The general consensus seems to be that 2010 is a shitpiece of a year at the movies. A generally thin release slate of films has been further dragged down by unexpected disappointments that dot this weak summer. A few bright spots here and there of course -we’ve been taken some interesting places- but I think we can all agree this ain’t one for this history books. Except, think back to 2007- another year that plodded along with only the occasional notable flick until the tail end of the year hit, and hit hard. So is there enough meat on this prestige season’s bones to ensure 2010 is writ into the Book of Cinema? We’ve generated this list of (virtually) every film yet to be released this year to provide you a handy, centralized resource. Scattered throughout are films about which Uncle Mitch just couldn’t resist tossing out a few words, so follow us through the list to find out how our fall is lookin‘.
• The American
Anton Corbijn (dir), George Clooney, Paolo Bonacelli, Violante Placido
An assassin hiding out in an Italian village while he anticipates his last-ever assignment tempts fate by seeking out the friendship of a priest (Bonacelli) as well as the affection of a local woman (Placido).
• Going the Distance
Nanette Burstein (dir), Drew Barrymore, Justin Long, Ron Livingston
[Warner Bros. Pictures]
A romantic comedy centered on a guy (Long) and a gal (Barrymore) who try to keep their love alive as they shuttle back and forth between Chicago and Los Angeles to see one another.
Robert Rodriguez (dir), Danny Trejo, Michelle Rodriguez, Robert De Niro
[20th Century Fox]
After being betrayed by the organization who hired him, an ex-Federale (Trejo) launches a brutal rampage of revenge against the people who double-crossed him.â€¨
Good or Bad: There has been a few films this year that distinctly aimed not for the moon, nor the stars, but for that space right between your asshole and your junk, intending only to sate a hunger for the low-brow done well. And while I think the fish did it well, and the nostalgic muscle-men fell on their faces, the fact has been made increasingly clear that abundant CGI and scatter shot digital photography is simply a fact of life for cheap, throwback genre fare. Rodriguez was one of the first and most enthusiastic action directors to take on this paradigm and use it to make films that, at their occasional best, manage to balance the artificiality with never-before-possible extremeness. At the end of the day though, we all know by now the ingredients going into the Machete blender. All that remains is to see if the resulting slurry leaves a decent taste in our mouths. I’m going “good” on this one because, at the end of the day, Danny Trejo is headlining a feature film.
Uncle Mitch says: [Something highly inappropriate and offensive about the peoples of Mexico, and Hispanic persons in general. We’re sure he’s very apologetic.]
– Renn Brown
• HappyThankYouMorePlease (limited)
Josh Radnor (dir), Malin Akerman, Michael Algieri, Jakob Appelman
Captures a generational moment – young people on the cusp of truly growing up, tiring of their reflexive cynicism, each in their own ways struggling to connect and define what it means to love and be loved.
• The Tillman Story (limited | documentary)
Amir Bar-Lev (dir), Pat Tillman [The Weinstein Company]
Pat Tillman never thought of himself as a hero. His choice to leave a multimillion-dollar football contract and join the military wasn’t done for any reason other than he felt it was the right thing to do. The fact that the military manipulated his tragic death in the line of duty into a propaganda tool is unfathomable and thoroughly explored in Amir Bar-Lev’s riveting and enraging documentary.
â€¨The Winning Season (limited)
James C. Strouse (dir), Sam Rockwell, Emma Roberts, Rob Corddry
A comedy centered on a has-been coach who is given a shot at redemption when he’s asked to run his local high school’s girls basketball team.â€¨
A Woman, a Gun, and a Noodle Shop (limited)
Yimou Zhang (dir), Honglei Sun, Dahong Ni
[Sony Pictures Classics]
Americans love remaking foreign films, so it is always a welcome change of pace when foreigners decide to redo one of ours. A Woman, a Gun, and Noodle Shop (aka, A Simple Noodle Story, aka San qiang pai an jing qi) is tackling the Bros Coen’s screen debut, Blood Simple, transplanting the noirish plot of adultery and murder from a bumpkin desert town in Texas to a bumpkin desert town in a Chinese province. This marks a change of pace for director Zhang Yimou, who benches the lyrical and earnest melodrama of House of Flying Daggers and Hero to try his hand at ribald comedy and slapstick.
