Bleak Wednesday

An Oscar party? For little old me?The Wednesday before American Thanksgiving is always clogged with would-be blockbusters; this year, we also see Focus Features try to put one of its smaller films out in front of the crush of December Oscar contenders. Proper reviews will appear in tomorrow’s paper (except for “Milk”, which Susan reviewed last week), but here’s a special sneak preview just for you!

“Australia”: Baz Luhrmann makes yet another berserk cross-genre construction, in the style of “William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet” and “Moulin Rouge!”, but this time he comes up with a mess that is in no way glorious — it’s just a frenetic, convulsive hodgepodge of ill-conceived steals from other movies. And Nicole Kidman really has to stop with the whole light-comedy thing. (My full review will appear in tomorrow’s paper.)

“Four Christmases”: Speaking of people who have to stop trying to be funny: Has Reese Witherspoon ever worked in a comedic context? She was perfectly cast as the humorless villain of “Election”, but in movies like “Legally Blonde” she’s always struck me as too flinty and poised to actually get laughs. (Also, I think the “Legally Blonde” movies are terrible.) In Seth Gordon’s atrocious holiday comedy, Witherspoon’s Type-A stiffness grates up against Vince Vaughn’s chatterbox flailing in the worst possible way. And then the movie starts.

“Milk”: Remember when Oliver Stone and Robin Williams were planning to make their Harvey Milk biopic? Around, say, fifteen years ago? I’m pretty sure Dustin Lance Black’s screenplay is the one they were going to use — a generic hagiography that focuses on Milk’s political accomplishments and tells us almost nothing about the man himself. Sean Penn and James Franco are still pretty great, though.

“Transporter 3”: All I’m saying is, it’s no “Transporter”. Or even “Transporter 2”, for that matter. I still eagerly await “Crank 2”, though.