Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Nerd films of 2012! Lars von Trier! The end of the world (twice)! Bane capital! George Lucas vs. Newt Gingrich in space!!

A round-up of thrilling movie news, including my picks for The Sixteen Must-See Nerd Films of Next Year.  But first:

Lars von Trier’s Melancholia: I was pleased that last night’s Radio Amateur semi-open mic event (featuring Jim Melloan and others) featured eight solid minutes of Lars von Trier-bashing, he being the sadistic Catholic convert and Hitler-sympathizer who expects audiences to keep watching women suffer genital mutilation and various forms of psychological abuse in his pretentious films (oh, and speaking of Catholic converts, albeit non-sadistic ones in this case, do note the correction from Dawn Eden I added to yesterday’s entry). 

During last night’s show, large comedian Angry Bob declared von Trier’s recent film Melancholia the worst film he’s seen all year – and further complained that his agent wasn’t comfortable with him bashing von Trier on Twitter, since you never know if you may have to work with von Trier someday, which for Angry Bob seems...improbable, much as it would lighten the tone of von Trier’s oeuvre.

ODD CELEBRITY SIDENOTE: I saw welfare-parodying rapper Mr. EBT on the street not far from the club after I left the Radio Amateur show, or at least someone yelling to a woman that he’s Mr. EBT and that she should check out his work on Wordstar.  She did not seem as impressed as I was, but I wish him luck. 

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol: Today, of course, you can see The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in theatres (I want to see it despite my ongoing one-man war against crazy chicks) and you can see Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol – which, according to a friend of a friend of mine who lived in Dubai recently, I was correct to peg as lavishing extra-special attention on the Dubai Tower sequences in its teaser trailer a few months ago, since it was indeed big national news – and a vast expenditure of time and money for all involved – when the film was shot there, with de facto local government assistance.  The results are awesome and dizzying, I must admit, especially in IMAX, though I do not plan to visit any place that forbids Israelis.  I will even forgive the film its eventual descent into levitating-magnet-suit silliness. 

Dark Knight Rises teaser sequence: Less forgivable is the muffled voice of Bane in the Batman vs. Bane teaser sequence attached to the start of Mission Impossible.  And as I feared, director Christopher Nolan (perhaps the real villain here) sounds like he’s in denial about the problem.  I vow to you here and now, I will not see Dark Knight Rises unless I am assured that “the Bane problem” has truly been fixed (but for now, I will optimistically include it on the to-see list below).  A friend of mine notes the studio may have $1 billion or so riding on fixing Bane before next summer, so you’d think they’d do something about it.

By the way, in the comics, Bruce Wayne eventually had sex with and impregnated two of the three villains who appear in this film (not Bane), namely Catwoman and Talia (the former’s child growing up to be Huntress and the latter’s growing up to be the fifth Robin).  Millionaire playboys can get away with that sort of thing.  (Technically, Catwoman’s pregnancy occurs in an alternate universe, but, y’know, details.)

ONE YEAR TO GO until the day when crazy mystics think the world will end: Dec. 21, 2012 is (long calendar story short) when some believe the world will end, and though I do not believe in any supernatural claims, purely from a marketing perspective, I have long been curious what lucky big-budget Hollywood production would come out on that day, opening up neat publicity-angle potential.  I was rooting for Chronicles of Narnia: The Last Battle, but that series appears stalled.  

I am pleased to report that it shall be:
WORLD WAR Z, based on the highly-popular novel (by Mel Brooks’ son Max Brooks) about a global military-thriller-like war against zombies.  Perfect.  If they don’t do ads about “the world coming to an end on Dec. 21, 2012,” they’re insane.  (And a weird sidenote I’ve mentioned before: that book inspired more women I’d never met to strike up conversations with me than any I’d ever read in public before – clearly, philosophy and politics books are not the way to go.  Chicks dig zombies.  And zombies genuinely want you for your brains.)

The Muppets: I also greatly enjoyed The Muppets, by the way (despite Amy Adams being a crazy chick), and I think complaints about it having a commie plot with an evil oil tycoon are actually a bit odd – not because they’re false but just because I thought we were all quite accustomed to villainous tycoons in movies and TV shows by now.  Did everyone forget about Mr. Burns before seeing this film or something?

Meryl Streep vs. Margaret Thatcher – and George Lucas vs. Newt Gingrich: You may know that Iron Lady is out on the 6th and takes a critical look at Thatcher.  But did you know that the next month sees George Lucas attack Newt Gingrich (and our childhoods) in 3D?  That’s right, just when Gingrich is scheduled to fizzle in the primaries to Ron Paul, the unforgiveable Star Wars prequel Phantom Menace will be back in theatres, augmented to be in 3D. 

