What I should be watching is me catching up on how far behind I am with NaNoWriMo. Three days out of town dug a bit of a hole, but one I’m pretty sure I can dig out of with a good weekend of writing. So I can afford to spend a little bit of time doing my usual Friday gig. I’ll be sure not to add these words to my daily total though. They wouldn’t make much sense in the context of my story anyway. As for movies, while there’s only one wide release — one tall, blonde, Nordic wide release — a couple of smaller films are expanding to enough screens to make it likely they’re actually playing near you, so we’ll throw those in as well.
You can’t look at films like Four Weddings and a Funeral and Love Actually and say Richard Curtis doesn’t have a bit of a whimsical streak. But I don’t think anyone expected him to come out with a time travel romantic comedy. But here’s About Time, where our handsome hero travels through time to ensure a future in which he ends up with Rachel McAdams. One of the better applications of time travel ever portrayed, if you ask me. Sure beats trying to kill John Connor, especially as far as John Connor is concerned. I’m a little surprised this film has been getting the slow rollout usually reserved for art films and Oscar contenders; given the rep of some of Curtis’ other films, I figured this would be getting splashed all over the place. But even with the expansion, it’s only on some 1,200 screens. Maybe they’re trying to create an air of prestige around the film. I just hope they don’t end up wanting to travel back in time and try a new strategy.
12 Years a Slave, on the other hand, is just the kind of film that gets the limited release/gradual expansion prestige treatment. You’re not going to open a harrowing look at slavery on 3,000 screens on a holiday weekend. You bow in New York and Los Angeles, get your critical raves, then use that to create the air of an event. Of course, in a perfect world, something like this would be getting a huge release and pulling in a big audience. But this is Schindler’s List without the Spielberg veneer, asking us to immerse ourselves in one of the ugliest chapters in human history. And while every indication is that the film does this brilliantly, that’s a tough sell for a market that made Grown Ups 2 #1 at the box office. It damn well shouldn’t be — greatness should find an audience — but that’s the world today.
And now after that, my unbridled enthusiasm about a movie featuring a flying guy with a hammer. I was lukewarm on the original Thor film — the Asgard stuff was great, the desert stuff looked cheap — but thought they absolutely nailed the character in The Avengers. Between that and Thor: The Dark World looking like exactly what I wanted from a Thor film (dashing adventures in Asgard), I’m definitely hitting this one after work today. I’ll miss the sense of bravado Kenneth Branagh brought to the first film, but Alan Taylor’s been turning out some great episodes of Game of Thrones, so he’s not a stranger to the style. I’m a little more concerned about Patrick Doyle not coming back to do the score, since that was one of my favorite things about the original film. But when I’m nitpicking about the choice of composer, you can tell my anticipation is pretty high. But The Dark World really is an important test for Marvel. Iron Man 3 would have made money with or without The Avengers, so The Dark World is really the first indication of what kind of staying power the Marvel cinematic universe will have. The time of year probably precludes an Iron Man 3-style opening and run, but I’d think Marvel would have to be a little disappointed if this doesn’t at least flirt with the $88 million opening Skyfall pulled off last year. Not that a bad opening will derail the Avengers 2 train — things are too far in motion for that to happen — but it could dampen the enthusiasm a little.
Damn, that was 700 words that could have gone towards my story. Back to the salt mines.