Wednesday, January 5, 2011

At the Movies – January 2011 – Part 2: Hollywood Films

Romance and Rom-Coms:

No Strings Attached (Ivan Reitman) – Romantic Comedy – Jan 21st
The film is about Adam and Emma, best friends who decide to enter into a purely plutonic but sexual relationship, the problem is they both begin to want more. Director Ivan Reitman made my favorite film of all-time (Ghost Busters) and other classics like Stripes, but he has frankly only made terrible movies over the last sixteen or so years. Thus, I am very skeptical of anything he directs, despite my love of some of his earlier films. Reitman has a pretty good crew on the film with composer John Debney, cinematographer Rogier Stoffers and production designer Ida Random. But films like this are much more dependent on the director and cast, and this one has a great group of actors. It co-stars Ashton Kutcher (who does decent work given a good project) and Natalie Portman (coming off amazing work in Black Swan). The supporting players also make this film interesting featuring Cary Elwes (the Dread Pirate Roberts), Kevin Kline, Lake Bell, Olivia Thirlby, Mindy Kaling, and Greta Gerwig (who endeared herself to many a film-fan with her performance in Greenberg). The film looks funny (even though we have all seen this movie a hundred times before with other titles), but I still just do not trust Reitman – I hope I am wrong and this is indeed good. Check out the trailer.

Fun Movies:

Season of the Witch (Dominic Sena) – Adventure – Jan 7th
The film is about 14th century knights who transport a young girl suspected of being a witch to a monastery where she is to be destroyed. Director Dominic Sena does not have the best track record, and thus there are not high hopes for this film (at least by me). Though, he does generally make entertaining films (on some level). He has an international crew on the film with Icelandic composer Atli Orvarsson, Iranian cinematographer Amir M. Mokri and German production designer Uli Hanisch. The film has a great low-key cast with only Nicholas Cage (who does have great performances amidst his craziness, see Kick-Ass for reference, and this for fun), Ron Perlman and Christopher Lee as the widely known faces.  It also features Claire Foy (who starred in the critically acclaimed Little Dorrit), Robert Sheehan (who was good in the Red Riding Trilogy), Ulrich Thomsen, Stephen Graham, and Stephen Campbell Moore. The film looks to be a large scale action/horror adventure and entertaining for genre fans (but of course the director has me questioning just how well the film will turn out). Check out the trailer.

The Green Hornet (Michel Gondry) – Action – Jan 14th
The film is about the Britt Reid, playboy son of a newspaper mogul. When his father is murdered, Reid decides to make something of his life. He takes over his father’s business by day and becomes a crime-fighter by night. This film which initially was a project of Kevin Smith’s then passed to Stephen Chow only to then fall into the hands of visionary and abstract director Michel Gondry (making it immediately a million times more interesting). The screenplay is by the successful team of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg (Pineapple Express and Superbad). Gondry, doing his first action film, has an action-experienced crew with composer James Newton Howard (The Dark Knight), cinematographer John Schwartzman (The Rock) and production designer Owen Paterson (The Matrix). The film stars Rogen and features Jay Chou, Cameron Diaz and Christoph Waltz in its principal supporting roles. Tom Wilkinson, Edward James Olmos and Edward Furlong also have supporting roles. Gondry’s involvement makes this film worth a look just because he generally makes creative and interesting films (though not always good). However, this has been delayed a bunch and the initial trailer was bad. The new trailer (see below) is lot better and actually funny. The cast is also quite intriguing (I am a huge fan of Waltz and Wilkinson and find Rogen’s work funny, usually). All in all, I do not really know how to feel about this – I want to see it, but my gut tells me it is going to be bad. Check out the trailer.

The Dilemma (Ron Howard) – Comedy – Jan 14th
The film is about two best friends. One discovers that the other’s wife is having an affair. Now, he is faced with the dilemma (see what I did there) of whether or not he should tell his best friend what he knows. Director Ron Howard has mainly been focusing on big and prestige films of late, thus it is sort of a surprise to see him directing a buddy comedy such as this, especially one relegated to January (or maybe this is his penance for some mediocre work in the past, yeah I’m looking at you Edtv). But, Howard being a big-name director has its perks – like getting Hans Zimmer to score the film and Salvatore Totino to shoot it (though he does shoot all Howard’s recent stuff). Long-time set decorator turned production designer Daniel B. Clancy is designing the film. It co-stars Vince Vaughn and Kevin James (maybe Jon Favreau was too busy with Cowboys & Aliens) and features supporting work from Jennifer Connelly, Winona Ryder, Channing Tatum, Talulah Riley, and Queen Latifah. The film already is surrounded by controversy due to the use of the word “gay” in the initial trailer, not to mention that it does not look like much more than an amalgamation of other comedies previously released. This movie will live on the ability of James and Vaughn to have good chemistry and above all else be funny. Check out the trailer.

The Mechanic (Simon West) – Action – Jan 28th
The film is a remake of the 1972 movie of the same name about an elite hit man whose mentor is killed. The hit man sets off on a mission of revenge against those that killed his mentor with a new apprentice, the son of his mentor. Director Simon West is known for his action films and thus is a good fit for the project (while he makes entertaining films, none are very good films). West has an ok crew on the film with composer Mark Isham, cinematographer Eric Schmidt and interesting production designer Richard Lassalle. The film does have a good cast starring action veteran Jason Statham and very good Ben Foster (each of his characters is more interesting than the last; he was great in 3:10 to Yuma). Donald Sutherland is featured in a supporting role. The film looks to be an entertaining action film with elaborate and hopefully cool assassin set pieces (but not much more should be expected). Check out the trailer.

The Rite (Mikael Hafstrom) – Horror – Jan 28th
The film is about an American priest who travels to Italy to study exorcisms. During his studies, he is skeptical but soon realizes that possession is indeed real as he is pulled into a frightening truth. Swedish director Mikael Hafstrom has a good track record with horror-thrillers (though does not have a great film to his name yet). He has a very good crew on the film with composer Alex Heffes, great D.P. Ben Davis and production designer Andrew Laws. The cast is also very good – starring Colin O’Donoghue and Anthony Hopkins with Alice Braga, Ciaran Hinds (who is awesome in Rome), Rutger Hauer (awesome in Blade Runner), and Toby Jones in support. The films looks like it will be scary and should feature good aesthetics and performances. Check out the trailer.

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