Indy IV to tackle a new kind of “cheesy”: Lucas


Vanity Fair has a new article on Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, with photos and interviews and a video of Annie Leibovitz taking her on-the-set pictures of Cate Blanchett, Shia LaBeouf, Karen Allen and, of course, Harrison Ford.

An extensive section of the article deals with “the MacGuffin” and the central role it plays in the Indiana Jones films — as opposed to, say, the films of Alfred Hitchcock, where the MacGuffin is just a gimmick to keep the story going but doesn’t have much of a presence in its own right. And apparently George Lucas wasn’t all that satisfied with the MacGuffins in the last two films:

He feels he had an excellent one in Raiders of the Lost Ark. The much-sought-after Ark of the Covenant not only held the Ten Commandments but also functioned as “a radio to God” and possessed enough Old Testament power to smite those who looked on its treasures. If the Nazis were to gain control of it, instead of good old Indy, well, you can imagine the consequences. But a first-rate MacGuffin is hard to find, and Lucas says he was not completely satisfied with those he had for Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (the sacred Shankara Stones, which, for reasons no audience can keep straight, must be retrieved in order to save kidnapped village children from an Indian death cult) and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (the life-giving Holy Grail, which comes in handy when Indy’s dad is dying).

“I’m the one that has to come up with the story, and the MacGuffin, the supernatural object that everyone’s going after … ” Lucas’s voice trails off. He is seated in a favorite chair, its cushions lumpy and dented. “The Ark of the Covenant was perfect. The Shankara Stones were way too esoteric. The Holy Grail was sort of feeble—but, at the same time, we put the father in there to cover for it. I mean, the whole reason it became a dad movie was because I was scared to hell that there wasn’t enough power behind the Holy Grail to carry a movie. So we kept pushing to have it function on some level—and to make it function for a father and a son. To make it that kind of a movie was the big risk and the big challenge, but also the thing that pulled it out of the fire. So, at the end of it, I was like, No more of these, baby. We’re done. I can’t think of anything else. We barely got by on the last one!

“At that point I had kind of retired,” he continues. “I was raising my kids, I was running my companies. The last thing I wanted to do was go off and do another one of these things. And it stayed there for quite a while, until I was doing Young Indiana Jones, and I was actually with Harrison, shooting a little piece for it, and I was up in Wyoming, where he lives, and I came up with this MacGuffin, which was sitting there right in front of me, and I said, ‘Well, why didn’t I ever see this before?’ ”

When Ford and Spielberg both rejected the idea, Lucas dug in. He hired screenwriter after screenwriter to make his MacGuffin the linchpin of a new Indy story. “So this went on for 15 years,” he says. “And finally we got to a point where everybody said, ‘Look, we’re not doing that movie.’ And I said, ‘Well, look, I can’t think of another MacGuffin. This is it. This works. I know this works.’ And then we stopped. I just said, ‘O.K.,’ and that’s about the time I started Star Wars again. But then Harrison was kind of interested. And I said, ‘I won’t do it unless we can have that MacGuffin. Without the MacGuffin, I will not go near this thing.’ ”

And what is the MacGuffin this time? Well, the movie’s title kind of lets you know, but here is how Vanity Fair puts it:

And then (spoiler warning) Lucas gets a little more (spoiler alert) specific: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull will apparently nudge our hero away from his usual milieu of spooky archaeology and into the realm of (spoiler Code Red) science fiction. “What it is that made it perfect was the fact that the MacGuffin I wanted to use and the idea that Harrison would be 20 years older would fit,” Lucas says. “So that put it in the mid-50s, and the MacGuffin I was looking at was perfect for the mid-50s. I looked around and I said, ‘Well, maybe we shouldn’t do a 30s serial, because now we’re in the 50s. What is the same kind of cheesy-entertainment action movie, what was the secret B movie, of the 50s?’ So instead of doing a 30s Republic serial, we’re doing a B science-fiction movie from the 50s. The ones I’m talking about are, like, The Creature from the Black Lagoon, The Blob, The Thing. So by putting it in that context, it gave me a way of approaching the whole thing.”

Come to think of it, that last bit kind of answers a question I raised here almost one year ago:

Needless to say, the world was a very different place in the 1960s than it was in the 1930s; the Nazis were gone, and so was the British Empire (seen in Temple of Doom). So in what context could this new film take place? The original movies were nostalgia trips to the days of Saturday-matinee serials — but could that template work for a movie set two or three decades later? How could this new movie possibly be “of a piece” with the other films?

