Archive for the ‘2009’ Category

Fist of Film: Matt Damon’s Bottom Five

March 12, 2010

Matt Damon has enjoyed quite a ride. The game-changing Bourne trilogy transformed him from the only Oscar-winning Bruce Weber pin-up into a muscular box office behemoth. The WMD thriller Green Zone reunites Damon with director Paul Greengrass and looks set to reap further millions this weekend. It wasn’t always, thus, however. Here’s a look at the Cambridge-born star’s least profitable earners, written in the hope hidden gems will be uncovered and bitter laughs had. Box office figures are kindly taken from Box Office Mojo.

Geronimo: An American Legend (1993)
Box office: $18,635,620
A beardless Damon tags along as part of a party led by Robert Duvall, who applies his best grizzle to the role of an Indian hunter. Duvall’s white whale is the legendary Apache renegade Geronimo (Wes Studi). Released after the success of Unforgiven, the film doesn’t so much revise history as honor the facts. For Damon’s teen following, it moved with all the pace of a three-legged horse. Genre expert Walter Hill (The Warriors) directed a script from John Milius (Red Dawn) and Larry Gross.

All the Pretty Horses (2000)
Box office: $15,540,353
Pairing director Billy Bob Thornton with the 1992 National Book Award-winner seemed like a good idea at the time, as the Sling Blade star had yet to go full lunatic. The material is Cormac McCarthy, so there’s the inevitable run by a Texas teen (Damon) ‘cross the border, where he breaks some horses and falls for a simmering Penelope Cruz. It was all too elegiac for the studio, who hacked Thornton’s original three-hour cut and left the film to languish at the box office. What’s left is a great novel with palsy.

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Trailerama: Kasi az horbehaye irani khabar nadareh (Nobody Knows About the Persian Cats)

March 5, 2010

Anvil never knew they had it so good. In Tehran, a musician can be locked up just for playing rock music. That doesn’t stop the kids from trying. Now the story of these aspiring rockers is told by Bahman Ghobadi, a Kurdish filmmaker best known for Turtles Can Fly. They face power outages, passport problems and the ever-present fear of being busted. The film is a mixture of improvisation and a script from Ghobadi’s wife Roxana Siberi. What counts is the unique spirit of rebellion it chronicles, one that recently took to the streets during Iran’s disputed elections.

Trailerama: White Material

March 2, 2010

It’s back to Africa for Claire Denis (Chocolat), this time in the company of Isabelle Huppet and–wait for it–Lord Greystoke himself, Christoph Lambert. Huppert is the coffee grower who finds herself in the middle of a civil war and hence a lot of colonial baggage. The trailer seems to up the adventure quotient, but close ups of coffee beans and the mesmerizing guitar soundtrack suggest that this is yet another indulgence in the sensory richness of Denisland. What better guide than that radiant thesping force of nature, Huppert? This is the French director’s first film with tyro screenwriter Marie N’Diaye.

Trailerama: Io sono l’amore (I Am Love)

February 25, 2010

Tilda Swinton could star in a remake of Two Girls, One Cup and Squally would stand on a building rooftop to loudly proclaim her icy brilliance. Fortunately, there’s no fecal matter in Luca Guadagnino’s tragedy set among the Italian bourgeosie (at least as far as we can see). Swinton is the cool Russian cat who has married into a Milanese fashion house. A love affair with a chef, however, rips her courtly reserve to shreds. With its caresses, Vertigo hommages and booming John Adams soundtrack, the trailer gives viewers plenty to throb about. With Flavio Parenti. Guadagnino collaborated on the screenplay with Barbara Alberti (Il portiere di notte/The Night Porter), Ivan Cotroneo (L’uomo che ama/The Man Who Loved) and Walter Fasano (La terza madre/Mother of Tears).

Trailerama: When You’re Strange – A Film About the Doors

February 22, 2010

The prospect of a Doors-endorsed documentary about the Doors is something to make the hardiest soul break out in a cold sweat. But this clip joint is also the first nonfiction film from Squally fave Tom DiCillo (Johnny Suede). The film aims to set archival clips of the “Peace Frog” band alongside contemporaneous footage illustrating the upheaval of their times. Johnny Depp is your go-to guy for the portentious narration. Set to screen at the 2010 SXSW Film Festival.

Trailerama: The Exploding Girl

February 13, 2010

No less a cinematical authority than Tony Rayns named Bradley Rust Gray‘s slowburn timepiece one of his best films of 2009. “Gray’s seemingly offhand movie about a Brooklyn summer during which a college girl realizes she loves the one she’s with is worthy of Hou Hsiao-hsien in its control of detail,” he enthused, and the man knows of what he speaks. The college girl is Zoe Kazan, who commanded the screen in a way the old ham would have approved of in Me and Orson Welles. The music you hear is by Andheri. The song is called “Hvernig á að særa vini sína.” Now is a good time for warm, wistful fuzzies. If the charming trailer is any indication, Girl delivers like mom’s old scarf.

Trailerama: The Good Heart

February 13, 2010

The last time Brian Cox and Paul Dano were on screen together, it was in the queasy sexual abuse drama L.I.E. They’ve been reunited by Noi the Albino writer-director Dagur Kari. This time Brian Cox is a grizzled bar-owner who makes the homeless Paul Dano is apprentice. Cox’s time on earth is almost up. When a stewardess enters the picture, it causes problems for the odd couple. Heart looks like a buddy film that’s as downbeat and dry as you’d expect from an Icelandic director.

Trailerama: The Devilles

February 12, 2010

There isn’t much remarkable about a musician married to a stripper. When the union lasts for over a quarter century, however, that’s cause for attention. What’s even stranger is that Shawn and Teri Lee Geary have competing obsessions. He’s a punk rocker still fighting the war against Reagan. She’s a burlesque performer mired in the mascara of Marilyn Monroe. Danish Filmmaker Nicole Neilsen Horanyi was forutnate enough to catch this odd pop culture pair as their relationship appeared to be reaching the end of the road. Anders August is credited as co-writer. Due to screen at this year’s SXSW Film Festival.

Trailerama: Amer

February 5, 2010

Considering that even Dario Argento does a pretty lousy Dario Argento these days, it’s nice to see a coming-of-womanhood saga that proudly wears giallo colors. Amer promises to show a girl’s sexual awakening in three stages. In the best giallo fashion, it looks set to be fraught with nightmarish realizations. Great soundtrack, too. Helene Cattet and Bruno Forzani’s debut feature together has been picking up awards at all sorts of places, too. It’s set to scream at this year’s SXSW Film Festival.

Trailerama: Lemmy

February 5, 2010

With his facial wart, black outfits and Nazi memorabilia, there’s nobody quite like Motorhead’s Lemmy. The garrulous Englishman is a natural for a portrait documentary. Greg Olliver and Wes Orshoski make the case for this rock ‘n’ roll original by emphasizing his prodigious work ethic (21 albums over three decades) and legacy. This film may also be notable for actually taking C.C. DeVille seriously as a talking head. Stick around until the end. Screening at this year’s SXSW Film Festival.