09 Film Preview: January – April (The Pre-Summer Season)
Here is a collection of films I am looking forward to seeing over the next few months. There are some potential big movies this early season, including an early front runner for the picture of the year. Either way, lets check it out, and hit the pics for a link to the trailer if available.
Notorious-This bio-pic about the life of Biggie Smalls had me intrigued from the first preview I saw, and word is that it isn’t terrible. Focusing on the rise and fall of the infamous rapper, this one could be a sneaky hit of the new year, and will hopefully be an entertaining look at this charismatic individual. directed by George Tillman Jr.; staring Jamal Woolard, Angela Bassett, Derek Luke
What to skip this week: My Bloody Valentine 3-D, Paul Blart: Mall Cop
Outlander-A sci-fi viking action/thriller is little hyped and abandoned by the studio, but the preview looks pretty solid and it has a couple of good leads. A ship crashes in the lands of a viking tribe and a battle between the alien monster and a human like alien inside, with the humanoid protecting and rallying the help of the tribe to defeat the monster. Color me intrigued, and if this makes it out around these parts I just might check it out. Genre fans, keep an eye out. directed by Howard McCain; staring James Caviezel, John Hurt, Rob Perlman
Killshot-An all-star cast, with an Academy Award pedigree director, and an adaptation of an Elmore Lenoard, this sounds like it should be a hit. But this dumped release date might suggest otherwise, either way I am intrigued and want to check this out which centers around a scam gone sour a couple and a pair of hitmen. Quentin Tarantino is also throwing his name on this for more of a hype factor. I guess we will find out soon enough if it is any good. directed by John Madden; staring Diane Lane, Thomas Jane, Joseph Gordon Levitt, Mickey Rourke
Underworld: Rise of the Lycans-This might be considered a guilty pleasure, but I am pumped to check this one out. I am a big fan of the original, thought the second one was fun but absurd, and this one looks just crazy fun as well. The best two actors in the series return, and they are also to of the best working actors around to boot, and it focuses on how the original battle between the vampires and lycans originated. Unfortunately, no Kate Beckinsale in this one. directed by Patrick Tatopoulous; staring Michael Sheen, Bill Nighy, Rhona Mitra
One to keep an eye on: Donkey Punch, if you are a fan of the horror, thriller, genre, this might be up your ally as a group of friends get deadly after one of them turns up dead on a yacht late after a night of partying. I have heard good reviews, though not quite my cup of tea.
What to skip this week: Inkheart
Taken–This thriller has a hell of a preview and involves a man’s hunt for his daughters kidnappers. Looking to have a fair amount of action, the lead is an ex-spy that will use any means necessary to get back his daughter alive and safe. Written by the great Luc Besson, this should at the least be entertaining, though it would be nice to have seen Besson direct this as well, either way, this could be good. directed by Pierre Morel; staring Liam Nesson, Famke Janssen, Maggie Grace
What to skip this week: New in Town
Coraline-From the director of The Nightmare Before Christmas and fantasy writer Neil Gaiman’s novel comes this stop motion tale, in 3-D no less, about a girl who discovers another world in her house through a Being John Malkovich like portal, and while things start all fine and dandy, she quickly begins to doubt if this is really the world that she wants to live in forever. This one should be a big hit, and one of the first must see films of 09 in this writers opinion. directed by Henry Selick; featuring the voices of Dakota Fanning, Teri Hatcher, Ian McShane
He’s Just Not That Into You-This ensemble romantic comedy has a pretty good preview, and the cast is solid from head to toe. I am always weary of jumping into a rom-com, but this one has already sold me on wanting to at least see it, lets just hope it turns out to be one of the better films in the genre in a while. The film follows a smattering of intertwining couples and lovers and focuses on the modern age of dating and what it takes to find love in these times. directed by Ken Kwapis: starring Ben Affleck, Jennifer Aniston, Drew Barrymore, Jennifer Connelly, Kevin Connolly, Bradley Cooper, Ginnifer Goodwin, Scarlett Johansson, Kris Kristofferson, Justin Long
Push-This intriguing looking sci-fi actioner looks like it could be a sleeper hit. If anything this will garner a good size cult following, and the film’s background and built in history shows a bit of intelligence to the picture. I am excited for this one, and the cast while not full of huge stars has a number of very good actors in it’s ranks. The films action looks fresh, and the psychic super natural elements could be pretty cool as well. Either way, keep an eye on this if you are a sci-fi/action fan as this will hopefully be one of the better options in the genre this year. directed by Paul McGuigan; staring Chris Evans, Dakota Fanning, Camilla Belle, Djimon Hounsou
One to keep an eye on: Fanboys, long delayed and fought over, this comedy about a group of kids who try and sneak into Skywalker Ranch to watch/steal Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace has received mixed reviews and been butchered by the studio, but it’s Star Wars comedy, and a lot of Apatow suspects are present, including Kristen Bell in a Leia slave girl outfit; for those that are interested. So be wary, but might be fun.