Whether Lucas has given a satisfactory answer to that question is, of course, another matter. And remember how Lucas said the new Indiana Jones film would annoy the critics and the fans alike because “We’re basically going to do The Phantom Menace“? He can’t resist taking a shot at them in the new article, either:

Whatever, Lucas is convinced he won’t please everyone. “I know the critics are going to hate it,” he says. “They already hate it. So there’s nothing we can do about that. They hate the idea that we’re making another one. They’ve already made up their minds.”

At least the legions of Indy geeks will be pleased, right?

“The fans are all upset,” Lucas says. “They’re always going to be upset. ‘Why did he do it like this? And why didn’t he do it like this?’ They write their own movie, and then, if you don’t do their movie, they get upset about it. So you just have to stand by for the bricks and the custard pies, because they’re going to come flying your way.”

Finally, here is a picture of Cate Blanchett in Communist mode:

(Hat tip to Chris at Movie Marketing Madness.)

This movie was not screened for critics, 2008.

Two years ago, I posted an item on Ultraviolet and several other movies which had not been screened for critics in the first two months of 2006; and then, as the year progressed and the ranks of such movies swelled, I posted updates to that original post.

I then kept a similar list for 2007 — and now that 2008 is upon us, it is time to start a list for this year, too. Already, and as I noted here three weeks ago, there is one film opening this week without any advance screenings — except for a late-night invitational screening mere hours before the movie opens to the public, which for the purposes of these lists “doesn’t count”. (It is a preview of sorts, but it’s still too late for newspaper deadlines, etc.)

There will be more such films in the year ahead, I’m sure; I’ll post updates as they come, and link to those updates from here.

January 4: One Missed Call.
January 11: The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything, In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale.
January 25: Rambo, Meet the Spartans.
February 1: The Eye, Strange Wilderness, Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour.
February 22: Witless Protection.
March 14: Doomsday.
March 21: Shutter, Tyler Perry’s Meet the Browns.
March 28: Superhero Movie.
April 4: The Ruins.
April 11: Prom Night.
June 13: The Happening.
August 15: Mirrors.
August 29: Babylon A.D., College, Disaster Movie.
September 5: Bangkok Dangerous.
September 12: Tyler Perry’s The Family That Preys.
September 19: My Best Friend’s Girl.
September 26: Fireproof.
October 3: An American Carol.
October 10: Quarantine.
October 24: Saw V.
October 31: The Haunting of Molly Hartley.
December 12: Delgo.

2008 Film Journal

As per my 2007 Journal, videos and DVDs are in italics. Films I saw for the first time have an asterisk (*) next to them. Not counting extras and promo items.

Jan | Feb | Mar | Apr | May | Jun | Jul | Aug | Sep | Oct | Nov | Dec

Jan 1 — Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story *
Jan 3 — Camelot [1967] *
Jan 3 — One Missed Call [2008] *
Jan 4 — Flock of Dodos: The Evolution-Intelligent Design Circus *
Jan 5 — Smile [1975] *
Jan 5 — The Chronological Donald: Volume 3: 1947 – 1950 [disc 2] *
Jan 7 — Zodiac [2007; director's cut]
Jan 7 — The Exorcism of Emily Rose [unrated version; w/ audio commentary]
Jan 9 — The Bucket List *
Jan 11 — Destination Moon [1950] *

Jan 11 — Away from Her *
Jan 12 — Bullets over Broadway
Jan 14 — The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything: A VeggieTales Movie *
Jan 16 — Cloverfield *
Jan 17 — Martian Child [w/ audio commentary]
Jan 17 — Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles [episode 1]
Jan 18 — In Bruges *
Jan 20 — Saving Sarah Cain *
Jan 21 — U2 3D *
Jan 21 — The Hoax [2006] *

Jan 23 — Rambo [2008] *
Jan 24 — Resident Evil: Extinction *
Jan 27 — Two Weeks Notice *
Jan 28 — The Deer Hunter *
Jan 28 — Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles [episode 2] *
Jan 28 — Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles [episode 3] *
Jan 30 — The Inquiry [2006; aka The Final Inquiry]
Jan 31 — The Diving Bell and the Butterfly [2007] *
Jan 31 — Jason and the Argonauts [1963]
Feb 1 — One Million Years B.C. *

