Monday, March 1, 2010

At the Movies – March 2010

Must See in Theatres:

Green Zone (Paul Greengrass) – Thriller – Mar 12
A war thriller about a US Army officer who discovers that military intelligence given to him in his mission to locate WMDs is fabricated. He then goes rogue to uncover the conspiracy. The film is the third collaboration between director Greengrass and star Matt Damon. And like the two Bourne films they did together, this looks to be realistic and gritty. The film also boasts a supreme supporting cast including Jason Isaacs, Brendan Gleeson, Amy Ryan, and Greg Kinnear. Greengrass has also employed The Hurt Locker’s Barry Ackroyd to shoot the film (which is awesome) along with other frequent collaborators composer John Powell and production designer Dominic Watkins. The script is by action/thriller writer Brian Helgeland (who is having a busy year with Robin Hood and Salt coming in the summer). All in all, the film looks to be a solid action based war thriller with strong performances and a great director and team behind the camera. Check out the trailer.

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

Alice in Wonderland (Tim Burton) – Adventure – Mar 5
An adventure fantasy film about Alice, now 19, she returns to the magical world of her childhood, where she learns of her destiny to defeat the Red Queen. In typical style, Burton has fashion the world of Alice to look and feel like much of his other films. To do this, he has enlisted many of his customary collaborators, like composer Danny Elfman and actors Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Cater. However, Burton has also added some new people to his team including Avatar production designer Robert Stromberg (probably since this will be in 3-D too) and Pirates of the Caribbean cinematographer Dariusz Wolski to add to the epic sense of the journey that Alice must now embark on. Along with Depp and Carter, Burton cast a lot of good performers including: Anne Hathaway, Stephen Fry, Michael Sheen, and Alan Rickman (among others); but it is his casting of relative newcomer Mia Wasikowska (who is quite good in Defiance) as Alice that could elevate this over his last few pictures. This new Alice in Wonderland looks to be bigger and darker than the 1951 Disney animated feature, and hopefully it will be just as good. Check out the trailer.

Brooklyn’s Finest (Antoine Fuqua) – Crime – Mar 5
A crime drama about three unconnected cops in Brooklyn with differing careers whose paths begin to intertwine with deadly ramifications, the film is directed by Fuqua who is best known for his work on Training Day. The film looks like it is a return to the genre in which he succeeded in, following a number of less successful critical outings. In terms of cast, Ethan Hawke is back (though this is not a sequel), Don Cheadle and Wesley Snipes star, as well as Richard Gere (which should be interesting as his appearance seems out of place). Vincent D’Onofrio, Ellen Barkin and Michael K. Williams (yep, Omar from The Wire) also have supporting roles. Overall, it is a good cast. It will be interesting to see if Fuqua can bring back the same flair for the material, capturing good performances and entertaining the audience with his very capably shot action sequences. Check out the trailer.

Good for Dates:

Remember Me (Allen Coulter) – Romance – Mar 12
A romance about two lovers whose relationship is in peril as they deal with their respective family tragedies, the film is by TV-director Coulter, who has done fine work on many HBO shows but his last venture into features was (the less than good) Hollywoodland. The film stars Lost’s Emilie de Ravin and Robert Pattinson, and represents Summit Entertainment’s experiment – postulating that it is Pattinson and not Edward Cullen who is the box office draw (we shall see). Pierce Brosnan and Chris Cooper play supporting roles and add some experience to the cast. Jonathan Freeman is shooting the film – his lighting was the best part of Hollywoodland and he did great work on Rome. The film looks to present its young actors with some good dramatic work and this time hopefully Coulter can translate his fine work on the small screen to the silver screen. Check out the trailer.

She’s Out of My League (Jim Field Smith) – Romance/Comedy – Mar 12
A comedy about a nerdy guy that get a chance with a girl, thought to be so attractive that he really has no business being with her, the film is the first feature by Jim Field Smith. The film stars Alice Eve and Jay Baruchel and the hot girl and the dweeb. The premise of the film does not really endear it as something that could be called a must see, but surprisingly it looks funny in its advertisements. And, Baruchel is both a very funny and talented actor (see his work in Real Time, Just Buried and I’m Reed Fish for reference) and should make the story play better due to his involvement. The film at best will probably be a lighthearted good time at the cinema. Check out the trailer.