What not to see this week: The Pink Panther 2
Gomorrah-a soon to be likely nominated Oscar candidate for best foreign film (edit-or not), this Italian film takes a look at the modern day crime world in and around the country. Based off real people and events, the reviews have been pretty good, and who isn’t up for a good crime film from time to time. Only to get a limited release, this should still be one to seek out if you can. Scorsese also puts his stamp of approval on this, that must be saying something. directed by Maurizio Braucci; staring Toni Servillo, Gianfelice Imparato, Salvatore Cantalupo
The International-A globe trotting thriller surrounding a corrupt bank and one’s man mission to bring it all down seems like it could be a decent effort based on the trailer, but its stars and director are of the highest quality; with the directors last effort Perfume: Story of a Murderer being one of my favorite films of 07 (he also did Run, Lola, Run). With that said, I am going to give the trailer the benefit of the doubt and expect a solid flick with those involved. directed by Tom Tykwer; staring Clive Owen, Naomi Watts
New York, I Love You-the next film in the I Love You series, a collection of short films from a number of big time directors and stars showcase the city and the love inside it and inspired by it. The previous film in the series was fantastic, and the talent involved in this one is just as good. This should definitely be earmarked on your list of movies to see this early season as this will not disappoint, I guarantee it. I can’t wait. directed by various; staring Natalie Portman, Orlando Bloom, Chris Cooper, Ethan Hawke, Julie Christie, Shia Labeouf
One to keep an eye on: James Gray’s Two Lovers looks decent in it’s trailer and stars Joaquin Phoenix (in his “final” acting role) and Gwyeneth Paltrow who share an alley and become friends while their lives pull them towards different significant others even though they might be meant for each other. The preview is tough to gauge, but it could be good.
What to skip this week: Confessions of a Shopaholic, Friday the 13th
One to keep an eye on: Youth in Revolt, is Michael Cera’s latest and his brand of comedy is growing thin for some, but I like him, and hope for the best. This flick follows Cera’s efforts to do anything to get back to the girl of his dreams and has a decent supporting cast, but until I see a trailer of some early word on this, I don’t know what to think.
What to skip this week: Fired Up, Tyler Perry’s Madea Goes to Jail
Assasination of a High School President-This indie film from Sundance 08 received plenty of critical acclaim then, and was something on my radar to see this year. A high school based dark comedy, which I am always up for, is a staple every year and lets hope this one can match up with some of the better ones from the past. The film follows one students rise in popularity after the ousting of a scandal involving the school’s president but with fame, she gets into more then she might have hoped for. directed by Brett Simon; starring Reece Thompson, Mischa Barton, Bruce Willis, Michael Rappaport
What to skip this week: Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience, Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li
Watchmen-Possibly the movie of the year, Watchmen is the movie you should have circled on your calendar this year. Zack Snyder looks like he has knocked this one out of the park and has created something that can work for the main stream while still wholly pleasing the dedicated following of the graphic novel. Not your normal superhero flick, this is a sort of deconstruction of the genre, and should not be missed. Get in line now! directed by Zack Snyder, starring Malin Akerman, Billy Crudup, Matthew Goode, Carla Gugino, Jackie Earle Haley, Patrick Wilson
One to keep an eye on: Tokyo!, is a compilation film of three directors, and the big reason to keep on your radar is the inclusion of work by Michel Gondry who is guaranteed to always intrigue and surprise you, even if it isn’t the most cohesive piece of cinema. Anyways, if you want to actually see something besides Watchmen, check this out.
Sunshine Cleaning-another Sundance 08 darling finally getting it’s due. This darkish comedy follows a pair of sisters who get into the crime scene cleanup to make more money, and in doing so reconnect and find meaning in life again and direction that they both have been grasping for for some time in their lives. Recieving good buzz last year, this is one to watch this spring. directed by Christine Jeffs; starring Amy Adams, Emily Blunt, Alan Arkin, Steve Zahn
One to keep an eye on: The Perfect Getaway is by director David Twohy and has a decent little cast behind it. The film revolves around a pair of hikers who encounter a newlywed couple and I’m sure things don’t go well. Just one to keep on your radar as more info comes out on it.
Duplicity-The latest from the director of Michael Clayton looks like a winner with an A-List cast. Revolving around two ex-spies who are teaming up to scheme a couple of corporations out of a large sum of money promises to be full of twists, romance, back-stabbing, and an edge of your seat caper. This film has a shot at being an early year standout that sticks with you through the rest of the year, and is one of my most anticipated of both the season and calendar year.