Feb 2 — No End in Sight *
Feb 3 — The Devil Came on Horseback *
Feb 8 — El Cid [1961] *
Feb 8 — 3:10 to Yuma [1957] *
Feb 9 — The Spiderwick Chronicles *
Feb 9 — Blade Runner [2007 version]
Feb 10 — Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles [episode 4] *
Feb 11 — Jumper [2008] *
Feb 11 — Definitely, Maybe [2008] *
Feb 14 — Ratatouille

Feb 16 — Direktøren for det hele [aka The Boss of It All] *
Feb 17 — Looney Tunes: Golden Collection Vol. 5 [disc 1] *
Feb 17 — Looney Tunes: Golden Collection Vol. 5 [disc 1; w/ audio commentary]
Feb 18 — Looney Tunes: Golden Collection Vol. 5 [disc 1; w/ music-only track]
Feb 18 — Vantage Point *
Feb 18 — The Simpsons [season 10, disc 1] *
Feb 19 — The Simpsons [season 10, disc 2] *
Feb 19 — The Simpsons [season 10, disc 3] *
Feb 20 — The Simpsons [season 10, disc 4] *
Feb 21 — Curious George [2006] *

Feb 22 — Copying Beethoven *
Feb 23 — Superstar [1999] *
Feb 25 — The Other Boleyn Girl [2008] *
Feb 26 — Bella [2006] *
Feb 27 — Bug [2006] *
Feb 27 — Prozac Nation *
Feb 28 — Longford *
Feb 29 — Touch the Sound *
Feb 29 — Semi-Pro *
Mar 3 — The Bank Job [2008] *

Mar 4 — Looney Tunes: Golden Collection Vol. 5 [disc 2] *
Mar 4 — Looney Tunes: Golden Collection Vol. 5 [disc 2; w/ audio commentary]
Mar 4 — Looney Tunes: Golden Collection Vol. 5 [disc 2; w/ music-only track]
Mar 5 — 10,000 B.C. *
Mar 5 — To Be or Not to Be [1942] *
Mar 6 — To Be or Not to Be [1983] *
Mar 8 — Sands of Oblivion *
Mar 9 — Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles [episode 5] *
Mar 9 — Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles [episode 6] *
Mar 9 — Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles [episode 7] *

Mar 9 — Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles [episode 8] *
Mar 9 — Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles [episode 9] *
Mar 11 — The Ten *
Mar 12 — Looney Tunes: Golden Collection Vol. 5 [disc 3] *
Mar 12 — Looney Tunes: Golden Collection Vol. 5 [disc 3; w/ audio commentary]
Mar 12 — The Astronaut Farmer *
Mar 13 — Sicko *
Mar 14 — You Only Live Twice
Mar 15 — Conan the Barbarian *
Mar 17 — Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who! [2008] *

Mar 17 — Conan the Destroyer *
Mar 19 — Knocked Up [2007; unrated version]
Mar 20 — 30 Days of Night *
Mar 20 — Looney Tunes: Golden Collection Vol. 5 [disc 4] *
Mar 20 — Looney Tunes: Golden Collection Vol. 5 [disc 4; w/ audio commentary]
Mar 21 — Star Trek: Nemesis
Mar 23 — Close Encounters of the Third Kind [1977 version]
Mar 24 — 21 [2008] *
Mar 25 — Then She Found Me *
Mar 25 — Close Encounters of the Third Kind [1980 version]

Mar 25 — Octopussy
Mar 26 — Mouth to Mouth [2005] *
Mar 26 — Stop-Loss *
Mar 27 — Fantastic Voyage [1966]
Mar 28 — Close Encounters of the Third Kind [1998 version]
Mar 31 — Fireproof [2008; rough cut] *
Apr 1 — The Golden Compass
Apr 2 — Good Luck Chuck [unrated version] *
Apr 3 — Street Kings *
Apr 3 — Praying with Lior *

Apr 3 — Nim’s Island *
Apr 3 — The Ruins [2008] *
Apr 6 — Horton Hears a Who! [1970] *
Apr 7 — Forgetting Sarah Marshall *
Apr 8 — Minority Report
Apr 9 — The Sleeping Dictionary *
Apr 9 — Patton [1970] *
Apr 9 — Star Trek: First Contact
Apr 10 — The Gold Rush [1925; 1942 version]
Apr 11 — Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed

