Four-Warned: September 2013


Every month I’m going to look at every movie on the release schedule and try to assign them a numerical value corresponding to how anxious I am to see it. The lower the number, the more I want to see it. A one means I would walk through hell and high water to see it; a four means there’s no interest whatsoever. The numbers are not arrived at scientifically but they aren’t arbitrary either.

The numbers aren’t a reflection of the artistic merit of any of these films, but merely a reflection of my willingness to go to a movie theater and see it. The top four scores will be gathered as a means of reflecting the movies I’m anticipating the most; you may use that as a guide or not.

Each entry is broken down as follows:

NAME OF FILM (Studio) Genre A brief description of the plot. Release plans: Wide = Everywhere, Limited = In selected markets. RATING A brief comment

Keep in mind that release dates are extremely subject to change, even at this late date.

1. RIDDICK (1.1)
2. PRISONERS (1.6)
3. RUSH (1.7)

1. SALINGER (1.0)
4. GOOD OL’ FREDA (1.4)

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


LA MAISON DE LA RADIO (Kino Lorber) Genre: Documentary. A look inside the inner workings of Radio France, the national radio of that country. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.1 Looks pretty quirky as you would expect for a movie like this.


99% – THE OCCUPY WALL STREET COLLABORATIVE FILM (Participant) Genre: Documentary. The story of the left-leaning activists who captured the attention of the public in 2011 and what’s next for their movement. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.4 Could be an uplifting film that inspires activism or propaganda that turns people off.
A TEACHER (Oscilloscope Laboratories) Genre: Drama. A Texas high school teacher embarks on an affair with one of her students, heedless to the cost to her career and her lover. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.8 Despite the prurient elements is one of those movies that you absolutely can’t look away from for even a second.
ADORE (Exclusive Media) Genre: Drama. Two lifelong friends explore the limits of sensuality and love – with each other’s adult sons. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.9 Scandalous and perhaps a little bit wrong but with actresses like Robin Wright and Naomi Watts in the lead roles it’s oh so right.
BOUNTY KILLER (ARC Entertainment) Genre: Action. Assassins target greedy corporate types who have laid waste to the Earth. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.6 Elements of comedy, sci-fi, social commentary and ’70s B-Movie/’80s Direct-to-Video action classics.
THE BUTCHER BOYS (Phase 4) Genre: Horror. A birthday celebration at an upscale restaurant leads to a shocking revelation to a group of friends of the existence of cannibals in the inner city. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.3 Meh. Touts that it’s from the creator of Texas Chainsaw Massacre but seems to be a direct rip-off of it.
GOOD OL’ FREDA (Magnolia) Genre: Documentary. The story of the Beatles is told through the eyes of their long-time secretary. Release Strategy: New York City (opens in Los Angeles September 13). RATING: 1.4 Looks completely charming and a must-see for any Beatles fan.
HELL BABY (Millennium) Genre: Horror Comedy. An expectant couple that move into a New Orleans fixer-upper require the Vatican’s elite exorcism team to fix up a possession of their unborn child. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.3 Looks a little better than most horror spoofs but that isn’t saying much.
I AM BREATHING (Self-Distributed) Genre: Documentary. Stricken with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), a young British father determines to chronicle his illness and decline for his infant son. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 1.3 Awesome, affecting, funny – this should be on everyone’s must-see list.
MY FATHER AND THE MAN IN BLACK (New Chapter) Genre: Documentary. Correspondence between Johnny Cash and his long-time manager Saul Holiff reveals insights into the country legend’s life. Release Strategy: New York City/Los Angeles. RATING: 2.8 Holiff’s son is the filmmaker and as a son he is looking for answers about his father; not bad premise for a film.
OUT OF THE CLEAR BLUE SKY (AREA23A) Genre: Documentary. Cantor Fitzgerald had the largest single loss of life of any entity during 9-11; how their survivors coped from that terrible loss is chronicled here. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.7 Not sure about this one; probably very emotional but wondering if there’s more to it than that.
POPULAIRE (Weinstein) Genre: Comedy. A housewife fleeing a life of drudgery in 1958 finds she has a special talent – she can type really fast! Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.1 Being a French film there’s also romance involved.
RED OBSESSION (Film Buff) Genre: Documentary. China’s affluent consumer base has developed an obsession for French Bordeaux wines, fueling wide-ranging consequences for the French wine-producing region. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.2 A fascinating look at the realities of how global marketplaces can have devastating effects on local communities.
RIDDICK (Universal) Genre: Science Fiction. Betrayed and left for dead on a planet with dangerous creatures, Riddick’s only hope for escape lies in the bounty hunters coming to kill him. Release Strategy: Wide (Standard, IMAX). RATING: 1.1 Even the bloated Chronicles of Riddick was entertaining.
SALINGER (Weinstein) Genre: Documentary. The life of reclusive author J.D. Salinger and the effect of hi novel The Catcher in the Rye on society is told through interviews and rare footage. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.0 I’m calling it right now – this is your winner for Best Documentary at the next Oscars.
SHUDDH DESI ROMANCE (Yash Raj) Genre: Bollywood. An exploration of what comes between physical attraction and permanent commitment. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.4 One of the only trailers I’ve ever seen that shows an image of a condom.
THINGS NEVER SAID (Ohio Street) Genre: Urban Romance. A woman with a poet’s soul yearns to escape her abusive marriage and perform her works onstage in New York. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.4 The trouble with doing these sorts of stories is that the poetry can come off as pretentious if it isn’t read from the heart.
TOUCHY FEELY (Magnolia) Genre: Comedy. A massage therapist develops a phobic aversion to contact while her brother develops a healing touch. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.2 Director Lynn Shelton is quickly becoming one of my favorites; her work is high quality every time out.
THE ULTIMATE LIFE (High Top) Genre: Drama. A wealthy man whose life is unraveling finds meaning in the journal of his grandfather. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.8 The sequel to the faith-based film The Ultimate Gift.
WINNIE MANDELA (RLJ/Image) Genre: Biographical Drama. The story of the former First Lady of South Africa whose courage and strength continues to be an inspiration. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.9 Jennifer Hudson knocks this one out of the park.

