Four-Warned: May 2013


Iron Man 3

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. IRON MAN 3 (1.0)
TIE. STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS (1.0)
3. NOW YOU SEE ME (1.3)
4. AFTER EARTH (1.5)

FOUR TO SEEK OUT (FILMS NOT IN WIDE RELEASE)
1. STORIES WE TELL (1.0)
2. STATE 194 (1.2)
3. THE ATTACK (1.3)
4. SIGHTSEERS (1.4)

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

MAY 1, 2013

POST TENEBRAS LUX (Strand) Genre: Documentary. An upper class family moves to the Mexican countryside resulting in friction and domestic crisis. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 3.0 All I’ve seen are a couple of clips which don’t give a sense of what to expect from the film.

MAY 2, 2013

IRON MAN 3 (Disney/Marvel) Genre: Superhero. The armored superhero faces post-Avengers depression and the appearance of a nemesis who is out to destroy him and everything he stands for. Release Strategy: Wide (Standard, 3D, IMAX 3D). RATING: 1.0 As the first film in the Marvel Filmed Universe’s Phase 2 this is one of the most anticipated movie events of the year.

MAY 3, 2013

1ST NIGHT (Gravitas) Genre: Dramedy. A variety of relationships reach turning points during rehearsals for an opera. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.8 Looks like a jolly sex romp with an operatic background – color me intrigued.
AROUSED (Ketchup) Genre: Documentary. 16 of the most successful women in the adult film industry open up in interviews about their profession, their feelings about it and their private lives. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.1 Could be really good or really bad; the interviewer sounds uncannily like the voice-over artist on the Victoria’s Secret commercials.
THE ATTACK (Cohen Media Group) Genre: Drama. A doctor of Arabic descent living and working in Tel Aviv discovers a disturbing secret about his wife following a suicide bombing that kills 17 people. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.3 This looks incredibly powerful from the trailer.
CAROLINE AND JACKIE (Phase 4) Genre: Drama. On a birthday visit, a celebratory occasion turns into an intervention as two sisters and a boyfriend realize that below the surface is an incredible amount of sibling tension. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.8 Kinda disturbing, kinda intriguing.
CINCO DE MAYO, LA BATALLA (Pantelion) Genre: True Life War Drama. The story of the Battle of Puebla which resulted in Mexican independence. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.6 The story of the battle itself would have been far better without the romantic subtext that distracts from the power of the story.
DEAD MAN’S BURDEN (Cinedigm) Genre: Western. Siblings, separated by the Civil War and by family secrets, struggle to reconnect in the chaos following the war. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 2.1 Beautifully shot, looks like Shakespearean tragedy in a desolate setting.
DESPERATE ACTS OF MAGIC (Self-Released) Genre: Comedy. A computer programmer, bored with his life, decides to become a magician and befriends a woman who, disillusioned by that world, has turned to a life of crime. Release Strategy: New York City (opening in Los Angeles May 10). RATING: 3.3 The trailer looks like a cheesy 80s comedy right down to the soundtrack.
GENERATION UM… (Phase 4) Genre: Drama. The appearance of a stolen camcorder slowly unravels the lives of two escorts and their driver. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.1 Keanu Reeves stars? Really?
GREETINGS FROM TIM BUCKLEY (Tribeca) Genre: Musical Biography. Jeff Buckley, son of a revered singer/songwriter with a tragic fate, follows his own path to stardom despite a rocky relationship with his dad. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.8 Star Penn Badgely is a dead ringer for the late Jeff Buckley.
THE ICEMAN (Millennium) Genre: Biographical Drama. The story of Richard Kuklinski, mob assassin who reputedly killed more than 100 men. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.9 Michael Shannon, Ray Liotta, Winona Ryder, James Franco and a stellar supporting cast…wow.
KISS OF THE DAMNED (Magnet) Genre: Gothic Horror. A vampire’s love affair with a human is complicated when her sister visits unexpectedly. Release Strategy: Los Angeles (opening in other cities May 15). RATING: 1.7 I was surprised at how good the trailer looks; a bit retro Euro-vamp with a modern twist.
LOVE IS ALL YOU NEED (Sony Classics) Genre: Romantic Comedy. A group of people seek out love in Sorrento, Italy and discover that second chances can come even when you think it’s too late. Release Strategy: New York City/Los Angeles. RATING: 2.0 The latest from Oscar-winning director Susanne Bier looks magical – and yes this played at the Florida Film Festival last month, thank you very much.
ONCE UPON A TIME IN BROOKLYN (Lionsgate) Genre: Action. The black sheep of an Italian family gets out of prison and is given a job in the family business but his partners in crime prove to be an irresistible siren song. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.3 Looks like it’s getting a brief theatrical run before heading to home video.
SCATTER MY ASHES AT BERGDORF’S (eOne) Genre: Documentary. Bergdorf-Goodman has become a fashion barometer but was once a modest ladies boutique; this film explores how the store rose to its current height and how it stays there. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 3.6 While I’m not interested in Couture whatsoever, there’s no denying the importance of Bergdorf’s in American style.
SOMETHING IN THE AIR (IFC) Genre: Drama. A group of French students in 1971 must flee to Italy after a vandalism attack goes terribly wrong. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.6 Not only captures the look of the era but the attitude – could be a must-see this month.
WHAT MAISIE KNEW (Millennium) Genre: Drama. The six-year-old daughter of a divorcing couple becomes the pawn in their bitter custody dispute. Release Strategy: New York City (opening in Los Angeles May 17). RATING: 1.8 A top-notch cast and a very emotionally wrenching story.

