Category Archives: Movie Preview

2012 Movie Preview: Sci-Fi/Fantasy (Part 2)

We’re on to the second day of the 2012 movie preview, and this is the second half of my anticipated sci-fi/fantasy flicks. Tomorrow, I’ll be covering the upcoming action blockbusters that I think look promising.

Jack the Giant Killer (June 15)

I can’t say the premise interests me too much (how many fairytale movies do we need in one year?) However, I am very interested to see how Nicholas Hoult will do in his first big leading role. Also, Bryan Singer is a capable blockbuster director (X-Men 1&2), and Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, and Bill Nighy are also in the movie.

John Carter (March 9)

A CGI-heavy Disney action film wouldn’t usually excite me too much, but there are a few things that John Carter may have working in its favour. The first is its star, Taylor Kitsch. Anyone who watches Friday Night Lights knows all about Kitsch’s charisma, so I’m very interested to see how he’ll do with his own film. Also, this is director Andrew Stanton’s first live action film after helming Pixar projects like Finding Nemo and Wall-E, and he seems to have brought the visual style from those films to this one. I remain cautiously optimistic.

Looper (September 28)

2012 seems to be the year of great director/actor teams reuniting. Here, we get director Rian Johnson and actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt who last teamed up for 2005’s compelling teen noir, Brick. The scope is a little bigger this time (they even got Bruce Willis and Emily Blunt!), but I love the idea of Johnson taking on a crazy sci-fi action film.

Prometheus (June 8)

I’m not a big horror movie fan, but this Ridley Scott prequel (?) to Alien has me very interested because of its great cast. Guy Pearce and Michael Fassbender are two of my favourite working actors, and I like Charlize Theron, Patrick Wilson, Idris Elba, and Noomi Rapace quite a bit, too. Having Lost writer Damon Lindeloff behind the screenplay can’t hurt, either.

Total Recall (August 3)

Do we need another Total Recall? Absolutely not. But Colin Farrell has proven to be a viable action hero, and with John Cho, Bryan Cranston and Bill Nighy in the supporting cast (along with the less-interesting Kate Beckinsale and Jessica Biel), it might be worth a try.

World War Z (December 21)

This Brad Pitt zombie vehicle based on the hugely popular book of the same name is just poised to be a Christmas hit. I’m really not sure if this will work, but I’m certainly interested to see them try. Between this and Warm Bodies, it seems like 2012 is the year of the zombie.

2012 Movie Preview: Sci-Fi/Fantasy (Part 1)

Alright, so I’ve come up with a giant list of upcoming films of 2012 that look interesting to me, and over the next week or so, I’ll be sharing it here in separate parts. It is by no means an exhaustive list, but I have tried to cover a lot of different genres. Today, we’ll look at the first half of the sci-fi/fantasy blockbusters that caught my eye. Stay tuned for part 2 of the sci-fi/fantasy list tomorrow.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (June 22)

This could very possibly be terrible, but it could also be stylish and fun. Mary Elizabeth Winstead plays Mary Todd, which is bound to be awesome, and the film also stars Dominic Cooper, Anthony Mackie, Alan Tudyk, and Jimmi Simpson (McPoyles!). I must admit, lead actor Benjamin Walker (playing ol’ Abe) is pretty much unknown to me.

The Amazing Spider-Man (July 3)

Like most people, I think that a Spider-Man update is unnecessary. However, I do love Andrew Garfield, so I support his foray into leading man territory. Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, and Dennis Leary are pretty cool, too, and I’m curious to see what 500 Days of Summer director Marc Webb will do with this oh-so-familiar story.

The Avengers (May 4)

It looks like Joss Whedon’s superhero amalgam, The Avengers, will serve as this year’s official kickoff to the summer movie season. The trailers haven’t impressed me too much, and I could see this thing going horribly wrong (too many stars!), but I still remain cautiously optimistic. And anything with Robert Downey Jr. is worthwhile watching.

The Dark Knight Rises (July 20)

Part of me thinks that Christopher Nolan should have stopped the Batman franchise with his 2008 masterpiece (yeah, I’m one of those people) The Dark Knight. But a bigger part of me is also excited to see where he’ll take the series, as well as what Tom Hardy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, and Anne Hathaway will bring to the film.