Apr 11 — Adam’s Rib [1949] *
Apr 12 — The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep
Apr 13 — Battlestar Galactica [2005; season 3, disc 1] *
Apr 14 — The Forbidden Kingdom *
Apr 17 — Standard Operating Procedure *
Apr 17 — Star Trek: First Contact
Apr 17 — Battlestar Galactica [2005; season 3, disc 2] *
Apr 18 — Jacob’s Ladder [1990] *
Apr 21 — Nailin’ it to the Church: Religious Satire and the Gospel According to the Wittenburg Door *
Apr 22 — Battlestar Galactica [2005; season 3, disc 3] *

Apr 22 — Battlestar Galactica [2005; season 3, disc 4] *
Apr 23 — Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay *
Apr 23 — Major Dundee [2005 version] *
Apr 23 — Sorcerer [1977] *
Apr 23 — Baby Mama *
Apr 23 — Battlestar Galactica [2005; season 3, disc 5] *
Apr 30 — Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story [unrated version]
Apr 30 — Battlestar Galactica [2005; season 3, disc 6] *
May 1 — Iron Man [2008] *
May 2 — Raiders of the Lost Ark: The Adaptation *

May 4 — The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe [2005; w/ video commentary]
May 6 — Ringers: Lord of the Fans *
May 7 — Son of Rambow *
May 7 — Unsettled [2006] *
May 8 — Khartoum *
May 8 — The Man Who Would Be King
May 10 — El Orfanato [aka The Orphanage] *
May 12 — Prince Caspian [2008] *
May 14 — The Three Musketeers [1973] *
May 15 — Alien Vs. Predator [theatrical version; w/ director's audio commentary]

May 17 — The Golden Compass [w/ audio commentary]
May 18 — Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull *
May 19 — The Descent [2005] *
May 19 — Flywheel [2003 version] *
May 22 — Stillet Licht [aka Silent Light] *
May 22 — Awake [2007] *
May 23 — Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
May 24 — Speed Racer [2008] *
May 25 — The Shop around the Corner *
May 26 — You Don’t Mess with the Zohan *

May 29 — Manufacturing Dissent
May 31 — Kung Fu Panda *
Jun 2 — Young People Fucking *
Jun 6 — Untraceable *
Jun 7 — The World Is Not Enough
Jun 8 — The Living Daylights
Jun 9 — The Incredible Hulk [2008] *
Jun 10 — The Happening [2008] *
Jun 10 — Licence to Kill [1989]
Jun 12 — 27 Dresses *

Jun 14 — Die Another Day [2002]
Jun 15 — On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
Jun 16 — Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Jun 18 — Save Me [2007] *
Jun 18 — The Love Guru *
Jun 20 — GoldenEye
Jun 24 — The Day of the Triffids [1962] *
Jun 25 — Wanted [2008] *
Jun 25 — Tomorrow Never Dies
Jun 26 — Hancock [2008] *

Jun 28 — Peter Pan [1953]
Jun 28 — Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Jun 30 — WALL·E *
Jul 1 — Journey to the Center of the Earth [1959] *
Jul 4 — Dr. No
Jul 5 — Kit Kittredge: An American Girl *
Jul 5 — Get Smart [2008] *
Jul 7 — Journey to the Center of the Earth [2008; 3D version] *
Jul 9 — Hellboy II: The Golden Army *
Jul 10 — For Your Consideration *

Jul 10 — Batman: Gotham Knight *
Jul 11 — Dead & Buried [1981] *
Jul 12 — Space Chimps *
Jul 14 — The Dark Knight [2008] *
Jul 20 — All About Us [2007] *
Jul 21 — Step Brothers [2008] *
Jul 23 — The Fall of the Roman Empire *
Jul 23 — The X-Files: I Want to Believe *
Jul 24 — Pineapple Express *
Jul 26 — Xanadu *

Jul 28 — Drillbit Taylor [unrated version] *
Jul 30 — Man on Wire *
Jul 30 — The Bank Job [2008]
Aug 2 — How to Steal a Million *
Aug 2 — The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor *
Aug 4 — Fireproof [2008]
Aug 6 — I’m Not There. *
Aug 6 — The Tracey Fragments *
Aug 7 — Tropic Thunder *
Aug 8 — Vicky Cristina Barcelona *

Aug 9 — Star Wars: The Clone Wars [2008] *
Aug 9 — Die Fälscher [2007; aka The Counterfeiters] *
Aug 13 — The Rocker *
Aug 13 — Mr. Smith Goes to Washington [1939] *
Aug 15 — The Longshots *
Aug 22 — Death Race [2008] *
Aug 24 — The Deal [2003] *
Aug 25 — Elegy [2008] *
Aug 27 — Dark City [1998; 2008 version]
Aug 27 — Searching for Debra Winger *

