Four-Warned: March 2014


The Grand Budapest HotelEvery 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.

Most of the movies will never play theatrically where you live (unless you live in either New York or Los Angeles) but many of those that won’t will be available through Video-on-Demand; check with your local cable or satellite providers to find out if any specific movie is available through that medium.

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. 300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE (1.3)
2. NOAH (1.5)
3. DIVERGENT (1.6)
4. SABOTAGE (1.9)

FOUR TO SEEK OUT (FILMS NOT IN WIDE RELEASE)
1. THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL (1.0)
2. THE MISSING PICTURE (1.2)
3. ENEMY (1.4)
TIE. JOURNEY TO THE WEST (1.4)
TIE. CHEAP THRILLS (1.4)
TIE. THE RAID 2 (1.4)

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

MARCH 5, 2014

PARTICLE FEVER (BOND360/Abramorama) Genre: Documentary. Scientists embark on the most expensive and ambitious experiment in human history to find the Higgs boson – the so-called God particle, responsible for the creation of matter after the Big Bang. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.7 The science geek in me is absolutely fascinated.

MARCH 7, 2014

300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE (Warner Brothers) Genre: Swords and Sandals. The Persians, fresh from their victory at Thermopylae, launch a massive invasion of Greece by the sea. Release Strategy: Wide (Standard, 3D, IMAX). RATING: 1.3 Not sure how this will fare without Zack Snyder at the helm but looking forward to it anyway.
A FAREWELL TO FOOLS (Monterey Media) Genre: Dramedy. In a small Romanian village during World War II, a German soldier is murdered and the villagers scramble to give them a culprit before the morning comes and random villagers are shot. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.3 A dark farce about human nature starring Gerard Depardieu and Harvey Keitel – should be pretty good.
BETHLEHEM (Adopt) Genre: Drama. The complex relationship between an Israeli secret service agent and his teenage Palestinian informant grows strained. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.0 Looks extremely tense and gritty; could be another great film coming out of Israel.
THE FACE OF LOVE (IFC) Genre: Romance. Several years after the loss of her husband, a widow meets a man who is the exact double of her deceased husband. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.9 An amazing cast includes Annette Bening, Ed Harris and Robin Williams.
THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL (Fox Searchlight) Genre: Comedy. In between the wars, a legendary concierge at a grand European hotel becomes the focus of an investigation of a priceless stolen painting and a vast family fortune. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.0 The latest from Wes Anderson looks to be his best yet.
GRAND PIANO (Magnet) Genre: Thriller. A one-time classical piano prodigy whose career has been derailed by stage fright finds himself as a target at his triumphant return concert. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.5 Reminds me a little bit of Phone Booth but with John Cusack and Elijah Wood heading it up, I’m willing to give it a shot.
HAUNT (IFC Midnight) Genre: Horror. When a pair of teens explore their budding sexuality, they inadvertently trigger the opening of an alternate and thoroughly frightening dimension in the house. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.1 Looks like a pretty good haunted house flick.
IN FEAR (Anchor Bay) Genre: Horror. A young couple get lost in a maze of country roads and are stalked by an unseen tormentor. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.9 A gripping psychological horror film from the UK that looks to be one of the most nightmare-inducing films of the year.
JOURNEY TO THE WEST (Magnolia) Genre: Martial Arts. In a world plagued by demons, a young demon hunter must atone for his sins and find the meaning of Greater Love to save the people of the world. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.4 Stephen Chow, the director of Kung Fu Hustle, directs an ode to the martial arts fantasies of Tsui Hark.
MR. PEABODY AND SHERMAN (DreamWorks) Genre: Animated Feature. The world’s smartest dog must set things right when his boy and an out-of-control friend accidentally rip a hole in time. Release Strategy: Wide (Standard, 3D). RATING: 2.6 Based on the beloved Jay Ward cartoons of the 60s, must walk a tightrope between pleasing modern audiences and retaining the elements that its original audience loved.
SPECIAL I.D. (Well Go USA) Genre: Martial Arts. An undercover cop placed deep in a ruthless crimelord’s organization must risk everything to protect his own family and secret identity. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.7 Star Donnie Yen is considered to be the heir to the throne of Jackie Chan and Jet Li as Asia’s leading action star.
TOTAL SIYAPAA (Reliance) Genre: Bollywood. A young man’s attempts to impress a well-to-do Indian family living in London whose daughter he is eager to marry begin to unravel when they discover that he is Pakistani. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.9 Light, fluffy and entertaining – like most Bollywood productions.
WAR OF THE WORLDS GOLIATH (Anderson Digital) Genre: Animated Feature. After the events of H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds, the Martians attack again and the surviving humans use their leftover technology to defend themselves.. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.1 A great idea but the animation looks like a cross between mediocre anime and ten year old videogame.