MAY 10, 2013

AFTERSHOCK (Radius) Genre: Horror. An American tourist in Chile gets trapped in an underground nightclub after an earthquake but the horror only begins once he escapes to the surface. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.0 Looks a bit like Chernobyl Diaries without the mutants.
AND NOW A WORD FROM OUR SPONSOR (Paladin/108) Genre: Dramedy. A CEO from an ad agency wakes up from a coma unable to communicate except in ad slogans. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.9 Clever idea in a Being There kinda way.
THE GREAT GATSBY (Warner Brothers) Genre: Drama. A wealthy American war hero in the roaring 20s befriends a down on his luck neighbor who discovers the good life isn’t all that good. Release Strategy: Wide (Standard, 3D). RATING: 2.8 Baz Luhrmann isn’t one of my favorite directors.
HE’S WAY MORE FAMOUS THAN YOU (Gravitas) Genre: Comedy. A struggling indie actress decides that the secret to success is to become famous – and she’ll do anything to do it. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.9 Yes, Ralph Macchio is way more famous than you.
JAVA HEAT (IFC) Genre: Action. After the Indonesian Sultana is murdered and her daughter kidnapped by terrorists, it falls to a Muslim policeman and an American wild card to set things to rights. Release Strategy: New York City (opening in Los Angeles May 17). RATING: 3.2 The trailer looks a bit like a typical made-for-cable action thriller.
NO ONE LIVES (Anchor Bay) Genre: Thriller. After a criminal gang take a young couple hostage, they realize they are being stalked by someone determined to kill everyone off in the house. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.8 Looks a little better for this genre than most.
PEEPLES (Lionsgate) Genre: Urban Comedy. Craig Robinson stars as a working man who crashes an upscale family reunion to ask for their daughter’s hand in marriage – but of course things don’t go as planned. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 3.5 Sounds suspiciously like Meet the Parents to me.
SIGHTSEERS (IFC) Genre: Horror Spoof. A couple on a motor home tour of England descend into the kind of madness that leads to carnage. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.4 Saw this at the Florida Film Festival and it was as good as any film there this year.
STORIES WE TELL (Roadside Attractions) Genre: Documentary. Actress/Filmmaker Sarah Polley interviews a family of storytellers to discover the effect of memory on family legends. Release Strategy: New York City (expanding into other markets May 17). RATING: 1.0 A really fascinating idea for a film as we get to see different versions of the same stories interpreted by different family members.
VENUS AND SERENA (Magnolia) Genre: Sports Documentary. The story of the Williams sisters, the most dominant siblings in tennis in the 21st century. Release Strategy: Los Angeles (expanding into other markets May 17). RATING: 2.8 I’m not a particular fan of tennis but this documentary looks fascinating.

