directed by Kevin Greutert
I’d like to thank screenwriter Marcus Dunstan for bringing us Saw VI, yet another chapter in Jigsaw’s morality versus gruesome torture saga. Researching his work has given me the ability to see into the future, though admittedly, it’s revealed nothing surprising. In fact, it’s pretty much guaranteed moviegoers around the world the same underwhelming choice this time next year: Do we want to play a game? That’s right. Saw VII is already in development. But back to the present; Saw VI tells the story of William, a man who finds himself locked-up in a morbid layer, this time with the fate of what appears to be six insurance claims adjusters in his hands (I smell an Oscar). Luckily for fans of the series, Saw VI seems to have stayed true to the philosophy that has made the films successful in the first place. Those of us on the fringe with the Saw series will once again have to decide if our thirst for misplaced vigilante justice will outweigh our disdain for mediocre acting and voice disguisers (though my Jigsaw Voice iPhone App is pretty sweet).
directed by Lars von Trier
Lars von Trier is no stranger to the hype that comes with premiering a film at Cannes. He’s been nominated twice for Golden Palms, the festival’s highest honor, and has returned with what The Sunday Telegraph has called “The most shocking film in the history of the Cannes Film Festival.” Trier once again finds himself hooked up with Willem Dafoe, this time in Antichrist, a psychological thriller teetering between being outrageous and excessive. This film has been said to push the limits of even the most tolerant moviegoers. It remains to be seen whether or not Antichrist‘s shock value will serve as a vessel sent to faithfully deliver a story, or a cover-up for a film lacking the substance necessary for lasting power.
directed by Mira Nair
Director Mira Nair has faced a similar challenge to what Mark Rydell faced with the outstanding, also aviation-related HBO film Crime of the Century. Was she able to tell a story compelling enough to awe an audience that already knows its tragic ending? Amelia Earhart disappeared somewhere over the Pacific Ocean in the summer of 1937. Seventy-five years later, her story is being told in the person of two-time Academy Award winner Hilary Swank. Co-staring Richard Gere, Amelia hopes to be an uplifting, faithful portrait of a woman who changed the course of history through both her accomplishments and untimely death.
Ong Bak 2
directed by Tony Jaa
American fans of the original Ong Bak: Muai Thai Warrior have (allegedly) been foaming at the mouth in anticipation of the second installment of this soon-to-be trilogy. Ong Bak 2, a prequel to the original film, is hitting theaters in the United States nearly a year after its original release in Thailand. Director Tony Jaa brings us back to the upbringing of the orphaned warrior, showing us the path that led him to his empire-conquering future. Fans can expect many of the same theatrics that made the original Ong Bak successful: Jaw-dropping martial arts sequences mixed in with choices regarding moral obligation versus personal sacrifice.
Cirque Du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant
by Paul Weitz
The Weitz brothers love taking vampire books and turning them into movies. Cirque De Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant tells the story of a teenager who joins a group of vampires and misfits, only to unknowingly rekindle a vampire rivalry that had been dormant for two centuries. Based on Darren Shan’s disturbingly self-titled book series “The Saga of Darren Shan,” actors John C. Reilly and Josh Hutcherson look to help bring this tale to life with doses of both comedy and drama. At the very least, visual design guru Steve Koch seems to have given the CGI-loaded film a more authentic feel with outstanding prosthetics and makeup design.
directed by Katherine Dieckmann
Uma Thurman won’t need to slice up 45 samurai sword-heaving martial artists to find her precious children in this film. Motherhood, starring Thurman, Anthony Edwards and Minnie Driver, is the story of a New York City mother struggling with the challenges stay-at-home moms face in a world where many women find their hours monopolized by the office instead of their children. A light-hearted critique of modern society’s passive parenting, Motherhood hopes to entertain audiences with a mix of hopeful nostalgia and fat kid jokes (see trailer).
by David Bowers
It’ll be refreshing to see a production company other than Pixar take center stage on the animated family-film forefront with Astro Boy. Featuring a loaded cast of voices including (deep breath) Kristen Bell, Freddie Highmore, Nicholas Cage, Samuel L. Jackson, Charlize Theron, Donald Sutherland, Nathan Lane, Eugene Levy and Bill Nighy (exhale), Astro Boy tells the story of a robot-child created by a brilliant scientist, made in the image of the son he’s lost. Astro Boy finds himself on a fantastic journey. With the fate of a futuristic city in his hands, he must fight off the robot gladiators dispatched by our antagonist Ham Egg, all the while dealing with the trials of growing up, making friends and fitting in (we’ve all been there). Based on the Japanese franchise of the same name, Astro Boy will likely be a hit among children and should keep mom and dad entertained throughout as well.