Tuesday, July 31, 2012

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

Art-House Dramas:

360 (Fernando Meirelles) – Romance Drama – Aug 3 [limited]
Summary: A dramatic interweaving of intersecting relationships between people from disparate social backgrounds. Filmmakers: Director Fernando Meirelles was once one of the most promising auteur filmmakers, starting his international career with two wonderful films (City of God and The Constant Gardener), but his recent films have not lived up to expectations (Blindness and this). He is working with very good cinematographer Adriano Goldman (Jane Eyre) and production designer John Paul Kelly (The Guard). Cast: The film has a good cast featuring Rachel Weisz, Jude Law, Jamel Debbouze, Ben Foster, and Anthony Hopkins among others. Expectations: With Fernando Meirelles directing, there is certainly a chance for 360 to be a very good drama, or at the very least have an interesting visual style. That said, the film was not well received on the festival circuit, playing mostly to negative and moderate reviews. From what I have seen, I think that this may be worth a rental for fans of interweaving character dramas. Trailer: Here.

Cosmopolis (David Cronenberg) – Drama – Aug 17 [NYC/LA]
Summary: Eric Packer is a 28-year-old billionaire asset manager. One day he takes a limo trip across New York City that devolves into an odyssey as the world begins to fall apart. Filmmakers: Writer-director David Cronenberg is known for his eccentric and highly stylized work (most fans cite The Fly, A History of Violence and Easter Promises as his best work, but personally I really liked A Dangerous Method). He is working with frequent collaborators composer Howard Shore (The Lord of the Rings) and cinematographer Peter Suschitzky (The Empire Strikes Back), while production designer Arvinder Grewal (Resident Evil: Afterlife) is new to the team. Cast: The film stars Robert Pattinson, and features Juliette Binoche, Sarah Gadon, Mathieu Amalric, Jay Baruchel, Kevin Durand, K’Naan, Emily Hampshire, Samantha Morton, and Paul Giamatti in support. Expectations: Cosmopolis looks like a very ambitious film from Cronenberg, which means that it will either be incredible or fail utterly. There does not look like there is much middle ground based on what I have seen. Personally, I think it looks brilliant. But, critics have not been kind to it during its festival screenings. While I am not a fan of Pattinson and do not see him as a great leading man, the supporting cast features a few fantastic actors (Binoche, Gadon, Amalric, Baruchel, and Giamatti). I am looking forward to seeing this, but again I think it will be a very polarizing film. Trailer: Here.

Compliance (Craig Zobel) – Thriller – Aug 17 [limited]
Summary: Based on true events – a prank caller poising as the police convinces a fast food manager interrogate an innocent young employee. Filmmakers: Writer-director Craig Zobell is back with his second feature film (his first was Great World of Sound – yup, I have never heard of it either). He is working with first-time composer Heather McIntosh, cinematographer Adam Stone (Take Shelter) and production designer Matthew Munn (art director on Adventureland). Cast: The cast features Ann Dowd, Dreama Walker and Pat Healy. Expectations: Compliance has played to mostly positive reviews on the festival circuit (though has also been a little critically mixed too). However, some viewers have found it so disturbing that they have walked out, as the film is creepy. There is a lot of psychological violence. It is worth checking out for those who like inventive low budget thrillers. Trailer: Here.

Robot and Frank (Jake Schreier) – Sci-Fi Drama – Aug 24 [limited]
Summary: Frank is an ex-jewel thief who is resolved to live out the rest of his life in miserable isolation. However, to keep him company, his son buys him a robot butler. Soon, the two become companions and try their luck as a heist team. Filmmakers: Director Jake Schreier makes his directorial debut with the film. He is working with composer Francis Farewell Starlite (also a newcomer, he is the front man for Francis and the Lights), cinematographer Matthew Lloyd and production designer Sharon Lomofsky (A Love Song for Bobby Long). Cast: Frank Langella stars with James Marsden, Liv Tyler, Susan Sarandon, and Peter Sarsgaard’s voice (as the robot) in support. Expectations: Robot and Frank looks nicely different and refreshing (in a world in which most films are just the same thing over and over again). It is playing to positive reviews during its festival run winning a film prize at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, and could even be a surprise Oscar contender (most likely for Langella). I am looking forward to seeing the film. Trailer: Here.

Art-House Comedies:

Celeste and Jesse Forever (Lee Toland Krieger) – Dramedy – Aug 3 [limited]
Summary: Celeste and Jesse are best friends who also happen to be married – a happily ever after story right? Nope. Something just did not work and they get divorced. Now, they try to remain friends as they seek out new relationships. Filmmakers: Director Lee Toland Krieger returns for his third feature (but this is his first to see a theatrical release). He is working with a crew of newcomers including composers Zach Cowie and Sunny Levine, cinematographer David Lanzenberg and production designer Ian Phillips (though he works on Parks and Recreation). Cast: The cast is made up of a great comedic mix. Rashida Jones (who also co-wrote the film) and Andy Samberg star, while Elijah Wood, Emma Roberts, Ari Graynor, Eric Christian Olsen, Chris Messina, and Rich Sommer feature in support. Expectations: Celeste and Jesse Forever had positive buzz coming out of Sundance, but has not received the best critical reviews from other advanced screenings. Based on what I have seen however, it looks like a great indie dramedy mixing very funny comedy with drama that resonates. I also really like the cast. I am excited to see it. Trailer: HereReview: Here.

The Babymakers (Jay Chandrasekhar) – Comedy – Aug 3 [limited]
Summary: Tommy is not able to get his wife Audrey pregnant, and so they must use donor sperm. But wait! He remembers that years ago he made a deposit to a sperm bank. Recruiting his pals, Tommy comes up with a plan to steal back his sperm. Filmmakers: Director Jay Chandrasekhar has a great background in comedy, directing most of the Broken Lizard films and working on a number of good comedy TV series (like Arrested Development, Happy Endings and Community). He is working with cinematographer Frank DeMarco (Beerfest) and production designer Katie Byron (Like Crazy). Cast: Paul Schneider and Olivia Munn star with Aisha Tyler, Kevin Heffernan, Chandrasekhar, Collette Wolfe, M.C. Gainey, Nat Faxon, and Jenica Bergere in support. Expectations: As a fan of most of Broken Lizard’s stuff, I am looking forward to The Babymakers (though it is not really a Broken Lizard film, it is directed by Chandrasekhar, has many of the same actors showing up in it and has the same wacky tone). Everyday Joes turning to crime is usually a comedy concept that produces funny stuff, and hopefully this is no different. Trailer: Here.

For a Good Time, Call… (Jamie Travis) – Comedy – Aug 31 [limited]
Summary: In college Lauren and Katie were enemies, but when a nice Gramercy Park apartment opens up in NYC they must form an unlikely partnership to afford the rent – they start a phone sex line together. Filmmakers: Director Jamie Travis makes his directorial debut. He is working with composer John Swihart (How I Met Your Mother), cinematographer James Laxton (Adult World) and newcomer production designer Sue Tebbutt. Cast: It stars Ari Graynor and Lauren Miller (who co-wrote the script), and features Seth Rogen, Mimi Rogers, Justin Long, Nia Vardalos, and Mark Webber in support. Expectations: For a Good Time, Call… is another comedy to have a lot of buzz at Sundance, but has not played to great reviews since. It looks funny, but not really anything more than a rental. Lauren Miller is potentially a new comedic writing and acting talent and this is her first project of note which could dictate whether or not she makes it (though she does have Seth Rogen’s backing, and he has been very successful producing, writing and acting). Trailer: Here.

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