Saturday, August 28, 2010

New Releases - Week of September 3rd

Starring: George Clooney, Violante Placido, Anton Corbijn, Bruce Altman,
Irina Bjorklund, Thekla Reuten
Directed by Anton Corbijn for distribution by Focus Features.


The Plot: A master craftsman among assassins , Jack (Clooney) gets shaken up following a hit that doesn’t go as planned. Deciding to get out while he’s ahead, he agrees to one last hit which sees him jettisoned to the Italian countryside. While waiting to carry out his last job, Jack finds himself drawn to the peaceful and quiet town. Although his surprising friendship to a local priest (Paolo Bonacelli) and continued attraction to a local woman (Reuten), may have him tempting fate.
The Final Word: We all know George Clooney is one of the most bankable stars in Hollywood, although this is clearly not film being made just for profit. Every actor looks to challenge themselves and take on different types of roles, which has to be the appeal for Clooney. With a director who cut his teeth on music videos and a supporting cast comprised non-USA established actors, this is arthouse cinema at its core.
  (September 1)

Starring: Danny Trejo, Jessica Alba, Robert DeNiro, Michelle Rodriguez, Lindsay Lohan
Cheech Marin, Jeff Fahey, Don Johnson, Steven Segal
Directed by Robert Rodriguez, Ethan Maniquis for distribution by 20th Century Fox

The Plot: A betrayed ex-Federale (Trejo) seeks revenge against those who betrayed him.
The Final Word: When Robert Rodriguez released Grindhouse back in 2007, the character of Machete was introduced during a fake trailer that ran with the film. Nobody had any idea that it would actually be the part of the movie that garnered the strongest reaction from the bloody “double-feature.”  So Rodriguez, who is perhaps one of the smartest filmmakers out there, developed a full movie based around the character and re-assembled some of his usual suspects to appear in it. While Fox is obviously hoping to re-create the success Dimension had with Rodriguez and his 2005 hit “Sin City,” I think they’d settle for a few steps above the poor returns Grindhouse pulled in.  With cult appeal and a Labor Day weekend date, that goal seems very likely.

Starring: Drew Barrymore, Justin Long, Jason Sudeikis, Jim Gaffigan, Christina Applegate
Directed by Nanette Burstein for distribution by New Line Cinema (Warner Bros.)

The Plot: A summer fling results in meaningful romance for a couple (Barrymore & Long) living in NYC, but when the season ends and their jobs force them into a long distance relationship, problems ensue.

The Final Word: It isn’t just a on again/off again romance that Justin Long and Drew Barrymore share as the two have found their careers to be streaky as well. It isn’t easy to predict how a movie with either of these stars will do nowadays, but at least this one looks somewhat promising.

Previewed next week: Resident Evil: Afterlife 3D

Saturday, August 21, 2010

New Releases - Week of August 27th

Starring: Matt Dillon, Paul Walker, Idris Elba, Hayden Christensen, Jay Hernandez,
Chris Brown, Tip “T.I,” Harris, Michael Ealy
Directed by John Lussenhop for distribution by Screen Gems (Sony)

The Plot:
A highly successful team of criminals, team up for one last mega score, but find the odds stacked against them when a tough as nails detective (Dillon) takes a personal interest in their past heists.

The Final Word:
“Takers” is a movie whose back story may have more appeal than the film itself. It almost held the distinction of being the first movie people could have “invested” in through movie futures. That was until Congress making legal movie gambling illegal, so it will just have to settle for being one of the last action films of the 2010 summer movie season. Although it does hold the distinction of casting two actors to portray criminals who have also recently had very public brushes with the law themselves. While some believe that fact could impact its bottom line, I look more at the fact that if Sony had any confidence in the movie, it wouldn’t be released in the dog days of August.

Starring: Patrick Fabian, Ashley Bell, Louis Herthum, Iris Bahr
Directed by Daniel Stamm for distribution by Lionsgate

The Plot:
A troubled but talented minister (Fabian) agrees to have his last exorcism filmed for a documentary, although he finds this one to be more difficult any of his previous.

The Final Word:
Patrick Fabian is not one of those guys whose name is instantly recognizable. Although take one look at him and I almost can guarantee you’ve seen him somewhere before (Saved By The Bell: College Years fan take note). While he may not be the most logical choice to lead a movie, Lionsgate has a good history with horror films and they’ve proven if the story works you don’t necessarily need a name-cast.

 Previewed next week: The American, Machete & Going The Distance.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

New Releases - Week of August 20th

Starring: Emma Thompson, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Rhys Ifans, Maggie Smith, Ralph Finnes
Directed by Susanna White for distribution by Universal Pictures


The Plot: The magical Nanny McPhee(Thompson) returns to help a farmer’s wife (Gyllenhaal) keep control of her wild children while running her family farm in place of her war-bound husband.

