One Day


One Day

Jim Sturgess finds that when he closes his eyes he really can't find Anne Hathaway's mouth.

(2011) Romance (Focus) Anne Hathaway, Jim Sturgess, Patricia Clarkson, Ken Stott, Romola Garai, Rafe Spall, Jodie Whittaker, Tom Mison, Heida Reed, Amanda Fairbank-Hynes, Georgia King, Emelia Jones. Directed by Lone Scherfig

Our lives are a series of 24 hour periods, stretching from birth to death. Taken as a whole, they form our life. Individually they may not have the same meaning, but it only takes a single day to change our lives forever.

Emma (Hathaway) and Dexter (Sturgess) meet on July 15, 1988 – the date of their college graduation in Edinburgh. They hit it off and almost have sex but it doesn’t quite work out so they decide to stay friends. Their friendship takes them through diverging paths in life; Dexter becomes a TV presenter whose mother (Clarkson) is ill and whose father (Stott) can’t stand him. Emma’s bright-eyed idealism gives way to world-weary cynicism as she gets stuck in a job she can’t stand. Emma and Dexter drift further apart as she struggles to find herself and he becomes lost in stardom.

They seem to be moving on into different relationships; Emma with Ian (Spall), a failed stand-up comic and Dexter with Sylvie (Garai), with whom he has a daughter Jasmine (Jones). Emma’s career begins to take off as a teacher; Dexter’s declines after a series of woeful teen countdown programs in which his growing addiction to alcohol and drugs begins to affect his work, while his age begins to slam doors in his face.

Soon it becomes evident to both of them that they are far better together than they are separately – the sum greater than the parts. Has too much water flown beneath the bridge for them ever to get together?

This is based on a book by David Nicholls (who also wrote the screenplay) and is directed by Scherfig, the Swedish director who in 2009 won acclaim for his movie An Education. This is a disappointment of a movie; one which has two of the most appealing actors in Hollywood and squanders them. It’s quite a shame too; if this had been executed better it might have been a solid movie.

The problem with the movie is the problem that comes from the novel it’s based on – the two main characters spend nearly the entire movie apart. The whole conceit of the movie is that we are encountering the two main characters on July 15th every year (or in some cases every second year) from the day they first meet. Because we don’t see the characters together as much, there is no time for them to develop chemistry together.

One gets the feeling that Hathaway has moved on from roles like this. She has Oscar-caliber talent, evidenced in movies like Love and Other Drugs. Emma is not a role really suited for her. For one thing it forces her to adopt both a Scottish and a Yorkshire accent, which drifts during the course of the movie. It never sounds convincing to my ear; quite frankly I think the movie would have been better served to have cast a British actress in the role (and there are a lot of good ones).

Sturgess has to play an absolute rotter at times and he pulls it off; his disarming grin and boyish good looks aiding him in his portrayal. I hope he continues to get romantic leads because he is uncommonly good at them. Clarkson, like Hathaway, is a very fine actress who again is saddled with an unconvincing British accent. She’s a fine actress but couldn’t she and Hathaway just have been re-written to be Americans? Or have British actresses cast in those roles?

A bit of a spoiler follows here although to any sensible moviegoer it won’t come as much of a surprise. One of the central moments of the movie is the moment when Emma decides that her feelings for Dexter are stronger than she admitted they were and that she truly loves him and needs him. It’s a moment that comes off abrupt and schmaltzy, going from “We’re friends and I don’t have any interest in you romantically in the least” to “You’re the love of my life” in a matter of moments. It’s like a car with bad brakes trying to stop on a dime.

Curiously, the movie gets better in a lot of ways from there, even if it descends into general romantic grab a box of Kleenex territory. Once Hathaway and Sturgess get more time together, the movie really elevates. It’s too bad for most of the first hour or so they’re too busy denying their feelings and saying to all and sundry that they’re just friends. Too much time hitting us over the head with the idea that they’re better together than apart – and then they don’t have enough time together to seal the deal. You never fully get the sense that there’s chemistry between the two.

I really wanted to like this movie because it has not only two of my favorite actors in it but also a director who has an exciting future ahead of him and a high-concept way of looking at a 20-year-romance. It should have come together but unfortunately for a variety of reasons it didn’t. All the beautiful Scottish scenery and longing wistful looks from a pair of attractive actors can’t save a movie from its own shortcomings.

REASONS TO GO: Beautiful scenery of Edinburgh and the north of England looks beautiful onscreen.

REASONS TO STAY: Never get a sense that the couple is actually good for each other. Relationship moves abruptly, a very jarring feeling for the audience.

FAMILY VALUES: There is some sexuality and a bit of nudity. There’s also a bit of violence, and a smattering of bad language. There is also some depiction of substance abuse, drugs and alcohol.

