Thursday, January 26, 2012

Review: Man on a Ledge


 I do not own the above image.  Used for entertainment purposes only.  Copyright Summit Entertainment.  All rights reserved.

"Man on a Ledge" is the kind of movie where plausibility shouldn't be very high.  It is the kind where you should be able to sit in the dark with an ice cold drink, alcoholic if necessary, and your favorite snack and just let the next 105 minutes or so just float over you.  But the key aspect of the movie is missing: fun.

Nick Cassidy is a cop convicted of stealing a $40 million diamond from a real estate mogul.  With the help of his brother, Joey, & his girl, Nick looks to prove his innocence.   Nick hatches a plan wherein his brother retrieves the not-really-stolen diamond from the mogul's vault while he plays a decoy on the ledge of the hotel caddy-corner to the office building.  Sounds like a blast right?  Not exactly.

About 45 minutes in, I looked at the Joey's face.  Jamie Bell may not be the best actor in the world but the deathly seriousness of his facial expression just doesn't fit.  And that may be because the combination of the genres doesn't either.  "MoaL" wants to be a escaped, innocent man looking for exoneration surrounding a heist movie.  But unfortunately, it plays like the opposite.  The innocent man is just the secondary plot line thrust into the spotlight.  Instead of the diamond being the MacGuffin, Nick walking onto the ledge is.

But that's saying the movie only has that one problem.  None of the characters, least of all Sam Worthington's Nick, are interesting.  Nick is essentially a cardboard cutout of the cliched newsmaker, playing up to the theatre's audience more than the character's audience.  Joey & his hot-bodied love interest Angie are bland caricatures, especially Angie, whose purpose in the entire movie is for the one fleeting moment that you have seen numerous times in the advertising.  The Elizabeth Banks police negotiator is the only real character of interest.  Her recent backstory is particularly intriguing but is never explored to any extent.  Finally, though, I feel so sorry for Ed Harris.  A three-time Oscar-nominee should not be relegated to a stock, rich, stupidly grandiose villain.

But most of all, the story, for as seriously as it is taken (and I'm talking "The King's Speech" serious), the entire plot and even some of the routine actions make absolutely no sense.  The list of issues could take as long as the movie is to discuss but there are a few that are so strikingly awful.  First, the escape scene is absurd.  From where Nick escapes to how he escapes and to the accident used as a decoy, which has to be seen to be believed, makes the idea that Middle Earth may have actually have existed realistic.  Maybe in a spoiler-filled discussion I can explain the issue with a certain minor character's identity.

Overall, Man on a Ledge is just plain boring for too long before the big payoff.  The payoff being the last 20 minutes or so where first time director Asger Leth tries to channel his inner Paul Greengrass to duplicate the Jason Bourne trilogy with high speed, frenetic chase.  But that moment only lasts so long until you realize that even that sequence is characteristically illogical and cliched.  It is way too much for a movie to ask us to sit patiently for an hour a & twenty minutes just to enjoy 20 minutes of excitement that doesn't survive 20 seconds into the end credits.

*1/2 (out of 5 stars)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Almost Oscar Reaction and the Nominees

I waited patiently, just like everyone else, for the YouTube(tm) stream to start.  At 8:39, it did, to much fanfare.  Five & a half minutes later, jaws were wide open.  The nearly unthinkable happened.  And it pissed the living daylights out of the blogosphere and Twitter-verse.  A movie that many feel manipulates the most harrowing event the America's history.  A movie reviled by critics unlike any film nominated before it, according the Metacritic.  A movie starring two of the most popular actors out there.  A movie that opened five days ago in Pittsburgh. Stephen Daldry's Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close.  Daldry's fourth film is his third in a row to be nominated for Best Picture but the first time he wasn't nominated for Best Director.  And the two actors: Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock.  Too much star power & Academy love to ignore?  Apparently so.

So this begs the question: Did I actually enjoy any nominations?  You bet!  First, I am stoked that Tree of Life, the cinematography and Terrance Malick got nominated.  I've only seen maybe 11 movies from 2011, but this is the best of the bunch.  Second, Rooney Mara, who did the best acting job of the year, got the spot I thought she would get and rightly deserved.  I doubt she'll win but the nomination is enough (for now).  Third, Bridesmaids did not get a Best Picture nomination, and rightly so.  I can't think of a more over-hyped and over-rated comedy in recent memory.  I will watch it again and review it in the blog.

