Saturday, December 3, 2011

That post-Thanksgiving, pre-Christmas lull

Who would have thought that the quietest release date of the year would be the first one in December?

Conventional wisdom has it that there are really only two times of the year that are considered thoroughly undesirable for releasing new films: The first two weeks of January, and the last week of August through the first week or two of September. But considering this week's new output, maybe we'll have to slap an asterisk on the first week after Thanksgiving and call it "potentially undesirable."

I mean, the new release I'm most aware of this week, Steve McQueen's Shame, is about a sex addict and is rated NC-17, for crying out loud.

I guess it makes a certain amount of sense. At this time of year, you want to capitalize either on Thanksgiving hype or Christmas hype in releasing a new movie. Fall somewhere in between that, and the movie's release seems sort of like a dump.

On the other hand, that's patently crazy to say. I mean, December is the month most closely associated with Oscar bait. But maybe the Oscar bait movies don't start coming out until the second release date. Such as Young Adult -- unlikely to be a nominee, but from a recently nominated director (Jason Reitman) -- which comes out next Friday. If so, I've never noticed that phenomenon in the past.

But this year I started thinking "December 2nd, December 2nd ... haven't seen that date on any billboards around town yet." There was a good reason for that -- it wasn't on any billboards.

The funny thing is, there's at least one other movie releasing today that I should have heard of, but simply hadn't -- not until two days ago, anyway.

Namely, there's a new version of Sleeping Beauty opening today, starring Emily Browning. With that kind of name recognition -- Beauty, not Browning -- it's really saying something that I hadn't heard of it before Wednesday. Reading up on it quickly, I discovered it got mixed to negative reviews at Cannes. Sounds like a dump to me -- even in December.

Then you've got two foreign language films coming out in limited release -- Autoreiji from Japan and Kinyarwanda from France (but set in Rwanda). At least Autoreiji comes with an English translation (Outrage) and is directed by a familiar name ("Beat" Takeshi Kitano). Then again, only cineastes are really familiar with Kitano's work (and I classify myself as "familiar" even though I have not seen a single one of his films -- well, except for Battle Royale, in which he appeared as an actor).

And that's it. Literally.

I guess we'll benefit from a calm before the storm -- it'll be a nice weekend to catch up before we'll be slammed by more new releases than we can possibly handle. I myself plan to see either Shame or The Artist, the latter of which is getting some of the best press of any film this year. I actually feel slightly more inclined to prioritize Shame, since The Artist is not likely to get lost in the shuffle that will descend in a couple weeks, but Shame is. After seeing and respecting a lot about (but not loving) Steve McQueen's Hunger, I'll be curious to see what bracing narrative techniques he can bring to this subject matter. Plus, I've got a man-crush on Michael Fassbender. (Then again, who doesn't.)

However, if you've read this post, you know I have some qualms with the idea of telling my wife "Hey honey, I'm on my way out to see that movie about the sex addict."


Mike Lippert said...

Hunger was admirable but not likable. Shame is engaging and haunting and easily one of the best movies of the year.

Nick Prigge said...

I'm hoping to see two movies this weekend. "Shame", of course, and......"The Muppets."

That potential double feature just seems wrong.

Vancetastic said...

Hunger was one of the most oddly structured films I've ever seen. I felt very impatient in the first half and really liked the second half, especially the lengthy (like, 20-minute) conversation between Sands and the priest. Overall, though, I guess I felt McQueen was toying with me a little bit. Glad to hear Shame is so satisfying.

Nick, that would be an awesome double feature indeed. My most hilarious real-life double feature was Gosford Park and Kung Pow: Enter the Fist.

I feel like I should get out to see The Muppets, but there's a difference between feeling I should see it and actually WANTING to see it. I don't know why I'm feeling grinchy toward this Muppet movie, I just am.

Vancetastic said...

Seen it now, Mike. You'll be glad to know I'm on the same page.