Friday, January 27, 2006

Things to do at the movies, on DVD and on TV all at once.

- Director Steven Soderbergh's new, experimental drama BUBBLE opens at the Landmark this weekend. Oh, and it's playing on some OnDemand networks this weekend. Oh, and on Tuesday, BUBBLE is coming out on DVD. So don't act like you won't have an opportunity to watch it, for this quirky independent film is making an attempt to be everywhere for everyone all at once. The movie features a tragic love triangle set in the middle of an Ohio doll factory, and it was cast using actual people, not professional actors, and shot using digital video. Soderbergh's capable of making great movies that vary in scope and topic, from OUT OF SIGHT and ERIN BROCKOVICH to TRAFFIC and OCEAN'S ELEVEN. But BUBBLE marks a real departure from the norm, from the way it's been made to the way it's being released. Spend two hours at the movies, or put BUBBLE in your Netflix queue. Try something a little different, a movie that's probably a little strange. I usually find those sorts of experiences kinda rewarding.

- When was the last time Emma Thompson was in a movie? I guess it was HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE, prior to this weekend's new release NANNY MCPHEE, but it just feels like it's been a really long time since Thompson was front-and-center as the lead of a film. I mean, LOVE ACTUALLY didn't really have a lead, and it felt like she was on the sidelines for most of HBO's ANGELS IN AMERICA. NANNY MCPHEE looks a little annoying, like a MARY POPPINS that's trying too hard to be dark, and it has the one thing that, according to Lupo, dooms a film: the shot of an animal having a funny reaction to something. In NANNY MCPHEE, there's a donkey in drag. Still, the cast is good, and Thompson wrote the film, which is usually a good sign. But is this what Thompson's been reduced to playing? She's still an attractive, talented woman, damn it.
- One of my co-workers at the bookstore says that the cool, new book that everyone will be reading is called UTTERLY MONKEY by Nick Laird. It looks to me like some sort of SNATCH-esque British caper novel, but my co-worker told me that she read UTTERLY MONKEY in a couple days and that it was hilarious. So, bam, you have your recommended book of the week.

- LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE, one of the few films I've heard any buzz about from this week's Sundance Film Festival, stars Steve Carell and the magnificent Toni Collette as wannabe pageant parents. People apparently gave the film a standing ovation when it played. Of course, Collette's last released film, the terrific, underrated IN HER SHOES with Cameron Diaz and Shirley MacLaine, hits DVD on Tuesday, and it's definitely worth a look. Or you could check out Toni Collette in ABOUT A BOY or MURIEL'S WEDDING. She's actually good in most everything, even the otherwise horrible CONNIE AND CARLA.
- A confession that may surprise movie buffs: I've never seen Kubrick's THE SHINING. Telling some people that, they reply to me, "How can you consider yourself a movie fan at all?," but there are lots of movies I just haven't seen yet. I've spent some of this week trying to make a list of important films to see, and it just keeps getting longer and longer. THIS WEEK'S QUESTION: What's a must-see movie, must-read book or must-hear album that you've not yet experienced? Any classics you've missed?

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