April marks the precipice of the summer movie blockbuster attack. This year proves no different with the slew of Sin City, Revenge of the Sith type spectacles that are just itching to be released to rabid movie audiences worldwide. What is there, however, beyond the obvious in terms of film choices? Will you spend the next few months suffering from an overdose of Mr. and Mrs. Smith publicity? Fear not, because Daze totally gets you! There’s no need for embarrassing Internet searches for the sole purpose of choosing a film with substance beyond the mindless drivel continuously produced by the movie industry in an effort to impress others or yourself. The Daze movie guide will give you a look at films, present and future, to provide different options at the theater.
Oldboy — Action / Mystery / Thriller
First catching attention and praise at last year’s Cannes Festival, this Korean tale of revenge has quite a unique billing. A man who is imprisoned for 15 years in a hotel room is finally released. When released he’s given money, clothes and a cell phone, but learns that the man who captured him has more in store down the line. Brutal in its nature and being compared to Kill Bill by critics, the film also has an unpredictable and extremely twisted storyline. Between such intrigues and beautifully bright city cinematography, Oldboy looks to be the best and biggest package around this spring. And, like any original movie these days, Oldboy is already being penned for an American remake with Justin Lin (Better Luck Tomorrow) slated to direct. Those copycats on the West sure work fast.
Crash — Action / Crime
Paul Haggis, fresh off writing the screenplay for Oscar-winning Million Dollar Baby, is the writer and director of Crash, an engaging tale of lives intersecting through traffic accidents in Los Angeles. Already being praised as the year’s first Oscar-contender, the film boasts quite a cast: Sandra Bullock, Don Cheadle, Ryan Philippe, Matt Dillon, Brendan Fraser, Thandie Newton and two amazing staples of acting, Ludacris and Tony Danza. Even with those last two and the fact that the story sounds like the lovechild of Amores Perros and Magnolia, give Haggis a lot of credit. The man has been writing and directing television and film for about 25 years and, as seen through last year’s Baby, he knows what he is doing. There will be twists, crashes, fights and crying no doubt, but the panache in this story might just be overshadowed by its subtle social commentary.
Palindromes — Drama / Adventure / Comedy
I’ll never forget the first time I saw Todd Solondz’s Happiness. The whole movie I kept asking myself “what kind of sick fuck thought this up?” only to find it strangely great when the credits rolled. The script even got nominated for a Golden Globe. Nevertheless, Palindromes is an unofficial sequel to his 1995 breakthrough hit Welcome to the Dollhouse and follows a pregnant 12-year-old girl who runs away from home after being forced to have an abortion. While the log line sounds controversial, it is safe to say that Solondz will place plenty more sick, absurd drama with comedy of the absurd in this 100-minute film. Ellen Barkin leads the cast and, as usual with Solondz, the film has been both praised and slammed by critics. If you want something more interesting than Princess Diaries 5, go see this.
Melinda and Melinda — Drama / Comedy
Woody Allen’s latest film literally plays out an argument as two playwrights argue over dinner whether life is essentially tragic or comic. Two parallel stories thus emerge from the theoretical proposals presented by the two friends. Both revolve around the same woman, Melinda, although one is tragic in nature while the other one, comic. The narrative follows Melinda as she suddenly shows up in the midst of a Manhattan dinner party. Who is this mysterious guest? Melinda’s personality, appearance and background differ within each tale. Supported by a cast that includes Will Ferrell, Chloe Sevigny and Jonny Lee Miller, this non-comedy, non-drama explores the basic formulation and structure of all stories. That the different Melinda stories are being spontaneously concocted is an easily observable detail, thus lending an interesting twist to an already original idea.
The Ballad of Jack and Rose – Drama
The idea of a father and daughter living in isolation on an island off the East Coast is bound to incite connotations of impropriety and obvious tension. This is exactly how The Ballad of Jack and Rose opens. Director Rebecca Miller’s film of family dynamics, idealism and sexuality presents this premise for inevitable chaos with artistic packaging and carefully constructed camera shots. Daniel Day-Lewis’s first return to the big screen since 2002’s Gangs of New York has the actor portraying Jack, a father living with his daughter, Rose (Camilla Belle) on an abandoned commune. As an unyielding idealist, Jack’s enthusiasm for good causes like the environment in no way prepares him for Rose’s maturation into womanhood. Tensions increase when Jack invites his girlfriend and her two sons to move in with the breaking point exemplified through drastic actions enacted by 16-year-old Rose.
The Fountain — Sci-Fi
The most blockbuster-esque movie on our list, The Fountain makes the cut because it constitutes director Darren Aronofsky’s return to moviemaking since 2000’s Requiem for a Dream. The Fountain chronicles three parallel stories, which span over one thousand years. At the center of the movie is the quest for a “tree of life” found in Central America, which loosely echoes of the fountain of youth. Headlined by Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz, Aronofsky’s highly anticipated new effort about life, death and love should provide a sharp contrast to the dark, gritty pessimism that characterized his previous fares.
Archived article by Dan Cohen and Tracy Zhang
Sun Staff Writers