And that’s a wrap for the summer 2009 movie season! We should have a recap coming up shortly, but I think it’s safe to say that it was a damn good summer for movie lovers. (Anyone who claims different not only hates movies but hates babies, puppies, ice cream, and boobs). There was something for everyone regardless of tastes, and happily many of the flicks were actually quite good. It’s time now to turn our attention to the fall though, and what’s traditionally known as Awards season, but nestled between the blockbusters of summer and prestige films of fall is a little dumping ground Hollywood calls September…
Who did it? Directed by Phil Traill; written by Kim Barker; starring Sandra Bullock, Bradley Cooper, Thomas Haden Church
What is it? Bullock plays a follicular-challenged woman who becomes obsessed with Cooper after seeing him in The Hangover. For her it’s love at first sight, but for him not so much. Can she win his heart with her spunky personality and positive attitude?
What about it? There wasn’t much expectation behind this one until Bullock’s last romantic comedy, this summer’s The Proposal, grossed a very surprising $160 million. That put the 45 year-old actress back on top of the rom-com genre where she started with the still fantastic and sweet While You Were Sleeping. I’m pulling for her, but damn that hair looks atrocious.
Who did it? Directed and written by Mike Judge; starring Jason Bateman, Mila Kunis, Kristen Wiig, JK Simmons, Ben Affleck
What is it? Judge tries to apologize for Idiocracy by returning to the more successful workplace comedy roots of Office Space. The twist here is that the boss played by Bateman is the likable lead, and the workers themselves are the crazy ones.
What about it? I love Bateman, and Kunis looks really goddamn good as the new temp that catches his eye. Add in Simmons, Wiig, and yes even Affleck and you’ve got a really strong, comedic cast. 20th Century Fox first planned for this to be a limited release but have since moved it to a much wider schedule.
Who did it? Directed and written by Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor; starring Gerard Butler, Michael C Hall, Ludacris
What is it?The Running Man meets The Sims… and proceeds to blow those little diamond-headed bastards away. Butler stars as a disposable action star being controlled virtually by a teenager. If he wins, he regains his freedom. If he loses, he dies.
What about it? This is the third film from Siamese-twin directing team of Neveldine and Taylor. They previously birthed Crank and its sequel unto the world, and if you’ve seen either of them you know that believable action isn’t one of their top priorities. The action does look pretty intense here though, and Butler is a lot more charismatic than Jason Statham…
Watch the Trailer:
In Limited Release:
Amreeka- A Middle Eastern woman and her teenage son move to America filled with hopes and dreams but soon realizes a change in geography doesn’t preclude the difficult choices and hard times to come.
Carriers- Four friends drive with the quickness across the southwest trying to find safety from a deadly virus that’s wiping out the human race. Chris Pine and Piper Perabo star.
Who did it? Directed by Shane Acker; written by Pamela Pettler; starring (voices of) Elijah Wood, Jennifer Connelly, Christopher Plummer, Crispin Glover, John C Reilly
What is it? A CGI-animated story about sock puppets who survive an apocalypse only to discover they’re humanity’s last hope.
What about it? Yes I know they’re not actually sock puppets… 9 (voiced by Wood) and his cohorts are sentient ragdolls trying to solve a grand mystery while being pursued by various mechanical beasts. The ads are doing a great job of showcasing the film’s best parts including some very impressive action scenes and visual designs. A PG-13 rating and the absence of either the Pixar or Dreamworks name may turn some folks off, but it should still find an audience in those who like their CGI dark and gritty.
Who did it? Directed by Stewart Hendler; written by Pete Goldfinger, Mark Rosman, Josh Stolberg; starring Jamie Chung, Rumer Willis, Audrina Partridge, Carrie Fisher
What is it? Technically a remake of House on Sorority Row, but really just an excuse to throw some pseudo-hot chicks in the shower and then stab them.
