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Michael Imperioli

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Smorgasbord of Vengeance.

Lots of scores to settle and cold dishes served in the trailer bin of late…

Antebellum musician Solomon Northrup (Chiwetel Ejiofor) finds himself way down on the wrong side of the Mason-Dixon line in our first look at Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave, also with Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Dano, Michael Fassbender, Paul Giamatti, Lupita Nyong’o, Sarah Paulson, Brad Pitt, and Alfre Woodard.

Some strange musical cues here, including the themes from Pearl Harbor and The Wolfman (the latter used to better effect in the original, still-creepy Tinker Tailor teaser). In any case, I liked Hunger and Shame less than most, but I’d be up to give this a go.

Please Hammer Don’t Hurt ‘Em: Josh Brolin discovers to his dismay that he can check in but never leave in the red-band trailer for Spike Lee’s remake of Park Chan-wook’s Oldboy, also with Elizabeth Olsen, Sharlto Copley, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Imperioli, Lance Reddick, and James Ransone. I’m still trying to un-watch the original — some things involving octopi and tongues I wish I never saw in that there film.

One good remake deserves another: Deserve’s still got nothing to do with it as Ken Watanabe fills Clint Eastwood’s shoes for Sang-il Lee’s Yurusarezaru mono, the Japanese remake of Unforgiven, also with Akira Emoto, Koichi Sato, and Yuya Yagira. From The Seven Samurai to The Magnificent Seven, there’s a long and fertile history for this sort of cultural exchange, so I’d watch it.

What I likely won’t be watching is Sergei Bodrov’s fantasy epic Seventh Son, based on a series I haven’t heard of called The Wardstone Chronicles, even if it does have Jeff and Maude Lebowski operating on opposite sides of the ball. (Between this and R.I.P.D., Bridges seems to be in full “paying for an extension to my house” mode these days.)

I thought at first this might be based on Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising, but then I remembered they already made a lousy adaptation of that a few years ago. In any case, also along for the ride: Ben Barnes, Kit Harington, Alicia Vikander, Djimon Hounsou, Jason Scott Lee, and Antje Traue.

When bad things happen to his brother (Casey Affleck), Christian Bale goes vigilante to take down the local ne’er-do-well (Woody Harrelson) in the first trailer for Scott Cooper’s Out of the Furnace, also with Zoe Saldana, Willem Dafoe, Forrest Whitaker, and Sam Shepard. (TL;DR: Bale meets Death Wish meets Winter’s Bone.) Alrighty then.

When bad things happen to his brother (Matt Barnes), Ryan Gosling goes vigilante to take down the local ne’er-do-well (Vithaya Pansringarm) in the newest trailer for Nicholas Winding Refn’s Only God Forgives.

Along with presumably another hyper-catchy soundtrack like Refn and Gosling’s Drive, this also has the added benefit of Kristin Scott Thomas apparently doing her “Ben Kingsley in Sexy Beast/Ralph Fiennes in In Bruges” turn. As with Oldboy, I expect this to be hyper-violent, tho’.

And finally Wong Kar-Wai, Yuen Woo Ping, Tony Leung, and Zhang Ziyi band together to tell the story of Ip Man (again) in the newest trailer for The Grandmaster. This still looks to me like an unnecessary remake of the third Matrix movie, but you can’t fault the pedigree involved.

Update: One more down the pike today: Benedict Cumberbatch channels Julian Assange, and has some Social Network-style angst with his partner Daniel Bruhl, in the first trailer for Bill Condon’s The Fifth Estate, with Anthony Mackie, David Thewlis, Alicia Vikander, Peter Capaldi, Carice van Houten, Dan Stevens, Stanley Tucci and Laura Linney. Linney’s smarmy “truth, justice, and the American way” line is wince-inducing, but otherwise this could be promising.

Update 2: Blanchett, meet Blanche DuBois? After Madoff-y husband Alec Baldwin becomes only the second person in America to be prosecuted for misdealings during the financial crisis, Cate Blanchett learns how the other half lives in the first trailer for Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine, with Sally Hawkins, Bobby Cannavale, Andrew Dice Clay(?), Michael Stuhlbarg, and (hopefully) the Woodster’s new best friend, Louis C.K.

The Sweet Hereafter.

That other “vaguely religious-themed movie” I mentioned I saw between The Book of Eli and Legion? That would be Peter Jackson’s well-meaning, meandering adaptation of Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones. And in all honesty, given the atrocious reviews it received, The Lovely Bones was better and more enjoyable than I had feared going in. Still, it works better as What Dreams May Come-style eye candy than as a movie on its own terms.

