Monday, September 27, 2010

At the Movies – October 2010 – Part 2: Hollywood Films

Hollywood Films:

Romance and Rom-Coms:

Life as We Know It (Greg Berlanti) – Romantic Comedy – Oct 8
The film is about Holly and Eric, two single adults who find each other irritating. But when their mutual best friends die in an accident, they are forced together to be co-caregivers to an orphaned toddler. Successful TV producer and writer, Greg Berlanti returns to directing after a decade absence to make his second film (question, this is the film that brings you back as a director? Really? And randomly, he wrote a draft of the forthcoming Green Lantern film). Berlanti has composer Blake Neely, who he has used on a number of his TV shows, to do the score. The film’s cinematographer Andrew Dunn and production designer Maher Ahmad are both coming off hit films from last year (Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire and Zombieland respectively), while stars Katherine Heigl, also an executive producer, and Josh Duhamel are both coming off bad rom-coms (Killers and When in Rome respectively). Josh Lucas and Christina Hendricks highlight the supporting cast, which also features comedians Rob Huebel and Will Sasso. The film looks like a typical Katherine Heigl rom-com (not a good thing), but maybe it will rise above her past work (Knocked Up aside). Check out the trailer.

Serious Films:

Secretariat (Randall Wallace) – Biography – Oct 8
The film is based on the true story about the woman, Penny Chenery, who owned the Triple Crown winning racehorse Secretariat. Director Randall Wallace (who is probably more famous for his writing, which includes Braveheart, Pearl Harbor and We Were Soldiers, which he also directed) is back to helm his third film. Wallace is bringing back his principal crew from his last film, including production designer Thomas E. Sanders, DP Dean Semler and composer Nick Glennie-Smith, to make Mike Rich’s script (who is famous among film school writing students as he won a coveted spec script award, the Nicholl Fellowship in Screenwriting, for Finding Forrester, his first script, which then was promptly made launching his career). The film stars Diane Lane and features supporting work from John Malkovich, Scott Glen, James Cromwell, Dylan Walsh, Fred Dalton Thompson, and Kevin Connolly (who probably plays a jockey). The film has been receiving a lot of buzz as a best picture Oscar contender (though, to me, it looks like a super cheesy film along the lines of another super cheesy overrated racehorse movie: Seabiscuit), and even more positive buzz for Malkovich as a best supporting actor for his very quirky role (aka, he is just playing himself in multi-colored odd attire). Check out the trailer.

Conviction (Tony Goldwyn) – Biography – Oct 15
The film is based on the true story about a working mother, Betty Anne Waters, who in an effort to represent her brother puts herself through law school. Her brother has been wrongfully convicted of murder and has no legal means left available to him through public defenders to appeal his conviction. The film is director Tony Goldwyn’s fourth. He made three films early in his directorial career, but none were that great both from a directing standpoint and as overall films. So, he perfected his craft directing many TV episodes on a number of shows, like Dexter and Justified, and is now back to features with a new film. His crew features a great composer in Paul Cantelon (for an example of his work see The Diving Bell and the Butterfly), a cinematographer making is Hollywood debut in Adriano Goldman, and a production designer who seems to get bigger and bigger films with each passing year in Mark Ricker. The cast of this film has it on the Oscar radar, especially with two time winner Hilary Swank starring; Sam Rockwell co-stars and there is supporting work from Juliette Lewis, Melissa Leo, Minnie Driver, Peter Gallagher, Clea DuVall, Ari Graynor, and Bailee Madison. The film has garnered a lot of good buzz as a great character drama with very strong performances from Swank and Rockwell, having made the festival rounds, and may be a contender come Oscar time, you know how Oscar voters love films ‘based on a true story’ (but I think it will probably be on the outside of the 10 nominations, there is just too much good stuff coming out this year, but Swank and Rockwell have decent shots at nods). Check out the trailer.

Fun Movies:

Case 39 (Christian Alvart) – Horror – Oct 1
The film is about a social worker, Emily Jenkins, who believes that a young girl is being abused by her parents, so she fights to save her and ultimately gains custody of the girl, only to discover that the situation is more dangerous than she could have ever imagined or believed. Director Christian Alvant finally will see the release of his first Hollywood film, which sat on the shelve here in the U.S., having been released everywhere else last year, due to his other Hollywood film, last year’s Pandorum, being a hit. Alvant is again working with composer Michl Britsch and very good cinematographer Hagen Bogdanski (he shot The Young Victoria and The Lives of Others), while horror veteran John Wilett will do the production design. The film stars Renee Zellweger and features supporting work from Ian McShane (Kings and Deadwood, see them), Bradley Cooper, Callum Keith Rennie (from BSG), and Jodelle Ferland. How good can the film be if it sat on the shelf for a year? International audiences gave it mixed reviews. It is the most high profile in terms of star power, but name wise it is lacking to many of the other horror films coming out this October – here is a quick list: Hatchet II, Chain Letter, Wes Craven’s My Soul to Take, I Spit on Your Grave, Paranormal Activity 2 (who else thinks this turns out just about as well as The Blair Witch Project 2), Monsters, and of course Saw 3D (which will be the last of the series). Buzz denotes Monsters (trailer) as the best of the bunch. Check out the trailer for Case 39.

Jackass 3-D (Jeff Tremaine) – Comedy – Oct 15
The film, being the 3rd in the series to be released theatrically, is about a bunch of guys goofing off, playing pranks, doing stunts, and challenging each other to disgusting feats. At its best, Johnny Knoxville and co. can be very funny and highly entertaining, of course assuming that you want to partake in this type of comedy, as this is a film particularly made for the Jackass audience. Director Jeff Termaine did the previous films as well and Spike Jonze returns as a producer. If you love Jackass, you fully know what to expect; if you don’t, this is not for you; and if you have never seen a Jackass film or TV episode, why not start with one in 3-D!!!! Check out the trailer.

Red (Robert Schwentke) – Action – Oct 15
Based on the graphic novel written by Warren Ellis and illustrated by Cully Hamner, the film is about a retired black-ops agent, Frank Moses, who resembles his old unit after a high-tech assassin comes after him. The action-comedy is directed by Robert Schwentke (his fourth film) who has yet to make a true action film, though the visuals in his last, The Time Traveler’s Wife, were quite well done and elevated the film overall. However, having not shot any true action films should not be a big deal as second unit director Gary Capo has worked on loads of them (including: The Incredible Hulk, Live Free or Die Hard and X2). Past collaborators of Schwentke production designer Alec Hammond and cinematographer Florian Ballhaus (son of frequent Martin Scorsese cinematographer, Michael Ballhaus) return for the film. To capture both the comedy and action aspects of the film, the score is being done by both David Holmes (presumably for the action and drama) and Christophe Beck (well known for is comedy scores). What makes this exciting for action fans however is the awesome cast. Bruce Willis stars, with supporting work from Karl Urban, Morgan Freeman, Mary-Louise Parker (who is super cool thanks to Weeds), John Malkovich (who finally got a real action film, ok fine, there is Con Air, but hopefully this will be, you know, good), Helen Mirren, Richard Dreyfuss, James Remar (Dexter’s father), Brian Cox, Julian McMahon, and even Ernest Borgnine – it is amazing that they got all these people. It is hard to imagine this not being fun and entertaining with all the star power and talent in front of the camera (but on a downer, the script is by Jon and Erich Hoeber who wrote Whiteout). Check out the trailer.

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