Thursday, June 30, 2011

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

Romance and Rom-Coms:

Larry Crowne (Tom Hanks) – Romance – Jul 1
Summary: The film is about a middle-aged man who loses his job and returns to college to both get a degree (which he needs) and reinvent himself, only to meet a woman that evokes new feelings within him. Filmmakers: Tom Hanks is writing (with Nia Vardalos, the star and writer of My Big Fat Greek Wedding, which Hanks produced), directing, starring, and producing the film. He has a good group around him with composer James Newton Howard (Charlie Wilson’s War), cinematographer Philippe Rousselot (Sherlock Holmes) and production designer Victor Kempster (Miami Vice). Cast: Along with Hanks, the film stars Julia Roberts and featuring supporting work from Rob Riggle, Rita Wilson, Cedric the Entertainer, Taraji P. Henson, Wilmer Valderrama, Pam Grier, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, and Bryan Cranston. Expectations: Tom Hanks has directed a few episodes of TV in the past (I liked his work on the episode Crossroads from Band of Brothers a lot) and the feature film That Thing You Do! (which was ok). The film looks like a typical Hollywood style rom-com that will live or die on the chemistry and charm of its stars. Thankfully, those stars happen to be Hanks and Roberts who played off each other well in Charlie Wilson’s War. I will not be rushing out to see this (though, I feel like it is made for an older audience than myself), but I will probably rent it. Check out the trailer.

Friends with Benefits (Will Gluck) – Rom-Com – Jul 22
Summary: The film is about two young people that want sex but without all the complications of a relationship (trying to avoid the clichés of Hollywood rom-coms…right). But, they discover it is not that easy (I mean, this is a rom-com after all, of course they are going to end up liking each other that way). Filmmakers: Director Will Gluck makes his third feature here, hoping to springboard off the success of his last film Easy A (though I thought his first, Fired Up!, was funny too). Taking nothing to chance, Gluck is working again with his team from Easy A: cinematographer Michael Grady and production designer Marcia Hinds. Cast: The film stars Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis, each coming off critical acting acclaim in 2010 (for The Social Network and Black Swan, respectively). The supporting cast is great too with Patricia Clarkson, Jenna Elfman (has she been in anything lately?), Bryan Greenberg, Richard Jenkins, Woody Harrelson, Andy Samberg (who hopefully has some scenes opposite Timberlake), and Emma Stone. Expectations: In Hollywood, they always come in twos. Earlier this year we had No Strings Attached, and now we have Friends with Benefits – both being R-rated rom-coms about trying to have an emotion/girlfriend-boyfriend free sexual relationship. That being said, this looks really funny. The cast is great, Gluck makes funny stuff and it will probably be different enough to support itself as a unique film (we already just watch the same 15 or so films over and over with different names, casts and filmmakers anyway). Check out the trailer. Review.

Serious Films:

Crazy, Stupid, Love. (Glenn Ficarra & John Requa) – Dramedy/Romance – Jul 29
Summary: The film is about a man whose life beings to unravel due to a marital crisis. He finds himself alone, trying to manage his relationship with his children. Then, he meets a guy who seems to get all the girls, so he asks for his help in finding a new love interest. Filmmakers: Directing partners Glenn Ficarra and John Requa make funny films that center around characters with social or emotional issues (I liked their directorial debut I Love You Phillip Morris and they wrote the very funny Bad Santa). They have a good and fitting crew on the film with comedy composers Christophe Beck (The Hangover: Part II) and Nick Urata (who worked on I Love You Phillip Morris), cinematographer Andrew Dunn (Precious) and production designer William Arnold (Punch-Drunk Love). Cast: The cast is great and probably the highlight of the film with Steve Carell starring, Emma Stone (who is in three movies this summer), Ryan Gosling, Julianne Moore, and Marisa Tomei co-starring, and Kevin Bacon, John Carroll Lynch, Liza Lapira, and Analeigh Tipton supporting. Expectations: Initially, this was on my to-rent list, but the trailers have looked really good and I have upgraded it to the probably-going-to-see-in-theatres list. The cast is fantastic, and the aesthetics looks really good (which is a big draw for me). Ficarra and Requa look to have made a film that is going to be both funny and emotionally compelling. Check out the trailer. Review.

Fun Movies:

Transformers: Dark of the Moon (Michael Bay) – Action – Jul 1 (Jun 29)
Summary: The film is about a Cybertronian spacecraft hidden on the Moon. Both the Autobots and Decepticons want to reach it first to learn its secrets. Let the race for survival begin. Filmmakers: Action-director Michael Bay returns for his third installment in the franchise (because despite the second film being utterly terrible, it made tons of money). Steven Spielberg is also back as the film’s executive producer (aka collecting money for attaching his name). Bay is using a crew his is familiar with, including composer Steve Jablonsky (who scored the first two Transformers), cinematographer Amir Mokri (new to the series, but shot Bad Boys II for Bay) and production designer Nigel Phelps (who worked on RotF and Bay’s The Island and Pearl Harbor). Cast: Almost everyone is returning from the first two films (except Megan Fox who compared Bay to Hitler and did not like being objectified by him), and new to the cast are Rosie Huntington-Whiteley (replacing Fox), Patrick Dempsey, Frances McDormand, John Malkovich, Alan Tudyk, and Ken Jeong, making for a pretty solid group. Expectations: Everyone is saying (promising) that Dark of the Moon is going to be better than Rise of the Fallen (but that is not saying much, more than 99% of all movies that have come out since are better than Rise of the Fallen). Personally, any interest I had in this series died with the second installment (fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me). But, advanced reviews tout the film as being lots of fun with great action, although completely mindless and pointless. So fans of the first two films will probably enjoy this one too. It marks a sad day for cinema fans though, as it once again reminds Hollywood that quality actually does not really matter in terms of making money. Check out the trailer.

