Tuesday, March 1, 2011

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

Art-House Watch:

Happythankyoumoreplease (Josh Radnor) – Drama – Mar 4 [limited]
The film is about young people growing up, shedding their reflexive cynicism and struggling to connect – to love and be loved. Josh Radnor, known as Ted Mosby, architect, on How I Met Your Mother, makes his directorial debut. Radnor has a very indy crew with him on the film – composer Jaymay (an NYC area folk singer making her film score debut), cinematographer Seamus Tierney and production designer Jade Healy. While Radnor also stars in the film, it co-stars Malin Akerman, Richard Jenkins, Michael Algieri, Pablo Schreiber, Zoe Kazan, Tony Hale, and Kate Mara. The film feels kind of pretentious, and really just like a film the character Ted Mosby would make – while also looking kind of forced and sappy. But, Jenkins and Mara are generally good performance givers and the indy sensibilities of the film may add some charm (or not). Check out the trailer.

Kill the Irishman (Jonathan Hensleigh) – Crime – Mar 11 [limited]
The film is about Danny Greene, a tough Irish thug who worked for the mob in Cleveland (oh yes, the notorious Cleveland mob) in the 1970s. Then, Greene went out on his own causing trouble for the mob, so they came after him. Writer-director Jonathan Hensleigh has an up and down career as a writer with hits (Armageddon) and flops (Next). This marks his second time in the director’s chair (his first was the critical and box office flop The Punisher with Thomas Jane). The film looks to be his most grounded and gritty project. He has a good crew with composer Patrick Cassidy, very good German cinematographer Karl Walter Lindenlaub and production designer Patrizia von Brandenstein (also doing this month’s Limitless). The cast is great, and makes this project really interesting (at least for me). It stars Ray Stevenson (Rome’s Titus Pullo), which will hopefully lead to him getting more substantial work. Linda Cardellini, Fionnula Flanagan and Laura Ramsey are featured in supporting roles, and the mobsters are played by Val Kilmer (well, he plays a cop), Christopher Walken, Vinnie Jones, Vincent D’Onofrio, Paul Sorvino, Robert Davi, Mike Starr, and Steve Schirripa (yeah, awesome). The film looks like a good gangster action film. The trailer makes Danny Greene out to be like Rasputin, try as you may, with many a varying degree of weaponry, you just cannot kill him. Check out the trailer.

Black Death (Christopher Smith) – Drama – Mar 11 [NYC]
The film is about a young monk, who is sent on a truth-finding mission when it is reported that people are being brought back to life in a small village in England. Set during the first outbreak of the bubonic plague. Director Christopher Smith primarily does small films, this getting the most exposure of his career to date. He is again working with composer Christian Henson and production designer John Frankish, while working with cinematographer Sebastian Edschmid for the first time. The crew also works primarily in smaller films, though designer Frankish has worked on a number of very good well known films. The principal cast is quite good with Sean Bean, Eddie Redmayne and Carice van Houten. The film looks to be a decent period drama with some horror overtones to it. It received mixed reviews during its festival circuit. Check out the trailer.

Win Win (Thomas McCarthy) – Drama – Mar 18 [limited]
The film is about a tired and fed-up attorney, who also works as a high school wrestling coach. One day he comes across a young teen who needs help and he decides to take him into his home. To his surprise and delight, the teen is a gifted wrestler and is fitting in well with his family. But when the boy’s mother shows up from rehab flat broke, she threatens everything. Director Thomas McCarthy is one of the top talents working today in independent film. His last two projects were The Visitor (which is incredible) and The Station Agent. Deciding to stick with what works, McCarthy is again working with cinematographer Oliver Bokelberg and production designer John Paino (both of whom worked on his other two films). However for the score, he has enlisted very good comedy composer Lyle Workman. The film has a very good cast – starring Paul Giamatti (if you happen to watch Cameron Crowe’s Singles again, look for his awesome cameo) and featuring Melanie Lynskey, Amy Ryan, Jeffrey Tambor, Burt Young, and newcomer Alex Shaffer. The film looks to be a very good dramedy, and what else would you expect from McCarthy? It screened very well at Sundance. Check out the trailer.

Miral (Julian Schnabel) – Drama – Mar 25 [limited]
The film is about a Palestinian girl growing up amidst the first Arab-Israeli war who finds herself drawn into the conflict. Director Julian Schnabel is probably best known in the States for his wonderful film The Diving Bell and the Butterfly – immediately putting this film on many film enthusiasts’ ‘must see’ list.  Schnable is working with production designer Yoel Herzberg and very good cinematographer Eric Gautier on the film. It has a fabulous cast – starring Freida Pinto (from Slumdog Millionaire) and featuring Alexander Siddig (who is awesome in DS9), Willem Dafoe and Vanessa Redgrave (but, I don’t know Vanessa Redgrave!) in supporting roles. The film looks quite interesting and relevant, but sadly received mixed reviews in Europe and in its advanced screenings in the States. Check out the trailer.

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