Saturday, September 24, 2011

New Releases - Week of September 30, 2011

Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, Anna Kendrick,
Bryce Dallas Howard, Anjelica Huston & Philip Baker Hall
Directed by Jonathan Levine for distribution by Summit Entertainment

The Plot: Two friends depend on humor and each other, when one is diagnosed with cancer.

The Final Word: When your main bread and butter franchise is “Twilight,” it gives you creative ability to finance award-bait like “The Beaver” and “50/50.” Granted, while “Beaver” underperformed, that had more to do with Mel Gibson backlash than anything else…still don’t be surprised if his name pops up again during award. Regarding “50/50,” this is dangerously close to “Funny People” territory which the public wasn’t quick to embrace. Either way Levitt has some serious indie credibility following the successful “500 Days of Summer” and he will draw.

Starring: Daniel Craig, Naomi Watts, Rachel Weisz,
Marton Csokas, Elias Koteas & Jane Alexander
Directed by Jim Sheridan for distribution by Universal Pictures

The Plot: An author moves him family to small New England town only to find their new dream house was the site of a brutal murder and the killer is still at large.

The Final Word: Watts broke through with the horror classic “The Ring” and she returns to that genre here alongside some of the same behind the scenes folks. Although horror films are a tricky genre, they either light the box office on fire or fair to scare up profits, which is incidentally also the way Craig films have tend to be as of late (minus of course his Bond films). It’s also worth noting that Craig has since married co-star Rachael Weisz which help enhance the movie’s buzz.

Starring: Anna Faris, Chris Evans, Zachary Quinto, Joel McHale,
Andy Samberg, Dave Annable, Ed Begley Jr. & Thomas Lennon
Directed by Mark Mylod for distribution by 20th Century Fox

The Plot: A woman dives through her dating history believing she’s already met the man of her dreams and broke up with him.

The Final Word: Anna Faris has tried for years to breakthrough as something other than the “satire” girl, but keeps being pulled back into that genre. “Number” on paper doesn’t look much different than most of the films on her resumes and probably won’t do that much box office damage, despite an impressive array of supporting comedic talent.

Previewed next week: The Ides of March, Real Steel

Saturday, September 17, 2011

New Releases - Week of September 23, 2011

Starring: Taylor Lautner, Lily Collins, Alfred Molina, Jason Isaacs,
Maria Bello, Denzel Whitaker, Michael Nyqvist & Sigourney Weaver
Directed by John Singleton for distribution by Lionsgate

The Plot: A teenager’s life is thrown into chaos when he learns his entire childhood has been lie and is forced to go on the run.

The Final Word: Sorry to all the “Twi-hard” haters hoping for Taylor Lautner to just go away following the conclusion of the “Twilight” movies, but that Hollywood has embraced the young star. Lionsgate, who has a knack for under-anticipated yet very successful action films, pairs Lautner with “Boyz in the Hood” director John Singleton. The Oscar nominee has basically been MIA from Hollywood since 2005’s “Four Brothers’ and could make a strong comeback courtesy of much buzzed about script.

Starring: Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Philip Seymour Hoffman,
Robin Wright, Stephen Bishop, Kathyrn Morris & Chris Pratt
Directed by Bennett Miller for distribution by Columbia Pictures (Sony)

The Plot: The true story of Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane who defied conventional logic to construct a playoff caliber baseball team.

The Final Word: When baseball fans found out that one of baseball’s Bibles was being brought to the screen with Brad Pitt in the lead role and Aaron Sorkin at the typewriter, they scoffed. Yet, these will also be the first people in line to see it. Pitt, Sorkin and director Bennett Miller (“Capote”) are all garnering Oscar buzz and with good reason. Incidentally this is actually the second version of the movie being produced by Sony as the first one was canned due to its high budget; ironic huh?

Starring: Jason Statham, Clive Owen, Robert De Niro, Yvonne Strahovski,
Dominic Purcell, Aden Young, Ben Mendelsohn, Lachy Hulme,
Firass Dirani, Grant Bowler & Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje
Directed by Gary McKendryfor distribution by Open Road Films

The Plot: A former special ops agent is lured out of retirement to rescue his kidnapped mentor.

The Final Word: It isn’t often new studios pop up on the scene and it is even less often that the ones that do put out successful films. Although with FilmDistrict’s successful foray into theaters as a guide, OpenRoad pictures is looking for that same type of magic thanks to a strong cast including Jason Statham, Robert DeNiro and Clive Owen. That and the fact it’s essentially a non-thinking action film and even more interesting is that it is based on a real story.

Starring: Harry Connick Jr., Ashley Judd, Kris Kristofferson,
Nathan Gamble, Cozi Zuehlsdorff, Austin Stowell & Morgan Freeman
Directed by Charles Martin Smith for distribution by Warner Brothers

The Plot: The true story of a group of strangers who come together to save the life of an injured dolphin only to learn her plight could save the lives of others.

