis or because it's a period movie. I can't even say Les Miserables is awards bait, even though it's EXACTLY the kind of thing that the Academy (or, more likely, the Hollywood Foreign Press) loves to throw awards at. I would much rather accuse Les Mis of Oscar pandering, because I didn't really like it (whereas Argo is very good) and after only two movies I've already run out of patience for Tom Hooper. But I truly believe that everyone involved just wanted to tell this story and make a good movie. It's too cynical to assume that movies are made just to win awards -- though I know a handful of movies do exist, and they are born out of cynicism. The Shipping News is one that comes to mind; if you don't know what that is, there's a reason. You can't reverse-engineer an award winner. You have to make a good movie first.
But I've gotten off topic. Once a movie starts getting all kinds of awards consideration, there's a better chance I might see it if I hadn't wanted to before. This is not because I want to follow along on Oscar night (I no longer care) or because I feel like I "should" as a movie lover, but more so because if a movie is getting serious awards consideration, it's usually because a lot of people are saying it's good. If a lot of people are saying something is good, I figure it's worth my time. I had very little interest in seeing The King's Speech a couple years ago, but people were really responding to it. Whether or not it was going to go on and win Best Picture (it did) did not matter -- I just decided to give a chance to something I heard was good. That's not always the case. Though this is VERY closed-minded of me, I had a pretty good indication how I would feel about last year's The Help based on the marketing. Even when people started raving about it and it started picking up awards, I couldn't shake the feeling that I knew exactly what my reaction to that movie would be. I had seen The Blind Side. I didn't need to go through that again. I still have not seen The Help.
Aren't you sorry you asked?
Anything you're particularly looking forward to in 2013? Besides Grown Ups 2/The Wolverine/Fast Six, that is.
There's a bunch, actually. Some of it is curiosity, some of it is genuine excitement, but as a person who loves movies I don't know how someone couldn't be excited about anything due out next year. Sure, there are way too many sequels and geek property movies on the way, because such is the state of modern blockbuster filmmaking (those are also the movies that get announced early enough to end up on the calendar a full year ahead of time; better movies will be announced as we get into 2013). That doesn't mean that I'm not looking forward to at least a couple of them. You joke (jerk) about Fast Six, but I was a big enough fan of Fast Five that a sequel has earned my trust FOR NOW. Plus, it adds Gina Carano to the cast, which was one of the only things wrong with the last movie. No Gina Carano. Come to think of it, I'm noticing this as a problem I have with most movies.
I'll see Thor: The Dark World even though it doesn't get my blood up; Iron Man 3 is a lot more promising only because it's written and directed by the great Shane Black, and I can't wait to see what his voice sounds like grafted onto a massive Hollywood franchise film. Maybe it will be the first superhero movie to survive the "third entry" curse that has plagued every previous franchise (seriously, think about it -- Spider-Man 3, Superman 3, X-Men: The Last Stand, Blade: Trinity, The Dark Knight Rises...no one can stick the landing). The trailer for Man of Steel that was just released got me way more stoked about the movie than I ever thought I would be, and suggests that Warner Bros. might have figured out how to make a comic book movie not directed by Christopher Nolan (instead, he's just producing). Don't hate me, Steel!
There's a couple movies I'm crawling out of my skin to see -- Star Trek Into Darkness (lame title and uninspiring trailer aside), Guillermo Del Toro's Pacific Rim and Edgar Wright's The World's End, mostly. The Heavy Action fan in me is happy to see that Arnold Schwarzenegger will be on the big screen again (in The Last Stand) and Sylvester Stallone will be, too (in Bullet to the Head, which also brings back Walter Hill), and then they'll be on screen together in the same movie (in The Tomb). Spike Lee is remaking Park Chan-wook (Oldboy), and Park Chan-wook is making his first American movie (Stoker). Kim Jee-woon is making an American movie, too (the aforementioned The Last Stand). Neill Blomkamp's follow-up to District 9 will be another original science-fiction movie (Elysium). I'm looking forward to The Heat in theory, because I like Paul Feig and want to see Sandra Bullock do an R-rated comedy, even though the trailer didn't make me laugh at all. I'll see Pain & Gain because I want to see what a "small" Michael Bay movie looks like. Steven Soderbergh's next-to-last movie (Side Effects) is coming out. And even though it was supposed to be a 2012 movie, I still think Gangster Squad looks pretty great, assuming someone figures out a way to cut any scene with Sean Penn talking out of the movie before it's released.
Those are just a couple. So, yes, I'm excited. We're getting a whole new year's worth of movies. Even if the end results are disappointing or outright bad, we're getting a whole new year's worth of movies. We should all be happy.
What was the biggest pleasant surprise movie of 2012 for you?
I'll have to tread carefully, because I don't want to step on our upcoming "Overrated, Underrated and Ugly" or "Best of 2012" podcasts (look for them in just a few weeks!). So I'll say this: my most pleasant surprise of 2012 wasn't a movie at all -- it was an actor.
The emergence of Channing Tatum not just as a movie star, but as a movie star I REALLY LIKE was something I could never have seen coming during my many back-to-back screenings of The Eagle. He was one of the bright spots of Haywire in January; he didn't have a ton to do, but he had at least one kickass fight scene and good chemistry with Gina Carano (A-no-doy). Then came 21 Jump Street in March, and he was a revelation -- by far the funniest thing in a very funny movie, and the reason the whole thing doesn't collapse on its own pile of fratboy dick jokes. Tatum's total sincerity and commitment to the character is so sweet and disarming that it's impossible not to like him. I didn't see it coming. I don't think anybody did.
Finally, in the summer came Magic Mike, which marked both the emergence of Tatum as a fully-formed movie star and served as a victory lap for his incredible year (he was also named People's Sexiest Man Alive, a title he stole right out from under Mark Ahn). Based on his own story and funded personally by him and director Steven Soderbergh, the movie went on to gross close to $200 million and thrilled masturbating housewives worldwide. It's a pretty great movie, too, giving Tatum a showcase to be funny and sweet and vulnerable and cocky and to show off his abilities as a stripdancer.
By the end of this year, I was willing to see a movie just because Channing Tatum is in it. I guess now I'll have to go back and see The Vow. And Fighting.
Holy shit. I wanted to keep that joke going, but I went over to IMDb to get more Channing Tatum movie titles and I realized I've already seen most of his work. How did that happen?
Conversely, what was the biggest disappointment?
That's a longer list. I won't come right out and say the titles, but they rhyme with Rometheus and The Rark Right Rises. Maybe The Five-Year Engagement, because I was such a fan of Forgetting Sarah Marshall and had high hopes for Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller's follow-up, but that movie has no idea what it wants to be. Also, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, because a Ghost Rider movie directed by the Crank guys should have been fucking crazy in the best way instead of fucking boring in the worst way. I wanted to like Robert Zemeckis's first live-action movie in over a decade more than I did. And while I did not dislike The Master, I would be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed that I'm not more in love with a new movie from Paul Thomas Anderson. I have to keep reminding myself that it came out this year.
If you've got a question you want Doug to ask Patrick, email it fthismoviepodcast(at)gmail.com