What about it? The only real difference between this and I Know What you Did Last Summer is the producers’ commitment to an R-rating for more than just violence and gore (meaning, they’ve added some uncovered breasts), but I still wish they’d focus on more original horror instead of recycling the same generic slasher shenanigans. That said, I’m a sucker for nevernude Jamie Chung so I’ll still be watching this probable turd.
Who did it? Directed by Dominic Sena; written by Carey and Chad Hayes, Erich and Jon Hoeber; starring Kate Beckinsale, Tom Skerritt
What is it? Imagine 30 Days of Night without vampires and six times as long. A killer is stalking the streets tundras of Antarctica while a US Marshal tries to track him down before the sun sets and 180 days of night begin.
What about it? Beckinsale plays the marshal so at the very least the movie will be pleasant to look at, but it’s directed by Dominic Sena who previously gave us swill like Swordfish and Gone In Sixty Seconds… so who knows what to expect here.
Watch the Trailer:
In Limited Release
Beyond a Reasonable Doubt- Michael Douglas and director Peter Hyams reunite 25 years after The Star Chamber for a suspense thriller playing only in limited release?
The Red Canvas- The official tagline reads “Heroes fight with weapons forged in the heart.” That combined with the fact that the movie is being released to DVD as an unofficial installment in the Bloodsport franchise make this a must-see.
Walt and El Grupo- A documentary about Walt Disney’s 1941 visit to South America in search of movie ideas and in the hopes of spreading goodwill. I’m not making this up.
Who did it? Directed and written by Phil Lord and Chris Miller; starring (voices of) Neil Patrick Harris, Bill Hader, Anna Faris, Bruce Campbell, Andy Samberg, Mr. T
What is it? A scientist hoping to cure world hunger accidentally causes food to fall from the sky in large sizes and quantities. People are elated at first but soon they’re up to their eyebrows in macaroni & cheese, pig lips, and deep-fried, bacon-wrapped bacon burgers. Obesity, death, and cannibalism ensue.
What about it? This is the second CGI animated film released this month with no ties to Pixar, Disney, or Dreamworks, and that usually doesn’t bode well. The advantage here is that it’s based on a best-selling children’s book which should help bring in the kiddies. The story looks a little one-note to me, but I have very sophisticated tastes…
Who did it? Directed by Steven Soderbergh; written by Scott Burns; starring Matt Damon, Melanie Lynskey, Patton Oswalt, Scott Bakula, Clancy Brown
What is it? This is based on a true story of a highly-ranked executive at Archer Daniels Midland who turned whistle-blower for a Federal investigation into his company’s habitual and rampant price-fixing.
What about it? Sounds like a terribly boring synopsis, but I first heard this story on NPR’s This American Life radio show and it was at turns surprising, illuminating, and funny as hell. Judging by the trailer below, Soderbergh and friends may have captured that perfectly. And look at that cast!
Who did it? Directed by Karyn Kusama; written by Diablo Cody; starring Amanda Seyfried, Megan Fox, Adam Brody, JK Simmons, Amy Sedaris
What is it? A demonic cheerleader turns the tables on all the boys who’d like a taste of her and eats them instead. “Jennifer’s evil. No I mean she’s actually evil… not high school evil.”
What about it? For all the press, commentary, and buzz circling Cody since Juno two years ago, it’s hard to believe this is only her second produced screenplay. Sure she has “The United States of Tara” on Showtime, but no one watched that did they? They stuck with an R-rating on this which is nice, but I’m hoping it’s for more than just dirty hipster language.
Who did it? Directed and co-written by Brandon Camp; co-written by Mike Thompson; starring Aaron Eckhart, Jennifer Aniston, Dan Fogler, Martin Sheen, Judy Greer
What is it? A widower writes a self-help book that helps everyone but himself.
What about it? Marketing 101 should have taught the filmmakers that you never want a title that basically hands a loaded gun to your eventual critics… Love Happens? “Shit Happens” is guaranteed to be part of more than one review title regardless of how good or bad this movie ends up being. Aside from that, I like Aniston and I just wish she’d find some less predictable roles.