Aug 28 — Charlie Bartlett *
Aug 31 — Pooh’s Heffalump Movie *
Aug 31 — Quo Vadis [1951]
Sep 1 — Save Me [2007]
Sep 3 — Children of Men [2006]
Sep 3 — Switchblade Sisters
Sep 4 — Burn after Reading *
Sep 4 — Bottle Shock *
Sep 4 — Bangkok Dangerous [2008] *
Sep 5 — Casino Royale [2006]

Sep 6 — Shine a Light [2008] *
Sep 9 — Sztuczki [aka Tricks] *
Sep 9 — The Eternity Man *
Sep 9 — High School Musical *
Sep 10 — High School Musical 2 *
Sep 11 — Awake, My Soul: The Story of the Sacred Harp *
Sep 11 — Dernier maquis [aka Adhen] *
Sep 11 — Ghost Town [2008] *
Sep 12 — Igor [2008] *
Sep 12 — The Day of the Triffids [1981] *

Sep 13 — When Worlds Collide [1951]
Sep 14 — El cant dels ocells [aka Birdsong] *
Sep 15 — Blindness [2008] *
Sep 16 — Under the Hood: A Voyage into the World of Torture *
Sep 16 — The Story of Jacob and Joseph
Sep 17 — Musées secrets [aka Secret Museums] *
Sep 17 — The Longwang Chronicles *
Sep 17 — Lakeview Terrace *
Sep 18 — P.S. I Love You [2007] *
Sep 19 — Ne le dis à personne [aka Tell No One] *

Sep 19 — A Dérive [VIFF shorts program] *
Sep 20 — Waiting for Sancho *
Sep 21 — Desierto adentro [aka The Desert Within] *
Sep 22 — Miracle at St. Anna *
Sep 23 — Frenzy [1972] *
Sep 24 — Religulous *
Sep 24 — Sisters [1973] *
Sep 24 — Carrie [1976] *
Sep 24 — Eagle Eye *
Sep 26 — Appaloosa [2008] *

Sep 26 — The Duchess [2008] *
Sep 26 — Stone of Destiny *
Sep 26 — The Wrecking Crew [2008] *
Sep 27 — JCVD *
Sep 28 — True Blood [episode 1] *
Sep 29 — L’Heure d’été [aka Summer Hours] *
Sep 30 — Cooperage / Spartree / Nails / Summer Afternoon / In the Daytime *
Sep 30 — Il y a longtemps que je t’aime [aka I've Loved You So Long] *
Sep 30 — Üç maymun [aka Three Monkeys] *
Oct 1 — Wendy and Lucy *

Oct 1 — Flash of Genius *
Oct 3 — Billy: The Early Years *
Oct 4 — The Night They Raided Minsky’s *
Oct 6 — RocknRolla *
Oct 6 — Rachel Getting Married *
Oct 6 — Adoration [2008] *
Oct 8 — The Express *
Oct 8 — Sleeping Beauty [1959; w/ cine-explore commentary]
Oct 10 — W. [2008] *
Oct 10 — Passchendaele *

Oct 10 — An American Carol *
Oct 10 — Leatherheads *
Oct 14 — The Secret Life of Bees *
Oct 15 — Fantastic Voyage [1966; w/ music-only track]
Oct 15 — Role Models [2008] *
Oct 15 — Fantastic Voyage [1966; w/ audio commentary]
Oct 17 — High School Musical 3: Senior Year *
Oct 17 — Pride and Glory *
Oct 20 — Happy-Go-Lucky [2008] *
Oct 23 — The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas *

Oct 23 — Body of Lies *
Oct 23 — Beverly Hills Chihuahua *
Oct 23 — The Fall [2006] *
Oct 24 — Zack and Miri Make a Porno *
Oct 25 — Looney Tunes: Golden Collection Vol. 6 [disc 1] *
Oct 26 — Big Bad Mama *
Oct 27 — Looney Tunes: Golden Collection Vol. 6 [disc 1; w/ audio commentary]
Oct 27 — Looney Tunes: Golden Collection Vol. 6 [disc 1; w/ music-only track]
Oct 27 — Max Payne *
Oct 27 — Changeling [2008] *

