a strikingly fierce day the excellent adventure of the matrix stood point break: denver premieres for 12/12

"Actually, Timmy, the thing is, it's a bit private..."

Is there a blogger alive who loves movies more than our man Pike Bishop? Here's his round-up of this week's openers in Denver:

Frost/Nixon- Scripted by Peter Morgan (The Last King of Scotland, The Queen, The Other Boleyn Girl) based on his own stage play and directed by Ron Howard (Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind, Cinderella Man), Frost/Nixon is a dramatic take on the 1977 interview of disgraced former President Richard Nixon conducted by the British television personality David Frost. Nixon and his staff chose David Frost to do the interview knowing that his reputation was one of a non-confrontational lightweight. Their belief was that, through series of softball questions, Nixon could reassert his righteousness and begin to rehabilitate his public persona. This gambit might have worked for Nixon if it were not for the elephant in the room- Watergate. Conducted over twelve days, the Frost/Nixon interview produced 4 90-minute episodes showing the most secretive and guarded American president in history slowly slipping into the most candid. In this film adaptation, Frank Langella (Nixon) and Michael Sheen (Frost) reprise their roles from the stage production while actors Sam Rockwell, Kevin Bacon, Rebecca Hall and Oliver Platt fill out the second tier. If Ron Howard has proven himself too middle-of-the-road for you but are interested in the subject matter, then check out the DVD of the actual interview, Frost/Nixon: the Original Watergate Interviews, which was released last week. If you find yourself completely bored by all of this, but want to see Monty Python ripping into their old boss, David Frost- I mean “Timmy Williams” - then watch the Youtube clip. The film opens at the Landmark Theatre at Greenwood Village on Friday.

The Day the Earth Stood Still- This unnecessary remake is directed by Scott Derrickson whose past work includes The Exorcism of Emily Rose and Hellraiser: Inferno and stars Keanu Reeves. Do you need more proof that this will be a piece of shit? Alright chief, then how about we look at the Rotten Tomatoes rating for this thing? As of this morning, it stands at 24%. I think that this mouth breather over at Bloody-Disgusting.com gives us a good idea of who is in that 24%. If you don’t want to read it I’ll give you his best lines:

Something has always pissed me off about the original was Michael Rennie ‘s performance as Klaatu, an alien sent to Earth to save mankind from their magnetism to war. Klaatu I supposed to be over our feeble emotions, omnipotent if you will, yet he walks around Washington with his nose in the air completely arrogant and annoyingly cocky. He’s a flippin’ know-it-all and it makes absolutely no sense why he’s be the one to judge our society. Scott Derrickson and co. fix this problem in the remake where Keanu Reeves plays the news and improved Klaatu, who plays the role strikingly fierce.

Note to President-elect Barack Obama: Read the paragraph above and realize that our public school systems have failed us. Fix our schools before it is too late.

JCVD- Jean-Claude Van Damme takes a self reflexive look at his life as well as his career in this film and finds the human being underneath the veneer of a B-grade action star. Jean-Claude (playing a role that is the bizarro-world version of himself) returns to Brussels after losing a custody battle for his daughter in L.A. Here he is up to his neck in debt and having a hard time finding any worthwhile film work. In need of a cash wire transfer to pay off his lawyers, Van Damme enters a bank that is being held up and finds that he is caught in a Dog Day Afternoon-like hostage situation that is reminiscent of the plots from his straight-to-video movie career. JCVD is Jean-Claude Van Damme coming to terms with himself, and he supposedly gets right at the heart of the matter with a single shot, 10 minute monologue scene in which he knocks it out of the park with a partially improvised public atonement for his botched life. I think it was Richard Corliss that said it was the “finest, most scab-pulling” performance he saw at the Toronto Film Festival. I don’t think that any of Van Damme’s old action star peers (Segal, Dudikoff, Lundgren, Norris, or Stallone) could pull off such an act of self effacement with such ease in such a public way. So for that I give congratulations to “The Muscles from Brussels” for he has with one film moved away from being the easy punch line he once was. The film opens at the Mayan on Friday.

How About You- This 2007 Irish dramedy starring Vanessa Redgrave opens Friday at the Starz FilmCenter. Their synopsis reads:

How About You tells the story of Ellie (Hayley Atwell), a footloose and fearless young woman who is left in charge of a residential home owned and run by her older sister Kate (Orla Brady), over the Christmas period. Her youth and inexperience bring her into bitter conflict with the four grumpy old residents known as the “hardcore”: retired screen beauty Georgia (Vanessa Redgrave), spinster sisters Hazel (Imelda Staunton) and Heather (Brenda Fricker), and a reformed alcoholic judge, Donald (Joss Ackland). The film deals with the at times hilarious antics of these uncivilized seniors, the gradual solidarity that develops between the residents and Ellie and an unlikely romance.

Louise Bourgeois: The Spider, the Mistress and the Tangerine - This documentary about the influential sculptor, Louise Bourgeois, opens at the Starz FilmCenter on Friday. Their synopsis reads:

Louise Bourgeois: The Spider, the Mistress and the Tangerine is a cinematic journey inside the life and imagination of an icon of modern art. As a screen presence, Louise Bourgeois is magnetic, mercurial and emotionally raw. There is no separation between her life as an artist and the memories and emotions that affect her every day. Her process is on full display in this extraordinary documentary. As an artist, Louise Bourgeois has for six decades been at the forefront of successive new developments, but always on her own powerfully inventive and disquieting terms. In 1982, at the age of 71, she became the first woman to be honored with a major retrospective at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. In the decades since, she has created her most powerful and persuasive work that has been exhibited, studied and lectured on worldwide. Filmed with unparalleled access between 1993 and 2007, Louise Bourgeois: The Spider, the Mistress and the Tangerine is a comprehensive and dramatic documentary of creativity and revelation. It is an intimate, human and educational engagement with an artist’s world.

Returning to the Big Screen this week is Vicky Christina Barcelona. This film opened early in the year but now that it is getting some general recognition from the Golden Globes and specific notice for Penelope Cruz from the L.A. and New York film circles, Woody Allen’s third European venture, Vicky Christina Barcelona, is being trotted out again for the obligatory Oscar race. That said, it is supposed to be the most enjoyable of Allen’s recent output and Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz are said to put in notable performances.

Also of note, a film spotlighted last week, A Christmas Tale by Arnaud Desplechin, moves over to the Starz FilmCenter on Friday, December 12th.

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