Since I mentioned the wide release film that would conquer the weekend’s box office last week, Friday, I might try again this week: Twilight: New Moon. Ugh, since it’s the lead, there’s a pic of it, but, again, I ain’t seeing it.

Need I say why? I expect it to be just a contrived teen melodrama dressed up with the mythos of such archetypical characters of vampires and lycanthropes (not that all those movies are bad, it’s just a watered down version for the romance novel crowds). The worst part about it is that this new Twilight Movie is it helmed by the Hollywood hack Chris Weitz, who, along with his writers, offer the blind idealization of Hollywood’s interpretation of teenage life. It’s ironic that the first film’s director, Catherine Hardwicke, made her mark directing Thirteen, a movie about the complicated relationship between a young teen and her wannabe-cool-but-ultimately-messed-up mother. She just so happened to have co-written that movie with then 15-year-old Nikki Reed, an actress in the two Twilight movies.

As a matter of fact, none of the wide release movies this week appeal to me. The Blind Side, looks like another schmaltzy underdog sports story that doubles as a star-vehicle for Sandra Bullock. I’d expect to be a predictable torture, which is what I hate most about those kinds of movies. I take no pleasure in watching a movie where I know exactly how a story will not only turn out but how it will develop.

Then there’s Planet 51, which (by the trailer that I had to endure too many times to count alone) I can tell is just another CGI excuse to condescend to children. Dumb CGI movies like these (the last one I actually made it to the theater to watch was Shrek 2) insult the intelligence of children. What’s worse is that many of those children have not developed the aesthetic sensibility to know this. It’s crap filmmaking serendipitously designed to indoctrinate young minds to want to watch simple-minded Hollywood crap. As if this writing, the flick is dropping hard on the Tomato meter (at 15% as of this writing).

Planet 51’s “ingenious” idea to depict a human astronaut as an alien in an alternate planet stuck in the nostalgia of 50s American culture is just an excuse to retell the same old stupid jokes through some simple-minded twist in telling the story. One of the great similar animated sci-fi films of the last century is the French-Czech production Fantastic Planet, which, at least according to the experience shared by one of my film-loving friends, would blow the minds of any child headed to boost Planet 51 at least to number two at the BO this weekend. Watch the opening scene here:

This friend, when much older, told me about receiving a video tape of this movie and recalling, as a child, how it so disturbed him, as well it should have.Imagine humans on some strange planet whose dominant humanoid inhabitants are actually so large, that a human fits in the palm of its hand. These creatures then treat them either as pets or trivially toy with them in the wild as humans do in the real word with ants and flies. It was presented then as a criticism of the oppressive communist regime that then rules Czechoslovakia.

Before I digress more, let me just say Fantastic Planet is one of the greatest sci-fi films of the 20th Century, and deserves a look if you have not seen it.

broken-embraces-osThere are interesting movies coming out this week, at least in limited release. Master Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar is set to release his second consecutive movie starring Penelope Cruz, Broken Embraces, a combination that resulted in one of his best ever films, 2007’s Volver.

Then there is my favorite German filmmaker currently working Werner Herzog, who
has his second Hollywood film coming out (after the Christian Bale-starrer
Rescue Dawn): Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans of a bad cop to the Nth power, Bad Lieutenant, starring Harvey Keitel. I’d even be keen on seeing what sounds like a nice departure for John Woo. Red Cliff is set in China during the rule of the Han Dynasty.

OK, so two predictions for this weekend’s BO: New Moon, of course, number one, and Planet 51, number 2. Hey, if anyone plans to see them let me know and what merits you might actually find in them…

In the meantime I am left to hunt out Almodovar’s and Herzog’s new releases… Anyone know where they’re playing in Miami?

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