directed by Dito Montiel
In this action-drama, Channing Tatum (Step Up) stars as a young, petty counterfeiter introduced to the world of underground street fighting by a veteran scam artist (Terrence Howard) who becomes his manager. Writer-director Montiel scored some indie cred a couple years ago with his autobiographical, well-received A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints (which also starred Tatum). Whether he can retain the gritty realism in his second directorial effort remains to be seen.
directed by James Toback
This intimate documentary uses a mixture of new interviews and classic archival footage in shedding light on the life of notorious former heavyweight champ Mike Tyson. Indie icon Toback (Fingers, Black and White) has known Tyson since 1987 and hasn’t helmed a documentary in 20 years (The Big Bang). The early buzz is that not only could Tyson be Toback’s best directorial effort, but it promises to be one of the best documentaries of the year—a surprisingly revealing portrait of a misunderstood man. (Editor’s Note: Read Tyson’s essay on the making of the film—and the intersection of fiction and documentary moviemaking—at http://www.moviemakersub.moviemaker.com/directing/article/james_toback_on_mike_tyson_20090423)
directed by Joe Wright
Wright trades in the stately period settings of his previous two films (Pride & Prejudice, Atonement) for more contemporary subject matter in this inspiring tale. Based on a true story, the movie stars Robert Downey Jr. as Steve Lopez, a Los Angeles journalist, who befriends Nathaniel Ayers (Jamie Foxx), a talented but mentally disturbed homeless violinist who once was a brilliant Julliard student. Through a series of articles, Lopez sheds light on Ayers’ amazing story and attempts to make his dream of playing at the Walt Disney Concert Hall come true. While its A-list credentials are certainly impressive, the movie was pushed back from last year’s fall Oscar season–not usually a good sign. Nevertheless, due to the talent assembled, The Soloist still has a fighting chance at being an early contender for one of the year’s best movies.
directed by Steve Shill
Beyoncé is looking to expand her movie career with this seemingly paint-by-numbers thriller. She stars as the beautiful wife of a successful business man (Idris Elba, “The Wire”) who becomes the target of a deranged female stalker (Ali Larter, “Heroes”)—think Fatal Attraction meets The Hand That Rocks the Cradle. With its uninspired premise, Obsessed doesn’t appear likely to be the vehicle to expand Beyoncé’s acting horizons.
directed by Alastair Fothergill & Mark Linfield
This nature documentary, narrated by James Earl Jones, follows the migration paths of three animal families. The movie is a feature-length version of the popular BBC series, “Planet Earth.” With its sure-to-be breathtaking wildlife photography, Earth should appeal to nature lovers and environmentalists alike.
directed by Simon Hunter
This futuristic action movie stars Thomas Jane (The Punisher) as a soldier who must lead a resistance to save the Earth from a mutant menace. The supporting cast includes Ron Perlman (Hellboy), Devon Aoki (Sin City) and John Malkovich. The film received a less-than-stellar reception at last year’s Comic-Con, so hopefully the moviemakers have improved the original cut. In any case, those desperate for a sci-fi genre fix need wait only a few more weeks for J.J. Abrams’ geek-approved blockbuster of the season: Star Trek.
SOUND OFF: Who would you rather fight: Mike Tyson or Channing Tatum? Let us know in the COMMENTS section.