New Releases for the Week of May 11, 2012


May 11, 2012

DARK SHADOWS

(Warner Brothers) Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Helena Bonham Carter, Jackie Earle Haley, Eva Green, Chloe Grace Moretz, Jonny Lee Miller, Bella Heathcote, Christopher Lee. Directed by Tim Burton

Young Barnabas Collins, an 18th century wastrel and scion of a wealthy New England family, makes the dreadful mistake of breaking a witch’s heart and is cursed therefore to vampirism and is consequently buried alive to think about the error of his ways. By the time he is released (inadvertently I might add) it is 1972 and the world is a far different place. He returns to his beloved Collinwood manor to discover the family has fallen upon hard times and the house is a ruin. He sets out to restore both, although there are forces conspiring that wish to keep the Collins family low.

See the trailer, featurettes, clips, interviews here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Release formats: Standard, IMAX

Genre: Gothic Comedy

Rating: PG-13 (for comic horror violence, sexual content, some drug use, language and smoking)

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

(Fox Searchlight) Judi Dench, Tom Wilkinson, Bill Nighy, Maggie Smith. A group of English  retirees answer an ad for a resort in India that is meant to cater to the needs of golden age residents with all of the lushest amenities and scintillating service. However when they arrive, they find a hotel and staff with grand ambitions but little else as the resort fails to meet even minimal standards. As the hotel begins to transform around them, the seniors discover that they themselves are being transformed.

See the trailer and clips here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Release formats: Standard

Genre: Comedy

Rating: PG-13 (for sexual content and language)  

The Cup

(Myriad) Brendan Gleeson, Stephen Curry, Daniel McPherson, Alice Parkinson. The Oliver brothers, sons of a family that is legendary in the Australian horse racing world, are at the top of their game, considered among the favorites to win the upcoming Melbourne Cup – the most prestigious horse race in Oz, the equivalent to the Kentucky Derby. However when one dies in a tragic accident mere days before the Cup, the other is heartbroken and considers leaving horse racing for good. However a respected trainer will encourage him to run the race in his brother’s honor, leading to an event that caused the entire horse racing world to hold it’s breath as one.

See the trailer here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Release formats: Standard

Genre: True Sports Drama

Rating: NR

Dangerous ISHHQ

(Reliance Big Picture) Karisma Kapoor, Jimmy Shergill, Rajiniesh Duggall, Divya Dutta.  A business tycoon and a supermodel are one of India’s most celebrated couples. When he is kidnapped, the crime becomes front-page news. But the police believe that even if the extravagant ransom is paid that he will not be returned alive anyway. With time ticking away, the supermodel must put herself in harm’s way to bring home the man she loves.

See the trailer here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Release formats: Standard

Genre: Thriller

Rating: NR

Girl in Progress

(Pantelion) Eva Mendes, Matthew Modine, Patricia Arquette, Cierra Ramirez. A single mom, robbed of her teen years by pregnancy, is spending all of her focus on her own needs and gives little to none to her daughter who desperately needs a mom. As her daughter becomes engaged in coming-of-age stories, she becomes convinced that the way to adulthood is through sex.

See the trailer here.

For more on the movie this is the website

Release formats: Standard

Genre: Dramedy

Rating: PG-13 (for mature thematic elements, sexual content including crude references, and drinking – all involving teens)  

God Bless America

(Magnet) Joel Murray, Tara Lynne Barr, Mackenzie Brooke Smith, Melinda Page Hamilton  A man, fed up with the venal nature of Americans, the trash quotient of reality TV and the general celebration of rude behavior, goes on a murderous rampage. He is cheered on by a teenage girl who becomes his willing accomplice, although reluctantly on his part. This is the new movie from comedian/director Bobcat Goldthwait and played at the recent Florida Film Festival. You can find the review here.

