directed by John Hillcoat
The last film based on a Cormac McCarthy novel—No Country For Old Men—certainly left big shoes for The Road to fill. Here, McCarthy creates an apocalyptic battleground teaming with struggle, death, and cannibalism. Grim images, to be sure, but buzz around the film has been almost entirely positive. It’s reported that many of the most gruesome images from the book (roasted baby on a spit anyone?) have been excised from the celluloid incarnation, but the dire tone and bleak, monochromatic aura endure. Filled with beautiful, but game actors such as Viggo Mortenson and Charlize Theron, the film chronicles a father and son who seem to be the last lingering symbols of human decency.
Me and Orson Welles
directed by Richard Linklater
Apparently the coupling of “It Boy” Zac Efron and Richard Linklater doesn’t automatically ensure theatrical distribution. The film had been screened at Cannes, the Toronto International Film Festival, and South by Southwest without much interest. Eventually the film’s production company CinemaNX coupled with Vue Entertainment to release the film themselves. Zac Efron puts away his dancing shoes and pubescent basketball jersey and dons a pair of suspenders to play Richard, a young man who falls in love with a comely production assistant (Claire Danes), all while Welles directs him in a stage production of Julius Caeser. The premise seems deceptively simple, but this being a 1937 period piece pretty much demands a thick layer of subtext.
The Private Lives of Pippa Lee
directed by Rebecca miller
So many beautiful, talented, and seasoned women in one film. Robin Wright Penn as Pippa is joined by Julianne Moore, Winona Ryder, Maria Bello and Gossip Girl’s Blake Lively in the non-linear story of one woman’s quiet unraveling amidst family discord. Young Pippa (Lively) falls into a teenage black hole of sex, booze, and drugs (oh my!) before growing into a more graceful adult Pippa (now Penn), with the aide of love interest Alan Arkin. Who hasn’t mentally pictured a Blake Lively/Alan Arkin tryst at some weak moment? It all sounds so avant garde, doesn’t it? But wait, just when life starts to stabilize, in walks… Keanu Reeves! Can we say heartthrob?! The film has the potential to douse the audience in syrupy neuroses, and I’m not sure I trust any promotional movie poster where, instead of smoke, a white heart is billowing out of a two-dimensional chimney.
directed by Walt Becker
Walt Becker has now officially moved beyond the college romps that defined his early directing career. Gone are the days of Van Wilder and Buying the Cow. With 2007’s mid-life crisis farce Wild Hogs, he re-established himself as a middle aged man’s man, and Old Dogs keeps that train steadily puttering along. When Dan (Robin Williams) learns he is the father of 7 year old twins, his initial foray into fatherhood proves to be a bumpy, episodic one. Thus he enlists the help of his buddy Charlie played by John Travolta. Chaos and fabricated hijinx ensue. The gang breaks into a zoo! Dan loses his depth perception! Seth Greene acts wacky! But it’s Disney after all, so at least you already know the kind of “humor” you’re getting.
directed by James McTeigue
South Korean pop singer Rain’s American breakthrough should have been last year’s Speed Racer – had it not bombed so badly. He’s back for a second attempt at stateside supremacy with Ninja Assassin, a film by director James McTeigue. Rain plays Raizo a young man trained in martial arts by the Ozunu Clan who soon betray the young man. After years of hiding, he teams with Mika Coretti (played by Naomie Harris), also a target of the nefarious group. Together, they vow revenge on Ozunu. It’s been done before, but McTeigue is emerging as an action director to be reckoned with. Having honed his craft as assistant director on high profile films such as the The Matrix Trilogy and Star Wars Episode II, he took the reigns for the well-received V for Vendetta in 2006 and will soon begin production on the next X Men film.