Sunday, 11 March 2012

Weight of Expectation (Out this week - 10/03/12)

The title says it all. Whatever your views on the panopoly of cinematic releases this weekend they are mostly united by the pressure of delivering to expectations, whether in a literal narrative sense, or in the sense of public perception of the project. In the first category we find Michael Winterbottom's update of Tess of d'Urbervilles with it's Indian caste war setting or the challenge set by the copycat killer taunting Edgar Allen Poe, but it's more keenly felt in the second derivation. Adam Deacon makes his first big screen appearance after winning the BAFTA rising star award in February, and we'll begin to find out whether his career will go the way of Tom Hardy or Eva Green. The biggest challenge faces Pixar alumni Andrew Stanton, making his live action directorial debut, and wrestling with a reported budget north of $250m, with the perceived financial success of the project lies not just Stanton's future but also the potential for an on-going lucrative franchise for Disney. Whilst we're theoretically spoilt for choice among all the British and American releases it has to be said few look significant enough to warrant attendance, with even the best reviewed options getting middling notices at best, so whilst I find myself selecting John Carter (not "of Mars" as originally stated) as the Runs Like a Gay Film of the Week it hardly comes with a ringing endorsement, and should be noted it's only been selected because I can't just leave a gaping hole in it's place.

I had the right idea last week when predicting a holdover title taking the box office crown, unfortunately I picked the wrong one, whilst Woman in Black slipped a very respectable 22% in takings, Best Exotic Marigold Hotel actually experienced a 5% rise in attendance, possible because I went, and has stolen the lead. This Means War was the highest new entry with a respectable, but by no means successful third place. Next week I feel confident in predicting John Carter defeating all other contenders, but this comes with the caveat that it still won't be enough to make the accountants happy.

John Carter

Even if you didn't know about Edgar Rice Burrough's series of sci-fi novels you would almost certainly be aware of their legacy, it's not hyperbolic to state that John Carter and his Martian adventures extensively influenced the space adventure genre including Flash Gordon, Star Wars and Superman unfortunately this familiarity may work against the project as trailers have made it seem highly derivative and safe. The plot revolves around a civil war veteran transplanted to the red planet where the difference in gravitational pull on a smaller planet causes him to appear superhuman in strength, perfect to be used as a pawn in the power struggles between native tribes/species. Taylor Kitsch leads (in what should be a make or break year for the young star) with Willem Dafoe, Thomas Haden Church and Samantha Morton among the Martians hoping to exploit his abilities.

Runs like a Gay Excitometer: ●●●●●○○○○○

Read on for the full breakdown of releases and trailers this week including Parisien gigolos, paparrazi shy celebrities and a stash of £1 million.

This second John Carter trailer was better than the first, but there's still a feeling of been there, done that, and the damage may have already been done.

Bel Ami

I am not a pervert, but I have had my share of contact with skin flicks, so when I first heard R. Pattz had signed up for a Bel Ami movie I was shocked at the thought of Ed Cullen getting down and dirty with a troupe of Eastern European twinks. Fortuntely, for him, me and the majority of teenage girls, this is a straightforward adaptation of the scandalous 1885 novel by Guy de Maupassant centred around a homeless soldier using his considerable charm and sexual appetite to manipulate the ladies of Paris society. Kristen Scott Thomas, Uma Thurman and Christina Ricci are among the deflowered females.

Runs like a Gay Excitometer: ●●●●○○○○○○


It doesn't look like Games of Thrones has re-propelled Sean Bean (or Seen Born) back into A-list releases yet, but at least this UK terrorism drama is at least trying to be even handed about the prospect of jihadist cells targeting London streets. Bean is the Secret Service Agent tasked with capturing Abhin Galeya a radicalised Muslim undergoing a crisis of conscience about his proposed course of action.

Runs like a Gay Excitometer: ●●●○○○○○○○


Bollywood thriller that follows a pregnant woman across the globe, well from London to Kolkata, and she tries to find her missing husband. Hampered by the lack of evidence or even belief that the husband ever existed. Was he just a figment of her imagination? If so what is the pregnancy about? I have to say that's a really good trailer, too.