Put simply, the main problem here is the source material. Even more than John Hillcoat’s take on The Road, which I thought was an admirable adaptation of a so-so tome, The Lovely Bones the movie is, imho, about a good a film as you could make from such a lousy and overrated book. Now, I understand Sebold’s novel has spoken to a lot of people. But I am not one of those people. I found it to be ghastly, overwritten. Oprahesque nonsense, and finishing the durned thing felt like a chore. And even with PJ at the helm, sadly, The Lovely Bones remains several hours of mostly needless despair-pr0n.

If you haven’t read the book, the gist is this: It’s early December, 1973, and our 14-year-old narrator, Susie Salmon (here, a very good Saiorse Ronan, formerly of Atonement), one day makes the mistake of following her creepy neighbor (Stanley Tucci) into his newly-constructed evil underground lair. There, she is raped and murdered. (This grisly event takes us to about page 20, iirc.) Susie goes to Heaven — or a Heaven-like Limbo, in any event — while her family grieves and gnashes and laments and wails for 300 pages. Oh, and eventually there’s some ghost sex. Yes, really.

Fair enough, but how do they gnash and wail? Well, Ma Salmon (Rachel Weisz) refuses to deal with the loss and its consequences — She turns Susie’s room into an untouched tomb, has an escapist affair with the detective on the case (Michael Imperioli), and eventually runs off to pick grapes somewhere. Pa Salmon (Mark Wahlberg) handles it even worse — The murder upsets his primal sense of order about the universe, and he obsessively tracks down the killer on his own for years to come. Grandma (Susan Sarandon) moves in to try to fill the void left by the distant parents, when she’s sober. And Susie’s siblings, Lindsey (Rose McIver) and Buckley (Christian Thomas Ashdale), grow up and live their lives, although Lindsey has some sneaking suspicions about the creep next door…

Peter Jackson and his LotR writing team (Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens) have made a few changes here and there. Most notably (and very thankfully), Susie’s rape is now only vaguely implied rather than shown. (To those who question this change, I’m with Ronan: What in blue blazes is wrong with you?) Here, Susie’s murder is quite gracefully handled, although I could’ve done with less spider-toying-with-the-fly type stuff before the horrible deed is committed. And Ma Salmon’s romance with the detective is gone — now it’s just occasional long looks. Otherwise, they follow what I remember of the book pretty closely here.

Which is a lot of the problem. Like the book, The Lovely Bones is mostly inchoate and shapeless. As in the novel, there’s no real through-line or sense of momentum in the story. It moves without purpose — Time passes, stuff happens. Look, Susie is playing in her beautiful heaven…oh wait, she’s sad…hey, let’s have a grandma montage…ok, Tucci is still creepy…hey, look, more heaven….oooh, Marky Mark is on the warpath…and so on. I suspect folks who complain about the last thirty minutes of Return of the King will not have much fun with this one — the whole movie has that languid, meandering, “oh and another thing” feel to it.

That being said, The Lovely Bones is quite pretty to look at. (Thanks, Team WETA!) Despite the awfulness of the subject matter, Bones has a very crisp and colorful presentation that soothes the eye even as the story bogs down. And the performances are all pretty good here — especially Ronan — with one minor exception. His Oscar nod aside, Stanley Tucci is probably the weak link here. Like Peter Sarsgaard in An Education, he’s way too much of an off-putting mouth-breather to take seriously. Playing the killer as more sociable and self-assured — like Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu in the original version of The Vanishing — would’ve added a lot more menace to this thankless character.

So, given what he had to work with here, I thought Peter Jackson et al actually turned in a pretty quality product. (The real problem was trying to adapt Sebold’s book in the first place.) So, no harm, no foul, so to speak: The Lovely Bones is by no means a bad movie — It just sorta is. If you really want to see Peter Jackson tackle a story involving fantastical visions, teenage girls, and unspeakable acts of murder, I’d recommend his earlier classic, Heavenly Creatures. As for Bones, my thoughts on it are pretty much akin to my sneaking suspicions about a film I haven’t yet seen, Lee Daniels’ Precious. In this world, sadly, really horrible things happen to good and innocent people every single day…but that doesn’t mean we have to wallow in the fact.

Heavenly Creature.

A murdered Saiorse Ronan settles into her own personal Heaven — as her family languishes in purgatory — in the long-awaited trailer for Peter Jackson’s The Lovely Bones, also with Mark Wahlberg (not Ryan Gosling), Rachel Weisz, Susan Sarandon, Stanley Tucci, Rose McIver, Amanda Michalka, and Michael Imperioli. I wasn’t a fan of the Alice Sebold novel, to be honest, but I’m very curious to see what PJ & Fran (& Brian Eno) have come up with here.

The Bled and the Whacked.

“What Chase has heard from actors is lots of special requests: Don’t let me die a snitch; massacre me; spare me so I can spin off the character for another show. The campaigning never works.” With the return of The Sopranos this Sunday, the Post remembers the fallen, and Chris Moltisanti gets a promotion.

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