TRIVIAL PURSUIT: In order to set the mood for the skinny dipping scene, Hathaway mooned Sturgess, unaware that there was an apartment complex behind her with many of the residents filming the shoot with mobile phone cams. To date, the footage hasn’t surfaced on the Internet which Hathaway has expressed gratitude to the complex residents whom she expressed had “class”.

HOME OR THEATER: A definite cuddling on the couch movie.

FINAL RATING: 4/10

TOMORROW: Takers

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New Releases for the Week of August 19, 2011


August 19, 2011

FRIGHT NIGHT

(DreamWorks) Colin Farrell, Anton Yelchin, Toni Collette, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, David Tennant, Imogen Poots, Chris Sarandon, Lisa Loeb, Dave Franco. Directed by Craig Gillespie

Some high school seniors have it all, but Charlie has all that plus a vampire living next door. Of course, nobody will believe him so Charlie decides he’ll need to take out that infringing bloodsucker by himself before his mom and girlfriend become the latest victim of his next-door monster. Of course if all vampires looked like Colin Farrell, I don’t think Charlie’s women would mind being his victim all that much.

See the trailer, clips, interviews and web-only content here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Release formats: Standard, 3D

Genre: Vampire Horror

Rating: R (for bloody horror violence and language including some sexual references)

Conan the Barbarian

(Lionsgate) Jason Momoa, Rachel Nichols, Stephen Lang, Rose McGowan. From the pages of Robert E. Howard’s legendary fantasy series strides a new version of the muscle-bound hero. Now wearing Arnold Schwarzenegger’s sandals is Momoa in the titular role. Seeking revenge on the warlord who massacred his village and killed his parents, Conan finds himself embroiled in a war with the forces of evil with the very survival of Hyboria at stake.

See the trailer, promos, an interview, a featurette and web-only content here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Release formats: Standard, 3D

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: R (for strong bloody violence, some sexuality and nudity)

One Day

(Focus) Anne Hathaway, Jim Sturgess, Patricia Clarkson, Ken Stott. On the day of their college graduation, two young people meet. The evolution of their relationship is examined by returning to see how the two are faring in their lives on the anniversary of their initial meeting – for twenty years in a row.

See the trailer, clips, featurettes and interviews here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Release formats: Standard

Genre: Romance

Rating: PG-13 (for sexual content, partial nudity, language, some violence and substance abuse)

Spy Kids 4: All the Time in the World

(Dimension) Jessica Alba, Jeremy Piven, Joel McHale, Antonio Banderas. The children of a famous spy-hunting reporter don’t get along with their new stepmom. That’s before they find out she’s a retired secret agent, one of the best ever. When a new megalomaniacal villain surfaces looking to conquer time itself, the kids and their now-unretired mom must face their foe to save the world – with a little help from the original Spy Kids themselves.

See the trailer, interviews and clips here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Release formats: Standard, 3D

Genre: Family Espionage Fantasy

Rating: PG (for mild action and rude humor)

Four-Warned: August 2011


August 2011Every 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. THE DEBT (1.3)
2. RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES (1.5)
3. CONAN THE BARBARIAN (1.6)
4. ONE DAY (1.9)
TIE. THE HELP (1.9)

FOUR TO SEEK OUT (FILMS NOT IN WIDE RELEASE)
1. BELLFLOWER (1.8)
2. GRIFF THE INVISIBLE (1.9)
TIE. THE CALLER (1.9)
4. CHASING MADOFF (2.0)

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

AUGUST 5, 2011

BELLFLOWER (Oscilloscope Laboratories) Genre: Action. A pair of buddies preparing for a global apocalypse discovers something far more devastating – a woman. Release Strategy: New York City/Los Angeles. RATING: 1.8 The movie generated major buzz at Sundance this year.
THE CHANGE-UP (Universal) Genre: Fantasy Comedy. A bachelor and a family man exchange bodies after urinating in a fountain. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.6 Body switching comedies are beginning to wear out their welcome.
GUN HILL ROAD (Motion Film Group) Genre: Drama. A soldier returns home to the Bronx from war to find his wife emotionally unfaithful and his son undergoing a sexual transformation. Release Strategy: New York City/Los Angeles only. RATING: 3.2 Could be interesting depending on how many Latino clichés they use.
MAGIC TRIP (Magnolia) Genre: Documentary. Never before seen footage of the 1964 psychedelic bus trip of Ken Kesey and his Merry Band of Pranksters from San Francisco to the New York World’s Fair finally sees the light of day. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.2 What a long strange trip it’s been…
MYSTERIES OF LISBON (Music Box) Genre: Drama. A bastard child in 19th century Portugal tries to find out who his parents are and discovers that knowledge can be dangerous. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 2.1 Acclaimed as a beautifully filmed modern masterpiece.
RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES (20th Century Fox) Genre: Science Fiction. Animal experimentation on a new wonder drug has unexpected consequences. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.5 Meant to take this franchise in a completely different direction might be just what the mad scientist ordered.
THE WHISTLEBLOWER (Goldwyn) Genre: Drama. A U.N. police officer in post-war Bosnia discovers an insidious web of corruption and murder. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.5 Rachel Weisz stars in the title role of a movie based on actual events.

