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. THE GREY (1.8)
2. RED TAILS (1.9)
3. THE DEVIL INSIDE (2.0)
TIE. MAN ON THE LEDGE (2.0)
FOUR TO SEEK OUT (FILMS NOT IN WIDE RELEASE)
1. DECLARATION OF WAR (1.1)
2. ONCE UPON A TIME IN ANATOLIA (1.3)
3. SING YOUR SONG (1.5)
4. NORWEGIAN WOOD (1.7)
RATING SYSTEM: 1) Must-see, 2) Should-see, 3) Perhaps-see, 4) Don’t-see
JANUARY 2, 2012
ALBATROSS (IFC) Genre: Romantic Comedy. A descendant of Sherlock Holmes creator Arthur Conan Doyle seeks to gain experiences for her own writing, seducing an older married man with devastating results. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.3 British in a cheeky sort of way.
JANUARY 4, 2012
IT’S ABOUT YOU (MPI) Genre: Documentary. Follows John Mellencamp on his 2009 tour and during the recording of his 2010 album in various historic and musical sites throughout America. Release Strategy: New York City/Los Angeles (Opens in limited release January 6) RATING: 1.9 Really captures the soul of the artist and chronicles his creative process.
ONCE UPON A TIME IN ANATOLIA (Cinema Guild) Genre: Crime Drama. A group of men – a cop, a doctor, a prosecutor and a murder suspect among them – search the Anatolian steppes as darkness falls for the corpse of a victim. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.3 The Grand Prix winner at Cannes, the trailer looks amazing.
JANUARY 6, 2012
BENEATH THE DARKNESS (Image) Genre: Horror. A small town mortician, respected since his days as the high school quarterback, retreats into darkness after his wife dies. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.8 Looks like standard crazed mortician slasher fare.
THE DEVIL INSIDE (Paramount) Genre: Horror. A daughter visits her mother, who killed three people when she was a young baby, in an Italian asylum to determine if her mother is sane or possessed. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.0 Sort of a found footage version of The Rite.
NORWEGIAN WOOD (Soda/Red Flag) Genre: Drama. A freshman University student living in Tokyo in the 1960s develops romantic relationships with two very different women amid a world churning in turmoil. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 1.7 Stars the incredible Rinko Kikuchi; shows us the 60s from a very different viewpoint.
ROADIE (Magnolia) Genre: Drama. A roadie is fired after 20 years on the road with Blue Oyster Cult and must get his life back together after having done nothing else. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.2 I was part of the generation who thought rock and roll would never die never realizing that while it doesn’t die it does get old eventually.
JANUARY 11, 2012
LOOSIES (IFC) Genre: Romantic Comedy. A young New York City pickpocket discovers that the girl he had a one night stand with is pregnant, forcing him to re-evaluate his life choices. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.4 Has a certain New York brassiness to it and it look genuinely funny.
JANUARY 12, 2012
NORTHEAST (Tribeca) Genre: Drama. A young man tires of skating through life and decides to find someone to build a life with. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.6 The trailer does not help the cause of this film.
JANUARY 13, 2012
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST 3D (Disney) Genre: Animated Feature. The re-release of blockbusters in 3D continues. Release Strategy: Wide (Standard, 3D). RATING: 3.7 Please God…go see a new movie instead.
CONTRABAND (University) Genre: Action/Crime. A former smuggler is drawn back into the life when his brother-in-law dumps cargo, incurring the wrath of the client. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.3 Mark Wahlberg looks awfully good in this role.
THE DIVIDE (Anchor Bay) Genre: Sci-Fi Thriller. A group of survivors trapped in a basement after a nuclear holocaust begin to turn on one another. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.8 A really intriguing trailer and premise, with a fine cast.
DON’T GO IN THE WOODS (Tribeca) Genre: Horror. A band goes to a wooded retreat to focus on writing some new songs and instead find themselves attacked by a caped killer. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.6 The directing debut of actor Vincent D’Onofrio looks like a pretty standard slasher film.
JOYFUL NOISE (Warner Brothers) Genre: Musical Comedy. A church choir in a national competition threatens to fall apart due to the rivalry between two members Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 3.4 Normally Dolly Parton and Queen Latifah in the same cast would be enough to pique my interest but the trailer looks weak.
NEWLYWEDS (Tribeca) Genre: Drama. The seemingly blissful marriage of two newlyweds is threatened when the husband’s hard-to-handle sister comes to stay with them. Release Strategy: Chicago only. RATING: 2.3 Edward Burns is one of my favorite indie actor/directors and this looks like it might wind up being one of his best.
SING YOUR SONG (S2BN) Genre: Music Documentary. Musician/activist Harry Belafonte’s career is profiled. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 1.5 Belafonte deserves to have his accomplishments highlighted from both a musical standpoint as well as a political one.
WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN (Oscilloscope Laboratories) Genre: Psychological Thriller. When her son turns out to be sociopathic, a mother’s culpability comes under scrutiny. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.8 One of the creepiest and most disturbing trailers I’ve seen in a long while.
