Friday, September 11, 2009

Return of the TAWp!

Welcome back to the That's A Wrap! TAWp Nine in its latest form with yet another deviation of the total number of posts. As always, your faithful That's a Wrap! Editors pick individual favorites in a particular category. Together the picks combine to create VOLTRON! Well, ok, not quite as cool as robotic kitties of doom, but it's close.

As we reboot the website for the new Fall TV season, we're mixing it up with a list featuring highlights from the big screen. This week we chronicle SIX big Oscar and box office heavyweights of the Fall and Winter seasons.

3. Jim - Invictus (12/11/2009)

I've been on an Eastwood tear this summer. I've long been a vocal supporter of how great Mystic River was, been in awe of Unforgiven and Letters From Iwo Jimo and recently really enjoyed Gran Torino. Excluding the hick-up that was Million Dollar Baby (and I blame that on Hilary Swank, she's been nothing but bad news since she ruined the Karate Kid series for me), he's generally aces. And a political/social drama starring his Unforgiven buddy, Morgan Freeman... You had me at hello, Clint. And it's a sports movie, too! Eastwood-political/social drama/Freeman/sports - That's like a parallelogram of awesome right there.

This Oscar front-runner stars Freeman as South African President Nelson Mandela attempting to unify his country in the aftermath of apartheid around hosting the 1995 Rugby World Cup. Jason Bourne himself, Matt Damon, plays South African team captain Francois Pienaar.

3. Billy - Zombieland (10/2/09)

Ok, ok, so this one is not going to be on anyone's Oscar list this year, but I just cannot pass up the allure of a good zombie movie. And by "good" I mean...well, I'll watch just about any zombie movie at least once. I have absolutely no illusions that this is going to be anywhere near as funny or enchanting as the zombie-comedy standard bearer Shaun of the Dead but I just don't care. I love horror movies and this October seems to have a lack of anything that looks remotely interesting (Saw 12 is coming out, right?), so Zombieland is at least filling that niche for me.

If zombies don't do it for you (and if not, what the hell is wrong with you?) then how about Woody Harrelson? Remember when he was awesome? He was totally in White Men Can't Jump! He was the titular "white man!" Seriously though, the cast looks totally bonkers: Bill Murray, Jesse Eisenberg, Mike White, Abigail Breslin. I just can't pass this one up.

2. Jim - Brothers (12/4/2009)

Like all my picks on today's list, this remake of a 2004 Danish drama peaks my interest with a stellar director in Jim Sheridan. Between My Left Foot, In the Name of the Father, The Boxer and In America, he's got one of my favorite imdb pages. And his cast in this one certainly has a lot of potential with Tobey Maguire as a soldier believed to be KIA, Natalie Portman as his wife and mother of two young girls and Jake Gyllenhaal as Maguire's drifter brother.

Like most Sheridan films, this appears to be a tough emotional journey for characters we'll care about with great tragedy and in the end something hopeful and life-affirming. It's a tried and true formula that works for me like killer robots works for Billy. And really, we plan the summer for the fun movies. The highlights from this time of year are meant to be meaningful and emotionally challenging. And that my friends is right up Sheridan's alley.

2. Billy - Where The Wild Things Are (10/16/09)

I'm in for this one because of two words: Spike. Jonze. After being absolutely bowled over by Jonze's previous films Being John Malkovich and Adaptation I would sit through anything that he directs. Seriously, do you think those movies were great because of the Charlie Kaufman scripts? Synecdoche, New York and Being Human say hello. Add Jonze's keen direction to a movie based on Maurice Sendak's classic children's book and you have a match made in heaven.

Want another reason to see this movie? Watch the trailer, it's full of CGI Wild Things and they look fabulous! My usual feeling is this: Special effects aren't. I've got to a place where I look at most every big budget special effect blockbuster and just don't believe anything on the screen could be real. It's rare when I see something truly otherworldly and think that it looks like it could exist within our space, but by God those wild things fit that bill. I still have some misgivings with the voice cast(Tony Soprano? Really?) but am willing to forgive them because it just looks so damn fun.

1. Jim - The Lovely Bones (12/11/2009)

(Note: I am not stealing this phrase from Billy. I wrote mine first. So there, bitches.) Two words - Peter. Jackson. Even after the um... let's call it... uneven job with the remake of King Kong, this is a guy who has built up such an enormous credit of trust with me between The Frighteners, Dead Alive and that little project from a few years ago.

Based on Alice Sebold's 2002 novel, this is one of two projects coming out this year I'm so jazzed for I plan on reading the book first (the other being Cormac McCarthy's The Road). The story of a child's death and how her family go on while she observes from heaven stars Mark Wahlberg, who recently built up a new reservoir of credit with The Departed just as he was running out of love for Boogie Nights, Rachel Weisz, Susan Sarandon, Stanley Tucci and Atonement's Saoirse Ronan as the murdered child.

1. Billy - The Road (11/25/09)

Part of the reason why I want to see this movie so badly is just because after reading the phenomenal Cormac McCarthy novel this movie is based on I cannot fathom how someone could make it into a compelling film. It's not Watchmen-level unfilmable, but the prose-like narrative is half of what made The Road an impressive read, without that I'm not sure the story will have the same kind of impact. I want to see director John Hillcoat succeed because I do love the book, but I have my worries.

The other reason I want desperately to see this flick? Purely selfish, the bombed out post-apocalyptic southern coast depicted in this movie was filmed in my hometown of Erie, Pennsylvania. Yeah, it's a silly reason, but I'm itching to see places that I've been substituting for a devastated countryside.

Oh yeah, the cast is wicked awesome too: Viggo Mortensen, Garret Dillahunt, Robert Duvall, Charlize Theron, Guy Pearce. Can't wait to see this flick.

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