Four-Warned: September 2012

September 2012

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.

1. LOOPER (1.3)
2. DREDD (1.5)

3. BRANDED (1.6)

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


FOR ELLEN (Tribeca) Genre: Drama. A wannabe rock star signs away custody to his six-year-old daughter in a divorce but isn’t sure he can walk away from her just yet. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 2.7 Could be Paul Dano’s most affecting role yet.
GIRL MODEL (Cinereach) Genre: Documentary. A devastating look at young Russian teen models thrown into the meat grinder of the Japanese modeling scene. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 2.2 A surprisingly powerful documentary that was screened at this year’s Florida Film Festival. My review can be read here.


BACHELORETTE (Radius) Genre: Sex Comedy. An after-hours party by three bridesmaids on the eve of their friend’s wedding turns into something extraordinary. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.5 Looks kind of like a low-rent Bridesmaids.
BRANDED (Roadside Attractions) Genre: Science Fiction. In a dystopian future, a global corporate conspiracy uses subliminal advertising to keep the population docile. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.6 Looks amazing in a sort of William S. Burroughs meets H.P. Lovecraft kind of way.
THE COLD LIGHT OF DAY (Summit) Genre: Action. A young man vacationing with his family in Spain discovers that his father is a spy when his family is captured and held hostage in exchange for a briefcase his dad might have stolen. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.7 Bruce Willis and Sigourney Weaver face off; this is what dreams are made of.
DETROPIA (Loki Films) Genre: Documentary. The rise, fall and resurrection of a great American city – Detroit to you and me – is explored. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.1 While the movie looks at Detroit specifically, this is a microcosm of what all of America is going through.
THE EYE OF THE STORM (Sycamore) Genre: Comedy. The children of an Australian matriarch gather at her bedside as she lays dying, but even in her last days the force of her personality remains undimmed. Release Strategy: New York City/Los Angeles. RATING: 2.4 Looks rather droll, kind of an Aussie drawing room comedy.
HELLO, I MUST BE GOING (Oscilloscope Laboratories) Genre: Romantic Comedy. A newly divorced woman finds refuge in her parent’s home where she takes up a passionate affair with a 19-year-old actor. Release Strategy: New York City/Los Angeles. RATING: 2.7 Funny and sexy, you’d almost think it was French.
THE IN-BETWEENERS (Wrekin Hill) Genre: Sex Comedy. Four young British men holiday in Greece for the opportunity of sex, drinking and…oh, more sex. Maybe.. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.9 If you think American Pie would have been even better with a British accent, this one’s for you.
KEEP THE LIGHTS ON (Music Box) Genre: Drama. Explores the relationship of two gay men starting in the late ’90s and its evolution through turbulent times in the LBGT community. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.3 Looks powerful and effecting judging on the trailer.
RAAZ 3 (Fox Star) Genre: Supernatural Horror. A fading Bollywood star resorts to black magic to usurp the position of a young starlet and maintain her standing. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.6 Looks pretty durn scary!
TOYS IN THE ATTIC (Hannover House) Genre: Animated Feature. A group of courageous Cold War-era toys cross international boundaries to rescue one of their own. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.4 Sounds a lot like Toy Story but it’s got an imaginative world all its own.
THE WORDS (CBS) Genre: Drama. A struggling author finally gets the acclaim and fortune for his newest novel; but he didn’t write it and there is one person who knows who did. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.5 A terrific cast but some of the publicity features makes me think the filmmakers are a little too full of themselves.
[REC] 3: GENESIS (Magnet) Genre: Horror. An outbreak of a disease that turns wedding guests into flesh-eating zombie ruins a wedding. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.9 Somewhere, George A. Romero is smiling.

SEPTEMBER 12, 2012

FRANCINE (Factory 25) Genre: Drama. A female ex-con settling in a small town substitutes animals for human relationships, with tragic results. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 3.3 No trailer but with Melissa Leo in the title role, that automatically makes it interesting to me.

