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 explanation
Keep in mind that release dates are extremely subject to change, even at this late date.
FOUR TO SEE
1. HEREAFTER (1.1)
2. RED (1.3)
3. CONVICTION (1.7)
4. COMPANY MEN (2.0)
FOUR TO SEEK OUT (FILMS NOT IN WIDE RELEASE)
1. MONSTERS (1.1)
2. INSIDE JOB (1.6)
3. TAMARA DREWE (2.3)
4. CASINO JACK (2.4)
RATING SYSTEM: 1) Must-see, 2) Should-see, 3) Perhaps-see, 4) Don’t-see
OCTOBER 1, 2010
BARRY MUNDAY (Magnolia) Genre: Indie Comedy. A would-be ladies man wakes up in the hospital with his testicles missing and must learn to live without them. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.0 Yet another treatise on what it means to be a man, which apparently you can’t be without being emasculated.
CASE 39 (Paramount Vantage) Genre: Horror. A little girl is taken from her abusive parents, only to open the gateway to a whole new kind of horror. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.8 Oft-delayed usually means the movie isn’t very good.
CASH CROP (Sierra) Genre: Documentary. The effects of marijuana growing on California in yet another plea for legalization of the weed. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 4.0 I’m allergic to cannabis; draw your own conclusions.
CASINO JACK (Metropolitan) Genre: Drama. Kevin Spacey stars as Jack Abramoff, a.k.a. Casino Jack, a high-powered Washington lobbyist whose fraudulent activities with Indian Casinos landed him in jail. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.4 Not sure this could be any better than the documentary Casino Jack which was released earlier this year.
CHAIN LETTER (New Films International) Genre: Horror. Teens that break a chain letter are gruesomely murdered. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.9 An interesting new horror concept which thankfully, isn’t being done in a PG-13 version by a big studio.
DOUCHEBAG (Paladin) Genre: Sex Comedy. A bachelor on the eve of getting married insists on finding his younger brother’s fifth grade girlfriend. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.3 Haven’t seen a trailer for this yet but must admit the concept doesn’t float my boat much.
FREAKONOMICS (Magnolia) Genre: Documentary. A team of acclaimed documentarians examine the effects of incentives on human behavior. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.1 Based on the phenomenal bestseller.
HATCHET II (Dark Sky) Genre: Horror. A new victim of the Crowley curse decides to take the fight back to the Louisiana swamps that started it. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.0 The continued comeback of the slasher movie is evidenced here.
IP MAN (Variance) Genre: Martial Arts Biography. The story of Bruce Lee’s teacher and grand master of Wing Chun style kung fu who was forced to fight in one-on-one battles to the death during the Japanese occupation of Manchuria. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.3 Sounds a little bit like Jet Li’s Fearless.
LEAVING (IFC) Genre: Drama. A woman who has raised grown children and has been a model wife for a doctor falls for a Spanish ex-con who has come to remodel her office. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.0 A drama about passion, sex and infidelity? And it’s French? Okay, color me intrigued.
LET ME IN (Relativity) Genre: Horror. A 12-year-old boy who is mercilessly bullied finds a friend in a mysterious little girl who has a secret of her own. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.7 A remake of the Swedish film Let the Right One In has some fans furious but with the director of Cloverfield at the helm, this might be something special after all.
THE SOCIAL NETWORK (Columbia) Genre: Drama. The story of the beginnings of Facebook from a project at Harvard to the worldwide phenomenon it is today. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.9 Not sure about this; there is a lot of critics salivating to see it with David Fincher having directed it, but could be a self-congratulatory mess.
OCTOBER 8, 2010
AS GOOD AS DEAD (First Look) Genre: Thriller. A left wing extremist who murdered the head of a white supremacist group is chased down by the man’s wife and accomplices. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.9 Could be a roller coaster ride or merely depressing.
DOWN TERRACE (Magnet) Genre: Dark Comedy. A small-time crime family is torn apart from within by squabbles between father and son. Release Strategy: New York only. RATING: 3.3 Made the gimmicky move of casting real-life father and son in the leads; makes me wonder.
