Four-Warned: June 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, 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.

2. SUPER 8 (1.3)

2. BUCK (1.2)

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

JUNE 3, 2011

BEAUTIFUL BOY (Anchor Bay) Genre: Drama. A family comes to grips with the tragedy of their son shooting up his school before killing himself. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.8 Stars the great Michael Sheen and the trailer is really compelling, by the way.
BEGINNERS (Focus) Genre: Dramedy. A young man comes to grips with the passing of his father through a relationship with a woman whose joie de vivre brings to mind his late dad. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.9 This is based on the director’s own relationship with his dad.
THE LAST MOUNTAIN (DADA) Genre: Documentary. Activists try to save a West Virginia mountain from being destroyed by a coal mining corporation. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.9 The trailer looked both intriguing and inspiring.
LOVE, WEDDING, MARRIAGE (IFC) Genre: Romantic Comedy. A high-strung marriage counselor attempts to save her parents’ marriage at the expense of her own. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.1 A decent cast but Mandy Moore playing high-strung could be too much for my nerves.
MR. NICE (MPI Media Group) Genre: Espionage Comedy – Maybe. The remarkable story of Howard Marks, a man of many hats. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.8 Don’t know very much about this movie but the cast (including Rhys Ifans and David Thewlis) is strong.
REJOICE AND SHOUT (Magnolia) Genre: Musical Documentary. A glimpse at the more than 200 year history of gospel music from its beginnings as slave songs into the influential celebratory sounds that it has become. Release Strategy: New York City (Opening in Los Angeles June 17). RATING: 3.8 Not really my cup of tea.
SUBMARINE (Weinstein) Genre: Dramedy. A young British adolescent tries to rekindle the romance between his feuding parents while trying to get laid himself. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.4 One of the more acclaimed movies to come out of this year’s Sundance Film Festival.
X-MEN: FIRST CLASS (20th Century Fox) Genre: Superhero. The origin story of Professor X, Magneto and the Xavier School for Gifted Children – the X-Men with an all-new cast. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.5 Kind of flew under the fanboy radar the past year but only now beginning to generate a positive buzz.

JUNE 8, 2011

ONE LUCKY ELEPHANT (Self-Released) Genre: Documentary. An elephant, unhappy performing in a circus, is taken by an understanding owner by various steps back into the wild. Release Strategy: New York City (Opening in Los Angeles June 24). RATING: 3.2 After seeing Water for Elephants, this might be a balance for circus life.

JUNE 10, 2011

BRIDE FLIGHT (Music Box) Genre: Drama. Three women fly to New Zealand from the Netherlands to meet as mail order brides and remain there for 50 years, the lives of all three entwined. Release Strategy: New York City/Los Angeles. RATING: 2.6 A terrific looking trailer although it sounds a little on the soap opera side.
THE CHAMELEON (LLeju) Genre: Thriller. The return of a kidnapped boy to his home brings more questions than answers and opens up a deeper mystery. Release Strategy: Limited.RATING: 2.9 A great cast (including Ellen Barkin) and the extra added attraction of a true story.
JUDY MOODY AND THE NOT BUMMER SUMMER (Relativity) Genre: Family. A young girl wants to turn her drab and dreary summer into the best ever – with the help of her eccentric aunt. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 3.9 Even though it has one of my favorite actresses in it (Heather Graham) the trailer looks just hopelessly awful.
JUST LIKE US (Cross Cultural) Genre: Comedy. A documentary about Arabic stand-up comedians from around the world. Release Strategy: New York City, Los Angeles and Washington DC (Expands June 17). RATING: 2.9 It’s always a good time for cross cultural understanding.
ROAD TO NOWHERE (Monterey Media) Genre: Thriller. A filmmaker making a movie about an actual murder casts an actress with a disturbing resemblance to the victim and in doing so opens the door for intrigue and connection to the original crime. Release Strategy: New York City (Opening in Los Angeles June 17). RATING: 3.0 Sounds a bit like the all-time classic thriller Laura.
SUPER 8 (Paramount) Genre: Horror Action. A group of young amateur filmmakers in 1979 capture a train derailment on film and discover there’s more to it than met the eye. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.3 Spielberg and J.J. Abrams; need I say more?
THE TRIP (IFC) Genre: Comedy. Two British comedians go on a road trip to review restaurants and try to make each other laugh. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.0 A hilarious trailer makes me want to see this much more than I would have ordinarily.
TROLLHUNTER (Magnet) Genre: Found Footage Horror. A group of young Norwegian student filmmakers find and follow a government-sanctioned troll hunter as he hunts down the dangerous creatures. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.0 Saw this at the Florida Film Festival and was completely blown away.
VIVA RIVA! (Music Box) Genre: Crime Drama. A small time African criminal scores a big cache of black market gasoline and unwittingly opens up a big can of worms. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.0 Sounds fascinating…I’m always interested in African cinema.

