Cinematic Crystal Ball 2009
The year 2008 comes to a close, ushering out a mostly fine year at the movie theater. This summer, Marvel’s Iron Man and DC’s Dark Knight duked it out in a giant-sized crossover for superhero supremacy. The winner? Moviegoing audiences, who got two great films. Pixar delivered another winner with the adorable WALL-E. Three-dimensional movies had their best year since The Creature from the Black Lagoon terrorized audiences back in the ’50s. Among the new, higher-tech wave of 3-D flicks: Hannah Montana, Journey to the Center of the Earth and Bolt. Sex and the City made the leap from the small screen and scored a $150 million payday, proving it’s not just teenage boys who buy movie tickets. And a rush of Oscar contenders packed December theaters with critical faves (Milk, Slumdog Millionaire, Frost/Nixon, Doubt, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Wrestler, Revolutionary Road).
“Blimey! This ’ere’s a right cock up, I’d say. Innat right, Mr. ’itler?”
If nothing else, the historical action drama Valkyrie proves that Tom Cruise isn’t necessarily a bad actor--but he’s often very poorly cast. Even before it hit theaters, people were starting to suspect something was off about Valkyrie. For starters, director Bryan Singer’s glossy take on Col. Claus von Stauffenberg’s failed assassination attempt on Adolf Hitler during the waning days of World War II cast celebrated couch-jumper Tom Cruise in the lead role.
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Cradle-to-grave romance looks at life in reverse
“Life is like a box of chocolates: You never know what you’re gonna get,” intoned Forrest Gump with all the accentuation of a character reciting the tag line from his movie’s poster. Displaying more succinctness and less phony Southern drawl, Benjamin Button says of this mortal coil, “You never know what’s coming for ya.” Though equally obvious in their philosophical tone, both fictional narrators are aiming at the same sweeping, self-actualizing message: That life is an unpredictable affair intended to be lived day to day with much gusto and little regret. ... Hey, as mottos go, it beats “Life sucks, kill yourself.”
Good Rockin’ at Midnight
New Year’s Eve around the dial
So, it’s Dec. 31, 2008. Aside from getting wicked drunk on cheap Champagne, eating way too many stuffed mushrooms and trying to steal an awkward midnight kiss from your next-door neighbor who has two screaming kids but looks surprisingly doable in the glow of your still-standing Christmas tree, what is there for you to look forward to this New Year’s Eve?
The Week in Sloth
“Driving Me Mad” (TRU 9 p.m.) Road-raging motorists get coaching from safe-driving expert Pete Hosmer. He’s like the Dog Whisperer, only with jerks who own SUVs.
Mighty Peking Man (IFC 10 p.m.) From 1977 comes one of the greatest, weirdest Hong Kong movies ever shot. Adventurer Danny Lee (later in John Woo’s The Killer) discovers a giant ape in the jungle, plus an insanely hot half-naked German girl (Evelyne Kraft). He takes them both back to civilization. The ape doesn’t adjust so well. Neither does the girl, but at least she doesn’t start tearing down skyscrapers.