I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE (Anchor Bay) Genre: Horror. A woman brutally raped, tortured and left for dead gets revenge on those who defiled her. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.8 Based on a movie that should have never been remade.
INSIDE JOB (Sony Classics) Genre: Documentary. A look at the causes of the recent global economic meltdown and the not-so-surprising collusion between rogue businessmen, lobby groups, politicians and academics. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.6 Early reviews have this in a two-horse race for Oscar gold.
IT’S KIND OF A FUNNY STORY (Focus) Genre: Dramedy. A teen checks himself into a psychiatric hospital and winds up on the adult wing. Release Strategy: New York /Los Angeles (Opening wide TBA). RATING: 2.7 Based on the trailer, it looks like Zack Galifianakis might be making a pitch for dramatic roles here.
LETTERS TO FATHER JACOB (Olive) Genre: Drama. An ex-con who helps a blind priest answer letters must also assist him with a crisis of faith when the letters stop coming. Release Strategy: New York (Opening in Los Angeles October 15). RATING: 3.3 Not sure about this one having not seen a trailer to it.
LIFE AS WE KNOW IT (Warner Brothers) Genre: Romantic Comedy. When a young married couple is tragically killed, their friends – who don’t like each other much – are tasked with raising their surviving baby. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.6 On the trailer, chemistry between Josh Duhamel and Katharine Heigl looked pretty promising.
MARWENCOL (The Cinema Guild) Genre: Documentary. A man injured in a brutal attack whose insurance will no longer pay for physical therapy turns to a fictional Belgian town he builds out of scrap wood to help him regain his voice. Release Strategy: New York (Opening in Los Angeles November 12). RATING: 2.6 Sounds intriguing; I’m always up for one of those “triumph of the human spirit” documentaries.
MY SOUL TO TAKE (Rogue) Genre: Supernatural Horror. Seven teenagers born on the night of a serial killer’s death are the targets of a mysterious figure. Release Strategy: Wide (Standard, 3D). RATING: 2.5 Horror master Wes Craven is back.
NOWHERE BOY (Weinstein) Genre: Musical Biography. An outsider being raised by a dowager aunt in Liverpool goes on to become John Lennon. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.5 Lennon is one of my personal heroes; I’m hoping this does him justice.
RACHEL (Women Make Movies) Genre: Documentary. American peace activist Rachel Corrie was crushed to death by an Israeli army bulldozer in 2003; her death was ruled an accident but this documentary calls that ruling into question. Release Strategy: New York only. RATING: 2.9 A story that received very little coverage by the media gets a well-deserved spotlight, even if it is a relatively small one.
SECRETARIAT (Disney) Genre: Sports Biography. The story of a fabled racehorse who overcame incredible odds to become the first Triple Crown winner in 35 years. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.4 I’m a sucker for these types of underdog movies and the trailer looks pretty slick.
STONE (Overture) Genre: Thriller. A prison psychologist upon whom the release of a prison inmate depends is seduced by the inmate’s wife. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 3.2 A cast of De Niro, Jovovich and Edward Norton is usually enough to get me intrigued, but the trailer left me flat.
TAMARA DREWE (Sony Classics) Genre: Romantic Comedy. A sexy flirt returns to her small English village and wreaks havoc. Release Strategy: New York/Los Angeles. RATING: 2.3 Suddenly-hot Gemma Arterton looks pretty strong in this graphic novel adaptation.
TODAY’S SPECIAL (Reliance MediaWorks) Genre: Comedy. A young sous chef who dreams of opening his own upscale Manhattan restaurant is instead forced to work in his family’s Brooklyn tandoori restaurant. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.7 Indian films and films about Indian culture are beginning to work their way into the mainstream and I couldn’t be happier.