SEPTEMBER 11, 2013

MADEMOISELLE C (Cohen Media Group) Genre: Documentary. Carine Roitfeld, the longtime editor of the French Vogue magazine, oversees the start of her own magazine. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.9 It’s about fashion? Never mind.

SEPTEMBER 13, 2013

AND WHILE WE WERE HERE (Well Go USA) Genre: Romance. A woman accompanying her husband on a business trip to Amalfi loses herself in her grandmother’s diary…and an affair with a younger man. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.8 Nice setting but the trailer didn’t reveal any kind of spark…I could be wrong though.
BLUE CAPRICE (Sundance Selects) Genre: Thriller. A fictionalized account of the Beltway Sniper. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.2 Looks genuinely creepy; hard to believe from the trailer that this isn’t from a veteran director.
THE FAMILY (Relativity) Genre: Comedy. An ex-mobster who testified against his own has a hard time adjusting to life in Witness Protection – as does his family. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.3 Great cast – Michelle Pfeiffer, Tommy Lee Jones, De Niro – and set in France, too.
GMO OMG (Submarine Deluxe) Genre: Documentary. The controversial subject of lab-assisted genetic modification of food is examined. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.6 I’m guessing Monsanto isn’t going to look too good in this one.
HARRY DEAN STANTON: PARTLY FICTION (Adopt) Genre: Documentary. A portrait of the actor through interviews, images and his own renditions of American folk songs. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.4 He seems to be a very interesting guy; I’m curious to see how this turns out.
HERB & DOROTHY 50X50 (Fine Line) Genre: Documentary. The last chapter in the story of Herb and Dorothy Vogel and their remarkable art collection. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.8 Those who love art and its preservation will be interested in this.
INFORMANT (Music Box) Genre: Documentary. Brandon Darby, once a darling of the left, gave information to the FBI that convicted some of his comrades and became a hero of the Tea Party.. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.4 An intriguing documentary from this year’s Florida Film Festival; read my review here.
INSIDIOUS CHAPTER 2 (FilmDistrict) Genre: Supernatural Horror. After events of the first chapter, the Lambert family find that the sinister supernatural forces that plagued them aren’t quite done with them yet. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.7 The first Insidious was a well-crafted horror film that was good enough to make me want more.
JAYNE MANSFIELD’S CAR (Anchor Bay) Genre: Comedy. Three generations of fathers and sons in the Deep South deal with secrets, changes, love, life and the Vietnam War in their own unique ways. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.2 Amazing cast, directed by, written by and starring Billy Bob Thornton – as close to a must-see as you’re going to get.
MOTHER OF GEORGE (Oscilloscope Laboratories) Genre: Drama. The inability of a Brooklyn couple of Nigerian descent to conceive a child leads to a desperate decision that may tear them apart. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.2 A heart-wrenching look at African culture trying to adjust to American culture.
SAMPLE THIS (GoDigital) Genre: Documentary. The story of the Incredible Bongo Band who in the 1970s had a career that went nowhere – until a DJ used their percussion beats, playing them back to back and laying the groundwork for modern hip-hop. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 4.0 Not a musical style I’m into so I doubt I’ll be seeing this one.
WADJDA (Sony Classics) Genre: Drama. A lion-hearted Saudi girl challenges social conventions by attempting to buy a bicycle of her own. Release Strategy: New York City/Los Angeles. RATING: 1.4 Looks like a really special film.

