Wednesday, March 30, 2011

At the Movies – April 2011 – Part 1: Art-House Films

Art-House Watch:

Super (James Gunn) – Comedy – Apr 1
On the heels of films such as Special, Defendor and Kick-Ass, this film is about an everyday guy who transforms himself into the superhero Crimson Bolt, after his wife falls under the influence of a drug dealer. Writer-director James Gunn is back for his second feature film (the first being the horror-comedy Slither). He has a fantastic crew with him, featuring awesome composer Tyler Bates, cinematographer Steve Gainer and production designers William A. Elliot (who specializes in spoofs) and newcomer Dave Hagen. The cast is excellent for the project as well starring Rainn Wilson and Ellen Page. Liv Tyler, Kevin Bacon, Gregg Henry, and Michael Rooker (the latter two both appearing in Slither) make up an appropriate supporting cast, while Linda Cardellini and Nathan Fillion (!!!) make cameo appearances. The film looks hilarious and lots of fun. If you liked any of the films listed in the first sentence or Slither, you are probably going to like or at least enjoy this one. Check out the trailer. Review.

Meek’s Cutoff (Kelly Reichardt) – Drama – Apr 8 [LA/NYC]
The film is about traveling settlers in 1845 who find themselves stranded in the harsh conditions of the Oregon desert. Director Kelly Reichardt has made a name for herself making moving minimalist films, and this looks to be no different. She has a very indy crew with production designer David Doernberg, cinematographer Chris Blauvelt and composer Jeff Grace. The cast is quite good with Michelle Williams (who starred in Reichardt’s last film Wendy and Lucy), Will Patton, Zoe Kazan, Shirley Henderson, Bruce Greenwood, and Paul Dano (Williams and Dano seem to be in just about every truly indy film that sees some kind of commercial success). The film is highly anticipated among film critics and likely will garner a number of nominations at the 2012 Independent Spirit Awards. Check out the trailer.

Ceremony (Max Winkler) – Romance – Apr 8 [LA/NYC]
The film is about a young man who crashes the wedding of the thirty-something woman he loves and wants back. It is director Max Winkler’s feature film debut (and yes he is the son of the Fonz). He has an indy crew on the film with first time film composer Eric D. Johnson, D.P. William Rexer (who has shot a few movies for Ed Burns) and very good minimalist production designer Inbal Weinberg. The film stars Michael Angarano and Uma Thurman, with the very awesome Lee Pace and Jake M. Johnson (who was quite funny in No Strings Attached) in supporting roles. The film looks funny and sweet. Check out the trailer.

Soul Surfer (Sean McNamara) – Biography – Apr 15
The film is based on the true story about a teenage girl who decides to go back into the ocean and once again take up surfing after losing an arm in a shark attack. Director Sean McNamara has mostly worked in the realm of teenager dramas for cable TV. This film marks his first true serious dramatic feature film. He has a good crew with him featuring composer Marco Beltrami, cinematographer John R. Leonetti and production designer Rusty Smith. The film stars the very talented young actress AnnaSophia Robb, while featuring Dennis Quaid (who seemingly is hamming it up a lot recently, personally I think he just does not care anymore), Helen Hunt, Craig T. Nelson, and Carrie Underwood in supporting roles. The film looks like the typical heartwarming inspirational piece, but Robb in the leading role makes it a lot more interesting than just another movie-of-the-week (or Lifetime Special). Check out the trailer.

The Greatest Movie Ever Sold (Morgan Spurlock) – Documentary – Apr 22 [LA/NYC]
The film is about branding, advertising and product placement. Director Morgan Spurlock burst onto the documentary scene with his first film Super Size Me (one of my favorite docs). Spurlock has a knack for infusing humor into his material and has a talent for storytelling (much like Michael Moore). His second film, Where in the World is Osama Bin Ladien?, also showed his ability to tackle potentially difficult issues in an entertaining manner. Spurlock excels as a documentary filmmaker for just that reason – his films are fun to watch. For this new project looking at product placement, he is working again with his writing and producing partner Jeremy Chilnick (they did Where in the World… and his section of Freakonomics together). This should be another good and entertaining film from the director. Check out this interview about the film and the trailer.

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