Friday, April 23, 2010

Hollywood conspiracy theory! and the wonders of "Birdemic"

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"Birdemic: Shock and Terror" -- yes, this movie will make more in one weekend than the carefully crafted independent feature you spent years and your life savings making. That's show biz!
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Somewhere below Los Angeles, deep in a reinforced steel vault, a secret committee sits regularly. Their self-appointed task: to decide when mainstream films are released in America, in order to maximize income for the entire industry.

These movers and shakers blend in with the West Coast entertainment industry crowd; however, only retinal scans and three layers of vigilant round-the-clock security gives them access to – the Schedule Chamber.

Are you now more confused than the viewership of “Lost”? Me, too. This blatantly ridiculous theory is the only one I can think of to explain this week’s slate of premieres.

“Warner Brothers, you take out the male 13-25 demographic with ‘The Losers.’ Sony? You’ve got all females this week with ‘The Back-Up Plan.’ Disney? God love ya – you get the Fun for the Whole Family category with ‘Oceans.’ I don’t see any overlap here, do you? OK, screw everybody else. Let’s make some money this weekend!”

“The Losers”: We covered this as a sneak preview last week, but we can stand the trailer again:


It’s based on the 2003-2006 Vertigo comic-book series, which in itself was not that bad. We have a bunch of scruffy, wisecracking not-yet-bankable males, Zoe Saldana as the hot chick with the RPG, and Jason Patric as the bad guy. Smart-ass, fast-paced action.

“The Back-Up Plan”: J-Lo! Girl! You can do it, I know you can carry a movie. “Out of Sight” was great, everything since then . . . now don’t you give up on me, girl!


A familiar type of romcom. What do women want? Evidently, a guy who drives a tractor with his shirt off. Except – oh, no, she just got artificially inseminated! How in the heck is this ever going to work out? Especially when the cute little doggie with broken legs eats the pregnancy test! I did not see that coming – did you?

Well, GF, don’t worry, we have back-up for you. Michaela Watkins is gonna be your best friend. Your would-be boyfriend’s gonna have a funny foil in Anthony Anderson. We’re gonna bring in Robert Klein as your OB/GYN, and Linda Lavin . . . remember? From “Alice”? She’s there. And Tom Bosley – Richie Cunningham’s dad? Yes, he IS still alive. He’s in there.

AAAaaand . . . the sperm donor, Eric Christian Olsen, gets to do a spit take. Golden.

“Oceans”: Now, who doesn’t like a Disney nature documentary? Well, me for one. As one of the millions of kids tortured by repeated viewings of “The Living Desert,” “Our Friend the Atom,” and every damn one of those anthropomorphized adventures narrated by Rex Allen – “The Legend of Lobo,” “Charlie the Lonesome Cougar,” “Abercrombie the Autistic Anaconda,” ad nauseam, I am permanently damaged.

The danger here is mitigated by the fact that the directors, Jacques Perrin and Jacques Cluzard, made the extremely well-done and legit “Winged Migration” in 2001. They are serious, and the work looks gorgeous. Will we risk diabetic shock due to exposure to cute little penguins, cute little dugongs, and cute little jellyfish? Perhaps.


The glory and majesty of the natural world needs to be seen, and may inspire many to put some thought into environmental stewardship. No co-inky-dink about it being released -- * sniff, dabbing at the tear ducts * -- on Earth Day. The trailer pompously announces that a part of the first week’s receipts will be donated “in your honor” to the coral reefs. Huh? Let’s hope they don’t spend it all on plankton and alcohol.

ART HOUSES

The International Film Series is going strong. Thursday and Friday nights, it continues its very popular run of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” On Saturday at 7 p.m., it presents the intriguing-looking documentary “Strongman,” with director Zachary Levy in person!


On Thursday at 7 p.m., “Cyrus”:


It’s made by Jay and Mark Duplass, who made “The Puffy Chair” and “Baghead.” Call me an indie-comedy whore. Go ahead. I don’t mind. And I’ve been burned before (Up yours, “Thumbsucker”! Up yours, “Ghost World”!). But this looks funny.