SEPTEMBER 18, 2013

NEWLYWEEDS (Phase 4) Genre: Dramedy. A hip young Bed-Stuy couple share a voracious appetite for weed. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.9 Nothing really struck me here as particularly insightful.

SEPTEMBER 20, 2013

A SINGLE SHOT (Tribeca) Genre: Drama. When a hunter accidentally shoots a woman and finds a stash of cash near her body, he quickly becomes the hunted when he discovers that the money belonged to a vicious criminal. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.1 Looks taut and engaging and with Sam Rockwell in the lead role, color me intrigued.
AFTER TILLER (Oscilloscope Laboratories) Genre: Documentary. After the murder of Dr. George Tiller, only four doctors in America now openly perform third trimester abortions; this is the story of four doctors living with a target on their backs. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.8 It’s a highly volatile, emotional subject but one which deserves proper examination – not just sloganeering and blind justification.
BATTLE OF THE YEAR 3D (Screen Gems) Genre: Urban Dance. A group of determined young people attempt to take the International Hip Hop Dancing crown back to the United States. Release Strategy: Wide (3D). RATING: 4.0 I couldn’t be any less interested.
C.O.G. (Screen Media) Genre: Dramedy. A cocky young Ivy Leaguer goes to Oregon to pick apples and find himself. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.4 Based on a short story by David Sedaris, one of the best writers I know of.
THE COLONY (RLJ) Genre: Science Fiction. After Earth is swallowed up by a new ice age, Colony Seven battles plagues, shortages and internal conflict but when they lose contact with the only other remaining human settlement they will battle something else entirely Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.1 Reminds me a little bit of Alien.
ENOUGH SAID (Fox Searchlight) Genre: Comedy. A woman’s developing relationship with a new beau is threatened by the constant bad-mouthing by her best friend of her ex-husband. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.9 From director Nicole Holofcener (one of my faves) and features one of James Gandolfini’s last performances.
THE FACE OF LOVE (IFC) Genre: Romance. Mourning the love of her life five years later, a woman falls in love with her dead lover’s exact double. Release Strategy: New York City/Los Angeles. RATING: 2.5 Sounds intriguing but couldn’t locate a trailer for it.
GENERATION IRON (Vladar) Genre: Documentary. A new generation of bodybuilders compete for the prestigious Mr. Olympia title. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.9 Narrated by Mickey Rourke with interviews with (among others) Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lou Ferrigno.
HAUTE CUISINE (Weinstein) Genre Biographical Drama. When a renowned chef is named the personal chef of the French President, she discovers that politics can create minefields everywhere – even in the kitchen. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.8 Seeing the trailer made me suddenly hungry for a nice French meal.
IP MAN: THE FINAL FIGHT (Well Go USA) Genre: Martial Arts. The legendary martial artist comes out of retirement to fight one last time against the Triads in post-war Hong Kong. Release Strategy: Los Angeles only. RATING: 2.1 This is the fourth film about Ip Man to receive US release in the last three years.
JERUSALEM (National Geographic) Genre: Documentary. A city that is sacred to three major world religions and has seen more than its share of bloodshed. Release Strategy: Wide (IMAX). RATING: 1.9 One of the most fascinating places on Earth, can’t wait to see this on the giant screen.
MY LUCKY STAR (China Lion) Genre: Romantic Comedy. Jet-setting Sophie embarks on a romantic adventure of intrigue and mistaken identity. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.6 Looks a little bit silly but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
PARKLAND (Exclusive) Genre: True Life Drama. An ordinary day at Parkland Hospital on November 22, 1963 becomes anything but. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.9 A different perspective on the JFK assassination.
PLUS ONE (IFC Midnight) Genre: Supernatural Thriller. Three friends at a club looking for love/sex encounter an unexplainable phenomenon. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.2 Looks very odd and very unique – I’m intrigued about this one.
PRISONERS (Warner Brothers) Genre: Thriller. The fathers of two missing children resort to extreme lengths to get their girls back. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.6 Up-and-coming director Denis Villeneuve and Hugh Jackman, Viola Davis, Jake Gyllenhaal and Terrence Howard make this a movie I can’t wait to see.
RUSH (Universal) Genre: Biographical Drama. The rivalry between Formula One racers James Hunt and Niki Lauda captivates the racing world. Release Strategy: New York City/Los Angeles (opening wide September 27). RATING: 1.7 Director Ron Howard looks like he’s come up with another winner.
THE SHORT GAME (Phase 4/Goldwyn) Genre: Documentary. The best 7-year-old golfers in the world gather at the Pinehurst Country Club in North Carolina to see who the next superstars in golf are going to be. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 4.0 Golf does nothing for me and 7-year-old golfers does even less.
THANKS FOR SHARING (Roadside Attractions) Genre: Dramedy. A group of friends in recovery for sex addiction learn to cope with life together. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.6 A very nice cast (Mark Ruffalo, Gwynneth Paltrow, Tim Robbins, Josh Gad) and looks like it has a whole lot of heart.
THE WIZARD OF OZ IMAX 3D (MGM) Genre: Family. The family classic gets the upcharge treatment. Release Strategy: Wide (IMAX 3D). RATING: 3.5 I’m sure it looks amazing – but is it really worth the upcharge to see it when it is so readily available without a charge?

