Every month I’m going to look at every movie on the release schedule and try to assign them a numerical value corresponding to how anxious I am to see it. The lower the number, the more I want to see it. A one means I would walk through hell and high water to see it; a four means there’s no interest whatsoever. The numbers are not arrived at scientifically but they aren’t arbitrary either.
The numbers aren’t a reflection of the artistic merit of any of these films, but merely a reflection of my willingness to go to a movie theater and see it. The top four scores will be gathered as a means of reflecting the movies I’m anticipating the most; you may use that as a guide or not.
Each entry is broken down as follows:
NAME OF FILM (Studio) Genre A brief description of the plot. Release plans: Wide = Everywhere, Limited = In selected markets. RATING A brief comment
Keep in mind that release dates are extremely subject to change, even at this late date.
FOUR TO SEE
1. JOHN CARTER (1.2)
2. SALMON FISHING IN THE YEMEN (1.4)
3. THE HUNGER GAMES (1.5)
4. WRATH OF THE TITANS (1.7)
FOUR TO SEEK OUT (FILMS NOT IN WIDE RELEASE)
1. BLACK BUTTERFLIES (1.1)
2. THE SALT OF LIFE (1.3)
TIE. THE RAID: REDEMPTION (1.3)
4. JIRO DREAMS OF SUSHI (1.4)
TIE. DETACHMENT (1.4)
RATING SYSTEM: 1) Must-see, 2) Should-see, 3) Perhaps-see, 4) Don’t-see
MARCH 2, 2012
BEING FLYNN (Focus) Genre: Dramedy. A father and son, writers both and long estranged are forced to come to terms with one another with the father is evicted and needs a place to stay. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.3 In the trailer De Niro looks at the top of his form.
BLACK BUTTERFLIES (Tribeca) Genre: Biographical Drama. A dramatization of the tormented and ultimately tragic life of poet Ingrid Jonker. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.1 Jonker was one of the most amazing poets of the 20th century; the trailer has scintillating cinematography and the movie looks like it could be one of those movies that sneaks up on you and stays with you always.
BOY (Paladin) Genre: Dramedy. A young man living on New Zealand’s rural East Coast in the 1980s develops dual heroes; his father (in jail for robbery) and Michael Jackson, merging the two together in his mind. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.6 I’m just all Michael Jacksoned out.
DR. SEUSS’ THE LORAX (Universal) Genre: Animated Feature. A young man seeking to impress the girl he’s sweet on seeks a mythical creature said to protect the ecology of the world. Release Strategy: Wide (Standard, 3D, IMAX 3D). RATING: 2.2 Danny DeVito as the voice of the Lorax is inspired casting.
LET THE BULLETS FLY (Well Go/Variance) Genre: Action Comedy. A legendary bandit and a thief vie with a vicious crime lord for the rule of a small village i 1920s rural China with escalating attempts at violent one-upmanship. Release Strategy: New York City/Los Angeles. RATING: 2.5 Ridiculously violent, this is the all-time box office champeen in China.
PROJECT X (Warner Brothers) Genre: Teen Sex Comedy. A high school loser dreams of popularity by staging the ultimate party. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 3.8 Teens acting like morons. Yeah, I want to waste an hour and a half of my life seeing that.
THE SALT OF LIFE (Zeitgeist) Genre: Comedy. A middle-aged Italian man looks for love in all the wrong places. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.3 This is a sequel to the wonderful Mid-August Lunch.
SNOWTOWN (IFC Midnight) Genre: Thriller. A neighborhood watch in a rough Australian suburb morphs into vigilantes who torture and kill those they consider deviants. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 1.9 Looks stark, brutal and utterly mesmerizing.
TIM AND ERIC’S BILLION DOLLAR MOVIE (Magnet) Genre: Comedy. The madcaps from the “Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job” tackle the big screen with a ridiculous budget. Release Strategy: New York/Los Angeles. RATING: 3.4 The trailer was, sad to say, non-impressive to me.
MARCH 9, 2012
A THOUSAND WORDS (Paramount) Genre: Comedy. A literary agent with a penchant for manipulation discovers that he only has one thousand words left to him before he dies. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.9 The trailer looked good but frankly I’m wary of these kinds of Eddie Murphy comedies.