Gravity (November 21)

Little is known about this Alfonso Cuaron-directed thriller, other than that it will star George Clooney and Sandra Bullock. It’s apparently about an astronaut trying to return to his family on earth. And while that doesn’t sound like especially new territory, Cuaron is bound to add a lot of visual richness.

The Hunger Games (March 23)

With its fast-paced plot and nonstop action, The Hunger Games reads like a book that is waiting to be adapted to a movie. So with that source material and with Jennifer Lawrence as your leading lady, it would be hard to screw up the movie too badly. It’s definitely marketed to a teen audience (a la Twilight) but The Hunger Games, if done well, could be an exciting time at the movies for all age groups.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (December 14)

Considering how good the Lord of the Rings films were, it’s hard not to be excited for part one of this prequel of sorts. Martin Freeman seems like a great choice for Bilbo, and it’ll be great to see some of the original LotR cast back.

Winter Movie Preview: December

December 2

Limited Release:

  • Ralph Fiennes steps behind the camera for the first time with the modern-day Shakespeare adaptation Coriolanus. In the film, Fiennes also takes the leading role as a ruthless Roman general, joining a cast that includes Gerard Butler, Vanessa Redgrave, and Jessica Chastain. It’s worth nothing that this is Butler’s second Serious Film of the year, and while this movie and Machine Gun Preacher both look pretty dry to me, they also seem to be his most complex roles, like…ever.
  • One of the winter’s most unexpectedly anticipated films (in film buff circles, anyways) is Shame. The film stars Michael Fassbender as a sex-addicted man whose younger sister (Carey Mulligan) comes to stay with him. It’s Fassbender’s second collaboration with director Steve McQueen (their previous film, 2008’s Hunger, was a critical favourite that helped to put Fassbender on the map) and he’s already earned glowing reviews from the festival circuit for his performance. The film’s intense subject garnered an NC-17 rating, but if anything, that only seems to be building interest in the film. Oscar buzz has remained steady for Fassbender, but only time will tell if this racy film can pick up any traction with notoriously stuffy Oscar voters.
  • One film that flew under the radar this year, despite playing several film festivals, is the seemingly strange and subversive art film Sleeping Beauty. The film stars Emily Browning (Sucker Punch) as a young woman drawn into some kind of surreal world of prostitution. Reviews have been iffy so far, but if you like slow-burning, arty dramas, then this may be one to check out.

December 9

Wide Release:

  • If you’ve ever wanted to see Robert DeNiro and Lea Michele in the same movie, then be sure to check out New Year’s Eve! Director Gary Marshall is rehashing the concept of last year’s Valentine’s Day (a film that is only barely worth watching for the Julia Roberts/Bradley Cooper segments) for another seasonal multi-storyline rom-com.
  • Remember when David Gordon Green made films like All the Real Girls and Snow Angels? Well, those days are apparently gone, because now we’re getting Green’s third consecutive R-rated comedy with The Sitter. Jonah Hill stars in what appears to be a gender-swapped remake of Adventures in Babysitting, and the trailer promises all kind of hilarious hi-jinks. Plus side: Sam Rockwell!
  • Boasting one of the strongest casts of the year, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy finally hits theatres in North America this December. Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, Benedict Cumberbatch, Mark Strong, and John Hurt all star in this Cold War thriller based on the 1974 John Le Carre novel. The trailer paints it as a taught, thoughtful, and stylish thriller, and movies don’t get much better than that.

Limited Release:

  • I Melt With You initially sounded like a typical, earnest indie film about four friends (in this case, Rob Lowe, Jeremy Piven, Christian McKay, and Thomas Jane) who reunite during middle age, but after watching the trailer, it looks kind of crazy. Much darker (and much more drug-addled) than I expected. It got very mixed reviews at Sundance, but I am definitely intrigued about this one now.
  • There was a period of about two months when people online were excited about the Madonna-directed W.E. Then it played at TIFF to notably poor reviews, and all buzz died immediately. However, Abbie Cornish is a great actress (if you haven’t seen Bright Star, please remedy that) and Andrea Riseborough has shown promise (Made in Dagenham, Never Let Me Go, Brighton Rock), so I’m still mildly interested in this one.
  • We Need to Talk About Kevin hit big at the festivals earlier this year, and Tilda Swinton earned raves as a mother raising a rather…difficult…son. This movie looks gruelling and often downright hard to watch, but it’s also bound to feature some great acting from Swinton. Up-and-comer Ezra Miller also looks suitably creepy as the disturbed Kevin.
  • Jason Reitman has a pretty great track record for such a short career (Thank You For Smoking, Juno, Up in the Air), and looks like he’s hit again with Young Adult. The film stars Charlize Theron as a self-obsessed woman who returns to her hometown to win back an old flame (Patrick Wilson), and the trailer makes it look like typical Reitman fare – funny, honest, and surprisingly warm. (Expands Dec. 16)

December 16

Wide Release:

  • If you enjoed the first two CGI Alvin and the Chipmunks movies, you should probably check out Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked.
  • Tom Cruise may be getting old, but that doesn’t stop him from still kicking ass. Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol looks like potentially fun popcorn fare, and it also happens to be the first live-action film from director Brad Bird (The Incredibles, Ratatouille). I also like the supporting cast quite a bit, which includes Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Paula Patton, and Lost‘s Josh Holloway.
  • Continuing with the week of sequels, we’ve got the unnecessary Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. Repartee between Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law is fun (and I really did think that Law was great in the first film), but do we need another two hours of it? The trailer makes it look pretty identical to the first one, and it wasn’t even that great of a film the first time.

Limited Release:

  • Roman Polanski may be a controversial guy, but he knows how to make some pretty great actors agree to work with him. In Carnage,
    Kate Winslet, Jodie Foster, John C. Reilly, and Christoph Waltz play two set of parents attempting to have a civil discussion about a schoolyard incident involving their children, and tempers inevitably flare. The movie is based on a play, and judging by the trailer, that’s not hard to believe. Its appeal will be limited, but Carnage looks like an impressive acting showcase.
  • Luc Besson’s The Lady (Dec. 12) didn’t receive great reviews at the festivals, but it avoided the spring dumping ground fate and instead got a proper Oscar run release. It stars Michelle Yeoh and David Thewlis as lovers in a politically tumultuous time.

December 21

Wide Release:

  • You can expect to see a lot of literary adaptations, Steven Spielberg, and Daniel Craig this holiday week at the movies, and The Adventures of Tintin combines all three. This animated flick is of course based on the popular children’s comic book series, and if nothing else, it should be nice to look at. The fact that Edgar Wright is a screenwriter on the project also inspires some hope.
  • Expectations are high for David Fincher’s adaptation of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and if the trailers are any indication, audiences are in store for a taught, stylish, and gritty thriller. Daniel Craig seems like the perfect choice for the steely Michael Blomkvist, and Rooney Mara is certainly striking as hacker Lisbeth Salander. My most anticipated film for the rest of the year.

December 23

Wide Release:

  • Cameron Crowe’s last film, 2005’s Elizabethtown, was met with a very mixed response (I personally thought it was okay), and now he’s trying to redeem himself with the family-friendly We Bought a Zoo. Matt Damon stars as a man who ends up moving his family to a zoo, and while the film looks to on the sappy side, it also looks like a life-affirming, uplifting holiday movie. And that’s not a bad thing.

Limited Release:

  • If Angelina Jolie wasn’t the director, I feel In the Land of Blood and Honey would get a tiny release. But since it does have the power of Jolie backing it, the film is starting as a limited release, but hoping to gain a wide release in early 2012. The film, which focuses on the Bosnian war, is described as a love story, but I imagine it will still prove to be a challenging film for many viewers (it certainly won’t be your typical holiday movie…)

December 25

Wide Release:

  • Emile Hirsch has been strangely absent from cinemas for a couple years, so I’m happy to see him in anything (and Olivia Thirlby in a big movie). The Darkest Hour looks like it could potentially be interesting, though I can’t tell if they’re just bluffing with the “cerebral” element of how the aliens function. It’ll probably be a pretty standard alien invasion movie, but when done well, that can be effective (I still unabashedly defend Cloverfield).
  • I’ll admit it: I’m so not interested in War Horse. The trailers just look sooo schmaltzy (yes, even more than We Bought a Zoo). But I know a lot of people love horses, so maybe I’m just missing something. But nonetheless, War Horse is directed by Steven Spielberg, and it looks beautiful, in terms of cinematography. It’s based on acclaimed play, too, so the screenplay should be decent.