Oct 28 — Linda Lovelace for President *
Oct 28 — Gospel According to Harry *
Oct 31 — Young@Heart [aka Young at Heart] *
Oct 31 — The Simpsons: Treehouse of Horror
Nov 1 — Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa *
Nov 1 — Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist *
Nov 1 — Patti Smith: Dream of Life *
Nov 4 — Babes in Toyland [1934; aka March of the Wooden Soldiers] *
Nov 4 — From Russia with Love
Nov 4 — Goldfinger

Nov 5 — Calendar [1993] *
Nov 5 — Thunderball
Nov 5 — Diamonds Are Forever
Nov 6 — Cars [2006]
Nov 6 — Slumdog Millionaire *
Nov 7 — Reservation Road *
Nov 7 — Big Bad Mama [w/ audio commentary]
Nov 8 — Casino Royale [1967; w/ audio commentary]
Nov 8 — The Passionate Friends [1949] *
Nov 8 — Brief Encounter [1945]

Nov 10 — Quantum of Solace *
Nov 10 — Captains of the Clouds *
Nov 11 — Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains [w/ actresses' audio commentary]
Nov 12 — Bolt [2008] *
Nov 16 — Madeleine [1950] *
Nov 16 — Dressed to Kill [1980; unrated version] *
Nov 17 — Milk [2008] *
Nov 17 — Synecdoche, New York *
Nov 17 — As Slow as Possible *
Nov 17 — Ben X [2007] *

Nov 18 — Frost/Nixon *
Nov 18 — The Pixar Story *
Nov 19 — Looney Tunes: Golden Collection Vol. 6 [disc 2] *
Nov 19 — Looney Tunes: Golden Collection Vol. 6 [disc 2; w/ audio commentary]
Nov 19 — Looney Tunes: Golden Collection Vol. 6 [disc 2; w/ music-only track]
Nov 19 — Bolt [2008; 3D version]
Nov 20 — Prince Caspian [w/ audio commentary]
Nov 21 — Shaun the Sheep: Off the Baa! *
Nov 22 — Smart People *
Nov 23 — This Happy Breed [1944]

Nov 23 — Hobson’s Choice [1954]
Nov 24 — Australia [2008] *
Nov 24 — The Sound Barrier [1952; aka Breaking the Sound Barrier] *
Nov 25 — The Song of Bernadette *
Nov 25 — WALL·E [w/ cine-explore commentary]
Nov 26 — Run Fatboy Run *
Nov 27 — Wing Commander [1999]
Nov 27 — The Cornerstone Festival: Twenty Years and Counting *
Nov 28 — 1984 [1956] *
Nov 29 — Twilight [2008] *

Nov 29 — Four Christmases *
Dec 1 — Revolutionary Road *
Dec 1 — Last Chance Harvey *
Dec 1 — Nineteen Eighty-Four [1984; american dvd version] *
Dec 1 — Sex and the City [2008] *
Dec 2 — Defiance [2008] *
Dec 2 — Gran Torino *
Dec 3 — Transporter 2 *
Dec 3 — Encounters at the End of the World *
Dec 3 — Nobel Son *

Dec 4 — Doubt [2008] *
Dec 4 — Angel and the Badman *
Dec 4 — Cleopatra [1934] *
Dec 4 — Punisher: War Zone *
Dec 5 — The Curious Case of Benjamin Button *
Dec 5 — Seven Pounds *
Dec 7 — The Day the Earth Stood Still [1951]
Dec 8 — Yes Man [2008] *
Dec 9 — The Day the Earth Stood Still [2008] *
Dec 10 — Valkyrie [2008] *

Dec 12 — The Reader [2008] *
Dec 13 — Transporter 3 *
Dec 14 — Wendy and Lucy
Dec 16 — All Together Now [2008] *
Dec 18 — Marley & Me *
Dec 18 — The Spirit [2008] *
Dec 18 — Delgo *
Dec 18 — Bedtime Stories [2008] *
Dec 19 — The Tale of Despereaux *
Dec 20 — Le ballon rouge [aka The Red Balloon, 1956] *

Dec 22 — Dragon Wars: D-War *
Dec 23 — The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones: Winds of Change *
Dec 24 — Holiday Inn *
Dec 24 — Edison & Leo *
Dec 24 — Shoot ‘Em Up [2007]
Dec 26 — Un conte de Noël [2008; aka A Christmas Tale] *
Dec 27 — The Chronological Donald: Volume 4: 1951 – 1961 [disc 1] *
Dec 27 — The Chronological Donald: Volume 4: 1951 – 1961 [disc 2] *
Dec 28 — Hoodwinked
Dec 28 — Casino Royale [2006]

Dec 29 — The Wrestler [2008] *
Dec 30 — Waltz with Bashir *
Dec 31 — No Country for Old Men [2007]

Canadian box-office stats — December 30

Here are the figures for the past weekend, arranged from those that owe the highest percentage of their take to the Canadian box office to those that owe the lowest.