But for the time being I will focus on the nine movies nominated for Best Picture.  My wife and I have only seen three: Tree of Life, The Descendants & The Help.  Two will arrive in the mail on Thursday: Midnight in Paris & Moneyball.  The other four are in theatres, in one fashion or another.  When I see each one will depend on how work is going.  Starting next week, I will review each movie in the order in which I see them.

Until then, here are the nominees.  Enjoy and tell me what you think of them.


Best Picture

  • “The Artist” Thomas Langmann, Producer
  • “The Descendants” Jim Burke, Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor, Producers
  • “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close” Scott Rudin, Producer
  • “The Help” Brunson Green, Chris Columbus and Michael Barnathan, Producers
  • “Hugo” Graham King and Martin Scorsese, Producers
  • “Midnight in Paris” Letty Aronson and Stephen Tenenbaum, Producers
  • “Moneyball” Michael De Luca, Rachael Horovitz and Brad Pitt, Producers
  • “The Tree of Life” Nominees to be determined
  • “War Horse“ Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy, Producers

Directing

  • “The Artist” Michel Hazanavicius
  • “The Descendants” Alexander Payne
  • “Hugo” Martin Scorsese
  • “Midnight in Paris” Woody Allen
  • “The Tree of Life” Terrence Malick

Actor in a Leading Role

  • Demián Bichir in “A Better Life”
  • George Clooney in “The Descendants”
  • Jean Dujardin in “The Artist”
  • Gary Oldman in “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”
  • Brad Pitt in “Moneyball”

Actress in a Leading Role

  • Glenn Close in “Albert Nobbs”
  • Viola Davis in “The Help”
  • Rooney Mara in “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”
  • Meryl Streep in “The Iron Lady”
  • Michelle Williams in “My Week with Marilyn”

Actor in a Supporting Role

  • Kenneth Branagh in “My Week with Marilyn”
  • Jonah Hill in “Moneyball”
  • Nick Nolte in “Warrior”
  • Christopher Plummer in “Beginners”
  • Max von Sydow in “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close”

Actress in a Supporting Role

  • Bérénice Bejo in “The Artist”
  • Jessica Chastain in “The Help”
  • Melissa McCarthy in “Bridesmaids”
  • Janet McTeer in “Albert Nobbs”
  • Octavia Spencer in “The Help”

Animated Feature Film

  • “A Cat in Paris” Alain Gagnol and Jean-Loup Felicioli
  • “Chico & Rita” Fernando Trueba and Javier Mariscal
  • “Kung Fu Panda 2″ Jennifer Yuh Nelson
  • “Puss in Boots” Chris Miller
  • “Rango” Gore Verbinski

Art Direction

  • “The Artist”
    Production Design: Laurence Bennett; Set Decoration: Robert Gould
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
    Production Design: Stuart Craig; Set Decoration: Stephenie McMillan
  • “Hugo” 
    Production Design: Dante Ferretti; Set Decoration: Francesca Lo Schiavo
  • “Midnight in Paris” 
    Production Design: Anne Seibel; Set Decoration: Hélène Dubreuil
  • “War Horse” 
    Production Design: Rick Carter; Set Decoration: Lee Sandales

Cinematography

  • “The Artist” Guillaume Schiffman
  • “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” Jeff Cronenweth
  • “Hugo” Robert Richardson
  • “The Tree of Life” Emmanuel Lubezki
  • “War Horse” Janusz Kaminski

Costume Design

  • “Anonymous” Lisy Christl
  • “The Artist” Mark Bridges
  • “Hugo” Sandy Powell
  • “Jane Eyre” Michael O’Connor
  • “W.E.” Arianne Phillips

Documentary (Feature)

  • “Hell and Back Again”
    Danfung Dennis and Mike Lerner
  • “If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front” 
    Marshall Curry and Sam Cullman
  • “Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory” 
    Charles Ferguson and Audrey Marrs
  • “Pina” 
    Wim Wenders and Gian-Piero Ringel
  • “Undefeated” 
    TJ Martin, Dan Lindsay and Richard Middlemas

Documentary (Short Subject)

  • “The Barber of Birmingham: Foot Soldier of the Civil Rights Movement” 
    Robin Fryday and Gail Dolgin
  • “God Is the Bigger Elvis” 
    Rebecca Cammisa and Julie Anderson
  • “Incident in New Baghdad”
    James Spione
  • “Saving Face” 
    Daniel Junge and Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy
  • “The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom” 
    Lucy Walker and Kira Carstensen

