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 comment
Keep in mind that release dates are extremely subject to change, even at this late date.
FOUR TO SEE
1. TOTAL RECALL (1.2)
2. THE BOURNE LEGACY (1.5)
TIE. HOPE SPRINGS (1.5)
TIE. LAWLESS (1.5)
TIE. THE ODD LIFE OF TIMOTHY GREEN (1.5)
FOUR TO SEEK OUT (FILMS NOT IN WIDE RELEASE)
1. CELESTE AND JESSE FOREVER (1.4)
TIE. COMPLIANCE (1.4)
3. ROBOT AND FRANK (1.5)
4. CHICKEN WITH PLUMS (1.6)
TIE. GOATS (1.6)
RATING SYSTEM: 1) Must-see, 2) Should-see, 3) Perhaps-see, 4) Don’t-see
AUGUST 3, 2012
360 (Magnolia) Genre: Drama. Several intersecting relationships show love, betrayal, loss and redemption. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.3 Oscar-nominated director Fernando Merirelles; Oscar-nominated writer Peter Morgan; a cast including Anthony Hopkins, Jude Law and Rachel Weisz; could I be any more there?
ASSASSIN’S BULLET (ARC Entertainment) Genre: Thriller. When high-priority terrorists in Europe on America’s Most Wanted list start turning up dead, a former FBI field agent is brought in to investigate. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.4 I’ve always liked Christian Slater and it looks like it could be a top-notch thriller.
THE BABYMAKERS (Millennium) Genre: Comedy. When a man is unable to get his wife pregnant, he decides to rob a sperm bank where he made a deposit before he was wed in order to seal the deal. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.5 Anything that advertises itself as being from the director of Super Troupers and Club Dread is in trouble.
CELESTE & JESSE FOREVER (Sony Classics) Genre: Romantic Comedy. A couple who married out of high school decide to divorce when they hit 30 but try to remain best friends; however things take a turn for the crazy. Release Strategy: New York City/Los Angeles. RATING: 1.4 May well turn out to be one of the defining movies on broken hearts of the 21st century.
CRAIGSLIST JOE (CLJ) Genre: Documentary. A man sets out to survive for 31 days in December relying solely on Craigslist for food, clothing, transportation companionship and shelter. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.5 Could be transformative or just plain depressing.
DIARY OF A WIMPY KID: DOG DAYS (20th Century Fox) Genre: Family. After another sad school year, Greg’s summer goes from bad to worse. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 3.9 The first two films in this series were uninspiring.
MOSQUITA Y MARI (Self-Released) Genre: Drama. Two 15-year-old Latina girls form a strong and sometimes confusing bond. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 2.7Beaches for the young Latina set.
SOLDIERS OF FORTUNE (Roadside Attractions) Genre: Adventure. A former Special Forces officer hired to protect a group of millionaires who want to experience war firsthand gets more than he bargained for. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.3 Looks like it could be fun but who wants to root for a bunch of rich people?
TOTAL RECALL (Columbia) Genre: Science Fiction. A man who goes to have a memory vacation finds himself on the run from corrupt politicians and allied with rebels in a dystopian future. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.2 Not so much a remake of the Schwarzenegger film but one closer to the Philip K. Dick short story the first movie was based on.
YOU’VE BEEN TRUMPED (Montrose) Genre: Documentary. A group of Scottish homeowners take on The Donald when he wants to move them from their homes to build an upscale golf resort. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 1.7 Documents bullying and intimidation on the part of Trump’s company in Scotland; may well be one of the most important documentaries of the year.
AUGUST 8, 2012
HOPE SPRINGS (Columbia/MGM) Genre: Romantic Comedy. A couple stuck in a marital rut go to a week-long intensive couples counseling session to find each other. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.5 Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones and Steve Carell? I’m so there!
MEET THE FOKKENS (Kino Lorber) Genre: Documentary. A pair of septuagenarian twins who have been prostitutes in Amsterdam’s notorious Red Light district for half a century recount their experiences and how the world’s oldest profession has changed over the years. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 2.8 Looks a little bit light-hearted and makes an interesting entry point (no pun intended) to the world of the professional sex worker.
NITRO CIRCUS: THE MOVIE 3D (ARC Entertainment) Genre: Stunt Documentary. The motorized spinoff of “Jackass” hits the big screen as Travis Pastrana and his band of adrenaline junkies risk their lives for…oh, whatever. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 3.9 Bread and circuses, dudes…bread and circuses.
AUGUST 10, 2012
2 DAYS IN NEW YORK (Magnolia) Genre: Romantic Comedy. After breaking up with her boyfriend, a photographer moves to New York with her son, takes up with a new boyfriend – who is African-American – and deals with her families attitudes while preparing for an important show of her work. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.4 The sequel to 2 Days in Paris stars Julie Delpy and Chris Rock; may be too charming for American audiences.
