Four-Warned: April 2011

April 2011

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 perceived or otherwise 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 comment

Keep in mind that release dates are extremely subject to change, even at this late date.

FOUR TO SEE
1. WATER FOR ELEPHANTS (1.3)
2. INSIDIOUS (1.7)
3. HANNA (1.8)
4. SOURCE CODE (1.9)
TIE. THE CONSPIRATOR (1.9)

FOUR TO SEEK OUT (FILMS NOT IN WIDE RELEASE)
1. 13 ASSASSINS (1.5)
2. INCENDIES (1.6)
3. IN A BETTER WORLD (1.8)
TIE. MEEK’S CUTOFF (1.8)

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

APRIL 1, 2011

CAT RUN (LLeju) Genre: Action Comedy. A pair of amateur detectives stumbles onto a high-profile case that has everyone gunning for them. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.2 Director John Stockwell is usually pretty reliable.
CIRCO (First Run) Genre: Documentary. A family that has run a Mexican circus for generations is torn apart by the economic realities of the time and family squabbling. Release Strategy: New York City (opens in Los Angeles April 8). RATING: 2.8 Sometimes, the show shouldn’t go on.
HOP (Universal) Genre: Live Action/Animated Family Comedy. A slacker bunny who is meant to inherit the title of Easter Bunny longs to be a drummer instead. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.7 The trailer reminded me uncomfortably of Alvin and the Chipmunks.
IN A BETTER WORLD (Sony Classics) Genre: Drama. A doctor working in an African refugee camp and his son back home in Denmark must make a choice between vengeance and forgiveness. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.8 Just won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film.
INSIDIOUS (FilmDistrict) Genre: Horror. After moving into an old house, the small boy of a young couple falls into a coma and appears to be the portal allowing demonic creatures into the world. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.7 The writer-director team behind Saw look to scare up a new franchise.
THE LAST GODFATHER (Roadside Attractions) Genre: Martial Arts Comedy. The don of a powerful Mafia family in 1951 announces the heir to his empire – the illegitimate son of an Asian romance, which doesn’t sit well with the other full-blooded Italian members of the family. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.4 Korea has been churning out some really wonderful movies lately – but this doesn’t look like one of them.
QUEEN TO PLAY (Zeitgeist) Genre: Drama. A Corsican chambermaid with a talent for chess meets an American doctor to help develop her game, transforming both their lives. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.9 Kevin Kline is one of my all-time favorite actors; I’ll see anything he’s in regardless of how good or bad it sounds.
RUBBER (Magnet) Genre: Horror Comedy. A discarded tire unexpectedly grows sentient and finds it has the ability to destroy things with merely a thought and finds itself amused by destroying humans. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.2 A very innovative concept and a movie that looks to be one of the most fun events of the year.
SOURCE CODE (Summit) Genre: Sci-Fi Action. A decorated soldier is projected into the body of a man killed in a bombing eight minutes before it happened in order to find out who did it. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.9 From the director of Moon, this looks extremely promising.
SUPER (IFC Midnight) Genre: Superhero Comedy. A man whose wife leads him for a supervillain decides to adopt the persona of a superhero. Release Strategy: New York City/Los Angeles. RATING: 2.3 I blow hot and cold on Rainn Wilson but the trailer looks suh-weet.
TRUST (Millennium) Genre: Drama. The lives of a suburban family are turned upside down when the teenage daughter meets an online boyfriend and discovers he isn’t who he claimed to be. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.5 An outstanding cast (including Clive Owens as the dad) and a timely premise make this one to watch for.
TWO GATES OF SLEEP (Borderline) Genre: Drama. A pair of brothers seeks to bury their recently deceased mother on the banks of the river she loved so much. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 2.9 Could be a movie that will be insightful and affecting – will have to wait and see the trailer to figure out if I really want to see it.

APRIL 6, 2011

BLANK CITY (Insurgent Media) Genre: Documentary. A chronicle of the underground Super 8 scene in the Manhattan of the 1980s. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 3.9 I just never got into this scene and the fact that it’s only being released in New York gives you an idea of the appeal.