See the trailer and stream the movie online here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Release formats: Standard

Genre: Black Comedy

Rating: R (for strong violence and language including some sexual sequences)

Jiro Dreams of Sushi

(Magnolia) Jiro Ono, Yoshikazu Ono, Takashi Ono, Masuhiro Yamamoto. The world’s foremost sushi chef – and the only one in the world to be honored with three Michelin stars – operates from a tiny ten-seat restaurant in a Tokyo subway station. At 85, he works harder than most a quarter of his age. His sons are being prepared to succeed him but can anyone live up to the daunting legacy he has built? Another film screened at this year’s Florida Film Festival; you can read the review here.

See the trailer here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Release formats: Standard

Genre: Documentary

Rating: NR 

The 2012 Florida Film Festival


Well, the Florida Film Festival is over for another year and this one was by all accounts a good one. With record-setting ticket sales as well as the most movies ever presented by the Festival, it’s just an indication as to the general growth in popularity of film festivals nationwide and of this one in particular. Those looking for alternatives to the wide Hollywood releases in the same multiplexes are finding themselves drawn to the film festival environment.

Although the festival is over officially, here on Cinema365 it will continue on indefinitely. I will continue to review movies screened at the festival this year, including some I saw at the festival (as I await their release date to print their full review) and each one will be accompanied by the Florida Film Festival banner as you see above. Also for those films I missed seeing at the Festival as they appear here in Orlando I will review those as well; and for those I see on DVD or stream from wherever those will also receive the FFF/Cinema365 treatment.

There were some amazing films here at the festival this year, some of which have already been reviewed. My favorites were in this order;

The Lady
Monsieur Lazhar
Renee
The Intouchables
Headhunters
The Salt of Life
Turn Me On, Dammit
God Bless America
Where Do We Go Now?
Girl Model
Jiro Dreams of Sushi
Lovely Molly
Eye of the Hurricane

Look for coverage of the Festival to continue throughout the year. I’m already looking for the 2013 edition, which Cinema365 will once again be covering in depth.

In the meantime, our newest special feature is coming this weekend. It’s called Offshoring and will be our own mini-film festival of all non-American films. We’ll have movies from Israel, Norway, China, France and India during six days of global cinema coverage that will serve to celebrate the diversity and quality of films from all over the planet. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did watching and reviewing these films; I intend it to be a regular post-Florida Film Festival feature annually.

Look for our new American Experience mini-festival of movies celebrating the uniqueness of American life coming around the July 4th Holiday, and at the end of this week our annual summer movie preview. It’s busy around here at Cinema365 World HQ but it’s worth it as we gear up to further bring to you our passion for films of both the summer blockbuster and independent and foreign cinematic variety. Hope you like what you read!

Jiro Dreams of Sushi


Jiro Dreams of Sushi

The face of the world's greatest sushi chef.

(2011) Documentary (Magnolia) Jiro Ono, Yoshikazu Ono, Takashi Ono, Masuhiro Yamamoto, Hachiro Mizutani, Joel Robuchon. Directed by David Gelb

 

I’ll be the first to tell you that I adore sushi. I love the subtle taste of the fish blending in with the texture of the rice, the little surprising kick of wasabi and the salty tang of soy sauce. I’m not talking about the rolls that Americans tend to prefer (although I love those too) but of the more traditional Japanese form of fish and rice alone.

Jiro Ono owns Sukiyabashi Jiro. It is located in the bowels of a Tokyo subway station. It has ten seats and only ten. All he serves there is sushi. Jiro has been making sushi since he ran away from home at age 9. He’s 85 now and has been making sushi for 70 years. You’d think that in that amount of time he’d be pretty good at it.

Pretty good doesn’t even begin to describe what Jiro does, however and the good folks at the Michelin Guide agree. They’ve awarded Jiro and his restaurant three stars, the highest rating that the guide offers and Sukiyabashi Jiro is the only sushi restaurant to possess that rating. The citizens of Tokyo are fully aware of how good his sushi is; reservations are mandatory as you might guess and there’s a one-month wait to get in.

