Monday, March 28, 2005

Bottom feeding in March

Once upon a time, you could count on a few good mainstream releases hitting the box office in March. January was traditionally Oscar-nomination catch up month; February was "Shit Can" month, the time when studios dumped their obvious bombs and cheapo horror films into the multiplex hospice and then quickly pulled life support.

But by March, you could count on seeing at least one tentpole film released in the hopes of building up early word of mouth and ruling the box office until the big May releases. For example: The Matrix debuted in March of 1999; Erin Brockovich in March 2000; Memento in 2001; Blade II in 2002; American Splendor in 2003; Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind in 2004. All of these releases were either solid popcorn fare or smart indies looking to break out. Every year, we had at least one decent release to get us through the Ides of March.

(By the way, you have to love the Internet Movie Database. Only on IMDB could you learn that Masturbation: Putting the Fun Into Self Loving made its auspicious debut in 2004.)

By contrast, take a look at what's playing at my local gigaplex this week:

The Aviator
Be Cool
Diary of a Mad Black Woman
Guess Who
Ice Princess
Million Dollar Baby
Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous
The Pacifier
The Ring Two

It's nice, I suppose, that three high-caliber Oscar winners-- The Aviator, Baby and Sideways-- are still in front of the masses at this late date. Nothing wrong with that. The month's two major studio releases are both sequels-- Be Cool and The Ring 2-- and both of them blow. Robots? eh. Constantine? pee-eew.

That leaves us with a slew of brain-dead comedies, a routine Bruce Willis vehicle and a Disney picture aimed at tweens. Not much to choose from if your cerebral cortex is still in good working order. Thank God for Sin City, which bows on April 1; advance word says it's a sight to behold. After that, I'll be haunting my local indie theater until Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy launches at the end of the month. Thus far, 2005 is looking like slim pickings.


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