Good or Bad: For Zhang Yimou fans, it is hit or miss. Audiences at the Berlin Film Festival were mixed, with some feeling the film was too over-the-top. Critics have been eating it up though, and the Coens gave the film enthusiastic thumbs up. Good news for Coen fans who want to love the original but have always found it too plodding, reports indicate that the Asian update has a more frenetic pacing.
Uncle Mitch Says: “Adding Asian broads to anything makes it better. But adding Asian guys makes things worse. Guess if your ass likes noodles, be there.”
– Joshua Miller
• Bran Nue Dae (limited)
Rachel Perkins (dir), Rocky McKenzie, Jessica Mauboy, Ernie Dingo
Broome, Australia, 1965: Willy (McKenzie) is an Aboriginal teenager who enrolls at a Catholic boarding school at his mother’s request. Clashing with strict headmaster Father Benedictus (Rush), Willy ditches school and, with the help of a hobo, two hippie travelers and their kombi van, he looks to make his way back home — with Father Beneditcus in hot pursuit.
Resident Evil: Afterlife 3D
Paul W.S. Anderson (dir), Milla Jovovich, Ali Larter, Wentworth Miller
As the T-Virus continues to spread, Alice (Jovovich) maintains her mission to find survivors and keep them safe from the Undead, and to take down the Umbrella Corporation. Reteaming with Claire (Larter), Alice makes a dangerous journey to a new city that is said to be a safe haven: Los Angeles.â€¨
Continuing the franchise that everybody seems to love hating on only slightly less than Twilight, the W.S. returns to the big chair for the first time since the original ate people’s faces and expectations for a light snack. In this installment, Milla Jovovich returns yet again as Alice to continue the fight against Umbrella and the zombie hordes, which the rest of the planet has pretty much already lost in a big way. W.S. pilfered James Cameron’s camera collection to bring it to us in real 3D, not that gub’ment cheese conversion shit 3D.
Good or Bad: Depends. Some people seem to want W.S.’s entrails to be eaten by his own franchise extras for no other reason that he’s W.S. Others (i.e. me) not so much. Although the original film was released March of 2002, the two sequels were both released in September and their domestic and worldwide grosses have steadily improved with each outing. Considering that W.S. has managed to keep the budgets for each of the first three films a ridiculous $45 million or less, no doubt Sony was happy with the returns on those projects. But With this one shooting in legit 3D, and a budget at a reported $80 million, the stakes are higher and it’s the rare franchise where the fourth film hasn’t worn out its welcome (as Extinction pretty much did). However, there’s one thing that Afterlife and a September 10 release has going for it: no direct competition, especially in the horror department.
Uncle Mitch Says: “OK, Anderson, I’m ready for ya this time. Got the lube and everything…”
– David Oliver
• The Virginity Hit
Huck Botko, Andrew Gurland (dir’s), Matt Bennett, Zack Pearlman, Krysta Rodriguez
Four friends use a video camera and their Internet savvy to chronicle their buddy’s attempt to lose his virginity.
I’m Still Here: The Lost Year of Joaquin Phoenix (limited | documentary)
Casey Affleck (dire), Joaquin Pheonix
Casey Affleck documents Joaquin Phoenix’s transition from acclaimed actor to aspiring rapper.â€¨
Casey Affleck’s documentary about a tumultuous year in the seeming self-destruction of actor Joaquin Phoenix, that’s still shrouded in secrecy. Is it a legit look at an oscar-nominee’s descent into madness and apathy, played out before the world; or is it a well-constructed prank between two brothers-in-law and friends?
Good or Bad: Who the hell knows? Not me, nor seemingly anybody else beyond Affleck, Phoenix and probably some guys over at Magnolia. All things being equal, the safe bet is the prank / mockumentary route. If so, it’s a great idea and possible commentary on the nature of fame in today’s society, which seems to run on the stuff more than oil. If Casey has the Affleck gene for filmmaking that Ben has demonstrated, then this could be something quite special, and could set a new standard for going method by an actor. Although It’s dubtful that the general audience will appreciate the joke in terms of significant box office. On the off chance that it’s a legit meltdown though, and if Joaquin has really gone Jim Morrison on us, I certainly hope we don’t find him come to a bad end in a bathtub…
Uncle Mitch Says: “They ain’t foolin’ nobody. I don’t believe Casey Affleck directed this for a minute…”
– David Oliver
• Legendary (limited)
Mel Damski (dir), Paul Bealer, Jacob Bianchini
[Samuel Goldwyn Films / WWE Studios]â€¨
Book-smart teenager Cal Chetley (Graye) joins his school’s wrestling team as a way to rekindle his relationship with his brother (Cena), who himself for the death of their father in a car accident years ago.
