Friday, June 4, 2010

A bitch to pitch: ‘Splice,’ ‘Killers,’ ‘Greek’ and ‘Marmaduke’

 OK, kids, a slew of selections come out this week, and we’re gonna give them to you in descending order of awfulness – complete with our guess as to what the one-sentence pitch that got each of them made was!

“Get Him to the Greek”:

“You take the freak from ‘Forgetting Sarah Marshall’ and give him his own flick with the ultranebbish Jonah Hill!”

The bromance subgenre/Apatow School/Paul Rudd filmography has produced some winners (“Knocked Up,” “Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” “Funny People”) and some dogs (“Pineapple Express,” “Step Brothers,” “Role Models”). How does this stack up?

Well, the trailer cuts all emphasize groinal/anal pain, massive drug and alcohol abuse, frantic anxiety, bad sex, and the like. Being as it’s Apatow-y, I’m seriously afraid that there will be some sentimental moments, or lessons learned, or character development of some kind.

Wouldn’t it be nice if none of those three things happened? What are the odds? I know – not good.


“It’s a romance/comedy/thriller -- like ‘Mr. and Mrs. Smith,’ only funny!”

Eeuh. I love Heigl, and ringers Tom Selleck, Catherine O’Hara, and Martin Mull all make little appearances.

It just sounds too busy. If they’re not kissing, they’re bickering, or killing, or fleeing, or something. Wack-a-doodle.


“It’s ‘Frankenstein,’ only the monster is a hot chick that can swim and fly and kill people!”

WAAAAHH!! Scary. It’s touted as a straight-up sci fi/horror flick, although there are rumors that it’s meta, or ironic, or darkly funny, or something. Adrien Brody is fast moving into his equivalent of middle-period Michael Caine, when he’ll do anything for money. I thought Sarah Polley was past this acting thing – she proved what a great director she is with “Away from Her.” Maybe you should go, just to support her.


“Hey, you know that awesome one-panel newspaper cartoon about the big dog who’s always getting in trouble? Wait, come back! He can TALK! Wait, don’t call security! CGI DOGS DISCO DANCING! LET ME GO!”

This film was not made for audiences – it was made for torture purposes. You can use it on Grandma and Grandpa, forcing them to take the kids; I believe that the Department of Defense will screen it to Guantanamo prisoners and Afghan detainees. Will it prove superior to lethal injection? Will the Supreme Court bar its use as cruel and unusual punishment? Only time will tell.


At the Mayan, it’s “Please Give”:

The director is Nicole Holofcener, who made “Lovely and Amazing” and “Friends with Money.” We are in Woody Allen Land here; can we say anything fresh about liberal white guilt?

At the Chez Artiste, “OSS 117 – Lost in Rio”:

This parodic sequel stems from a long-lived series of spy novels by French author Jean Bruce, featuring a suave James Bond type – four years before Ian Fleming published his first Bond book. Initial film adaptations were serious, but the most recent are Gallic takes on the Austin Powers conceit.

Starz carries “Beetle Queen Conquers Tokyo,” “Ride the Divide” and “180 Degrees South.”

Meanwhile, the Regency Tamarac, they are programming Bollywood selections like nobody’s business. This week, there’s “Vedam”:

And “Raajneeti”:

There’s also “La Mission” – lead actor Benjamin Bratt will be at the theater on Friday – looks like intergenerational conflict, a change in the way of life and how we look at things, and an inspiring transformation.



It’s “Nuclear Madness” all day at the Boulder Public Library, featuring three documentaries about same – “In Our Hands” at 10:45 a.m., Dark Circle at 1:35 p.m., and “Nagasaki” at 3:45 p.m. These shows are FREE, and not for the timid or easily upset. Don't forget -- many atomic bomb components were crafted right here at Rocky Flats by friends, relatives and neighbors from south Boulder and north Jefferson County. I grew up downwind of same -- did you?

At Starz, the Kids Saturday Nickleodeon: Etienne! The Hamster Movie, 3 p.m.

This looks refreshingly strange! And believeable in the way movies aren’t, usually.

Then at 7 p.m., a FREE showing of the classic 1931 version of “The Front Page”:

Lewis Milestone’s film is visually creative, contains some great performances (Adolphe Menjou, Pat O’Brien, Edward Everett Horton) and codifies, as the original hit play did, all the clichés about journalism and newspapermen in existence.


At the Boulder Public Library, it’s a FREE showing of “Captains Courageous” at 6:30 p.m.

