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. THE DEBT (1.3)
2. RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES (1.5)
3. CONAN THE BARBARIAN (1.6)
4. ONE DAY (1.9)
TIE. THE HELP (1.9)
FOUR TO SEEK OUT (FILMS NOT IN WIDE RELEASE)
1. BELLFLOWER (1.8)
2. GRIFF THE INVISIBLE (1.9)
TIE. THE CALLER (1.9)
4. CHASING MADOFF (2.0)
RATING SYSTEM: 1) Must-see, 2) Should-see, 3) Perhaps-see, 4) Don’t-see
AUGUST 5, 2011
BELLFLOWER (Oscilloscope Laboratories) Genre: Action. A pair of buddies preparing for a global apocalypse discovers something far more devastating – a woman. Release Strategy: New York City/Los Angeles. RATING: 1.8 The movie generated major buzz at Sundance this year.
THE CHANGE-UP (Universal) Genre: Fantasy Comedy. A bachelor and a family man exchange bodies after urinating in a fountain. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.6 Body switching comedies are beginning to wear out their welcome.
GUN HILL ROAD (Motion Film Group) Genre: Drama. A soldier returns home to the Bronx from war to find his wife emotionally unfaithful and his son undergoing a sexual transformation. Release Strategy: New York City/Los Angeles only. RATING: 3.2 Could be interesting depending on how many Latino clichés they use.
MAGIC TRIP (Magnolia) Genre: Documentary. Never before seen footage of the 1964 psychedelic bus trip of Ken Kesey and his Merry Band of Pranksters from San Francisco to the New York World’s Fair finally sees the light of day. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.2 What a long strange trip it’s been…
MYSTERIES OF LISBON (Music Box) Genre: Drama. A bastard child in 19th century Portugal tries to find out who his parents are and discovers that knowledge can be dangerous. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 2.1 Acclaimed as a beautifully filmed modern masterpiece.
RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES (20th Century Fox) Genre: Science Fiction. Animal experimentation on a new wonder drug has unexpected consequences. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.5 Meant to take this franchise in a completely different direction might be just what the mad scientist ordered.
THE WHISTLEBLOWER (Goldwyn) Genre: Drama. A U.N. police officer in post-war Bosnia discovers an insidious web of corruption and murder. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.5 Rachel Weisz stars in the title role of a movie based on actual events.
AUGUST 10, 2011
THE HELP (Disney) Genre: Drama. An ambitious journalist student in Mississippi in the 1960s decides to write an article on the servants of Jackson. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.9 Based on a best-selling novel that brings the Civil Rights era to life.
OVER CITIES GRASS WILL GROW (An Alive Mind) Genre: Documentary. An artist turns a derelict silk factory in France into a gigantic art installation. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.9 Normally I’d be interested in something like this but the studio summary makes this sound awfully pretentious and artsy.
AUGUST 12, 2011
30 MINUTES OR LESS (Columbia) Genre: Crime Comedy. A pair of bumbling criminals kidnap a pizza delivery boy and strap a bomb to his chest, forcing him to rob a bank or else. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.4 Reunites Zombieland director Ruben Fleischer and star Jesse Eisenberg.
AARAKSHAN (Reliance Big Picture) Genre: Thriller. The friendship between a legendary academic and his disciple is tested when they stand on opposite sides of a controversial decision. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.1 A Bollywood film with some very strong production values.
FINAL DESTINATION 5 (New Line) Genre: Horror. Survivors of a bridge collapse get visited by Death who is apparently Rube Goldberg. Release Strategy: Wide (Standard, 3D). RATING: 3.3 It’s been a winning formula but how much longer are people going to be interested in it?
GLEE: THE 3D CONCERT MOVIE (20th Century Fox) Genre: Musical. The kids from the Fox TV hit “Glee” are captured in concert. Release Strategy: Wide (Standard, 3D). RATING: 4.0 Oh joy.
SENNA (Producers Distribution Agency) Genre: Documentary. The story of Brazilian Formula One racer Ayrton Senna, who revolutionized the sport and died tragically young. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.1 Will a documentary on a Formula One hero fly in NASCAR country?
AUGUST 17, 2011
ATROCIOUS (The Collective) Genre: Horror. Footage from a video camera reveals the hidden truth behind a gruesome multiple murder. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.5 One has to wonder how many of these found footage movies audiences are going to warm to.
AUGUST 19, 2011
5 DAYS OF WAR (Anchor Bay) Genre: Action. A television journalism team documents the 5-day Georgian conflict in 2008 putting their lives in grave peril. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.9 Although I normally love these sorts of movies, the trailer left me cold.
AMIGO (Variance) Genre: Drama. During the Spanish-American War, Americans come to a village in the Philippines and raise havoc, igniting conflicts between the peaceful villagers and the local resistance. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.4 John Sayles is one of the most consistently intriguing directors today.
CONAN THE BARBARIAN (Lionsgate) Genre: Fantasy. A young Cimmerian warrior’s quest for revenge turns into an all-out fight against supernatural evil. Release Strategy: Wide (Standard, 3D). RATING: 1.6 Is the public ready to see Jason Momoa step into Arnold Schwarzenegger’s boots?
FLYPAPER (IFC) Genre: Crime Comedy. When two rival gangs try to rob the same bank at the same time, a teller and a customer try to save the day without getting caught in the crossfire. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.5 A very interesting trailer and a very attractive cast.
FRIGHT NIGHT (DreamWorks) Genre: Horror. A high school senior suspects his new neighbor is a vampire. Release Strategy: Wide (Standard, 3D). RATING: 2.0 Was a remake of this ‘80s horror comedy really needed? And does the new version add anything?