MARCH 14, 2014

THE ART OF THE STEAL (Radius) Genre: Crime Comedy. An art thief agrees to pull one last job but gets double crossed by his untrustworthy brother. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.3 The kind of movie I grew up watching Kurt Russell rock; It’s really good to see him back in the saddle again.
BAD WORDS (Focus) Genre: Comedy. The National Spelling Bee is up in arms over a ruthless 40-year-old who uses a loophole to enter and a take-no-prisoners approach to crush his competition. Release Strategy: Limited (expanding March 21, opening wide March 28). RATING: 2.0 Jason Bateman makes his directing debut with a smart move – casting Jason Bateman in the lead.
BETTER LIVING THROUGH CHEMISTRY (Goldwyn) Genre: Dark Comedy. The drug-fueled extramarital affair of a small town pharmacist turns his life upside down. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.2 I’ll see Sam Rockwell in just about anything.
BEWAKOOFIYAAN (Yash Raj) Genre: Bollywood. The father-in-law of a financial whiz kid doesn’t think he’s good enough for his spendthrift daughter. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.9 Bollywood films are beginning to make a box office impact in the US and this might be the year they truly break out.
BIG MEN (Self-Released) Genre: Documentary. A documentary filmmaker follows an oil exploration crew as they negotiate with warlords in Ghana and make a remarkable discovery. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.5 Sounds fascinating but couldn’t find a trailer online.
THE COLD LANDS (Cinereach) Genre: Drama. After his fiercely self-reliant mom dies unexpectedly, an eleven-year-old boy is forced to make an unlikely alliance with a pot-smoking drifter. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 2.5 Sounds like an interesting premise but I couldn’t find a viable trailer anywhere online for it.
DARK HOUSE (Paladin) Genre: Horror. A house with a sinister presence calls to a man with a terrifying gift – and at stake is the life of his unborn son. Release Strategy: New York City/Los Angeles. RATING: 2.5 Once again, couldn’t find a trailer for this film online.
THE DEN (IFC Midnight) Genre: Thriller. While researching underground internet chat sites, a grad student witnesses a vicious murder. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.3 I like the premise an awful lot; I hope they do something with it.
ENEMY (A24) Genre: Thriller. After discovering a minor actor in a film is his exact double, a university lecturer engages him in a dangerous struggle for identity. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.4 I like Jake Gyllenhaal a lot and Denis Villeneuve, director of Prisoners, is one of the most promising talents out there.
ERNEST & CELESTINE (GKIDS) Genre: Animated Feature. The unlikely friendship between a bear and a mouse. Release Strategy: New York City/Los Angeles. RATING: 1.8 This Oscar-nominated feature from the makers of The Triplets of Belleville is absolutely gorgeous animation.
EXPOSED (Self-Released) Genre: Documentary. Performance art and burlesque meld as artists use their own nude bodies as a canvas. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 2.6 Controversial filmmaker Beth B. takes on a subject of the sometimes blurry line between art and pornography.
GUILTY OF ROMANCE (Olive) Genre: True Life Drama. A disturbing murder links three Japanese women – a faithful wife, a police detective and a college professor – in a tale of scandal and sex that shocked Japan in the 1990s. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 2.0 Acclaimed Japanese director Shion Sono uses an over-saturated color palate and a willingness to “go there” to provoke and disturb.
HIMIZU (Olive) Genre: Drama. Abandoned and abused by his parents, a teenage boy and his girlfriend embark on a spree of killing of those who cause harm to society. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 2.6 Loosely based on a best-selling manga, this one has all the earmarks of a great Yakuza film.
LE WEEK-END (Music Box) Genre: Drama. An older couple revisits Paris for the first time since their honeymoon in an effort to rekindle their marriage. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.7 Jim Broadbent and Jeff Goldblum are among my favorite actors.
NEED FOR SPEED (Screen Gems) Genre: Action. An ex-con imprisoned for a . Release Strategy: Wide (Standard, 3D). RATING: 2.9 I’m wondering if this will turn out to be an action version of Cannonball Run.
ON MY WAY (Cohen Media Group) Genre: Drama. An aging beauty queen facing the pitfalls of life turns a short drive to clear her mind into a road trip. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 1.7 Catherine Deneuve proves that not only is she still beautiful but she is still one of the best actresses ever.
PATRICK: EVIL AWAKENS (Phase 4) Genre: Horror. A new nurse in a psych ward becomes fascinated by a brain dead patient who is the subject of some cruel experiments, but finds herself embroiled in a horror beyond imagining. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.2 Looks like it could be a taut little scarefest.
THE RIGHT KIND OF WRONG (Magnolia) Genre: Romance. A man famous for the flaws his ex-wife blogs about falls madly in love with a woman on her way to her own wedding. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.1 Actually looks kind of amusing and any movie with Catherine O’Hara in it is bound to at least be worth a look.
SHIRIN IN LOVE (Sideshow) Genre: Romantic Comedy. A young Iranian-American woman betrothed to a wealthy Beverly Hills plastic surgeon falls for an enigmatic lighthouse keeper in Northern California instead. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.0 For some reason the trailer didn’t exactly reel me in.
TEENAGE (Oscilloscope Labs) Genre: Documentary. A look at the inner thoughts and secret dreams of teenagers of the first half of the 20th century as told through diary and journal entries. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.1 A paean to adolescent outrage – and teenage arrogance.
TYLER PERRY’S SINGLE MOM’S CLUB (Lionsgate) Genre: Dramedy. Five single moms struggling to make it form an impromptu support group and their new-found sisterhood helps them overcome their personal obstacles to happiness. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 3.5 Tyler Perry strikes again!
U WANT ME 2 KILL HIM? (Weinstein) Genre: Thriller. Two 16-year-old boys trying to get vengeance for the death of a friend attract the attention of MI5. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.4 Based on a true story, this looks like another amazing British thriller.
VERONICA MARS (Warner Brothers) Genre: Mystery. Having moved on from her amateur sleuth days in high school, Veronica is drawn in to that life again when a friend is suspected of murder. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.8 You have to admire the persistence of the creative crew and their loyal fan base for even getting this made.

