Friday, March 11
It has been well over a year since Hollywood has given us a good, action-filled alien invasion movie, and Battle: Los Angeles looks -- in the trailers, at least -- to be far ahead of last year's similarly-themed flop Skyline in terms of effects and overall quality. Aaron Eckhart and Michelle Rodriguez are among the humans who must fend off the otherworldly invaders who, like all good movie aliens, have targeted Los Angeles for destruction.
Charlotte Brontë's 1847 novel comes to the big screen for at least the 16th time, with Mia Wasikowska playing the titular character, an independent-minded woman who finds romance while working as a governess at Thornfield House. The cast for director Cary Fukunaga (Sin Nombre) also includes Michael Fassbender, Jamie Bell, and Judi Dench.
Twilight director Catherine Hardwicke hopes to appeal to the same audience with this horror movie take on the classic tale of "Little Red Riding Hood." David Leslie Johnson's (Orphan) script is set during the Middle Ages, where a werewolf has been terrorizing a small town. Oh, and did we mention the hooded heroine Valerie, who -- naturally -- is torn between two men? Amanda Seyfried, Gary Oldman, and Lukas Haas star.
Also out this week:
Mars Needs Moms is a 3D, motion-capture animated adaptation of Berkeley Breathed's children's book ... A sequel to the unexceptional 2009 comedy Women in Trouble, Elektra Luxx returns stars Carla Gugino and Joseph Gordon-Levitt ... The latest drama from Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami (Ten), Certified Copy is filled with extended conversations between two art experts, played by Juliette Binoche and William Shimell ... Val Kilmer, Christopher Walken, Ray Stevenson, and Vincent D'Onofrio star in Kill the Irishman , which depicts the true story of Cleveland gangster Danny Greene, who was repeatedly targeted by the Mafia.
Friday, March 18
Matthew McConaughey stars as low-rent Los Angeles defense attorney Mickey Haller, who works out of the back of his Lincoln Continental. When Haller finds himself defending a Beverly Hills playboy accused of murder, he puts his own life in danger. The strong supporting cast for this adaptation of the Michael Connelly best-seller (part of a series of books featuring the Haller character) includes Marisa Tomei, Ryan Phillippe, and William H. Macy.
Greg Mottola (Superbad) directs this sci-fi comedy about a pair of British geeks (Shaun of the Dead stars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost) on an American road trip headed to Comic-Con, when they encounter an extraterrestrial named Paul (voiced by Seth Rogen) who has recently escaped from captivity at Area 51. Pegg and Frost also wrote the script, and expect to recognize a lot of people in the film; Jane Lynch, Jason Bateman, Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader, and Sigourney Weaver all make appearances.
Actor Thomas McCarthy takes another turn behind the camera (as he did to great acclaim for previous directorial efforts The Station Agent and The Visitor) for this dramedy about a struggling attorney and part-time high school wrestling coach (Paul Giamatti) whose life is changed for the better when he and his wife (Amy Ryan) suddenly find themselves caring for a teenage runaway (newcomer Alex Shaffer) -- that is, until the boy's troubled mother shows up.
Also out this week:
In the thriller Limitless, Bradley Cooper plays a struggling writer who is able to tap into the full potential of his brain after getting his hands on a top-secret experimental drug, only to find himself under pursuit and suffering from mysterious side effects ... Heartwarming drama The Music Never Stopped is based on an Oliver Sacks case study ... Based on Sheila Kohler's novel, the British thriller Cracks centers on a group of students at an elite girls boarding school in the 1930s ... Hit Dutch drama Winter in Wartime is a coming of age tale set during WWII.
Friday, March 25
Known for heavily stylized action films like 300 and Watchmen, director Zack Snyder returns with an original story that combines stylized action with elements of fantasy (dragons!). Set during the 1950s, Sucker Punch centers on Babydoll (Emily Browning), a teenager with a very active imagination who attempts to lead a group escape from the mental institution where she and other girls have been imprisoned. Though the movie may blur the line between dreams and reality, we're certain that at least some of it will be in slow motion.