AUGUST 10, 2011

THE HELP (Disney) Genre: Drama. An ambitious journalist student in Mississippi in the 1960s decides to write an article on the servants of Jackson. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.9 Based on a best-selling novel that brings the Civil Rights era to life.
OVER CITIES GRASS WILL GROW (An Alive Mind) Genre: Documentary. An artist turns a derelict silk factory in France into a gigantic art installation. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.9 Normally I’d be interested in something like this but the studio summary makes this sound awfully pretentious and artsy.

AUGUST 12, 2011

30 MINUTES OR LESS (Columbia) Genre: Crime Comedy. A pair of bumbling criminals kidnap a pizza delivery boy and strap a bomb to his chest, forcing him to rob a bank or else. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.4 Reunites Zombieland director Ruben Fleischer and star Jesse Eisenberg.
AARAKSHAN (Reliance Big Picture) Genre: Thriller. The friendship between a legendary academic and his disciple is tested when they stand on opposite sides of a controversial decision. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.1 A Bollywood film with some very strong production values.
FINAL DESTINATION 5 (New Line) Genre: Horror. Survivors of a bridge collapse get visited by Death who is apparently Rube Goldberg. Release Strategy: Wide (Standard, 3D). RATING: 3.3 It’s been a winning formula but how much longer are people going to be interested in it?
GLEE: THE 3D CONCERT MOVIE (20th Century Fox) Genre: Musical. The kids from the Fox TV hit “Glee” are captured in concert. Release Strategy: Wide (Standard, 3D). RATING: 4.0 Oh joy.
SENNA (Producers Distribution Agency) Genre: Documentary. The story of Brazilian Formula One racer Ayrton Senna, who revolutionized the sport and died tragically young. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.1 Will a documentary on a Formula One hero fly in NASCAR country?

AUGUST 17, 2011

ATROCIOUS (The Collective) Genre: Horror. Footage from a video camera reveals the hidden truth behind a gruesome multiple murder. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.5 One has to wonder how many of these found footage movies audiences are going to warm to.

AUGUST 19, 2011

5 DAYS OF WAR (Anchor Bay) Genre: Action. A television journalism team documents the 5-day Georgian conflict in 2008 putting their lives in grave peril. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.9 Although I normally love these sorts of movies, the trailer left me cold.
AMIGO (Variance) Genre: Drama. During the Spanish-American War, Americans come to a village in the Philippines and raise havoc, igniting conflicts between the peaceful villagers and the local resistance. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.4 John Sayles is one of the most consistently intriguing directors today.
CONAN THE BARBARIAN (Lionsgate) Genre: Fantasy. A young Cimmerian warrior’s quest for revenge turns into an all-out fight against supernatural evil. Release Strategy: Wide (Standard, 3D). RATING: 1.6 Is the public ready to see Jason Momoa step into Arnold Schwarzenegger’s boots?
FLYPAPER (IFC) Genre: Crime Comedy. When two rival gangs try to rob the same bank at the same time, a teller and a customer try to save the day without getting caught in the crossfire. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.5 A very interesting trailer and a very attractive cast.
FRIGHT NIGHT (DreamWorks) Genre: Horror. A high school senior suspects his new neighbor is a vampire. Release Strategy: Wide (Standard, 3D). RATING: 2.0 Was a remake of this ‘80s horror comedy really needed? And does the new version add anything?
GRIFF THE INVISIBLE (Indomina) Genre: Romantic Comedy. A shy young office worker assumes the guise of a superhero by night; it’s up to his new girlfriend to save him from the clutches of his own monsters. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.9 The trailer looked very enticing.
THE LAST CIRCUS (Magnolia) Genre: Period Drama. A sad clown and a happy clown do battle in a circus struggling to survive in Franco’s Spain. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.3 This is the latest from one of Spain’s hidden treasures, director Alex de la Iglesia.
THE MISSING PIECE (Self-Released) Genre: Documentary. A Trivial Pursuit player becomes obsessed with the 1911 theft of the Mona Lisa and resolves to shed more light on the crime. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.9 Sounds fascinating but has no official distribution.
MOZART’S SISTER (Music Box) Genre: Period Drama. The re-imagined life of Mozart’s sister posits a similar talent that can’t be nurtured because of her gender. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.8 To show you my ignorance, I wasn’t aware Mozart even had a sister – which is not only a sad comment on my education but also on the treatment of women.
ONE DAY (Focus) Genre: Romantic Drama. The evolution of a friendship into romance is chronicled over two decades as we see a single day in each year of their lives. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.9 Sort of like Same Time, Next Year only with Jim Sturgess and Anne Hathaway.
PROGRAMMING THE NATION (International Film Circuit) Genre: Documentary. A look at the history of subliminal messaging in the United States. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 3.1 A subject which has always been of great interest to me but the trailer doesn’t look like the movie covers it in an interesting way.
SPY KIDS: ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD (Dimension) Genre: Family. A couple of kids discover their stepmom is a spy. Release Strategy: Wide (Standard, 3D). RATING: 3.3 I think the concept would work better if the kids weren’t so much smarter than the adults.

