THE WEEKEND MARQUEE: Box Office Forecast… ‘Cloudy’
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs is the first film by Phil Lord and Chris Miller, a writing team whose credits include the MTV animated series Clone High and the CBS sitcom How I Met Your Mother. Miller told the LA Times,
Animation is just another way of telling a story. The medium is less important than the story we’re trying to tell and the funniest way to tell it. Animation is awesome, because there’s a really bold type of comedy you can get away with that you couldn’t get away with in live action, a broader campier style.”
They certainly assembled the right voice-over cast for it, with such comedic actors as Anna Faris, Bill Hader, Neil Patrick Harris and Bruce Campbell,
The reviews, so far, have been mixed. Chris Nashawaty, in Entertainment Weekly, says,
Even at a svelte 81 minutes, this meal drags on too long (you’ll be crying ‘Basta!’‘ by the time it’s raining pasta). A nice turn from Mr. T keeps the grade (barely) above C level.”
Other critics have been enjoying the movie on technical level. Even 3D hater Roger Ebert, who writes,
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs is the first outing for new Sony digital 3-D imaging software. I continue to find 3-D a distracting nuisance, but it must be said the Sony process produces a sharp, crisp picture, with no visible imprecision between the matches of the images. There is clear definition between closer and further elements. I’ve seen a lot of 3-D recently, and in terms of technical quality, this is the best.”
Steven Soderbergh‘s new movie, The Informant, is based on a book by New York Times reporter Kurt Eichenwald, which tells the true story of a corporate whistleblower who worked with the FBI to expose a massive price-fixing scheme at Archer Daniels Midland.
The book told the story straight, but the film version adds its own editorial spin to the material. Matt Damon, who plays the title character, told the Associated Press,
“It’s a comedy. I think people will enjoy it more and be in a position to listen to what the movie’s saying because it’s more light-hearted.”
Salon’s Stephanie Zacherek isn’t so sure. She says,
“Will a mass audience show up for a sardonic comedy with a largely unsympathetic and totally untrustworthy hero, a movie that’s somewhat too cool for its own good without quite reaching the Hitchcockian-Kubrickian heights to which it aspires? I guess we’ll see.”
Critics have been taking a bite out of the vampire, horror-comedy, Jennifer’s Body, starring the world’s most overexposed sex symbol Megan Fox. While Peter Travers singles out Fox’s “comic flair”, most critics were disappointed that the pairing of Juno scribe Diablo Cody and Karyn Kusama, who directed the widely praised Girlfight (2000) and the not-so widely praised big screen version of the animated series Aeon Flux (2005), didn’t amount to much.
Justin Chang, of Variety, writes,
“In Juno, Cody succeeded in bringing her cheeky high spirits to bear on the usually sober topic of teen pregnancy; surprising, then, that she’s unable to work the same magic with a much more outlandish story.”
Roger Ebert, warns potential viewers to reset their expectations in his review of the movie, saying,
It’s not art, it’s not Juno, it’s not Girlfight, for that matter, but as a movie about a flesh-eating cheerleader, it’s better than it has to be.”
Critical quibbling aside, it should do well among the multitudes of young male Maxim readers who’ve been waiting for the movie’s release with breathless anticipation.
Jennifer Aniston, once again, plays a single gal who’s unlucky in love and on the make in Love Happens. Unlike Marley & Me, there aren’t any dogs in this one, but it seems the actual movie is one.
Michael Phillips, of the Chicago Tribune, says,
“I wish the movie made emotional sense, because it’s all about getting in touch with whatever’s holding you back, but it doesn’t… Aniston has been dogged by bum luck when it comes to choosing projects that are worth doing.”
35 Shots of Rum, a quiet relationship drama about a father and his daughter, is the latest film by acclaimed French director Claire Denis.
The New York Time’s A.O. Scott, says,
“35 Shots is more eventful — to paraphrase an old Velvet Underground song, someone dies, and someone gets married — but its real drama is in quiet moments, in glances and whispers captured by Agnès Godard’s exquisite and expressive cinematography.”
Bright Star, a new film from director Jane Campion (The Piano), depicts the romance between 19th century poet John Keats and Fanny Brawne. After hearing that description, audiences may very well run screaming in the other direction.
However, The New Yorker’s David Denby would beg to differ. He says,
“The movie is not the kind of portentous bio-pic in which history, like some sort of hooded eagle, perches on the shoulders of every scene, waiting to soar. Campion, who wrote the script as well as directed, keeps the action day-by-day, small-scale, and casually lyrical.”
Entertainment Weekly’s Lisa Schwarzbaum was also smitten with the movie.
Campion’s big-sisterly encouragement of Cornish’s lovely, openhearted performance — and Whishaw’s well-matched response — results in a character instantly, intimately recognizable to anyone remembering her own first love.”
The Burning Plain is written and directed by Guillermo Arriaga, who authored the screenplays for Alejandro González Iñárritu‘s Death Trilogy (Amores Perros, 21 Grams and Babel).
Arriaga once again uses a fragmented narrative to tell the story of a restauranteur, played by Charlize Theron, and the plight of two Mexican families living near the border of New Mexico and Mexico. Theron had high praise for the script and its author when interviewed by the Washington Post,
“Guillermo writes how we think”.
Maybe not this time around. Variety’s Derek Elley sums up the general critical response to the movie, saying,
“The audience is required to invest so much time in sorting out the early part of the picture — and to keep pace with Arriaga’s cleverness — that when, at the midway point, there’s breathing space to become engaged with the characters, the awful truth dawns that there’s little to become engaged with.”