On The Screen (2.06.09) ‘Coraline’ And ‘Push’ both open

02.05.09 9 years ago 3 Comments

Magnolia Films

What?  The week’s over already?

The one good thing about that is that Friday means new releases, and even here in the cold, dark depths of February… there is hope.  There’s at least one genuinely great wide release today, and a few promising limited releases as well.  I’ll be watching a double-feature of these titles tonight, so we’ll have reviews for some of these films up this weekend.

“The Pink Panther 2”

Just not this one.  I RSVP’d for a screening of this earlier in the week, and yet when it was time to walk out the door, I seriously asked myself, “Are you prepared to spend an hour in the car in each direction, two hours in the theater, and lose all that work time and/or time you could spend with your kids just so you can watch Steve Martin further burn down his own comedy legacy while simultaneously pissing on the corpse of the great Peter Sellers?”

Does it say something about the disposably trashy first film that I didn’t notice that they’d recast Chief Inspector Dreyfuss for this film?  Are they going to work their way through the whole cast of “A Fish Called Wanda” in the role?  If so, I can’t wait for the film where Jamie Lee Curtis plays him.

[more after the jump]

Yes, the film has some lovely ladies like the architecturally-impressive Emily Mortimer and the still-not-a-star-in-English Aishwarya Rai, but I guess I don’t understand who’s out there demanding another trip to this particular well.  Did the first film really do that sort of business?  Did anyone actually enjoy it?  I just find it depressing to watch Martin running through someone else’s shtick.  It’s confusing to me.  Here’s this guy who was such a great, clear, original comic voice for so much of the ’80s, and in recent years, I find I dread the sight of him.

Oh, well.  If watching someone struggle to say “hamburger” correctly is your idea of an evening out, you can either see this, or drop by my place, give me $10, and I’ll let you chat with my three-year-old.  I’ll bet option B offers more real entertainment.


The second of the three films I missed this week at screenings, “Push” is a rarity these days:  a SF/fantasy/action/comic book style movie that isn’t based on anything aside from an original screenplay.  Not that original, mind you, but still… I give Summit huge points for at least trying to develop a piece of material that didn’t exist already in some other format.  It shows that they’re at least trying to make a niche for themselves, and they’re not just content to ape the same lazy moves that everyone else seems to be coasting on these days.

The film looks like a pseudo-“X-Men” style story about a group of people with special abilities on the run from a shadowy government group.  De Palma did this in the ’70s with “The Fury,” which isn’t a great film, but boy, did it love to wallow in the gore.  Cronenberg covered the same ground with his “Scanners,” and that delivered one of the most iconic horror images of the ’80s with the exploding head.  This is more in the PG-13 end of the pool, but it looks from what I’ve seen like director Paul McGuigan really liked the idea of staging action scenes like gunfights using telekenesis, new additions to old familiar standbys.  I’ve talked to people who enjoyed the film as well as people who thought it was terrible.  I’ll definitely check it out for myself, with fingers crossed for at least a fun genre goof.

Now if I could just figure out how a movie like this wins Sundance…

“He’s Just Not That Into You”

Oh, Ken Kwapis… why?

This is the last of this week’s screenings that I didn’t seem to properly motivate myself for, letting one excuse or another derail me.  This is an annual problem for me right around now.  January and February are sort of like the punishment you have to accept if you want to review films the rest of the year, and while I’m sure this isn’t gouge-your-eyes-out terrible, nothing about the cast or the concept compelled me to spend the four hours out of the house that it would have taken.  Or more, actually, since I hear this runs a positively “Sex And The City”-esque 130 minutes, which seems completely f’ing insane for this sort of chick flick fluff.

I know that the book was published as a sort of antidote to the typical material that is passed off as “women’s lit,” and Greg Behrendt has made a sort of industry out of his new identity as the straight-talking relationship dude, something I find bizarre considering the stand-up act I remember of his from the ’90s.  Whatever.  I’m glad he’s got a gig, and I’m equally glad Greg from our site decided to do the interviews and check out the screening for this one.  I’m sure this will do some business this weekend, and I’m equally sure that nothing I say, positive or negative, will influence whether the intended audience is going to go.


This one gets a full review a little later today, and it’s a charming masterpiece of artistry from Henry Selick, who seems absolutely inspired by Neil Gaiman’s simple fairy tale about a girl whose wish for a better mother and a better father is almost her undoing.  My interview with Henry Selick is already up, my interview with Gaiman will be up on Friday, and overall, this is a movie that I’m already eager to see a second time.

And if you’re going, you have to have to have to HAVE TO find a 3D venue to see it.  Selick is the first director I’ve seen to find a real reason to use the 3D, and the effect it has on the film is emotional and powerful, the single best argument for the artistic merits of the format that I’ve seen so far.

“Fanboys” (limited)

I’ve written about this one a few times over at Ain’t It Cool, and I really don’t have much else to add at this point.

My review was based on sitting through three fairly different cuts of the film in quick succession one week.  And after each cut, I thought the same thing:  it just doesn’t work.  I respect the hard work and the passion that it took to wrestle it onscreen a full decade after they started trying, and I like both Ernie Kline (the screenwriter) and Kyle Newman (the director).  They both seem like smart, funny guys who had the best of plans for what this movie could be.  I just don’t think it’s on the screen in the end, and I can’t really recommend this one, even for the hardest of hardcore “Star Wars” nerds.

“Chocolate” (limited)

This one’s getting a screening here at the house in a few hours, and I’m excited.  I missed seeing it at Fantastic Fest, and there was a screening on Wednesday, but this is Magnolia, and they’re probably the most consistently experimental distributor out there right now in terms of crunching the DVD and theatrical release dates into one single date where they spend all their marketing money at once.

So if you’re not in one of the limited markets where this story of an autistic girl with crazy martial arts skills is opening, don’t despair.  You’ll be able to pick up this new film from the producers of “Ong Bak” within weeks, and experience it for yourselves.

Expect a review soon.

Check out the trailer here:

“The Objective” (limited)

Daniel Myrick was one of the two directors behind “The Blair Witch Project” back in 1999.  Now, a decade later, he’s built a comfortable niche for himself making direct-to-video horror films.  This is an exception, actually getting a small theatrical run from Arclight Films, the distributor.  It sounds like “Blair Witch” in the Gulf War, about a platoon of American soldiers who get lost in the desert thanks to some malicious supernatural forces. 

Besides, horror freak Scott Weinberg likes it, so that means I’ll give it a shot after “Chocolate.”  The screener’s here, and I’d love to be surprised by a solid little genre gem.

Fingers crossed.

Starting next week, you’ll find “On The Screen” right here on Motion/Captured every Thursday morning, letting you know what you can expect to see in theaters for the weekend.

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