OCTOBER 15, 2010
CARLOS (IFC) Genre: Biography. The story of notorious terrorist Carlos the Jackal told by the director of Summer Hours. Release Strategy: New York only. RATING: 3.5 This is truly an epic with a running time of five and a half hours(!)
CONVICTION (Fox Searchlight) Genre: True Drama. A woman fights to get her brother, unjustly convicted of murder, released from prison. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.7 Could be Hilary Swank’s next Oscar nomination.
JACKASS 3D (Paramount) Genre: Comedy – Sort of. Idiots do stupid stunts for the amusement of other idiots. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 4.0 Certainly a sign that mankind wasn’t meant to survive.
RED (Summit) Genre: Action Comedy. A group of retired CIA assassins are being hunted down by modern CIA assassins, so they must regroup and defend themselves. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.5 Helen Mirren with a machine gun? It’s on like Donkey Kong!
SAMSON AND DELILAH (Indiepix) Genre: Romantic Drama. An Australian couple tries to survive in the Outback after a tragedy forces them from their tiny home town. Release Strategy: New York only. RATING: 3.3 Haven’t seen the trailer so not exactly sure what to expect from this.
OCTOBER 22, 2010
COMPANY MEN (Weinstein) Genre: Drama. Three laid off executives must re-define their lives as husbands, fathers and men. Release Strategy: New York/Los Angeles (expands October 29). RATING: 2.0 An impressive cast and a solid trailer put this one solidly on my fall film radar.
HEREAFTER (Warner Brothers) Genre: Supernatural Drama. Matt Damon plays a psychic who can communicate with the dead desperately trying to turn his back on that part of his life. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.1 If Clint Eastwood were directing a driver’s ed video I’d still pay ten bucks to see it.
INHALE (IFC) Genre: Thriller. A man desperately tries to get his dying daughter a lung transplant as the clock ticks inexorably down. Release Strategy: New York only. RATING: 3.0 Sounds interesting but have yet to see a trailer for this.
KALAMITY (Original 4 Releasing) Genre: Suspense Thriller. A heartbroken man returns home to Virginia to find his best friend acting increasingly bizarre and frightening. Release Strategy: New York only. RATING: 3.5 Sounds okay but again no trailer and I have the funny feeling I’ve seen this before.
PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 2 (Paramount) Genre: Supernatural Horror. Home video captures disturbing occurrences in a family household. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.7 The first film, made for $15,000 grossed more than $150 million; you had to know a sequel was coming.
OCTOBER 26, 2010
NICE GUY JOHNNY (Marlboro Road Gang) Genre: Comedy. The last of the honest men is taken out by his womanizing uncle for one last fling before he gets married. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.5 Edward Burns is a gifted actor and director; I’m intrigued to see what he’s come up with.
OCTOBER 29, 2010
MONSTERS (Magnet) Genre: Sci-Fi Thriller/Horror. An interstellar probe carrying alien DNA crash lands in Mexico, mutating the local flora and fauna; a reporter and a tourist struggle to survive the now-quarantined zone. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.1 Great concept and the trailer looks awesome.
NIGHT OF THE DEMONS (Seven Arts) Genre: Supernatural Horror. Young partiers spend Halloween in a haunted New Orleans mansion. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 3.1 Could be really good or could be an exercise in clichés.
SAW 3D (Lionsgate) Genre: Horror/Torture Porn. The last film in the series will also be the first in 3D as survivors of Jigsaw’s deadly traps convene, only to realize one of them has their own agenda. Release Strategy: Wide (Standard, 3D). RATING: 3.4 I liked the first film but haven’t really liked any since.
WILD TARGET (Freestyle Releasing) Genre: Comedy Thriller. An assassin sent to murder a con artist falls in love with her instead. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.8 Bill Nighy is one of my favorite actors at the moment.
SCHEDULED TO BE REVIEWED HERE AS NEW RELEASES
The Social Network, Let Me In, Buried, It’s Kind of a Funny Story, Life As We Know It, Nowhere Boy, Secretariat, Conviction, Red, Hereafter, Company Men