Fun Movies:

The Bounty Hunter (Andy Tennant) – Comedy – Mar 19
A comedy about a bounty hunter who learns that his next assignment is his ex-wife, a reporter digging into a murder cover-up, he thinks it will be an easy target until he realizes that she is in serious danger. The film stars Gerard Butler and Jennifer Aniston as the dysfunctional couple. Director Tennant has made a number of fun rom-coms in the past (most notably Hitch), and in Fool’s Gold (while not the best film) he blends action and adventure well into the rom-com formula, which should translate fittingly in this film too. While the movie will likely not be what one might call good cinema, it has the potential to be a fun mindless escape (and those are good too from time to time). Check out the trailer.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid (Thor Freudenthal) – Comedy – Mar 19
Based on the novel by Jeff Kinney about a wise-cracking middle school student, the film is by kids-movie director Freudenthal. The film stars relative newcomer Zachary Gordon and features supporting performances from Chloe Moretz (who is looking to have a breakout year with next month’s Kick-Ass and the remake of Let the Right One In in the fall), Rachel Harris and Steve Zahn. Despite the fact that the film is clearly made for kids, based on the trailer, it looks to have a broader appeal. Check out the trailer.

An adventure film about a young Viking who does not quite fit in, he aspires to hunt dragons like the warriors of his tribe, but upon discovering a dragon, he befriends it and learns that there is more to the creatures than anyone ever thought. The film is directed by the team of DeBlois and Sanders, who did Lilo & Stitch for Disney (and I assume that DreamWorks Animation stole them away for this). The film has a great voice cast, staring Jay Baruchel and also featuring Gerard Butler, America Ferrera, Craig Ferguson, Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, and Kristin Wiig. The film is yet another 3-D experience, as is everything it seems, whether it should be or not. This is again a children’s film that looks to have a broader appeal, and Baruchel should bring a lot of humor to the lead. Check out the trailer.

Hot Tub Time Machine (Steve Pink) – Comedy – Mar 26
A comedy about four friends that get into a hot tub in 2010 and when they get out they come to realize that they have returned to the 80s. The film is by the team of John Cusack, producing and acting, and Steve Pink, directing, who also worked together on Grosse Pointe Blank and High Fidelity, though Pink did not direct either of those, his only other helming job being Accepted. Along with Cusack, the film also stars Rob Corddry, Craig Robinson and Clark Duke. The plot of the film is something that has been done many times and ways before, this time round Chevy Chase plays the mastermind behind the time-traveling. But it feels like the plot is not really the point, rather the film uses it as a mechanism to allow the filmmakers to compose jokes with 80s nostalgia while being self-referential. Check out the trailer.

Art-House Watch:

The Secret of Kells (Tomm Moore & Nora Twomey) – Animation – Mar 5 (NYC)
An adventure film about Ireland’s Book of Kells, an illuminated manuscript, and the young boy that journey to protect it and save his people from invading barbarians. The film comes from Ireland’s film community and was a surprise nominee for this year’s best animated film Oscar – a surprise, not because of quality, rather because most Americans have never heard of it. The film features an unknown (at least for Americans) voice-cast, save Brendan Gleeson, and a very interesting and artist animation style. Check out the trailer.

The Runaways (Floria Sigismondi) – Biography/Music – Mar 19 (LA/NYC)
A biopic about the 70s teenage band The Runaways, the film is writer/director Floria Sigismondi’s feature debut. The project, however, seems like the right fit for her, as she has directed music videos for David Bowie, plus Joan Jett is on board with executive producer. Sigismondi also has talented people working with her in front of and behind the camera. Eugenio Caballero is the production designer on the film (worked The Limits of Control and Pan’s Labyrinth). A good young cast stars featuring Kristin Stewart, Dakota Fanning, Scout Taylor-Compton, and Arrested Development’s Alia Shawkat. Michael Shannon (who was amazing in Revolutionary Road) co-stars. The film looks to be artistic, based on the directors previous work, and should feature good performances and a good soundtrack. Check out the trailer.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Niels Arden Oplev) – Thriller – Mar 19 (Limited)
A Swedish thriller based on Stieg Larsson’s novel about the unlikely team of a disgraced financial writer and tattooed ruthless computer hacker who investigate the disappearance of a woman, who vanished forty years ago, the film is slated as the breakout film for director Niels Arden Opley. The film won best picture at the Swedish Oscars. Check out the trailer.

Greenberg (Noah Baumbach) – Drama – Mar 26 (Limited)
A drama about a New Yorker who moves to LA to housesit for his brother, an excuse for him to sit around and try to figure out his life; however his self-imposed apathy is confronted when he begins to fall for his brother’s assistant.  After the success of The Squid and the Whale followed by the disappointment of Margot at the Wedding, the film is Noah Baumbach’s third and was co-written with wife Jennifer Jason Leigh, who also has a role in the film. Behind the camera, Baumbach has Scott Rudin producing (who has produced Wes Anderson’s films, a friend/collaborator of Baumbach’s), Harris Savides shooting the movie and features music by LCD Sound System’s James Murphy. The film stars Ben Stiller in a funny yet more dramatic role; while in addition to Leigh, Greta Gerwig and Rhys Ifans co-star. The film should be along the same lines thematically as Baumbach’s earlier work, but hopefully will incorporate more of the character and humor of The Squid and the Whale (and less of the not goodness of Margot at the Wedding). Check out the trailer.

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