New Releases for the Week of August 26, 2011


August 26, 2011

COLOMBIANA

(TriStar) Zoe Saldana, Michael Vartan, Cliff Curtis, Callum Blue, Jordi Molla, Max Martini, Lennie James, Graham McTavish. Directed by Olivier Megaton

A young woman who witnesses the assassination of her parents is trained to become an assassin herself by her uncle. She continues to work for her uncle as a killer, all the while searching for the identity of those responsible for the deaths of her parents. Her pursuit will lead her to some dark, dangerous places..

See the trailer here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Release formats: Standard

Genre: Action

Rating: PG-13 (for violence, disturbing images, intense sequences of action, sexuality and brief strong language)

Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark

(FilmDistrict) Katie Holmes, Guy Pearce, Bailee Madison, Jack Thompson. A young family moves into a spooky old house where the little girl is menaced by dark forces. Based on the 1973 made-for-television movie that some believe is one of the best horror movies ever made for any medium.

See the trailer, promos, interviews and clips here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Release formats: Standard

Genre: Horror

Rating: R (for violence and terror)

The Guard

(Sony Classics) Brendan Gleeson, Don Cheadle, Mark Strong, Liam Cunningham. An Irish cop who is dealing with a local drug smuggling ring joins forces with a straight-laced FBI agent who gets involved when those smugglers turn out to be part of a larger operation.

See the trailer and clips here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Release formats: Standard

Genre: Crime Comedy

Rating: R (for pervasive language, some violence, drug material and sexual content)

Our Idiot Brother

(Weinstein) Paul Rudd, Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Deschanel, Emily Mortimer. The perennially cheerful but completely lacking in sense or smarts is forced to live with each of his uptight sisters who are disgusted with his upbeat attitude. However the longer he spends time with them the more they realize that he may be  a lot smarter than they gave him credit for.

See the trailer, interviews, promos and clips here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Release formats: Standard

Genre: Comedy

Rating: PG (for mild action and rude humor)

Sarah’s Key

(Weinstein) Kristin Scott Thomas, Melusine Mayance, Aidan Quinn, Niels Arestrup. The life of a modern-day American journalist is entwined with that of a 10-year-old French girl in Nazi-occupied France. The little girl hides her little brother in a closet with a promise to come back for him shortly, a promise that echoes into modern day France as the journalist uncovers disturbing information regarding the French round up of Jews.

See the trailer, clips, featurettes and interviews here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Release formats: Standard

Genre: Drama

Rating: PG-13 (for thematic material including disturbing situations involving the Holocaust)

Four-Warned: July 2011


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. HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART 2 (1.0)
2. CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER (1.1)
3. COWBOYS AND ALIENS (1.4)
4. LARRY CROWNE (1.9)

FOUR TO SEEK OUT (FILMS NOT IN WIDE RELEASE)
1. ANOTHER EARTH (1.3)
2. SNOW FLOWER AND THE SECRET FAN (1.7)
3. SARAH’S KEY (1.9)
4. RAPT (2.0)

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

JULY 1, 2011

CRIME AFTER CRIME (OWN Documentary Club) Genre: Documentary. The story of Debbie Paigler, a woman who murdered her abusive boyfriend and was railroaded by the legal system – and of the two decade long fight to set her free. Release Strategy: New York City (Opening in Los Angeles July 8). RATING: 2.8 Sounds like it could be compelling but trailer didn’t impress.
DELHI BELLY (UTV) Genre: Crime Comedy. A trio of flat mates get in trouble with a vicious crime boss…with comic results. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.1 Bollywood is beginning to invade mainstream cinemas about which I couldn’t be happier – although this one didn’t really float my boat based on the trailer.
LARRY CROWNE (Universal) Genre: Romantic Comedy. A recently unemployed man goes back to college to improve his employment chances only to fall for the charms of the teacher. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.9 Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts? Say no more!
LOVE ETC. (Paladin) Genre: Documentary. Love in all its forms shown during the course of a New York City day. Release Strategy: New York City and Los Angeles. RATING: 3.4 The concept doesn’t excite me much; seems a bit talky and over-analytical.
MONTE CARLO (20th Century Fox) Genre: Preteen Romantic Comedy. A trio of recent high school graduates on tour in Europe gets mistaken for a rich bad girl, changing their vacation – and their lives. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.7 Eccch…
THE PERFECT HOST (Magnolia) Genre: Thriller. A bank robber masquerades as a guest at a dinner party, unaware that the host has some secret of his own. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.2 David Hyde Pierce is ideally cast.
SMALL TOWN MURDER SONGS (Monterey Media) Genre: Thriller. A cop haunted by his past investigates a small town’s first murder in decades, only to discover his past catching up with him – and entwining with his investigation. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 2.6 The trailer looked interesting but not compelling.
TERRI (ATO) Genre: Dramedy. A husky teenage misfit is taken under the wing of a well-meaning but often overly talkative principal. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.4 Missed it at the Florida Film Festival, but John C. Reilly stars so it’s gotta be at least half-decent.