It’s got Marisa Tomei, Jonah Hill, John C. Reilly, Catherine Keener. C’mon.

Now, over at Starz in Denver, we’ve got – wait, what do we have? There are discrepancies on their website which I’ll try to untangle as the weekend progresses.

Are they still showing the French comedy noir “The Joy of Singing”? Or “Violence des échanges en milieu tempéré (Work Hard, Play Hard)”?


Or both? Your guess is as good as mine. Meanwhile, there’s “Waking Sleeping Beauty”:


It’s pretty darn good, and it’s an instructive example of how you succeed when you support and nurture people, and have the guts to take some chances.

The only new release unique to the Landmark chain in Denver is Peter Ho-Sun Chan and Wai Man Yip’s 2007 martial epic, “The Warlords”:


Note: Chinese blockbusters can be just as deadly as their American counterparts – see “Hero,” “Curse of the Golden Flower,” etc. Plus, what’s with the heavy-metal/choir soundtrack? Also note, this is the 110-minute cut, not the full-length 126-minute original. C’mon, guys, what’s 16 minutes among friends?

SPECIAL EVENTS

SATURDAY

Starz is holding a seminar with the director of “Strongman,” Zachary Levy, at 1 p.m.

At 3 p.m., the Kids Saturday Nickelodeon feature is “Heidi 4 Paws: A Furry Tale”:


Yes, it’s “Heidis Lehr- und Wanderjahre” with talking dogs. Johanna Spyri is rolling in her Alpengrave somewhere.

SUNDAY

Boulder’s Har Hashem Congregation at 3950 Baseline Road will present, along with Tuv Ha’Aretz, Robert Kenner’s 2008 documentary “Food, Inc.” at a FREE 4 p.m. showing.


This provocative film will be followed by a discussion with Rabbi Josh Rose, along with Amy Tisdale and Wyatt Barnes from Red Wagon Organic Farm.

TUESDAY

At Starz, Rocky Mountain PBS Community Cinema will present Michel O. Scott’s 2009 documentary “The Horse Boy” at 7 p.m.:


WEDNESDAY

A busy night, with lots of choices!

The continuing Italian Film Festival at the University of Denver will present, FREE, Andrea Molaioli's 2007 “La Ragazza del Lago (The Girl by the Lake),” in Davis Auditorium in Sturm Hall at 6:30 p.m.


At 7:30 p.m., the Boulder Theater presents the mountain bike film “Follow Me”:


Dude, that is sick.

At 8 p.m. in the Ubisububi Room at Denver’s Thin Man Tavern, the Wim Wenders series continues with the director’s 1984 classic, “Paris, Texas”:


THURSDAY

At Starz, at 7 p.m. only, “140.” The conceit is 140 filmmakers in 140 locations film 140 seconds at the same time, focusing on what connects them to their homes:


An imposed methodology such as this can create something thrilling or something insufferable. Attend to find out. Director (or should we say synchronizer?) Frank Kelly will be at the screening in person.

LATE SHOWS

At Century Boulder, the midnight movie is John Hughes’ 1984 teen comedy, “16 Candles.”


With The Geek and Long Duck Dong. Ha ha. If you were of that time, you love it; if you weren’t, you know better. Hey, one of my favorite songs is Pete Wingfield’s “Eighteen with a Bullet” from 1975. It sucks. Why do I love it? Because it brings back those days ever-so-clearly.

But I do know it sucks.

At Starz, The Watching Hour series at 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday presents what looks like a thought-provoking vampire film from Chan-Wook Park (“Oldboy” and two other films in his Vengeance Trilogy) – “Thirst.”


Priest as vampire? Way to bring the subtext to the surface! I’ve heard very good things about this . . .

Last but least, at the Esquire in Denver, connoisseurs of the tragically bad can finally see “Birdemic: Shock and Terror” by self-proclaimed “Master of the Romantic Thriller™” James Nguyen at midnight:


Wow. This makes “Snakes on a Plane” look like “Grand Illusion.” Thank God our protagonists have coat hangers – SCREEEE!!!!