THE BOURNE LEGACY (Universal) Genre: Action. Another genetically enhanced agent finds himself the target of corrupt government officials trying to cover their tracks. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.5 Superhot Jeremy Renner gets an action hero lead and it looks like he might just run with it.
THE CAMPAIGN (Warner Brothers) Genre: Comedy. A neophyte politician runs against a senator who is used to running unopposed in a satire of the political process circa 2012. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.8 Will Ferrell versus Zach Galifianakis makes this something to look forward to.
FREELANCERS (Lionsgate) Genre: Action. The son of a slain NYPD officer joins the force and falls in with his father’s ex-partner, only to learn the shocking truth behind his death. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.8 Pretty gritty stuff but didn’t really stand out among all the other rogue cop movies out there.
GOATS (Image) Genre: Comedy. A kid raised in a New Age environment is sent to the exclusive Eastern prep school his father attended with poignant results. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.6 Looks surprisingly funny; has a great cast including David Duchovny, Vera Farmiga and Ty Burrell.
IT IS NO DREAM: THE LIFE OF THEODOR HERZL (Moriah) Genre: Documentary. The story of journalist and playwright Theodor Herzl who, horrified by the Dreyfus trial and other blatant acts of anti-Semitism in Europe, yearns to found a Jewish state – which 50 years later would become Israel. Release Strategy: New York City (opens in Los Angeles August 17). RATING: 3.1 I’m not sure but I think I’m beginning to burn out on these sorts of films.
THE LION OF JUDAH (JEC) Genre: Documentary. A holocaust survivor tells his story to younger generations, impressing with his resilience and determination. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 2.9 Sounds like something worth seeing, but saw no trailer available anywhere.
RED HOOK SUMMER (Variance) Genre: Urban Drama. A young man from Atlanta’s middle class spends the summer with his grandfather, a pastor in Brooklyn. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.8 Sounds a bit out of the box for Spike Lee; but then again, most of his movies are.
SUPERCAPITALIST (Self-Released) Genre: Thriller. A hedge fund trader orchestrates a massive deal that spirals rapidly out of control and threatens the economic stability of Asia and the trader’s life. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.1 Looks like a fairly ordinary financial thriller with decent production values; the lack of a distributor makes me nervous though.
THIS TIME (Village Art) Genre: Documentary. The story of Sweet Inspirations, the gospel-tinged backing singers for such icons as Cissy Houston, Aretha Franklin and Elvis Presley. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 3.2 A look at the music industry from the inside – and not a pretty picture it is.
AUGUST 13, 2012
THE CHILEAN BUILDING (Magic Lantern) Genre: Documentary. Chilean refugees, children of parents fighting the Pinochet regime, find refuge in Cuba. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 3.4 The trailer doesn’t really give you a good idea of what the film’s story is.
AUGUST 15, 2012
EK THA TIGER (Yash Raj) Genre: Thriller. A secret agent, code named Tiger, shakes the world of espionage to its very foundation. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.8 James Bond done Hindi/Pakistani style.
THE ODD LIFE OF TIMOTHY GREEN (Disney) Genre: Family. A childless but otherwise happily married couple find a new son at their doorstep – and that’s only the beginning of the magic. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.5 Looks potentially like it could be a family classic – if the movie lives up to the trailer, that is.
AUGUST 17, 2012
THE AWAKENING (Cohen Media Group) Genre: Supernatural Horror. A paranormal investigator in the 1920s who specializes in exposing frauds is summoned to an English boarding school where her beliefs will be put to the test. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.9 Looks genuinely creepy.
BELOVED (IFC) Genre: Romance. A Parisian girl falls in love with a man incapable of returning it while her mother tries to rekindle a romance with her father, whom her mother left after his infidelities drove her from Czechoslovakia. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.4 Very sexy, very French – and Catherine Deneuve. What more could anybody want?
CHICKEN WITH PLUMS (Sony Classics) Genre: Drama. After the greatest violinist in the world is shocked when his beloved violin is broken, he takes to his bed to await death – and has some startling revelations about life. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.6 Elements of the fantastic from the directors of Persepolis.
CO-DEPENDENT LESBIAN ALIEN SEEKS SAME (Self-Released) Genre: Sci-Fi Comedy. A trio of aliens sent to Earth to find emotional control instead find love with the same distaff sex. Release Strategy: Los Angeles only. RATING: 3.4 A mash-up of 50s space shtick and modern New York romance…we’ll have to wait and see since the teaser showed only a few seconds of footage.