• Lovely, Still (limited)
Nicholas Fackler (dir) Martin Landau, Ellen Burstyn, Adam Scott
[Monterey Media Inc.]â€¨
A holiday fable that tells the story of an elderly man discovering love for the first time.
• The Romantics (limited)
Galt Niederhoffer (dir), Katie Holmes, Anna Paquin, Josh Duhamel, Malin Akerman
[Paramount Famous Productions]â€¨
Seven close friends reunite for the wedding of two of their friends. Problems arise because the bride and the maid of honor have had a long rivalry over the groom.
Never Let Me Go (limited)
Mark Romanek (dir), Keira Knightley, Carey Mulligan, Andrew Garfield
[Fox Searchlight Pictures]
Set in a dystopian Britain, boarding school friends Ruth (Knightley), Kathy (Mulligan), and Tommy (Garfield) face the sobering reality that awaits them all as they mature into adults. Trailer
Mark Romanek finally returns from the director wasteland with this adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro’s award winning novel, which stars Keira Knightley, Carey Mulligan, and future Spider Man, Andrew Garfield. The trio live in a dystopian (yet very familiar) Britain. They spend their childhood at Hailsham, a seemingly idyllic English boarding school, but once they graduate they learn the terrible truth about their fate. In keeping with the slow-burn story revelations of Ishiguro’s novel, the trailer for Never Let Me Go may bore you with lack of details. For those needing more to get interested (POTENTIAL SPOILER ALERT): in this dystopic Britain some humans are cloned solely to provide donor organs for transplants. Our trio are such humans, with Mulligan’s character working as a “carer,” someone who comforts donors as they are made to give up their organs and eventually submit to death.
Good or Bad: It’s been almost a decade since music video veteran Romanek made One Hour Photo, which showed some promise but by no means announced a genius in our midst. He’s working with great material here and with a solid cast, so it is his to fuck up. This has the potential to be really excellent.
Uncle Mitch Says: “This looks like the kind of fruity shit fruits who like fruity shit will slobber over. Til I hear Knightley gets naked, my hairy ass is stayin’ home.”
Alpha and Omega
Anthony Bell, Ben Gluck (dir’s), Hayden Panettiere, Christina Ricci, Justin Long
After being relocated to Idaho by park rangers, a female and a male wolf face a dangerous trip across unfamiliar territory in their attempt to find their way home to Canada. Trailer (because I fucking hate you).
Good or Bad: What an abysmal pile of pixels this thing looks to be. Promoted with a trailer that is aggressively unfunny to the point of delivering sex jokes that, without a laugh to back them up, just come across as creepy and inappropriate (judged by a guy who actively hunted for the deleted scene that had Wall-E prying open more than EVE’s arm casing). With a visual style that would have looked cheap and direct-to-DVD grade five years ago, Alpha And Omega seems to play like a parody of the worst tendencies of pandering family entertainment. I don’t think I’ve seen a more anti-funny trailer in years. Also, if you’re not allowing her to be brilliant with a great script, or not allowing her to be beautiful with, you know, actual moving photos, then what the fuck are you doing, wasting Christina Ricci’s precious time with this bullshit!
Uncle Mitch says: “Looks like one of them furry movies. Tried to watch one on the nets once and turned it off. No marmot’s got a cock bigger than mine …Oh, this movie? Get the hose.”
Drew Dowdle, John Erick Dowdle (dir’s), Chris Messina, Caroline Dhavernas, Bokeem Woodbine
A group of people trapped in a elevator realize that the devil is among them.
Good or Bad: Gonna call bad on this one. Mainly because of what people in the industry like to call the Shyamalan Factor. It’s no secret that the guy has the Anti-Midas touch lately and this is all based on writer Brian Nelson’s (Hard Candy) adaptation of one of his stories. Dowdles Drew and John Erik are helming, their only other big(-ish) film being 2008’s middling Quarantine. I’ll admit the trailer piqued me, and Nelson does an amazing job with few people in singular locations, but at the end I see this being fucked. “Bad things happen for a reason?” Fuck you, tagline guy.