Runs like a Gay Excitometer: ●●●○○○○○○○

Sen Kimsim

Turkey remains one of the most interesting exporters of film-making to the UK, in that unlike most European countries where we get the critically lauded art-house selection the Turkish community are fed with a broad range of home-grown hits, whether historical epics like Fetih 1453 a few weeks ago or high concept comedies like this. The private eye plot is based on the hunt for a wealthy heiress, however the widow instigating the search may not be all she seems to be. (Is it me or is that just Chinatown?)

Bollywood thriller that follows a pregnant woman across the globe, well from London to Kolkata, and she tries to find her missing husband. Hampered by the lack of evidence or even belief that the husband ever existed. Was he just a figment of her imagination? If so what is the pregnancy about? I have to say that's a really good trailer, too.

Runs like a Gay Excitometer: ●●●○○○○○○○


Winterbottom has wrestled with Thomas Hardy before, witness his stunning Gold rush set The Claim (based on The Mayor of Casterbridge) or early work Jude (the obscure), and in each he has found unique ways to present Hardy's themes. In his retelling of Tess of the D'Urbervilles the action has been transplanted to modern India where rapid industrialisation and the growth of universal eduction attainment creates a split between the feminist heroine, played by Frieda Pinto, and her traditionalist upbringing. Riz Ahmed is the wealthy hotelier she falls for.

Runs like a Gay Excitometer: ●●●○○○○○○○

Decoy Bride

Yes, we're already down to 2 blob releases; the first week since October that saw such a high proportion of very crappy looking movies. Alice Eve, getting a baptism of fire this weekend, is the Hollywood actress marrying shy novelist (and former Dr. Who) David Tennant. Unsurprisingly these planned nuptials incite the whole world's press to descend on the remote Scottish community playing host to the wedding of the century, so the happy couple hire Kelly MacDonald to pretend to be a bride in order to lure the snappers away from the real deal. I have no idea how that would work in practise, after all there's a good 6 years and 3 inches difference between them, however I feel confident in predicting a change of heart by the groom before the final reel.

Runs like a Gay Excitometer: ●●○○○○○○○○

Payback Season

Realism be damned in this morality tale about a Premiership footballer, played by up and coming Adam Deacon, who gets drawn back in to the petty crime and drug deals he thought he's left behind in the council estate he grew up in. Between flashing around in his fast car with his fast women he must ensure his kid brother stays on the straight and narrow and avoid getting caught up in the gangland culture of his youth. If I had as much money as a Premiership footballer there's no way me or my brother would be near the old estate - but maybe that's just me?

Runs like a Gay Excitometer: ●●○○○○○○○○


When John Cussack was first tapped to play influential poet and novelist Edgar Allen Poe there were whispers that this could be the kind of casting coup that nets him his first Oscar nod. Rest assured this pulpy mess looks unlikely to trouble any award bodies at the end of 2012. Watch as historical fact and Poe's lurid prose gets mashed into a dash to identify the serial killer using Poe's suggested methods to off his victims. Alice Eve (again) is one of the pretty girls he must save. No spoiler, but I reckon Poe dies at the end.

Runs like a Gay Excitometer: ●●○○○○○○○○

7 Welcome to London

A few weeks ago we witnessed the release of Naachie London a Hindi language movie made exclusively with UK financing, and as the market continually expands, witness the regualr appearance of Bollywood releases at the bottom end of the top ten box office figures, it seems like a reasonable business model. This film centres around 25 year old Jai, a Dehli resident who migrates to London, meets two beautiful girls and gets embroiled in a web of criminal deceit.

Runs like a Gay Excitometer: ●●○○○○○○○○

Hard Boiled Sweets

Finally, crashing in as the least appealing movie of the week there is Brit gangster drama that feels like it's been played hundreds of times before with an ex-con at the centre forced back into the game for one more heist, targetting the personal stash of organised crime ganglord Shrewd Eddie. Oh, and he's not the only one trying to get hands on the cash.

Runs like a Gay Excitometer: ●○○○○○○○○○


Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

Bel Ami has Kristin Scott Thomas. There is no Universe where I'd miss that movie. KST for the win, for ever and ever.

Runs Like A Gay said...

I don't know, Andrew.

I need me my KST fix too, but this lust looks dull.

I think I'll hold out for Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. I read the book and her role (gender changed from the source) could be a hoot.