Friday, August 19, 2011

INTERESTING FILMS & SHOWS FOR THE REST OF 2011

Currently with release dates:

JULY 15TH - LIFE, ABOVE ALL (Directed by Oliver Schmitz)

- with Khomotso Manyaka, Keaobaka Makanyane, and Harriet Lenabe

"African-American author Richard Wright once opined that when he wrote about the conditions that afflicted a people, he wanted to pen something that was so hard it did not allow the 'consolation of tears.' If I have a reservation about Life, Above All, it is that I can't help but think it will leave most viewers pretty much where they started. Will a Western churchgoer see himself or herself in the gossipy neighbors who call Chanda's mother a 'Jezebel' and claim AIDS is God's punishment so its victims must have done something wrong? ...

"Director Oliver Schmitz (perhaps best known to American audiences for a vignette in Paris J'Taime) is able to frame shots with an eye toward reinforcing his themes visually without flagrantly drawing attention to individual shots the way many more commercial dramatic films do. We may notice the design on a child's shirt as it hangs on a clothesline, but the camera does not insist that we do. With material this heavy handed, a light directorial touch is a must."
- Kenneth R. Morefield



AUGUST 31ST - THE DEBT (Directed by John Madden)

- with Helen Mirren, Jessica Chastain, Ciaran Hinds, Sam Worthington, Tom Wilkinson, Marton Csokas

"Madden ('Shakespeare in Love'), a reliable craftsman, directs the story at a brisk pace, moving it more or less smoothly between past and present. The story at hand is so original and so unusual that he’s able to build and sustain suspense from first frame to last, in and across the two different time periods, each of which contains startling action and shocking revelations." - Emmanuel Levy



SEPTEMBER 16TH - RESTLESS (Directed by Gus Van Sant)

- with Henry Hopper, Mia Wasikowska, and Ryo Kase

"Van Sant, no stranger to the Cannes Film Festival, has always been something of a chameleon in his filmmaking voice, and I'm not really sure "Restless" has an easy comparison in his filmography. It is sweet, simple, eccentric, and gentle. It is a film about grief, but it is anything but depressing. There is a lyrical quality to it that caught me off-guard, and in the end, I surrendered myself to its charms completely ...

'Restless' is just eccentric enough that some viewers will react badly to it, but it is that very specific voice that I responded to. So often, death in film is an excuse to make a "serious" movie, ladling on the sorrow, but Van Sant and his cast took Lew's script as a challenge to make a film about this subject that feels almost celebratory. The fact that they pulled it off is a sweet surprise, indeed."
- Drew McWeeney



SEPTEMBER 16TH - DRIVE (Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn)

- with Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Ron Perlman, Albert Brooks and Christina Hendricks

"Gosling stars as Driver, a laconic man of action whose very name doubles as a job description. By day, he’s a movie stunt driver and car mechanic. He moonlights as a wheelman, and as the movie’s dazzling, bracingly straightforward opening sequence proves, he’s one of the best ... If you’re thinking Driver is the quintessential laid-back selfless hero, cool as cool can be in the Steve McQueen mode, the kind of guy you’ve seen hundreds of times in good movies and in bad ones — you’re right ...

Drive could have been the best drive-in feature of 1975, which explains why some of the critics I’ve talked to don’t see it as particularly original. But last night I also ran into a solid crew of youngish colleagues who were as over the moon about it as I was. No one is claiming Refn has invented a new language; it’s just that he uses the vocabulary so well — he’s got the right tools and the right touch." - Stephanie Zacharek



SEPTEMBER 23RD - MACHINE GUN PREACHER (Directed by Marc Forster)

- with Gerard Butler, Michelle Monaghan, Michael Shannon, Souleymane Sy Savane, Madeline Carroll, Kathy Baker and Rhema Marvanne

"Death hides in the tall grass of Southern Sudan. What looks like empty landscape can explode in a heartbeat with rebels from the Lord’s Resistance Army shooting, slashing, and burning their way through an unsuspecting village. Government officials ... give these renegade soldiers a wide berth; they usually know where the trouble areas are and steer clear of them ...

The LRA will shoot at anything, but they’re not used to anybody shooting back. They don’t expect to be up against a truckload of soldiers with plenty of guns and ammo, which is what they get when they tangle with us on the road. When I first started driving around in Southern Sudan, my soldiers and I got ambushed all the time. To any normal person that would be a bad thing, but I thought it was great. I went around hoping the LRA would ambush us because every time they did, it gave me another chance to take one of them out - leaving one less LRA soldier to hurt somebody else.

Governments can’t run and hide forever, and one thing’s for sure - negotiating is a waste of time. Who knows how many villagers have been killed while people sit around talking about what a big problem all this is. But when you go out and kill some of the enemy, you’re making progress ... People in the church talk about being ‘soldiers of Christ.’ While the phrase can have several different meanings, in my case I take it literally. But I don’t believe I’m doing any more than Jesus would do if he were here. If he knew children were being kidnapped and tortured, do you think he would just walk by? ... I’m no theologian, but I know what I know. The fighting we’ve done in Uganda and Sudan has produced an oasis of peace and safety in a very dangerous part of the world."
- Sam Childers



SEPTEMBER 23RD - MONEYBALL (Directed by Bennett Miller)

- with Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Kathryn Morris and Robin Wright

"... The men in this room were the spiritual descendants of the older men who had identified Billy Beane, as a boy of sixteen, as a future baseball superstar. Invisible to the ordinary fan, they were nevertheless the heart of the game. They decide who gets to play and, therefore, how it is played. For the first time in his career, Billy was about to start an argument about how they did what they did ...

