Every month I’m going to look at every movie on the release schedule and try to assign them a numerical value corresponding to how anxious I am to see it. The lower the number, the more I want to see it. A one means I would walk through hell and high water to see it; a four means there’s no interest whatsoever. The numbers are not arrived at scientifically but they aren’t arbitrary either.
The numbers aren’t a reflection of the artistic merit of any of these films, but merely a reflection of my willingness to go to a movie theater and see it. The top four scores will be gathered as a means of reflecting the movies I’m anticipating the most; you may use that as a guide or not.
Each entry is broken down as follows:
NAME OF FILM (Studio) Genre A brief description of the plot. Release plans: Wide = Everywhere, Limited = In selected markets. RATING A brief explanation
Keep in mind that release dates are extremely subject to change, even at this late date.
FOUR TO SEE
1. HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART 1 (1.0)
2. SKYLINE (1.3)
3. THE KING’S SPEECH (1.4)
4. FASTER (1.6)
FOUR TO SEEK OUT (FILMS NOT IN WIDE RELEASE)
1. CLIENT 9: THE RISE AND FALL OF ELIOT SPITZER (2.1)
2. HEARTLESS (2.3)
3. TODAY’S SPECIAL (2.7)
4. MADE IN DAGENHAM (2.8)
RATING SYSTEM: 1) Must-see, 2) Should-see, 3) Perhaps-see, 4) Don’t-see
NOVEMBER 3, 2010
OUTSIDE THE LAW (Studio Canal) Genre: Drama. Three Algerian brothers scattered across the globe find their destinies intersecting in Paris. Release Strategy: New York (Opening in Los Angeles November 10). RATING: 3.6 I haven’t seen a trailer for this yet and quite frankly the description I’ve read of the plot doesn’t really tell me anything intriguing.
NOVEMBER 5, 2010
127 HOURS (Fox Searchlight) Genre: Drama. A brash mountain-climber is trapped by a fallen boulder and must do the unthinkable to survive. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.6 The latest from the director of Slumdog Millionaire is already getting Oscar buzz for star James Franco’s performance.
CLIENT 9: THE RISE AND FALL OF ELIOT SPITZER (Magnolia) Genre: Documentary. The crusading New York State Attorney General’s meteoric fall from grace is examined with suspicious eyes. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.1 The trailer indicates there are some compelling questions regarding the scandal that dethroned Spitzer; could be worth seeing.
DUE DATE (Warner Brothers) Genre: Comedy. A first-time father rushing home to be by the side of his wife before the baby comes acquires unusual travelling companions. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.8 Sounds a bit too much like Planes, Trains and Automobiles but since Robert Downey Jr. and Zach Galifianakis are both in it, I’ll give it a look.
FAIR GAME (Summit) Genre: Drama Based on Fact. CIA covert operative Valerie Plame’s identity is revealed by a leading journalist. Release Strategy: Limited (Expanding November 12). RATING: 2.9 A top-notch cast in a movie about the politics of spycraft; should be interesting.
FOR COLORED GIRLS (Lionsgate) Genre: Urban Drama. Director Tyler Perry explores what it means to be female and African-American. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 3.7 Based on an Obie Award-winning play that might be a bit too highbrow for general audiences.
FOUR LIONS (Drafthouse) Genre: Comedy. A satire about a group of Jihadists plotting a terrorist attack. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 4.0 Quite frankly I have no desire to see a broad comedy about brain-dead Jihadists; one Hogan’s Heroes is more than enough.
GUY AND MADELINE ON A PARK BENCH (Variance) Genre: Musical. A jazz trumpeter and his introverted ex-girlfriend begin to reconnect through song. Release Strategy: New York only. RATING: 3.4 For some reason the plot doesn’t appeal to me, and I find the concept of a “gritty musical” to be quite frankly depressing.
MAKING THE BOYS (First Run) Genre: Documentary. The Boys in the Band, the first gay play and subsequent motion picture adaptation is examined on its 40th anniversary. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.8 To be honest, I never connected with the source material but the documentary of the struggle to bring it to life might be interesting in itself.
MEGAMIND (DreamWorks) Genre: Superhero Animated Feature. A supervillain who has never beaten his nemesis suddenly finds himself victorious – and quite possibly, the heir to the mantle of superhero. Release Strategy: Wide (Standard, 3D, IMAX 3D). RATING: 2.2 This looks like it could be fun with Will Ferrell voicing the title role; besides, I’m a sucker for superheroes.
RED HILL (Arclight) Genre: Crime Thriller. A young police officer’s first day on the job in a sleepy isolated town goes south after a bloody prison break. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.9 The Australians have turned out an impressive array of these types of thrillers over the last several years.
WILLIAM S. BURROUGHS: A MAN WITHIN (Oscilloscope Laboratories) Genre: Documentary. The life of one of the 20th Century’s most brilliant and controversial writers is explored through the words of friends and confidantes. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 4.0 Burroughs doesn’t really do anything for me.
NOVEMBER 12, 2010
COOL IT (Roadside Attractions) Genre: Documentary. Controversial economist and political scientist Bjorn Lomborg challenges the findings of Al Gore and his documentary An Inconvenient Truth. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.5 I’m always willing to hear the other side of the story but I have to wonder how an economist can dispute the findings of environmental scientists.
DISCO AND ATOMIC WAR (Icarus) Genre: Documentary. The introduction of western television into then-Communist controlled Estonia in the mid-80s is impactful indeed. Release Strategy: New York only. RATING: 2.9 An intriguing period of time in a place rarely exposed to scrutiny.