ATTENBERG (Strand) Genre: Drama. A young woman who relates to people only through documentaries and the music of an avant garde rock band must cope with her father’s impending death and her own burgeoning sexuality. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 2.6 Seems a bit artsy fartsy on the surface but I couldn’t help but be intrigued.
THE BALLAD OF GENESIS AND LADY JAYE (Adopt) Genre: Documentary. The story of Genesis P-Orridge, influential musical presence of Throbbing Gristle and Psychic TV and his attempt to become a single pandrogynous entity with his wife Lady Jane Breyer P-Orridge. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.1 Very odd but strangely moving.
BENDING THE RULES (WWE) Genre: Action Comedy. A New Orleans-based Assistant District Attorney must join forces with a cop he tried to put in jail in order to solve the mystery of his own stolen car. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.9 A vehicle for Wrestling superstar Adam “Edge” Copeland; no trailer available when this was written.
THE DECOY BRIDE (IFC) Genre: Romantic Comedy. A Hollywood actress attempting to get married in a small Scottish town hires a decoy bride to throw off the paparazzi who have descended on the village like a plague of locusts. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.3 The trailer was extremely charming and has Doctor Who’s David Tennant as an additional bonus.
FOOTNOTE (Sony Classics) Genre: Comedy. Two rival academics, both father and son, have to re-evaluate their motivations when the father wins a prestigious award. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.0 Looks like a fairly quirky sense of humor here.
FRIENDS WITH KIDS (Roadside Attractions) Genre: Comedy. A group of friends see their lives affected as several couples within the group start having kids. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.9 Look like a ton of other movies we’ve seen about young people “growing up” when they have kids. Yawn.
GOOD FOR NOTHING (Screen Media) Genre: Western. An outlaw finds himself facing erectile dysfunction when trying to force himself on his beautiful kidnap victim. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.3 An offbeat Kiwi comedy set in the Old West…Western New Zealand.
JIRO DREAMS OF SUSHI (Magnolia) Genre: Documentary. The world’s greatest sushi chef yearns to pass on his legacy to his son, who may or may not be up for it. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.4 Not so much about sushi as it is about the pursuit of perfection.
JOHN CARTER (Disney) Genre: Science Fiction. A Civil War hero finds himself transported to Mars where he becomes embroiled in a different war. Release Strategy: Wide (Standard, 3D, IMAX 3D). RATING: 1.2 Edgar Rice Burroughs’ other series has been crying out for a big screen rendition for nearly 100 years.
PLAYBACK (Magnet) Genre: Horror. A group of high school students researching their small town’s history unwittingly release an ancient evil. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.6 Looks like it is influenced by The Ring films.
SALMON FISHING IN THE YEMEN (CBS) Genre: Dramedy. When a visionary sheikh hatches a plan to introduce salmon fishing in Yemen, a Scottish fisheries expert is drawn into the crazy scheme, altering the lives of everyone around it. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.4 Sounds kind of meh on paper but the trailer really sold me on this movie.
SAVIORS IN THE NIGHT (Menemsha) Genre: True Life Drama. The friend of a Jewish war hero of World War I takes in his wife and daughter when the Nazis demand that his family be arrested. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.3 Elements of the Anne Frank story although not as well-known – and just as true.
SEEKING JUSTICE (Anchor Bay) Genre: Action. A man whose wife is brutally assaulted agrees to let a complete stranger exact vigilante justice in return for a future favor. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.4 This is another Nicolas Cage film which might be future fodder for Conan O’Brien although he seems pretty restrained in the trailer.
SILENT HOUSE (Open Road) Genre: Horror. A young woman and her father renovating their vacation house are beset by supernatural forces. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.5 A remake of an Argentine film which is itself supposedly based on true events.
SOUND OF NOISE (Magnolia) Genre: Comedy. A cop from a long family of musicians must face a group of crazed renegade musicians intent on bringing about a musical apocalypse. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.1 Strange doesn’t even begin to cover it.
