Thursday, October 27, 2011

At the Movies – November 2011 – Part 3: This Month’s Best Films

Must-See of the Month:

The Muppets (James Bobin) – Comedy – Nov 23
Summary: Like the classic Muppet movies, this is about the Muppets coming together to save their theatre (from a greedy oil tycoon, specifically for this film). Filmmakers: Director James Bobin of The Flight of the Cochords and The Ali G Show makes his feature debut. Jason Segel (who is also starring and producing) and Nicholas Stroller wrote the script (they made Forgetting Sarah Marshall together), Bret McKenzie is writing a few new songs, Christophe Beck (Crazy, Stupid, Love.) is scoring, Don Burgess (Source Code) is shooting, and Steve Saklad (Up in the Air) is doing the production design. Cast: In addition to the Muppets and Segel, Amy Adams stars and Rashida Jones and Chris Cooper feature in supporting roles. The film also boasts an impressive list of celebrity cameos (here is a full list), highlighted by: Neil Patrick Harris, Emily Blunt, Ricky Gervais, Donald Glover, and Billy Crystal. Expectations: While I am a fan of the Muppets, it is Jason Segel, James Bobin and Bret McKenzie’s involvement in the production of the film that has me excited to see it (just think of Segel’s Dracula Musical in Forgetting Sarah Marshall). The cast and celebrity cameos are also awesome. The myriad of joke and real trailers have been great as well. More so than many of the Holiday family-targeted films coming out in November and December, this has the most potential to be amazing for both children and adults. This is definitely the must-see of the month. Trailer: Here. Review.

Worth Checking Out:

J. Edgar (Clint Eastwood) – Biography – Nov 9
Summary: The film is about J. Edgar Hoover, the first director of the FBI – his life, career and secrets. Filmmakers: This project seems like a very good fit for director, producer and composer Clint Eastwood (he has made some good period stuff in the past, like his recent film Changeling). The film is written by Oscar winner (for Milk) Dustin Lance Black, and Eastwood is working with his frequent collaborators cinematographer Tom Stern and production designer James Murakami. Cast: The strong cast starts with the lead Leonardo DiCaprio, but it also has a good supporting group with Armie Hammer, Naomi Watts, Dermot Mulroney, Josh Lucas, Ed Westwick, Lea Thompson, Judi Dench, Jeffrey Donovan, and Stephen Root. Expectations: Clint Eastwood and Leonard DiCaprio being a part of J. Edar automatically makes it an Oscar contender. Eastwood is a fantastic director, but he is not immune to films that do not entirely work (his last two, Invictus and Hereafter, were not great). But, DiCaprio has a very strong record with his recent projects (his last three were Revolutionary Road, Shutter Island and Inception – all receiving a review of 8 or better from me). More than likely, this will be good. Trailer: Here. Review.

The Descendants (Alexander Payne) – Dramedy – Nov 18 [limited]
Summary: The film is about Matt King. After the death of his wife in a boating accident, he tries to reconnect with his two daughters. Filmmakers: Writer-director Alexander Payne is one of the best at making dramedies because his characters are well drawn and typically sad (specifically his protagonists), and yet his dialog and situations he places them in are often very funny (his masterwork is probably Sideways). He is working with frequent collaborators cinematographer Phedon Papamichael (who did maybe the best work of his career to date on The Ides of March) and production designer Jane Ann Stewart. Cast: George Clooney stars with Judy Greer, Matthew Lillard, Shailene Woodley, Beau Bridges, Robert Forster, and Rob Huebel in support. Expectations: This is another Oscar contender (probably picture, screenplay and actor), due to its acclaim from critics based on its festival screenings. I generally really like Payne’s work, and this looks to be no different – complex characters, moving drama and very funny. Trailer: Here. Review.

A Dangerous Method (David Cronenberg) – Drama – Nov 23
Summary: The film is about the relationship between Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung and a patient Sabina Spielrein, and the birth of psychoanalysis. Filmmakers: Director David Cronenberg is known for his graphic style (both in the way he shoots violence and the mental conditions of his characters, who are often pushed to their limits). He is a beloved indie director with films like Eastern Promises, A History of Violence and The Fly. He is working with frequent collaborators composer Howard Shore, cinematographer Peter Suschitzky and production designer James McAteer (who has worked many times with Cronenberg as an art director, however this is his first major feature as production designer). Cast: The film stars Viggo Mortensen, Michael Fassbender and Keira Knightley. Vincent Cassel and Sarah Gadon have supporting roles, making for an overall excellent group. Expectations: A Dangerous Method has played very well for critics during its festival run with some believing it is an Oscar contender in a few of the major categories come 2012 (picture, directing and acting). I am looking forward to it simply because it is a modern auteur director and a fantastic cast (it is one of my top five most anticipated films yet to come out in 2011 – the others being Tinker Tailor Solider Spy, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, and The Muppets). Trailer: Here. Review.

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