Limited Release:

  • Speaking of schmaltz, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close also opens on Christmas (it will go wide in January). You can’t argue with the cast, though, which includes Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock, Max Von Sydow, Viola David, and Jeffrey Wright. I can’t decide if I like Stephen Daldry as a director or not (Billy Eliot, The Hours, and The Reader are all good, beautifully shot films, but they all feel a bit on the nose), but I think this one will be a crowd-pleaser.
  • Ah, another feel-good Christmas film! Pariah tells the harrowing story of an outcast African-American teenage lesbian who struggles for identity in Brooklyn. One to bring the whole family to! In all seriousness, though, Pariah is said to be a very important film, and it received strong reviews at TIFF.

December 30

Limited Release:

  • The Iron Lady. It’s Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher. If that sounds interesting to you, then you will probably like this film. If not, then you should probably wait for DVD (or just skip it entirely if you don’t care about the Oscars).

On the Horizon: Bradley Cooper

Can we talk about Bradley Cooper’s upcoming projects for a minute? This is a guy whose recent filmography consists mainly of comedies. Yet, he’s slated to work with some of the most celebrated working directors in some pretty meaty-sounding films.

Where did this come from, you ask? Well, Cooper trained at the celebrated Actor’s Studio, and if you’ve ever seen him interviewed, you know that he takes his craft pretty seriously. So he’s got the ambition. But does he have the talent to back it up? Some would say that he hasn’t shown serious acting skill yet. But I’d argue that he’s been very charismatic in films such as The Hangover and Valentine’s Day, and also proved his dramatic potential in this year’s Limitless. The film itself was just okay for me (it was a good premise, and director Neil Burger brought some nice visual flare, but it fell flat in terms of storytelling.), but Cooper proved to be a very capable leading man. And it seems that others took him seriously, too, because we’re going to see a lot of this guy over the next two years. From indie comedies to heavy dramas, Cooper’s got a lot of different opportunities to turn the doubters into fans.

The Words (2012)

  • Plot: “When an aspiring writer claims another man’s long lost work as his own, the price he must pay is more than he could have ever imagined.”
  • Co-stars: Zoe Saldana, Olivia Wilde, Dennis Quaid, Jeremy Irons, Ben Barnes, J.K. Simmons, and John Hannah (Four Weddings and a Funeral)
  • Director: Brian Klugman, Lee Sternthall (first-time directors)
  • My Thoughts: Cooper likes to play aspiring writers looking for a quick fix, it seems. Interesting cast, potentially interesting premise.

Outrun (2012)

  • Plot: “A former getaway driver jeopardizes his Witness Protection Plan identity in order to help his girlfriend”
  • Co-stars: Dax Shepard, Kristen Bell, Dave Koechner, Michael Rosenbaum (Smallville), Beau Bridges, Ryan Hansen (Party Down), Tom Arnold
  • Director: Dax Shepard and David Palmer
  • My Thoughts: Cooper’s big break was with comedy, so I’m glad to see that he hasn’t abandoned the genre (though he’s doing lots of other stuff, too, which is smart). Cooper reportedly plays a villain here to Shepard’s lead. Shepard and Cooper are two actor who automatically make me interested in a movie, so needless to say, I’m very intrigued about this.

The Place Beyond the Pines (2013)

  • Plot: “A motorcycle stunt rider considers committing a crime in order to provide for his wife and child, an act that puts him on a collision course with a cop-turned-politician.”
  • Co-Stars: Ryan Gosling, Rose Byrne, Eva Mendes, Ray Liotta, Bruce Greenwood, Ben Mendelsohn
  • Director: Derek Cianfrance (Blue Valentine)
  • My Thoughts: People are already peeing themselves about this project, largely thanks to one Ryan Gosling. Blue Valentine was one of my favourite films of last year, so of course I’m excited for this movie, too. Great supporting cast (Greenwood, Mendelsohn, and Byrne have been doing some great work recently).