Jiro is one of those sorts who lives to work. He is passionate about sushi; he even has dreams about it, dreams he has written down and then turned into reality at his restaurant. He pursues perfection with single-minded determination that is at once both admirable and unsettling. He doesn’t seem to have any life outside of his restaurant; he works every day all day except for government holidays and even takes those off begrudgingly. His work ethic is admirable but you can’t help but wonder, is’t there something more to life than this?

Not for Jiro and he seems happy in his life. He has two sons; the eldest, Yoshikazu works with Jiro in the restaurant and is being seemingly groomed to take over the restaurant when Jiro retires but Yoshikazu is 60 himself. The youngest, Takashi, owns his own restaurant in one of Tokyo’s most exclusive neighborhoods. It’s a mirror image of Jiro’s (literally; Jiro is left-handed and Takashi right-handed and so they have their set-ups reversed from one another). Both men labor under the shadow of their father and neither seems to mind.

We are shown the methods of making sushi, accompanying Yoshikazu to Tokyo’s main fish market, to the instruction of the apprentices to the selection of the rice (Jiro gets a special kind that the rice vendor sells only to him because Jiro’s the only person who knows how to cook it properly). This isn’t, despite the title, a movie about sushi at all, although once you see the flavorful tidbits displayed lovingly in their dishes you might get a hankering for some.

What this is about is the pursuit of excellence and its cost. Jiro is a driven man, determined to be a national treasure in Japan and one of the most influential sushi purveyors of all time. Restaurant critic Masuhiro Yamamoto, talking about Jiro’s eldest son, says wistfully that when a man’s father is as influential and as important as Jiro is, even if he’s just as good as his father was he’ll never be able to measure up. He has to be twice as good in order to escape comparisons.

In fact, Yamamoto suggests, it was actually Yoshikazu who made and served the sushi to the Michelin representative. One never gets a sense from either of Jiro’s progeny that they have the same kind of drive their father possesses. Jiro may dream of sushi but his sons might have different dreams, even though they did both choose to join their father in the sushi business.

You see, it’s really difficult to tell because there’s no context here. We don’t see Jiro at home, only at the restaurant. When he is interviewed, it is about his career and about the business of making sushi. If Jiro collects stamps, loves baseball or enjoys cross-stitching as a hobby, we would never know because we only get to see this one aspect of him. I don’t know if this is all there is to the man but I kind of doubt it.

This is mostly a mostly fascinating and occasionally frustrating movie that hits most of the right notes. I would have liked a little bit more about Jiro (he does go to a class reunion in his native village and visits the grave of his father, who abandoned him when he was a young boy) but at the end of the day, he will be remembered for his sushi and that is mostly what we see here – his driving force and his one true love.

REASONS TO GO: A study of the relentless pursuit of excellence. Interesting father-son dynamic and a lovely peek into Japanese culture – and cuisine.

REASONS TO STAY: There’s no context here.

FAMILY VALUES: There are scenes showing the fish being sold in the fish market that might be traumatic for some tots who might love their goldfish but otherwise this is absolutely fine for all audiences.

TRIVIAL PURSUIT: Meals at Jiro’s sushi restaurant start at 30,000 Yen or about $370 U.S. dollars.

CRITICAL MASS: As of 4/18/12: Rotten Tomatoes: 98% positive reviews. Metacritic: 77/100. The reviews are exceptional.

COMPARISON SHOPPING: El Bulli: Cooking in Progress

SEAFOOD LOVERS: The film shows a number of the different types of seafood that Jiro uses in his restaurant, from massive tuna to tiger prawns to haddock – both as fresh catches in the fish market and as finished product in his restaurant.

FINAL RATING: 7/10

NEXT:God Bless America

Florida Film Festival 2012


That time of year is upon us as the Florida Film Festival will return for its 21st year on April 13th through April 22nd. The FFF’s unique combination of exciting films, delicious food and fun make it one of the most laid-back, enjoyable film festivals anywhere. It is also one of the best-curated – two out of the last three years the movie I chose as best of the year was one I saw right here at the Florida Film Festival. That gives you an idea of the quality of the films selected year after year.