SEPTEMBER 27, 2013

AS I LAY DYING (Millennium) Genre: Action. Transporting the body of their mother to her home town to burial proves to be much more challenging as the elements conspire against them . Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.4 Directed by and starring James Franco this looks pretty interesting.
BAGGAGE CLAIM (20th Century Fox) Genre: Romantic Comedy. A flight attendant uses her connections to try and get engaged before her younger sister’s wedding 30 days away. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.9 Been done elsewhere (i.e. What’s Your Number) and it wasn’t much good then.
CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS 2 (Columbia) Genre: Animated Feature. Flint Lockwood must return to Swallow Falls to contain the out of control invention that has evolved food into living – and dangerous – creatures. Release Strategy: Wide (Standard, 3D). RATING: 2.9 The first Cloudy wasn’t too bad but I’m not so sure about this one.
DON JON (Relativity) Genre: Romance. A working class ladies man becomes smitten with a woman obsessed with Hollywood romances – but his porn addiction might just put a kibosh on the relationship before it starts. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.8 Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s directing debut and a pretty keen starring role for him.
METALLICA THROUGH THE NEVER (Picturehouse) Genre: Concert Film/Fantasy. A roadie is sent on a mission by Metal Gods Metallica to rescue a concert performance which turns out to be more fantastic than he anticipated. Release Strategy: Wide (IMAX 3D; opening in Standard/3D on October 4). RATING: 3.0 An intriguing genre mash-up but will it appeal beyond Metallica’s fan base?
MORNING (Anchor Bay) Genre: Drama. The tragic death of their son puts a married couple into a maelstrom of grief which threatens to destroy them as a couple and as individuals. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.7 Looks awfully powerful; veteran character actor Leland Orser directs and stars.
MUSCLE SHOALS (Magnolia) Genre: Musical Documentary. The FAME and Muscle Shoals studios, both on the banks of the Tennessee River in Alabama, defied the odds to become major influences on popular music. Release Strategy: New York City/Los Angeles. RATING: 3.7 The trailer really didn’t particularly move me to want to see this.
THE SECRET LIVES OF DORKS (Gravitas Ventures) Genre: Comedy. A popular cheerleader, hoping to deflect the attention of a lovesick socially awkward comic book geek, tries to hook him up with a female dork – leading to complete catastrophe. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.9 Revenge of the Nerds for the 21st century only not as funny.
THERESE (LD Entertainment) Genre: Period Romance. In mid-19th Century France, a sexually repressed wife embarks on an extramarital affair which leads to tragic consequences. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.5 No trailer available for this one, the second version of the Emile Zola novel Therese Raquin this year – this one is an American version starring Elizabeth Olsen (not to be confused with the French film starring Audrey Tatou).

Riddick, The Family, Prisoners, Rush, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2, Don Jon