MARCH 19, 2014

THE MISSING PICTURE (Strand) Genre: Documentary. A courageous filmmaker attempts to fill in the blanks using archival footage and intricately carved figurines to depict the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.2 An Oscar nominee for Best Foreign Language film, this looks to rival this year’s The Act of Killing.

MARCH 21, 2014

50 TO 1 (Self-Released) Genre: Sports Drama. A group of New Mexico cowboys take on horse racing’s elite when their horse qualifies against all odds for the Kentucky Derby. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.1 Looks like a fairly typical sports underdog movie with faith-based overtones.
A BIRDER’S GUIDE TO EVERYTHING (Screen Media) Genre: Comedy. When a teenage birding fanatic thinks he’s made the discovery of a lifetime, he risks everything on a road trip to secure his place in birding history. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.1 A coming of age film that could be either illuminating or another “kids-are-smarter-than-adults” hack job.
ANITA (Goldwyn) Genre: Documentary. The story of Anita Hill whose testimony against U.S. Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas ignited a firestorm of controversy. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.7 That victims of sexual harassment are still often the ones put on trial is absolutely shameful.
BLOOD TIES (Roadside Attractions) Genre: Thriller. Two brothers – one a cop, one a criminal – find their lives inevitably entwined in 1970s New York City. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.2 Looks gripping and with a cast that includes Clive Owens, Zoe Saldana, James Caan and Billy Crudup this could be one of those sleeper must-sees.
CHEAP THRILLS (Drafthouse) Genre: Thriller. A down-on-his-luck family man and an old friend are roped into performing increasingly twisted dares in order to make some cash. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.6 A delightfully twisted black comedy that appeals to my inner jackass.
DIVERGENT (Summit) Genre: Science Fiction. In a dystopian future when people are segregated by their dominant personality type, a young woman who is unclassifiable – divergent – falls in with a revolutionary underground. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.6 One gets the sense that these folks want to be the next Hunger Games franchise.
THE FRENCH MINISTER (Self-Released) Genre: Comedy. A frenetic French minister hires a young writer to do his speech writing in the midst of a global crisis. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 2.0 Based on a French graphic novel and with the incredible Bernard Tavernier at the helm and Niels Arestrup in a supporting role this one piques my interest.
IT FELT LIKE LOVE (Variance) Genre: Drama. A young 14-year-old girl spending her summer in Brooklyn determines to emulate the sexual exploration of her best friend and ends up in a dangerous situation with the wrong people. Release Strategy: New York City (opening in Los Angeles March 28). RATING: 1.8 Appears to be a very gritty and raw portrait of the realities of teen sexuality; could be very intense.
JODOROWSKY’S DUNE (Sony Classics) Genre: Documentary. The legendary but doomed attempt to film the Frank Herbert novel Dune in the mid-70s by cult filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky (El Topo) is documented with some never-before-seen concept artwork. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.5 One of the greatest unmade movies of all time; seeing what might have been is absolutely mind-blowing.
JOHN DOE: VIGILANTE (Main Street) Genre: Thriller. As a man accused of being a vigilante killer of unconvicted murderers awaits the verdict of his trial, a reporter seeks to find out the real truth about John Doe. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.4 The question of justice vs. vengeance remains a germane topic in these times of Stand Your Ground.
JUST A SIGH (Distrib) Genre: Romance. On the way to an audition in Paris, an actress becomes intensely drawn to a mysterious man she meets on a train. Release Strategy: New York City (opens in Los Angeles April 28). RATING: 2.3 Beautifully romantic, indubitably French.
MALADIES (Tribeca) Genre: Dramedy. After his career as a soap opera star has stalled, an actor tries to resurrect himself in 1960s New York City. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.8 Decent cast that includes James Franco, David Strathairn, Catherine Keener and Alan Cummings makes this worth a look.
MC CANICK (Well Go USA) Genre: Crime Drama. Following his release from prison, a seemingly harmless petty criminal is hunted down by a ruthless police detective whose past indiscretions the ex-con can expose. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.3 A taut thriller in which nobody is as he seems – and with David Morse, one of my favorite character actors, in the lead.
MUPPETS MOST WANTED (Disney) Genre: Family. Kermit the Frog is mistaken for the world’s most dangerous criminal. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 3.1 Looks like it lacks the charm and humor of the last movie.
NYMPHOMANIAC VOLUME 1 (Magnolia) Genre: Drama. An aging bachelor discovers a badly beaten girl in an alleyway; while he tends to her wounds she tells him her story Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.9 The films of Lars van Trier do absolutely nothing for me; I’ll be giving this and it’s companion a miss.
ROB THE MOB (Millennium) Genre: Thriller. Brazen lovers rob mob businesses where guns are forbidden and inadvertently discover a secret that puts their lives at risk from the FBI AND the mob. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.4 With a cast that includes Ray Romano, Andy Garcia and Michael Pitt, could be worth taking a gander.

