Wednesday, April 3, 2013

At the Movies – April 2013 – Part 2: Hollywood Films

Serious Films:

The Company You Keep (Robert Redford) – Thriller – Apr 5
Plot Summary: During the Vietnam War, Jim Grant was involved in the revolutionist group Weather Underground, which ultimately caused the unintentional death of a man. Forty years later, Grant is living hidden from his past (though still a wanted man), that is until a young journalist figures out who he is – bringing the past crashing back into the present. Filmmakers: This is the new film from Robert Redford (who also stars). He has had an up-an-down career behind the camera, with hits such as Ordinary People and Quiz Show and failures such as Lions for Lambs. His last film, The Conspirator, was a decent courtroom/period drama. He is working with a great group including composer Cliff Martinez (Drive), cinematographer Adriano Goldman (Jane Eyre), and production designer Laurence Bennett (The Artist). Cast: The cast is brilliant. Redford and Shia LaBeouf star with an amazing supporting cast featuring Julie Christie, Sam Elliot, Brendan Gleeson, Terrence Howard, Richard Jenkins, Anna Kendrick, Brit Marling, Stanley Tucci, Nick Nolte, Chris Cooper, and Susan Sarandon. Expectations: Surprisingly given the excellent actors and crew involved, The Company You Keep has played to mixed reviews during its advanced screenings. Also, the film was delayed from its initial release last year (for reasons unknown, but generally it is not a good sign). It looks like a reasonably good thriller, and again the cast fabulous so it is hard to imagine that the film is bad. But, to be safe, maybe just rent this one. Trailer: Here.

42 (Brian Helgeland) – Sports Drama – Apr 12
Plot Summary: The story of Jackie Robinson, the man who crossed baseball’s color barrier. Filmmakers: This is the fourth film from writer-director Brian Helgeland. He directed Payback, A Knight’s Tale, and The Order, but is probably better known for his writing projects, which include: L.A. Confidential, Mystic River, and Man on Fire. He is working with cinematographer Don Burgess (Flight) and production designer Richard Hoover (The Newsroom). Cast: The film stars newcomer Chadwick Boseman and Harrison Ford (as Branch Richkey), with Alan Tudyk, Lucas Black, Christopher Meloni, John C. McGinley, T.R. Knight, Nicole Beharie, Brett Cullen, and James Pickens Jr. in support. Expectations: I love baseball movies (as readers probably know), and 42 covers one of baseball’s most heroic and interesting stories. It is probably a good thing to have Robinson played by a relative unknown actor, as it should make his performance resonate more with viewers (not bring past performance baggage for the audience with him). If not in theatres, this is well worth renting, especially for baseball fans. Trailer: Here.


Oblivion (Joseph Kosinski) – Sci-Fi Action – Apr 19
Plot Summary: Jack Harper is part of a two-person crew whose job is to sweep what is left of Earth (after a grievously devastating war) for signs of life before joining the rest of the population in space. However, as Harper carries out his mission he finds himself drawn to a life that no longer exists, which leads him down a dangerous path of discovery and questioning his mission. Filmmakers: Writer-director Joseph Kosinski returns for his second feature, following up TRON: Legacy. This is based on his comic with Arvid Nelson. He is working with writer Michael Arndt (Toy Story 3), composer M83 (known for their song Midnight City), brilliant cinematographer Claudio Miranda (Life of Pi), and production designer Darren Gilford (who also worked on TRON: Legacy). Cast: The film stars Tom Cruise, with supporting work from Morgan Freeman, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Olga Kurylenko, Melissa Leo, and Andrea Riseborough. Expectations: Even though TRON: Legacy was not particularly good, Oblivion does look like a strong sci-fi action film. Specifically, its visuals look wonderful – which is what happens when you hire Claudio Miranda to shoot the film. Also, Tom Cruise has turned in a series of entertaining action films lately (Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol and Jack Reacher). This is one I look forward to seeing in theatres; I think it will be a fun spectacle-driven film (but nothing special). Trailer: HereReview: Here.

Pain & Gain (Michael Bay) – Action Comedy – Apr 26
Plot Summary: Wanting a better life, one that he truly believes he deserves, bodybuilder Daniel Lugo and two of his buddies kidnap and extort a wealthy Florida man for his assets. Yeah, it does not go well for them. Filmmakers: Pain & Gain is action director Michael Bay’s tenth film and his first non-Transformers film since 2005 (though he is currently working on Transformers 4 right now). He is working with frequent collaborators composer Steve Jablonsky and cinematographer Ben Seresin. New to the team is production designer Jeffrey Beecroft (The Game). Cast: The film stars Mark Wahlberg and co-stars Dwayne Johnson and Anthony Mackie. Rebel Wilson, Ken Jeong, Ed Harris, Tony Shalhoub, and Rob Corddry feature in support. Expectations: Upon watching the red band trailer for Pain & Gain, I tweeted this – because after watching one terrible/mindless Michael Bay movie after another I was completely bewildered by the fact that not only does this look like a lot of fun, but that I actually wanted to see it opening weekend…that I am actually excited to see a Michael Bay movie…what is happening. It looks a lot more like the early work of Bay – like his best film Bad Boys, just a fun action comedy. Trailer: Here.


Evil Dead (Fede Alvarez) – Horror – Apr 5
Plot Summary: A remake of The Evil Dead sees five friends driving up to a remote cabin to spend the weekend. In the cabin they find The Book of the Dead, and (stupidly) they read passages from it which summons demons living in the woods to the cabin to prey on them. Now, they must fight this evil presence for survival. Filmmakers: Before you get all upset about there being an Evil Dead remake, this is produced by Sam Raimi, Robert Tapert, and Bruce Campbell. They hired Fede Alvarez to direct (marking his feature debut) and Diablo Cody (Young Adult) to write the film. Alvarez is working with composer Roque Banos (The Machinist), cinematographer Aaron Morton (Spartacus), and production designer Robert Gillies (Legend of the Seeker). Cast: Jane Levy stars with co-stars Shiloh Fernandez, Lou Taylor Pucci, Jessica Lucas, and Elizabeth Blackmore. Expectations: Evil Dead made its debut at SXSW to critical and diehard fan acclaim. The poster claims that it is “the most terrifying film you will ever experience” and based on the trailer it looks ultra-violent (almost absurdly so). If you like hyper-violet gory horror, this will satisfy you – if not, you probably want to skip it. Trailer: HereReview: Here.

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