Yes, I am fully aware how annoying it is to see six of the nine movies for this weekend sporting the "nah-nah-nee-boo-boo" tag of limited distribution. I feel you, I do. It's frustrating to hear critics yammer about how people don't go see these good little movies when THERE IS NO OPPORTUNITY TO in most places across the country. *ahem*
The American - [9/1] George Clooney continues to show us why he is one of the few people who deserves his "movie star" mantle. He makes a genuine effort to do interesting, original work and never rests on his laurels. This movie looks all kinds of exciting.
Machete - HO YEAH! What started as a fake trailer for the Rodriguez/Tarantino (OTP!) double feature Grindhouse is now a real, actual movie. Starring the baddest assest Mexican-American actor ever, Danny Trejo, along with a whole lot of the people who made cameos in the trailer (including Jeff Fahey, aka "that pilot who looks like he wandered off the set of a Burt Reynolds movie" [/Lost]). This movie looks so awesome it HURTS.
The Tillman Story - [limited] Pat Tillman gave up a lucrative NFL career to fight in the Army after September 11. After his death in the line of duty, his family started asking questions trying to uncover the truth about his death. In what is poised to be an uncommonly good year for documentaries, this is getting an awful lot of buzz and people are already calling it an Oscar frontrunner.
Going the Distance - I could have sworn this already came out, but I guess not. Looks like a better than average rom-com, but that's not saying much. I think the main thing making me reluctant to see this is that godawful gag in the trailer where the woman drops the corn on the table. Can we have a moratorium on gross-out comedy, please? Even the Farrelly brothers don't really get into it anymore.
Mesrine: Public Enemy #1 - [limited] This is the second of two halves, and I completely missed the first, I'm afraid. If I can't catch the first one somehow, I'm just going to have to wait until the DVD. Which KILLS me, because I love Vincent Cassell to distraction.
A Woman, a Gun, and a Noodle Shop - [LA/NY] For some reason, IMDB is calling this "A Simple Noodle Story," which I guess ties it more closely to Blood Simple, on which it is based, but it's not as cool. So yeah, a remake of the Coen brothers' classic Blood Simple, only set in China. The film looks vibrant and interesting in the trailers, but people who've seen it so far don't seem to like it. Still, this is from the filmmaker who gave us Hero and House of Flying Daggers. At the very least it will be gorgeous to look at.
The Winning Season - [LA/NY] This sounds incredibly formulaic (alcoholic has-been coach asked to run girls basketball team), but it has Sam Rockwell, so I'm torn. It also has Rooney Mara, who is going to be the American Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. The trailer is pretty great and sells it like a way less offensive and way less skeazy Mr. Woodcock. It's on my "maybe" list.
White Wedding - [LA/NY] This looks like the perfect film to catch at a festival, but that will probably slip through the cracks when it comes time to actually see something at a regular movie theater. And that makes me sad, because it looks lovely. Road trip to a wedding, South Africa style.
Last Train Home - [LA/NY] This is probably a beautiful, wonderful movie, but it also looks like the most depressing thing you'll ever see in a cinema. The story is about a family that tries to get home for Chinese New Year, along with 130 million other migrant workers. It's not that I don't like depressing movies, it's just that I'm rarely in the mood to properly appreciate them. This is a "probably not."
Gah, two out of eight in wide release. Come on, distributors!
Resident Evil: Afterlife - No.
I'm Still Here - [limited] This is that thing Joaquin Phoenix was doing when it looked like he'd gone round the bend. It's directed by Casey Affleck, which I find interesting, but what little I've seen of the film is the opposite of interesting.
The Virginity Hit - I *HATE* the ads for this that I've seen all over the subway stations, acting like virginity is some disease or a problem to be solved. I hope I'm wrong about this movie and that it's some clever commentary on the pressure on kids to "do it." So far, it looks like a poor man's Superbad (which is a movie I love, but I'm not sure it needed to be remade).
Heartbreaker - [LA/NY] If this were a Hollywood movie, I would be rolling my eyes so hard right now. Here's hoping the French can do this stale rom-com formula (man hired to break up woman's marriage falls in love with woman) a notch better. Incidentally, one of the stars is Vanessa Paradis, who gets to sleep with Johnny Depp every night.
The Romantics - [LA/NY] I liked this movie better back in 1985 when it was St. Elmo's Fire. Hits and misses in the cast - Elijah Wood yay, Josh Duhamel eh, Anna Paquin yay, Malin Ackerman alright, Katie Holmes eh well at least she's playing the bad guy (I think). Sadly, this looks like the most exciting release of the weekend.
Bran Nue Dae - [limited] Looks kind of fun, but I'm not sure about musical numbers where people sing about how great it is to be an aborigine. It does have Geoffrey Rush, but ... I don't know.
Legendary - [limited] Brought to you by World Wrestling Entertainment? The trailer is charming and the cast impressive, and I kind of dig the idea of a wiry geek who goes out for wrestling, but it still looks like a generic family/sports drama.
Expecting Mary - [Release date taken from EW; none listed on IMDB] This movie looks so cute and quirky I could puke, but it has two eye-popping names in the cast - Gene Simmons (yes, DEMON GUY from KISS) and Linda Gray (Sue Ellen from Dallas!!!). That's kind of awesome by itself! But probably a rental, not a theater experience.
Now we're getting to some good stuff!
Never Let Me Go - [9/15, limited] This is one of my most anticipated movies of the fall. I'd love to be able to read the book on which this is based before the film, but it may not be possible. Carey Mulligan, Andrew Garfield, and a dowdy (psht) Keira Knightley star in a British boarding school drama, with a dystopian twist. When Masterpiece Theater Met Parts: The Clonus Horror.
