Friday, February 10, 2012

From the archives: January 2008

Some predictions come back to haunt us.

On the strength of her charming performance in the lightweight but otherwise entertaining 27 Dresses, I anticipated a healthy big-screen career for Katherine Heigl. Little did I know that she'd prove to have the poorest judgment — or the worst agent — in Hollywood. In four short years, she has abused her 15 minutes of fame to the point that her new films disappear before they have time to be noticed. She has become synonymous with lame romantic comedies.

So, I got that one wrong.

On the other hand, I correctly anticipated Daniel Day-Lewis' well-deserved Best Actor Oscar for There Will Be Blood, despite thoroughly disliking the film itself. Writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson is an acquired taste at best; his films are too long, too misanthropic and much too cynical for my generally cheery nature.

Unhappily, his film wasn't the month's worst experience: That dubious distinction was claimed by Untraceable, a vile, depraved torture-porn flick disguised as a mainstream cop thriller. I pity the poor patrons who wandered, unsuspecting, into theaters granting a screen to that turd in the swimming pool. Indeed, I heard from a few, one of whom memorably wished that he'd read my review sooner.

The news wasn't all bad, of course; it never is in January. Many of the great Academy Awards contenders granted only limited December release finally make their way to our Northern California market in January, and I thoroughly enjoyed Charlie Wilson's War, The Great Debaters and The Bucket List. Really, how can you go wrong with Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman trading well-scripted barbs?

Mad Money, like 27 Dresses, was an amusing trifle; National Treasure: Book of Secrets became one of the last decent films Nicolas Cage made (Kick-Ass excepted). There's somebody else who desperately needs career guidance.

Finally, The Orphanage demonstrated anew that the best scary movies are the ones that play with our minds, rather than hurling viscera at the screen.

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

The Bucket List

Charlie Wilson's War

The Great Debaters

Mad Money

National Treasure: Book of Secrets

The Orphanage

There Will Be Blood

27 Dresses


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