Why go to a film festival? Aren’t they for film snobs so they can get together and watch subtitled and indie films while looking down their noses at mainstream movies? Maybe at some festivals but not this one. The people who attend the Florida Film Festival are film lovers; their only criterion is that the movie have something to offer. Sure, they might turn up their noses at movies that aren’t made well or don’t have anything in particular to say but for the most part the people who are regular attendees at the FFF are people who see a lot of movies, mainstream as well as independent.

And these aren’t all movies about 20-something hipsters in complicated relationships while living in lofts in New York City; at the FFF you’ll find children’s films, horror movies, classic films, action films, hysterically funny shorts, compelling documentaries and musicals. There is literally something for every taste in movies and every kind of story imaginable. If you are a little open-minded and like to have a good time, this is the party you’re missing and trust me, it’s one you want to go to.

There are special food events where celebrity chefs show off their skills; there are movies that take special pride in our Florida home as Florida-bred filmmakers show why this area is rapidly becoming a spawning ground for great filmmakers. There are midnight movies showing the best in genre filmmaking from around the world. There are short films from around the world and around the corner, both animated and live action (and just for the record, the most recent winner of the Oscar for Animated Short Subject was screened at last year’s Florida Film Festival).

So what do they have in store for us this year? A wealth of great movies – over 170 features will be screened during this year’s Festival. Some of the ones I’m looking forward to are Renee, the locally made film covering the story of Renee Yohe, the inspiration for the charity group To Write Love On Her Arms (it is also the opening night film) and Jiro Dreams of Sushi, a documentary covering the world’s only three Michelin star-rated sushi chef. There’s also the latest horror film from Don Coscarelli (auteur of Phantasm and Bubba Ho-Tep) called John Dies in the End. There’s the Norwegian sexual coming of age film Turn Me On, Dammit! and the Canadian schoolroom drama Monsieur Lazhar (which was also nominated for a Best Foreign Film Oscar this year although it didn’t win), not to mention the Paul Simon documentary Under African Skies and the sophisticated animated feature A Cat in Paris.

Some that I’m planning to see (among most of the ones above as well) include Salt of the Earth (the sequel to Mid-August Lunch), the thriller Headhunters, Luc Besson’s biopic of Aung San Suu Kyi (the pro-democracy activist and Nobel laureate under house arrest in Myanmar) The Lady and the French box office record breaker The Intouchables. Those whose tastes lean towards classic movies will be thrilled to hear that among those classics screening this year include Marriage Italian Style, To Kill a Mockingbird, Monty Python and the Holy Grail and Liberty Heights.

Of note is the Rick Springfield documentary Affair of the Heart. Made by local documentary director Sylvia Caminer, it set a Florida Film Festival record by selling out it’s Thursday night screening in less than an hour (it doesn’t hurt that Springfield will be making an appearance at the screening). There are a few tickets left for the Saturday noon screening on April 14th if you’re still looking to see it – it’s supposed to be an amazing documentary and from the clips I’ve seen it is going to appeal to his fans and non-fans alike.

And I could go on and on – but you get the point. There are some really good movies, several of which are most likely destined for my year-end top ten. There is the good food not only at the Enzian and Eden Bar but also at events hosted by Luma of Winter Park, Whole Foods Market and of course the Opening Night Party, featuring food from some of the best restaurants in Central Florida. There are great venues including the Enzian itself, The Regal in Winter Park Village and Central Park in downtown Winter Park. You can find more ticket information for the Festival and information about all the movies and shorts being screened at their website here.

So keep an eye on Cinema365 for more information about upcoming celebrity appearances at the Festival, reviews of the movies being screened and further preview information about the Festival. This year looks to be bigger and better than ever and we wouldn’t want you to miss a thing.