Film Editing

  • “The Artist” Anne-Sophie Bion and Michel Hazanavicius
  • “The Descendants” Kevin Tent
  • “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall
  • “Hugo” Thelma Schoonmaker
  • “Moneyball” Christopher Tellefsen

Foreign Language Film

  • “Bullhead” Belgium
  • “Footnote” Israel
  • “In Darkness” Poland
  • “Monsieur Lazhar” Canada
  • “A Separation” Iran

Makeup

  • “Albert Nobbs”
    Martial Corneville, Lynn Johnston and Matthew W. Mungle
  • “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2″
    Edouard F. Henriques, Gregory Funk and Yolanda Toussieng
  • “The Iron Lady”
    Mark Coulier and J. Roy Helland

Music (Original Score)

  • “The Adventures of Tintin” John Williams
  • “The Artist” Ludovic Bource
  • “Hugo” Howard Shore
  • “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” Alberto Iglesias
  • “War Horse” John Williams

Music (Original Song)

  • “Man or Muppet” from “The Muppets” Music and Lyric by Bret McKenzie
  • “Real in Rio” from “Rio” Music by Sergio Mendes and Carlinhos Brown Lyric by Siedah Garrett

Short Film (Animated)

  • “Dimanche/Sunday” Patrick Doyon
  • “The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore” William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg
  • “La Luna” Enrico Casarosa
  • “A Morning Stroll” Grant Orchard and Sue Goffe
  • “Wild Life” Amanda Forbis and Wendy Tilby

Short Film (Live Action)

  • “Pentecost” Peter McDonald and Eimear O’Kane
  • “Raju” Max Zähle and Stefan Gieren
  • “The Shore” Terry George and Oorlagh George
  • “Time Freak” Andrew Bowler and Gigi Causey
  • “Tuba Atlantic” Hallvar Witzø

Sound Editing

  • “Drive” Lon Bender and Victor Ray Ennis
  • “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” Ren Klyce
  • “Hugo” Philip Stockton and Eugene Gearty
  • “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” Ethan Van der Ryn and Erik Aadahl
  • “War Horse” Richard Hymns and Gary Rydstrom

Sound Mixing

  • “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”
    David Parker, Michael Semanick, Ren Klyce and Bo Persson
  • “Hugo” 
    Tom Fleischman and John Midgley
  • “Moneyball”
    Deb Adair, Ron Bochar, Dave Giammarco and Ed Novick
  • “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” 
    Greg P. Russell, Gary Summers, Jeffrey J. Haboush and Peter J. Devlin
  • “War Horse”
    Gary Rydstrom, Andy Nelson, Tom Johnson and Stuart Wilson

Visual Effects

  • “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2″ 
    Tim Burke, David Vickery, Greg Butler and John Richardson
  • “Hugo”
    Rob Legato, Joss Williams, Ben Grossman and Alex Henning
  • “Real Steel” 
    Erik Nash, John Rosengrant, Dan Taylor and Swen Gillberg
  • “Rise of the Planet of the Apes”
    Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, R. Christopher White and Daniel Barrett
  • “Transformers: Dark of the Moon”
    Scott Farrar, Scott Benza, Matthew Butler and John Frazier

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

  • “The Descendants” Screenplay by Alexander Payne and Nat Faxon & Jim Rash
  • “Hugo” Screenplay by John Logan
  • “The Ides of March” Screenplay by George Clooney & Grant Heslov and Beau Willimon
  • “Moneyball” Screenplay by Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin  Story by Stan Chervin
  • “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” Screenplay by Bridget O’Connor & Peter Straughan

Writing (Original Screenplay)

  • “The Artist” Written by Michel Hazanavicius
  • “Bridesmaids” Written by Annie Mumolo & Kristen Wiig
  • “Margin Call” Written by J.C. Chandor
  • “Midnight in Paris” Written by Woody Allen
  • “A Separation” Written by Asghar Farhadi

Monday, January 23, 2012

Almost Oscar Predictions



I do not own any of the posters above.  Used for entertainment purposes only.  Copyrights for each poster detailed below.
 