SEPTEMBER 14, 2012

10 YEARS (Anchor Bay) Genre: Drama. A ten-year high school reunion sets the stage for a group of classmates to revert to the way they used to be in high school. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.1 An impressive young cast elevates this above standard The Big Chill wannabe fare.
ARBITRAGE (Roadside Attractions) Genre: Thriller. A billionaire hedge fund manager finds his professional and private lives falling apart. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.9 Saw this as part of Sundance USA earlier this year; you can read my review here.
BRAWLER (Self-Released) Genre: Action. Two brothers involved in the underground fight scene in New Orleans are set at each other’s throats when one sleeps with the other’s wife. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.6 Supposedly based on a true story but the trailer looks really cheesy.
FINDING NEMO 3D (Disney) Genre: Animated Feature. Clownfish Marlin goes looking for his son in an awe-inspiring undersea 3D world. Release Strategy: Wide (Standard, 3D) RATING: 3.8 Yet another Disney 3D cash grab.
LIBERAL ARTS (IFC) Genre: Comedy. A prodigal son returns to college to give a speech at his favorite professor’s retirement dinner only to fall for a comely co-ed. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.6 Terrific cast (Richard Jenkins, Elizabeth Olsen, Josh Radnor, Allison Janney) but kind of a been there done that plot.
THE MASTER (Weinstein) Genre: Drama. The right hand man of a charismatic leader of a faith-based intellectual organization begins to have doubts about his superior’s motives. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.0 From director Paul Thomas Anderson, who has some fascination with the subject.
RESIDENT EVIL: RETRIBUTION (Screen Gems) Genre: Horror. Alice takes the fight to the Umbrella Corporation while the T-Virus becomes a global pandemic. Release Strategy: Wide (Standard, 3D, IMAX 3D). RATING: 1.7 The last one might have been the best of the series; this one could be better.
STEP UP TO THE PLATE (CinemaGuild) Genre: Documentary. Legendary master chef Michel Bras passes his 3 Michelin star rated restaurant to his son Sebastian, which doesn’t prove to be as easy as you might think. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 2.6 I haven’t yet seen a foodie documentary that has really knocked my socks off.
STOLEN (Millennium) Genre: Action. A master thief trying to go straight must come up with $10 million or his kidnapped daughter will die. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.1 The trailer looked pretty…well, standard.
THE TROUBLE WITH THE TRUTH (Winning Edge) Genre: Drama. A divorced jazz musician finds he has feelings for is ex on the eve of their daughter’s wedding. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.0 The trailer is quite intriguing; sounds like some real insight to love, loss and adult relationships.

SEPTEMBER 19, 2012

TEARS OF GAZA (Self-Released) Genre: Documentary. A Norwegian documentarian, moved by the 2008 Gaza bombings, takes raw footage from amateur cameramen and cell phones and weaves it into a compelling story as it examines the effects of the Israeli military action on the civilians of the area. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 2.2 War is easy from an armchair; seeing what becomes of those caught in the crossfire is a whole other story.

SEPTEMBER 21, 2012

17 GIRLS (Strand) Genre: Drama. A group of 17 girls in a small French fishing village decide to get pregnant at the same time. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.7 Based on an incident that happened here in the States.
ABOUT CHERRY (IFC) Genre: Drama. A young girl with a difficult home life is about to graduate high school but winds up supporting herself through making porn movies instead. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.1 Looks with an unflinching eye at why young women do porn; I wonder if it’s lurid for its own sake or if it has a legitimate story to tell.
BACKWARDS (Required Viewing) Genre: Sports Drama. A driven female rower who quit the sport after not making the Olympic team returns to her high school alma mater to coach the same sport she just left. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.8 Kind of predictable looking judging on the trailer.
DIANA VREELAND: THE EYE HAS TO TRAVEL (Goldwyn) Genre: Documentary. This is the life of a woman whose stints as editor at Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue helped define fashion through the 20th century all the way until now. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.9 Again, I have no interest whatsoever in fashion; someone with a better understanding of it will like this more.
DREDD 3D (Lionsgate) Genre: Science Fiction. In a future when cops are called Judges because they dispense justice (including execution) on the spot, a Judge takes on a corrupt drug lord who is waging war against Mega City One. Release Strategy: Wide (Standard, 3D). RATING: 1.5 One of the great comic books of all time may be getting the movie version it deserves.
HEAD GAMES (Variance) Genre: Documentary. Examines the epidemic of concussion in American sports from youth sports to the professionals and it’s devastating impact on the lives of those afflicted by them. Release Strategy: New York City/Los Angeles. RATING: 2.3 From the director of Hoop Dreams and based on a book from former WWE wrestler and college football star Chris Nowinski comes this chilling look at an injury that destroys lives.
HOUSE AT THE END OF THE STREET (Relativity) Genre: Horror. A mom and her teenage daughter move into a home next door to one where a massacre took place; and of course the daughter falls for the sole survivor of the tragedy. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.6 Stars Jennifer Lawrence which is going to put a lot of butts into seats.
HOW TO SURVIVE A PLAGUE (Sundance Selects) Genre: Documentary. The story of how a group of activists with little to no scientific training helped virtually eradicate AIDS as a death sentence. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.4 The trailer is moving and awe-inspiring. Proof that change is possible if we are willing to fight for it.
MY UNCLE RAFAEL (Slater Brothers) Genre: Family Comedy. A reality TV producer inserts a faux Armenian uncle into the home of a dysfunctional family. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.6 It just looks…umm, unconvincing.
THE OTHER SON (Cohen Media Group) Genre: Drama. An Israeli and a Palestinian discover they were switched at birth. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 3.4 o trailer available as of this writing so can’t really comment on what the film looks like.
THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER (Summit) Genre: Teen Drama. A group of shy outcasts band together in high school to form lasting friendships in spite of all the challenges that growing up throws at them. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.2 Based on the Stephen Chbosky best-seller.
THREE STARS (First Run) Genre: Documentary. The daily lives of ten chefs, all of whom have been honored with three Michelin stars at their restaurants. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 3.1 Sounds intriguing but again, no trailer.
TROUBLE WITH THE CURVE (Warner Brothers) Genre: Sports Drama. An aging baseball scout losing his eyesight must rely on his daughter to help him evaluate one last prospect. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.6 Clint Eastwood is starring in it? That’s all I need to hear.
UNCONDITIONAL (Harbinger) Genre: Faith Drama. A best-selling children’s author finds her faith sorely tested when her husband is murdered. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 4.0 Inspired by true events, I’m told.
WAR OF THE BUTTONS (Weinstein) Genre: Drama. Two rival gangs from neighboring French villages must band together to save a Jewish girl from the Nazis. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.7 Courage comes in all shapes and sizes.
YOU MAY NOT KISS THE BRIDE (Freestyle) Genre: Romantic Comedy. A pet photographer is forced to marry a mob daughter but when she’s kidnapped on their honeymoon finds himself in the line of fire. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.5 Could go either way; might be funny, might be forced.

