What I’d Watch 12/25/13


Thanks a lot, Hollywood.  Once again making me work on Christmas.  Yeah, I know it’s a fairly captive audience looking for something to do after the wrapping paper has been torn to ribbons, but would it kill you just once to wait until Friday?  And you had to release a Justin Bieber movie on top of it?  You guys need to be visited by a bunch of ghosts, like right now.

believe_posterBecause it’s just not fair that we had to wait almost twenty years for a fourth Indiana Jones movie that wasn’t that good, but here’s another Justin Bieber movie just two years after the last one.  I’m not sure what he’s done in the last two years that merits a whole new documentary, but here comes Believe, promising to reveal even more secrets.  Like Bieber’s contract with Satan, I’m assuming.  My truest sympathies rest with all the poor fathers who’d like nothing better than to nap away a Christmas afternoon after a hectic morning, only to have to take their daughters to see this movie today.  There’d better be something really good coming out around Father’s Day next year.

waltermitty_posterThe Secret Life of Walter Mitty has bugged me since the first trailer arrived.  I don’t buy Ben Stiller in the role at all.  And the whole thing just seems so overly earnest, trying to manufacture a sense of wonder.  Manufactured wonder doesn’t quite cut it though.  It also seems that Stiller’s Mitty actually does go on adventures, which would seem to fly in the face of the entire point of the story. Someone described this as the first Upworthy movie, and that seems fairly accurate:  overly cloying sentimentality designed to appeal to the lowest common denominator.  So it’ll probably make a fortune.

grudgematch_posterThe idea of two aging former heavyweights trying to recapture past glories isn’t just the story of Grudge Match, it’s the story of its two stars.  Robert DeNiro has been coasting by on the goodwill of past accolades for years, and Sylvester Stallone keeps desperately trying to remind people that they really liked him thirty years ago.  I bear no ill will towards either man, but that doesn’t mean I want to see them with their shirts off either.  But I imagine the sheer strength of their place in our collective memories will get people out to see this.  Although DeNiro has a better nostalgic performance in American Hustle.

47ronin_poster47 Ronin was supposed to have come out over a year ago.  It was pushed from November 2012 to this past February, then moved again to Christmas.  It’s another entry in the suspect genre of foreign characters needing a white hero to make their goals possible.  It’s sitting at 13% on Rotten Tomatoes.  It’s got human charisma vacuum Keanu Reeves sitting at the center of it.  And so help me, I’m dying to see it.  Oh, I don’t expect it to be any good.  I’m actually want it to not be.  Because I’d have more fun with it if it was glorious schlock than if it came frustratingly close to being legitimately good.  I’m hoping for highly refined cheese here, with monsters and samurai and sorcerers.  Every Christmas needs a fruit cake.

wolfofwallstreet_posterBut the star at the top of the tree is The Wolf of Wall Street.  After being left unsatisfied by the Scorsese-lite of American Hustle, along comes the master himself to hopefully show us how it’s done.  Every review I’d read has pegged this as a spiritual successor to GoodFellas; it’s just about a different kind of criminal.  I’ve heard some complaints that there’s too much sex and violence, presumably from people who have never seen a Scorsese movie in their lives.  My only complaint is that I likely won’t be able to see it until Friday.  But a late Christmas present is better than no present at all.

So even if every release isn’t my cup of tea, that’s a nice variety of films to find under the tree today.  Except of Believe.  I mean really?  Come on.  This day is supposed to be about hope.  Oh well.

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