APRIL 8, 2011

AMERICAN: THE BILL HICKS STORY (Variance) Genre: Documentary. The story of comedian and social commentator Bill Hicks who was felled by cancer at the young age of 32. Release Strategy: New York City (opening in Los Angeles April 15). RATING: 3.1 Hicks was one of the most memorable comedians of the late 80s and early 90s; he is sorely missed.
ARTHUR (Warner Brothers) Genre: Comedy. A ne’er-do-well heir to a billion-dollar fortune must decide between love and money. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 3.5 I would have cast Russell Brand in the title role as well; question is, did this need remaking?
BORN TO BE WILD (Warner Brothers) Genre: Nature Documentary. This documents the dedicated people who save orphaned elephants and orangutans, and trains them to be released back into the wild. Release Strategy: IMAX only. RATING: 2.8 The success of the DisneyNature series was bound to inspire imitators.
CEREMONY (Magnolia) Genre: Romantic Comedy. A man tries to rekindle the romance with an old flame who is getting married to someone else. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.2 The trailer looked pretty intriguing.
EXODUS FALL (Oakhurst) Genre: Family. Two teenage boys mean to rescue their sibling who is autistic and reunite their family with their grandmother. Release Strategy: Los Angeles only. RATING: 4.0 No. Just no.
HANNA (Focus) Genre: Thriller. A little girl is genetically created and raised to be the perfect assassin, but finds herself the target of a shadowy government agency. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.8 Excellent cast and terrific trailer makes this one of the month’s most anticipated releases.
HENRY’S CRIME (Moving Pictures) Genre: Caper Comedy. After doing time for a bank robbery he didn’t commit, an amiable young man decides to rob one for real with the aid of his mentor and an amateur actress he’s fallen for. Release Strategy: New York City (opens in Los Angeles April 15). RATING: 2.4 A very strong cast with a premise that is quite intriguing.
MEEK’S CUTOFF (Oscilloscope) Genre: Western. A group of pioneers travelling the Oregon Trail must decide between a guide who has been proven untrustworthy and a Native American, who they’ve been raised to believe is their enemy and not even truly human. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.8 An acclaimed indie director takes on a genre that could use some fresh blood.
MEET MONICA VELOUR (Anchor Bay) Genre: Sex Comedy. A teenager sets off on a road trip to meet the porn star he has a crush on, only to find something unexpected. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.1 The trailer is very appealing, a mixture of sexy and sweet.
MEETING SPENCER (Paladin) Genre: Comedy. A has-been theater director tries to put together financing for his comeback production during the course of a single night at Frankie and Johnny’s. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 2.9 A somewhat loving tribute to the Great White Way.
NO ERES TU, SOY YO (Lionsgate) Genre: Romantic Comedy. A couple from Argentina plan to start a new life in Miami. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.7 A remake of the 2004 comedy It’s Not You, It’s Me.
SOUL SURFER (Tri-Star) Genre: True Sports Drama. A young female surfer who loses her arm in a shark attack determines to become a champion surfer once again despite having the use of only one arm. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 3.0 I’m not a big surfing fan but I must admit the story sounds compelling.
YOUR HIGHNESS (Universal) Genre: Fantasy Comedy. A ne’er do well prince must help his brother on a quest to rescue his betrothed from an evil wizard. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.6 The trailer makes the movie look a bit raunchy; could be a big disappointment.

APRIL 13, 2011

A SCREAMING MAN (Film Movement) Genre: Drama. A former swimming medalist who now cares for a pool in a civil war-torn African country tries to reconnect with his son after losing his job to a younger man. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 2.6 This won the Jury Prize at last year’s Cannes Film Festival.

APRIL 15, 2011

ARMADILLO (Lorber) Genre: Documentary. Danish soldiers in Afghanistan violate the rules of engagement and allow their testosterone to overrule their sense and compassion. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 2.6 Created quite a controversy when it was released in Denmark.
ATLAS SHRUGGED PART I (Rocky Mountain) Genre: Drama. Idealistic industrialists take on a corrupt American system in which innovators and mavericks are disappearing. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.9 Ayn Rand’s watershed novel is as relevant now as it was in 1957 when she wrote it.
THE CONSPIRITOR (Roadside Attractions) Genre: Historical Drama. In the wake of Lincoln’s assassination, innkeeper Mary Surratt is put on trial for conspiracy; her lawyer comes to believe she’s being railroaded. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.9 Robert Redford directs a tremendous cast; looks to be an early Oscar contender.
THE DOUBLE HOUR (Goldwyn) Genre: Drama. A couple who meet on a speed date are placed in danger when they go on a relaxing weekend trip and their past begins to catch up with them. Release Strategy: New York City/Los Angeles. RATING: 3.7 Eva Green is indeed beautiful and sexy, but a prim girls school teacher?
FOOTPRINTS (Paladin) Genre: Mystery. A mysterious woman awakens at the Chinese Theater with no memory of who she is or how she got there. Release Strategy: New York City/Los Angeles. RATING: 3.7 A great premise but then the synopsis starts making allusions to a waking dream which always makes me think “artsy fartsy”.
THE IMPERIALISTS ARE STILL ALIVE! (IFC) Genre: Mystery. An Arab-American woman in post-911 Manhattan meets a fascinating PhD student from Mexico and becomes embroiled in a romance that is charming but weird. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 3.6 Conspiracy theories run cheek by jowl with cultural idiosyncrasies here.
THE PRINCESS OF MONTPENSIER (IFC/Sundance Selects) Genre: Period Drama. A princess tries to survive the ruthless power games of the court in a time of civil war in 16th Century France. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 2.3 Bertrand Tavernier is one of the premiere filmmakers in France; any movie he directs is worth seeking out.
RIO (20th Century Fox) Genre: Animated Feature. A rare breed of parrot is sent down from a pampered existence as a pet to Rio to be bred and winds up in an exciting adventure. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.9 Yet another opportunity to market toys and Happy Meals.
SCREAM 4 (Dimension) Genre: Horror. Sidney Prescott once again does battle with Ghostface. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.8 I wonder if audiences will flock back after a nearly decade-long absence of the franchise.
SQUARE GROUPER: THE GODFATHERS OF GANJA (Magnolia) Genre: Documentary. A look at the marijuana smuggling culture in Miami in the 1970s and the 1980s. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 4.0 I don’t think I could be any less interested.
TO DIE LIKE A MAN (Strand) Genre: Musical Fantasy. A drag queen having difficulty going through with a sex change operation enters an enchanted forest. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 3.4 Those crazy drag queens and their fantasies – sounds like a Vegas revue!!