Also out this week:
Diary of a Wimpy Kid 2: Rodrick Rules is a quickly-made sequel to last year's surprise hit; the new film, also based on a book, finds Greg Heffley entering the seventh grade, where he continues to be tormented by his older brother, Rodrick .... The latest drama from artist/director Julian Schnabel (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly), Miral deals with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as it impacts two generations of women at a Jerusalem orphanage ... Indie comedy Peep World finds a man writing a tell-all book about his family; the ensemble cast includes Michael C. Hall, Sarah Silverman, and Rainn Wilson ... The 5th Quarter depicts the true story of a Wake Forest football player who leads his team to victory after his younger brother is killed in a car accident ... French comedy Potiche stars Catherine Deneuve as a sheltered "trophy" wife who suddenly finds herself running her husband's umbrella factory after he suffers an illness.
Friday, April 1
Director Duncan Jones follows his underrated, low-key 2009 debut Moon with this bigger-budget sci-fi thriller that stars Jake Gyllenhaal as a soldier participating in a government experiment that allows him to re-live the final eight minutes of another man's life, which he does repeatedly as he attempts to gather clues that might help him prevent a major terrorist attack on Chicago. Michelle Monaghan, Vera Farmiga, and Jeffrey Wright also star.
Also out this week:
Oscar-winning foreign language film In a Better World centers on a Danish doctor who works in an African refugee camp and, along with his splintering family, finds himself faced with a choice between revenge and forgiveness ... Friends star David Schwimmer directs the dark drama Trust , which stars Clive Owen and Catherine Keener as parents dealing with an assault on their teenage daughter by an internet predator ... Decidedly less sinister is Hop, the latest animated comedy -- dealing with a slacker who accidentally injures the Easter Bunny -- from the team behind Despicable Me ... The creators of the Saw franchise branch out -- a bit -- with Insidious, a horror film about a comatose boy whose mind is trapped inside a mysterious realm known as The Further ... Meanwhile, the director of some of the Saw sequels helms the torture thriller Mother's Day (a loose remake of the 1980 Troma cult classic), in which three brothers botch a bank robbery and head for what they believe is their mother's house, but instead take the home's current occupants hostage ... A more offbeat horror film comes in the form of the French meta-film Rubber , in which an abandoned car tire named Robert comes to life for no reason, gains telepathic powers, and starts killing people, while an audience watches a film about the same events ... Circo is a documentary about a traveling Mexican circus troupe that dates back to the 19th century ... Indie comedy Super reunites Juno's Rainn Wilson and Ellen Page -- and adds one degree of Kevin Bacon -- in a tale of a loser who adopts a crime-fighting superhero alter-ego, despite lacking any actual superpowers.
Friday, April 8
The first action movie from director Joe Wright (Atonement) centers on a teenage girl (Saoirse Ronan), who was raised by her rogue CIA agent father to be a perfect assassin and must now track her first target across Europe while being pursued by a ruthless rival. Cate Blanchett, Eric Bana, and Olivia Williams also star, and the film is soundtracked by the Chemical Brothers.
When their wagon train gets waylaid on the Oregon Trail, three frontier families must battle thirst, hunger, and their own instincts in order to survive in the latest drama from writer-director Kelly Reichardt, known for her minimalist approach on critically acclaimed films like Wendy and Lucy and Old Joy. The cast includes Michelle Williams, Paul Dano, Zoe Kazan, and Bruce Greenwood.
Thanks to a very funny (and a bit dirty) trailer, there's great buzz behind this unlikely medieval fantasy-comedy spoof from director David Gordon Green (Pineapple Express). Eastbound & Down's Danny McBride -- who co-wrote the script -- stars alongside James Franco, Natalie Portman, Zooey Deschanel, and Justin Theroux.
Also out this week:
A remake of the 1981 Dudley Moore comedy, Arthur stars Russell Brand as an alcoholic playboy who must choose between two women: one who comes with a fortune, and another with whom he's in love ... Labeled by some as the 127 Hours of surfing movies, Soul Surfer tells the true story of surfing champion Bethany Hamilton, who was attacked by a shark while on her board ... In the comedy Ceremony , Michael Angarano (Almost Famous) falls for an older woman (Uma Thurman) and attempts to break up her wedding to another man ... Born to Be Wild is a 3D IMAX documentary about people who rescue orphaned orangutans and elephants ... Romantic comedy Henry's Crime stars Keanu Reeves as a man who is falsely accused of robbing a bank and then decides he may as well go ahead and do it after serving time for the crime.
Friday, April 15
The latest computer-animated kids film from the team behind the hugely successful Ice Age series follows a domesticated blue macaw who, because he is the last male of his species, is sent to Brazil to mate with a female. While there, both birds are kidnapped, and are forced to survive on their own in the wild. Voices come from Anne Hathaway, George Lopez, and Jesse Eisenberg.
