April has (almost) arrived like a long overdue friend. Not only does it bring one of 2014’s most anticipated films (see #1 below), but my two week vacation has come with it, straddling the March and April border. Instead of my usual day-off routine where I pile up grandiose
hopes expectations of crossing projects off my to do list (Wasn’t I going to get my oil changed? Was I supposed to watch that stack of movies sitting in my queue? Wasn’t I going to learn how to play that violin in the corner under the winter blanket? What is this Intro to French book doing on my desk? Was I going to learn French?) and quickly forgetting these tasks to inevitably engage in a long drool-covered nap session, I half-heartily planned ahead this time. Over the last week, I scratched off Seattle, WA and Vancouver, BC from my to-visit list, and dragged five friends along on the trip. Splitting the week between Seattle’s Space Needle, Pike Place Market and waterfront and Vancouver’s Stanley Park, Capilano Suspension Bridge and some nearby whaling whale watching, the week was slow paced, all things considered, with the six of us needing some reprieve from work. And don’t worry, I managed to sneak in a viewing of Divergent at Seattle’s Cinerama, which was surprisingly enjoyable, in a thoroughly watchable wow-this-is-really-bad kind of way. Over the week I (re)realized a few things: 1. I hate flying more than almost anything; 2. Border agents terrify me, even when they are nice; 3. I lived on the US-Canada border until I was 18 years old but never traveled deeper into Canada than the Canadian side of the Niagara Falls; 4. I am obsessed with ducks (I collectively spent almost an hour watching ducks swim like a crazy pigeon man), 5. I snore (what!? This is terrible news. How has no one told me this?).
FLASHBACK: REVISITING MARCH’S FLASHFORWARD
1. The Grand Budapest Hotel: Wes Anderson’s newest film has earned mostly positive reviews with a 91% on Rotten Tomatoes and appears (I haven’t seen it) to be well-liked by Anderson followers and less than loved by Anderson newbies. Without going to much into the film, I’d like to save anyone from potential embarrassment by reminding you that this Anderson is different from the Anderson that made There Will Be Blood. These are definitely not the same people. I know what you’re thinking, “who could get those two confused? Certainly no one who has seen There Will Be Blood.” And I will respond with “Certainly…no one would get these two confused. No one would tell their five Seattle travel mates that these are the same people and that ‘Anderson has such variety. I mean he made Fantastic Mr. Fox AND There Will Be Blood! Such diversity. Such range of talent.’ No one would say that. No one.” Anyway, please read Literary Vittles’ review for more on this film. I need to go regather my self-confidence.
2. Le Week-End: Mostly warm reviews (90%RT) have gathered around this film, with the most kind words centered on the acting in the central couple.
3. Muppets: Most Wanted: The Jason Segel-less sequel has been less than a shadow of the 2011 film with a disappointing opening ($4.6M compared to $6.5 for The Muppets) and an even worse comparative critical performance (78% compared to 96%). Interestingly, both the 2011 film and this sequel scored a 2nd place finish in their initial box office weekends. The first fell to The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 (was the title really that long? That is way too much punctuation for one movie title). This edition took second behind Divergent, another teen popcorn film.
1. Noah: Darren Aronofsky’s newest epic just flooded (get it?) the theaters (and internet/TV advertising spots) this weekend but the initial response has been positive both with the critics (76% on RT) and at the box office. I just received a USA Today update on my phone reading ” ‘Noah’ rides an epic wave to the top of the box office.” Don’t think I didn’t notice your blatant steal of my flood pun USA Today. I just typed that. I don’t know how you saw it before I posted this. But clever, original puns are mine.
2. Divergent: There’s a chance I may make a proper post on this one but the movie already seems to be matching expectations; high profits ($55M and counting) with mixed, mostly sour reviews (40% on RT). A strong box office showing and ready-made fan following will propel this series for the next few years, even if the acting and writing settle in at unintentionally hilarious.
APRIL’S MOST ANTICIPATED FILMS:
1. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Release Date: April 4, 2014
Director: Anthony and Joe Russo
Starring: Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Samuel L Jackson.