SEPTEMBER 26, 2012

THE WAITING ROOM (International Film Circuit) Genre: Documentary. One day in the life of a struggling inner city Oakland hospital. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 2.1 Looks powerful and moving. Why isn’t this playing in the Bay Area?

SEPTEMBER 28, 2012

THE BARRENS (Anchor Bay) Genre: Horror. A man taking his family on a camping trip may be losing his mind – or he may be actually being stalked by the infamous Jersey Devil. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.6 Kind of cliché but “True Blood” fan fave Stephen Moyer stars and it may well be a lot better than it sounds.
BRINGING UP BOBBY (Self-Released) Genre: Drama. A career con artist must choose between giving up her son or giving him up for a chance at a better life for them both. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.4 Written and directed by actress Famke Jansen and starring Milla Jovovich – actually the trailer looked pretty intriguing.
THE HOLE (Big Air) Genre: Horror. Some teens find a bottomless hole in their basement which once uncovered unleashes the most disturbing of nightmares. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.9 Joe Dante previously directed Gremlins and The Howling and this kind of fits right in with that level of horror.
HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA (Columbia) Genre: Animated Feature. Into a hotel for monsters run by Count Dracula and his daughter who chafes at his over-protectiveness comes the most scary creature of all – a human. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.3 Looks about as fun as any animated feature so far this year.
LOOPER (Tri-Star) Genre: Science Fiction. In the future, the mob will use time travel to send people they want to erase to assassins called Loopers which works really well until one Looper is given his future self to kill. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.3 A really intriguing premise for a movie.
THE OTHER DREAM TEAM (The Film Arcade) Genre: Sports Documentary. The improbable story of the Lithuanian Olympic basketball team, which went from being part of the Soviet Union to being sentimental favorites and underdog overachievers. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.5 Looks like the kind of movie that will bring a smile to your heart.
SOLOMON KANE (Radius) Genre: Fantasy. A damned 16th century soldier vows to live a life of peace to offset his cruel actions but when a darkness threatens the world he must once more take arms. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.1 Looks spectacular but has been sitting on the shelf for years which doesn’t inspire confidence.
WON’T BACK DOWN (20th Century Fox) Genre: Drama. A single mom takes it upon herself to improve the educational system in her poverty-stricken area on behalf of her child who is unable to read. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.3 Maggie Gyllenhaal and Viola Davis, two of the strongest actresses working today, star.

The Words, Resident Evil: Retribution, Dredd 3D, End of Watch, Trouble With the Curve, Hotel Transylvania, Looper, Won’t Back Down.