Watch the Trailer:
In Limited Release
The Burning Plain- Why doesn’t Guillermo Arriaga (Babel, 21 Grams, Amores Perros) take medication for his obvious ADD? The man cannot write a simple story with one plot apparently… this one follows several women who seem unconnected but by the end of the film will probably be revealed to be each others daughters, mothers, sisters, and maids.
Paris – Juliette Binoche and (my new favorite French actress) Melanie Laurent star in a tale about the people of Paris as viewed (or possibly imagined) by a dancer stuck in his apartment for health reasons.
Who did it? Directed by Kevin Tancharoen; written by Allison Burnett; starring Kelsey Grammer, Megan Mullally, Bebe Neuwirth, Charles Dutton, Debbie Allen
What is it? The 1980 musical (and TV series that followed) about students and teachers at the NY Academy of Performing Arts gets a face-lift with a new remake that features faces new and old. But mostly new.
What about it? It’s a musical, so I can’t say it’s on my list of must-sees this month, but on the plus side the director’s sister is the very cute and multi-talented Maurissa Tancharoen. She has no connection to this movie, but I wanted to giver her a shout-out anyway. Fans of Chicago, Rent, and the original film will probably enjoy it.
Who did it? Directed by Christian Alvart; written by Travis Milloy; starring Ben Foster, Dennis Quaid, Cam Gigandet, Antje Traue
What is it? Two crew members aboard a spaceship awaken with no clue as to their identity, mission, or location. They soon discover they’re not alone, which is something they may have already known had they not lost their memories in the first place. So maybe they rediscover they’re not alone…
What about it? I predict Quaid will grimace a lot and Foster will go completely nuts, and that’s okay. The two find some other human survivors as well as something darker and deadlier stalking them through the bowels of the ship. Early footage has looked sufficiently creepy and atmospheric which is also a plus.
Who did it? Directed by JB Rogers; written by Stuart Gibbs, Julie O’Hora, Justin Ware; starring Matthew Lillard, Efren Ramirez, Robert Davi, Tom Arnold, George Takei
What is it? Two friends open a brothel in an empty mansion. The obvious template here is a mix of Night Shift and Risky Business, but if it manages to be even half as funny as either of those movies I’ll fuck my pool boy. (I should probably add some kind of disclaimer here, but really, what are the odds this is any good? Plus, I don’t have a pool boy).
What about it? I’m not entirely convinced this flick will actually get a wide release, and honestly it’ll be insulting to movies like Moon, Away We Go, 500 Days of Summer, and The Hurt Locker if it does.
Who did it? Directed by Jonathan Mostow; written by John Brancato, Michael Ferris; starring Bruce Willis, Radha Mitchell, Rosamund Pike, Ving Rhames
What is it? Society’s dependency on impersonal exchange leads to a world where people never leave home and instead live their lives virtually in artificial surrogate bodies. The homebodies began turning up dead, and a detective has to venture out into the real world with his real body to solve the crimes.
What about it? People haven’t been too impressed with the trailer below, but I’m actually digging it. The effects are pretty cool, the questions it raises are interesting, and Willis is dependable in his gruff detective role. Mostow is also a pretty solid though underrated director… remember Breakdown? Kurt Russell kicks ass! So yeah, this one has some real potential to surprise.
Watch the Trailer:
In Limited Release
The Boys Are Back – Clive Owen plays single dad who struggles to find a way to raise his son until he settles on the idea that he’ll say ‘yes’ to everything. I can’t imagine that’s a stretch for Clive Owen.
Capitalism: A Love Story – Robert Fure’s favorite American, Michael Moore, returns with a documentary about what makes this country great.
Coco before Chanel – Audrey Tautou could star in a two hour movie where she does nothing but make soup and I’d watch it. She’s bypassed that topic so far in films from Amelie to Priceless, and now she stars as the woman who became a legend in the fashion world.
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