The Final Word: While the original wasn’t a huge blockbuster, it did reportedly make a $75 million return on its shoestring budget, which will get any sequel greenlit these days.  This a strong family franchise that could help Universal continue its equally strong summer, but I wouldn’t expect  the same return on investment this time around.

Starring: Jessica Szohr, Steven R. McQueen, Elisabeth Shue, Jerry O’Connell,
Ving Rhames, Richard Dreyfuss, Christopher Lloyd
Directed by Alexandre Aja for distribution by Dimension Films (Weinstein Company)

The Plot: A tremor unleashes a wave of prehistoric piranhas on a small town.

The Final Word: With nearly all of the studios refusing to admit they’ll do anything to make a quick buck off the 3D craze, Dimension is not only admitting it, they are broadcasting it to whoever will listen. The movie doesn’t take itself seriously at all and that’s why audiences will probably check it out. Again, we aren’t talking “Iron Man” numbers here, but it is just the type of end of summer popcorn flick that will find a audience.

Starring: Bow Wow, Ice Cube, Loretta Devine, Terry Crews, Bill Bellamy, Mike Epps
Directed by Erik White for distribution by Warner Brothers

The Plot: After Kevin Carson (Bow Wow) wins the lottery, he learns he must protect his $370 million ticket until the lottery office re-opens after the 4th of July weekend.

The Final Word: Ice Cube, Bow Wow and Mike Epps normally tend to see their movies do very well, especially among the urban market. Although they don’t always hit in the mark and so far this year, they aren’t sporting that high of a batting avg.

Starring: Jennifer Aniston, Jason Bateman, Patrick Wilson, Jeff Goldblum, Juliette Lewis
Directed by Will Speck & Josh Gordon for distribution by Miramax Films (Disney)


The Plot: An unmarried forty year-old woman (Aniston) turns to a sperm donor to get pregnant, but when her best friend (Bateman) accidentally destroys the sample, he secretly replaces it with his own. Now seven years later the two meet back up and he begins to see the striking similarities between him and her son.

The Final Word: Working in this movie’s favor is the star appeal of it leads, but working against it are the multiple delays the movie has had and the fact that both Aniston and Bateman have seen their star appeal gradually begin to decline, so much to the point neither has been able to carry a movie for  some time.  While Aniston’s “Bounty Hunter” did turn a small profit earlier this year, I get the feeling this one won’t be as lucky.

Previewed next week: Takers and The Last Exorcism.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

New Releases - Week of August 13th

Starring: Julia Roberts, James Franco, Javier Bardem,
Viola Davis, Billy Crudup, Richard Jenkins
Directed by Ryan Murphy for distribution by Columbia Pictures (Sony)


The Plot: A woman (Roberts) abandons her  “safe” life to go on a journey of self discovery which takes her all across the world. Over her adventures she learns the pleasure of eating in Italy, the power of prayer in India and the meaning of true love in Bali.

The Final Word: As if Roberts name above the marquee wasn’t enough to sell the movie, “Glee” creator Ryan Murphy  directed the film and adapted the screenplay from Elizabeth Gilbert’s bestselling memoir.  With its only real competition being the heavily male-skewing “The Expendables,” the movie could have a solid opening weekend.

Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Eric Roberts, Randy Couture, Steve Austin, Terry Crews, Charisma Carpenter, Mickey Rourke
Directed by Sylvester Stallone for distribution by Lionsgate

The Plot: A team of mercenaries embark on a suicide mission to South America in a attempt to overthrow a dictator.

The Final Word: Is anybody really going to see this for the plot? No, they are going to see this because Sylvester Stallone has assembled the most kick-ass group of action stars around to end the summer season with a bang.  Aside from the laundry list of talent listed above, Sly’s also talked his old friends Bruce and Arnold into dropping by for a quick cameo.

Starring: Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Kieran Culkin,
Chris Evans, Anna Kendrick
Directed by Edgar Wright for distribution by Universal Pictures

The Plot: A musician (Cera’s) attempt to woo his dream girl (Winstead) is held in check when he finds out the only way to date her is to kill her seven evil ex-boyfriends.

The Final Word: Two things to keep in mind with this movie. The first is that is from director Edgar Wright who directed “Hot Fuzz” and “Shaun of the Dead.” The second is that this is a comic book adaptation, so please check your sense of reality in the lobby.  Although if you want to talk reality, Cera hasn’t been able to carry a movie since he teamed with Jonah Hill in “Superbad” during the summer of Apatow back in 2007. While this is typical Cera, which for the record is funny, audiences generally only catch these movies during their multiple runs on cable.

Previewed next week: Nanny McPhee Returns, Piranha 3-D, Lottery Ticket, The Switch