The tone of the conversation is that of a meeting in a big company that has just decided to drop a product line, or shift resources from marketing to R&D. Still, it’s a dispute with two sides riven by some fundamental difference. The two sides are, on the one hand, the old scouts and, on the other, Billy Beane. The old scouts are like a Greek chorus; it is their job to underscore the eternal themes of baseball. The eternal themes are precisely what Billy Beane wants to exploit for profit - by ignoring them ..."
- Michael Lewis



SEPTEMBER 25TH - BOARDWALK EMPIRE (HBO - Season Two - Created by Terence Winter)

- with Steve Buscemi, Michael Pitt, Kelly Mcdonald, Michael Shannon, Shea Whigham, Aleksa Palladino, Michael Stuhlbarg, Stephen Graham, Vincent Piazza, Paz de la Huerta, Michael K. Williams, Jack Huston and Gretchen Mol

"Few dramas on television attempt as many things as "Boardwalk Empire" does on a weekly basis. Fellow HBO show 'Game of Thrones' feels like the only other current drama that has the same scope. 'Boardwalk' not only has to recreate the Atlantic City of the 1920s, but toggle back and forth between the boardwalk, Chicago, Manhattan, Philadelphia and even the White House. It's both a crime story and a political story - and suggests that, more often than not throughout history, those are the same thing - with a sprawling cast of characters, some real and some fictional, and all with his or her own inner life and agenda. And it strives to pack every frame with details that evoke the sights, feel and sound of Prohibition-era America.

Judge 'Boardwalk' on what it attempts, and it's extraordinary. Judge it on what it succeeds at, and it's still a very good show - and often great - but one that still seems to be figuring itself out a bit in year two ..."
- Alan Sepinwall



SEPTEMBER 30TH - TAKE SHELTER (Directed by Jeff Nichols)

- with Michael Shannon, Jessica Chastain, Katy Mixon, Shea Whigham, Kathy Baker, Ray McKinnon and Lisa Gay Hamilton




SEPTEMBER 30TH - TUCKER & DALE VS. EVIL (Directed by Eli Craig)

- with Tyler Labine, Alan Tudyk, Katrina Bowden and Jesse Moss

"Ladies and gentlemen, I hereby take this opportunity to present my belief that Alan Tudyk is one of the most under-used actors of his generation. I'm not sure where I first saw him but it was Joss Whedon's Firefly that really sold me on Tudyk and his skills, that show alone placing incredible demands on him to run the gamut from serious drama to comedy to action and Tudyk handled it all flawlessly. I became a fan and expected great things but ... well ... he's keeping busy enough not to have to worry about paying the rent but not nearly as busy in or as high profile as he deserves to be.

Enter Tucker And Dale Versus Evil, in which Tudyk plays Tucker, one half of a goofy but friendly and incredibly well meaning pair of hillbillies who are about to be plunged into a mess of misconceptions, carnage and widespread bloodshed thanks to a group of college teens who a) believe that Tucker and Dale are evil, and b) are hopelessly inept when it comes to eliminating said evil.

This. Looks. Fantastic. When horror comedies fail its because they either miss on the character work or never quite find the appropriate balance between horror and comedy. All good on all fronts here. The characters are all solid and believable, the riffing on stereotype spot on, the level of blood and gore is impressive and - most importantly - the jokes are funny."
- Todd Brown



OCTOBER 6TH - THE KID WITH A BIKE (Directed by Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne)

- with Cecile de France, Thomas Doret, Jeremie Renier, Fabrizio Rongione, Egon Di Mateo and Olivier Gourmet




OCTOBER 8TH - THE LADY (Directed by Luc Besson)

- with Michelle Yeoh, David Thewlis, Jonathan Raggett, and Jonathan Woodhouse




OCTOBER 21ST - THE THREE MUSKETEERS (Directed by Paul W.S. Anderson)

- with Logan Lerman, Matthew Macfadyen, Ray Stevenson, Luke Evans, Milla Jovovich, Christoph Waltz, Orlando Bloom, Mads Mikkelsen, and Til Schweiger




OCTOBER 28TH - THE RUM DIARY (Directed by Bruce Robinson)

- with Johnny Depp, Aaron Eckhart, Amber Heard, Giovanni Ribisi and Richard Jenkins




NOVEMBER 4TH - MELANCHOLIA (Directed by Lars von Trier)

- with Kirsten Dunst, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Kiefer Sutherland, Alexander Skarsgard, John Hurt, Charlotte Rampling, and Stellan Skarsgard

"Divided into two halves – one following Kirtsen Dunst through her wedding reception, one following her sister Charlotte Gainsbourg as it dawns on her that a rogue planet (called, you guessed it, Melancholia) is going to collide with Earth – the film is a meditative, haunting and ultimately devastating work that fearlessly reflects on the meaning of it all ...

Von Trier also reminds us what a visual master he is, and the use of beautiful imagery here to illustrate his theme from the gorgeous prologue (accompanied by music from Wagner’s Tristan And Isolde) to the final astonishing moments ..."
- Mike Goodridge



NOVEMBER 9TH - J. EDGAR (Directed by Clint Eastwood)

- with Leonardo DiCaprio, Naomi Watts, Armie Hammer, Josh Lucas, Stephen Root, Damon Herriman and Judi Dench




NOVEMBER 11TH - IMMORTALS (Directed by Tarsem Singh)

- with Henry Cavill, Freida Pinto, Mickey Rourke, Kellan Lutz, Luke Evans, Isabel Lucas, Stephen Dorff, and John Hurt




NOVEMBER 23RD - THE ARTIST (Directed by Michel Hazanavicius)

- with Jean Dujardin, Berenice Bejo, John Goodman, James Cromwell, Penelope Ann Miller, Missi Pyle and Bitsie Tulloch