Tickets for individual films run at $10 apiece (once they go on sale – see website for details) and packages start as low as $50 (and usually include goodies like posters or programs) or you can go whole hog and get yourself a pass which gets you into any and/or all screenings. Those start at $450 and go up to $1000 a pass (for the film lover who has everything – and wants more). So yeah, ten bucks a ticket isn’t all that bad and even if you just pick a single film to see, you’ll be hooked for life. There’s nothing quite like a film festival and there are none quite like the Florida Film Festival. See for yourself – you’ll be thanking me for it later.

Four-Warned: March 2012


March 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.

FOUR TO SEE
1. JOHN CARTER (1.2)
2. SALMON FISHING IN THE YEMEN (1.4)
3. THE HUNGER GAMES (1.5)
4. WRATH OF THE TITANS (1.7)

FOUR TO SEEK OUT (FILMS NOT IN WIDE RELEASE)
1. BLACK BUTTERFLIES (1.1)
2. THE SALT OF LIFE (1.3)
TIE. THE RAID: REDEMPTION (1.3)
4. JIRO DREAMS OF SUSHI (1.4)
TIE. DETACHMENT (1.4)

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

MARCH 2, 2012

BEING FLYNN (Focus) Genre: Dramedy. A father and son, writers both and long estranged are forced to come to terms with one another with the father is evicted and needs a place to stay. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.3 In the trailer De Niro looks at the top of his form.
BLACK BUTTERFLIES (Tribeca) Genre: Biographical Drama. A dramatization of the tormented and ultimately tragic life of poet Ingrid Jonker. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.1 Jonker was one of the most amazing poets of the 20th century; the trailer has scintillating cinematography and the movie looks like it could be one of those movies that sneaks up on you and stays with you always.
BOY (Paladin) Genre: Dramedy. A young man living on New Zealand’s rural East Coast in the 1980s develops dual heroes; his father (in jail for robbery) and Michael Jackson, merging the two together in his mind. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.6 I’m just all Michael Jacksoned out.
DR. SEUSS’ THE LORAX (Universal) Genre: Animated Feature. A young man seeking to impress the girl he’s sweet on seeks a mythical creature said to protect the ecology of the world. Release Strategy: Wide (Standard, 3D, IMAX 3D). RATING: 2.2 Danny DeVito as the voice of the Lorax is inspired casting.
LET THE BULLETS FLY (Well Go/Variance) Genre: Action Comedy. A legendary bandit and a thief vie with a vicious crime lord for the rule of a small village i 1920s rural China with escalating attempts at violent one-upmanship. Release Strategy: New York City/Los Angeles. RATING: 2.5 Ridiculously violent, this is the all-time box office champeen in China.
PROJECT X (Warner Brothers) Genre: Teen Sex Comedy. A high school loser dreams of popularity by staging the ultimate party. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 3.8 Teens acting like morons. Yeah, I want to waste an hour and a half of my life seeing that.
THE SALT OF LIFE (Zeitgeist) Genre: Comedy. A middle-aged Italian man looks for love in all the wrong places. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.3 This is a sequel to the wonderful Mid-August Lunch.
SNOWTOWN (IFC Midnight) Genre: Thriller. A neighborhood watch in a rough Australian suburb morphs into vigilantes who torture and kill those they consider deviants. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 1.9 Looks stark, brutal and utterly mesmerizing.
TIM AND ERIC’S BILLION DOLLAR MOVIE (Magnet) Genre: Comedy. The madcaps from the “Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job” tackle the big screen with a ridiculous budget. Release Strategy: New York/Los Angeles. RATING: 3.4 The trailer was, sad to say, non-impressive to me.

