Thursday, April 14, 2011

From the archives: September 2008

September can be a cruel month.

Summer is over, at least as far as Hollywood is concerned. We're therefore often stuck with leftovers that got pushed back, because of the (theoretically) better films that were given the prime months from May to July. And, indeed, September 2008 had its share of losers, most of which I didn't bother to discuss at length (although you'll find half a dozen of them cited in one I did suffer through, because of its Sundance Film Festival cred: the simply dreadful Hamlet 2).

Writer/director Diane English's ill-advised remake/update of The Women also is a classic September movie. What a sad, sad waste of a high-profile cast.

Alternatively, September can be great for counter-programming by films not necessarily intended to set the world on fire. The Coen brothers scored with their delicious Burn After Reading, a welcome return to the macabre blend of humor and drama they previously delivered so well in Fargo.

And look at this: back-to-back Penélope Cruz projects. Although both could be (unfairly) dismissed as superficial male sex fantasies, both occupy richer waters. Woody Allen's Vicky Cristina Barcelona got most of the press, but while it's an engaging lark, it doesn't have near the heft of the all-but-ignored Elegy: a truly powerful, poignant drama fueled by two excellent performances.

As for the rest, another ludicrous tear-jerker was made from a Nicholas Sparks novel — his formula has become both predictable and tiresome — and Ricky Gervais delivered a droll, delightful surprise with the low-key Ghost Town.

So, all in all, a mixed bag. You get to skip most of the September bombs, because I weeded 'em out for you. (It's my job.)

Step into the Wayback Machine, and check 'em out:

Burn After Reading

Eagle Eye


Ghost Town

Hamlet 2

Nights in Rodanthe

Vicky Cristina Barcelona

The Women

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