Over a decade has passed since the third installment in the Scream series of meta-horror films, and fans seem to have missed it; the new Scream 4 (the first of a planned second trilogy) has a lot of buzz behind it. Stars Neve Campbell, David Arquette, and Courteney Cox return, along with writer Kevin Williamson and director Wes Craven; joining them are new cast members Emma Roberts, Hayden Panettiere, Kristen Bell, and Anna Paquin.
Also out this week:
Directed by Robert Redford, The Conspirator centers on the trial of boarding house owner Mary Surratt (Robin Wright Penn), the sole female charged in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln ... Atlas Shrugged is the first in a planned three-part adaptation of Ayn Rand's massive Objectivist novel, directed by and -- eventually, though not in Part 1 -- starring Paul Johansson (One Tree Hill).
Friday, April 22
Produced by Wanted's Timur Bekmambetov, this low budget sci-fi horror film takes Paranormal Activity's "found footage" concept and transports it to outer space. Here, the footage comes from Apollo 18, NASA's final mission to the moon, which in real life was officially canceled and never took place ... or was that just a cover-up to hide man's first encounter with otherworldly life? Also being covered up is the film's cast, which still has yet to be revealed.
The first of two planned 2011 releases for director Steven Soderbergh, the ambitious Haywire is an action thriller with a female protagonist -- a black ops agent out for revenge after being double-crossed -- played by mixed martial arts fighter Gina Carano, who is a relative newcomer to acting. Lem Dobbs, who previously penned The Limey and Kafka for Soderbergh, wrote the script, and the cast also features Ewan McGregor, Antonio Banderas, Michael Douglas, and Bill Paxton.
A French Canadian drama nominated for a foreign language Oscar, Incendies also impressed audiences at last year's Telluride festival. The complex narrative, based on Wajdi Mouawad's stage play Scorched, intercuts two stories in war-torn Lebanon: one about two adult twins who have just uncovered some family secrets, and the other depicting their mother's life there decades earlier.
POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold
The first thing you notice about the latest documentary from Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me) is that title, but it's all part of the joke: an examination of product placement in movies and television, the $1.5 million film has been financed entirely through product placement itself. In fact, much of The Greatest Movie Ever Sold is about The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, following Spurlock as he goes through the process of lining up sponsors and promoting the film. While that may sound overly meta and a bit tedious, the early word on the film (which debuted at Sundance) is that it is extremely entertaining.
Robert Pattinson gets a chance to showcase his dramatic skills as he plays a veterinary student who joins up with a traveling circus and falls in love with the wife (Reese Witherspoon) of the head animal trainer (Christoph Waltz). I Am Legend director Francis Lawrence works from a script by Richard LaGravenese (The Bridges of Madison County), based on Sara Gruen's novel.
Also out this week:
The Adam Sandler-penned comedy Born to Be a Star stars Nick Swardson as a small-town nerd who discovers that his unassuming parents used to be porn stars, so he sets off to Hollywood to follow in their footsteps.... Tyler Perry's Madea's Big Happy Family is self-explanatory ... The latest Disneynature wildlife documentary, African Cats plays out like a real-life Lion King, but without all that singing ... Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen is a Hong Kong martial arts film based on the 1995 version of the TV series Fist of Fury, starring Donnie Yen in the role first popularized by Bruce Lee.
Friday, April 29
A remake of a 1963 film, this action-filled samurai epic set in 19th century Japan is a change of pace for director Takashi Miike, who is best known for horror films like Audition. Even more notable, however, is the film's closing battle scene, which clocks in at a whopping 45 minutes of continuous fighting.
The fifth (but not final) Fast and Furious film finds fun in Rio, where fugitives Paul Walker and Vin Diesel are being pursued by legendary lawman Dwayne Johnson. Justin Lin, who directed the two previous installments, returns, and the film will also get an IMAX release.
Also out this week:
Disney's high school rom-com Prom centers on the big night for a group of students that includes Aimee Teegarden ... Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil is a 3D sequel to the 2005 animated adventure; Glenn Close and Patrick Warburton are among the returning voices, with Hayden Panettiere taking over for Anne Hathaway ... Werner Herzog's first 3D film, the documentary Cave of Forgotten Dreams explores the French caves that contain the world's oldest-known cave paintings ... Brandon Routh plays a paranormal detective in Dylan Dog: Dead of Night , based on the Italian comic series.