COMPLIANCE (Magnolia) Genre: Thriller. A manager of a fast food restaurant follows phone orders from a person claiming to be a police officer to conduct an increasingly invasive investigation of a co-worker. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.4 The really chilling thing is that this is based on an actual occurrence.
COSMOPOLIS (EntertainmentOne) Genre: Thriller. A billionaire hedge fund trader who has cynically bet against economic stability finds himself being stalked as his fortune evaporates while on a cross-town trip to get his hair cut. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.9 David Cronenberg is always reliable for a thought-provoking, beyond-the-borders kind of film.
THE EXPENDABLES 2 (Lionsgate) Genre: Action. The mercenary team is betrayed during a simple job; now they’re looking for revenge and will stop at nothing to get it. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.9 The who’s who of action stars – adding Jean Claude van Damme and Chuck Norris to the mix.
THE MATCHMAKER (Menemsha) Genre: Drama. In Israel of the 1960s, the assistant to a professional matchmaker finds love with an Iraqi visitor while the matchmaker yearns for a forbidden romance. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 2.1 A definite 60s vibe with a traditional Jewish story; very intriguing trailer.
PAINTED SKIN: THE RESURRECTION (Well Go US) Genre: Martial Arts Horror. A demon looking to become human battles for the heart of a princess. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.7 Looks absolutely spectacular and surprisingly sensual for a Chinese film.
PARANORMAN (Focus) Genre: Animated Feature. A young boy is thought to be strange because he can talk to dead people turns out to be the only thing standing between them and a witch’s evil curse. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.8 From the people who brought you Coraline comes this feature that looks to have a shot at being a big hit.
SIDE BY SIDE (Tribeca) Genre: Documentary. A look at the digital revolution in filmmaking and talks to the leaders at the fore of the technological advances in the motion picture. Release Strategy: Los Angeles only. RATING: 2.4 Might only appeal to filmmakers and film geeks; fortunately I’m one of the latter.
SPARKLE (Columbia) Genre: Musical. In this remake, a young Detroit teenager achieves musical stardom at the expense of friends, family and love – and maybe worse. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 3.8 Whitney Houston’s final film.
TRUE WOLF (Shadow) Genre: Documentary. A young Montana couple adopt an abandoned wolf and adjust their lifestyle to the newest member of their family, who cannot be domesticated and in doing so redefine what being wild is all about. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 1.9 Sounds intriguing but I’m not sure whether they did a good thing or not; I’ll wait to see the film.
WHY STOP NOW? (IFC) Genre: Comedy. A piano prodigy must get his drug-addicted mother into rehab on the day of his most important audition. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.9 Really good cast includes Melissa Leo, Jesse Eisenberg and Tracy Morgan.
AUGUST 24, 2012
THE APPARITION (Warner Brothers) Genre: Supernatural Horror. A couple is terrorized by an entity created/released by a collegiate experiment. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.1 Looks to be inspired by J-Horror which is a good thing.
DEATH BY CHINA (AREA 23A) Genre: Documentary. Looks at the inequitable trade relationship between the U.S. and China and how destructive it has been to our economy. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 2.2 A very important subject which may well dictate world affairs for the next twenty years.
GENERAL EDUCATION (Well Go USA/Pelican House) Genre: Comedy. A young man set to attend university on a tennis scholarship hides that he failed to graduate from high school from his parents, taking a summer school course on the side to get his requirements in. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.8 Trailer doesn’t really stand out much.
HIT AND RUN (Open Road) Genre: Action Comedy. A former getaway driver in witness protection tries to drive his girlfriend to L.A. for an audition while evading a former compatriot as well as the feds. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 3.1 For whatever reason Dax Shepard doesn’t really connect with me – but his fans are gonna love this!
LITTLE WHITE LIES (MPI) Genre: Drama. A group of 30-somethings gather at a summer house, all at crucial points in their lives as one of their fellows is gravely injured in a motorcycle accident. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.6 A French take on The Big Chill with Oscar winner Jean Dujardin and nominee Marion Cotillard leading the stellar cast.
THE LONELIEST PLANET (Sundance Selects) Genre: Drama. A young engaged couple go on a hiking trip in the Caucasus Mountains where a tragic misstep threatens their relationship and their lives. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.3 Sounds extremely compelling and Gael Garcia Bernal one of the world’s premiere actors.
PREMIUM RUSH (Columbia) Genre: Action. A bike courier is hired to deliver a mysterious package that has him involved in a life-or-death chase in Manhattan. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.0 The trailer looks high-voltage but it was moved from August all the way from its original January release date which isn’t a confidence builder.
