This weekend marks the end of summer and the end of the lucrative summer movie-going season, which we can all admit was, more or less, pants. If this weekend’s offerings are any indication, then the fall could be just as lousy. Granted, I haven’t seen two of the three big movies, but this is more or less an educated assumption… in the least-educated way possible. The most interesting way to frame the weekend box office roller derby is to pit Mexico (embodied by Robert Rodriguez’s hack-and-slash immigration screed ‘Machete’) against Europe (the cool, stylish, internationally flavored thriller ‘The American’). Because, really, that’ll be about the only interesting way to frame any discussion of this weekend’s movies.
Even though ‘The American‘ came out on Wednesday, I still haven’t seen it yet. This mostly has to do with time constraints, and also the fact that I am, of course, incredibly lazy. I’m chomping at the bit to see the movie, which stars the ever-appealing George Clooney and was directed by Anton Corbijn, the famed photographer and music video director who made the great (but under-seen) Joy Division movie ‘Control’ a few years ago. (It wasn’t exactly ‘I’m Not There,’ but it didn’t deserve to be overlooked the way it was.) I don’t know much about the film, other than the fact that Clooney plays an assassin who goes to Europe for one last mission and (presumably) meets his match. (This is a movie, after all.) But I’ve been told it has a laid back flavor reminiscent of directors like Antonioni. This is incredibly appealing to me. A long, slow, thoughtfully meditative flick seems like the perfect antidote to a summer movie season largely defined by people screaming at each other while fireballs erupt behind them. Yet this is sort of a daunting challenge after a long, long, excruciatingly long day of being awesome and writing blog posts. I will see it (and write about it) but I’m not exactly sure that this will be a box office powerhouse, no matter how intense those television commercials have become. Basically, if word gets out to everyday folk that the movie is slow and difficult, they may just not show up. If ‘Knight and Day‘ was too “challenging” for mass audiences, then this will seem like some kind of alien experimentation, I’m sure.
Then there’s ‘Machete,’ which I’ve already talked about at length (too long, probably). I’m skeptical of this movie’s box office appeal, too. While it caters to the Mexican-American demographic, I can’t imagine them caring all that much about this crass trifle of a movie. That said, Robert Rodriguez is a hell of a self-promoter and his name carries a certain amount of weight in some circles. Stranger things have happened.
On the probably-even-dumber-than-‘Machete’ side of things, we have ‘Going the Distance.’ Co-starring real life lovebirds Drew Barrymore and Justin Long, this looks painfully obvious and horrible. It will undoubtedly make more money than all three ‘Lord of the Rings‘ movies put together. That might be a slight exaggeration, but for easily digestible, hey-the-relatives-are-in-town-for-the-long-weekend viewing, it’ll probably make a hearty sum. The only thing keeping it from the crown could be its R-rating for “Sexual content including dialogue, language throughout, some drug use and brief nudity.” Sounds like it’ll be just as tame and boring as any other PG-13 movie, except with a few more naughty words. Oooh, that’ll get butts in the seats!
There is an intriguing independent film coming out, though. Zhang Yimou’s ‘A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop‘ is a loose remake of the Coen Brothers’ debut film ‘Blood Simple.’ Yimou is more or less a genius in my book. Even if the movie kind of sucks, I’m sure it’ll suck in the most fascinating, eye-catching way possible. But, no, I haven’t seen it yet. It’s Labor Day. I’m taking a vacation too.