JULY 6, 2011

RAPT (Lorber) Genre: Thriller. When a French industrialist is kidnapped, ugly details of his sordid affairs come out, making his family wonder whether the ransom should be paid. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 2.0 A very taut-looking suspense film from the trailer.
SEPTIEN (IFC) Genre: Mystery. After an 18-year-disappearance, a former football hero returns to his rural home to find that things have changed – and are not so different either. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 2.5 Looks a bit Southern gothic – in a good way.

JULY 8, 2011

BEATS, RHYMES AND LIFE: THE TRAVELS OF A TRIBE CALLED QUEST (Sony Classics) Genre: Musical Documentary. A documentary that follows one of the most innovative bands in hip-hop from their beginnings until now, more than a decade after their highly publicized break-up. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.6 I’m just not a rap guy.
THE CHAMELEON (Cinema Epoch) Genre: Thriller. The return of a kidnapped boy to his home brings more questions than answers and opens up a deeper mystery. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.9 A great cast (including Ellen Barkin) and the extra added attraction of a true story.
FADING OF THE CRIES (Eammon) Genre: Fantasy. A young girl is chased by a hideous wizard who wants an ancient necklace. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.7 Looks a little cheesy but I’m a sucker for these kinds of movies.
HORRIBLE BOSSES (New Line) Genre: Comedy. A group of much put-upon cubicle cowboys plot to rid themselves of their nemeses. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.0 This could be the water cooler comedy of the summer.
IRONCLAD (ARC Entertainment) Genre: Historical Action. King John attempts to retake complete control of England after signing the Magna Carta with one small group of rebels standing in his way. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.4 Looks good, but Paul Giamatti in a medieval period piece? Not so sure about that one.
JOHN CARPENTER’S THE WARD (ARC Entertainment) Genre: Horror. A young girl with no memory finds herself in a mental institution in the 60s being stalked by strange and terrifying visions. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.4 Carpenter’s first feature film in more than a decade – reason enough to go see this one.
THE LEDGE (IFC) Genre: Suspense. A cuckolded Evangelical forces his wife’s lover out onto the edge of a high rise and forces him to choose between his love and his life. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.2 Great cast, terrific concept and a decent trailer.
PROJECT NIM (Roadside Attractions) Genre: Documentary. The attempts to train a chimpanzee in sign language back in the ‘70s are documented. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.1 Missed this at the Florida Film Festival and is wishing I hadn’t.
ROMEO AND JULIET IN YIDDISH (Self-Released) Genre: Not Sure How to Classify This. The Bard’s classic play, set in modern New York City and told in Yiddish. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 4.0 Oy.
THE SLEEPING BEAUTY (Strand) Genre: Fantasy. A French deconstruction of the classic fairy tale that spans several centuries. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.4 Visually inventive and quite erotic judging on the trailer.
ZOOKEEPER (Columbia) Genre: Comedy. The animals of a zoo get together to help their zookeeper get the woman of his dreams when they find out he’s leaving the zoo because his profession gets in the way of getting women. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.6 Blowing hot and cold on this one – I like Kevin James but it does look a little cheesy.

JULY 15, 2011

GIRLFRIEND (Paradigm) Genre: Drama. A romantic triangle between a girl, her abusive ex and a young man with Down’s syndrome turns into a game of cat and mouse. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.0 Looks dark and sweet all at once.
HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART 2 (Warner Brothers) Genre: Fantasy. The franchise comes to a conclusion here. Release Strategy: Wide (Standard, 3D and IMAX 3D). RATING: 1.0 It all comes down to this.
LIFE, ABOVE ALL (Sony Classics) Genre: Drama. A young South African girl faces fear and suspicion when members of her family die mysteriously. Release Strategy: New York City/Los Angeles. RATING: 2.3 The trailer for this didn’t shed a lot of light on the plot, which might be a good thing.
LUCKY (Phase 4) Genre: Comedy. The winner of the Iowa State Lotto is a serial killer. Release Strategy: New York City/Los Angeles. RATING: 3.2 As Artie Johnson might have said, “Verrrrry interesting…”
SALVATION BOULEVARD (IFC) Genre: Comedy Thriller. When a devout follower of a corrupt televangelist witnesses a sinful act, he goes on the run and into a series of romantic entanglements. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.2 Stunning cast, great premise and a nifty trailer make me eager to check this out.
SNOW FLOWER AND THE SECRET FAN (Fox Searchlight) Genre: Drama. Two pairs of women, separated by generations in China, struggle to maintain friendship in a world hostile to it. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.7 The latest from director Wayne Wang explores female friendship, a subject not often tackled by the movies.
TABLOID (Sundance Selects) Genre: Documentary. The 1977 “Case of the Manacled Mormon” is the subject of the latest by master documentarian Errol Morris. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.0 This one has it all – sex, scandal and comedy.
WINNIE THE POOH (Disney) Genre: Animated Feature. The creatures of the 100-Acre Wood set out to find Eeyore a tail. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.3 Anyone who doesn’t love Winnie the Pooh was never a child.