MARCH 28, 2014

BOYS OF ABU GHARIB (Vertical) Genre: Thriller. After being assigned guard duty at the notorious Abu Gharib prison, a small town soldier finds himself in a bewildering miasma where right and wrong begin to blur. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.0 Looks awfully intense; if done right could be a landmark film.
BREATHE IN (Cohen Media Group) Genre: Romantic Dramedy. The arrival of a beautiful and musical British exchange student adds chaos to the home of a staid upstate New York family. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.8 Has the poignancy and bittersweet beauty of a late summer rainstorm.
CESAR CHAVEZ (Pantelion) Genre: Biographical Drama. Chronicles the life and times of one of the most polarizing figures in agriculture and one of organized labor’s leading lights. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.3 Directed by the actor Diego Luna with Michael Pena in the title role.
FINDING VIVIAN MAIER (IFC) Genre: Documentary. A historian who discovered thousands of negatives of a photographer with rare insight and an amazing eye tries to discover the woman behind the camera. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.6 One of the great mysterious of modern photography is why this woman chose to hide herself and her art away.
MISTAKEN FOR STRANGERS (Abramorama) Genre: Documentary. An aspiring horror director makes a documentary about his brother, lead singer for the indie rock sensations The National. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.7 Not so much about rock and roll as it is about living in the shadow of a brother who seems destined to leave you behind.
NOAH (Paramount) Genre: Biblical Drama. A pious man is warned by God that the world is about to end and that only his family and two of each animal species will be spared to repopulate the world; he sets about building an ark and is thought mad. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.5 From visionary director Darren Aronofsky, stars Russell Crowe in the title role.
THE RAID 2 (Sony Classics) Genre: Action. After fighting his way out of a building full of gangsters, a rookie Jakarta cop must go deep undercover in those very same gangs in order to protect his family from revenge by the bigger fish in the underworld pond. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.4 Same director, same lead actor, same amazing martial arts action.
REFUGE (Strand) Genre: Drama. Abandoned by their parents, a young woman tries to raise her younger siblings while working a crap job but after meeting a young man with a harrowing past realizes that he might hold the key to building a real family again. Release Strategy: New York City (opens in Los Angeles April 4). RATING: 2.5 Sounds very interesting but couldn’t find a trailer.
SABOTAGE (Open Road) Genre: Action. After a successful bust of a major Mexican drug cartel, a DEA team begins to get picked off one by one after some of the money seized turns up missing. Release Strategy: New York City/Los Angeles. RATING: 1.9 Arnold Schwarzenegger could use a hit that isn’t an Expendablesmovie.

SCHEDULED TO BE REVIEWED HERE AS NEW RELEASES
300: Rise of an Empire, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Mr. Peabody & Sherman, Bad Words, Need for Speed, Divergent, Muppet’s Most Wanted, Noah, Sabotage

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Four-Warned: March 2013


Oz The Great and Powerful

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. OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL (1.0)
2. JACK THE GIANT SLAYER (1.4)
3. OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN (1.7)
4. THE INCREDIBLE BURT WONDERSTONE (1.8)

FOUR TO SEEK OUT (FILMS NOT IN WIDE RELEASE)
1. UPSIDE DOWN (1.1)
2. EMPEROR (1.3)
3. EDEN (1.5)
TIE. A PLACE AT THE TABLE (1.5)
TIE. WAR WITCH (1.5)