MAY 15, 2013

BECOMING TRAVIATA (Distrib) Genre: Documentary. We are taken through the reinvention of the iconic opera La Traviata by French soprano Natalie Dessay and director Jean-Francois Sivadier. Release Strategy: New York City (opening in Los Angeles May 24). RATING: 3.7 It looks good, but I’m not sure I can get over my personal dislike of opera to go see it.
STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS (Paramount) Genre: Science Fiction. Captain Kirk becomes obsessed with apprehending a terrorist who has developed a devastating new weapon. Release Strategy: Wide (Standard, 3D, IMAX 3D). RATING: 1.0 Looks like JJ Abrams has the series well in hand.

MAY 17, 2013

33 POSTCARDS (Gravitas) Genre: Drama. A Chinese orphan discovers that her Australian sponsor who has only communicated with her through postcards isn’t what he said he was. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.0 Looks a bit melodramatic to me.
AUGUSTINE (Music Box) Genre: Biographical Drama. The true story of a French neurologist whose female patient’s “hysteria” led to spectacular seizures and a relationship the two that blurred the line between doctor and patient. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.6 Looks rather lurid but the I’m fascinated by Victorian sexual politics.
AURANGZEB (Yash Raj) Genre: Bollywood. A family of policemen are at odds with a family of criminals in modern India. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.8 Not 100% certain but it looks like a variation on Infernal Affairs.
BLACK ROCK (LD Entertainment) Genre: Thriller. Three women visiting the remote island off the Maine coast that was their hangout find three ex-servicemen hunting there. It doesn’t take long to figure out that the women are the new prey. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.7 I just kept getting the feeling that I’d seen this movie before from watching the trailer.
THE ENGLISH TEACHER (Cinedigm) Genre: Romantic Comedy. A high school English teacher falls for an ex-student and decides to mount his angst-ridden play as the student theatrical production. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.9 Awesome cast with Julianne Moore, Michael Angarano, Greg Kinnear and Nathan Lane.
ERASED (Radius) Genre: Thriller. A former CIA operative and his daughter are targeted for termination; he must determine by whom and why. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.2 Has some very Bourne-like qualities from the trailer, but I always am up to see Aaron Eckhart.
FRANCES HA (IFC) Genre: Comedy. A young woman throws herself headlong into her dreams, even if they don’t really match up with reality. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.6 I like Greta Gerwig and director Noah Baumbach; the trailer didn’t particularly move me though.
HATING BREITBART PG-13 (Freestyle) Genre: Documentary. The story of the late conservative gadfly and blogger who changed the political landscape forever. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.9 Don’t really care much for the subject.
PIETA (Drafthouse) Genre: Thriller. A collector for a loan shark renounces his former life when he meets a mysterious woman claiming to be his mother but his past soon catches up with him. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.7 Visceral and controversial, this played the recent Florida Film Festival and evoked strong reactions.
STATE 194 (Participant) Genre: Documentary. A bold new plan to get Palestinian statehood recognized is threatened by a political quagmire. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.2 Looks kind of objective for this kind of documentary.

MAY 22, 2013

DOIN’ IT IN THE PARK: PICK-UP BASKETBALL, NYC (360 Filmworks) Genre: Documentary. The culture of pick-up basketball and free recreation in general is explored. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 2.6 Actually looks kind of interesting, even if you’re not into basketball.

