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The Cabin in the Woods:From the minds of Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator Joss Whedon and Cloverfield writer Drew Goddard comes this deconstructionist horror film about a group of a young people who head out to the titular cabin for a weekend of debauchery only to find out that all is not what it seems. As seen in the film’s perhaps too revealing trailer, the film aims not just to revel in the gory excesses of its clichéd premise but to exam the costs and motivation behind all the stylized carnage. It remains to be seen whether or not Whedon and company will provide a rigorous interrogation of the genre or a well-intentioned wholly in the power of violence. Starring Chris Hemsworth, Fran Kranz and Amy Acker.
Fun Fact: The film completed its principle photography back in 2009 but it’s only seeing release now due to the bankruptcy of MGM.
The Three Stooges: Peter and Bobby Farrelly (There’s Something About Mary, Hall Pass) dig up the corpse of the much loved vaudevillian comedy trio for this atrocious looking modern day adaptation. The Farrelly brothers, who haven’t made a good film in twelve years, have recruited Will Sasso (funny), Sean Hayes (hit or miss) and Chris Diamantopoulos (who?) to besmirch the legacy of Curly, Larry and Moe using the same plot dynamic that made The Beverly Hillbillies and Brady Bunch movies such indelible classics; the introduction of anachronistic character into a contemporary context. There was little chance for a Three Stooges movie made in 2012 being any good but man does it seem like everybody involved with this thing is aiming straight for the garbage bin with this one. Also starring Jane Lynch, Larry David and Sofia Vergara.
Fun Fact: The cast of Jersey Shore will make a cameo appearance in the film.
Lockdown:Inexplicably the best looking film of the week, Guy Pearce stars in this Luc Besson (Taken) produced film as a wrongly accused secret agent who is tasked to rescue the President daughter from a space prison that’s been overrun by vicious convicts. Now that’s not a premise that will ever be related right before an Academy Awards montage is shown but it’s the kind of gleeful high concept that can lead to a thoroughly entertaining B movie. Pearce is an underrated leading man and it’d be great to see him have a Liam Nesson style late career resurgence. Your mileage may vary, but I was sold at “space prison.” Also starring Maggie Grace, Peter Stromare and Lennie James.
Fun Fact: Pearce will reunite with his The Proposition director John Hillcoat for Lawless which debuts later this year.
Also in theaters:
American Reunion: Lovable horn dog Jim (Jason Biggs) and the rest of the American Pie gang are back for this superfluous third sequel in which the irascible teens that made sex deviancy and pop punk so popular amongst people who were in high school ten years ago return as sexual disaffected 20 something’s. It’s depressing to think that baby boomer nostalgia manifests itself as complex and haunting as Mad Men while Millennials are stuck with The Further Adventures of That Guy Who Screwed That Pie. The lives of the mid-twenties Americans is also represented more able talents of Jonah Hill and Lena Dunham but that feels like cold comfort because for all their intelligence and talent they’ve only produced more deeply felt reactions to having sex with pie. For good or ill, the American Pie series is an indelible part of my generation’s pop culture landscape.
The deep sexual insecurity, the casual misogyny and the simplistic archetypes that one could adopt in lieu of an actually personality would come to define an emerging culture where all present in the first and best American Pie. There’s a lot of Stifler in Jersey Shore, in the too tight Tapout shirts and that prideful, cruel obliviousness. It’s not an accident the Stifler (Sean William Scott) character became the franchise’s most popular character, with a series of pale imitations starring in weak direct-to-video spin-offs. Stifler’s steadfast arrogance and relentless sexuality, which was mocked and ridiculed in each of the first three films, is in its own small way, has become as recognizable a persona as Woody Allen’s intellectual/loser/inexplicable girl magnet.
Modern Hollywood movies dealing with romantic entanglement tend to focus on immature weaklings who make fumbling plays for unfathomably beautiful girls and learn maturity and self-confidence in the process of pursuit while also falling for a less conventionally beauty but still very attractive girl who is emotional and physically available to the lead. This was the arc followed by American Pie and countless other romantic comedies and dramas that take place in worlds where affection is plentiful but misplaced and love never has to be earned. The problem with that narrative, as with The Bible, is that it never accounts for the strong and natural capable.
Woody Allen, Jon Cryer and Seth Rogen may have spent a large portion of their careers explicating on why smart, funny guys make for better long term prospects but no matter how hard they try, they’ll never be Steve McQueen, Charlie Sheen or Michael Fassbender. And for the effortlessly cool, thoroughly attractive and capable people in the world all the sweaty palmed, soft in the middle, actually willing to call themselves geeks and nerds are only relatable to a point. And at the end of the day, no one fantasizes about being unlovable.
So in this new Pie movie, where all the youthful enthusiasm has curdled into late 20’s malaise we’ll all look at Jim and hope that he’ll man’s up and except adult responsibility and find happiness in boring middle class life (he will), we’ll also look at Stifler, still carelessly horny and stupidly unfiltered after all these years but also still the best looking of the male cast and we’ll wish Jim all the best but we’ll want to be Stifler. Also starring Alyson Hannigan, Chris Klein and yes even Tara Reid.
Fun Fact: Neil Patrick Harris has a bit part in the film as a character called Celebrity Dance Off Host.
Titanic 3D: James Cameron, who rereleased Avatar to theaters less than a year after its initial release because he felt that “money [was] left on the table” when Avatar was pushed off of 3D screens by Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, comes back for table with this totally uncalled for rerelease of Titanic in 3D. Despite its record breaking number Academy Award wins and billion dollar box office, Titanic is not a great movie. It’s embarrassingly sentimental, numbingly overlong and absent any real dramatic tension. It’s passable acted with a wildly decadent Billy Zane as a standout but there’s a reason the film wasn’t inundated with acting nominations. Like American Reunion, this film is going to earn the bulk of its box office from nostalgic young adults who want re-experience the pleasant banality of their adolescence. Titanic is a young person’s movie and it always will be. Children can look at its thundering over emoting and lush romanticism and be swept away where as an adult can appreciate the film in a good associations way, it’s almost impossible suppress a smirk at a movie as loud and needy as Titanic is. It’s a film that won’t age well because it can’t. Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet and that band that plays on while the ship goes down.
Fun Fact: On the advice/contempt of noted astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, Cameron changed the star field seen by Winslet’s character at the end of the film to reflect the correct star alignment on the date of the Titanic’s sinking.
Mario blogs regularly at A Polemic Killer Room.