I anticipate this will be another action movie where I point out everything I don’t like before inevitably saying “yeah it was good. I’d watch it again.” The trailers for the movie already disappoint me, maybe only because I expect so much from the Marvel franchise. The movie looks more like a GI Joe movie than an Avengers movie and plays off the usual “But this bad guy is so much worse than all those other bad guys. I don’t know if I can stop him” trope that so many movies use. Plus, the trailer has one of my least favorite recent movie trailer moments when The Winter Soldier turns around and catches Captain America’s shield and throws it back at him. The sequence seems ridiculously fake and the visuals drive me crazy. Also, why not just take the shield, why throw it back? Cap would lose roughly 61% of his bad-ass-ness without his shield. All of the single-Avengers movies are somewhat disappointing and are like eating a side of asparagus and being told to wait a summer for your potatoes and another summer for the whole meal. Thor is the only character I can watch alone. Captain America doesn’t excite me that much, Iron Man has grown tiresome, and I can not stand Hawkeye or the Black Widow. Am I forgetting someone? Something about a bad Eric Bana movie and a bad Edward Norton movie comes to mind. Anyway, the movie looks good and I’ll probably see it.
Release Date: April 18, 2014
Director: Wally Pfister
Starring: Johnny Depp, Morgan Freeman, Rebecca Hall, Cillian Murphy, Paul Bettany, Kate Mara
Wally Pfister has had a remarkable career as a cinematographer (The Italian Job, The Christopher Nolan Batman Trilogy, The Prestige, Inception, Moneyball) earning him four Academy Award nominations (all on Nolan films) with one win for Inception. He makes his directorial debut with a strong cast and interesting storyline. I worry that the trailer has told us too much, but there’s the chance that the movie will deal more in theme than in plot, for better or worse. I like to think that this could be the dark sequel to Her, where Scarlett Johansson and her iOS friends have taken over and started making human copies of themselves in a world takeover plot. I don’t think the movie is going in quite that direction but it looks watchable anyway. If the movie hits all the notes right this could be a fantastic film. If not it might be thrown into the same bin where Splice now lives.
Release Date: April 25, 2014 (US)
Director: Steven Knight
Starring: Tom Hardy, Tom Hollan, Olivia Colman, Andrew Scott
Honestly, I just need my Tom Hardy itch quenched. Here we get to see him with a British accent (sorry to any actual British people. Should I say English? Hardy is from London, but I don’t know if he is using his real accent or some other English/British accent. I might not know the difference even if I heard them side by side). Director Steven Knight is known for his screenwriting roles and I can only hope that this movie is the amazing child of Drive and Knight’s Eastern Promises. This may be my favorite movie of the year, based only on trailer alone.
1. Draft Day
Release Date: April 11, 2014
Director: Ivan Reitman
Starring: Kevin Costner, Jennifer Garner, Denis Leary, Sam Elliot, Ellen Burstyn
The list of bad movies about (American) Football looks like it’s about to get one movie longer. No matter how many high quality actors you add, or how many athlete/sportscaster cameos you line-up, or how many shots of tackles or fireworks over stadiums you can capture, without a solid story line at the center any movie will flop. Draft Day doesn’t have the drama or adversity of Remember the Titans, or the charm of Rudy, and it takes itself too seriously to fit in with any of the football comedies (The Replacements (yeah I said it. The Replacements), Waterboy). The trailer is filled with off-the-shelf lines engineered to make you think there is a worthwhile story, maybe a new story, under the surface but there doesn’t appear to be much past the pretty shots and Cosner speeches. For good sports movies I’ll stick with boxing (Raging Bull, Rocky) and baseball (Bull Durham, The Natural, The Sandlot, Field of Dreams) and maybe soccer/association Football (The Damned United, Air Bud: World Pup).
Sidenote: This is the second member of the Reitman family to be featured on the FB/BS Least Anticipated movies of the month, joining his son Jason who was featured in Labor Day.
2. Goodbye World
Release Date: April 4, 2014
Director: Denis Hennelly
Staring: Adrian Grenier, Gaby Hoffmann, Caroline Dhavernas, Ben McKenzie, Scott Mescudi
It is a probably a bit unfair to feature this movie. It doesn’t look memorably bad or memorably good but seems largely forgettable. I only include it because it will be added to the list of post-apocalyptic films, a genre I hold dear to my heart and which I regret being sullied and diluted with substandard films. What worries me most is that the film might spoil studio tastes for films centered around cyber attacks, which have a great deal of room for expansion. I doubt this movie will have the impact needed to change these tastes. I suppose we need films like this to truly appreciate the good films of the genre. But I’d rather avoid them.
2014 Overall List:
Most Anticipated Film of 2014: Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Least Anticipated Film of 2014: Winter’s Tale
Thanks for reading!