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

MARCH 1, 2013

21 AND OVER (Relativity) Genre: Teen Comedy. A high-strung Asian honors student with an important medical school interview set for the next day lets his two best friends talk him into celebrating his 21st birthday with disastrous results. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 3.4 Looks offensive and even worse, uninventive.
A FIERCE GREEN FIRE: THE BATTLE FOR A LIVING PLANET (First Run) Genre: Documentary. The history of environmental activism and the current battle to combat climate change is documented here. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.9 Looks like it could be a bit strident but aims to show that this is a war we can win which is admirable.
A PLACE AT THE TABLE (Magnolia) Genre: Documentary. Showing that hunger just doesn’t happen in Third World countries, it’s an issue right here at home. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.5 A very serious problem that is often overlooked.
THE BATTLE OF PUSSY WILLOW CREEK (WideSphere) Genre: Mockumentary. A little-known Civil War battle turns out to be the crux on which our nation is founded. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.8 If Ken Burns had a grave, he’d be rolling in it.
THE CONDEMNED (Strand) Genre: Mystery. A woman, seeking to honor her father by opening up a museum honoring his achievements in his home town, awakens unwelcome memories in the town. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 2.2 A spooky edge; kind of on the horror side.
DAY OF THE FALCON (Image) Genre: Drama. When two rival kingdoms discover oil in the disputed lands between their kingdoms, it may take a miracle to prevent war. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.5 Epic-looking trailer and legendary filmmaker Jean-Jacques Annaud make this intriguing but it got horrible reviews when it opened in France in 2011.
THE END OF LOVE (Variance) Genre: Drama. When the mother of his two-year-old child dies suddenly, a struggling actor is forced to grow up. Release Strategy: Los Angeles only. RATING: 1.6 Looks very poignant, could be a sleeper must-see.
FUTURE WEATHER (Lipstick) Genre: Drama. A young girl is abandoned by her single mom and must find a way to bond with her curmudgeonly grandmother. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 2.5 Another smart kid-loser adults movie.
HAVA NAGILA: THE MOVIE (International Film Circuit) Genre: Documentary. The story of perhaps the most famous Jewish folk song in history. Release Strategy: New York City (Opening in Los Angeles March 15). RATING: 3.5 Is this really going to have much appeal outside of the Jewish community?
HERE I LEARNED HOW TO LOVE (Ruth Diskin) Genre: Documentary. Two brothers survive the holocaust due to the kindness of three mysterious women; their past is pieced together and their true identity discovered. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 2.6 No formal trailer that I could find but the clip looks really interesting.
JACK THE GIANT SLAYER (New Line) Genre: Fantasy. Farmer Jack who falls in love with a beautiful princess must rescue her from cruel giants and from a dastardly plan to usurp her father’s kingdom. Release Strategy: Wide (Standard, 3D, IMAX 3D). RATING: 1.4 I’m a sucker for fantasy and sci-fi and having Bryan Singer in the director’s chair only whets my appetite.
THE LAST EXORCISM PART II (CBS) Genre: Supernatural Horror. Following the events of The Last Exorcism Nell Sweetzer – the only survivor – comes to New Orleans to recover only to discover her ordeal is only beginning. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.0 The first movie was hella good (no pun intended); the next could be even better.
LEVIATHAN (The Cinema Guild) Genre: Documentary. The life of fishermen and the sea’s rhythms and tides off the coast of New England from the time of Moby Dick to now. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 2.7 Mute, mesmerizing and fascinating, looks to be a Deadliest Catch for the art house set.
THE LOST MEDALLION: THE ADVENTURES OF BILLY STONE (MeThinx) Genre: Family. Two 13-year-old friends find a mysterious medallion which transports them in time to an island civilization which they must save from a despotic king in order to get back home. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.9 Looks hopelessly cheesy.
PHANTOM (RCR) Genre: Thriller. A Soviet sub captain who’s been suffering from hideous hallucinations is sent on a classified mission that just might start World War III. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.9 Looks plenty promising and with a cast that includes Ed Harris and David Duchovny could be worth a shot – listed as Wide although I’m not familiar with the distributor.
THE PLAYBACK SINGER (Blumayan) Genre: Dramedy. When a father-in-law who’s a legendary playback singer overstays his welcome, a young playset architect needs to figure out a solution before his marriage and career are thrown into chaos. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.9 Made by and for the Indian community here in America, this looks kinda sweet.
STOKER (Fox Searchlight) Genre: Thriller. After a young woman’s father dies in a car accident, her uncle comes to live with her mother and her and his oily charm leads to a terrible situation. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.3 The first English-language film by acclaimed Korean director Park Chan-Woo looks genuinely creepy.
THE SWEENEY (EntertainmentOne) Genre: Crime Drama. An old school detective in a reckless but elite law enforcement squad finds himself facing off with an old enemy. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.1 Based on a British TV series and nobody does crime flicks like the Brits.
WAR WITCH (Tribeca) Genre: Drama. Kidnapped by guerillas and forced to do unspeakable things, a young woman escapes from her captors and tries to start a new life but the ghosts of her past need burying. Release Strategy: New York City (opening in Los Angeles March 8). RATING: 1.5 Looks brutal but compelling.
WELCOME TO PINE HILL (Oscilloscope Laboratories) Genre: Drama. A former drug dealer turned respectable claims adjuster must cope with a grim medical diagnosis and make amends with those around him. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 2.1 Blurs the line between drama and documentary; looks riveting.

MARCH 5, 2013

SOMETHING REAL AND GOOD (Rivetting) Genre: Romance. A young man and a young woman are thrown together in an airport when their flight is delayed. Release Strategy: VOD. RATING: 3.4 Looks like an entire movie of meet cute.

MARCH 6, 2013

GUT RENOVATION (Outcast) Genre: Documentary. The gentrification of Williamsburg, not a slow process, is chronicled. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 2.7 Think about how it would be to move into an affordable neighborhood only to see it rendered unaffordable by gentrification.