MARCH 14, 2012
GERHARD RICHTER PAINTING (Kino Lorber) Genre: Documentary. One of the world’s greatest living painters allows filmmakers free access to his studio. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 3.8 A look at the creative process of a painter who has been as influential to art as anyone alive.
PRAY FOR JAPAN (Studio DEEN) Genre: Documentary. Volunteers aiding with the tsunami/earthquake-ravaged Japanese coast take on the challenges of rebuilding the area in the face of catastrophic devastation. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.0 Looks very moving and beautifully filmed.
MARCH 16, 2012
21 JUMP STREET (Columbia) Genre: Comedy. The iconic 80s young people cop show which starred Johnny Depp gets a remake starring Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill – with a decidedly comedic bent. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.7 Could be funny or could be hideous – either way might benefit from a cameo by Depp.
CASA DE MI PADRE (Pantelion) Genre: Comedy. A man who has worked on his father’s Mexican ranch all his life falls in love with his brother’s wife and finds himself smack dab in the middle of a war between rival druglords. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.9 Doesn’t sound like a comedy does it? I got four words for ya – Will Ferrell’s in it.
DELICACY (Cohen) Genre: Romance. A Parisian businesswoman mourning the loss of her soulmate finds solace from an unexpected source. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.1 More lighthearted French romance and with the lustrous Audrey Tautou, what could go wrong?
DETACHMENT (Tribeca) Genre: Drama. A substitute teacher stays emotionally insulated by never staying in one place long but finds himself bonding with a troubled student in a public school. Release Strategy: New York City (opens in Los Angeles March 23). RATING: 1.4 Could be Oscar-caliber work for star Adrien Brody who is supported by a superb cast.
THE FP (Drafthouse) Genre: Urban Comedy. Dueling gangs of dancers face off in a battle of neon-enhanced break dancing. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.9 Sort of like Tron if it had taken place inside Dance Dance Revolution.
FREE MEN (Film Movement) Genre: Drama. A Muslim Algerian living in Vichy France makes friends with a Jewish singer and joins the resistance at great personal risk. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 2.8 Includes the great Michael Lonsdale in the cast.
JEFF, WHO LIVES AT HOME (Paramount Vantage) Genre: Drama. A slacker in a constant state of competition with his successful brother shows his long-suffering mom and bro the meaning of true life success. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.4 A cast that includes Jason Segel, Ed Helms, Susan Sarandon and Judy Geer should have earned wide release for this.
THE KID WITH A BIKE (Sundance Selects) Genre: Dramedy. An emotionally troubled 11-year-old boy abandoned by his father holds on to a bike as the last vestige of his former life even as a kindly hairdresser yearns to give him a new life. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.5 A Golden Globe nominee and award winner at Cannes, looks powerful and moving.
NATURAL SELECTION (Cinema Guild) Genre: Comedy. A devout Christian housewife discovers that her dying husband has a 23-year-old illegitimate son; she sets out to bring his progeny to see him one last (or is it first) time. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.1 Trailer looks intriguing; Rachael Harris supposedly gives a career-making performance which I can believe.
MARCH 23, 2012
4:44 LAST DAY ON EARTH (IFC) Genre: Science Fiction. A couple face the final hours of Earth resolved that they are about to die. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.4 The latest from acclaimed director Abel Ferrara.
BRAKE (IFC) Genre: Action. A man is trapped in the trunk of a car and faces death unless he gives away the location that the President is taken in the event of a terrorist attack. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.7 Looks like a taut, suspenseful action thriller; wish it were playing wide.
THE DEEP BLUE SEA (Music Box) Genre: Romance. A woman leaves a life of luxury and privilege for a passionate but unstable existence with the man she loves. Release Strategy: New York City/Los Angeles. RATING: 2.9 Looks a bit sudsy but had director Terrence Davies and star Rachel Weisz going for it.
THE HUNGER GAMES (Lionsgate) Genre: Science Fiction. In the future, each of the twelve districts of the nation of Panem must send two representatives to fight to the death in the Hunger Games each year; plucky Katness must use all her skills to survive the battle. Release Strategy: Wide (Standard, IMAX). RATING: 1.5 May be the next big franchise with Harry Potter gone and Twilight about to go.