MAY 24, 2013

A GREEN STORY (Indican) Genre: Drama. A Greek immigrant who created a successful environmentally friendly business goes for one last deal at the end of his life as he reminisces about his past. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.4 I’m really not quite sure what to make of this but looks like it might be interesting so I’ll give it a shot.
BEFORE MIDNIGHT (Sony Classics) Genre: Drama. The third installment in the “Before” trilogy finds Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy in their 40s and now living in Greece. Release Strategy: New York City/Los Angeles. RATING: 3.9 I simply just never got into this series m’fraid.
EPIC (20th Century Fox) Genre: Animated Feature. A young girl enters a mysterious world of miniature forest soldiers who need her help to protect not only her world but ours. Release Strategy: Wide (Standard, 3D). RATING: 1.6 Trailer looks pretty amazing; hope the film measures up.
FAST AND FURIOUS 6 (Universal) Genre: Action. Hobbs recruits Dom and his crew to take down a group of mercenary drivers whose second in command is a blast from Dom’s past. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.1 The last one was the best in the series thus far; this one looks like it might top it.
FILL THE VOID (Sony Classics) Genre: Drama. An Orthodox Hassidic Israeli girl is forced to choose between her familial obligations and her heart’s desire. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.9 I’m not so sure about this one; on the one hand the subject of arranged marriages is compelling but I couldn’t help feeling as I watched the trailer that there were some Harlequin Romance elements to the story.
THE HANGOVER PART III (Warner Brothers) Genre: Comedy. The Wolf Pack return to where it all started – Sin City – and Las Vegas will never be the same again. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.9 I’m hoping they get away from the same storyline as the first two movies, I’m kinda over it.
PENGUINS 3D (nWave) Genre: Nature Documentary. Veteran naturalist and documentarian David Attenborough narrates this story about a King Penguin making his way in the Antarctic. Release Strategy: IMAX. RATING: 2.9 Reminds me of March of the Penguins a little too much.
WE STEAL SECRETS: THE STORY OF WIKILEAKS (Focus) Genre: Documentary. The story of the polarizing website whom some see as a champion of freedom, others as it’s destroyer. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.5 Julian Assange has already condemned the documentary.

MAY 29, 2013

HANNAH ARENDT (Zeitgeist) Genre: Biographical Drama. The world famous Jewish-German philosopher, who coined the term “The Banality of Evil” in regards to Adolph Eichmann, is shown covering his trial. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.0 This looks like it could be something worth checking out.

MAY 31, 2013

AFTER EARTH (Columbia) Genre: Science Fiction. A father and son are stranded on a dangerous planet. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.5 I think it looks pretty good, but some hear that M. Night Shyamalan is the director and immediately shuts the door.
AMERICAN MARY (XLRator) Genre: Horror. A disillusioned medical student gets embroiled in the freakish world of underground surgeries. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.9 Looks genuinely creepy – I like it.
THE EAST (Fox Searchlight) Genre: Thriller. A former FBI agent working for a private security group infiltrates an anarchist group and finds her loyalties wavering. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.2 Good cast, fascinating story.
FREE SAMPLES (Anchor Bay) Genre: Dramedy. The day of a young girl handing out free samples in an ice cream truck turns out to be more significant than she planned on. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.0 Screened at the recent Florida Film Festival; read my review here.
THE HISTORY OF FUTURE FOLK (Variance) Genre: Musical. Aliens who come down to Earth for the purpose of invasion decide instead to become an indie folk band. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.7 Another Florida Film Festival entry, this one is as hip as it gets.
THE KINGS OF SUMMER (CBS) Genre: Comedy. Some spoiled teens in an act of rebellion against their parents decide to live on their own in the woods. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.9 This looks like a movie that was deliberately not made for my generation to enjoy. Good cast, though.
NOW YOU SEE ME (Summit) Genre: Action. A group of stage magicians – the best in the world – pull off daring heists against corporate criminals during their shows, garnering the attention of the authorities who can’t figure out how they do it. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.3 Looks like the kind of movie that could be a surprise summer hit.
SHADOW DANCER (Magnolia) Genre: Thriller. An Irish single mom in Belfast is forced to spy on her own family. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.8 Looks like the kind of political thriller that I really go for.

SCHEDULED TO BE REVIEWED HERE AS NEW RELEASES
Iron Man 3, The Great Gatsby, Star Trek Into Darkness, Sightseers, Frances Ha, Pieta, Epic, Fast and Furious 6, The Hangover Part III, After Earth, Now You See Me

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