BOP 25 of Fall 2004: Selections 5-1

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5) Ray

After seeing Jamie Foxx exercise his acting chops in Collateral just a month ago, we're really geared up to see what he can do with the character of Ray Charles. This musical biopic has had plenty of positive advance buzz, and the trailer is positively electric and invigorating. The late musical genius was born and raised in small-town Georgia, and went blind at age seven not long after witnessing the accidental death of his younger brother. Ray's mother encouraged him to be independent; in time, he found that his talent at the piano keyboard was exemplary. He began to tour across the South and then exploded on the scene for real, achieving worldwide fame when he created a unique musical style all his own by blending gospel, country, jazz and orchestral influences. Even as he was a musical movement unto himself, he was also fighting segregation in the clubs where he played and championing the rights of artists in the music business. He fought drug addiction to rise meteorically to the top and is remembered as one of the great blues performers of all time.

4) Shaun of the Dead

Spaced, an obscure British show, is virtually unknown in North America. Bravo aired the episodes during primetime for a couple of weeks then gave up and shuffled the show off to the 4 a.m. shift. Even there, it performed abysmally, so it was dumped from the line-up in record time. Were it not for the impassioned pleas of Ash Wakeman, none of us would even know of its existence. Thanks to his sage advice, though, many of the staff members discovered what a sublime pop culture celebration the show is. When BOP heard that co-creator Simon Pegg and director Edgar Wright were doing a zombie film, we were immediately sold. The problem has been the interminable waiting as the British production sought North American distribution. Now that Rogue Pictures has been kind enough to distribute the film, we may finally (and might I add giddily) watch a movie that has been on our radar all year.

3) I ♥ Huckabees

Any film described as an "existential comedy" gets our vote almost by default. Add in the fact that it's from David O. Russell, the director and creative mind behind the singular war film Three Kings, and we're easily sold. The film's trailer is trippy and attention catching, going as far as it can to bring out the quirk. I ♥ Huckabees centers around a young man named Albert Markovski (Jason Schwartzman), head of the Open Spaces Commission. Albert has been experiencing a strange, unexplainable series of coincidences, and to ease his apprehension, consults with two Existential Detectives, Bernard and Vivian Jaffe (Dustin Hoffman and Lily Tomlin). The pair assist Albert in examining his life, his relationships, and his bizarre conflict with Brad Stand (Jude Law), a young executive who is climbing his way up the ladder at the Huckabees department store chain.

Before long, Brad has hired the detectives to investigate his life as well. They delve deep into his idyllic life and his perfect relationship with his perky spokesmodel girlfriend Dawn Campbell (Naomi Watts), the voice of Huckabees. Angered by his foe's thievery of the detectives, Albert takes matters into his own hands and hires the Jaffes' nemesis (Isabelle Huppert) to help.

2) Team America: World Police

Team America: World Police offers the world exactly what it has been begging for all these years. That’s right. Finally, a movie promises gratuitous, shockingly explicit puppet sex. Oh yeah, and there are some stars and politicos skewering thrown in there as well. The South Park team’s forays into film have been inconsistent. Orgazmo was too strange for most folks, and BASEketball fell $101 million short of that $108 million premiere predicted it would earn. South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut restored the faith of Trey Parker & Matt Stone fanatics across the globe (except perhaps Canada). With Team America, the comedy duo is poised to make their most pointed commentary yet on the nature of celebrity. This film is almost certain to be the most subversive and ballsiest movie released in the next two months. Can’t wait. Can’t wait. Can’t wait.

1) Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow

The voting was done, and we were ready to go to press. The top three most anticipated films of the summer had been selected, and they were two storied sequels (Spider-Man and Harry Potter) and one imaginative newcomer. While we were in the writing phase, something unexpected happened. That third film, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, was pushed back into September. To say that we were surprised would be an understatement. Movies with $75 million budgets and 2,100 special effects shots get released in the summer, not September.

Now that we are on board with the decision, we really like it. During the summer, huge titles come out at the rate of two or three a week. In September, smaller fare rules the day as is perhaps best demonstrated by the titles on this list. With football season underway and baseball’s pennant races climaxing, most studios don’t have the courage to risk their best titles against the sternest of sports competition. We applaud Paramount for having the belief in Sky Captain to release it during a period that is historically considered to be a dead zone.

As to the question of why we are so high on Sky Captain, the answer should be obvious. The lush visuals advertise a live action combination of two of our favorite animated experiences, The Iron Giant and Miyazaki. And as if that weren’t enough of a drawing point, a cast frontlined by Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie screams Oscar bait rather than science fiction epic. Plus, they’ve somehow managed to make Jolie saucier than normal by throwing an eye patch on her in vintage porno fashion. What’s not to love about it? Sky Captain won our selection as most anticipated film of the fall in a runaway vote. We hope that its quality meets with the tremendous expectations we have for the production.

Click here to read selections 25-21.
Click here to read selections 20-16.
Click here to read selections 15-11.
Click here to read selections 10-6.



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