With Thanksgiving having come earlier than it has in five years, we have a week for movies that will likely fly under the radar of the box office and awards voters. It makes for an interesting mix before things really start to get serious.
I am a Brad Pitt fan. I have always thought he’s a better actor than his initial pretty boy perception would indicate. He’s a risk taker, too, with films such as “12 Monkeys,” “Se7en,” “Fight Club,” “Babel,” and “Tree of Life” under belt. “Killing Them Softly” looks like it’s more in that tradition. Pitt plays an enforcer tracking down a group of morons who robbed a mob poker game. Director Andrew Dominik brought out subtle genius mixed with crazy with Pitt in “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” which leads me to believe this could turn into a classic hard-boiled thriller. The world needs more of those.
Post-Halloween horror movies are a tough sell. This one, a sequel to the underrated “The Collector” is brought us by the second set of “Saw” franchise scribes, Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Mellon, with Dunstan behind the camera. The first movie was a lot like “Saw” but without as much of a message. In other words, it’s a lot like the later installments of “Saw.” “The Collector” was a brutal and stylish film, so here’s hoping for a bit more steak to go with that sizzle.
This remake had so many changes to its release date that it wasn’t on my list last week and it should have been. My bad.
1980s movies are the go-to flicks for remakes these days and nothing, not even “Footloose,” is sacred. So it was no surprise that “Red Dawn,” the tale of small town kids defending their homes from Soviet invaders, made the list. The movie has been done for awhile; it was in studio purgatory with the decline of MGM. Had it come out as originally scheduled, the world might be a different place. “Red Dawn” stars Chris Hemsworth (Thor in “The Avengers”) and Josh Hutcherson (Peeta in “The Hunger Games”). It’s possible the folks who made those bigger movies saw parts of “Red Dawn” and said, “Yes, we want those guys.” With “Red Dawn” being released now, it is able to ride on the coattails of two of 2012’s biggest films (instead of having to be a trailblazer). For you fans of the original, the teen rebels won’t be fighting Russians. They won’t even be battling Chinese insurgents as the modern script was written. They’ll be fighting off North Koreans (because you can’t sell a movie to the Chinese with Chinese bad guys in it).
T.J.’s Pick of the Week
Even though I’m a horror guy, I’m picking Brad Pitt in “Killing Them Softly.” This looks like a throwback to Humphrey Bogart movies such as “Dark Passage” and other film noir classics. It’d be great if it was in black and white. That’s my pick and I’m sticking to it.
“Killing Them Softly” and “Red Dawn” are playing at Yakima Theatres. For showtimes and tickets, check out their website.
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• Backstage Pass is a new blog on www.yakima-herald.com covering pop culture from Hollywood to your backyard. T.J. Tranchell, a freelance journalist and Herald-Republic customer service clerk, can be reached at email@example.com. You can visit his horror-themed blog at www.warning-signs.net.