The Silver Linings Playbook (2013)

  • Plot: “After spending four years in a mental institution, a former teacher moves back in with his mother and tries to reconcile with his ex-wife.”
  • Co-Stars: Jennnifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Julia Stiles, Chris Tucker, Taylor Schilling, Jacki Weaver
  • Director: David O. Russell (The Fighter, Three Kings)
  • My Thoughts: This is the project that I’m most excited about. The premise grabbed my attention right away, and it seems like it will give Cooper a lot of opportunities to show off his acting chops. I didn’t love The Fighter, but sign me up for this one.

Paradise Lost (2013)

  • Plot: “An action-heavy take on the epic poem centered on the war in heaven between archangels Michael and Lucifer.”
  • Co-Stars: Camilla Belle, Casey Affleck, Djimon Hounsou, Benjamin Walker, Callum McCauliffe, Dominic Purcell
  • Director: Alex Proyas (Knowing, I Robot)
  • My Thoughts: This seems like it could be disastrous (and Proyas’ filmography doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence), or potentially really interesting. Affleck is one of my favourite actors, and with Cooper taking on the role of Lucifer, it should at least be interesting to see play out.

The Man from U.N.C.L.E (2013)

  • *RUMOURED*
  • Plot: Based on the 1960’s spy TV show of the same name
  • Co-stars: None, yet.
  • Director: Steven Soderbergh
  • My Thoughts: This one isn’t official yet, but word seems to be pretty strong about Cooper’s chance at the starring role. George Clooney was originally attached to the project, but dropped out for unknown reasons. Soderbergh is known for getting great casts, so if this goes through, Cooper will likely have some impressive co-stars to work with.

Fall Movie Preview: September 2011

I thought this summer offered some pretty respectable blockbusters. Bridesmaids, X-Men, Super 8, Horrible Bosses, Harry Potter, Captain America, and The Help were all a lot of fun, and it comparison to last year’s summer wasteland, things looked pretty good.

But now it’s time for the fall movies. This is typically when the major Oscar contenders start to come out, and things get a little more “serious”. Things are just getting started in September, but even though there isn’t a ton of Oscar bait released this month (just wait for November and December), there are a lot of really interesting-looking films at both the cineplex and the arthouse theatres this month.

= Possible awards contender

= Times Like Those pick

= Probable cash cow

= Indie with breakthrough potential

= Looks like a turd

September 2


Apollo 18

Director: Gonzalo Lopez-Gallego

This purposely mysterious film purports to show “recovered footage” from a secret, final Apollo moon mission. Cast info is not available, though the film is being distributed by The Weinsten Company. It’s an interesting premise, and they seem to be taking a Blair Witch-inspired approach to marketing, which is always fun. If it gets good reviews, I’ll probably give it a rental.

Shark Night 3D


Starring: Sara Paxton, Dustin Milligan, Chris Carmack, Katherine McPhee, Donal Logue

Director: David R. Ellis

From the director of Snakes on a Plane comes Shark Night 3D! I don’t know what else to say, really. I enjoyed Dustin Milligan in 2009’s Extract, but I doubt I’ll ever watch this movie.


A Good Old-Fashioned Orgy

Starring: Jason Sudeikis, Tyler Labine, Leslie Bibb, Will Forte, Lucy Punch, Martin Starr, Lake Bell, Lindsay Sloane

Director: Pete Huyck, Alex Gregory

I have to hand it to Jason Sudeikis, because he’s a pretty ballsy actor. Anyone who would star in a film called A Good Old Fashioned Orgy has to be. And while this film obviously isn’t going to find a huge audience, there’s some good talent involved. The female cast is comprised of women who are, yes, beautiful, but also actually funny (Lake Bell totally won me over in No Strings Attached). However, the trailer was a bit of a disappointment. Despite the…unique…premise, they seem to be settling for easy laughs. (Limited release)

September 9


Bucky Larson: Born to be a Star

Starring: Nick Swarsdon, Christina Ricci, Don Johnson, Stephen Dorff, Kevin Nealon

Director: Tom Brady

Nick Swarsdon is a fairly funny guy when you see him interviewed, yet he always seems to be in awful movies. He is kind of unappealing and difficult to cast, though, so maybe it makes sense that he would star in a film about a well-endowed “kid” who follows in parents’ path into pornography. I’m really surprised this is actually getting a wide release. I do kind of enjoy that Stephen Dorff is in this movie and playing a character named “Dick Shadow”, though.