I Love You, Man-A bunch of Apatow vets get together outside his watchful eye but the product still looks very solid if the trailer is worth anything. Surrounding a guy trying to find a best man before he gets married, since he has only female friends, he eventually lands on one guy and the two bond like men should as he hopes to court him by his eventual marriage. This has a couple of the bigger comedy names right now in it, and if the trailer holds up, this could be a winner. directed by John Hamburg; staring Paul Rudd, Jason Segel, Rashida Jones, Andy Samberg, J.K. Simmons, Jon Favreau
Knowing-A film that I have had my eye on through a couple directors and for a few years is finally coming out, and the early looks are ok. I am not blown away by what I have seen, but not turned off either. The plot surrounds the discovery of a code in a school time capsule that has predicted every major disaster of since the capsule was put in the ground. Our hero who is obsessed with the code is seeking out to stop the next major disaster. It has a good director and a hit or miss star, so we will see what happens. directed by Alex Proyas; starring Nicolas Cage, Rose Byrne
This Side of the Truth-My most anticipated comedy of the year has one of the best comedy casts assembled in ages. Ricky Gervais makes his American directing debut and I can not wait. The film follows a man who in a world where no one can lie, gains the ability to do just that. Everyone beleives everything he says and while things start out great, the gift quickly gets him into trouble that he must overcome in the end. Almost guarnteed to be fantastic based soley on Gervais’ track record with writing and directing I can’t see this missing. directed by Ricky Gervais, Matt Robinson; starring Ricky Gervais, Jenifer Garner, Rob Lowe, Tina Fey, Louis C.K., John Hodgman, Christopher Guest, Jeffery Tambor, Jason Bateman
Adventureland-The director of Superbad is back with a really great young cast and a plot I’m not all to sure about. The preview looks to be a coming of age film of sorts, and the humor is solid as well, something just seems a bit off. Hopefully though, all fears are put to rest when we get to see this tale about a summer of partying, romancing, and working at a theme park for a 1987 post graduate summer after college with no idea what is next in life. directed by Greg Mottola; starring Jesse Eisenberg, Ryan Reynolds, Kristen Stewart, Martin Starr, Paige Howard, Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader
Monsters vs. Aliens-The latest from Dreamworks Animation, and their first forey into 3-D, is a big time action epic that centers around an elite team of government oddities that must protect earth from a possible alien invasion. The preview has a couple of good laughs but looks to lack any real depth to plot and characters. Though, it will be fun to see what the animators do with the 3-D as this is the first major animated release in years to be completely know to be in shown in 3-D from the get go. I hope we get something on par with Kung Fu Panda here from Dreamworks, and not Shrek 3. directed by Rob Letterman, Conrad Vernon; starring Reese Witherspoon, Hugh Laurie, Will Arnett, Seth Rogen, Rainn Willson, Stephen Colbert, Paul Rudd
What to skip this week: The Janky Promoters
Sugar-The directors of Half Nelson are back together for a film about a Dominican baseball star struggling to make it big to get his family out of the country and into a better life in America. What he finds though is a lonliness of being an outsider in a country minor league town in Iowa and he must come to grips with his surroundings to recapture his abilities on the field. This film sounds great, and could be a sleeper picture, and a potentialy great sports film. I can’t wait to check this out in April. directed by Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck; staring Algenis Perez Soto, Rayniel Rufino, Andre holland, Michael Gaston
I don’t know what to think: Fast & Furious, might be fun, might be terrible, might be terribley fun in a bad awful movie way, I just don’t know, but I don’t plan on seeing it based on what I have seen so far.
Observe and Report-the latest from Jody Hill who got popular with the comedy guys of Hollywood with The Foot Fist Way and now has Seth Rogen staring in this apparently very funny, but very crass story of a mall cop that has to stop a streaker on the lose in the building. Rogen apparently plays a dick and a racist, and is not the lovable loser we are used to, which I think is fine. Either way, I will be there to check this out when it hits theaters; if I am not still watching the Watchmen. directed by Jody Hill; starring Seth Rogen, Anna Faris, Michael Pena, Ray Liotta
What to skip this week: Dragonball Evolution, Hannah Montana The Movie
State of Play-This remake of a British mini-series import went through a few cast changes early on in the going, but the preview for the film looks like it might be alright. Also, anytime Russel Crowe gets involved you know it is probably good. The film follows a reporter who is investigating a crime that is implicating and surrounds a former friend and politician. Murder, mystery, and suspense are sure to entail and this could end up being a solid pre-summer drama with legs as the kiddies start hitting up the popcorn flicks a couple weeks later. directed by Kevin Macdonald; staring Russell Crowe, Ben Affleck, Rachel McAdams, Jason Bateman, Robin Wright Penn, Helen Mirren
I don’t know what to think: 17 Again and Crank: High Voltage, 17 Again is a big like movie in reverse, and I found enjoyment out of 13 going on 30 as well, so anything is possible. As for Crank, I haven’t seen the first, but have heard it is a silly good time, so why shouldn’t this one be as well. We will see as more stuff comes out on these titles.
The Soloist-Delayed from being an Oscar contender to a late April release, I don’t really know what to think of this. The director’s previous efforts of Pride and Prejudice and Atonement are both very solid entries, but something seems a bit to cheesy about this one. Regardless, it has a couple of awesome actors and it could all come together in the end, maybe it just needed a little bit more time to make it just right; we will see if it can survive into the blockbuster season though. directed by Joe Wright; starring Robert Downey Jr., Jaime Foxx
That will do it I think. I am sure there will be a couple of Sundance film’s that get a quick release and there is bound to be a couple smaller films I missed, but I think this is a pretty good look at what to keep an eye this first part of the year.
Movie that will suprise the most people: This Side of the Truth
Movie you should seek out the most that will be hardest to find: New York, I Love You
Movie that you should see, if you can only see one: Watchmen
Movie that I am afraid might suck, but hope it doesn’t: State of Play