Easy A - I have heard EXCELLENT things about the performance of this movie's star, Emma Stone. Like Clueless and 10 Things I Hate About You, this is another high school movie that's riffing on a classic, this time The Scarlet Letter.
The Town - I'm loving Ben Affleck the director. I think, like George Clooney, he is making a deliberate effort to stay away from projects like the ones that made him a joke several years ago. His directing debut, Gone Baby Gone was incredible, and this looks like a similarly brilliant effort. Maybe too similar - how many more Boston-set stories does he want to tell? Still, the cast is pretty darn stellar (Rebecca Hall, Jon Hamm, Jeremy Renner, and Affleck himself), and what I know of the story is pretty cool.
Devil - They should seriously take M. Night Shyamalan's name off the adverts. It is an anti-selling point right now. And yes, this is a no. Every time I see this trailer (it is in front of EVERY MOVIE I HAVE SEEN for the past two months) I roll my eyes. Also, the director is one of the directors responsible for The Poughkeepsie Tapes. My memory is long, gentlemen, and I am slow to forgive.
Jack Goes Boating - [limited] Directorial debut of Philip Seymour Hoffman, this is based on an Off-Broadway play he was in with John Ortiz and RENT's Daphne Rubin-Vega, both of whom reprise their roles in the film, along with Hoffman. Amy Ryan (who most of you know from The Office, but who you should totally check out in her Oscar-nominated role in the aforementioned Gone Baby Gone) rounds out the cast as Hoffman's love interest. This looks pretty incredible.
Catfish - [limited] This is probably the most talked about film from Sundance, and I'm dying to see what the fuss is about. A big deal is being made about knowing as little as possible going in, which is kind of exciting. However, I have heard the "twist" of this story, and I have to say that if you find it shocking, you have not spent enough time on the internet. Because seriously, I have actually witnessed worse. There is some confusion about the genre. It has most consistently been described as a "reality thriller," which is what the studio is supposedly calling it, but there are arguments about whether it's a documentary or staged. Maybe I'm cynical, but I'm calling shenanigans. I can totally believe that it COULD be true, but it's way more likely that a studio is falsely selling a story as true than that they are fighting cynical audiences and critics to get The Truth out there.
Alpha and Omega - This movie annoys me, and all I've seen is the trailer. It's pretty much your basic high school movie, where the boy from the other side of the tracks is in love with a girl who is out of his league and miraculously wins her, only this is a movie about animated wolves. I also don't like the wink-wink-nudge-nudge about mating (seriously, children's movie!). Anyway, this is on my no list, but I suspect it will win the weekend box office unless the teens turn out like mad for Easy A.
Leaves of Grass - [NYC] Finally! This looked like it wasn't getting released at all, but yay! Tim Blake Nelson directs Edward Norton, who plays twin brothers - one an Ivy League professor, the other a pot grower. This is supposed to be brilliant. I can't wait.
The Freebie - [Release date taken from EW; none listed on IMDB] The premise is an immediate turn-off to me - couple decides to give each other a night off, a gift certificate for one cheat, if you will. I can understand that relationships are all different and that there might be people who would have legitimate reasons for doing such a stupid thing. I just don't care to see a movie about them.
You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger - [9/22, LA/NY] Woody Allen's latest. It looks like ... a Woody Allen film. I mean, what else would it look like? His films are usually interesting, and I'll probably see it. This is another foreign-set film - London again.
Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps - The plot summary sounds like it's a bit behind the times. Or are our not-quite-heroes supposed to be trying to avert another or even worse financial meltdown than the one that already happened two years ago? Anyway, greed is good and all that. Love Gekko getting his giant cell phone back when he gets out of prison. Charlie Sheen supposedly makes a cameo. I have to see this, for curiosity's sake if nothing else.
You Again - I love Betty White, but her awesomeness is starting to crash in on itself. I also love Kristen Bell, but she is wasted on all these comedies. And there is something so unappealing about grown women who have apparently never left high school. This is a no.
Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole - The plot sounds like, I kid you not, Harry Potter if, like, Hedwig was the main character and was the one who went away to school. The voice talent includes
Buried - [limited] Great, simple premise that could either be really awesome or really lame. Ryan Reynolds (and the audience) spends most of the movie in a box under the ground. Will he be able to do what it takes to stay alive and get out? This has gotten some pretty great buzz, and I'm excited for it. The Alamo Drafthouse is doing a special deal where you can be buried alive and watch the movie from inside a coffin. I'm sure nothing could possibly go wrong there.
Waiting for 'Superman' - From the makers of An Inconvenient Truth, this is a documentary about the sad state of America's education system. I've heard nothing but raves for it. I hope this is huge, and I hope that every parent of a school-age child gets to see it.
Enter the Void - [LA/NY] Drew McWeeny named this his top film of last year, and what little I know of it is intriguing to say the least. The director, Gaspar Noé, is also the man behind Irreversible, the dizzying (literally) reverse chronology drama/thriller with an infamous 9-minute scene in a pedestrian subway. I'm interested in this movie, because the visuals look incredible and the concept (a young man dies and returns as a ghost to watch over his sister) is a fairly unique one, at least in Noe's hands.
Howl - [Release date taken from EW; none listed on IMDB] The Allen Ginsberg obscenity trial, starring James Franco. This one opened Sundance, but people didn't seem terribly excited about it. It's got an amazing cast, though (Mary Louise Parker, Jon Hamm, Alessandro Nivola, David Strathairn). I'm on the fence still; regardless, it's not really a priority.
It's Kind of a Funny Story - [Release date taken from EW; none listed on IMDB] This is the other trailer I see on every single movie I go to these days (and another trailer that, like The Virginity Hit, uses that "Oh my God" song by Ida Maria). I love Zack Galafianakis, and I'm kind of excited to see him to a more serious role (though still, from all available evidence a shade of his usual role).