MARCH 9, 2012

A THOUSAND WORDS (Paramount) Genre: Comedy. A literary agent with a penchant for manipulation discovers that he only has one thousand words left to him before he dies. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.9 The trailer looked good but frankly I’m wary of these kinds of Eddie Murphy comedies.
ATTENBERG (Strand) Genre: Drama. A young woman who relates to people only through documentaries and the music of an avant garde rock band must cope with her father’s impending death and her own burgeoning sexuality. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 2.6 Seems a bit artsy fartsy on the surface but I couldn’t help but be intrigued.
THE BALLAD OF GENESIS AND LADY JAYE (Adopt) Genre: Documentary. The story of Genesis P-Orridge, influential musical presence of Throbbing Gristle and Psychic TV and his attempt to become a single pandrogynous entity with his wife Lady Jane Breyer P-Orridge. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.1 Very odd but strangely moving.
BENDING THE RULES (WWE) Genre: Action Comedy. A New Orleans-based Assistant District Attorney must join forces with a cop he tried to put in jail in order to solve the mystery of his own stolen car. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.9 A vehicle for Wrestling superstar Adam “Edge” Copeland; no trailer available when this was written.
THE DECOY BRIDE (IFC) Genre: Romantic Comedy. A Hollywood actress attempting to get married in a small Scottish town hires a decoy bride to throw off the paparazzi who have descended on the village like a plague of locusts. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.3 The trailer was extremely charming and has Doctor Who’s David Tennant as an additional bonus.
FOOTNOTE (Sony Classics) Genre: Comedy. Two rival academics, both father and son, have to re-evaluate their motivations when the father wins a prestigious award. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.0 Looks like a fairly quirky sense of humor here.
FRIENDS WITH KIDS (Roadside Attractions) Genre: Comedy. A group of friends see their lives affected as several couples within the group start having kids. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.9 Look like a ton of other movies we’ve seen about young people “growing up” when they have kids. Yawn.
GOOD FOR NOTHING (Screen Media) Genre: Western. An outlaw finds himself facing erectile dysfunction when trying to force himself on his beautiful kidnap victim. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.3 An offbeat Kiwi comedy set in the Old West…Western New Zealand.
JIRO DREAMS OF SUSHI (Magnolia) Genre: Documentary. The world’s greatest sushi chef yearns to pass on his legacy to his son, who may or may not be up for it. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.4 Not so much about sushi as it is about the pursuit of perfection.
JOHN CARTER (Disney) Genre: Science Fiction. A Civil War hero finds himself transported to Mars where he becomes embroiled in a different war. Release Strategy: Wide (Standard, 3D, IMAX 3D). RATING: 1.2 Edgar Rice Burroughs’ other series has been crying out for a big screen rendition for nearly 100 years.
PLAYBACK (Magnet) Genre: Horror. A group of high school students researching their small town’s history unwittingly release an ancient evil. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.6 Looks like it is influenced by The Ring films.
SALMON FISHING IN THE YEMEN (CBS) Genre: Dramedy. When a visionary sheikh hatches a plan to introduce salmon fishing in Yemen, a Scottish fisheries expert is drawn into the crazy scheme, altering the lives of everyone around it. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.4 Sounds kind of meh on paper but the trailer really sold me on this movie.
SAVIORS IN THE NIGHT (Menemsha) Genre: True Life Drama. The friend of a Jewish war hero of World War I takes in his wife and daughter when the Nazis demand that his family be arrested. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.3 Elements of the Anne Frank story although not as well-known – and just as true.
SEEKING JUSTICE (Anchor Bay) Genre: Action. A man whose wife is brutally assaulted agrees to let a complete stranger exact vigilante justice in return for a future favor. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.4 This is another Nicolas Cage film which might be future fodder for Conan O’Brien although he seems pretty restrained in the trailer.
SILENT HOUSE (Open Road) Genre: Horror. A young woman and her father renovating their vacation house are beset by supernatural forces. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.5 A remake of an Argentine film which is itself supposedly based on true events.
SOUND OF NOISE (Magnolia) Genre: Comedy. A cop from a long family of musicians must face a group of crazed renegade musicians intent on bringing about a musical apocalypse. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.1 Strange doesn’t even begin to cover it.

