Tuesday, November 2, 2010

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

Art-House Watch:

Welcome to the Rileys (Jake Scott) – Drama – Nov 5 [limited]
The film is about a man, Doug Riley, who on a business trip in New Orleans meets a troubled young woman. In an effort to seek salvation, he invites her into his home with his wife to care for her. Music-video director Jake Scott (son of Ridley Scott) returns to film to make his second feature. He has procured a crew with a similar background to his with cinematographer Christopher Soos (shot Smashing Pumpkins and David Bowie videos) and production designer Happy Massee (who worked with director Mark Romanek on Jay-Z’s 99 Problems video). While to score the film, he decided to go with Marc Steitenfeld (who composed on the last four Ridley Scott films). The film is likely to succeed or fail based solely on the performances of its cast, and it has a good one – starring James Gandolfini and Kristen Stewart and featuring Melissa Leo in a supporting role. The film has received decent buzz out of the festival circuit with Gandolfini and Leo getting some Oscar attention, but neither is a frontrunner for a nomination. The film looks to be a good character drama. Check out the trailer.

Made in Dagenham (Nigel Cole) – Drama – Nov 19 [limited]
The film is about the 1968 strike at the Ford plant in Dagenham (a dramatization), where female workers, fed up with sexual discrimination, walked out in protest. Director Nigel Cole is best known for his film Calendar Girls blending drama and comedy well. (Maybe thinking to have a hit like An Education) Cole hired good cinematographer John de Borman and production designer Andrew McAlpine to work on the film (both worked on An Education). Comedy composer David Arnold is scoring the film, potentially adding some comedic flare. The film stars Sally Hawkins and features a great supporting cast with Bob Hoskins, Daniel Mays, Rosamund Pike (who is hilarious in An Education and good in Pride & Prejudice), Miranda Richardson, Geraldine James, and Danny Huston’s voice. The film looks to be a moving piece (which hopefully will not be too cliché) about equal rights, headlined by a strong performance from Hawkins. Check out the trailer.

The King’s Speech (Tom Hooper) – Drama – Nov 26 [limited]
The film is about King George VI (father of the current Queen of England, Elizabeth II), who assumed the throne, reluctantly, after his brother abdicated. He was considered by some unfit to be king, worsened by an awful stutter. When Europe is plunged into war, King George VI seeks the help of an unorthodox speech therapist so that he can address his people in this trying time. Director Tom Hooper’s last two projects were very well received, HBO’s John Adams and The Damned United, but this film may place him among the directing elite in Hollywood as it comes out of the film festival circuit as Oscar favorite for Best Picture (especially with Harvey Weinstein promoting it tirelessly to Oscar voters). To shoot the film, Hooper enlists British TV cinematographer Danny Cohen, who shot an episode of John Adams for him, while bringing back the talented production designer Eve Stewart from his last film. It will also feature a score from (the hardest working composer in Hollywood) Alexandre Desplat (side note, I call him the hardest working for this reason: 7 film scores in 2009 and 8 in 2010). The film stars Colin Firth as King George VI and Geoffrey Rush, who is also an executive producer, as his speech therapist. Helen Bonham Carter, Guy Pierce, Michael Gambon, and Timothy Spall round out the supporting cast. Along with the film generating tons of positive buzz, Firth is being called the front runner for the Best Leading Actor Oscar. He was excellent in last year’s A Single Man, which he was nominated for, making this his potentially second nod in as many years.  The film looks like a very good history drama, for those that like them (and I do). Check out the trailer.

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