Wednesday, September 5, 2012

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

Art-House Dramas:

Liberal Arts (Josh Radnor) – Dramedy – Sep 14
Summary: Jesse returns home for his college professor father’s retirement party. While wandering the campus, he meets Zibby, an undergrad, and begins to fall for her. Now, he must address with the powerful attraction that is developing between them while dealing with their age difference (he is his mid-thirties and her in her early-twenties). Filmmakers: This is the second feature from writer-director-producer Josh Radnor (or as you know him: Ted Mosby, architect), following Happythankyoumoreplease (which was decent). He is again working with cinematographer Seamus Tierney and production designer Jade Healy. New to the team is composer Ben Toth. Cast: Radnor also stars in the film (like he did with his first feature) along with Elizabeth Olsen (looking to star in another good film to build off her great work in the solid Martha Marcy May Marlene). Richard Jenkins, Allison Janney, Elizabeth Reaser, Michael Weston, and Zac Efron make up the supporting cast. Expectations: Liberal Arts looks like a better film than Happythankyoumoreplease, but still along the same thematic lines – focusing on relationships and the complexity of them while also trying to find the positives in life. Much like his character Ted on How I Met Your Mother, Radnor’s work seems to have a sort of intellectual romanticism about it. I think this will be well worth renting for fans of indie dramedies. Trailer: Here.

Art-House Comedies:

Bachelorette (Leslye Headland) – Comedy – Sep 7
Summary: Becky is getting married. She enlists Gena, Katie and Regan to be her bridesmaids. The problem is they are not really her friends, having continuously ridiculed her in high school. Thus, the planning of the wedding becomes more about Gena, Katie and Regan and their issues than Becky. Filmmakers: First-time writer-director Leslye Headland makes her feature debut with the film. Previously, she was a staff writer on the short-lived but excellent series Terriers. She is working with producers Adam McKay and Will Ferrell, cinematographer Doug Emmett (Damsels in Distress) and production designer Richard Hoover (Temple Grandin). Cast: It stars Lizzy Caplan, Isla Fisher and Kirsten Dunst, with Rebel Wilson, James Marsden and Adam Scott in support making up a great comedic group. Expectations: Yes, Bachelorette does look a lot like Bridesmaids, but who was not expecting more comedies starring women specifically along the same lines as Bridesmaids (honestly I am surprised one did not come about sooner). That said, this does look quite funny and maybe a little darker than Bridesmaids. It is well worth checking out (though probably as a rental). Plus, it is one of the independent films to venture into video-on-demand (VOD) before being released theatrically (you can watch it right now here through Amazon), which could change the landscape of indie cinema. Trailer: Here.

10 Years (Jamie Linden) – Comedy – Sep 14
Summary: A bunch of friends reconnect for their 10-year high school reunion. Filmmakers: 10 Years marks writer-director Jamie Linden’s feature debut, having also written the screenplays for Dear John and We Are Marshall. He is working with composer Chad Fischer (Garden State), cinematographer Steven Fierberg (Entourage) and production designer Kara Lindstrom (Everything Must Go). Cast: The ensemble cast features Channing Tatum (who is also producing), Jenna Dewan-Tatum, Chris Pratt, Lynn Collins, Kate Mara, Rosario Dawson, Justin Long, Ari Graynor, Anthony Mackie, Aubrey Plaza, Oscar Isaac, Ron Livingston, Scott Porter, and Max Minghella. Expectations: 10 Years probably went from straight-to-video to a theatrical release thanks to the big year Channing Tatum is having (thank you 21 Jump Street and Magic Mike). Though, the cast is fairly impressive with lots of young talented B and C-listers. The narrative of a reunion is fairly played out, and this does not look that much more than a by-the-numbers clichéd drama/comedy within the thematic range of its narrative construct, but with all the acting talent it very well may be enjoyable and worth renting. Trailer: Here.

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