Monday, February 1, 2010

At the Movies – February

Must See in Theatres:

Shutter Island (Martin Scorsese) – Thriller – Feb 19
A thriller set in 1954 about a U.S. Marshall investigating the disappearance of a patient who is believed to have escaped from a hospital for the criminally insane and is thought to be hiding somewhere on the remote Shutter Island which houses the hospital. The film is highly anticipated as it has tested through the roof with screening audiences, which makes sense as it is Scorsese’s first film since he won his Oscar. The film has an excellent cast headlined by Leonardo DiCaprio (frequent Scorsese collaborator), Mark Ruffalo, and Ben Kingsley (and based on the trailer Jackie Earle Haley is doing what looks like Rorschach again). Another aspect to be excited about is that Robert Richardson shot the movie, coming off his ASC Award nomination for Inglourious Basterds. All in all, this looks to be a great film. Check out the trailer.

Worth Checking Out (if not in theatres then at home):

The Ghost Writer (Roman Polanski) – Thriller – Feb 19
A thriller about a ghostwriter hired to complete the memoirs of a former British Prime Minister only to uncover secrets that put his own life in peril. Polanski returns to the world of film (admit still shrouded in controversy) with good people in front of and behind the camera, notably actors Ewan McGregor, Pierce Brosnan, Olivia Williams, and Tom Wilkinson, D.P. Pawel Edelman, and music by Alexandre Desplat (who is seemingly the hardest working man in show business). Based on Polanski’s past work and the cast and crew involved, this should be an interesting film (he did do The Pianist, Chinatown and Rosemary’s Baby after all). Check out the trailer.

Good for Dates:

Dear John (Lasse Hallstrom) – Romance – Feb 5
A romance based on the Nicholas Sparks novel about a boy and girl who meet and fall in love over the span of a week, only for boy to then be shipped off to the war in Iraq. To stay together and connected, the two write letters to each other. Based on the synopsis all that can be said is BLAH! (so much for visual storytelling). Plus the stars are Amanda Seyfried and the never very good Channing Tatum. However, upon looking at who is involved, the film appears more attractive. Hallstrom is a fine director and he has got D.P. Terry Stacey shooting the movie and Richard Jenkins acting in it. So maybe it will all come together and be decent. Check out the trailer.

Valentine’s Day (Gary Marshall) – Romance – Feb 12
An interweaving romance about couples and singles in LA, their break-ups and make-ups, as the cultural pressures and expectations of Valentine’s Day weigh upon them. First off, this is by Gary Marshall, director of Pretty Woman, and therefore is something of high regard (or at least has the expectation of something of high regard) for fans of Pretty Woman (or so the studio would have you believe). Second, it is has the biggest all-star cast since A Bridge Too Far (check out the full credits). And third, screenwriter Katherine Fugate has never written anything resulting in a good film or TV series. Add that up, and then multiple it by the absurd silliness of this film actually existing and what that says about America’s already overly commercial society, and what do you have…Probably something along the lines of last year’s He’s Just Not That Into You – decent but nothing special. But, maybe Marshall will do well with the pieces he has and make a solid movie (though, his best work, Pretty Woman and Overboard, came out in 1990 and 1987 respectively, so maybe not). Check out the trailer.

Fun Movies:

From Paris with Love (Pierre Morel) – Action – Feb 5
An action film about a US Ambassador who must work together with an American spy, their mission: to stop terrorists from attacking the city of Paris. Why Paris? Well, this is another in the long line of Luc Besson action films (producer and originator of the story). It also marks Morel’s third collaboration with Besson (Taken being the film best known to American audiences). Jonathan Rhys Meyers (who is brilliant in Showtime’s The Tudors, by the way) and John Travolta star – one can hope that Travolta’s zaniness pays off in a role that almost seems catered towards it (though, who saw him as an action hero at this point in his career?). Check out the trailer.

