Pete Docter & Bob Peterson
Edward Asner, Christopher Plummer, John Ratzenberger, Jordan Nagai
(Pixar; US theatrical: 29 May 2009 (General release); 2009)
Is this the one? Is this the Pixar film which finally provides a chink in the otherwise flawless armor of the Northern California hit factory. Granted, every time the minds behind Toy Story and Cars are questioned about their latest endeavor (A mouse that wants to be a chef? A lonely robot on a desolate destroyed Earth?), they usually end up proving the doubters wrong. This time around, a retired balloon salesman decides to go on one last adventure, and inadvertently takes a rotund Boy Scout along for the ride. Aside from a recent successful screening for Harry Knowles and his pals at Ain’t It Cool News, not much else is known about this movie. Even the trailer does the typical Pixar bait and switch. Still, one can’t help but wonder if CG champions can continue on this winning streak forever. Up may be just another animated masterpiece. Or it could be Pixar’s folly—finally.
Drag Me to Hell
Alison Lohman, Justin Long, Lorna Raver, David Paymer
(Universal Pictures; US theatrical: 29 May 2009 (General release); 2009)
Drag Me to Hell
Pro: Sam Raimi, Mr. Evil Dead himself, is back doing what he does best: out and out old school horror. Con: the film is supposedly shooting for a PG-13 rating. Pro: those who have already seen it swear it is a new creepshow classic. Con: it’s PG-13. Look, let’s face it. When someone like Raimi returns to his roots to deliver a demonic tale of witchcraft, curses, and a literal journey into the bowels of the underworld, we don’t want it defanged. Yet thanks to certain studio mandates about marketing and macabre success, we are stuck dealing with material suitable for pubescent teens. Joy. Still, if anyone can pull it off, it’s the man behind one of the definitive terror triptychs (and successful comic book franchises) or all time.
Masahiro Motoki, Ryoko Hirosue, Tsutomu Yamazaki, Kimiko Yo, Kazuko Yoshiyuki, Takashi Sasano
(Regent Releasing; Very limited release: 29 May 2009; 2008)
Everyone thought Waltz with Bashir was a shoe-in to win the 2009 Foreign Language Film Oscar when this little known Japanese effort about a cellist turned mortician walked away with the prize. Since then, American audiences outside the main metropolitan areas have wondered if the Academy was thinking straight when they made this decision. With a gradual roll out across the country, we will soon have our answer. Here’s guessing it will be good, if not great.