APRIL 22, 2011

AFRICAN CATS (DisneyNature) Genre: Nature Documentary. Two families – one lion, one cheetah – try to survive on the wild African plains. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.7 The latest Earth Day release by Disney’s nature documentary arm will at least have lively narration from Samuel L. Jackson.
THE BANG BANG CLUB (Tribeca) Genre: True Life Drama. A quartet of photojournalists chronicle the last days of apartheid at great risk and great personal cost. Release Strategy: New York City/Los Angeles. RATING: 3.8 A terrific trailer and an intriguing concept equals a movie to keep an eye out for.
COUGAR HUNTING (Aspen Entertainment Group) Genre: Sex Comedy. A trio of recent college grads, unlucky with girls their own age, decides to go cougar-chasing in Aspen. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.8 The trailer for this looked really bad – direct-to-video bad.
DEEP GOLD (Bigfoot Entertainment) Genre: Action Adventure. When the boyfriend of a world champion free diver disappears, she is drawn into a world of mystery and intrigue to try and discover what happened to him. Release Strategy: Wide (I’m unfamiliar with this distributor and while it’s possible this will see wide release, I wouldn’t necessarily count on it either). RATING: 3.7 Looks like a movie made in the Philippines that is about up to our direct-to-video standards here.
DUM MAARO DUM (Fox STAR) Genre: Drama. The lives of five people will intersect at the Goa airport and change their lives forever. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.6 Seems to be a crime and punishment type of thriller; not having seen a trailer, I’m not sure how this will turn out.
DUMBSTRUCK (Truly Indie) Genre: Documentary. World-class ventriloquists descend on a small Kentucky town for a convention. Release Strategy: New York City (Opens in Los Angeles April 29). RATING: 3.4 Could be worth seeing if there are some decent character studies but the trailer doesn’t really get that across.
INCENDIES (Sony Classics) Genre: Drama. The passing of their mother prompts a pair of twins to go to the Middle East to find out the story of the mother they thought they knew. Release Strategy: New York City/Los Angeles. RATING: 1.6 Recipient of an Oscar nomination, this looks amazing.
LEGEND OF THE FIST: THE RETURN OF CHEN ZHEN (Variance) Genre: Martial Arts. A masked fighter tries to get justice for the people of Shanghai in the 1920s when foreign interests threaten to tear it asunder. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.4 Even though the hero is dressed a bit like Kato, there are some wonderful martial arts sequences in the trailer.
POM WONDERFUL PRESENTS THE GREATEST MOVIE EVER SOLD (Sony Classics) Genre: Documentary. Bad Boy Filmmaker Morgan Spurlock tries to get corporate product placement to pay for his film, showing how pervasive the practice is in Hollywood. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.9 The trailer looked hella funny.
STAKE LAND (IFC) Genre: Horror. A nun leads a group of survivors of a devastating war between men and vampires towards what they hope is safety. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.7 Sounds a little bit like it’s from the same world as Priest.
TIED TO A CHAIR (Process Studio Theater) Genre: Comedy. A housewife decides to return to her acting career and is embroiled in a series of increasingly dangerous mishaps. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.7 Quite frankly, the trailer looked amateurish.
TYLER PERRY’S MADEA’S BIG HAPPY FAMILY (Lionsgate) Genre: Urban Comedy. The health problems of Madea’s niece Shirley take a back seat to the problems of her children. Leave it to Madea to sort things right!. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 3.6 I wonder if the series is losing a bit of steam?
WATER FOR ELEPHANTS (20th Century Fox) Genre: Drama. A penniless veterinary student falls in with a second-rate travelling circus during the Depression, where he falls in love with the wife of the ruthless, unbalanced ringleader. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.3 From the looks of the trailer one of the movies I’m looking forward to most this month.
WHEN HARRY TRIES TO MARRY (108 Pics) Genre: Romantic Comedy. A young Indian-American bachelor, traumatized by his parent’s divorce goes the arranged marriage route only to fall in love with another. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.1 These Indian culture clash movies can be awfully good, or awfully dreary – not sure which one this falls under.
ZOKKOMON (UTV) Genre: Superhero. An orphan, abandoned by his cruel uncle, journeys to transform himself into a superhero. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.4 Apparently Disney released this in India, where it was made with pretty sharp production values.

