Wednesday, February 29, 2012

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

Art-House Dramas:

Being Flynn (Paul Weitz) – Drama – Mar 2 [limited]
Summary: Nick Flynn, a struggling writer, takes a job at a homeless shelter to gather ideas. At the shelter, he encounters his estranged father, a self-proclaimed poet. Nick senses trouble in his own life and battles with the notion of starting a new relationship with his father. Filmmakers: Writer-director Paul Weitz has done good work in the past (notably About a Boy), but in recent years has churned out three duds in a row. Hopefully, this will be his resurgence. He is working with composer Damon Gough (About a Boy), cinematographer Declan Quinn (The Lucky Ones) and production designer Sarah Knowles (Arthur). Cast: The film stars Robert De Niro and Paul Dano and features Julianne Moore, Olivia Thirlby and Lili Taylor in support. Expectations: Paul Weitz in the director chair is a bit of a red flag (at least for me), but this does have a great cast. If Weitz just shoots the film straightforward, allowing the performances to drive the narrative, it should turn out well. Trailer: Here.

Silent House (Chris Kentis & Laura Lau) – Horror – Mar 9 [limited]
Summary: Visiting her family’s lakeside house, Sarah is terrorized, trapped inside the house. Filmmakers: Writer-director-producer Laura Lau and writer-director Chris Kentis are the team behind Open Water. They are working with composer Nathan Larson (Margin Call), cinematographer Igor Martinovic (The Tillman Story) and production designer Roshelle Berliner (Precious). Cast: The film stars Elizabeth Olsen (and is sort of a tour de force for her). Expectations: The premise of this film is that it takes place in real-time; not a new concept but something that should work well within the horror/thriller genre. This is also on many people’s radar as it is Olsen’s first follow-up to her fantastic performance in Martha Marcy May Marlene (which was one of my favorite performances of 2011). While I do not think this film will be anywhere near as good as Martha Marcy May Marlene, I am intrigued to see Olsen’s performance in this as running around being scared is thought of as easy, but the quality of these sort of films often hinges on just how good the lead is. Trailer: Here.

The Kid with a Bike (Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne) – Drama – Mar 16 [NYC]
Summary: Cyril, a young boy, is abandoned by his father and taken in by the state. Samantha, the town’s hairdresser, decides that she with foster the boy on the weekends in a random act of kindness. Filmmakers: The film is by the writer-director brothers from Belgium: Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne (La Promesse and The Child are two of their better known films). They are working with cinematographer Alain Marcoen, who has shot most of their films. Cast: It stars newcomer Thomas Doret and Cecile De France (one of Belgium’s biggest international stars at present) with Jeremie Renier and Fabrizio Rongione in support. Expectations: It won the 2011 Cannes Film Festival Grand Jury Prize for Best Film, and was thought to be among the five Best Foreign Film nominees at the 2012 Oscars (though that did not happen). For those that like dramas and do not mind subtitles and relatively unknown actors (especially for viewers in the States), this should be well worth your time. Trailer: Here.

The Raid (Gareth Evans) – Action – Mar 23 [limited]
Summary: Responding to a call, a SWAT team finds themselves trapped inside a tenement owned by a mobster who unleashes droves of killers and thugs upon them. Now, they must fight to escape. Filmmakers: Welsh writer-director Gareth Evans returns to the genre of action with his new film (his last was Merantau). He is working with a trio of composers (Aria Prayogi, Joseph Trapanese and Fajar Yuskemal) and cinematographer Matt Flannery (who has shot all three of Evans’s films). Cast: It stars Indonesian martial arts champion Iko Uwais (who was discovered by Evans while Evans was making a documentary in 2007 – this is their second collaboration). Expectations: While Evans’s first two films were not successful, The Raid has been adored by anyone lucky enough to see it – even winning a Toronto International Film Festival People’s Choice Award. It is an epic action film with countless fantastic sequences and stunts. It is an absolute must-see for martial arts style action fans. Trailer: Here.

Art-House Comedies:

Summary: Tim and Eric get a billion dollars to make a movie, but when production starts to go off-course they try to revitalize a failing shopping mall to make the money back (yes, it sounds ridiculous). Filmmakers: The film is by Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim, the guys behind the HBO show Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! They are working with producers Mark Cuban (probably where the money came from), Will Ferrell (who also has a cameo) and Adam McKay, as well as composer Davin Wood (who works on their show), cinematographer Rachel Morrison (The Hills) and production designer Rosie Sanders (who also works on their show). Cast: Along with Tim and Eric, there are a lot of celebrity cameos, including: A.D. Miles, Jeff Goldblum, Zach Galifianakis, Will Forte, William Atherton, Ray Wise, Robert Loggia, and John C. Reilly. Expectations: This is pretty much exclusively made for fans of the show, but I assume there is hope that it will draw new fans to Tim and Eric’s stuff. The film is random and wacky (basically think of a live-action Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters). Trailer: Here.

Goon (Michael Dowse) – Sports Comedy – Mar 30
Summary: Doug Glatt, a bouncer, is an underachiever, especially when compared to his brainy family. However, Doug has a chance at glory when he joins an underperforming semi-pro hockey team as their enforcer. Filmmakers: Canadian director Michael Dowse has done funny work in Canada, but his first Hollywood film Take Me Home Tonight was fairly awful. Thankfully, Goon is a Canadian film, and he is working with a writing team made up very funny people: Jay Baruchel and Evan Goldberg. Dowse is also working with composer Ramachandra Borcar and cinematographer Bobby Shore (who he has worked with before). Cast: The film stars Seann William Scott and features Baruchel, Live Schreiber, Alison Pill, Kim Coates, and Eugene Levy in support, making up a great comedic group. Expectations: Goon opened in the U.K. in January and played to good reviews. It will also be available early via VOD in the States (Feb 24th). I think it looks funny, and as a hockey fan I am looking forward to a good hockey comedy (the last one was probably Slap Shot, which this seems to resemble quite a bit). I also find it interesting when juxtaposed to what is happening in the NHL with the decline of the ‘enforcer’ role, fighting even being discussed as no longer being a necessary part of the game (though, many would argue that and fans love it). Trailer: Here. Review.

No comments:

Post a Comment