ReelThoughts: April 02, 2007

"April Showers"

Commentary by James Berardinelli


This was ready yesterday, but I decided it was probably not a good idea to post any substantive content on April 1...

Looking ahead to April's theatrical releases, I have to admit it doesn't look more promising than March, which appeared much like February, which in turn wasn't different from January. Those wishing to peer ahead into May will note the expected shift then, but that's for next month's column, not this one's. For April, there are only three titles I'm greeting with heightened anticipation. (Caveat: there is a fourth, but I can't include it on the "anticipated" list because I saw it last September.)

The big April 6 release is Grindhouse but I have been dealt a bad hand for this one. For reasons unknown to me, the studio has elected not to have a local press screening. To add insult to injury, the local publicists have scheduled the only advance screening (a night promotional one) 36 hours before the film opens and in the one theater I long ago vowed never again to frequent. (It's a long story - *long* being the key word.) As a result, I will be relegated to seeing Grindhouse Friday morning, which means the review won't be available until around the end of the work day. I should have it up early enough so that anyone planning to see it Friday night will be able to ponder my thoughts ahead of time. It's a bummer, but that's the way things work sometimes.

Black Book also opens the first week in April, and it's well worth seeing. This is the "fourth" title I mentioned above. I was excited to see it last summer in Toronto and it didn't let me down. The only downside is that because it's subtitled, it may be difficult to find in some locales. Other April 6 films include yet another horror film, The Reaping, which has sat on Warner Brothers' shelves for god knows how long; The Hoax, another movie that has been gathering dust; and First Snow, which has changed its release date on a weekly basis. Anyone sense a trend?

April 13 brings the addled remake of Rear Window, Disturbia. This one intrigued me until I saw it. The Oscar-nominated After the Wedding (which I think is already out in a few cities) expands its run. Pathfinder is an action/adventure movie that seems to be targeting the LOTR crowd (despite the absence of magic). The preview makes it look like Apocalypto with swords and without subtitles. Finally, there's Perfect Stranger, the film that got a day named after it Philadelphia but isn't worth any money one might be tempted to pay out for it. As for the "hype" promising that's it an "erotic thriller in the tradition of Basic Instinct", let me note for the record that there's very little nudity and what little there is does not feature Halle Berry.

The third weekend is April offers the highly touted police farce Hot Fuzz. I'm hoping this will represent a comedy that's actually funny - something we haven't had this year. Also on my want-to-see list is the French thriller The Page Turner, which opens in limited release. In the Land of Women pretty much declares its chick flick nature via the title, but it will be interesting to see Meg Ryan playing the mother in this kind of film. Slightly younger female viewers will have The Nanny Diaries. One wonders if those two films will siphon viewers from each other. Then there's the likely-not-to-be-screened horror/thriller Vacancy, which is said to be gleefully gory and blessedly short (less than 80 minutes, apparently).

Finally, the calm before the storm. The big movie on April 27 is Fracture, which could be deliciously devious or horribly contrived - take your pick. The double presence of Anthony Hopkins and Ryan Gosling must surely mean there's some cause for hope. Kickin' It Old School is the week's dumb comedy (featuring a Rip Van Winkle premise) and Next is science fiction thriller starring Nic Cage and Jessica Biel and based on a Philip K. Dick novel. The most intriguing movie of the week is Jindabyne, which takes its plot from a Raymond Carver short story.

If the saying is correct and April showers bring May flowers, then next month should be very interesting. Talk about a potential megaplex glut...


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