          Tuesday morning, all of Hollywood will be up at 5:30 in the morning for the most exciting day of the movie year : the Academy Award nominations.  Academy President Tom Sherak and Oscar nominee Jennifer Lawrence will beall dolled & caffeined up to announce all the major categories.  You, however, can get a heads up on everyone else and catch a glimpse of the nominees before the announcement below.  For various reasons, I haven’t seen many of the movies (they will be noted by an *) so these are predictions based upon previous awards results and not personal preference.  If they were, Bridesmaids wouldn’t be sniffing any category and The Help would…well you’ll find out later this week.

Best Picture
1.       The Artist*
2.       The Descendents
3.       Hugo*
4.       Midnight in Paris*
5.       The Help
6.       Moneyball*
7.       The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
8.       Bridesmaids
9.       War Horse*
10.   Drive*
According to the new Academy rules, there could be up to 10 nominees and at least five.  Most, including myself, believe there will be 7 or 8 nominees.  I’m thinking 8 will make the cut, with my top 6 as locks.  Dragon Tattoo is all but in and the 8th slot could go to any of the bottom three.

Best Director
                Michel Hanazavicius, The Artist*
                Alexander Payne, The Descendants
                Martin Scorsese, Hugo*
                Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris*
                Bennett Miller, Moneyball*
Three of these gentlemen (Hanazavicius, Payne & Scorsese) are locks, with Allen virtually assured his spot.  The coveted fifth spot can be claimed by as many six different men.  David Fincher is the most obvious choice, but I feel that the Academy doesn’t think as highly of him as cinephiles do.  If it isn’t Miller, then its Spielberg.

Best Actor
                George Clooney, The Descendants
                Leonardo DiCaprio, J. Edgar*
                Jean Dujardin, The Artist*
                Michael Fassbender, Shame*
                Brad Pitt, Moneyball*
Three locks (Clooney, Dujardin & Pitt) then two huge questions.  First, did the Academy see the NC-17 rated Shame?  Second, does the Academy remember seeing the bomb that was J. Edgar?  I think yes to both, less so for DiCaprio.  If no for either, look for Gary Oldman to get some love.

Best Actress
                Glenn Close, Albert Nobbs*
                Viola Davis, The Help
                Rooney Mara, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
                Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady*
                Michelle Williams, My Week with Marilyn*
Seven actresses, five spots.  Davis & Streep are in, Close & Williams are near-locks.  The fifth spot will go to Mara, or previous winners Tilda Swinton or Charlize Theron.  I don’t know how the Academy can reject the best acting performance all year though.

Best Supporting Actor
                Albert Brooks, Drive*
                Jonah Hill, Moneyball*
                Nick Nolte, Warrior*
                Patton Oswalt, Young Adult
                Christopher Plummer, Beginners*
Three locks here (Brooks, Hill, Plummer) and a near-lock overdue nod for Nolte.  Oswalt could easily be overtaken by Kenneth Branagh but I don’t believe so.

Best Supporting Actress
                Bernice Bejo, The Artist*
                Jessica Chastain, The Help
                Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids
                Octavia Spencer, The Help
                Shaileen Woodley, The Descendants
If these aren’t the five, I will be shocked.

Best Original Screenplay
                The Artist*
                Bridesmaids
                50/50*
                Midnight in Paris*
                A Separation*
Three locks (Artist, Brides & Midnight) and two fairly open spots.  50/50 is in because of the weak field.  A Separation will edge out Young Adult.

Best Adapted Screenplay
                The Descendants
                The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
                Hugo*
                The Help
                Moneyball*
Four locks with Dragon Tattoo & Ides of March battling for the fifth spot.  Dragon Tattoo gets it.

Best Animated Feature
                The Adventures of TinTin*
                Cars 2*
                Puss in Boots*
                Rango*
                Winnie the Pooh*
Only 2 locks here (TinTin & Rango) with Arthur Christmas & Kung Fu Panda 2 waiting in the wings.