MARCH 8, 2013

THE ABC’S OF DEATH (Magnet) Genre: Horror Anthology. 26 different directors each take on a horror vignette based on the letters of the alphabet. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.2 An intriguing idea; with so many directors likely to be hideously uneven but the good stuff might well be worth the effort.
BEYOND THE HILLS (IFC) Genre: Drama. A young woman tries to free her childhood friend from a convent and is then accused of being possessed. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.7 Romania’s official Oscar submission, inspired by a series of non-fiction books.
DEAD MAN DOWN (FilmDistrict) Genre: Thriller. Two strangers motivated by an obsession for revenge trigger an escalating series of events that spiral out of control. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.6 Despite an impressive cast (Colin Farrell, Noomi Rapace, Terrence Howard) hasn’t received a lot of publicity thus far which is not confidence-inspiring.
DON’T STOP BELIEVIN’: EVERYMAN’S JOURNEY (Cinedigm/Docurama) Genre: Documentary. The true story of Filipino Arnel Pineda, the Journey superfan who was plucked from YouTube to replace Steve Perry as lead vocalist for the band. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.9 An amazing and inspirational real life rock and roll miracle.
EMPEROR (Roadside Attractions) Genre: Historical Drama. After World War II comes to a close, General Douglas MacArthur must decide if the Japanese Emperor is to be saved or punished – and if the latter, what effect would it have on the Japanese people? Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.3 Great story, amazing cast, thrilling trailer.
THE GIRL (Brainstorm Media) Genre: Drama. A woman desperate for cash smuggles illegal aliens across the border but when things go awry she finds herself caring for a little girl. Release Strategy: New York City (Opening in Los Angeles March 15). RATING: 2.2 Got a lot of love at Tribeca when it was shown there; Abbie Cornish gets a role that showcases her considerable talents.
THE MONK (ATO) Genre: Supernatural Thriller. A pious Capuchin monk in the 16th Century finds temptation from a mysterious apprentice who may be quite a bit more than he seems. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.4 Looks like a cross between The Name of the Rose and The Exorcist.
THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ICE (Hole in the Wall) Genre: Documentary. A family cruises the treacherous Northwest Passage on a 57 foot boat to try and reconnect as a family. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 2.5 Who says modern adventures are dead?
OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL (Disney) Genre: Fantasy. A Kansas con-man is spirited away to a magical land where he might be the savior of its oppressed people – if he can believe in his own magic. Release Strategy: Wide (Standard, 3D, IMAX 3D). RATING: 1.0 Sam Raimi aims to revive one of the most beloved stories of all time with this prequel which could establish a new franchise.
THE SILENCE (Music Box) Genre: Crime Thriller. A brutal 23-year-old murder has unexpected links to a modern day crime. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.1 A stylish-looking Swedish crime thriller that once again shows some of the best of that genre is coming out of that country.
SOMEONE UP THERE LIKES ME (Tribeca) Genre: Comedy. A subversive look at a man, his best friend and the woman they both love watching life pass the three of them by. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.0 Freakishly funny with cult figure Nick Offerman in the lead, how can you go wrong?
THE WE AND THE I (Paladin) Genre: Drama. On the lasts day of school a group of Bronx teens act out on a city bus as they sense the looming juggernaut of adulthood approaching. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.8 The latest from visionary French director Michel Gondry is a complete change of pace.

MARCH 13, 2013

PHILIP ROTH: UNMASKED (Self-Released) Genre: Documentary. One of the greatest living writers of such important works as Portnoy’s Complaint reflects on his life and career. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 3.0 Unfortunately unable to find much information about this (other than it is a French documentary) and no trailer on the web thus far.

