Monday, September 27, 2010

At the Movies – October 2010 – Part 1: Art-House Films

Art-House Watch:

The film is about the exploration of the hidden side of everything (basically a film version of the book by Steve Levitt and Stephen Dubner). The documentary is structured into four sections – 1) Pure Corruption directed by Alex Gibney (who made the amazing doc Eron: The Smartest Man in the Room), 2) A Roshanda by Any Other Name directed by Morgan Spurlock (who made the funny and very entertaining doc Super Size Me), 3) It’s Not Always a Wonderful Life directed by Eugene Jarecki (who made the very good history, war doc Why We Fight), and 4) Can a Ninth Grader Be Bribed to Succeed? directed by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady (who made the fairly frightening doc Jesus Camp). Seth Gordon (who made the awesomely great doc The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters) is providing the film with an introduction and transitional segments. Basically this film has a who’s who of famous, hip and good documentarians; it just needs Werner Herzog and Errol Morris to be complete. On paper the documentary sounds amazing, but will these segments each directed by filmmakers with a different style all meld together to produce a good film with a solid narrative? Check out the trailer.

Barry Munday (Chris D’Arienzo) – Comedy – Oct 1 [LA/NY]
The film is about Barry Munday, a man who one day wakes up after being attacked to find that he is missing his family jewels. And, if that were not enough, he is facing a paternity suit filed by a woman he does not even remember. Writer-director Chris D’Arienzo makes his feature debut with the film. Composer Jude Christodal is also making his feature debut, though he had worked in TV prior (TV credits include Rock of Love with Bret Michaels), while cinematographer Morgan Susser and production designer Paul Oberman have an indy-film background. However, the cast is much better known with leading roles played by Patrick Wilson and Judy Greer, and supporting work from Malcolm McDowell, Chloe Sevigny, Colin Hanks, and Cybill Shepherd among others. The buzz is so-so on the film, but it could make for an ok rental. Check out the trailer.

It’s Kind of a Funny Story (Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck) – Comedy – Oct 8 [limited]
The film is about a clinically depressed teen, Craig, who decides to check himself into an adult psych ward, only to find a new start. Writer-directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck have a certain charm to their indy-style films (critics enamored with their first two films Half Nelson and Sugar). They have done well with dramas so it will be interesting to see how they handle comedy – though from the look of the film it seems to be more of a dramedy than a comedy. They certainly have comedic talent to help them out with Zach Galifianakis and Jim Gaffigan in the film. The group Broken Social Scene is scoring the film (having also scored Half Nelson), and past collaborations cinematographer Andrij Parekh and production designer Beth Mickle return for their third go-round with the directors. Along with the comedy styling of Galigianakis and Gaffigan, the film has a strong supporting cast featuring Emma Roberts (ready to have a breakthrough role), Lauren Graham, Zoe Kravitz, Viola Davis, and Jeremy Davies (who we all know from Lost). However, the leading role is played by relative newcomer Keir Gilchrist (though he is quite good as a principal cast member in United States of Tara). The film looks to be pretty funny and probably dramatically engaging, but more geared towards an indy-film audience than the mainstream movie-goer. Check out the trailer.

Tamara Drewe (Stephen Frears) – Comedy – Oct 8 [LA/NY]
The film is about a young journalist, Tamara Drewe, who returns home to sell her recently deceased mother’s home. Having been away a while, and having changed her appearance (via a nose-job), the locals seem to marvel at her as she works to fix-up and sell the house she inherited (based on the comic strip by Posy Simmonds). Director Stephen Frears has been a bit up and down of late, with very good films like The Queen and Dirty Pretty Things, and less well received films like Cheri. But, over the course of his career he has established himself as one of the better British filmmakers. Working with him on the film he has Alexandre Desplat (the hardest working composer in show business), cinematographer Ben Davis (who has do great work for Matthew Vaughn) and production designer Alan MacDonald (who worked with Frears on The Queen). The film has a British cast (as it is a British film) headlined by 2010 breakout actress Gemma Arterton as the lead with Dominic Cooper and Luke Evans in supporting roles (among other British actors). Frears does his best work when directing dramas with thriller aspects, but as he proved with High Fidelity he can make great comedies too. Check out the trailer.