Victor Fleming directed this Oscar-winning tale of a spoiled brat who learns about life from a bunch of Portugese fishermen. (All right, no jokes!) It’s got the winsome Freddie Bartholomew, Spencer Tracey, Lionel Barrymore, John Carradine, Charley Grapewin, John Carradine, Mickey Rooney . . . wow. Yes, I cried at the end.


I don't know what's up at the Mayan, but they are not publicizing these special showings enough. On the venue's big screen, downstairs, F.W. Murnau's 1927 silent masterpiece "Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans" will be seen at 7:30 p.m.!

The word "masterpiece" is overused, but this is truly one of the 10 best movies ever made. GO!!!!


Once again, the Mayan scores with two days of Hitchcock's great 1959 "North by Northwest" -- Tuesday and Wednesday at 7 and 9:30 p.m., on the big screen in glorious VistaVision and Technicolor!

Hitchcock's best film? Many think so . . . see you there.

The Fresh City Life series at the DenverPublic Library presents, as part of it summer-long “Presence of the Camera: Documentary Film Series,” Les Blank’s brilliant 1982 “Burden of Dreams” at 6 p.m.

Who’s crazier – Werner Herzog or Klaus Kinski?

At Starz, as part of the “Direct from Tribeca” series, it’s Julien Nitzberg’s 2009 documentary, “The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia” at 7 p.m.

Gee, y’all, I don’t know. I grew up with this kind of crap, so it gets old fast. Filming miscreants and sociopaths and their train-wreck lives as a form of entertainment/cultural anthropology lesson is fun for some. It may be wild, but wonderful?

The now-vaunted Film on the Rocks series kicks off its 11th season with “The Hangover” at 7 p.m. (gates open at 6 p.m.) For those who haven’t gone, Red Rocks Amphitheatre outside of Morrison, close against the foothills, is an inspiring location, and a great venue for music, film and the like.

 The marriage of a live concert introduction to a feature film, with sometimes a thematic connection between the two, is a lot of fun. This week, Kinetix, with The Pirate Signal, starts things off musically. The movie unspools at dusk.


At the Boulder Public Library, it’s a FREE showing of what looks to be the very good 2009 documentary by Mai Iskander – “Garbage Dreams” at 7 p.m. It’s about Cairo’s zaballeen – those who scour and scavenge the city’s trash, and who face the government’s interference with even that lowly way of life.

At the Thin Man Tavern, the Wim Wenders festival concludes with what looks to be an overlooked little gem – 2005’s “Don’t Come Knocking” at 8 p.m.

What a great ensemble! Sam Shepard, Jessica Lange, Eva Marie Saint, Sarah Polley, Tim Roth – Fairuza Balk? Eva Marie Saint? George Kennedy? Julia Sweeney? Tim Matheson? Wenders’ quirky filmography has only begun to be really appreciated. See you there!


Outdoor movies are all the rage. The Denver Botanic Gardens chimes in with a series way down southwest at its Chatfield location (near C-470 and Wadsworth Blvd.) with Wes Anderson’s stop-motion animated feature from 2009, “Fantastic Mr. Fox.” Gates open at 7 p.m., film starts at dusk.

The Boulder Public Library presents Zeffirelli’s 1967 Burton/Taylor version of Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew” at 7 p.m.

To be honest, there are better filmed versions – try Kirk Browning’s 1976 work for the American Conservatory Theatre, or Jonathan Miller’s 1980 outing for the BBC. Or “Kiss Me Kate.” Burton especially goes WAY OVER THE TOP in this one, even though it is one of the Bard’s most ribald comedies.

At Starz, for “One Night Only,” it’s “Joan Rivers – A Piece of Work” at 7 p.m.

For a special treat, go to the Denver Center for the Performing Arts at 7 p.m. Go around the back, to the left, down the stairs toward Speer Boulevard. See the Ricketson sign? It’s now a small proscenium theater, but it was designed as a cinema.

For years, some incredible projections of some incredible films took place there. I saw the very first program there – an impeccable, glowing print of “Grand Hotel,” which changed my appreciation for black-and-white movies FOREVER. At 7 p.m., it’s that hilarious paean to old-school horror, Mel Brooks’ 1974 “Young Frankenstein.” Great cinematography by Gerald Hirschfeld.


At Denver’s Esquire, the midnight movie is the immortal catastrophe from 1980, “Xanadu”:

“Open your eyes and hear the magic!” OK.

At Starz, it’s the Watching Hour at 10 p.m. – “Nightmare on Elm Street III: Dream Warriors.” Don’t know about the movie, but the trailer is GREAT!

Last but not least, Century Boulder features the 1977 apex of Woody Allen’s career, “Annie Hall”:

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