Contagion

Starring: Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Jude Law, Marion Cotillard, Gwyneth Paltrow, Laurence Fishbourn, Bryan Cranston, John Hawkes

Director: Steven Soderbergh

Soderbergh’s latest film about the outbreak of a deadly virus has earned major buzz for its star-studded cast (I’m most excited to see Jude Law and John Hawkes). But just as importantly, it looks like a compelling story, though the concept may hit too close to home for some moviegoers. I don’t think it will be a major player at the box office or in awards season, but I imagine Contagion will earn a fanbase nonetheless.


Warrior

Starring: Tom Hardy, Joel Edgerton, Nick Nolte, Jennifer Morrison

Director: Gavin O’Connor

If there’s one thing we learned at the Cineplex this year, it’s that a movie doesn’t need a slate of A-listers to be successful. Movies such as Insidious, Bridesmaids, and Super 8 didn’t contain a single household name onscreen, yet they all performed well at the box office. And it seems to me that Warrior is poised for similar glory. Co-leads Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton have already earned the respect of critics and also appeared in blockbusters (Hardy made his mark in Inception and Edgerton was in the new Star Wars films), but they haven’t yet claimed the fame to go along with it all. But both are poised for breakthroughs, and Warrior could be the film to get the ball rolling. Warrior doesn’t look like it breaks any new ground, but sports movies are often crowd-pleasers. Nick Nolte has also piqued viewers’ interest as the grizzled veteran fighter. This is a formula that worked very well for The Fighter last year, and I suspect Warrior may also become a slow-building hit.


Beware the Gonzo

Starring: Ezra Miller, Zoe Kravitz, Jesse McCartney, Campbell Scott, Amy Sedaris

Thanks to his darkly handsome looks and his upcoming film We Need to Talk About Kevin, Ezra Miller has already earned a rather intense association with his name. But believe it or not, Beware the Gonzo is actually a comedy. In the film, Miller plays an aspiring high school journalist who starts an underground newspaper with his group of misfit friends. I’m all for a film that combines teenage rebellion and print journalism, and judging by the trailer, the film looks potentially promising. (Limited release – currently available in VOD formats)


Tanner Hall

Starring: Rooney Mara, Georgia King, Brie Larson, Amy Ferguson, Tom Everett Scott, Chris Kattan, Amy Sedaris

Director: Francesca Gregorini, Tatiana von Furstenberg

Tanner Hall is actually a couple of years old, but it is just now getting distribution thanks to Rooney Mara’s rising star status. It looks like a harmless coming-of-age tale about life at a girls-only bording school. My expectations aren’t huge, but the trailer has a nice mood about it, and this seems like a film that I will probably enjoy. (Limited release)

September 16


Drive


Starring: Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Albert Brooks, Christina Hendricks, Bryan Cranston

Director: Nicholas Winding Refn

I know that everyone loves Ryan Gosling, but I don’t know if this movie is going to connect with a huge audience. I think it may end up being a film like The American, which turns out to be less action-packed and more “arty” than a lot of people expect. This is just based on its success at Cannes, so I could be off the mark, but either way, it looks like an interesting film. Gosling plays a Hollwood stunt driver whose night-time gig as a getaway driver becomes complicated when he gets tied up in a heist. The tone of the movie looks moody, and it’s great to see Gosling getting complex roles.

I Don’t Know How She Does It

Starring: Sarah Jessica Parker, Greg Kinnear, Pearce Brosnan, Christina Hendricks, Kelsey Grammer

Director: Douglas McGrath

Take a look at this plot synopsis and tell me that this isn’t a completely misogynistic concept for a movie:

“A comedy centered on the life of Kate Reddy, a finance executive who is the breadwinner for her husband and two kids.”

WHAT? How is that the plot of a movie? If the roles were reversed and the film was about a man who provides for his wife and two children, there wouldn’t BE a movie. Last time I checked, many women hold jobs in our society today. If that paper-thin premise is all this film has, then it was made about 50 years too late.