APRIL 27, 2011

THE ARBOR (Strand) Genre: Documentary. The life and times of British playwright Andrea Dunbar, who enjoyed a brief meteoric rise in the 1980s after emerging from the slums, only to die at the age of 29 of a brain hemorrhage. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.4 Uses unusual storytelling techniques to tell her story; not sure if I like it yet or not.

APRIL 29, 2011

13 ASSASSINS (Magnet) Genre: Martial Arts. A group of unemployed samurai try to prevent a sadistic feudal lord plunge their country into war. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.5 The great Takashi Miike directed this, a departure from his usual horror films.
BRIDE FLIGHT (Music Box) Genre: Drama. A trio of women immigrates from post-World War II Holland to New Zealand to begin new lives with their fiancées; their lives will intersect, along with the dashing pilot of their flight, for the next 50 years. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.8 There is a soap opera feel to it, but the trailer is awfully compelling.
CAVES OF FORGOTTEN DREAMS (IFC) Genre: Documentary. Filmmaker Werner Herzog leads an expedition into the Chauvet Cave in France, home to some of the most compelling cave drawings in the world and a place rarely allowed to be photographed or filmed. Release Strategy: Limited (3D). RATING: 2.7 Herzog has become a wonderful documentarian and this might well be his crowning achievement.
DYLAN DOG: DEAD OF NIGHT (Omni/FSR) Genre: Horror Comedy. A living detective in New York City specializes in cases involving the undead. Release Strategy: Wide (Again, this is a distributor I’m unfamiliar with so this may not be opening in every city). RATING: 3.4 A European comic is given the Hollywood treatment which may serve to alienate moviegoers on both continents.
EARTHWORK (Shadow Distribution) Genre: Biographical Drama. The life of crop artist (those are folks who use soil, rocks and plants to make environmental art pieces) Stan Herd is examined through the preparation of a single installation. Release Strategy: New York City (opens in Los Angeles May 20). RATING: 3.4 Even though John Hawkes, an actor I respect, is starring, not sure how enthusiastic I am to see this.
EXPORTING RAYMOND (Goldwyn) Genre: Documentary. Phil Rosenthal, the creator of “Everybody Loves Raymond,” is called to Russia to help adapt his show for Russian television and discovers a culture clash bigger than Hollywood and Main Street. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.5 The trailer looked pretty interesting – fish out of water documentaries are like catnip to me.
FAST FIVE (Universal) Genre: Action. Players from the first four Fast and Furious movies create an all-star crew for their biggest heist ever. Release Strategy: Wide (Standard, IMAX). RATING: 2.8 Vin Diesel vs. Dwayne Johnson? I’m down!
HOODWINKED TOO!: HOOD VS EVIL (Weinstein) Genre: Animated Feature. The covert Sisters of the Hood team take on a wicked witch who has kidnapped Hansel and Gretel. Release Strategy: Wide (Standard and 3D). RATING: 3.1 Oft-delayed usually doesn’t bode well.
PROM (Disney) Genre: Teen. As prom approaches, all sorts of drama ensues. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 4.0 Teens and drama? NO! Who’da thought?
ROAD TO NOWHERE (Monterey Media) Genre: Thriller. A young actress with an eerie resemblance to a murder suspect is cast in a movie about the crime leading to unexpected revelations. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.9 Has a little of that Laura-esque quality to the concept.
THE ROBBERS (Kino International) Genre: Drama. A noted Austrian marathon runner has a double life as a bank robber. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 3.1 Based on a true story, albeit fictionalized.
SYMPATHY FOR DELICIOUS (Maya Entertainment) Genre: Drama. A paralyzed DJ in Los Angeles mysteriously develops the power to heal. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.6 This is the directorial debut for actor Mark Ruffalo who also acts in it.

SCHEDULED TO BE REVIEWED HERE AS NEW RELEASES
Hop, Source Code, Born to Be Wild, Hanna, The Conspirator, Rio, African Cats, Arthur, Water for Elephants

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