BOP 25 of Fall 2006: 15-6

By BOP Staff

September 7, 2006

The Red Baron finally gets his revenge on Snoopy. 15) Flyboys

World War I is not a war that has been given the big Hollywood treatment much of late, especially in comparison to World War II. However, classics about it have been made long ago, like All Quiet on the Western Front and Hell's Angels, the Howard Hughes film that Flyboys seems to owe a great deal of spiritual debt to.

At the dawn of air warfare, before the United States had entered World War I, a group of American pilot hopefuls travel to France to fight in their nascent air corps against the Germans. Led by James Franco, the crew must learn to fly this never tested and inherently untested method of war, bond as a team, and most importantly, stay alive.

It's kind of the umpteenth Top Gun remake, with the relatively novel setting for modern audiences providing a lot of the reason for this film's existence and some of the action scenes looking to deftly take advantage of the setting. Franco has yet to break out on his own after prominent roles in both Spider-Man films, but this film could offer him the best chance of becoming a star in his own right. (Reagen Sulewski/BOP)
He's on a short leash with her. 14) Shortbus

This fall's candidate for film you're least likely to watch with your parents, Shortbus is John Cameron Mitchell's second film as a
director, and his second to tackle sexual politics. This film's title refers to a New York sex party where everything (and I do mean everything) goes and where various couplings (and more) work out their issues between the sheets. These range from voyeurism fetishes to group sex to a sex therapist in her thirties looking to experience her first orgasm.

Screened at Cannes this year, the film has already gained a reputation as one of the most sexually graphic American films ever made, not much a surprise given the content of Mitchell's previous film, the transsexual rock opera Hedwig and the Angry Inch. A cast of largely unknown actors populates the film, Shortbus is likely to make a small initial impact in theatres, but could become a significant film in the arthouse scene because of its purported unflinching look at the sex lives of New Yorkers. (Reagen Sulewski/BOP)
This is why we don't go to Chuck E Cheese anymore. 13) Jackass: Number Two

They're baaaack. MTV's Extreme Stunt TV series Jackass has spawned a sequel four years after its first move to the big screen, with its biggest stunt being an opening weekend of $22 million that shocked the world. Less a movie than a series of cautionary examples, Jackass was perhaps the ultimate expression of the do-it-yourself film ethic.

Since then, head Jackass Johnny Knoxville has become a star in his own right, with his most notable success coming with The Dukes of Hazzard adaptation. Apparently, we just like seeing him in dangerous stunt situations, regardless of context.

Most of the regulars from the TV series are back, and they seem to have brought their A-game, if the trailer is any indication. Johnny Knoxville getting charged and flipped by a bull is money anytime. The biggest question is whether the audience for this film has all grown up. Four years is a lifetime in the MTV generation, and it's entirely possible that Jackass will be old hat at this point. On the other hand, it's hard to imagine a world in which dudes getting hit in the groin could go out of style. (Reagen Sulewski/BOP)
The guy from the Shortbus picture should have stopped while he was ahead. 12) Saw III

Over the past couple of years, the Saw franchise has become an autumn tradition on the same scale as jack-o-lanterns and George Steinbrenner heartaches. 2006 promises more of the same (sorry, George). Saw III promises a dramatic change from its two predecessors. Without giving too much away for those of you yet to see Saw II, Jigsaw will return but it might be in the same way that James Bond is returning in November.

Independent of Jigsaw's presence, a new villain will be in charge of creating the malevolent machinations. Meanwhile, a new batch of hapless victims will attempt to avoid Jigsaw's various Mousetraps of Doom. Generally, change is good in terms of horror genre creativity. And BOP was quite impressed with the mentor/protege relationship that unfolded in Saw II. The third film promises a deeper exploration of this premise, making Saw perfect Halloween fare. Again. (David Mumpower/BOP)

I thought when I married Warren Beatty that I could change him. 11) Running With Scissors

A lot of the staff here at BOP have become big fans of writer Augusten Burroughs over the past few years. His blunt, farcical memoirs display a winning sense of humor even as he describes experiences that would be harrowing to most people. Obviously, Burroughs learned that gallows humor is sometimes the best way to push through the pain, and the result has been well-received books such as Dry and Running With Scissors, the book on which the number ten film on our list is based.

With quirky, touchy subject matter that includes pedophilia, excrement, exploration of sexuality and parental abandonment, it was going to take a deft hand to create a movie that wouldn't automatically be reviled by the majority of moviegoers. From the look of the trailer, Nip/Tuck creator Ryan Murphy has succeeded in molding a movie that appears to be very much in the idiosyncratic vein of The Royal Tenenbaums and The Squid and the Whale. Alec Baldwin and Brian Cox are ideally cast, and the chaotic developmental years of Burroughs appear to be well conceived. If the quality can hold up to the promise, look for Running With Scissors to factor heavily in BOP's year-end awards. (Kim Hollis/BOP)
Between them they have 73 Academy Award nominations. He has none. 10) Little Children

Another movie-based-on-a-book comes in at number nine on our list. Tom Perrotta's dark look at the inner workings of a supposedly normal, small-community neighborhood was regarded as one of the craftier novels of 2004. Todd Field, who previously explored similar behind-the-scenes family relationships in the Academy Award nominated In The Bedroom, helms from a screenplay he co-wrote with Perrotta.

