LYT's Film Pick of the Weekend 10-5-07

It's hard to get all that enthused about some of the releases this week, but there's one that I'm definitely all fired up NOT to see.


Remember back when Harry Potter was first going to be a movie, and it was suggested that Steven Spielberg would direct, with Haley Joel Osment in the lead, re-setting the action in America? Aren't you glad that didn't happen? Or maybe you're one of those who complained that the Harry Potter movies were somehow too faithful, whatever that means (what if I told you your wife's too faithful? See, it's kinda silly to say). If that's the case, Hollywood has answered your prayers with an adaptation of a well-liked English fantasy novel from a series of five, in which the hero has been turned American, given a dysfunctional family rather than a loving one...oh, and a potential girlfriend, too. Throw in the fact that the director admits to not having read the other books in the series, and therefore has no idea how things should ultimately pay off, and a thoroughly miscast Ian MacShane as Merriman Lion, a.k.a. Merlin (maybe, kinda-sorta) who has gone on record saying that these children's books, which I understood perfectly well when I was nine, are way too dense and need simplification.

Yeah. Seems like a real winner. Don't expect the other four installments to get made. Admittedly, the series is uneven -- some of the books aren't too good by themselves, but I remember the final one, Silver on the Tree, being a great finale to the whole thing.

Theories abound that the Christian-based Walden Media wanted to tone down the book's more pagan aspects; I've no idea if that's true, but it looks mainly like a typical Hollywood fuck-up.

So what to see this week? I have some hope for THE HEARTBREAK KID, since the reviews at large are complaining that it's too "mean-spirited"; lack of mean spirit has been the Farrelly brothers' problem for a long time, so it's great if they recaptured it. And THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD is supposed to be both amazing and amazingly long; don't buy the large Coke if you're going to that.

If you're going to be in L.A., Wes Anderson's new one, THE DARJEELING LIMITED, looks like another quirky winner. Down here we have to wait for it a li'l longer, though.


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