The Golden Compass — CDN $8,050,000 — N.AM $58,869,000 — 13.7%
P.S. I Love You — CDN $2,140,000 — N.AM $23,398,000 — 9.1%
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street — CDN $2,110,000 — N.AM $26,719,000 — 7.9%
The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep — CDN $1,210,000 — N.AM $16,821,000 — 7.2%
Charlie Wilson’s War — CDN $2,470,000 — N.AM $34,506,000 — 7.2%
Aliens Vs. Predator: Requiem — CDN $1,920,000 — N.AM $26,880,000 — 7.1%
I Am Legend — CDN $13,680,000 — N.AM $194,575,000 — 7.0%
Juno — CDN $1,420,000 — N.AM $25,681,000 — 5.5%
National Treasure: Book of Secrets — CDN $6,480,000 — N.AM $124,035,000 — 5.2%
Alvin and the Chipmunks — CDN $6,280,000 — N.AM $142,375,000 — 4.4%

A couple of discrepancies: The Golden Compass was #5 on the Canadian chart (it was #12 in North America as a whole), while Enchanted was #10 on the North American chart.

My interest in The Lovely Bones just went up.


This may be old news to some people, but I just read this story by the Associated Press which notes that Saoirse Ronan, who is so compelling as the young Briony Tallis in Atonement, is playing the lead role in Peter Jackson’s adaptation of The Lovely Bones. I am suddenly quite a bit more interested in this film than I was before.

In semi-related news, Variety magazine recently ran an article on the curious similarities between Atonement and The Kite Runner, both of which feature “a terrible transgressive act by a child,” after which “the wronged parties are condemned to suffer through war and turmoil, while the children who wronged them — both of whom grow up to be writers — become aware of their ‘crimes’ as they mature and must make amends for their wrongs.”

Variety doesn’t mention it, exactly, but both films also feature the rape of a minor — as does The Lovely Bones, apparently. (Believe it or not, the rape is not the “terrible transgressive act” in either of the two films examined by Variety; in both cases, the rape is committed by someone else, and it is the catalyst for the “terrible transgressive act” committed by the child in question.)

PG ratings — still not really for grown-ups

Last year, I kept track of all the G- and PG-rated films that cracked the weekly top ten lists, to see how many of them were aimed primarily at families or children, and how many of them were basically for grown-ups. Six months ago, I posted a follow-up list of the G- and PG-rated films that had been released so far this year. Now, with the year basically over, it’s time to update the list.

The G- and PG-rated films that have cracked the weekly top ten lists so far break down into the following categories (with the ones that were #1 at the box office for at least one week in bold):

Family films (for children, tweens, or religious audiences):
  1. Happily N’Ever After
  2. Arthur and the Invisibles
  3. Bridge to Terabithia
  4. Amazing Grace
  5. TMNT
  6. The Last Mimzy
  7. Meet the Robinsons (G)
  8. Firehouse Dog
  9. Are We Done Yet?
  10. Shrek the Third
  11. Surf’s Up
  12. Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer
  13. Nancy Drew
  14. Evan Almighty
  15. Ratatouille (G)
  16. Underdog
  17. Bratz: The Movie
  18. Daddy Day Camp
  19. The Game Plan
  20. The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising
  21. Bee Movie
  22. Fred Claus
  23. Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium (G)
  24. Enchanted
  25. August Rush
  26. Alvin and the Chipmunks
  27. The Perfect Holiday
  28. National Treasure: Book of Secrets
  29. The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep

Inspirational true-story sports movies set in the ’60s or ’70s:

  1. Pride

Films for grown-ups that just happened to be rated G or PG:

  1. The Astronaut Farmer
  2. Hairspray
  3. No Reservations
  4. Mr. Bean’s Holiday (G)
  5. Martian Child

As you can see, the bulk of the new films that got the G or PG rating in the United States have been “family” movies, just like last year.


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