JUNE 15, 2011

KIDNAPPED (IFC) Genre: Thriller. A dysfunctional family living in an exclusive gated community in Madrid find themselves fighting for their lives when their home is invaded by brutal masked men. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 3.4 The movie is said to have been filmed in only a few shots, giving it a very real time feel – which seems kind of gimmicky to me.

JUNE 17, 2011

THE ART OF GETTING BY (Fox Searchlight) Genre: Romantic Comedy. A high school senior who has managed to avoid doing any real work his entire life meets a girl who sees more inside him. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.1 An interesting trailer but not enough to really pique my interest much.
BUCK (IFC) Genre: Documentary. A real-life “horse whisperer” and authentic cowboy is called upon to fix people with horse problems which turn out to be mostly horses with people problems. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.2 The trailer was incredibly moving and makes me hope against all odds that this will play in Orlando.
GREEN LANTERN (Warner Brothers) Genre: Superhero. A brash test pilot is given a powerful ring that he is meant to defend the universe with – assuming he can get his own act together first. Release Strategy: Wide (Standard, 3D). RATING: 1.0 I’ve been chomping at the bit to see this movie ever since it was first announced.
MR. POPPER’S PENGUINS (20th Century Fox) Genre: Family Comedy. A house painter with dreams of arctic exploration receives a penguin who multiplies into many whom he trains to performRelease Strategy: Wide. RATING: 3.2 Based on an award-winning children’s classic.
. MY AFTERNOONS WITH MARGUERITTE (Cohen) Genre: Comedy. An illiterate handyman is taught how to read by a little old lady, opening his mind to the possibility that he might be an intellectual after all. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.1 Gerard Depardieu is one of the most charming actors in history.
PAGE ONE: INSIDE THE NEW YORK TIMES (Magnolia) Genre: Documentary. As print journalism begins to be supplanted by the internet, the most venerated newspaper in America struggles to survive. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.2 Raises some very valid questions about the media in the 21st century and beyond.

JUNE 22, 2011

IF A TREE FALLS: A STORY OF THE EARTH LIBERATION FRONT (Oscilloscope) Genre: Documentary. An unprecedented look at the radical ecological terrorist group and one member in particular. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.6 When do the ends justify the means?

JUNE 24, 2011

A BETTER LIFE (Summit) Genre: Drama. A Hispanic father tries to protect his son from the harsh realities of living in an American barrio, all the while fighting to obtain a future better than his own. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.2 A compelling look at the American Dream from the director of About a Boy.
A LITTLE HELP  (Freestyle) Genre: Drama. A woman whose husband dies suddenly is comforted and aided by her mother and sister – and finds herself being drawn to her sister’s husband. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.8 Sounds a bit soap opera-esque on the surface but the trailer looked pretty interesting.
BAD TEACHER (Columbia) Genre: Comedy. A teacher who hates her job and is just killing time until she can marry a rich substitute teacher discovers an incentive program that will pay her enough for the boob job she needs to snare her prey. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.7 Looks Apatow-esque but not as effortlessly funny.
THE BEST AND THE BRIGHTEST (Big Indie) Genre: Comedy. A couple moves to New York City to get their five year old daughter into an exclusive private school and uses sexual blackmail and plagiarism to do it. Release Strategy: New York City/Los Angeles. RATING: 2.6 Neil Patrick Harris is one of my favorite comic actors.
CARS 2 (Disney*Pixar) Genre: Animated Feature. Mater gets mistaken for a superspy while he accompanies Lightning McQueen on an International Grand Prix. Release Strategy: Wide (Standard, 3D, IMAX 3D). RATING: 2.9 Cars was never one of my favorite Pixar releases and this one looks to be one of their weakest movies in a long time.
CONAN O’BRIEN CAN’T STOP (Abramorama) Genre: Documentary. During the late night talk show host’s contractually enforced TV/Internet/Radio performance ban following his “Tonight Show” exit, he toured the country with a sometimes angry stand-up act, captured here. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.8 A very revealing look at a performer not only filling a void in his life but exorcising a few demons in the process.
LEAP YEAR (ANO BISIESTO) (Strand) Genre: Drama. A young journalist in Mexico City embarks in a sado-masochistic affair and in the process leads her down a very dark path. Release Strategy: New York City (Opening in Los Angeles July 1). RATING: 2.4 The prurient interest is appealing but looks to be a film pushing the envelope of Mexican cinema.
NAMES OF THE LOVE (Music Box) Genre: Comedy. A beautiful liberal tries to literally seduce right wing men into seeing things her way. Release Strategy: New York City/Los Angeles. RATING: 2.7 The kind of political lobbying Bill Clinton would have loved.

JUNE 29, 2011

TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON (DreamWorks) Genre: Science Fiction. Sam Witwicky discover the Space Race of the ‘60s held a dark secret in regards to the Transformers and their hated Decepticon rivals. Release Strategy: Wide (Standard, 3D, IMAX). RATING: 2.3 Really didn’t like the last installment in the series but must admit the trailers for this one have looked much better.

Beginners, X-Men: First Class, Super 8, Green Lantern, A Better Life, Bad Teacher, Cars 2, Transformers: Dark of the Moon