THE REVENANT (Paladin) Genre: Horror Comedy. A soldier and his slacker friend are turned into zombies; rather than mindlessly seeking to eat the living, they decide to become vigilante crimefighters instead. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.8 Horror comedy is notoriously hard to accomplish and from the trailer I’m not sure they accomplished it.
ROBOT AND FRANK (Goldwyn) Genre: Sci-Fi Family. A retired thief is given a robot attendant in place of being put in a retirement home and the two form an unlikely bond. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.5 Frank Langella always seems to deliver a superior performance.
SAMSARA (Oscilloscope Laboratories) Genre: Documentary. Using no dialogue or narration relying strictly on imagery and music, the film seeks to examine modern life by linking the mundane with the miraculous, the natural with the man-made. Release Strategy: New York City/Seattle (Opening in Los Angeles August 31). RATING: 2.1 Startling imagery caught on 70mm film from the creators of Baraka and Chronos.
SLEEPWALK WITH ME (IFC) Genre: Dramedy. Stand-up comedian Mike Birbiglia makes his directing debut in a semi-autobiographical tale of a comedian faced with a stalled career, a failing relationship and severe sleepwalking. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.9 Looks really funny – and really raw.
SOMEWHERE BETWEEN (Long Shot Factory) Genre: Documentary. Four teenage girls, adopted by Americans from China, struggle to find their identity. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 2.2 The girls are remarkably articulate and have some compelling things to say – worth a look.
THE VICTIM (Anchor Bay) Genre: Thriller. Two women who witness a brutal crime flee into the woods where they find a recluse who could be their protector – or their worst nightmare. Release Strategy: New York City (Opening in Los Angeles September 7). RATING: 2.6 Kinda looks like indie neurotic New Yorker hipster chic.
WILD HORSE, WILD RIDE (Screen Media) Genre: Documentary. The story of a challenge that takes 100 wild mustangs and brings them together with 100 people who attempt to tame them and give them a better life beyond the Federal corrals. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.8 Looks very heartwarming but I can’t help but wonder what Buck Brannaman would think.
AUGUST 29, 2012
THE AMBASSADOR (Drafthouse) Genre: Documentary. Armed with a phalanx of hidden cameras, a documentarian passes himself off as a European ambassador to the Central African Republic. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 2.0 May be the scariest film this year because it’s all true.
THE DAY (WWE/Anchor Bay) Genre: Horror. In a post-apocalyptic landscape a group of weary, starving survivors make a last stand against a group of ruthless predators. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.4 Has that dusty Western look most modern post-Apocalyptic films have. Weird.
LAWLESS (Weinstein) Genre: Gangster. Based on the true story of the Bondurant Brothers, bootleggers during the Prohibition era who became folk heroes. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.5 Looks akin to Bonnie and Clyde; hopefully that means we’ll start seeing some good gangster movies again if it hits.
THE OOGIELOVES IN THE BIG BALLOON ADVENTURE (Kenn Viselman Presents) Genre: Animated Feature. Magical loving creatures hunt for five magic balloons to save a birthday party in Lovelyloveville. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 4.0 I understand kids will be encouraged to stand, talk, dance and sing; it already sounded bad and now it’s sounding worse.
AUGUST 31, 2012
FOR A GOOD TIME, CALL… (Focus) Genre: Comedy. An uptight business sort realizes her roommate is a phone sex operator and realizes that the two of them are sitting on a veritable gold mine. Release Strategy: Limited (Expands September 7). RATING: 2.3 Looks just raunchy enough to be entertaining but not enough to really be too offensive.
THE GOOD DOCTOR (Magnolia) Genre: Drama. An ambitious young doctor develops an unhealthy obsession for one of his patients. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.5 Might just be Orlando Bloom’s best role since Legolas.
LITTLE BIRDS (Millennium) Genre: Drama. Two young girls from a dying small town follow some wild young boys to the big city and find themselves well over their heads. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.4 A gritty coming of age movie for the fairer sex? Long overdue.
THE POSSESSION (Lionsgate) Genre: Horror. A young girl opens a box and unleashes a demonic entity known as a Dybbuk. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.8 Looks pretty damn scary – hope that this movie, which has been bouncing through the release schedule for a couple of years, is worth the wait.
THE TALL MAN (Image) Genre: Horror. In a small dying mining town where legend has it that children who have disappeared over the years were taken by a mysterious figure called The Tall Man, a nurse fights to find and rescue her son. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.7 While it does have Jessica Biel in the lead in kind of an action heroine role, there isn’t much else in the trailer to distinguish it from other similarly-themed films.
SCHEDULED TO BE REVIEWED HERE AS NEW RELEASES
Total Recall, The Bourne Legacy, The Campaign, Hope Springs, The Odd Life of Timothy Green, The Expendables 2, ParaNorman, Premium Rush, Lawless.