The Final Word: In the wake of “Soul Surfer” and a few other low-budget, low profile family friendly films comes “Dolphin Tale,” which for no explainable reason is in 3D. People’s aren’t going to see this before its 3D, they are going to see this, because there is a serious lack of live action family movies. The appeal of leads Morgan Freeman and Ashley Judd are all big draws. Yet this is a busy week for movies and its possible “Tale” could be overshadowed.

Previewed next week: 50/50, Dream House, What's Your Number?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

New In Theaters - September 16th, 2011

Starring: Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston,
Ron Perlman, Christina Hendricks, Oscar Isaac & Albert Brooks
Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn for distribution by FilmDistrict

The Plot: A Hollywood stuntman (Gosling), who moonlights as a getaway driver for criminals, finds his life and the lives of his neighbor (Mulligan) and her daughter in danger when he botches his latest job.

The Final Word: Eventually both Ryan Gosling and Carey Mulligan will find the same breakout popularity their co-stars have found in their careers, but some reason it’s taken longer than many people have thought. “Drive” could go a long way in helping boost their popularity as FilmDistrict has slowly made its mark on the Hollywood radar. It could also emerge as a surprise Oscar contender.

Starring: Sarah Jessica Parker, Greg Kinnear, Pierce Brosnan, Olivia Munn,
Seth Meyers, Kelsey Grammer, Christina Hendricks & Jane Curtin
Directed by Douglas McGrath for distribution by The Weinstein Company

The Plot: A workaholic finance executive (Parker) and family breadwinner finds her schedule getting even more hectic when she’s given new client (Brosnan) to whom she finds herself attracted.

The Final Word: Based on the novel by one-time Daily Mail writer Allison Pearson, the movie could do a lot to repair the damage “Sex & The City 2” did to Parker’s career. With an “A” list cast backing her and no direct competitors, the movie could prove to be a modest success and possibly put Parker in the conversation for Hollywood annual awards season.

Starring: James Marsden, Kate Bosworth, Alexander Skarsgard,
Dominic Purcell, Laz Alonso, Willa Holland & James Woods
Directed by Rod Lurie for distribution by Screen Gems (Sony)

The Plot: A Hollywood screenwriter (Marsden) and his wife (Bosworth) return to her hometown following the death of her father, only to find themselves embroiled in a deadly conflict with her ex-boy (Skarsgard) and his gang of thugs.

The Final Word: Based on the 1971 Dustin Hoffman movie of the same name, the remake puts Marsadan in the title role of a man pushed to his breaking point when bullies target him and his wife. With Skarsgard’s “True Blood” popularity at an all-time high and a strong supporting cast, Screen Gems could see a strong showing for “Dogs,” but only is audiences aren’t turned away by the extremely violent final act.

Previewed next week: Abduction, Dolphin Tale, Killer Elite, Moneyball 

Saturday, September 3, 2011

New In Theaters - September 9th, 2011

Starring: Marion Cotillard, Matt Damon, Laurence Fishburne, Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Winslet, Bryan Cranston, Sanaa Lathan & Jennifer Ehle
Directed by Steven Soderbergh for distribution by Warner Brothers

The Plot: The Center for Disease Control must stop the spread of a deadly airborne virus before it wipes out the Earth.

The Final Word: Oscar winning director Steven Soderbergh has more than his earned the right to punch his own ticket, but let’s be honest, on paper this easily could be an updated version of 1995’s “Outbreak,” just shown in IMAX. Yes it has a star studded cast and a strong pedigree behind it, but are audiences going to really show up in force to watch this type of realistic scenario play out?

Starring: Joel Edgerton, Tom Hardy, Jennifer Morrison, Nick Nolte,
Maximiliano Hernandez, Frank Grillo & Erik "Bad" Apple
Directed by Gavin O’Connor for distribution by Lionsgate

The Plot: Two very different brothers (Edgerton, Hardy) find themselves on a collision course with each other as they train for a mixed-martial arts tournament.

The Final Word: After becoming an overnight success courtesy of “Inception,” Tom Hardy has become one of the most buzzed about celebrities in Hollywood. His ever growing fanbase and charismatic personality lead many to believe his presence in “Warrior,” could held do for mixed martial arts what “The Fighter” did for boxing.

Starring: Nick Swardson, Christina Ricci, Don Johnson & Stephen Dorff
Directed by Tom Brady for distribution by Columbia (Sony)

The Plot: A nerd from Iowa packs up and heads to Hollywood to follow in his parents footsteps after he learns they were at one time successful porn stars.

The Final Word: Anybody remember “Dickie Roberts: Child Star,” or “Grandma’s Boy?” Same deal here…higher profile cast, lower quality movie. No disrespect to Adam Sandler or his Happy Madison production company, but there’s a reason why Columbia slotted this in the September dumping grounds.

Preview next week: Drive, I Don't Know She Does It, Straw Dogs