MARCH 15, 2013

BIANCANIEVES (Cohen) Genre: Fantasy. The timeless tale of Snow White, set in 1920s Seville in the cutthroat world of bullfighting. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.9 A glossy black and white tribute to the silent cinema of Spain.
THE CALL (TriStar) Genre: Thriller. A 911 operator takes a call from a teenager who’s been kidnapped only to realize that the kidnapper is a killer she’s dealt with in her past. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.4 Could be a potent thriller or jump the shark just as easily.
FROM UP ON POPPY HILL (GKIDS) Genre: Anime. Two young people find romance as they try to save their high school’s ramshackle clubhouse on the eve of the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. Release Strategy: New York City/Los Angeles (expands March 29). RATING: 2.1 The latest from Studio Ghibli (and the first in a long while not distributed by Disney) looks as beautiful and as intriguing as ever.
GINGER & ROSA (A24) Genre: Drama. Two schoolgirl friends in London 1962 find their friendship tested by their forbidden longings and by the Cuban Missile Crisis. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.8 A cast of terrific actors (including Elle Fanning, Annette Benning and Oliver Platt) and director Sally Potter makes this quite intriguing.
IF I WERE YOU (Kino-Lorber) Genre: Dramedy. A woman unknowingly saves her husband’s mistress from a bungled suicide attempt but winds up becoming the unlikeliest of friends with her. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.2 Marcia Gay Harden is a lot better at comedy than some give her credit for.
THE INCREDIBLE BURT WONDERSTONE (New Line) Genre: Comedy. A veteran Vegas stage magician and his partner face unwelcome competition from a Criss Angel-style street magician. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.8 I’m up for just about anything Steve Carell does.
K-11 (Breaking Glass) Genre: Drama. Waking up in the Los Angeles prison wing for gay inmates, a successful record producer struggles to discover how he got there – and to survive in a world he doesn’t understand. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.8 I’ve always liked E.R.‘s Goran Visnjic and this is a very different role for him.
LANGUAGE OF A BROKEN HEART (House Lights Media) Genre: Romantic Comedy. A bestselling author and expert on relationships finds himself needing to find the right advice on love for his own life. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.1 Kind of sitcom-ish if you ask me.
MY AMITYVILLE HORROR (IFC Midnight) Genre: Documentary. Daniel Lutz, the son of George and Kathy Lutz, recounts his own version of the events of The Amityville Horror for the first time in 35 years. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 1.9 Very, VERY creepy looking.
REALITY (Oscilloscope Laboratories) Genre: Drama. An Italian fishmonger’s audition for the Big Brother reality TV show descends into madness. Release Strategy: New York City (Opening in Los Angeles March 22). RATING: 2.6 Looks like a pretty on-target commentary on our modern obsession with fame.
REINCARNATED (VICE) Genre: Musical Documentary. Snoop Dogg visits Trench Town, the slum where reggae was born to trace it’s influence on his own career which is reaching a turning point as he rechristens himself Snoop Lion. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 4.0 Ego run amuck.
SPRING BREAKERS (A24/Anapurna) Genre: Crime Drama. A group of girls rob a fast food shack to finance their Spring Break revelries and wind up under the wing of an infamous thug. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.7 Is it just me or have we seen this movie before?
UPSIDE DOWN (Millennium) Genre: Science Fiction. On a world where twinned portions of the planet are separated by gravity pulling in opposite directions, a boy and a girl from opposite sides of the planet fall in love against all odds. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.1 Amazing visuals and a compelling Romeo and Juliet-type story starring Jim Sturgess and Kirsten Dunst.

MARCH 20, 2013

EDEN (Phase 4) Genre: True-Life Drama. A young teenager of Korean descent is kidnapped from New Mexico and brought to Las Vegas to be a sex slave. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 1.5 A searing and unsettling look at human trafficking seen through the eyes of one of its victims.

MARCH 22, 2013

ADMISSION (Focus) Genre: Comedy. Princeton’s most by-the-book admissions officer discovers that a student at an alternative school might be the son she gave up for adoption years ago. Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.3 With a cast including Paul Rudd, Tina Fey and Lily Tomlin this might be a sleeper hit.
THE CROODS (DreamWorks Animation) Genre: Animated Features. A stone age family of cavemen have survived by staying largely in their cave but an earthquake opens up a whole new world for them. Release Strategy: Wide (Standard, 3D). RATING: 2.6 Seems a little too Ice Age-ish.
DORFMAN IN LOVE (Brainstorm Media) Genre: Romantic Comedy. A single woman in the suburbs who has always been the caregiver turns her sights on the city and finding love and care for herself. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.4 Looks appealing with a fairly young cast and Elliott Gould.
EVERYBODY HAS A PLAN (Fox International) Genre: Drama. After the death of his twin brother, a man starts a new life where they grew up only to become involved in the dangerous criminal underground that his late brother had been involved in. Release Strategy: New York City/Los Angeles. RATING: 2.2 Viggo Mortensen is always worth watching and he generally chooses compelling films to work in.
GIMME THE LOOT (IFC) Genre: Comedy. A group of ambitious taggers from the Bronx decide to take on the ultimate target after their latest work is buffed by a rival gang – the Mets home run apple. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.4 Urban and real New York, still it looks like it has enough going for it to be relatable to audiences outside of the Big Apple.
HUNKY DORY (Variance) Genre: Musical. A high school teacher in Wales in 1976, desperate to inspire her students before they leave for the summer, puts together a production of Shakespeare’s The Tempest complete with a glam rock infusion. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.4 A cross between Glee and Dead Poets Society and not in a bad way at all.
INAPPROPRIATE COMEDY (Freestyle) Genre: Comedy Spoof. A sketch comedy with characters including a gritty metrosexual cop, a vengeful Lindsay Lohan (as herself) and The Amazing Racist reality show. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 3.9 The trailer looks really, really terrible.
LOVE AND HONOR (IFC) Genre: Romance. A young soldier in Vietnam is dumped by his girlfriend and decides to sneak back to America and win her back only to discover she’s firmly entrenched in the counterculture. Release Strategy: New York City/Los Angeles. RATING: 2.3 Lots of potential displayed in the trailer; what they do with it is entirely a mystery.
NEW WORLD (WELL GO USA) Genre: Crime Drama. An undercover cop in a Korean crime syndicate gets caught between his family and his loyal gang members. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.0 Has elements of The Departed and Infernal Affairs which makes it worth checking out in my book.
OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN (FilmDistrict) Genre: Action. Terrorists capture the White House and it is up to a disgraced Secret Service agent to save the day. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.7 I really like Gerard Butler and Aaron Eckhart so I’m willing to overlook the cheesy concept.
THE SAPPHIRES (Weinstein) Genre: Musical Biography. Four vivacious Australian aboriginal girls form a rock group that eventually entertains American troops in Vietnam. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.2 Could be the role that breaks Chris O’Dowd out.
SILVER CIRCLE (Hybrid Nation) Genre: Animated Feature. A charismatic Rebel leader fighting against the Federal Reserve falls in love with a Federal Agent. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 3.3 Economic theory and animation that looks like a 90s-era videogame just don’t mix.
STARBUCK (EntertainmentOne) Genre: Comedy. A good-hearted loser discovers that his habitual sperm donation has led to him fathering more than 500 children. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.9 Looks fairly funny but could wind up being campy.

