Confessions of a Now Playing Mind

By: Jeff Ford
By: Jeff Ford

I had an idea for this column that will have to be postponed.

I had an idea for this column that will have to be postponed.  Originally, I was going to write about nostalgia and how it can be used as a powerful tool in marketing.  With the recent rash of movies and media that are pillaging my youth and being updated for modern audiences, I felt like it would be a good idea to dwell on it for a bit.  My column was to consist of two recent examples of movies that have used nostalgia to try and bring in the audience.  I was going to compare and contrast the different approaches that these films took and determine which used nostalgia the best in my opinion.

I have seen one (“The Muppets”) and liked it quite a bit.  The other movie was being released on DVD this week and would have worked perfectly.  Unfortunately, “The Smurfs” took the recent family DVD trend and, instead of being released on Tuesday, will be in stores this Friday, past my self-imposed deadline.  Feeling that I should not comment on a film that I have not seen, I will be pushing this idea on the back shelf for now, which is probably for the best.  This way, I will be able to have more time to reflect and put my thoughts into a much more coherent fashion.  At least, that’s the idea.  Chances are I’ll wait until the last minute and throw something together as I usually do.  Not that there is anything wrong with this approach.  It has worked for me in the past.

With that out of the way, it’s time to get to the meat of Now Playing.  It’s a rarity this week.  As far as I can tell, there are no major releases this Friday.  I was able to locate 2 films that are newish, only one of which I’m sure hasn’t played here.  As usual, I will give a brief plot synopsis followed by my thoughts and interest rating in my paying money to see it.  Every now and then, I feel I must emphasize that these interest ratings are not ratings on the movie themselves.  I do not get to see these films early.  My ratings are my opinion alone.  Your opinion may (and more times than not, SHOULD) be completely different.  With that out of the way, here is the recent offerings.

THE DESCENDANTS

Kentucky native George Clooney (Grizzly II: The Concert) returns from his long hiatus (almost two months) to the screens in Nebraska native Alexander Payne’s (The Passion of Martin) latest cinematic endeavor.  When his wife is involved in a boating accident, a Hawaii land baron tries to reconnect with his two daughters while confronting the real estate broker (Michigan native Matthew Lillard, “Wing Commander”) with whom his wife was having an affair.

Alexander Payne has a history of making good to great movies.  I may not have cared for his most recent outing before “The Descendants” but it would appear I am in the minority with that assessment.  “Sideways” was a critical darling and even earned quite a few Oscar nominations, winning the award for best adapted screenplay.  “Election”, with Louisiana native Reese Witherspoon, is a film I count as one of my favorites.  He also directed New York native Jack Nicholson to his 12th and most recent nomination in “About Schmidt”.  He is a director that gets my attention.  This one appears to be no different.  Between “The Ides of March” and this, Clooney is looking to get at least a long look at multiple nominations.  This film may end up on my DVD pile to watch, but that doesn’t delude my enthusiasm for it.  I’ll rate it as 4 Tracy Flicks out of 5.  “The Descendants” is rated R for language including some sexual references.

MIDNIGHT IN PARIS

Woody Allen’s (What’s Up, Tiger Lilly) latest is coming to Lexington (either again or for the first time, I do not know).  This romantic comedy stars Owen Wilson (The Haunting) and Rachel McAdams (My Name is Tanino) as an engaged couple who travel to Paris with her parents.  He is struggling through writer’s block but may have found inspiration in his daily midnight walks through the city.  He longs to remain in Paris but this ends up causing strife with his soon to be wife.

Woody Allen has done some good work in the past, but this one just doesn’t grab me.  It appears to be quirky in all the ways that turn me off.  Then again, that is most of Woody’s repertoire.  I can’t quite put a finger on what it is that drives me away.  This one just seems…flat.  There is neither energy nor any magic in the trailer.  Based on the Rotten Tomatoes ratings, like “Sideways”, I am once again in the minority.  It is currently sitting at 93% Fresh rating out of 174 reviews.  That still does not sway my interest.  I’ll give it 2 Eiffel Towers out of 5.  “Midnight in Paris” is rated PG-13 for some sexual references and smoking.

Thus concludes this week’s edition of Now Playing.  Stay tuned for next week when Jonah Hill babysits and people celebrate the dropping of a ball.  Until next time, no matter how bad things get, just remember this one thing.  Kentucky beat Tennessee this year.  Go CATS!!!

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