Wednesday, February 1, 2012

At the Movies – February 2012 – Part 1: Independent Films

Art-House Dramas:

The Women in Black (James Watkins) – Horror – Feb 3
Summary: Arthur Kipps, a young lawyer, travels to a small village only to discover the vengeful ghost of a scorned woman terrorizing the locals. (For some reason) it is up to him to stop her and solve the mystery. Filmmakers: Director James Watkins returns for his second feature film, again working in the horror/thriller genre (his first was the good thriller Eden Lake). The screenplay is by Jane Goldman, who many will know as the co-writer of Stardust, Kick-Ass, The Debt, and X-Men: First Class with her usual partner Matthew Vaughn. Composer Marco Beltrami (Scream 4), cinematographer Tim Maurice-Jones (Snatch.) and production designer Kave Quinn (Harry Brown) make up the rest of the principal crew. Cast: Daniel Radcliffe stars with Janet McTeer and Ciaran Hinds in support (among others). Expectations: It will be interesting to see both Radcliffe in his first post-Harry Potter leading role and how this preforms at the box office with him as the star. Crew wise, there are a lot of very talented people behind the camera on this film, and thus it should be a good thriller. Plus, McTeer and Hinds are both generally wonderful supporting actors. Trailer: Here.

The Innkeepers (Ti West) – Horror – Feb 3
Summary: The Yankee Pedlar Inn is known to be haunted attracting tourists for years; however it has fallen on tough times and is closing. In its final days, two employee set out to reveal the hotel’s haunted past (which is probably a bad idea, just saying). Filmmakers: Writer-director Ti West is known for his indie horror films (and has one currently at Sundance that is creating a ton of positive buzz called V/H/S). He is working with his usual group including composer Jeff Grace (Meek’s Cutoff), cinematographer Eliot Rockett (The House of the Devil) and production designer Jade Healy (Detachment). Cast: It stars Sara Paxton and features Pat Healy, Kelly McGillis and Lena Dunham (among others). Expectations: Paxton has been in a number of films over the years but is still looking for her true breakthrough role (this might be it; I did like her a lot in the underrated remake The Last House on the Left). The film has seen mixed buzz, but genre fans, especially those who enjoy the great thrillers of the past, have called this film brilliant – slow building terror, creating an atmosphere of fear (and so on). Trailer: Here. Review.

Art-House Comedies:

Thin Ice (Jill Sprecher) – Crime – Feb 17 [limited]
Summary: Micky Prohaska is an insurance agent. He is unhappy with his life. He just wants to get out of Wisconsin. He sees his opportunity when he comes across a very valuable violin owned by a mentally ill client. Thinking the client will not miss it, he breaks into the client’s house, with the help of a locksmith to steal the violin. But now, the locksmith, who appears unstable himself, is blackmailing Micky (what is he to do!?!). Filmmakers: Writer-director Jill Sprecher is back (after eleven years) for her third feature (her second was the well-received Thirteen Conversations About One Thing; she also served as a producer on Big Love). She is working with indie composer Jeff Danna (Camelot), excellent cinematographer Dick Pope (The Illusionist) and relative newcomer to production design Jeff Schoen. Cast: Greg Kinnear stars with Alan Arkin, Billy Crudup, David Harbour, Bob Balaban, and Lea Thompson in support. Expectations: This reminds me a lot of Fargo and The Ice Harvest – both taking place in cold winter locations and occupying a black comedic crime tone. It has a pretty good cast too (I particularly like Arkin and Crudup’s work generally). And thus, it should be a good black comedy. Trailer: Here.

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