MARCH 26, 2013

MY BROTHER THE DEVIL (Paladin) Genre: Drama. Two young brothers living in an ethnically diverse district in London battle with gangs, differing dreams and dashed hopes. Release Strategy: New York City (opening in Los Angeles April 5). RATING: 3.4 For whatever reason the trailer didn’t really move me to want to see this.

MARCH 27, 2013

WELCOME TO THE PUNCH (IFC) Genre: Crime Thriller. A master thief and a relentless detective face off in the mean streets of London’s East End. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.0 Looks like another glossy British gangster flick and I’m sure not tired of them yet.

MARCH 29, 2013

DETOUR (Gravtas Ventures) Genre: Drama. A smooth-talking adman is trapped by a mudslide on the way to a business meeting and must take extraordinary risks to survive. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.1 Looks like it could be awfully compelling if it doesn’t stoop to cliché.
FAMILY WEEKEND (ARC Entertainment) Genre: Dramedy. When her parents miss a key jump rope competition, a teenage girl decides to act to save her family from becoming strangers living in the same house. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.3 Another shark-jumping smart kids-dumb parents movie but presence of Kristen Chenoweth and Shirley Jones may save it.
G.I. JOE: RETALIATION (Paramount) Genre: Action. The Joes are betrayed and the survivors discover a monstrous conspiracy involving Cobra and the ultimate power grab. Release Strategy: Wide (Standard, 3D, IMAX 3D). RATING: 2.0 The trailer looked so good but the first movie in the series was so disappointing that I’m not sure if I trust this one.
THE HOST (Open Road) Genre: Science Fiction. After parasites take over most of the human population, an infected girl discovers her love for an uninfected boy may hold the key to human survival. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.2 Definitely aimed (again) at tween girls, teen girls and their moms but has a pretty slick look to it that might appeal to the boys more than Twilight did.
MENTAL (Dada) Genre: Comedy. A politician whose wife has been committed to a mental hospital engages a hitchhiker to be nanny to his five teenage daughters he barely knows. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.0 Not sure about this one; an Australian comedy and the Aussies sure do know how to have a laugh, but the trailer was a bit lame.
THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES (Focus) Genre: Drama. The sons of a reluctant getaway driver for bank robbers and an ambitious rookie cop in a corrupt police department will face the consequences of their fathers actions. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.1 Looks pretty compelling and with Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper playing the dads, could be worth a look.
RENOIR (Goldwyn) Genre: Biographical Drama. The legendary impressionist painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir and his son Jean, returned from the front after being wounded in battle during World War I, are driven apart by the son’s love for the father’s free-spirited muse. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.6 Gorgeously photographed, this is certainly one to seek out.
ROOM 237 (IFC Midnight) Genre: Documentary. In the years since Stanley Kubrick directed The Shining a group of cultish fans have claimed to have deciphered hidden messages in the movie. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 2.5 Very interesting subject matter although I’m not sure I want to spend an hour and a half with obsessive fans.
TYLER PERRY’S TEMPTATION (Lionsgate) Genre: Romantic Comedy. A woman restless in her relationship becomes a marriage counselor but her own marriage is in big trouble. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 3.4 The trailer didn’t excite me at all; this looks like more generic Tyler Perry.
VIOLETA WENT TO HEAVEN (Kino Lorber) Genre: Biographical Drama. Chilean folksinger Violeta Parra not only influenced music with her revival of traditional Chilean folk songs but inspired a nation with her political activism. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 1.9 She’s an enormously popular figure who influenced both Latin Americans as well as North American progressive folk artists and activists.
WRONG (Drafthouse) Genre: Comedy. A man trying to reunite with his lost dog runs into a succession of eccentric characters along the way. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.2 From the director of Rubber – so it’s pretty out there.

SCHEDULED TO BE REVIEWED HERE AS NEW RELEASES
Jack the Giant Slayer, Stoker, Dead Man Down, Oz the Great and Powerful, The Call, The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, Admission, The Croods, Olympus Has Fallen, G.I.Joe: Retaliation, The Host