Four-Warned: December 2010

Four-Warned: December 2010

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.


1. TRON: LEGACY (1.0)
2. TRUE GRIT (1.5)
4. THE FIGHTER (1.9)


1. RABBIT HOLE (1.6)
2. THE TEMPEST (1.8)
3. BLACK SWAN (2.2)
4. CASINO JACK (2.3)

RATING SYSTEM: 1) Must-see, 2) Should-see, 3) Perhaps-see, 4) Don’t-see

DECEMBER 3, 2010

ALL GOOD THINGS (Magnolia) Genre: Mystery. The true story of Robert Durst who was suspected (but never tried) for the murder of his wife who disappeared in 1982 and hasn’t been seen since. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.2 Ryan Gosling has been on a streak of great performances lately.

APPLAUSE (World Wide Motion Pictures) Genre: Drama. A famous stage actress tries to reconnect with her sons and regain control of her life from alcoholism as she rehearses for her big comeback role in a stage production of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf”. Release Strategy: Los Angeles (Opening in New York January 21). RATING: 2.7 Haven’t seen the trailer yet but this film is highly acclaimed in its native Denmark.

BLACK SWAN (Fox Searchlight) Genre: Drama. The rivalry between two prima ballerinas vying for the same role unleashes dark forces. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.2 Darren Aronofsky’s first film since making The Wrestler.

DEAD AWAKE (New Films) Genre: Horror. A trio of friends is united by a tragedy, and the supernatural elements surrounding it. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.4 No trailer yet but sounds intriguing.

I LOVE YOU, PHILIP MORRIS (Roadside Attractions) Genre: Comedy. The true story of a conman who falls in love with a prison inmate and orchestrates elaborate prison escapes to be with the man he loves. Release Strategy: New York/Los Angeles/San Francisco. RATING: 3.8 I simply am not much of a Jim Carey fan.

MESKADA (Red Flag) Genre: Crime Drama. A detective in an affluent small town tries to solve the murder of a young boy in a neighboring impoverished town. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.6 This is one where the trailer looks intriguing enough to want to seek out the film.

NIGHT CATCHES US (Magnolia) Genre: Urban Drama. A former black power activist returns to Philadelphia, bearing a secret that could shatter the community. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.3 Anthony Mackie looks to be a rising star; if done right could be a sleeper hit.

RARE EXPORTS: A CHRISTMAS TALE (Oscilloscope Laboratories) Genre: Fantasy. A Finnish research team in the Arctic discovers something amazing; Santa Claus, but not the jolly St. Nick you’re thinking about. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.4 The trailer looked bizarre, imaginative and funny – all three characteristics that I cherish.

THE WARRIOR’S WAY (Relativity Media) Genre: Martial Arts Western. A disgraced assassin hides out in a Western town only to have his troubles follow him. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.9 If you liked Sukiyaki Western Django you’ll probably love this.

DECEMBER 4, 2010

FRANKIE AND ALICE (Freestyle Releasing) Genre: Drama Based on a True Story. The story of Frankie Murdoch, a woman suffering from multiple personality disorder in Los Angeles of the early 70s. Release Strategy: New York/Los Angeles (Expanding February 4). RATING: 2.6 Early buzz is that this could be Halle Berry’s second Oscar win.

DECEMBER 10, 2010

THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE VOYAGE OF THE DAWN TREADER (Fox Walden) Genre: Family Adventure. Lucy and Edmund Pevensie return to Narnia, this time aboard the ship Dawn Treader alongside Prince Caspian to find the Seven Lost Lords. Release Strategy: Wide (Standard, 3D). RATING: 1.7 This series enchanted me as a child, and the movies are actually doing justice to the series.

THE COMPANY MEN (Weinstein) Genre: Drama. Three laid off executives must re-define their lives as husbands, fathers and men. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.0 Moved forward from October, indicating the studio may be thinking of Oscar potential here.

THE FIGHTER (Paramount) Genre: Drama Based on a True Story. The story of “Irish” Mickey Ward, a boxer who rose from obscurity to win the title at an age when most fighters are retiring. Release Strategy: Limited (Opening Wide December 17). RATING: 1.9 A near-certain Oscar contender.

HEMINGWAY’S GARDEN OF EDEN (Roadside Attractions) Genre: Period Drama. While on their European honeymoon during the Jazz Age, a woman pushes her husband to the limits with her erotic escapades. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.5 The trailer looked like a cross between Agatha Christie and F. Scott Fitzgerald.

THE TEMPEST (Touchstone) Genre: Shakespearean Fantasy. A sorcereress goes from vengeance to forgiveness in this Julie Taymor-directed version of Shakespeare’s final play. Release Strategy: New York/Los Angeles (Expands December 17). RATING: 1.8 With the great Helen Mirren in the lead role and Taymor’s imaginative vision should be terrific eye candy.