Uncle Mitch Says…: “Lemme guess, the creepy kid from The Sixth Sense is the devil, ain’t he? There’s your twist.”
– Jeremy Butler
Will Gluck (dir), Emma Stone, Amanda Bynes, Penn Badgley
As she studies The Scarlet Letter, high schooler Olive Penderghast (Stone) notices her parallels to the novel and begins to work the school’s rumor mill to advance her social and financial standing.
Good or Bad: I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say good. We’re dealing with some relative unknowns with writer Bert V. Royal (this being his first writing credit) and director David Gluck (coming off of his debut Fired Up), but I like the concept, the trailer was cute and these high school comedies have been trending smarter lately what with your Mean Girls and Superbads. Plus, well, I kinda have the hots for Emma Stone. So – fingers crossed!
Uncle Mitch Says…: “Let’s Not and Say We Did? The fuck is that nonsense? Let’s do. What you wanna say about it is up to you.”
– Jeremy Butler
• The Town
Ben Affleck (dir), Ben Affleck, Rebecca Hall, Jon Hamm
[Warner Bros. Pictures]
Career thief Doug MacRay (Affleck) considers deepening his relationship with Claire (Hall), a bank teller who was traumatized by a recent heist — and who has no idea that Doug was behind the crime. Meanwhile, an investigator (Hamm), who is close to unmasking Doug’s secret life, wrestles with his feelings for Claire.
• Catfish (limited | documentary)
Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman (dir’s)
Catfish is a 2010 film advertised as a documentary involving a man being filmed by his friends as he builds a romantic relationship on the social networking website Facebook with an attractive girl, and the mysterious results when they all go to visit her.
Jack Goes Boating (limited)
Phillip Seymour Hoffman (dir) Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Ryan, John Ortiz
A limo driver’s blind date sparks a tale of love, betrayal, friendship, and grace centered around two working-class New York City couples.
Good or Bad: Good. This thing got major buzz at Sundance and the positive reviews keep coming in. Plus Hoffman is always good for quality. Notably, this is his directorial debut and he’s working from a screenplay by Bob Glaudini, who adapted his own stage play (which was produced by Hoffman’s theater company to good review).
Uncle Mitch Says…: “Woah, is that the bad guy from Mission Impossible 3? I freakin’ love that dude.”
– Jeremy Butler
The Wild Hunt (limited)
Alexandre Franchi (dir), Kyle Gatehouse, Trevor Hayes, Kaniehtiio Horn
A medieval reenactment game turns into a Shakespearean tragedy when a non-player crashes the event to win back his girlfriend. Trailer
Everything about this low-budget indie feels Scandinavian, but it is Canadian. Brothers Erik and Bjorn Magnusson don’t get along. Largely because Erik can’t respect Bjorn’s obsession with a live action role-playing game that gathers far out in the woods once a year to play “the Wild Hunt,” where they dress, live and act like Celts, elves and Vikings from the Middle Ages. When Erik’s flakey girlfriend breaks up with him and goes to join Bjorn in the game, Erik pursues her, only to disrupt the game’s proceedings… with unexpectedly disastrous results.
Good or Bad: This film I’ve seen, and I can tell you now, a lot of Chewers will love it. Its premise reads like a stupid comedy, but the film gets shockingly dark and bizarre, creating a very unique experience.
Uncle Mitch Says: “This is like that D&D nerd shit from that movie with Stiffler and McLovin, but with Vikings. Vikings is badass.”
– Joshua Miller
• You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger (limited)
Woody Allen (dir) Antonio Banderas, Josh Brolin, Anthony Hopkins, Gemma Jones
[Sony Pictures Classics]
Follows a pair of married couples, Alfie (Hopkins) and Helena (Jones), and their daughter Sally (Watts) and husband Roy (Brolin), as their passions, ambitions, and anxieties lead them into trouble and out of their minds. After Alfie leaves Helena to pursue his lost youth and a free-spirited call girl named Charmaine (Punch), Helena abandons rationality and surrenders her life to the loopy advice of a charlatan fortune teller. Unhappy in her marriage, Sally develops a crush on her handsome art gallery owner boss, Greg (Banderas), while Roy, a novelist nervously awaiting the response to his latest manuscript, becomes moonstruck over Dia (Pinto), a mystery woman who catches his gaze through a nearby window.â€¨
• Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole
Zach Snyder (dir), Jim Sturgess, Hugo Weaving, David Wenham
[Warner Bros. Pictures]
Soren is a young Barn Owl who lives in the peaceful forest of Tyto. Kidnapped and brought to the foreboding St. Aegolius Academy for Orphaned Owls, Soren must face certain challenges — including taking his first-ever flight — on a dangerous adventure that leads to the mythical Great Ga’Hoole Tree, where he and his friends Gylfie, Twilight, and Digge look to fight a great evil in their world.