MARCH 14, 2012

GERHARD RICHTER PAINTING (Kino Lorber) Genre: Documentary. One of the world’s greatest living painters allows filmmakers free access to his studio. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 3.8 A look at the creative process of a painter who has been as influential to art as anyone alive.
PRAY FOR JAPAN (Studio DEEN) Genre: Documentary. Volunteers aiding with the tsunami/earthquake-ravaged Japanese coast take on the challenges of rebuilding the area in the face of catastrophic devastation. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.0 Looks very moving and beautifully filmed.

MARCH 16, 2012

21 JUMP STREET (Columbia) Genre: Comedy. The iconic 80s young people cop show which starred Johnny Depp gets a remake starring Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill – with a decidedly comedic bent. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.7 Could be funny or could be hideous – either way might benefit from a cameo by Depp.
CASA DE MI PADRE (Pantelion) Genre: Comedy. A man who has worked on his father’s Mexican ranch all his life falls in love with his brother’s wife and finds himself smack dab in the middle of a war between rival druglords. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.9 Doesn’t sound like a comedy does it? I got four words for ya – Will Ferrell’s in it.
DELICACY (Cohen) Genre: Romance. A Parisian businesswoman mourning the loss of her soulmate finds solace from an unexpected source. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.1 More lighthearted French romance and with the lustrous Audrey Tautou, what could go wrong?
DETACHMENT (Tribeca) Genre: Drama. A substitute teacher stays emotionally insulated by never staying in one place long but finds himself bonding with a troubled student in a public school. Release Strategy: New York City (opens in Los Angeles March 23). RATING: 1.4 Could be Oscar-caliber work for star Adrien Brody who is supported by a superb cast.
THE FP (Drafthouse) Genre: Urban Comedy. Dueling gangs of dancers face off in a battle of neon-enhanced break dancing. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.9 Sort of like Tron if it had taken place inside Dance Dance Revolution.
FREE MEN (Film Movement) Genre: Drama. A Muslim Algerian living in Vichy France makes friends with a Jewish singer and joins the resistance at great personal risk. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 2.8 Includes the great Michael Lonsdale in the cast.
JEFF, WHO LIVES AT HOME (Paramount Vantage) Genre: Drama. A slacker in a constant state of competition with his successful brother shows his long-suffering mom and bro the meaning of true life success. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.4 A cast that includes Jason Segel, Ed Helms, Susan Sarandon and Judy Geer should have earned wide release for this.
THE KID WITH A BIKE (Sundance Selects) Genre: Dramedy. An emotionally troubled 11-year-old boy abandoned by his father holds on to a bike as the last vestige of his former life even as a kindly hairdresser yearns to give him a new life. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.5 A Golden Globe nominee and award winner at Cannes, looks powerful and moving.
NATURAL SELECTION (Cinema Guild) Genre: Comedy. A devout Christian housewife discovers that her dying husband has a 23-year-old illegitimate son; she sets out to bring his progeny to see him one last (or is it first) time. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.1 Trailer looks intriguing; Rachael Harris supposedly gives a career-making performance which I can believe.

