Wednesday, November 4, 2009

November Month Preview

You know the end of the year is coming when you start seeing more and more limited release movies every month. Why the studios insist on cramming all of their prestige movies into 2 months is beyond me, but it does ensure that pretty much every week for the rest of the year we’ll have something interesting to watch. These are the films coming out in November.

November 6th
The Box
The director of the fabulous strange Donnie Darko and Southland Tales goes mainstream with this adaptation of the famed Richard Matheson story starring Cameron Diaz and James Marsden as a couple who is offered $1 million to simply push a button. The catch is, if they push the button someone they don’t know will die. The trailer looks good, and both Diaz and Marsden can be good given the right role. I for one am most excited to see Frank Langella as the deformed “bad guy”. I doubt it will be as ambitious as Richard Kelly’s first two films, but hopefully it will still be good. Anticipation Level: 8.

A Christmas Carol
I for one am quite enjoying this new phase in Robert Zemeckis’ career. The Polar Express was a fun Christmas movie, and Beowulf looked amazing in IMAX 3-D. A Christmas Carol is one of the holiday classics that never seems to get old, and although I doubt that anything can replace A Muppet Christmas Carol as my wife’s favorite version, I am looking forward to this one just the same. Anticipation Level: 8.

The Fourth Kind
I know they were trying to do something different with the preview for this movie, but it didn’t work. Having actress Milla Jovovich come out and explain to the audience who she was and who she’ll be playing in the movie seemed cheesy. It’s also odd that they are releasing this horror movie the week after Halloween. I cannot help but think that the low budget Paranormal Activity stole this movie’s thunder. Anticipation Level: 3.

The Men Who Stare at Goats
The book that this movie is based on is hilarious, and the trailer has me laughing each time I see it. The reviews out of Toronto were all good, even if there were few that were glowing. But with a cast that includes Clooney, Ewan McGregor, Jeff Bridges and Kevin Spacey, we can count on one of the best acted movies of the year. Director Grant Heslov has done some great work as producer and writer with Clooney in the past, so I’m looking forward to see him as a director. Anticipation Level: 9.

Precious: Based on the novel Push by Sapphire
I have been hearing about this film since it opened at Sundance last January. The reviews coming out of there were great, as they were at Cannes and Toronto (where it won the People’s Choice Award). This is sure to be an Oscar player this year, so it must be seen. Anticipation Level: 9.

That Evening Sun
Hal Holbrook has become a black horse Oscar candidate for his performance as an eldery farmer in this much loved indie drama. Persoanlly, I’m not sure why they are releasing this one so late (and in so few markets), but it sounds interesting, and Holbrook has been doing great work as an actor for years, culminating in his first ever Oscar nomination for 2007’s Into the Wild. I am looking forward to seeing this one, but am not sure when it will actually be released here. Anticipation Level: 8.

November 13th
The preview for this movie looks incredibly dumb, with great actors like John Cusack and Chiwetal Ejifor hamming it up horribly. But the special effects also look top notch as the entire world starts to crumble around them. While director Roland Emmerich’s track record is fairly spotty – for every guilty pleasure like Indepedance Day or The Day After Tomorrow, there is a downright horrible movie like Godzilla or 10,000 BC, I still look forward to seeing what kind of entertaining stupidity he comes up with this time. Anticipation Level: 7

Pirate Radio
I cannot actually anticipate this one, as while on my honeymoon in Italy this summer, we watched this movie when we could walk no more. I will post my review later this month, but this was a fun, entertaining concoction like you would expect from the man responsible for Love Actually and Four Weddings and a Funeral, even if this movie is not quite up to the level of either of those two.

The Fanatastic Mr. Fox
I love Wes Anderson. Even the disappointing The Life Aquatic was better than most comedies we see in a given year. Having him extend his horizons into stop motion animation, a favorite of mine, has me even more excited. The trailers have been great, and I love what I’ve heard of the voice acting cast including George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman and Owen Wilson. Perhaps my most anticipated film of the month. Anticipation Level: 10.

Women in Trouble
I have not seen any of Sebastian Guitterez’s previous directorial efforts, nor have I been overly impressed with his screenplay work on such forgettable movies as The Eye and Gothika. Having said that, this indie has an interesting cast including Carla Gugino, Josh Brolin, Joseph Gordon Levitt, Marley Shelton, Sarah Clarke and Connie Britton, so I would mind seeing this one. Anticipation Level: 6.

