Wednesday, 27 November 2013

On the Road: Oldboy and coming attractions

For me, one of the most important things about being on vacation is not seeing movies! But of course with my job I'm always needing to see things to fill in gaps since I'm missing London press screenings by being away. And at this time of year there are also awards-consideration screenings to keep in mind - so I may try to catch some of those in Los Angeles this weekend.

Today I saw Spike Lee's remake of Park Chan-wook's 2003 fan favourite Oldboy, which opened today in America and hits Britain next week. It's the twisty story about a man (Josh Brolin, pictured) inexplicably imprisoned for 20 years and then released without warning, then trying to figure out who did this and why. Brolin is good, as is his guardian angel Elizabeth Olsen. But Lee's direction is so overstated that it flattens the film's snaky plot. This includes the frustratingly obvious score, pushy emotions and strangely broad performances by the villainous Samuel L Jackson and Sharlto Copley (oddly channelling Darren Brown). In other words, this is the kind of movie that needs the edgy Do the Right Thing-era Lee rather than the bland technical skill of Inside Man-era Lee.

There were eight trailers before Oldboy - which was cool since I so rarely get to see them on a big screen. I'd seen the teaser for Pompeii before (looks over-serious but fun), and also the latest, more detailed look at Scorsese's The Wolf of a Wall Street (can't wait to see all three hours of it). It was fun to get some more detail on David O Russell's star-packed and apparently unmissable 1970s drama American Hustle (including both Bradley Cooper and Amy Adams with their hair in rollers). 

On the other hand, the more detailed trailer for Walking With Dinosaurs gave me pause: despite the photo-realism, these are comical talking dinosaurs, so expectations are down a big notch. And That Awkward Moment doesn't look like nearly as much fun in its cleaner green-band trailer, but I still like Zac Efron, Michael B Jordan and Miles Teller enough to look forward to it.

Otherwise, I hadn't yet seen anything from Non-stop, the latest Liam Neeson action romp, which promisingly costars Julianne Moore and Michelle Dockery (neither of whom actually does anything in the trailer). It looks like a po-faced thriller that would really benefit from a hive of snakes. Grudge Match looks frankly ridiculous, playing on Sylvester Stallone and Robert De Niro's boxing movie past for a comedy-drama that looks unsurprisingly uneven (it's also no surprise which actor seems to be taking things rather a lot more seriously). And finally, Devil's Due is a terrific title for a B-movie antichrist horror thriller about a happy couple whose life goes all Rosemary's Baby on them. The movie looks appropriately slick and stupid.

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