Archive for January, 2010

Must See Movies: February 2010

January 31, 2010

With the dregs of January swirling down the drain, audiences can prep themselves for classier fare. This month marks the return of two cinematic masters in the form of Scorsese and Polanski. Their works might look a little loosey-goosey, but there’s little doubt about the razor-sharp talents behind a pair of crime dramas from Israel and France. Finally, get some uplift as Shah Rukh Khan battles Homeland Security for his dignity.

Ajami
Release date: Feb. 3
The pitch: Israel’s problems—and lord knows there’s a lot of them—are filtered through several interlocking stories set in a tough neighborhood of Jaffa. It’s an Arab-Israeli Wire!
Fun fact: Jaffa gets a nod in the Bible as the port where Jonah boarded a ship on his ill-fated escape to Tarshish.
Why it could be great: After earning acclaim on the festival circuit, this tough drama won Best Picture and Director at the Israeli Oscars last year.
Why it could suck: There are very few happy endings in Israel.

My Name is Khan
Release date: Feb. 12
The pitch: An autistic Muslim (Shah Rukh Khan) finds happiness with a single mom (Kajol) in San Francisco. Then 9/11 turns his world upside down.
Fun fact: Last August, Khan was detained by Newark Airport security for questioning while promoting the film.
Why it could be great: SRK stars in a story that’s sure to tug the heartstrings of discriminated-against immigrants and angry liberals alike. There’ll be a few musical numbers, too.
Why it could suck: The emotional maelstrom reaches fever pitch when Khan embarks on an odyssey to meet Barack Obama himself.

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Sundance 2010: Winners and Losers

January 31, 2010

Last night the Sundance Jury handed out its prizes and audience awards. The big winners were the hill people noir Winter’s Bone and Obselidia, a romance which was only lacking a stamp reading “Sundance-approved.” More eyes will turn to the backrooms, where lucrative deals were being cut. Focus Features picked up Lisa Cholodeniko’s The Kids Are All Right, with Julianne Moore and Annette Bening as a lesbian couple. Lionsgate agreed to distribute Buried, where Ryan Reynolds struggles to escape a coffin armed only with his cellphone (and some great reception). Harvey Weinstein worked his silver-tongued magic and went home with the rights to The Tillman Story (formerly I’m Pat _________ Tillman) and Blue Valentine, which created Oscar talk for its leads Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams. Other buzz films included the Interwebs documentary Catfish and Banksy’s debut Exit Through the Gift Shop. Anyway, we’ve got some envelopes to open …

Grand Jury Prize for U.S. Dramatic Film

Winter’s Bone. A clear favorite among critics, Debra Granik’s adaptation of a novel by Daniel Woodrell is a chilling thriller set in the Ozarks. A teenager (Jennifer Lawrence) goes in search for her father, who skips jail after a bust for running a meth lab. Big trouble awaits. “My advice? Discover this one now.” said Salon’s Andrew O’Hehir. It’s been picked up for distribution by Roadside Attractions.

Grand Jury Prize for U.S. Documentary

Restrepo. The documentary follows humpy journalist Sebastian Junger (The Perfect Storm) as he spends a year with the 173rd Airborne’s Second Platoon. The unit has been assigned to the deadliest valley in Afghanistan. “I’ve never seen combat footage like Junger and [co-director Tim] Hetherington get in Restrepo,” wrote Noel Murray in The Onion. “It’s raw, relentless, and made all the more unsettling by the fact that the soldiers can’t see who’s shooting at them.” National Geographic have the broadcast rights.

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Happy Birthday, Preity Zinta!

January 31, 2010

Trailerama: Autoreiji (Outrage)

January 31, 2010

No sooner do we post a trailer for “Beat” Takeshi’s Takeshis’ when the man releases another teaser for his 15th film as a director, Autoreiji. The flick is a coming in from the cold of sorts for Kitano. According to Twitch, he’s putting the more experimental fare behind him and getting back to his yakuza roots. His character is a kind of gangster Michael Clayton who has to get a rogue mob in line … or else. Looks like more mayhem among the sharp-suited set.

Trailerama: The Losers

January 30, 2010

Squally was looking for a reason to post this, but somehow “From the producer of House of Wax” didn’t really cut it. Still, we’ve had an allegiance to Warner Bros. ever since they released The Adventures of Robin Hood. The attractions are Stringer Bell, Zoe Saldana firing a bazooka in slow motion, and Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who is filling that “Robert Downey Jr. if he continued to take drugs” niche very nicely. Peter Berg adapted the DC comic book about a group of Special Forces who are like The A Team but aren’t The A Team. Sylvain White directs.

Talking Pictures: Skateland’s Anthony Burns

January 30, 2010

There’s nothing like a fading pleasuredom to throw lost innocence in sharp relief. It’s been a Texas trademark ever since Larry McMurty wrote The Last Picture Show. In Anthony Burns‘ film, a group of teenagers united by the local roller-rink face up to growing up. To add to the melancholy vibe, it’s set in 1983. Although Skateland sounds very much like Dazed & Confused with added John Waite, the debuting director has scored at least one coup. One of the characters is played by Ashley Greene, beloved of the Twilight set. Written by Burns and Brandon Freeman, who also served as executive producer and second unit director. Music by Michael Penn. Screening at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.

Happy Birthday, Dorothy Malone!

January 30, 2010

Western Union: Kapil Sharma

January 29, 2010

“The only thing I was particular about was that this character should not come across as a caricature or just as an object of mockery.”

— Actor Kapil Sharma talks playing a gay model in the controversial Dunno Y . . . Na Jaane Kyun, which is said feature Bollywood’s first guy-on-guy kiss. (via The Times)

Trailerama: The Ghost Writer

January 29, 2010

A ghost writer is hired to help pen the memoirs of an ex-prime minister who resembles Tony Blair but looks more like Pierce Brosnan. When a body turns up off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard and the PM is charged with war crimes, meeting that deadline seems more and more remote. Roman Polanski returns to thriller territory, with Robert Harris adapting his bestseller The Ghost. It’s our hope that Polanski exposes the political world as a pool full of Noah Crosses. The crazy cast, which includes Ewen McGregor and Kim Cattrall, suggests that it’s more likely to descend into absurdist nonsense.

Trailerama: Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps

January 29, 2010

History repeats itself. First time as tragedy, the second as farce. What Marx might think of this Oliver Stone sequel is anybody’s guess. Judging from the trailer, Stone himself isn’t taking it too seriously. The teaser is a reminder that yesterday’s consumerist porn is this year’s punchline, daddy-O, and what cash-strapped director doesn’t have a bit of respect for the hedge fund trader’s smash ‘n’ grab? Michael Douglas returns as Gordon Gekko, who would really like his hair gel back.