THE TOURIST (Columbia) Genre: Thriller. An American tourist in Italy gets involved in international intrigue and romance. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.5 With Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie headlining, this is bound to be a big hit.

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.

DECEMBER 17, 2010

AND SOON THE DARKNESS (Anchor Bay) Genre: Thriller. A bicycling trip to Argentina for two young American women turns dangerous when one of them disappears and the other must find her before nightfall. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.8 Based on a British movie of the same name.

CASINO JACK (ATO) Genre: Drama Based on a True Story. Kevin Spacey stars as Jack Abramoff, a.k.a. Casino Jack, a high-powered Washington lobbyist whose fraudulent activities with Indian Casinos landed him in jail. Release Strategy: New York only. RATING: 2.3 Filmmaker George Hickenlooper’s last film.

HOW DO YOU KNOW (Columbia) Genre: Romantic Comedy. The latest from James L. Brooks involves a love triangle between a major league pitcher, a beautiful pro softball player and a corporate executive about to be indicted for fraud. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 3.1 Great cast includes Owen Wilson, Reese Witherspoon, Jack Nicholson and Paul Rudd.

RABBIT HOLE (Lionsgate) Genre: Drama. A family is shattered by a tragedy. Release Strategy: Limited (Expands December 25; Opens Wide January 14). RATING: 1.6 This one has Oscar nominations written all over it.

TRON: LEGACY (Disney) Genre: Science Fiction. The son of a missing software programmer finds him in a computer-generated world. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.0 The sequel to an iconic 80s movie is one of the most anticipated movies this year.

YOGI BEAR (Warner Brothers) Genre: Family. A smarter-than-the-average bear and his sidekick look to separate visitors to Jellystone National Park from their picnic baskets. Release Strategy: New York only. RATING: 3.7 The trailer looked Garfield-bad.

DECEMBER 22, 2010

 COUNTRY STRONG (Screen Gems) Genre: Musical Drama. A former country star, battling alcoholism and emotional instability takes on a rising young songwriter, a beauty queen turned singer and her loyal husband/manager in a last ditch effort to regain the spotlight. Release Strategy: Limited (Expands January 7). RATING: 3.1 Although I’m not one for redneck melodrama, this could actually turn out pretty good with Gwyneth Paltrow in the lead.

GULLIVER’S TRAVELS (20th Century Fox) Genre: Fantasy/Comedy. A mail room employee gets his big break to write a story on the Bermuda Triangle only to get sucked into a vortex leading to a strange land of little people. Release Strategy: Wide (Standard, 3D). RATING: 2.0 Jack Black as Gulliver? Either that’s inspired or crazy casting.

LITTLE FOCKERS (Universal) Genre: Comedy. The third in the Focker trilogy pits Ben Stiller against ex-CIA father-in-law Robert DeNiro. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 3.3 Something tells me this series is running out of steam.

SOMEWHERE (Focus) Genre: Drama. An actor living at the Chateau Marmont Hotel in Hollywood must choose between his career lifestyle and raising his little girl. Release Strategy: New York/Los Angeles. RATING: 2.9 The latest from director Sofia Coppola is already getting a great deal of Oscar buzz.

TRUE GRIT (Paramount) Genre: Western. A plucky young girl seeks to bring the murderer of her father to justice, aided by a broken-down one-eyed marshal and a suave Texas Ranger. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.5 The Coen Brothers remaking the Duke? With Jeff Bridges in the lead role? I’m there!

DECEMBER 25, 2010

THE ILLUSIONIST (Sony Classics) Genre: Animated Feature. A stage magician during the early years of rock and roll finds his act and his life revitalized by a young girl. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.5 A visually stunning new feature from the maker of The Triplets of Belleville.

DECEMBER 29, 2010

ANOTHER YEAR (Sony Classics) Genre: Drama. A blissfully happy elderly couple are surrounded during the course of a calendar year by family, friends and colleagues all suffering from varying degrees of unhappiness. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.6 Filmmaker Mike Leigh is one of the most adept of his generation; the trailer for this looks riveting.

BIUTIFUL (Roadside Attractions) Genre: Drama. A conflicted man on the fringes of the Barcelona underworld struggles to raise his children. Release Strategy: New York/Los Angeles. RATING: 2.7 Javier Bardem is considered by many to be the front-runner for this year’s Best Actor Oscar race.

DECEMBER 31, 2010

BLUE VALENTINE (Weinstein) Genre: Romantic Drama. A couple whose romance has lost its passion fights to save their marriage in the course of a single night. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 3.4 Originally slapped with an NC-17, the filmmakers are trying to get this re-cut so that it can receive an R rating.


The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader, The Fighter, The Tempest, The Tourist, How Do You Know, Rabbit Hole, TRON: Legacy, Country Strong, Gulliver’s Travels, Little Fockers, True Grit


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