JANUARY 18, 2012
CRAZY HORSE (Zipporah) Genre: Documentary. The world famous nude dance revue in Paris is profiled here, with some surprising inside information. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 2.5 Titillating yes, but interesting to see how the process works.
JANUARY 20, 2012
CAROL CHANNING: LARGER THAN LIFE (Entertainment One) Genre: Documentary. The life and times of one of Broadway’s most legendary entertainers. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.9 A heartfelt and affectionate look at an American icon.
CORIOLANUS (Weinstein) Genre: Drama. One of Shakespeare’s lesser known plays is re-set in modern Italy and is directed by Ralph Fiennes, who also stars. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.0 Setting Shakespeare plays in modern settings with Shakespearean dialogue always strikes me as being a bit pretentious.
THE FRONT LINE (Well Go USA) Genre: War. On the eve of the end of the Korean War, a Korean counter-intelligence officer is set to a place where the fighting is particularly ferocious to find a spy for the other side. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.2 Looks to have an epic quality that marks the best war films.
FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST: THE SACRED STAR OF MILOS (Eleven Arts) Genre: Anime. A pair of brothers seeks out a fugitive alchemists with terrifying powers who wants to lead her people into an orgy of conquest. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.7 The trailer didn’t particularly stand out but then again, I like anime so there’s that.
HAYWIRE (Relativity) Genre: Action. A highly trained covert operative is betrayed by someone close to her in the agency and not only seeks revenge but answers. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.7 MMA superstar Gina Carano tries out her acting chops.
MISS BALA (20th Century Fox) Genre: Drama. A young woman from an impoverished part of Mexico dreams of becoming a beauty queen. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.6 The trailer seems to dwell on the role of organized crime in Mexico; not sure what to make of it yet.
RED TAILS (20th Century Fox) Genre: War. A squadron of African American fighter pilots for the U.S. Army fight the prejudices and ignorance of their own country as well as the enemy. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.9 George Lucas tells the story of the Tuskegee Airmen; Star Wars meets World War II.
ULTRASUEDE: IN SEARCH OF HALSTON (Tribeca) Genre: Documentary. The life of the most iconic fashion designer of the 70s is examined. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.3 Fashion doesn’t really interest me but I’ll admit I’m a bit curious because of his relation to the times he lived in.
UNDERWORLD AWAKENING (Columbia) Genre: Horror/Action. Warrior/vampire Selene wakes up from suspended animation to a world in which the humans have subjugated the vampires and the Lycans only to find all three races facing an even darker threat. Release Strategy: Wide (Standard, 3D, IMAX 3D). RATING: 2.3 The concept has been better than the execution in this series but I gotta admit Kate Beckinsale always looks great in it.
WATCHING TV WITH THE RED CHINESE (Roam) Genre: Period Drama. In 1980 three red Chinese exchange students discover America largely through television, romantic triangles and violence. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.6 Interesting concept but the trailer didn’t really stand out for me.
JANUARY 27, 2012
DECLARATION OF WAR (IFC) Genre: Drama. A young couple face the serious illness of their newborn baby as a kind of war. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.1 Stars Valerie Donzelli and Jeremie Elkaim based the movie on their own experiences; the film drew raves at Cannes.
THE GREY (Open Road) Genre: Thriller. Liam Neeson tries to lead a team of Alaskan oil drillers through the wilderness when their plane crashes – oh, and they’re being stalked by a pack of rogue wolves too. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.8 The trailer looks plenty exciting.
MAN ON A LEDGE (Summit) Genre: Crime Drama. A disgraced ex-cop just out of jail steps out onto a ledge; the hostage negotiator sent to deal with him soon realizes he may have a different agenda in mind. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.0 The trailer reminded me a little of the Joel Schumacher film Phone Booth.
ONE FOR THE MONEY(Lionsgate) Genre: Action Comedy. A former lingerie sales clerk takes a job as a bail bondsman out of desperation and finds herself enmeshed in a mystery involving an ex that she’d gladly see rot in jail – but he just might be innocent, a mystery that just might get them both killed. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.6 Katherine Heigl plays Stephanie Plum, heroine of this Janet Evanovich mystery series
THE THEATER BIZARRE (W2 Media) Genre: Horror. An anthology of horror stories told by a marionette-like host in a strange theater with an audience of one. Release Strategy: New York City/Los Angeles. RATING: 3.1 These types of anthologies tend to be wildly hit or miss, although I did appreciate the amount of blood, gore and nudity that the trailer advertises.
THE WICKER TREE (Anchor Bay) Genre: Horror. A pair of missionaries in Scotland innocently accept an invitation to participate in a local festival, unaware of the deeper rites that are to be celebrated. Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.4 From the writer of The Wicker Man, starring Christopher Lee; could be good but I still am wary after the remake of that film.
SCHEDULED TO BE REVIEWED HERE AS NEW RELEASES
The Devil Inside, Contraband, Haywire, Red Tails, Underworld Awakening, The Grey, Man on a Ledge, One For the Money