The fact that Kate Winslet toplines the cast is certainly a reason that the film makes an entry on our list, and Jennifer Connelly's presence certainly doesn't hurt matters any. Patrick Wilson, who recently broke out in the indie flick Hard Candy, is also onboard. Since we know that the most twisted sorts of people always lurk in the most innocuous of surroundings, we look forward to seeing the premise fully explored onscreen. (Kim Hollis/BOP)
The doctor told him the swelling would go down after a few hours. 9) The Science of Sleep

It's only been a couple of years since Michel Gondry's weird, funny, romantic Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind captured BOP's vote for Best Picture in our annual Calvin awards. So we're quite naturally going to be eagerly awaiting the director's follow-up, which comes in the form of The Science of Sleep. Like Eternal Sunshine, Sleep works on a high-concept premise. After seeking out solace in his dreams, a man finds himself held prisoner by the people who inhabit them. He must wake up in order to take control of his own imagination.

Gael Garcia Bernal, who first captured our attention in the terrific Y Tu Mama Tambien and expanded his talents to indie projects such as The Motorcycle Diaries and The King, is the central star of the film. Charlotte Gainsbourg (21 Grams, My Wife Is an Actress and a host of other French types offer supporting roles. Thus far, The Science of Sleep has debuted overseas and at a number of film festivals, where support has not been perhaps so glowing as it was for Eternal Sunshine, but we still have high hopes. (Kim Hollis/BOP)
I don't wanna go back home to Reese! 8) Flags of Our Fathers

In the time it takes me to write this explanation of why BOP selected Flags of Our Fathers for the list, Clint Eastwood could have directed two movies, a mini-series, and several weeks of a Mexican soap opera. Okay, that's probably an exaggeration but only a slight one. Eastwood, perhaps the most accomplished polymath in Hollywood history, once again places his genius on display with this patriotic exploration into the events surrounding one of the most famous images from World War II.

The Battle of Iwo Jima raged on throughout the winter of 1945 before allied forces eventually soundly defeated Japanese soldiers unable to defend their home turf. During the battle, six Americans braved the heights of Mount Suribachi in order to plant an American flag in the soil, thereby offering a visual embodiment of the surrounding events. The Japanese were losing the Pacific Theater battles, and enemy gaijin had placed the most impacting sign of the enemy at the highest peak of their island.

Historians have noted the flag's implanting as one of the most powerful moments in the war, and now Clint Eastwood will adapt the James Bradley/Ron Powers book telling the stories of the six men who achieved this feat. BOP still has passionate debates over the final act of Million Dollar Baby, and we frankly cannot wait to see what Eastwood does with this production. We are also excited by the news that he has made a complementary film about the Japanese point of view of these events, but our vote for Red Sun, Black Sand aka Letters from Iwo Jima will have to wait until late 2006 or early 2007. (David Mumpower/BOP)
Wolverine's costumes get worse every time. 7) The Prestige

2006's second movie to be set in the world of magicians debuts this fall, and the reason we're so keen to see it is that it comes from the keen mind of Christopher Nolan, who previously directed BOP favorites Memento and Batman Begins. He re-teams with Michael Caine and Christian Bale, but adds in such names as Hugh Jackman, Scarlett Johansson and David Bowie for good measure.

Bale portrays a magician named Alfred, who is in constant competition with another gentleman named Rupert (Jackman). When Rupert learns that Alfred has begun performing the "ultimate" trick, he tries everything in his power to uncover its secrets. Soon, though, it seems that the "trick" is that there is no trick at all and that everything is actually quite real. The trailer for the film is incredibly stylish and intriguing, and the pedigree of all involved in the project is certainly impressive. The only real question is whether the fact that The Illusionist hit theaters first might leave movie-goers feeling that Nolan's project is lacking in originality. (Kim Hollis/BOP)
Pitt will show nude photos of Angelina to anyone who will look. 6) Babel

Biblical legend says that at one time, all the people of the world spoke one language, until a tower that was to reach to heaven caused God to splinter the tongues of men. And since then, no one's really been able to understand anyone. Babel, the latest film from Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárritu, director of 21 Grams and Amores Perros, purports to examine the way that communication keeps us divided.

Weaving a web between three seemingly unconnected stories, the film globe trots from Morocco to Mexico to Japan and places in between, after a random incident causes an international crisis. The A-plot, at least as defined by its star power, features Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett as tourists in Morocco, who are most immediately affected by the random act starting the film.

Babel won three awards at this year's Cannes Film Festival, and was the major attraction at this year's Toronto International Film
Festival, which puts it well into contention for this year's Oscars. Still, the heavily layered and intricate stories, often with
subtitlted dialogue, may make this a difficult sell for audiences. Nonetheless, Babel promises to be one of the most rewarding films of the fall. (Reagen Sulewski/BOP)



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