Straw Dogs

Starring: Kate Bosworth, James Marsden, Alexander Skarsgard

Director: Rod Lurie

Maybe I’m just imagining things, but it seems like I have been hearing about this damn movie FOREVER. It’s where Kate Bosworth and Alexander Skarsgard met and started a serious relationship, and they have since broken up. But anyways, this is based on the 1971 Dustin Hoffman film, and right down to the posters, it looks like a lazy remake. But if you want to watch Alexander Skarsgard ride around in a pickup and terrorize James Marsden and Kate Bosworth, be my guest.


Restless

Starring: Mia Wasikowska, Harry Hopper, Shuyler Fisk

Director: Gus Van Sant

I’m interested in any film made by Gus Van Sant (Milk, My Own Private Idaho) but this story of two teens falling in love especially catches my interest. As the trailer reveals, Wasikowska’s character is terminally ill, and Hopper’s character has a penchant for crashing funerals, so all of this could lead to a sappy, overly-cutesy weepy. But I have a lot of faith in Van Sant, and at the very least, this should at least be a visually beautiful film. (Limited release)

September 23


Abduction

Starring: Taylor Lautner, Lily Collins, Alfred Molina, Jason Isaacs, Sigourney Weaver

Director: John Singleton

When I was a tween, I read a book called The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline B. Cooney. In the book, a teen girl spots her on own mug on a milk carton, claiming her to be a “missing child”. From there, she has to revaluate her entire childhood, and uncover who the people who claim to be her parents actually are. This is basically the premise of Abduction, a film which has the misfortune of starring Taylor Lautner. However, I do like Lily Collins, and the film has a very interesting supporting cast (can Jason Isaacs just be in every film?). The Face on the Milk Carton was a book that really stuck with me at that age, so if this film is lucky, it may find a similar appeal for today’s youngsters.


Dolphin Tale

Starring: Harry Connick Jr., Morgan Freeman, Ashley Judd, Nathan Gamble, Kris Kristofferson

Director: Charles Martin Smith

I’m not going to trash this film sight unseen, because I’m sure it’s a heart-warming film, and if I was 10 years old, I would be the first in line to see it. It has a charming cast, and if the director handles the material right (and how far wrong can you go with a film about a boy who befriends an injured dolphin?), it will probably be decent family fare.


Moneyball


Cast: Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Robin Wright, Philip Seymour Hoffman

Director: Bennett Miller

Brad Pitt hasn’t had a true “vehicle” film since Benjamin Button, so it will be kind of nice to see him back in all of his swaggering, heroic glory. This time he plays the manager of a struggling baseball team who turns to technology to draft his ideal players. Normally, I would want to fall asleep after hearing that premise, but I’m giving Moneyball the benefit of the doubt for two key reasons. First of all, it was written by Aaron Sorkin, whose last project – The Social Network – won him an Oscar. As well, it was directed by Bennett Miller, who added some real visual flare to his last project, Capote.

Killer Elite

Cast: Jason Statham, Clive Owen, Robert DeNiro

Director: Gary McKendry

Jason Statham has been making the same film for ten years (with the notable exception of Gnomeo & Juliet), and I never watch any of them (the only movie of his that I’ve seen is The Italian Job). Things probably won’t change with The Killer Elite, despite the fact that it co-stars Clive Owen (who has strangely been getting a bit typecast himself recently) with a villainous moustache. Throw in Robert DeNiro as a kidnapped mentor that Statham has to rescue, and you’ve got a pretty impressive cast. Yet this film is only getting a limited release, perhaps due to its first-time director. It’ll turn out to be surprisingly good, or completely forgettable.


