Wednesday, April 4, 2012

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

Art-House Dramas:

The Hunter (Daniel Nettheim) – Thriller – Apr 6 [limited]
Summary: On a hunt for the last Tasmanian tiger, a mercenary Martin, sent by a mysterious biotech company, finds that things are not as they seem to be (you know, one of those misdirection things). Filmmakers: Australian director Daniel Nettheim has mostly worked on Australian TV. The Hunter is his first film to see distribution in the States. He is working with three composers (Andrew Lancaster, Michael Lira and Matteo Zingales) and fellow Aussies cinematographer Robert Humphreys and production designer Steven Jones-Evans (Ned Kelly). Cast: It stars Willem Dafoe with Sam Neill and Frances O’Conner in support. Expectations: This type of character-centric thriller/drama all depends on the performance of its lead, and Willem Dafoe is very well suited for this role – a hunter on the edge of a conspiracy. The film looks to be a decent thriller anchored by strong work from Dafoe. Trailer: Here.

The Lady (Luc Besson) – Biography – Apr 13 [limited]
Summary: The true story of the lady (bonus points for using the title in the summary), Aung San Suu Kyi, at the center of Burma’s democracy movement, and her relationship with writer Michael Aris. Filmmakers: Director Luc Besson is probably France’s most successful producer, writer and director with a number of big box office and critical hits over the last three decades (he has directed: La Femme Nikita, Leon: The Professional and The Fifth Element; he has produced: Taken, Tell No One and Nil by Mouth). Besson is working with frequent collaborators composer Eric Serra (GoldenEye), cinematographer Thierry Arbogast (Heartbreaker) and production designer Hugues Tissandier (The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc). Cast: It stars Michelle Yeoh and co-stars David Thewlis. Expectations: As a big fan of Besson’s work during the 1990s, I am glad to see him return to making serious dramas (as the Arthur and the Invisibles films were not good at all). This biography looks to be very good with fine dramatic performances from Yeoh and Thewlis. Trailer: Here.

The Moth Diaries (Mary Harron) – Horror – Apr 20 [limited]
Summary: Rebecca and Lucie are best friends at an all-girls boarding school. But when a new student, Ernessa, seems to steal Lucie away, Rebecca becomes jealous and suspects that Ernessa has a dark secret compelling Lucie (yup, it’s vampire film). Filmmakers: Director Mary Harron was once considered one of the great newcomer directors to watch after her marvelous second film: American Psycho. But, she has yet to really follow it up with anything approaching the same quality, spending the last few years working in TV. She is working with an indie group including Canadian composer Lesley Barber, cinematographer Declan Quinn (Rachel Getting Married) and genre production designer Sylvain Gingras (The Hunger). Cast: It stars a trio of up and coming young actresses: Sarah Bolger, Lily Cole and Sarah Gadon, and features Scott Speedman in support. Expectations: Reactions have not been great from The Moth Diaries’s festival screenings, but IFC Films liked it enough to distribute. While I think that vampires are a bit played out and oversaturated right now (plus, The Vampire Diaries is very good, so that is the bar every other teen vampire film or show is going to be measured against, and all of them seem to fall short), Harron is quite a good director whose three previous films are all interesting and feature great performances. Additionally, any or all of these three actresses could breakout and become stars over the next few years. Trailer: Here.

Marley (Kevin Macdonald) – Documentary – Apr 20 [limited]
Summary: A look at the life, music and legacy of Bob Marley. Filmmakers: Director Kevin Macdonald is best known for his feature films The Last King of Scotland, The Eagle and State of Play, but he is a much more prolific documentarian (his best work being: Toughing the Void). He has a trio of brilliant cinematographers working on the film with Mike Eley, (and especially) Alwin H. Kuchler (Hanna) and Wally Pfister (Inception), two of my personal favorites. Expectations: Festival screenings have yielded very positive buzz, not to mention that the soundtrack of Marley’s songs will be wonderful. This has the potential to be among the best documentaries of 2012. Trailer: Here.