MARCH 23, 2012

4:44 LAST DAY ON EARTH (IFC) Genre: Science Fiction. A couple face the final hours of Earth resolved that they are about to die. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.4 The latest from acclaimed director Abel Ferrara.
BRAKE (IFC) Genre: Action. A man is trapped in the trunk of a car and faces death unless he gives away the location that the President is taken in the event of a terrorist attack. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.7 Looks like a taut, suspenseful action thriller; wish it were playing wide.
THE DEEP BLUE SEA (Music Box) Genre: Romance. A woman leaves a life of luxury and privilege for a passionate but unstable existence with the man she loves. Release Strategy: New York City/Los Angeles. RATING: 2.9 Looks a bit sudsy but had director Terrence Davies and star Rachel Weisz going for it.
THE HUNGER GAMES (Lionsgate) Genre: Science Fiction. In the future, each of the twelve districts of the nation of Panem must send two representatives to fight to the death in the Hunger Games each year; plucky Katness must use all her skills to survive the battle. Release Strategy: Wide (Standard, IMAX). RATING: 1.5 May be the next big franchise with Harry Potter gone and Twilight about to go.
MUSICAL CHAIRS (Paladin) Genre: Urban Romance. When a young girl’s dreams of ballroom dancing are cut short by a tragic accident, the custodian at her studio introduces her to the world of wheelchair dancing. Release Strategy: New York City (opening in Los Angeles March 30). RATING: 4.0 There is no way you could drag me to see this one.
OCTOBER BABY (Goldwyn) Genre: Propaganda. A young woman discovers that she was adopted after an attempt at being aborted. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 4.0 The trailer made it clear that this is a polemic against abortion; see it at your own risk.
THE RAID: REDEMPTION (Sony Classics) Genre: Action. When an elite assault team is discovered raiding a dilapidated apartment building that is really a fortified stronghold for an Indonesian druglord, they must fight their way out through the worst criminals in Southeast Asia. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.3 Has been an international sensation and will be shortly be given the Hollywood remake treatment.
THE TROUBLE WITH BLISS (Variance) Genre: Drama. A 35-year-old slacker starts a relationship with the precocious 18-year-old daughter of a friend. Release Strategy: New York City (opening in Los Angeles March 30). RATING: 2.8 Sounds creepy on paper but actually looks like a fairly interesting movie.

MARCH 28, 2012

THE ISLAND PRESIDENT (Goldwyn) Genre: Documentary. The President of the Maldives fights to keep his island nation above water – literally – as global climate change threatens to raise the sea level above the waterline of his entire country. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 1.5 An inspiring story about the rare politician willing to take on the enormous challenges that could destroy all human life as we know it.

MARCH 30, 2012

BULLY (Weinstein) Genre: Documentary. The rising tide of high school and internet bullying gets a timely documentary examination. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.8 Currently appealing an R Rating so that it might be shown in schools where it can do some good.
DARK TIDE (Wrekin Hill) Genre: Action. A shark expert who loses a friend to a shark attack on her watch is made an offer to take a Eurotrash millionaire into shark-infested waters without a cage. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.0 Halle Berry in a bikini – what more do you need?
GOON (Magnet) Genre: Sports Comedy. A bartender is plucked from obscurity to become the enforcer on a minor league hockey team. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.5 Slap Shot much?
INTRUDERS (Millennium) Genre: Horror. A mysterious attacker terrorizes children in two separate countries. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.3 From the twisted mind of director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo comes this horror thriller.
L!FE HAPPENS (PMK*BNC) Genre: Comedy. A woman who loves to party parties a little too hard and winds up pregnant; her lifestyle is turned on its head but she discovers that parenting has its own rewards. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.3 Couldn’t find the trailer for this; could be very cliché or interesting if they do it right.
LOSING CONTROL (PhD) Genre: Romantic Comedy. A scientist decides to apply scientific methods to dating in order to determine if the man who wants to marry her is “the One”. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.7 Looks a little bit on the precious side; good concept, though.
MIRROR MIRROR (Relativity) Genre: Fantasy. A beautiful woman pisses off a primping, preening queen who wants to be more beautiful than anybody. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.4 Julia Roberts as an evil queen with Nathan Lane as her flunky? Inspired casting is all I can say.
TURN ME ON DAMMIT! (New Yorker) Genre: Sex Dramedy. A 15-year-old Norwegian girl in a small town finds her burgeoning sexuality marks her as an outcast. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.6 A very rare look at female teen sexuality, although the trailer is a bit of a non-sequitir.
WRATH OF THE TITANS (Warner Brothers) Genre: Fantasy. When Hades and Ares conspire to free the Titans from their prison on Mt. Tartarus, Perseus is pressed back into duty to save the world and the Gods as well. Strategy: Wide (Standard, 3D and IMAX). RATING: 1.7 The first movie wasn’t so bad, although the 3D conversion was godawful.

SCHEDULED TO BE REVIEWED HERE AS NEW RELEASES
Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax, A Thousand Words, John Carter, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, 21 Jump Street, The Hunger Games, Mirror Mirror, Wrath of the Titans