Best Cinematography
                Guillaume Schiffman, The Artist*
                Jeff Cronenweth, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
                Bob Richardson, Hugo*
                Emmanuel Lubezki, Tree of Life
                Janusz Kaminski, War Horse*

Best Editing
                The Artist*
                The Descendants
                The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
                Hugo *
                Moneyball*

Best Art Direction
                The Artist*
                Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2*
                Hugo*
                Midnight in Paris*
                Tree of Life

Best Costume Design
                The Artist*
                Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2*
                The Help
                Hugo*
                Tree of Life

Best Makeup
                The Artist*
                Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2*
                Hugo*

Best Original Score
                The Artist*
                Drive*
                The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
                Hugo*
                War Horse*

Best Original Song
                “The Living Proof”, The Help
                “Life’s a Happy Song”, The Muppets
                “Man or Muppet”, The Muppets
                “Pictures in My Head”, The Muppets

Best Visual Effects
                Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2*
                Hugo*
                Rise of the Planet of the Apes*
                Transformers: Dark of the Moon*
                Tree of Life

Best Sound Editing
                Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2*
                Super 8*
                War Horse*

Best Sound Mixing
                The Artist*
                Hanna*
                Hugo*
                Super 8*
                War Horse*

The Artist is (c) of The Weinstein Company.  The Descendents is (c) of 20th Century Fox.  Hugo is (c) of Paramount Pictures.  Midnight in Paris is (c) of Sony Pictures Classics.  The Help is (c) of DreamWorks SKG.  Moneyball is (c) of Columbia Pictures.  The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is (c) of Sony Pictures.  Bridesmaids is (c) of Universal Pictures.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Five Movies in 2012 You Should Be Looking Forward to (By People You Should Know)


                For every major film personality you know, there are three or four you don’t.  From young gun writer/directors to Oscar-winning animators making their live-action debut, there are many movies by names in the movie buff world that should be household names soon if not now.

5. Looper
                The third feature from Rian Johnson (Brick, The Brothers Bloom) and second starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt.  Also starring Bruce Willis and Emily Blunt, Looper is about a mob hitman in the future whose next hit is him.  Brick is a wonderful movie for those unfamiliar with both the filmmaker and the noir genre.  How far into the science fiction realm is Johnson will to go?

4. Gravity
                Alfonso Cuarón hasn’t a movie since 2006 (how dare you Hollywood!) with the brilliant Children of Men.  Here, he has Sandra Bullock as a survivor of a space mission desperate to get home.  Somehow, George Clooney is involved as an astronaut or something else.  Sometimes, the less you know about a movie the better.  Warning: the 3-D will be done in post-production.

3. Les Misérables
                The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences did most likely the most polarizing thing in voting Tom Hooper Best Director & The King’s Speech Best Picture, but that’s another story.  In December, Hooper, a Brit, directs two Aussies (Hugh Jackman & Russell Crowe) in a film adaptation of the stage musical adaptation of Victor Hugo’s novel.  I am reluctant to give Hooper another try but I already heard the two magic words: Jackman & Crowe.

2. John Carter
                It only took 85 years but Edgar Rice Boroughs’ Civil War soldier transported to the red planet  comes to the silver screen.  Andrew Stanton’s (Finding Nemo, Wall-E) live action debut, has undergone re-writes, false starts and even a title change (was called John Carter of Mars).  Conventional wisdom right now is the film can’t possibly succeed with its budget, director and “star” (Friday Night Lights’ Taylor Kitsch).  A thin supporting cast, which includes Bryan Cranston & Willem Dafoe, doesn’t help either.

1. The Five-Year Engagement
Four  years ago, Jason Segel & Nicholas Stoller gave us the unexpected gem Forgetting Sarah Marshall.  Last year, they teamed up again for The Muppets.  Now, they team up again to show how life and love affects two twenty- then thirty-somethings.  Segel is joined by Emily Blunt and a slew of sitcom & veteran actors.  April 27th can’t get here soon enough.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Five Movies in 2012 You Should Be Looking Forward to (By People You Know)


                There are many talented people in Hollywood, and I’m not talking about Adam Sandler or Michael Bay.  Oscar winners & nominees, cult & comedic masters, legendary spies & fantastical creatures.  You know a lot of these cast & crew members but are you aware they have movies coming out in the next eleven months?  Well, now you are.

5. Skyfall
                Daniel Craig returns as James Bond for the third time.  This time, he has to defend the dignity and honor of M & MI6 against Javier Bardem.  Co-written by Oscar nominee John Logan and directed by Oscar winner Sam Mendes (American Beauty), this has the potential to be the best technical Bond yet.  Craig & Judy Dench return and are joined by Bardem, Albert Finney & Ralph Fiennes.

