Thursday, September 29, 2011
Temperatures and leaves may be falling, but the race for awards season is just heating up. Last week, I detailed what entertaining blockbusters and awards season contenders you should be sure to check out. In part two of my fall preview, I turn my focus to funnies, families, and the offbeat.
50/50—based on the true story of Seth Rogen and his friend Will Reiser—is a touching yet hilarious buddy comedy that takes place during Reiser’s extensive cancer treatment. In the flick, Rogen essentially plays himself, but Reiser, who wrote the screenplay, is played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
In What’s Your Number?, Anna Faris is a down-on-her-luck thirty-something who revisits all her past relationships in the hopes of finding true love—and not increasing her number of partners—with the help of Captain America, I mean, her neighbor, played by Chris Evans.
What’s funnier than competitive bird watching? Why, a movie about it starring Jack Black, Owen Wilson, and Steve Martin, of course! The Big Year, a comedy based on a nonfiction book about the 1998 Big Year bird watching competition, hits theaters October 14th.
Lastly, heist-comedy Tower Heist has quite the all-star cast and, even though it’s been in the works for over five years, the film is still as timely as ever. A group of employees at a Trump-esque apartment complex decide to steal $20 million from one of the residents when that Bernie Madoff-ish resident loses all their pension funds in a Ponzi scheme.
Off the Beaten Path
Martha Marcy May Marlene was the all the rage at this past Sundance Film Festival. This is writer-director Sean Durkin’s first feature, and many have labeled it “this year’s Winter’s Bone.” While Martha Marcy May Marlene does star John Hawkes, the female lead is not Jennifer Lawrence. Instead, Elizabeth Olsen, younger sister to Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, plays the title character who struggles to adapt to a normal life after she escapes a cult.
Are you ready for a mix of melodrama and horror? Then be sure to check out Antonio Banderas in The Skin I Live In. In director Pedro Almodóvar’s first film since Broken Embraces, “Banderas plays a plastic surgeon haunted by the deaths of his wife and daughter and obsessed with creating an indestructible synthetic skin.”¹ Elena Anaya plays his test subject, a woman he’s holding captive in his home.
Did Shakespeare really pen his famed plays? This is the question director Roland Emmerich addresses in Anonymous, which presents Edward De Vere, Earl of Oxford (played by Rhys Ifans), as the true Bard. Initial reaction to this flick has been mixed with many questioning the directorial choice: “Roland Emmerich (2012, The Day After Tomorrow) and period drama go together like oil and water.”² However, as Metacritic explains, “if you like a good conspiracy theory and British costume dramas, this one might be right for you.”
Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize winner Like Crazy is an atypical love story. It isn’t about the first kiss or first intimate moment. It’s about an L.A. guy and a London lady who fall madly in love during college and then must navigate a long-distance relationship when her visa expires and she’s sent back to Britain. While some worry the premise may produce something hokey and contrived, others are predicting it to be “a genuine and moving love story for a new generation.”² If the trailer is any indication, the stars of this film will certainly validate the initial praise.
Controversial director Lars Von Trier returns in November with Melancholia, a film about two sisters (Kirsten Dunst, Charlotte Gainsbourg) who find their already strained relationship challenged as a mysterious new planet threatens to collide with the Earth. Dunst apparently hits it out of the park, which may be this film’s saving grace after Trier’s Cannes hullabaloo.
It’s been 18 years since Free Willy, so we were definitely due for a heartwarming boy befriends/saves marine mammal feel-good family flick. And while Dolphin Tale doesn’t have a quintessential Michael Jackson jam as its theme song, it does outdo Free Willy in two ways: 1.) It’s based on a true story and 2.) It stars Winter, the actual dolphin the story is based on. It has faced some stiff-competition at the box office, squaring off against Lion King 3D, but the film has been well received by audiences and critics alike.
While some see Puss in Boots as merely an opportunity to further milk the Shrek franchise, others see it as this fall’s most anticipated film. It has a family-friendly PG rating, the Shrek style of humor and offbeat fairy tale appeal, and Antonio Banderas teaming up with Desperado costar Salma Hayek for an on-screen feline romance. Plus, it’s Puss. He pretty much made Shreks 2-4. Just watch the trailer:
The Muppets are returning. Yes, you read correctly. The Muppets are back, and in this re-launch, Jason Segal and Nicholas Stoller of Forgetting Sarah Marshall fame have penned a hilarious script replete with “all of the song and dance numbers, celebrity cameos, and offbeat Muppet humor fans have come to expect from Kermit and the rest of the gang.”³ In this adventure, Segel and Amy Adams team up with their Muppet friends to save the Muppet Theater from being demolished by an oil tycoon.
Martin Scorsese is literally bringing the bestselling book The Invention of Hugo Cabret to life—it’s in 3D! Staring Hit Girl from Kick-Ass (Chloë Moretz) as well as Ben Kingsley, Sacha Baron Cohen, and Jude Law, Hugo is about a 12-year-old orphan who lives in the walls of a Paris train station in 1931 and, when he inherits an automaton from his late father, commences a wonderfully fantastical adventure. This film is quite the change of pace for Scorsese, “master of gritty urban dramas,” but he is a master nonetheless and books-to-film are all the rage, so why not? It may just surprise us all this holiday season.⁴
That wraps up part two of News & Views’ fall film preview. Now it’s your turn. What films are you, your library, and your patrons looking forward to most?