and after the nukes, the only thing left will be roaches and music biopics: denver premieres for 12/5

Jeffrey Wright and Adrien Brody watch the approaching mushroom cloud, confident in the knowledge they will outlast us all.

Our man in Cap Hill Pike Bishop boldly goes so you don't have to:

Cadillac Records- By turning the colorful lives of American R&B, Blues, Country and Rockabilly icons into so many portraits in beige, Hollywood has, for the last thirty years or so, worked hard to Disneyfy the history of our country’s musical heritage with the dreaded subgenre of the music biopic. Due to the fact that most of these movies are written and directed by Baby Boomers (or their sycophantic children), it is hardly surprising to note then, that an insidious undercurrent in all of these biopics is the idea that the music of say a feisty hillbilly hero or a urban/rural negro bluesman will soon find its way to a young and hip white kid from the city (read: suburb) and influence the most perfect form of musical expression ever- Rock and Roll, preferably the late 60s British variety. So when we watch the trailer for the new film Cadillac Records and a see the snippet of the young Rolling Stones approaching the nonplused Muddy Waters (Jeffrey Wright) at the door of a South Side bar and tell him, “We are big fans. We named our band after one of your songs… ” we know in what context the filmmakers want us to view the characters up on the screen. They might as well have had some classic rock dork stand in front of the actors, point and say, “Psssst. That’s Muddy Waters. He made Rock and Roll possible!” To that end, Cadillac Records will do the same for some of the Chess recording artists as say, What’s Love got To Do With It did for (Ike and) Tina Turner or Ray did for Ray Charles or Walk the Line did for Johnny Cash- it will push a couple more best-of compilation albums out the door to the curious only to be brought back again some time later as used-bin fodder for cash or trade.

The stunt casting (and the thinking behind it):

Beyonce Knowles as Etta James (She does what she wants because she is the producer and don’t you forget it.)

Mos Def as Chuck Berry (This one is obvious- He’s the Chuck Berry of Hip-Hop.)

Cedric the Entertainer as Willie Dixon (He’s fat. Get it, Willie Dixon was fat too.)

Eric Bogosian as Alan Freed (He wrote and starred in Talk Radio so he’s perfect for the role of a disc jockey!)

Tony Bentley as Alan Lomax (Well he played Hal B. Wallis, the guy that produced Elvis’ first movie, in that Made-for-TV Elvis movie. Muddy Waters is the Elvis of Blues. So why don’t we get this guy to play Alan Lomax, the guy that produced Muddy’s first field recording. It would be like karma or something.)

The rest of the cast:

Jeffrey Wright as Muddy Waters
Adrien Brody as Leonard Chess
Gabrielle Union as Geneva Wade
Columbus Short as Little Walter
Eamonn Walker as Howlin' Wolf
Kevin Mambo as Jimmy Rogers
Valence Thomas as James Cotton

The Punisher: War Zone- When a comic book movie is dumped onto the market at either end of the summer release schedule, an alarm should go off in your head that says “crap movie.” If you learn that said comic book movie is a 2nd time reboot (as in a third stand-alone movie, for you kids without the math skillz) of a franchise whose only rewards are watching rounds of ammo being fired into the bad guy’s faces and some wicked cool ‘splosions, then that alarm should no longer be necessary. From here on out you are on your own. The word out in the intranets is that The Punisher: War Zone is nerdy hipster manna in that it is so, so very bad that it is good. I love the first line of Roger Ebert’s review where he writes, “You used to be able to depend on a bad film being poorly made. No longer.” There is a sense of pathos and of fear in his proclamation, almost like he has seen what’s coming over the horizon and knows that it can’t be stopped.

Antarctica- Opening at the Starz FilmCenter is this dramedy from Israel. The synopsis they give reads:

Director Yair Hochner gives us a wacky comedy that ignores politics altogether while focusing on its characters’ domestic and romantic problems. And no one has more problems than gay siblings Shirley and Omer. Omer is almost thirty and still hasn’t found himself — or the man of his dreams. A series of disastrous blind dates hasn’t helped. Shirley is a little younger and has already nabbed her dream woman, Michal, owner of the hippest cafĂ© in town (and Shirley’s boss). But the thought of settling down scares Shirley, who wonders if she’s ready to give up her long-held plan of traveling to Antarctica.

As the siblings sort through their feelings and prepare for adulthood, friends and relatives chime in with their advice and problems of their own. No one has more of either than their “Jewish mother from hell,” Shoshanna, played, in what Hochner describes as a tribute to both the films of John Waters and the late great Divine, by Yoam Huberman, one of Israel’s most talented drag artists.

They Killed Sister Dorothy- Also opening at Starz FilmCenter is this documentary. The synopsis they give reads:

They Killed Sister Dorothy chronicles the legal proceedings that followed the execution-style murder of Sister Dorothy Stang. At seventy-three, the Catholic nun and activist had lived in Brazil for thirty years, collaborating with the government to establish sustainable development in a remote corner of the Amazon. But along the way, she had made enemies among the ranchers who stood to benefit from the exploitation of the rainforest and its natural resources. In 2005, she was shot six times at point-blank range. Two men were arrested for the killing, but it quickly became clear that her death was part of a much greater conspiracy.

A Christmas Tale- Opening last Friday but continuing on this week is A Christmas Tale, the critically-praised French film about a dysfunctional family gathering together for Christmas after the family matriarch learns she is dying from leukemia. It looks like the ensemble cast of character actors is the big draw for this film along with the pleasant structure of vignette-like scenes adding up to an emotionally satisfying whole. It stars Catherine Deneuve, Jean-Paul Roussillon, Mathieu Amalric, Anne Consigny, Melvil Poupaud, and Laurent Capelluto. Directed by Arnaud Desplechin (Kings and Queen)

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