Nowhere Boy (Sam Taylor-Wood) – Biography – Oct 8 [limited]
The film is about the early days of John Lennon – how he got into music, his first bands, first loves, and how he met the other members of and ultimately became a part of the Beatles. Director Sam Taylor-Wood makes her feature film debut (and in the process meets her fiancé and film’s star Aaron Johnson). Taylor-Wood has an interesting crew on the film with very talented cinematographer Seamus McGarvey (Atonement and The Hours, yeah he is good), production designer Alice Normington (who did good work on Brideshead Revisited) and a score from British pop group Goldfrapp members Will Gregory and Alison Goldfrapp. The film stars Aaron Johnson (best known as Kick-Ass to Americans) as John Lennon and features supporting work from Thmoas Sangster (as Paul), Sam Bell (as George), David Morrissey, Anne-Marie Duff, and Kristin Scott Thomas. The film was well received when it opened in the UK last year receiving four BAFTA nominations. It looks to be an interesting examination of how the young John Lennon became the John Lennon we all know and love (and probably a nice early-years companion piece to 1994’s Backbeat). Check out the trailer.

Legacy (Thomas Ikimi) – Thriller – Oct 15 [limited]
The film is about a back ops operative, Malcolm Gray, who returns home after a failed mission. He hides out in a Brooklyn motel room as he is being hunted down. Torn between thoughts of retribution and personal salvation, he begins to mentally unravel. Director Thomas Ikimi makes his second film with Legacy, but it is his first to receive distribution in the U.S. and his first to work with more well known actors. His crew is made up of relative newcomers, production designer Gordon Rogers and cinematographer Jonathan Harvey, and veteran action composer Mark Kilian (worked on Traitor and The Matrix Reloaded). The film starts the very talented Idris Elba, who is also an executive producer, and co-stars the excellent Eamonn Walker, Monique Gabriela Curnen, and Richard Brake. The buzz on the film is very mixed. However, the film has played very well for adult viewers and looks quite good based on its trailer. Check it out.

The Company Men (John Wells) – Drama – Oct 22 [LA/NY]
The film is about the affects of corporate downsizing by a major company on the communities and families of its employees – focusing on three men in particular. Director John Wells is a prolific film and TV producer (a few of his better projects are: One Hour Photo, Far From Heaven and The West Wing). He is also a successful writer having written many episodes of ER and The West Wing. This film marks his feature debut as a director (as he has done a number of ER episodes).  And to make him look good, he has director of photography Roger Deakins on the film (who is easily one of the top five cinematographers working today) and production designer David J. Bomba (who’s best work to date has been on Walk the Line). Along with the likely wonderful photography from Deakins, the potential highlight of the film is its cast, which is quite good and full of star power. Ben Affleck, Tommy Lee Jones, and Chris Cooper star with supporting work from Kevin Costner, Maria Bello, Rosemarie DeWitt and Craig T. Nelson.  The film received a lot of good buzz out of the festivals and is in contention for a number of Oscar races (Best Picture, Acting, Director, Screenplay), though probably on the outside looking in. It looks to be a good character based drama set perfectly to address the financial times currently affecting America (and elsewhere) much like last year’s Up in the Air. Check out the trailer.

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest (Daniel Alfredson) – Crime/Drama – Oct 29 [limited]
The film is the third in the series (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, being the most widely known). It is about Lisbeth who is awaiting trial for three counts of murder, recovering in the hospital and plotting revenge against those who put her in this situation. Meanwhile, Michael is trying to prove her innocence. While the first film of the series was made for a theatrical release, given more of a budget (and frankly a much better director and crew), the second and third were made merely for Swedish TV. Director Daniel Alfredson, who directed the second, returns at the helm. Series composer Jacob Groth also returns, as does the second film’s cinematographer Peter Mokrosinski. But most importantly, stars Noomi Rapace (who is making her Hollywood debut in next year’s Sherlock Holmes sequel) and Michael Nyqvist return. Much like the second, this film is not nearly as well received as the first of the series; but for fans, it is probably  still well worth a look (especially if you cannot wait for or are upset about the U.S. remakes on the way, the first will be by David Fincher). Check out the trailer.

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