Tuesday, March 30, 2010

At the Movies – April 2010

Must See in Theatres:

Kick-Ass (Matthew Vaughn) – Action – Apr 16
Based on the comic book series by Mark Millar, the film is about an unpopular high school kid and comic book fan who one day decides to become a super-hero, regardless of the fact that he has no powers, training or meaningful reason to do so. Director Vaughn, best known for Layer Cake and Stardust (which he famously left X-Men: The Last Stand to make), is a perfect choice for the material as he is a master of mixing action, adventure and comedy.  From Stardust, Vaughn brings his behind the camera creative team of co-screenwriter Jane Goldman, cinematographer Ben Davis and composer Ilan Eshkeri to the project along with newcomer composer Henry Jackman, who contributed additional music to The Dark Knight and the Pirates of the Caribbean series. The cast features Nicolas Cage, Mark Strong, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Jason Flemyng, and Clark Duke along with two young actors poised to have breakout years: Chloe Moretz and Aaron Johnson. On paper, aside from Mark Strong, the cast does not seem like anything to write home about, but based on the trailer they are perfect for the material and tone. Advanced reviews from the SXSW Film Festival rave about how much fun the film is and how great its young cast performs. What sets this apart from the bigger releases of the month is the quality that Vaughn brings to the project, based on his past work, as he is one of the better filmmakers (this being his third feature film, he also produced Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch.), the awesomeness of the trailer and the great advanced reviews the film has been receiving. Check out the trailer.

Good for Dates:

Date Night (Shawn Levy) – Comedy – Apr 9
The film is about a couple that goes out for a night on the town in an attempt to spice up their seemingly boring marriage, who, upon taking someone else’s reservation, is mistaken for another couple turning the evening into something more thrilling and dangerous (it is a bit like North By Northwest meets Adventures in Babysitting or The Night Before, no?). The film is highlighted by its stars Steve Carell and Tina Fey, but also features a fantastic group of supporting actors including: Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, Mark Ruffalo, Oliva Munn, Leighton Meester, Kristen Wiig, Ray Liotta, Taraji P. Henson, Jimmi Simpson (from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia), Common, and (the awesome) James Franco. However, with all this talent the film may still be undone by its director, Levy, who is not know for his ‘great’ films. The screenwriter Josh Klaussner was an assistant to The Farrelly Brothers and worked on Shrek the Third and he wrote the Shrek Forever After script, so his background is rooted in writing comedy (I guess). But on a brighter note behind the camera, Christophe Beck is scoring the film. But not to worry, no doubt the film will be funny and entertaining (I mean just look at who is in it again). Plus, there is no way Carell and Fey will not make a good on screen team (right?). Check out the trailer.

Fun Movies:

Clash of the Titans (Louis Leterrier) – Adventure – Apr 2
A remake of the 1981 film of the same name, the movie is about the mortal son of Zeus who embarks on a treacherous journey to stop the underworld and its minions from taking over Earths and the heavens. Director Leterrier, known for his action filmmaking, will likely bring more action to the story, which is probably a good thing. The film will be big, fun and in 3-D (it was delayed a bit to outfit it for the latest trend), yet do not expect loads of quality filmmaking. The film stars Sam Worthington but impressively features Ralph Fiennes, Liam Neeson, Mads Mikkelsen, Pete Postlethwaite, and Danny Huston in supporting roles, as well as young actors: Gemma Arterton, Nicholas Hoult and Alexa Davalos. Behind the camera, Leterrier has assembled the team of production designer Martin Laing, who did decent work on City of Ember and Terminator Salvation, composer Ramin Djawadi who did Iron Man and FlashForward, and Peter Menzies Jr. who shot Leterrier’s last film The Incredible Hulk. The creative team behind the film as a whole does not make this a must see, but the film does have a strong cast and should make for a fun theatre experience. Check out the trailer.

Death at a Funeral (Neil LaBute) – Comedy – Apr 16
A remake of the 2007 film by Frank Oz (and oddly using Dean Craig’s same screenplay, only adjusted for Americans, as the original is British), the movie is about a funeral ceremony that turns into a crazy fiasco involving family secrets, drugs, missing bodies, and revelations. Another odd thing about the film is that playwright LaBute is directing; it just seems like rehashing a perfectly good film of three years ago is not the best use of his talent (but what do I know). Based on the trailer (having seen the original), the film looks to be the same as its predecessor, even Peter Dinklage returns in the exact same role (but maybe I am missing the point, and the film is merely being reworked for a new audience). Though, the movie does feature a pretty great ensemble cast including: Zoe Saldana, James Marsden, Keith David, (Mr. AT&T himself) Luke Wilson, Martin Lawrence (does he ever need a decent film), Tracy Morgan, Chris Rock (who is sort of the main character, if there is one), Danny Glover, Columbus Short, Regina King, Ron Glass, Loretta Devine, and Kevin Hart (who is usually a riot) – there  is a lot of comedic talent here. Check out the trailer.