Machine Gun Preacher

Cast: Gerard Butler, Michelle Monaghan,

Director: Marc Forster

Clive Owen used to be the guy who got the good roles, while his twin, Gerard Butler (am I the only one who confuses them?), toiled in action snoozers and rom-coms. But it seems like the tables will turn this week at the cinemas. Gerry’s all grown up, you guys! In fact, he’s even gaining serious Oscar buzz for his role as a reformed biker who turns his efforts towards saving African child soldiers. But my question is this: am I bad person for rolling my eyes every time I hear about this movie? When I first heard the title, I thought it was some kind of tongue-in-cheek Machete-esque flick, and the poster could be much more obvious. I’m sure the filmmakers’ intentions were very good, but this whole movie just smacks of overly-earnest, “important” filmmaking to me (see also: The Reader). Is the “bad-boy-turned-saviour” genre the new “nice white lady” movie? (Limited release)


Red State


Cast: Michael Angarano, Kyle Gallner, Nicholas Braun, John Goodman, Melissa Leo

Director: Kevin Smith

Kevin Smith has been busy hyping Red State in a cross-continent tour, so a lot has already been said about this movie. But for those who don’t know, it’s the story of three boys who (during a search for sex gone horribly wrong) are basically abducted by members of a fundamentalist church. This is clearly a movie designed spark controversy and discussion, but it also looks like really entertaining filmmaking. If the trailer looks like something you’d enjoy, check the film out in one of the many formats that it will be available in (as well as a limited release, I believe the movie will also be available on-demand). (Limited release)

September 30

50/50


Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogan, Bryce Dallas Howard, Anna Kendrick, Anjelica Houston

Director: Jonathan Levine

Whether or not the world is prepared for it, we’re getting a cancer comedy. And it’s getting a wide release, surprisingly. But seriously, this does look like a well-handled, affectionate dramedy. And if any young actor can pull it off, it’s Joseph Gordon-Levitt. He’s brilliant at both comedy and drama, and he’ll certainly have to balance the two here. Anna Kendrick is also an appealing as Levitt’s therapist, and Seth Rogan (who’s getting surprisingly serious lately) should provide an extra comedic touch.


Dream House

Starring: Daniel Craig, Rachel Weisz, Naomi Watts

Director: Jim Sheridan

Jim Sheridan is a solid director (I really liked last 2009’s Brothers) so I have a bit more faith in what looks like a glossy Hollywood mystery/thriller. It also features some good actors. But from the poster to the plot description (a family moves into a new house and learns about the violence committed against former residents) it seems pretty typical. There could be more to it, though, and to be fair, I haven’t watched the trailer yet, as I heard it was rather spoiler-y.


What’s Your Number?

Starring: Anna Faris, Chris Evans, Chris Pratt, Joel McHale, Zachary Quinto, Andy Samberg, Anthony Mackie, Martin Freeman

Director: Mark Mylod

Everything about this film looks utterly predictable, yet it’s still kind of appealing to me. I think Faris is a really, really talented comedic actress, so it’s always nice to see her get leading roles. And Chris Evans (who has been growing on me a lot as an actor) seems utterly charming, judging by the trailer. I also love a lot of the actors playing Faris’ long line of “exes”. The film looks mediocre (it even has a cheap look to it, to be honest), but I think the comedic talent involved will elevate the material.


Margaret

Starring: Anna Paquin, Matt Damon, Mark Ruffalo, Allison Janney, Matthew Broderick, Kieran Culkin, Olivia Thirlby

Director: Kenneth Lonergan

Kenneth Lonergan first feature was the heart-warming and acclaimed 2000 film You Can Count on Me. Now, over ten year later, his next project will finally see the light of day. The film, which stars Paquin as a woman who witnesses a horrific bus accident, has been in development for years. It’s also the final film produced by Sydney Pollock and Anthony Minghella (who both passed away in 2008) to be released. The director alone is enough to get me interested, and the cast seals the deal. Long delays are never a good sign when it comes to the quality of a film, but I’m willing to give Margaret the benefit of the doubt. (Limited release)


Take Shelter

Starring: Michael Shannon, Jessica Chastain, Shea Wingham

Director: Jeff Nichols

I like to think of Another Earth, Take Shelter, and Melancholia as a doomsday-eque, sci-fi-twinged trio. And I’m not sure what it says about me that I’m hotly anticipating all of them. But anyways, in Take Shelter, Michael Shannon plays a man who is haunted by apocalyptic visions and becomes obsessed with building a shelter in his backyard. If anyone can pull off a teetering, volatile character, it’s Shannon, who’s proven his talent for playing characters on the edge in films like Revolutionary Road and The Runaways. It’s a fascinating concept, and the trailer looks just as off-kilter and freaky as you’d expect. (Limited release)