I commence our late recap in film by thanking all the studios out there for releasing EVERY movie produced in 2011 within the span of ten days! The “let me save my dysfunctional family by building a petting zoo” movie, the “Swedish Punky Brewster” movie, the “Tom Cruise shrugs off his height shortcomings by climbing skyscrapers” movie, the “charming little artsy black and white French movie that will win all our callous American hearts” movie, the “interspecies love story of a boy and his horse” film, the “washed up actors assemble New Year’s” movie, and how could I forget Tintin (if anybody knew who he was to begin with). All that, and I haven’t mentioned the other half of films released in the last month or so.
I admit I’m exaggerating, but it’s fair to say some of these films could have benefited from a spread schedule? Films like “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” “War Horse,” or even blockbusters like “Sherlock Holmes” might have own the spotlight in a less congested market. While several of these films are still turning a solid profit, a more balanced release date should prevent those uninteresting February or September slots. Anyways, here are a few things Bitter Balcony learned about the year of our Zod, 2011:
1. My hate for Johah Hill has been reduced to annoyance: It is with strong reservation that I, very, very cautiously recognize some potential he may have to sustain his marquee value. Hill was good in “Moneyball,” portraying a smart but novice Baseball numbers cruncher Peter Brand. I want to say I would pay attention to Hill might do next, but after watching the trailer for “21 Jump Street,” 2011 might have been fool’s gold.
2. Its Michael Fassbender’s world: After some spectacular turns in “Inglorious Basterds” and “Hunger” in the last couple of years, Fassbender turned 2011 into a year-long breakout party. The actor was in five movies last year, including the strong “X-Men: First Class” and the award caliber fare “Shame” while also finding the cure for cancer and leading the Occupy movement into the hideous bowels of Wall Street.
3. In order to move a franchise forward, sometimes you have to go back: “X-Men: First Class” and “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” were among the better Hollywood blockbusters that brought freshness and depth to shelved film series. Same can’t be said for while sequels like “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” and “The Hangover Part 2,” lukewarm movies that mirror their predecessors in every aspect except passion, inspiration, and fondness.
4. While on the “Pirates” tip, we sadly admit Johnny Depp has become dull: I truly feel Depp is one of the most original and brave American actors of his generation. However, his return to Captain Jack Sparrow, while charming, is a re-hatch of prior glory. Conversely, Depp's true labor of love, the late Hunter S. Thompson homage “The Rum Diary” was perhaps the most disappointing movie in 2011. I might sound pessimistic, but if a movie that Depp wanted to do so badly brings such a dull effort, what can be said of less invested performances in the future?
5. Rooney Mara is my 2011 cinema crush: Mara’s quiet dignity in “The Social Network” inspired David Fincher to cast her as cyber-punk siren Lisbeth Salander in “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” While we held reservations about her taking over the role from the ferocious Noomi Rapace, Mara’s seraphim beauty and razor-sharp vulnerability brought a nuance that’s all hers. If only the movie would have been as good as her.
6. If your superstardom is about to plunge, is good to have a franchise up your sleeve: Remember way back when Vin Diesel didn’t do a “Fast and Furious” movie due to his busy schedule? Funny, because that’s all he does now.
7. Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law should work together more often: I find “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” to be one of better, smarter, and fun events movies of the year. At the heart is the great chemistry both actors have, making the bond between the genial but social misfit Holmes and level-headed gentleman Watson come alive. I would like to see these guys match wits in a different film, because this duo has the potential of coming close to the magic Paul Newman and Robert Redford had in “The Sting” and “Butch Cassidy and “The Sundance Kid.”
8. “MoneyBall” is the one of the best Baseball movies ever: Still, I don’t know if the film will have the pop culture effect that has made “Bull Durham,” and “Field of Dreams” relevant for years. Also, nobody under 30 cares about Baseball.
9. I can’t wait for 2012: The promise of 2012 with “The Dark Knight Rises,” “The Avengers,” and “The Hobbit” has us eager in anticipation.
10. However, 2011 will always have “Drive.” Good luck to all for 2012, and don’t believe the Mayan calendar!