4. Dark Shadows
                For the 369th time (8th actually), Johnny Depp & Tim Burton collaborate on a movie.  In this one, based on a cult TV show, Depp is a vampire who has interactions with various creatures, including witches, werewolves and ghosts.  Along for the ride this time include Eva Green, Michelle Pfeiffer, Chloe Grace Moretz, Jackie Earle Haley & Helena Bonham Carter (Mrs. Tim Burton).

3. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
                Eleven years since the journey began, in December and the following December Peter Jackson returns to Middle Earth.  This time, we go back to the beginning to when Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) goes on his first adventure with Gandalf.  Jackson was only supposed to produce with Guillermo Del Toro in the director’s chair but left after the project kept getting delayed by studio bankruptcies, union disputes and lawsuits.  Most of the original cast returns as the characters they played a decade ago, even if they weren’t in Tolken’s novel.

2. This is 40
                Five years after Knocked Up, Judd Apatow revisits the long-suffering married couple Pete & Debbie (Paul Rudd & Leslie Mann).  Filming is finished and the finished project is almost in the can but we have until Christmas because apparently Kristen Stewart as Snow White is way more important.  No Heigl (YAY!!!) or Rogen(awww…) this time around but there is Melissa McCarthy, Albert Brooks, John Lithgow & Jason Segel.

1. Prometheus
                For those of you who have seen the trailer, I know, it looks like Alien.  But Ridley Scott (Alien) swears that (after many rewrites, including the last one by Lost showrunner Damon Lindelof) it isn’t.  It’s similar, but still completely different.  So Noomi Rapace (the original Lisbeth Salander), Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron, Patrick Wilson & Guy Pearce will not be hiding from creatures they find on a distant planet or anything like that.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Five Blockbusters You Should Be Looking Forward to in 2012


                We all know why most people go to the movies.  To see the big names, as big time heroes, in front of large, ridiculous, expensive explosions.  Yes, blockbusters.  A new one comes out each week all summer.  Some will earn triple its budget, others will see 9 people show up to the first showing and be pulled before the climactic battle scene.  So what am I (and you should be) excited for in 2012?

5. The Hunger Games
                The earliest release on any of these lists is Gary Ross’ (Pleasantville, Big) first live-action film since Seabiscuit was nominated for Best Picture of 2003.  This spring, Ross directs the Suzanne Collins’ script of the first installment of her best-selling trilogy about a teenage girl (Oscar-nominee Jennifer Lawrence) who steps in to compete in a post-apocalyptic juvenile fight to the death.  A movie made in the aftermath of Twilight, this will test the pockets of the ‘tween generation.  Unlike Twilight, THG has a premise that appeals to teen boys and fanboys.  Josh Hutchinson, Woody Harrelson and about half of Hollywood round out the star-studded cast.

4. The Bourne Legacy
                Paul Greengrass and Matt Damon are now gone.  For Damon, there was a nearly even trade for Oscar-nominee and Best Picture-starrer Jeremy Renner.  For Greengrass, an almost fair trade for series co-writer Tony Gilroy (Michael Clayton, Duplicity).  Renner isn’t Bourne here because Bourne isn’t just a spy alias like (spoiler alert) James Bond.  The film revolves around the consequences of Bourne’s actions during The Bourne Ultimatum.  Joan Allen returns and is joined by Edward Norton & Rachel Weisz.

3. Brave
                For the 10th consecutive year, Pixar has a new full-length animated feature film.  This year, they change things up with a female protagonist and a female co-writer/former director.  Not only is it a heroine-centric, it takes place in a very un-friendly environment for women: 10th century Scotland.  Directed by Brad Bird disciple Mark Andrews, the voice cast includes Kelly MacDonald, Julie Christie and Emma Thompson (plus, of course, John Ratzenburger).

2. The Amazing Spider-Man
                Ten years after the initial Sam Raimi/Tobey Maguire offering hit theatres, how about a reboot?  Well, before you get discouraged, it stars the ex-best friend in The Social Network & the girl with the Easy A and the director of (500) Days of Summer.  Now get discouraged: we start over from the beginning and the trailer underwhelms.

1. The Dark Knight Rises
                Christopher Nolan’s & Christian Bale’s swan song to the beloved Gotham City anti-hero.  This time, it’s Bane as the villain and (spoiler alert[?]) Robin as a sidekick (You explain what Joseph Gordon-Levitt is doing in this movie and they are keeping all lips sealed?)  Could this be the first of the trilogy to have a major flaw?  Seriously, what was Bane saying?

Saturday, January 7, 2012