AUGUST 26, 2011

BRIGHTON ROCK (IFC) Genre: Crime Drama. A vicious criminal takes up a romance with a naïve waitress who may have proof of his gang’s involvement in a revenge slaying. Release Strategy: New York City/Los Angeles. RATING: 2.6 British gangster movies are the best in the world at the moment.
BUZZKILL (Indican) Genre: Comedy. A struggling writer becomes famous when a notorious serial killer steals his car and his latest script. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.3 The trailer didn’t excite me as much as I’d hoped.
THE CALLER (Goldwyn) Genre: Supernatural Thriller. A divorced woman gets disturbing calls from a woman who claims to be in the past. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.9 Looks pretty nifty, like the anti-Lake House.
CHASING MADOFF (Cohen Media Group) Genre: Documentary. A securities analyst goes on the hunt for one of the most notorious white-collar criminals of our time. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.0 It’s amazing how something that sounds so much like a John La Carre novel could have actually happened.
CIRCUMSTANCE (Roadside Attractions) Genre: Drama. Two Iranian teenage girls struggle with their burgeoning sexual desires in a repressive society. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.7 As titillating as the concept is, the trailer looks actually pretty serious.
COLUMBIANA (TriStar) Genre: Action. A young Columbian girl who witnesses the murder of her parents is raised by her uncle to be a world-class assassin, going after the ones responsible for her parent’s death in between jobs. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.1 The casting of Zoe Saldana in the lead role seems a little odd but Olivier Megaton is an excellent director.
DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK (FilmDistrict) Genre: Horror. A young girl moves into a 19th century mansion her dad is restoring begins to hear voices that may be connected to some hideous creatures. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.3 Guillermo del Toro produces this remake of a made-for-television movie that might not interest me as much if not for his involvement.
THE FAMILY TREE (Entertainment One) Genre: Comedy. A dysfunctional family gets a new lease on life when the shrill matriarch suffers from amnesia. Release Strategy: New York City/Los Angeles. RATING: 3.2 The trailer didn’t really give me much incentive to see this film.
HIGHER GROUND (Sony Classics) Genre: Drama. During the 1960s, a woman struggles with her strong conservative religious background, the onset of feminism and the loves of her life. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.4 Actress Vera Farmiga makes her directing debut.
LIMELIGHT (Magnolia) Genre: Documentary. This is the story of Peter Gatien, the flamboyant and charismatic King of Nightlife in New York City during the 1980s. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.9 Could be interesting but haven’t seen a trailer for it yet.
OUR IDIOT BROTHER (Weinstein) Genre: Comedy. Three sisters take turns housing their uber-honest hippie-like brother. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.2 A great cast and an intriguing trailer make this one a sleeper to look out for.
REDEMPTION ROAD (Freestyle) Genre: Drama. Two men become unlikely friends on a journey between Texas and Alabama. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.8 Mario van Peebles is a capable director and with an outstanding cast should produce a respectable movie.
SPECIALTREATMENT (First Run) Genre: Drama. A high end prostitute and a psychiatrist discover that they are therapeutic for one another. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.1 Terrific trailer and the wonderful actress Isabelle Huppert make this one a must-see for me.

AUGUST 31, 2011

THE DEBT (Focus) Genre: Thriller. An Israeli MOSSAD team hides a terrible secret that comes to light 40 years later. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.3 An amazing cast with a trailer that reminds me a bit of Spielberg’s Munich.
GAINSBOURG: A HEROIC LIFE (Music Box) Genre: Biographical Drama. A fanciful interpretation of the life of French icon Serge Gainsbourg. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 3.1 Je t’aime indeed.

SCHEDULED TO BE REVIEWED HERE AS NEW RELEASES
The Change-Up, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, The Help, 30 Minutes or Less, Conan the Barbarian, One Day, Columbiana, Our Idiot Brother, The Debt