• You Again
Andy Fickman (dir), Kristen Bell, Odette Yustman, Sigourney Weaver, Betty White
[Walt Disney Pictures]â€¨
When Marni (Bell) realizes her brother is about to marry the girl who bullied her in high school (Yustman), she sets out to expose the fiancée’s true colors.
Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps
Oliver Stone (dir), Shia Lebeouf, Michael Douglas, Carey Mulligan, Josh Brolin
[20th Century Fox]
Fallen stockbroker Gordon Gekko (Douglas) teams up with a young Wall Street trader (LaBeouf), who’s mentor was recently murdered, to track down the killer and warn others about an impending massive financial meltdown.â€¨
In this sequel to the 1987 film, Michael Douglas reprises his Oscar-winning role of Wall Street greed merchant, Gordon Gekko. Fresh out of jail after a lengthy jail term due to his exploits in the first film, Gekko had initially tried to warn the financial establishment about an impending crash brought on by Wall Street misdeeds. When that fails, he decides to focus on repairing his relationship with his estranged daughter, Winnie (Carey Mulligan), who blames him for the suicide of her brother. Shia LeBeouf plays Jacob, Winnie’s fiance and a young stock trader, who seeks a mutually beneficial relationship with Gekko: he’ll help Gekko get back over with Winnie if Gekko will help him seek revenge on a hedge fund manager, whom Jacob believes is responsible for the death of his mentor.
Good or Bad: I’m leaning towards good. Gekko is one of Douglas’ signature roles and I think there’s still interest, even 23 years later, on how his story will play out. Plus, his return is timelier than a Rolex right now. Having the youngster du jour in LaBeouf to do the heavy lifting also doesn’t hurt. Still, Stone’s best movies tend to be the ones he writes, which he didn’t do this outing. After being publicly flogged for Alexander, Stone looked to have gotten back on track with W., and in this, his first sequel, hopefully he’ll find some comfort in familiar surroundings.
Uncle Mitch Says: “I’m greedy for Carey Mulligan…”
• Buried (limited)
Rodrigo Cortes (dir), Ryan Reynolds
Paul (Reynolds) is a U.S. contractor working in Iraq. After an attack by a group of Iraqis he wakes to find he is buried alive inside a coffin. With only a lighter and a cell phone it’s a race against time to escape this claustrophobic death trap.
• Howl (limited)
Rob Epstein, Jeffrey Friedman (dir’s), James Franco, Mary-Louise Parker, Jon Hamm, Jeff Daniels, David Strathairn
It’s San Francisco in 1957, and an American masterpiece is put on trial. Howl, the film, recounts this dark moment using three interwoven threads: the tumultuous life events that led a young Allen Ginsberg to find his true voice as an artist, society’s reaction (the obscenity trial), and mind-expanding animation that echoes the startling originality of the poem itself. All three coalesce in a genre-bending hybrid that brilliantly captures a pivotal moment-the birth of a counterculture.â€¨
• It’s Kind of a Funny Story (limited)
Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck (dir’s), Emma Roberts, Zach Galifianakis, Lauren Graham
A clinically depressed teenager gets a new start after he checks himself into an adult psychiatric ward.â€¨
• Waiting for Superman (limited | documentary)
Davis Guggenheim (dir)
Filmmaker Davis Guggenheim reminds us that education “statistics” have names: Anthony, Francisco, Bianca, Daisy, and Emily, whose stories make up the engrossing foundation of WAITING FOR SUPERMAN. As he follows a handful of promising kids through a system that inhibits, rather than encourages, academic growth, Guggenheim undertakes an exhaustive review of public education, surveying “drop-out factories” and “academic sinkholes,” methodically dissecting the system and its seemingly intractable problems.
…and look for weekly installments covering the remaining months of the year….