Horrible Bosses (Seth Gordon) – Comedy – Jul 8
Summary: The film is about three friends that work for terrible bosses. Thus, they conspire to murder each other’s boss with the ultimate goal of finding happiness in their lives. Filmmakers: The film has a mixed group of filmmakers working on it. Director Seth Gordon made the awesome documentary The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters but his first feature film was Four Christmases, which was not that well received. Actor John Francis Daley (Bones, Freaks and Geeks) makes his feature screenwriting debut with writing-partner Jonathan Goldstein. Very good composer Christopher Lennertz (who does excellent work on Supernatural) is scoring the film, ok cinematographer David Hennings (Very Bad Things) is shooting it, production designer Shepherd Frankel (worked on Four Christmases) is designing it, and (hack) director Brett Ratner (Rush Hour 3) is producing it. Cast: The cast is great though, starring Jason Bateman, Charlie Day and Jason Sudeikis and co-starring Jennifer Aniston, Kevin Spacey and Colin Farrell. The supporting cast features Lindsay Sloane, Donald Sutherland, Jamie Foxx, John Francis Daley, Bob Newhart, Ioan Gruffudd, Julie Bowen, Wendell Pierce, and Ron White. Expectations: The film has a ton of very funny people in it, which should translate into a funny movie (it has Charlie Day in it, after all, how can it not be funny?). The trailers have been good. The only question that I have is can Seth Gordon make good on the quality of his documentary work in his feature work (he has done so in TV, directing good episodes of Community, The Office and Parks and Recreation). Check out the trailer. Review.

Winnie the Pooh (Stephen J. Anderson & Don Hall) – Comedy – Jul 15
Summary: The film is about just another ordinary in Hundred Acre Wood. Winnie the Pooh sets out to find some honey, like always. But when he stumbles upon a note from Christopher Robin, he is convinced that he has been kidnapped by the evil “Backson”. Thus, he rounds up the gang to set out and save him. Filmmakers: The writing and directing team of Stephen Anderson and Don Hall have a good background at Disney, working on the films The Princess and the Frog, Meet the Robinsons (which they wrote and directed), Brother Bear, The Emperor’s New Groove, and Tarzan. Cool composer Henry Jackman (X-Men: First Class) is scoring the film with songs by Zooey Deschanel (actress and member of the band She & Him), cinematographer Julio Macar (Home Alone) is shooting it, and production designers Paul Felix (Bolt) and Patrick Sullivan Jr. (Memoirs of a Geisha) are designing it. Cast: The film features the voice work of the actors that typically do the voices in the series (like Jim Cummings) and John Cleese as the narrator and Craig Ferguson talking over the voice role of Owl. Expectations: The film looks to be the best family film of the month. It has a great aesthetic to it, mixing both the classic feel of the series with modern animation technology. It has received very positive reviews in its advanced screenings. Fans of Winnie the Pooh should be in for a treat of a film. Check out the trailer.

Cowboys & Aliens (Jon Favreau) – Sci-Fi/Western – Jul 29
Summary: The film is based on the loved indie comic book about a posse of cowboys that is all that stands in the way of an alien race that arrives in Arizona in 1873 to take over the Earth. Filmmakers: Iron Man director Jon Favreau is a good choice to make the film as he has a good handle on action and garners good performances. The writing team behind Mission: Impossible III, Star Trek, Transformers, Fringe, and Lost (Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman and Damon Lindelof) wrote the film and are producing. Favreau has a very fitting crew with composer Harry Gregson-Williams (The Town), awesome cinematographer Matthew Libatique (who shot Iron Man 2 for Favreau) and production designer Scott Chambliss (who worked on Star Trek). Steven Spielberg is the executive producer.  Cast: If the crew did not have you excited for the film, this cast certainly will, as it stars Daniel Craig (James Bond) and Harrison Ford (Indiana Jones). The supporting cast is very good too with Olivia Wilde, Paul Dano, Sam Rockwell, Keith Carradine, Walton Goggins, David O’Hara, Abigail Spencer, Adam Beach, and Clancy Brown. Expectations: Being a fan of both westerns and sci-fi films, this is particularly interesting. It looks to be a very fun film to watch, and hopefully one of the best action films of the summer (which has been good so far with X-Men: First Class, Super 8, Thor, and Fast Five). The cast is awesome, and Jon Favreau has done good work recently with the Iron Man franchise (but I would argue has not yet made a great film). Check out the trailer. Review.

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