People easily forget that the main villain in that muddled plot about tax protests and trade embargoes (and two cops gambling on a child in order to get cab fare out of a hick desert town) was a tax-hating Trade Federation leader named Nute Gunray, clearly an amalgam (in George Lucas’s unsubtle fashion) of Newt Gingrich and Reagan, at least as Lucas sees them, with some dated 90s paranoia about East Asian capitalism thrown into the mix. 

(Less timely political note: Jar Jar’s leader, Boss Nass, is clearly an amalgam of notoriously corrupt New York Democratic machine politician Boss Tweed and the cartoonist who brought him down, Thomas Nast.)

And now:

THE SIXTEEN MUST-SEE NERD MOVIES OF 2012: (with release dates)

You can’t watch every nerd/genre movie or you’ll go mad, so here are the ones I plan to see in 2012 (four per season), and after this year – which may well be a new highpoint for nerd films, quantity-wise – I’m going to try to be far, far more selective than this (seeing fewer than ten films in 2013, possibly just the Blade Runner sequel in 2014).


•CORIOLANUS (Shakespeare set in the war-torn Balkans) January 20
•CHRONICLE (cinema-verite faux-documentary on young telekinetics) February 3
•JOHN CARTER (after literally 100 years, a big-budget film adaptation) March 9


•IRON SKY (crowdsourcing-produced Nazi space comedy) April 4 [UPDATE: That was the release date in some countries, but the U.S. release date hadn’t yet even been announced by that time]

(NOTE: Joss Whedon actually has four movies out this year, so don't cry for him, fan of canceled series Firefly and Dollhouse -- in addition to directing Avengers, he directed an adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing, will finally see his long-withheld horror movie Cabin in the Woods released in April, and co-wrote/co-produced a paranormal romance called In Your Eyes.  It's a Whedony world we live in.)

•THE DICTATOR (Sacha Baron Cohen in an adaptation of a novel by Saddam Hussein) May 11 [UPDATE: pushed to May 16]
•PROMETHEUS (Ridley Scott’s Alien prequel) June 8


•ARGO (true story of CIA agents pretending to make a sci-fi film in Iran) September 14 [UPDATE: pushed to October 12]
•LOOPER September 28

(NOTE: Looper, a time travel thriller, is reportedly getting some script advice from the guy who did the brilliant time travel indie film Primer, but its writer/director is Rian Johnson, who did Brothers Bloom and a few other odds and ends such as a video for the Durham-based indie folk band Mountain Goats.  He’d be a great choice for a retro-futurist, hip-traditionalist film, but this may not quite be that aesthetically complex.

The last thing I know of Johnson doing before this was an episode of the critically-acclaimed but short-lived detective series Terriers – an episode called “Manifest Destiny” that aired, as it happens, minutes after I exited the taping of that notorious C-SPAN2 panel in 2010.)


•ATLAS SHRUGGED: PART II (not sure what date, but they claim it’s happening)
•SKYFALL (James Bond) November 9
•WORLD WAR Z December 21 [UPDATE: Alas, conspiracy theorists might say the world ends that day, but apparently the zombies of World War Z won’t end it until June 21, 2013]

Alas, Star Trek 12 (which will not be titled So Very Tired) will not be out until 2013, but in the meantime, we can always rewatch this fantastic one-minute encapsulation of Shatner’s acting and Kirk’s character.


Jacob T. Levy said...

" I vow to you here and now, I will not see Dark Knight Rises unless I am assured that “the Bane problem” has truly been fixed"

I don't believe you.

Todd Seavey said...

I have become a big believer in "commitment strategies" -- Tea Party-crazed budget negotations, Mutually-Assured Destruction, pre-nuptial agreements. I may even deploy one with some discernible political consequences in a few weeks. In the meantime, I say again: I will not see _Dark Knight Rises_ unless they fix Bane. You see how long my list of other options is.

Marc S. said...

Are you really so hostile to Lars von Trier? Like Cronenberg & Lynch, he creates atmospheres and imagery you just can't get anywhere else. Oftentimes his works fail but at least he tries. Melancholia was sporadically beautiful (though a tad boring), Breaking the Waves was fantastic, and The Kingdom spooky, funny, and touching. Even Antichrist had some cool/beautiful parts even if it didn't add up to anything.

If you look into his bio it's clear he's not a Nazi sympathizer; who cares what happens to his (fictional) women if he tells an interesting story?

Todd Seavey said...

OK, I may be needlessly continuing Angry Bob's riff -- and admit I have heard many good things about _The Kingdom_.

Anonymous said...

It seems the only one behaving like nazis is the creepy looking guy on top of this page and his sidekick Angry Bob.

Glad we dont live in the medievil times then these two guys would have a field day with people they dont like, especially with those they know nothing about but still hates.

I'll bet this comment wont even get published.

Go figure.

Todd Seavey said...

No, I dislike von Trier for being a manifest sadist and inflicting _Anti-Christ_ on audiences. But I look forward to seeing your medieval Nazis timetravel film. And on that note, I must disappear until after Christmas.