JULY 18, 2011

SINBAD THE FIFTH VOYAGE (Giant Flick) Genre: Adventure. Sinbad must travel to dangerous distant lands to rescue the sultan’s daughter. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.6 If it is as imaginative as the old Ray Harryhausen versions, this could be a winner.

JULY 20, 2011

THE WOMAN WITH THE 5 ELEPHANTS (Cinema Guild) Genre: Documentary. A look at the foremost translator of Russian literature into German who survived both Stalinist and Nazi persecution. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 3.1 The trailer makes the film look awfully dry.

JULY 22, 2011

A LITTLE HELP (Freestyle) Genre: Drama. A woman whose husband dies suddenly is comforted and aided by her mother and sister – and finds herself being drawn to her sister’s husband. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.8 Sounds a bit soap opera-esque on the surface but the trailer looked pretty interesting.
ANOTHER EARTH (Fox Searchlight) Genre: Science Fiction. The discovery of a duplicate Earth sends the lives of those on this Earth into a tizzy. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.3 Looks pretty good from the trailer.
CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER (Paramount) Genre: Superhero. A 98-lb. weakling is turned into a super-soldier by a mysterious formula. Release Strategy: Wide (Standard, 3D). RATING: 1.1 Marvel’s movies have been nearly universally high quality.
FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS (Screen Gems) Genre: Comedy. Two friends decide to add sex to their mix, with inevitable chaos. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.9 Really? I mean, really?
MYTH OF THE AMERICAN SLEEPOVER (IFC) Genre: Drama. Four teenagers on the last day of summer try to find some magic before school starts. Release Strategy: New York City/Los Angeles. RATING: 3.4 Really haven’t seen the trailer, so not sure about this one.
SARAH’S KEY (Weinstein) Genre: Drama. A journalist investigating the Holocaust in France discovers an unexpected personal connection to the story. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.9 Great cast and an interesting background story make for a must-see movie.
THE TREE (Zeitgeist) Genre: Drama. A young family copes with the death of the father while relocated in the Australian outback. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.4 Looks a little bit maudlin but the beautiful Charlotte Gainsbourg makes up for it.

JULY 27, 2011

LIFE IN A DAY (National Geographic) Genre: Documentary. The results of a worldwide solicitation of home video to document a single day on Planet Earth. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 3.1 An interesting concept but I’m not sure it will translate to an entertaining film.

JULY 29, 2011

ALL IN (4th Row) Genre: Documentary. The surge in popularity of poker is examined. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.5 I don’t find poker to be a particularly interesting film to watch on television; I can’t imagine an hour and a half of it in a theater.
ATTACK THE BLOCK (Screen Gems) Genre: Science Fiction. A teen gang defends a London tower block from an alien attack. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.8 Received rave reviews on the festival circuit.
COWBOYS AND ALIENS (Universal) Genre: Science Fiction Western. A gunslinger without any memory may be the key to defeating an alien invasion in the Old West. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.4 The trailers look pretty nifty.
CRAZY STUPID LOVE (Warner Brothers) Genre: Comedy. A man whose wife asked him for a divorce looks for dating advice from a lady killer friend. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.2 It’s Steve Carrell…gotta be good, right?
THE DEVIL’S DOUBLE (Lionsgate) Genre: Biographical Drama. A young Iraqi army lieutenant becomes the double of Uday Hussein, entering a world of corruption and debauchery. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.6 Looks fascinating, a real-life version of a fairy tale turned nightmare.
THE FUTURE (Roadside Attractions) Genre: Dramedy. The adoption of a kitten changes the course of time. No, really. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.8 One of the Sundance Festival’s marquee films.
GOOD NEIGHBORS (Magnolia) Genre: Crime Thriller. Apartment dwellers bond over a string of vicious murders in their community, never realizing how close to home the killer really is. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.3 This seems to me like it’s been done before.
THE GUARD (Sony Classics) Genre: Crime Comedy. A by-the-book FBI officer must team up with a diffident Irish cop to nab a vicious cocaine smuggling ring in Ireland. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.6 Teaming up Brendan Gleeson and Don Cheadle is inspired casting.
POINT BLANK (Magnolia) Genre: Action. A male nurse is forced to get a captured criminal out of police custody in the hospital in order to save his wife and unborn child. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 2.4 It looks pretty intense.
THE SMURFS (Columbia) Genre: Family. An evil wizard magically transports the beloved blue-skinned figures to New York City. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 3.8 Has its nostalgia value and from what I can tell not much more.

SCHEDULED TO BE REVIEWED HERE AS NEW RELEASES
Larry Crowne, Horrible Bosses, Project Nim, Zookeeper, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, Winnie the Pooh, Captain America: The First Avenger, Friends with Benefits, Cowboys and Aliens, Crazy Stupid Love