GRIFF THE INVISIBLE (Indomina) Genre: Romantic Comedy. A shy young office worker assumes the guise of a superhero by night; it’s up to his new girlfriend to save him from the clutches of his own monsters. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.9 The trailer looked very enticing.
THE LAST CIRCUS (Magnolia) Genre: Period Drama. A sad clown and a happy clown do battle in a circus struggling to survive in Franco’s Spain. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.3 This is the latest from one of Spain’s hidden treasures, director Alex de la Iglesia.
THE MISSING PIECE (Self-Released) Genre: Documentary. A Trivial Pursuit player becomes obsessed with the 1911 theft of the Mona Lisa and resolves to shed more light on the crime. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.9 Sounds fascinating but has no official distribution.
MOZART’S SISTER (Music Box) Genre: Period Drama. The re-imagined life of Mozart’s sister posits a similar talent that can’t be nurtured because of her gender. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.8 To show you my ignorance, I wasn’t aware Mozart even had a sister – which is not only a sad comment on my education but also on the treatment of women.
ONE DAY (Focus) Genre: Romantic Drama. The evolution of a friendship into romance is chronicled over two decades as we see a single day in each year of their lives. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.9 Sort of like Same Time, Next Year only with Jim Sturgess and Anne Hathaway.
PROGRAMMING THE NATION (International Film Circuit) Genre: Documentary. A look at the history of subliminal messaging in the United States. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 3.1 A subject which has always been of great interest to me but the trailer doesn’t look like the movie covers it in an interesting way.
SPY KIDS: ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD (Dimension) Genre: Family. A couple of kids discover their stepmom is a spy. Release Strategy: Wide (Standard, 3D). RATING: 3.3 I think the concept would work better if the kids weren’t so much smarter than the adults.
AUGUST 26, 2011
BRIGHTON ROCK (IFC) Genre: Crime Drama. A vicious criminal takes up a romance with a naïve waitress who may have proof of his gang’s involvement in a revenge slaying. Release Strategy: New York City/Los Angeles. RATING: 2.6 British gangster movies are the best in the world at the moment.
BUZZKILL (Indican) Genre: Comedy. A struggling writer becomes famous when a notorious serial killer steals his car and his latest script. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.3 The trailer didn’t excite me as much as I’d hoped.
THE CALLER (Goldwyn) Genre: Supernatural Thriller. A divorced woman gets disturbing calls from a woman who claims to be in the past. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.9 Looks pretty nifty, like the anti-Lake House.
CHASING MADOFF (Cohen Media Group) Genre: Documentary. A securities analyst goes on the hunt for one of the most notorious white-collar criminals of our time. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.0 It’s amazing how something that sounds so much like a John La Carre novel could have actually happened.
CIRCUMSTANCE (Roadside Attractions) Genre: Drama. Two Iranian teenage girls struggle with their burgeoning sexual desires in a repressive society. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.7 As titillating as the concept is, the trailer looks actually pretty serious.
COLUMBIANA (TriStar) Genre: Action. A young Columbian girl who witnesses the murder of her parents is raised by her uncle to be a world-class assassin, going after the ones responsible for her parent’s death in between jobs. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.1 The casting of Zoe Saldana in the lead role seems a little odd but Olivier Megaton is an excellent director.
DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK (FilmDistrict) Genre: Horror. A young girl moves into a 19th century mansion her dad is restoring begins to hear voices that may be connected to some hideous creatures. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.3 Guillermo del Toro produces this remake of a made-for-television movie that might not interest me as much if not for his involvement.
THE FAMILY TREE (Entertainment One) Genre: Comedy. A dysfunctional family gets a new lease on life when the shrill matriarch suffers from amnesia. Release Strategy: New York City/Los Angeles. RATING: 3.2 The trailer didn’t really give me much incentive to see this film.
HIGHER GROUND (Sony Classics) Genre: Drama. During the 1960s, a woman struggles with her strong conservative religious background, the onset of feminism and the loves of her life. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.4 Actress Vera Farmiga makes her directing debut.
LIMELIGHT (Magnolia) Genre: Documentary. This is the story of Peter Gatien, the flamboyant and charismatic King of Nightlife in New York City during the 1980s. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.9 Could be interesting but haven’t seen a trailer for it yet.
OUR IDIOT BROTHER (Weinstein) Genre: Comedy. Three sisters take turns housing their uber-honest hippie-like brother. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.2 A great cast and an intriguing trailer make this one a sleeper to look out for.
REDEMPTION ROAD (Freestyle) Genre: Drama. Two men become unlikely friends on a journey between Texas and Alabama. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.8 Mario van Peebles is a capable director and with an outstanding cast should produce a respectable movie.
SPECIALTREATMENT (First Run) Genre: Drama. A high end prostitute and a psychiatrist discover that they are therapeutic for one another. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.1 Terrific trailer and the wonderful actress Isabelle Huppert make this one a must-see for me.
AUGUST 31, 2011
THE DEBT (Focus) Genre: Thriller. An Israeli MOSSAD team hides a terrible secret that comes to light 40 years later. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.3 An amazing cast with a trailer that reminds me a bit of Spielberg’s Munich.
GAINSBOURG: A HEROIC LIFE (Music Box) Genre: Biographical Drama. A fanciful interpretation of the life of French icon Serge Gainsbourg. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 3.1 Je t’aime indeed.
SCHEDULED TO BE REVIEWED HERE AS NEW RELEASES
The Change-Up, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, The Help, 30 Minutes or Less, Conan the Barbarian, One Day, Columbiana, Our Idiot Brother, The Debt