The Wolfman (Joe Johnston) – Horror – Feb 12
A horror film about a man who returns to his ancestral home, only for him to be bitten by the beast, cursed and subsequently turned into a werewolf at inopportune times. Now, the cast is good, Anthony Hopkins, Benicio Del Toro, Emily Blunt, and Hugo Weaving, but the director…Not so much. He has done the marvelously terrible (or at least forgettable) Jumanji, Jurassic Park III, and his last film was Hidalgo. Maybe the cast can carry the film like Sherlock Holmes (2009), maybe too much emphasis is being placed on the director, maybe the fact that it is a classic story (or a remake of a classic film) will elevate it,…Maybe? Check out the trailer.

An adventure film about a teenager that discovers that he is the descendent of a Greek God and now must set off the settle an on-going battle between the Gods. The film is yet another in the long line of Harry Potter franchise (film franchise, not novels, as this is a successful series of books, apparently) wannabes. But this time, their ace in the hole…Chris Columbus, who directed the first two Harry Potter films (though, they are by far the least effective of the series), and he did Home Alone. The movie also features the talents of Sean Bean, Kevin McKidd, Pierce Brosnan, Uma Thurman, Steve Coogan, Rosario Dawson, and Catherine Keener to supplement a young principal cast. The film might be epic and fun, but probably just so-so quality wise, like all the other novel franchises trying to be the next Potter film franchise, but hey, one of them is going to be good eventually right? Check out the trailer.

The Crazies (Breck Eisner) – Horror – Feb 26
A horror film about the townspeople of small Iowa town suddenly plagued by rampant insanity and then death after a mysterious contaminate gets into their water supply, no one is safe. Timothy Olyphant stars in this George A. Romero remake with Radha Mitchell and Danielle Panabaker co-starring. Hopefully this will feature a high dose of Olyphant doing crazy; he does do his crazy well, and sort of sinister. Director Eisner does not have too much on his resume; his big feature was Sahara. It is interesting to note that Romero is the executive producer on the film (though, the original is one of his weaker works); how many filmmakers come back and produce remakes of their old works? Everything is possible in today’s Hollywood (but of course, Hitchcock did remake a number of his own British films for Hollywood). Check out the trailer.

Cop Out (Kevin Smith) – Comedy – Feb 26
A comedy about buddy cops, inept at their job, but they will likely save the day anyway. Originally titled A Couple of Dicks, the film is notable for fans of Smith as it is his first feature directing job in which he did not also write the script (rumors have it that he is taking a break from writing after Zack and Miri Make a Porno, a film that he sees as a commercial failure). It will also be interesting to hear Smith’s stories on subsequent commentaries and/or An Evening with Kevin Smith DVDs about directing Bruce Willis and co-star Tracy Morgan. A bright spot for Smith fans, in the face of the downer that is the lackluster trailer and fact that Smith did not write this, is the cameo appearances by favorite Jason Lee. The film also boosts a cast with a few talented actors that should provide some good laughs like Rashida Jones and Kevin Pollack. No one would be surprised if Jason Mewes pops up in this as well. Check out the trailer.


The Yellow Handkerchief (Udayan Prasad) – Romance – Feb 26 (LA/NYC)
A romance about three strangers, who embark on a transformative road trip through Louisiana, brought together by their respective feelings of loneliness. The film is touted as an actor’s film, in which the cast and their performances are the point. This can often lead to slow paced film, in the hands of a lesser director, such a structure is difficult and often leads to a movie that less than engaging for most audience members. Thus, it will be interesting to see how Prasad fairs. The film stars William Hurt, Maria Bello, Kristen Stewart, and Eddie Redmayne as well as beautiful photography by Chris Menges. Check out the trailer.

A Prophet (Jacques Audiard) – Gangster – Feb 26 (NYC)
A gangster film about a young Arab man who is sent to prison in France, he meets a prisoner who is the leader of a large gang and this man becomes his mentor. Subsequently, he becomes involved in the mafia lifestyle (looks to be a telling of the classic rise and fall gangster story). Coming off the wonderful The Beat that My Heart Skipped, it should be interesting to see how Audiard handles the gangster genre, as his style of filmmaking lends itself quite well to the genre. The film features a score by (big surprise) Alexandre Desplat and cinematography by Stephane Fontaine, who did excellent work on Audiard’s last film. The film is also likely to be nominated for this year’s Academy Awards for Best Foreign Film. Check out the trailer.

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