November 20th
The Blind Side
Every once in a while, an actress best known for comedies takes on one of these inspirational sports movies in the hopes of landing an Oscar nomination. In The Blind Side that actress is Sandra Bullock, who plays a no-nonsense Southern woman, who takes in a disadvantaged African American teenager and teaches him about family and football. We seemingly get one of these movie every year, yet the preview for this one still looks like fun. Anticipation Level: 5.

Planet 51
Yet another computer animated movie about aliens. This one has the clever twist on it though that a human lands on a distant planet and is considered to be the alien, not the other way around. The preview looks loud and colorful, which means this one is probably more for kids than adults, but I’ll probably give it a look anyway. Anticipation Level: 5.

The Twilight Saga: New Moon
I have no problems admitting that I did indeed read all four Twilight novels. Out of them all, perhaps New Moon was the best, but that isn’t saying very much. I didn’t much care for the first movie either. Having said that, this remains a must see if for no other reason than because everyone else in the world will see it, and I don’t like being left out. Anticpation Level: 6.

Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orelans
Another movie I cannot really anticipate since I saw this one at the Toronto Film Festival in September. What I will say is that this is one of the best black comedies of recent years, and contains a performance by Nicolas Cage that would garner him an Oscar nomination if there was any justice in the world. Another weird, warped minor masterwork for director Werner Herzog.

Broken Embraces
I love Pedro Almodovar, so even if the reviews for his most recent work are probably the weakest he has gotten in years, I still cannot help but really want to see this one. I prefer Almodovar in Hitchcock mode to Almodovar in Sirk mode, so this thriller with his muse Penelope Cruz may be one of those films I enjoy more than anyone else. I hope so anyway. Anticipation Level: 9.

Red Cliff
It has been a number of years since John Woo directed a truly great action movie, but this Chinese film, based on a hugely acclaimed book about ancient history has gotten great reviews, and made a ton of money in his home country already. This two part epic runs nearly 5 hours, but I am pretty sure this is only part I. Still though, I want to see what Woo has done this time out. Anticipation Level: 9.

November 25th
Ninja Assassin
Director James McTeague is responsible for the wonderful V for Vendetta, so even if the preview for this one looks like a B level action movie, starring a bunch of people I have never heard of (the main character is played by someone named Rain, who is apparently a major pop star in Japan), I look forward to seeing what he does with this one. Anticipation Level: 7.

Old Dogs
I am a fan of both Robin Williams and John Travolta, but this movie reeks of just a paycheck movie for both of them, as they try to make another hit for the director of Wild Hogs. I’m sure this one won’t be very good, but hell, it might be nice to see a comedy in the midst of all the seriousness out this month. Anticipation Level: 3.

The Road
I saw this at TIFF this year, and have to say that it is one of the year’s best film. Stark, uncompromising version of the Cormac McCarthy novel, this post-apocalyptic tale from director John Hillcoat is a dark stunner with great performances by Viggo Mortenson and Kodi Smit McPhee as a father and son travelling across country in a barren wasteland, and by Robert Duvall, Charlize Theron and Michael K. Williams in support. Don’t miss this one.

Me and Orson Welles
I’ve been hearing about Richard Linklater’s latest movie since TIFF 2008 when it premiered to mostly postivie reviews. People were kind of Zac Efron and Claire Danes, but the raves poured in for Christain McKay’s performance as Orson Welles – who is very much in the supporting actor race this year. I want to see it for him if for no other reason. Anticipation Level: 9

The Princess and the Frog
I for one think that Disney’s return to classically animated features is welcome. The last few films they did disappointed at the box office not because they were not computer generated, but because they sucked. Kids still love this style of animation, and I for one welcome it with open arms. Anticipation Level: 8

The Private Lives of Pippa Lee
Rebecca Miller is a talented writer/director, and her book that she based this movie on was interesting. With a cast that includes Robin Wright Penn, Alan Arkin, Keanu Reeves, Winona Ryder, Monica Belucci, Blake Lively, Maria Bello, Mike Binder, Shirley Knight, Robin Weigart and Julianne Moore, I have to admit that even if this is a “chick flick” I really wanted to see it. Anticipation Level: 8

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