The Losers (Sylvain White) – Action – Apr 23
Based on the comic book series, the film is about members of a CIA black ops team, after being betrayed and left for dead, who seek out those who tried to put them down (a bit like The A-Team). It should be interesting to see how White handles the material given his lack of experience in the genre, but based on the trailer the action looks good. Plus, the script is by action veterans Peter Berg and James Vanderbilt. The cast is also strong featuring Zoe Saldana, Chris Evans, Jeffrey Dean Morgan (not playing a ghost), Idris Elba, and Jason Patric. And fitting to its comic book origins, White has enlisted Superman Returns and X-Men composer John Ottman to score the film. The film should be an action packed (it is produced by Joel Silver after all) per-summer summer blockbuster style film – big on spectacle, light on depth. Check out the trailer.

A Nightmare on Elm Street (Samuel Bayer) – Horror – Apr 30
A remake of Wes Craven’s 1984 original, the film is about a serial-killer who kills people in their dreams. The film was re-imagined by Michael Bay’s horror production company Platinum Dunes.  The film also marks famed music video director (dude did Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit video among many other icon others) Bayer’s first feature. Jackie Earle Haley plays Freddy Krueger which seems to be an inspired choice to go along with a fairly talented young cast including: Katie Cassidy, Kyle Gallner, Rooney Mara, Thomas Dekker, and Kellan Lutz. It is odd, though, that the film is coming in April opposed to October. While re-…(take your pick: dos, makes, imaginings) runs rampant, like it or not, this looks to be one of the better rehashing on the horizon. Check out the trailer.

Art-House Watch:

Leaves of Grass (Tim Blake Nelson) – Comedy – Apr 2 (LA/NYC)
The film is about an Ivy League professor who is convinced to return to his hometown in Oklahoma, though reluctant, where his twin brother, a small-time marijuana grower, has come up with a plan to take down a local drug lord. Tim Blake Nelson, know more for acting than directing, makes his fourth feature film and it looks to be his best (course one of those three priors is O). The draw of the film, however, is the fantastic dual performances from lead Edward Norton (as he plays both brothers). The film also features a good supporting cast with Nelson, Susan Surandon, Keri Russell, and Richard Dreyfuss. Norton’s performance got a lot of attention at the SXSW Film Festival and should make the film worth a rent (for those not in LA or NYC). Check out the trailer.

Warlords (Peter Chan and Wai Man Yip) – Martial Arts – Apr 2 (LA/NYC)
The film is about a heroic tale of three blood brothers who struggle in the midst of war and political upheaval. It is based on a Qing Dynasty story: ‘The Assassination of Ma’. The film is by veteran director Peter Chan and won many awards in Asia before being exported to the U.S. The movie also features big stars including Andy Lau, Takeshi Kaneshiro and Jet Li (which is likely the person whose name got this U.S. distribution, likely Magnolia Films is hoping it will be like Hero, House of Flying Daggers or Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon). It should be an interesting work for genre fans. Check out the trailer.

The Perfect Game (William Dear) – Sports – Apr 16
Based on W. William Winkur’s book, the film is about the true story of a group of boys in 1957 from Monterrey, Mexico (yet it is in English), who became the first non-U.S. team to win the Little League World Series (spoiler alert!). The film is by Disney B-movie veteran William Dear and features music from Rocky composer Bill Conti. So, it will likely be a bit over the top on the heartfelt cheesiness, but that is not always a bad thing in these types of movies. The film stars Clifton Collins Jr. and Cheech Marin, while featuring Louis Gossett Jr., Bruce McGill, David Koechner, and Emilie de Ravin in a supporting roles. The film looks to be a feel good story and is being compared to The Blind Side. Check out the trailer.

I Love You Phillip Morris (Glenn Ficarra & John Requa) – Comedy – Apr 30 (Limited)
Based on the book by Steve McVicker, the film is about a married con man who, after a dramatic car accident, reassesses his life and realizes he is gay. He decides to live his new life to the fullest, something that lands him in jail where he meets his soul mate, Phillip Morris. He is then committed to getting himself and Phillip Morris out of prison. Is it love or all just one big con? The film is the directorial debut of comedy writing team Ficarra & Requa (they did Cats & Dogs, Bad Santa and Bad News Bears, the remake) and oddly is produced by Luc Besson. The film stars Jim Carrey, Ewan McGregor and Leslie Mann, a pretty good comedic lineup. The film is being heralded as having Carrey’s best performance as real life con man Steve Russell, while others state that it is just another in a long line of outlandish characters. Check out the trailer.

Please Give (Nicole Holofcener) – Comedy – Apr 30
The film is about a New York City couple who butt heads with the daughter of their tenant, an elderly woman, renting their apartment. Director Holofcener is known for her films dealing with a sort of snobbiness of upper middle-class white America and how that attitude or way comes into conflict with those of other classes or dispositions (as seen in Friends with Money). The film features a solid cast including: Rebecca Hall, Amanda Peet, Catherine Keener (who seems like she appears in all the director’s features), and Oliver Platt. The film should appeal to fans of director or actors’ prior works, or those looking for something depicting social confrontation with comedic implications. Check out the trailer.

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