HELENA FROM THE WEDDING (Film Movement) Genre: Indie Comedy. A married couple’s New Year’s Eve party is disrupted by an unexpected guest. Release Strategy: New York only. RATING: 2.9 Sounds a bit like The Man Who Came to Dinner.
MORNING GLORY (Paramount) Genre: Comedy. A morning show producer tries to get the hosts, a curmudgeonly but much-decorated newsman and a perky ex-beauty queen, to get along before they sink the show. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.8 Harrison Ford and Diane Keaton are still the only star power I need.
SKYLINE (Universal) Genre: Science Fiction. Aliens invade Los Angeles, literally snatching humans from the face of the earth. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.3 The first of a handful of alien invasion films; looks like some fairly impressive special effects.
UNSTOPPABLE (20th Century Fox) Genre: Action Thriller. A courageous engineer and conductor race to stop a runaway train carrying toxic chemicals from slamming into a small town. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.3 The team of director Tony Scott and actor Denzel Washington is a slam dunk.
YOU WON’T MISS ME (Factory 25) Genre: Dramedy. An alienated urban misfit recently released from a psychiatric hospital tries to reintegrate into New York normalcy. Release Strategy: New York only. RATING: 3.2 Sounds a bit Big Apple-centric to me, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
NOVEMBER 19, 2010
HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART I (Warner Brothers) Genre: Fantasy. The final chapter in the saga of the boy wizard and the Hogwart’s Universe starts here. Release Strategy: Wide (Standard, IMAX). RATING: 1.0 The countdown to the final confrontation between Harry and Valdemort begins.
HEARTLESS (IFC) Genre: Supernatural Horror. A young man is tricked into making a deal with a demon and then fights to save his soul. Release Strategy: New York only. RATING: 2.3 A modern twist on the Faust story.
MADE IN DAGENHAM (Sony Classics) Genre: Drama Based on Fact. A dramatization of a strike at the Ford plant in Dagenham, England in which the female workers walked off the job in protest against sexual discrimination. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.8 If done right could be in the tradition of Norma Rae.
THE NEXT THREE DAYS (Lionsgate) Genre: Suspense. A man whose wife was arrested for a murder she claims she didn’t commit determines to break her out of prison when he feels that she won’t survive imprisonment much longer. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.4 Great cast includes Russell Crowe, Liam Neeson and Elizabeth Banks.
NOTHING PERSONAL (Olive Films) Genre: Drama. A widow renounces her material possessions and moves from Amsterdam to Ireland. Release Strategy: New York (Opening in Los Angeles November 26). RATING: 3.6 I don’t know much about this one but it has an intriguing premise.
TODAY’S SPECIAL (Reliance MediaWorks) Genre: Comedy. A young sous chef who dreams of opening his own upscale Manhattan restaurant is instead forced to work in his family’s Brooklyn tandoori restaurant. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.7 This was originally scheduled for October but has been bumped up to November.
WHITE MATERIAL (IFC) Genre: Drama. A French family tries to save their African home with the help of an unlikely hero. Release Strategy: New York only. RATING: 3.0 Director Claire Denis has some wonderful films on her resume.
NOVEMBER 24, 2010
BURLESQUE (Screen Gems) Genre: Musical. A small town girl dreaming of stardom finds herself working as a waitress in a modern burlesque theater. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 3.9 Cher? And Christina Aguilera? Can anyone say “train wreck”?
FASTER (CBS) Genre: Action Thriller. An ex-con recently released from prison plots revenge on those who killed his brother during the bank robbery that put him in jail. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.6 Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson returns to the action genre and I for one couldn’t be happier.
LOVE AND OTHER DRUGS (20th Century Fox) Genre: Drama. A pharmaceutical salesman finds himself falling for a free-spirited woman unexpectedly. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.5 Good cast plus director Ed Zwick usually equals a fine movie.
THE NUTCRACKER IN 3D (Freestyle) Genre: Holiday Fantasy. The timeless holiday tale brought to life for the first time in 3D. Release Strategy: Limited (Standard, 3D). RATING: 2.9 The movie looks fantastic and in a year where there is a dearth of holiday films might be just what the doctor ordered.
RED DAWN (MGM) Genre: Action. A remake of the 1984 Patrick Swayze film, this time having China invade the United States; Chris Hemsworth leads the resistance. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.4 Given the financial problems with MGM, it is a toss-up as to whether this will be showing up in theaters, at least on this date.
TANGLED (Disney) Genre: Animated Feature. The fairy tale of Rapunzel gets retold with an irreverent edge. Release Strategy: Wide (Standard, 3D). RATING: 3.1 For whatever reason, I’m not excited about this; could be Animation Overload.
NOVEMBER 26, 2010
THE KING’S SPEECH (Weinstein) Genre: Drama. The King of England is coached by an unorthodox speech therapist to cure his stammer on the eve of the Second World War. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.4 The early word is that this could wind up the favorite for a big night at the Oscars next year.
NOVEMBER 27, 2010
BRUCE LEE (J.A. Media) Genre: Biographical Drama. The life and times of the world’s greatest and best-known martial artist. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 3.8 Without a U.S. distributor or a cast, I find it difficult to believe this will be in theaters at all this year.
SCHEDULED TO BE REVIEWED HERE AS NEW RELEASES
Due Date, Fair Game, MegaMind, Morning Glory, Skyline, Unstoppable, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I, The Next Three Days, Faster, Love and Other Drugs, The King’s Speech