MUSICAL CHAIRS (Paladin) Genre: Urban Romance. When a young girl’s dreams of ballroom dancing are cut short by a tragic accident, the custodian at her studio introduces her to the world of wheelchair dancing. Release Strategy: New York City (opening in Los Angeles March 30). RATING: 4.0 There is no way you could drag me to see this one.
OCTOBER BABY (Goldwyn) Genre: Propaganda. A young woman discovers that she was adopted after an attempt at being aborted. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 4.0 The trailer made it clear that this is a polemic against abortion; see it at your own risk.
THE RAID: REDEMPTION (Sony Classics) Genre: Action. When an elite assault team is discovered raiding a dilapidated apartment building that is really a fortified stronghold for an Indonesian druglord, they must fight their way out through the worst criminals in Southeast Asia. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.3 Has been an international sensation and will be shortly be given the Hollywood remake treatment.
THE TROUBLE WITH BLISS (Variance) Genre: Drama. A 35-year-old slacker starts a relationship with the precocious 18-year-old daughter of a friend. Release Strategy: New York City (opening in Los Angeles March 30). RATING: 2.8 Sounds creepy on paper but actually looks like a fairly interesting movie.
MARCH 28, 2012
THE ISLAND PRESIDENT (Goldwyn) Genre: Documentary. The President of the Maldives fights to keep his island nation above water – literally – as global climate change threatens to raise the sea level above the waterline of his entire country. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 1.5 An inspiring story about the rare politician willing to take on the enormous challenges that could destroy all human life as we know it.
MARCH 30, 2012
BULLY (Weinstein) Genre: Documentary. The rising tide of high school and internet bullying gets a timely documentary examination. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.8 Currently appealing an R Rating so that it might be shown in schools where it can do some good.
DARK TIDE (Wrekin Hill) Genre: Action. A shark expert who loses a friend to a shark attack on her watch is made an offer to take a Eurotrash millionaire into shark-infested waters without a cage. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.0 Halle Berry in a bikini – what more do you need?
GOON (Magnet) Genre: Sports Comedy. A bartender is plucked from obscurity to become the enforcer on a minor league hockey team. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.5 Slap Shot much?
INTRUDERS (Millennium) Genre: Horror. A mysterious attacker terrorizes children in two separate countries. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.3 From the twisted mind of director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo comes this horror thriller.
L!FE HAPPENS (PMK*BNC) Genre: Comedy. A woman who loves to party parties a little too hard and winds up pregnant; her lifestyle is turned on its head but she discovers that parenting has its own rewards. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.3 Couldn’t find the trailer for this; could be very cliché or interesting if they do it right.
LOSING CONTROL (PhD) Genre: Romantic Comedy. A scientist decides to apply scientific methods to dating in order to determine if the man who wants to marry her is “the One”. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.7 Looks a little bit on the precious side; good concept, though.
MIRROR MIRROR (Relativity) Genre: Fantasy. A beautiful woman pisses off a primping, preening queen who wants to be more beautiful than anybody. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.4 Julia Roberts as an evil queen with Nathan Lane as her flunky? Inspired casting is all I can say.
TURN ME ON DAMMIT! (New Yorker) Genre: Sex Dramedy. A 15-year-old Norwegian girl in a small town finds her burgeoning sexuality marks her as an outcast. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.6 A very rare look at female teen sexuality, although the trailer is a bit of a non-sequitir.
WRATH OF THE TITANS (Warner Brothers) Genre: Fantasy. When Hades and Ares conspire to free the Titans from their prison on Mt. Tartarus, Perseus is pressed back into duty to save the world and the Gods as well. Strategy: Wide (Standard, 3D and IMAX). RATING: 1.7 The first movie wasn’t so bad, although the 3D conversion was godawful.
SCHEDULED TO BE REVIEWED HERE AS NEW RELEASES
Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax, A Thousand Words, John Carter, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, 21 Jump Street, The Hunger Games, Mirror Mirror, Wrath of the Titans