As we leave summer blockbusters behind and ease into fall, you might think that all the “good” movies are done until Christmas (ok, basically The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, so you’re probably right). Who could forget Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Transformers IXVCD: Avengement of the Exiled? Most of us!
But for Guardians of the Galaxy, which I haven’t seen but Funkhouser’s own Kalan Kucera enjoyed immensely, it seems like there wasn’t much to get excited about this summer. Don’t get me wrong: if there’s a place for big and dumb–and there certainly is–summer’s as good a time as any. 95 degrees with 85% humidity? Sure, I’ll spend 165 minutes in an air conditioned theater watching giant robots beat the crap out of each other. But can we have more big and smart like The Dark Knight, Inception, The Avengers, etc.? Or small and smart, which I always forget to watch at Lexington’s Kentucky Theater and then fail to find on Amazon Prime? Man, even small and dumb would be a nice change of pace for summer.
All that will be behind us in three weeks, though. Aside from football, what should you watch? Here are a few in the pipeline that might be worth checking out for one reason or another:
Automata: a film ostensibly about the human qualities of robots, this one looks like AI with more thought put into it, or at least with more Kubrick heft and less Spielberg magic fairy beans. It’s easier to answer questions about who or what qualifies as human when the robots you’re talking about look and act perfectly human. It’s different when they look like robots, like Melanie Griffith in the trailer. Zing! Automata isn’t breaking new ground, but the trailer is ambitious and seems willing to make the viewer ask and maybe even answer tough questions. What does it take to be human, or perhaps more broadly, a person? It’ll be interesting to see how Automata and its relatively untested director, Gabe Ibanez, tackle this.
Amityville: The Awakening: somebody made another Amityville movie. Damn it. I’ll end up watching it because I always watch Amityville movies even if they’re horrible, which except for the first one, they are. It’s the same with Taco Bell. Like Drew Franklin, I’ll eat any stupid thing they put out, from a sawdust taco to a Chupacaburrito or whatever other Island of Dr. Moreau gastronomic blasphemy their stoner R&D department conjures up. This Amityville trailer is completely by-the-numbers. A ho-hum, cheap-shot, quick-cut, jump-out-go-boo mass-market preview that relies on some grodyness and Acting 101 “evil” looks to sell this to potential viewers. Same setup, tired tricks, maggots and meh. ..you tell me: is there anything interesting about this preview? Maybe there will be some genuine scares or some skin-crawly moments, but I’m not holding my breath. FINE, I’ll watch it under protest. I need to stop being a completist with Taco Bell and movies so that I might be healthier and have more time for my family, but studios need to stop enabling me by churning out Amityvilles.
The Babadook: by the title, I figured this was about a terrifying poop. (We’ve all had them. Mine came after eating a gas-station roast beef sandwich that had fallen into Cave Run Lake.) I was wrong. If Amityville: The Next Sort-Of Different Installment displayed all that sucks about modern horror trailers, The Babadook shows how a preview can and should be done. Very clever, relying mostly on sound and simple drawings to build tension. In under a minute, I went from being a horror-fiend who devours the scariest novels he can find, to being freaked out by a pop-up book. This preview made me decide to stop reading altogether, since practicing literacy will get you eaten by boger-men. I burned all my books, especially the popups, and buried the ashes in a church graveyard. I moved into an efficiency with no closets, curtains, or bed frame so that monsters can’t hide under my bed. Maybe The Babadook will be just another humdrum monster movie, but I doubt it. I hope this one makes it to KY soon.
Annabelle: when my wife was a kid, her sister hid underneath the stuffed animals in their bed and put a hand into the Howdy Doody ventriloquist dummy so that when she came into the room, the doll’s mouth just opened and closed, opened and closed. My wife screamed and ran out of the room, and has hated dolls and horror movies since.
Don’t ever buy a doll. Don’t accept a doll as a gift. Definitely don’t keep a doll that has been bequeathed to you or just shows up on your doorstep. The woman in this trailer? Her husband buys her a creepy-ass doll while she’s pregnant, and she kisses him instead of punching him in the face. Evil dolls are how all bad things happen. From this preview, that is going to be the only reason to see Annabelle, which looks even less original than Amityville: The Snoozening. Doofus husband goes to check out disturbing noises next door rather than calling police? Check. Home invasion by crazy people with knives and electrical outlet hair? Yep. Rocking chair that defies the law of inertia and appears to stop on its own, indicating that some unseen sinister force must be at work? Bingo. Sleep-destroying doll that rains pain and suffering upon its owner? Of-frigging-course! Without reading the synopsis, I’m going to guess that this doll has the soul of a dead child in it. Annabelle comes in at about 50th on my list of horror movies to see, just to see how disturbing they can make the doll.
St. Vincent: finally, a comedy. This one is about a precocious young boy of a single mom who learns about the seedier side of life from a shady old guy and his Russian prostitute friend. It’s like they made a movie about my life, man. A few specifics aside, this sounds like a lot of other comedies (Hesher, etc.), except that a lot of other comedies don’t feature Bill Murray, Melissa McCarthy, Chris O’Dowd, and Naomi Watts. Since I adore bars, casinos, and racetracks, I suspect that I was also tutored in life by an alcoholic vet with a penchant for all things bad for you. I simply must have repressed the memories. I’ll watch this on the strength of the cast alone, and to finally understand my penchant for Milwaukee’s Best, 50¢ hot dogs, and women named Candy.
That’s my list, for better or worse. What movies are you anxiously awaiting?