Headhunters (Morten Tyldum) – Crime Thriller – Apr 27 [limited]
Summary: Roger Brown is a successful corporate headhunter, but he also has a double life stealing art. He gets wrapped up in a deadly game when he puts everything on the line to steal a very valuable piece from a former mercenary Clas Greve. Filmmakers: Norwegian director Morten Tyldum has his first international hit with Headhunters. He is working with cinematographer John Andreas Andersen and first time production designer Nina Bjerch Andersen (to be honest, I have neither seen any of Tyldum’s films nor heard of any of these three filmmakers). Cast: It stars Aksel Hennie and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (who many will know as Jaime Lannister on Game of Thrones). Expectations: The film performed very well in Norway, critically hailed as an excellent action crime thriller. Based on the trailer, it looks to be a great thriller with many twists. Trailer: Here.

Art-House Comedies:

Damsels in Distress (Whit Stillman) – Dramedy – Apr 6 [LA/NYC]
Summary: Seven Oaks College is a male-dominated campus – that is until three girls look to change the environment. Filmmakers: Writer-director-producer Whit Stillman made a trio of films in the 1990s (chief among them Metropolitan), but has not done anything else until now. He is working with an indie crew with composer Mark Suozzo (The Notorious Betty Paige), cinematographer Doug Emmett (shot this year’s Sundance hit Bachelorette) and production designer Elizabeth Jones. Cast: The film has a great group of woman: Greta Gerwig, Carrie MacLemore, Megalyn Echikunwoke, Analeigh Tipton, Caitlin Fitzgerald, and Aubrey Plaza. Ryan Metcalf, Jermaine Crawford, Zach Woods, Hugo Becker, and Adam Brody feature in support, as well. Expectations: The film has received very good buzz from its festival screenings, and as a big fan of Greta Gerwig, Analeigh Tipton and Aubrey Plaza I am looking forward to seeing this. There are not a lot of good female-centric films (and most of them come out of the independent side of Hollywood), so like Bridesmaids has done I hope this will lead to more female-lead films (both comedies and dramas). Trailers: Here.

Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope (Morgan Spurlock) – Documentary – Apr 6 [limited]
Summary: A look behind the scenes at the San Diego Comic-Con, which has become one of the biggest media events of each year (to the chagrin of more diehard comic book and graphic novel fans). Filmmakers: Writer-director Morgan Spurlock is one of the best known documentarians right now (or at least he makes some of the more entertaining documentaries) with Super Size Me, Where in the World Is Osama Bin Laden?, and The Greatest Movie Ever Sold. He is a great choice to tackle the subject matter (as many directors have tried to get permission to make a documentary about Comic-Con before). Plus, he has Joss Whedon co-writing and producing, Harry Knowles producing and Stan Lee producing (how is that for fanboy/girl credibility). Expectations: The film has been well-received in its advanced screenings and promises to have tons of celebrity interviews (both from movies and comics), while still talking to the common Comic-Con goer. As a fan of Spurlock’s work (and a massive fan of Whedon), this is my most anticipated documentary of the year. Here is a behind the scenes look at the film. Trailer: Here.

Bernie (Richard Linklater) – Crime Dramedy – Apr 27 [limited]
Summary: Bernie is a small-town mortician in Texas. He is generally thought to be a lovely and kind person by the town’s inhabitants. However, he is not quite what he appears. After befriending a wealthy widow and killing her, he goes to great lengths to create the illusion that she is still alive. Filmmakers: Richard Linklater is one of the most beloved pseudo indie filmmakers (making both indie and smaller Hollywood films). His masterpieces are Before Sunrise and Before Sunset (but many people also love Dazed and Confused and The School of Rock). He is working with composer Graham Reynolds (A Scanner Darkly), wonderful cinematographer Dick Pope (The Illusionist) and production designer Bruce Curtis (Bad News Bears). Cast: Jack Black stars with Mattew McConaughey and Shirley MacLaine in support. Expectations: advanced screenings have yielded mixed reviews, but Jack Black looks to give one of his more interesting performances (one in which he does not just play himself). Fans of Linklater’s work should probably check this out, but everyone else can probably afford to miss it (Linklater’s career is highlighted by brilliant films like Before Sunrise and marred by terrible films like The Newton Boys or Fast Food Nation – he is very hit and miss). Trailer: Here.

No comments:

Post a Comment