MONTHLY HIGHLIGHTS: March

There is the pre-summer phase in which the first few blockbusters are released in April and May, the summer blockbuster season in which the box office explodes between June and August, the pre-Oscar season in September and October, and finally the Oscar season in November and December. The beginning of the year is, however, not so hot. I call January through March the shit season. The only real quality to be found at the cinema in these early stages of the year are the lingering remnants of the previous year. I’ve been to the theater once so far in 2011 and it was to see True Grit for the third time. So it appears to me that the shit season has thus far lived up to the implications of my label. March appears to have several promising titles though. Some exist as the afforementioned ‘lingering remnants,’ while others are original titles that have been interestingly chosen for an early release. Without further ado, here is what I foresee as being worthy endeavors this month:

The Adjustment Bureau

I have never been an avid science fiction fan. But films that transcend the cliche application of mindless action to the genre in favor of thought-provoking concepts are worthy of recognition. In other words, while District 9, Avatar, and Star Trek all had their merits and were are artistically accomplished films, this Twilight Zone thriller based on a story from the accomplished Phillip K. Dick has more initial potential in my book. Matt Damon has proven himself the reputable star of the times. I don’t expect a masterpiece here, but I would be alarmed if this did not deliver something worthy the price of a ticket.

Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives

Now, this one could be a masterpiece. The Taiwan Oscar submission and Palme D’or winner of last year looks to be a thrilling and moving adventure caught in the midst of fantastical imagery. Tim Burton was the head of the Cannes Jury that selected it and it appears to have some elements of his excuisite filmmaking present. It has me more curious than thrilled but a fantasy about a dying man recalling previous lives in a fairy-tale narrative is unique if not entirely cinematically successful.

Paul

Simon Pegg and Nick Frost’s two previous screenplays resulted in Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. Paul brings Seth Rogen and Greg Mottola into the mix. Whether this will serve or hurt their humorous capability has yet to be revealed. The trailer was minorly disappointing given the cast. It tells the story of two nerds who road trip to Area 51 and discover a real alien. It is a road-trip sci-fi adventure. This one is a question mark for me, but I’ll keep my eyes out and wait for the reviews to roll in. It could really go either way.

Sucker Punch

Zack Snyder’s next film is going to be the Christopher Nolan produced Superman. So I feel obligated to observe the filmmaker’s current endeavors. Snyder has described the film as “Alice in Wonderland with machine guns,” which is equal parts disturbing and intriguing. The trailer looks heavily dipped in the cloths of CGI which is par the course for Snyder (of 300 and Watchmen, niether of which did anything for me). Much like Paul, here is a film that could go either way. I have a feeling this one will divide critics so I am stuck entering the darkened theater without expectations. All I know is I’m bringing a bag of popcorn in with me on this one!

Certified Copy

Abbas Kisrostami’s latest took home a shared Best Actor award (with Oscar nominated Javier Bardem) last year at Cannes. But perhaps more notable is that this multi-lingual film from an Iranian director stars legendary french actress Juliette Binoche. It tells a rather ambiguous story about a couple meeting on the streets and spending a day together. It was one of the best reviewed films at Cannes last year and Alex’s third most anticipated film of this year.

Jane Eyre

Having just finished reading Charlotte Bronte’s gothic piece of literature, this is the one I am most excited for. While I confess that I prefer her sister’s novel, Wuthering Heights on the basis that Heathcliff is a much more interesting character than Jane, Charlotte’s novel feels much more cinematic. The story is more linear and developes in first-person perspective along a very classical story arch. Mia Wasikowska is a rising star worthy of attention who has been offered a serious role to shine alongside Michael Fassbender and Judi Dench (who is perfectly cast as Mrs. Fairfax). Cary Fukunga, the director of the interesting but not brilliant Sin Nombre, is at the helm in his first English language feature. I am hoping for the best in Jane Eyre as previous adaptations have not impressed me. Check out the beautiful poster for the film as well…

The only other release I really considered covering is Rango which is out tomorrow alongside The Adjustment Bureau. It has solid reviews and looks like it could be watchable. But in a month that promises to elevate the currently weak cinematic offerrings (Justin Bieber? Seriously?), I’d rather spend my time watching any of the other films I have mentioned. Perhaps the shit season will end early this year!

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  • “Uncle Boonmee” and “Certified Copy”: yes.

    “Jane Eyre”: maybe.

    The rest: probably not. But who knows?

  • ‘The Adjustment Bureau’ was a miss. I’ll post my full review tomorrow.

    I’m very excited for ‘Certified Copy’.

  • That is sad news, I quite enjoyed the trailer. I was thinking maybe it would be in the same vein as the masterful ‘Dark City.’

  • Jose

    I’m actually watching Rango and The Adjustment Bureau tomorrow.

    As for the other films, Sucker Punch, Battle Los Angeles, and Paul I want to watch.

    Same for Jane Eyre and and Uncle Boome…, but I doubt they’ll ever come to my theater.

    What about Win win?

  • I’m liking Zack Snyder a lot more, but I don’t know about this next one. Watchmen was actually one of my favorite movies of 2009 (The Ultimate Cut is amazing). I’m biased though because I’m a huge fan of the novel.

  • I’m a huge fan of the novel too, but it still felt like a video game to me. Dawn of the Dead remains my favorite Snyder film.

    I’ve had a change of heart about Rango though. John Logan, the screenwriter behind The Aviator’s script (which DiCaprio cites as the best screenplay he has ever seen) wrote it. Also Roger Deakins was a visual consultant and Hans Zimmer did the score. And it may prove a valuable contender in the war against 3-d. I just may check this one out. Roger Ebert gave it four stars (admittedly not the most prestigious claim, but valued none-the-less) and compared it to Blazing Saddles.

    @Jose, I am undecided on Win Win. I didn’t much care for The Visitor though.

  • Jose

    I was just wondering what everyone else thought about it.

    And I mentioned “Uncle Boome…” to a lot of my friends and they seem interested in it and want to demand it 9that thing they used to get Paranormal Activity expanded nationwide, a lot of people don’t know that that site can be used to demand other films to come to the local cities, or they don’t care.)

    As for Sucker Punch, Snyder seems on and of for me, Dawn of the Dead was awesome, 300 sucked, Watchmen was pretty good, and following this pattern I assume Legend of the Guardians sucked and Sucker Punch will be good.

    Of course this means that the new Superman movie will be bad. Has anyone else seen the cast? Martha Kent is a MILF in the movie!

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