Fall Movie Guide: November 2011 – Week 2

Immortals

Written by Charley Parlapanides & Vlas Parlapanides

Directed by Tarsem Singh

Starring Henry Cavill, Mickey Rourke, and John Hurt

“Theseus is a mortal man chosen by Zeus to lead the fight against the ruthless King Hyperion, who is on a rampage across Greece to obtain a weapon that can destroy humanity. “

Following the wave of resurgent sword and sandal epics like 300 and Clash of the Titans, director Tarsem Singh has tried his hand at the genre, with the up-and-coming actor Henry Cavill starring as Theseus, this is your first glimpse at the next Superman in a big budget action film.  However, the visuals are very reminiscent of other recent sword and sandal epics, and the story is very similar in theme to Clash of the Titans, which made money, but cost a large chunk to get there.  It’s getting a sequel however,  so the studio sees something in the genre, and good films have proven to be good moneymakers.

Mickey Rourke stars as King Hyperion, who is ruthlessly trying to destroy humanity, who has to face off against Theseus under the direction of Zeus (Luke Evans).  The trailers make it out to be a big-time actioner, but after seeing Tarsem‘s most recent films, I don’t know if that will be the case.  He can do big visuals, but he often sticks to more abstract ideas that tend to be less action based, and more “what the hell was that?” scenes jammed together.

With a script developed by the studio, it will be interesting to see which side things fall on.  If the movie is at the least entertaining, it will do fine at the box office.  Jeremy said “Visually, Immortals is a perfect companion piece to sit next to Zack Snyder‘s 300. ” so that is encouraging news.  Read the rest of his review right here.

Rated R.

Check out the trailer right here:

Jack and Jill

Based on the book by Ben Zook

Written by Steve Koren

Directed by Dennis Dugan

Starring Adam Sandler, Katie Holmes, and Al Pacino

“Family guy Jack Sadelstein prepares for the annual event he dreads: the Thanksgiving visit of his identical twin sister, the needy and passive-aggressive Jill, who then refuses to leave. “

Somehow, the trajectory of Adam Sandler’s career has gone completely downhill, but in exchange, he is making the most money he’s ever made.  When people speak of Hollywood conspiracies, abnormalities like the continuance of Sandler’s career make me wonder, and his increasingly bizarre choice of roles is beginning to scare me.  Here, he re-teams with longtime cohort Dennis Dugan for the latest in their string of output together which has Sandler playing two roles,  his typical “nice guy that acts like an asshole” father and on the other side, his overweight, unbearable sister Jill in a fatsuit and wig.

Yes, Sandler is serious, this is not a trailer from Tropic Thunder.  If you can swallow this amount of ridiculousness, then I’m sure it’s the regular Sandler fare, some laughs amongst a ton of fart humor and fat jokes, with a heart and a happy resolution in the end.

Wilson said “If there is anyone whose career this movie ruined more, it would be Adam Sandler himself.”  Read the rest of his review right here. If you still want to see it after watching this trailer, well, we can’t stop you.

Rated PG.

London Boulevard

Based on the novel by Ken Bruen

Written and Directed by William Monahan

Starring Colin Farrell, Keira Knightley, and Ray Winstone

“An ex-con hired to look after a reclusive young actress finds himself falling in love, which puts him in direct confrontation with one of London’s most vicious gangsters. “

This film has been sitting on the shelf a good while now, and is finally getting a very limited theatrical run this weekend from IFC.  With any luck, and the quality of word of mouth (which should be generally positive) it will hopefully continue to expand and find an audience.  From William Monahan, Oscar-winning screenwriter of The Departed, this is his first directing gig and he has absolutely knocked it out of the park, in my opinion.  A lot of people will probably compare London Boulevard to In Bruges because of the dry humor and nature of the character Farrell is playing, but it has a sly slickness to it at the same time.

Funny and violent, the good news is I thought it was in the same class as In Bruges, even if In Bruges is ultimately the better movie.  London Boulevard is an impressive directorial debut from Monahan, and I hope that the delays didn’t kill the enthusiasm for this movie, which got praise a while back when it was on the festival circuit.  If you see this one playing near you, and you like dark humor or crime films, I recommend this one.  Watch for my review later in the week.  Check out the trailer below.

Rated R.

J. Edgar

Written by Dustin Lance Black

Directed by Clint Eastwood

Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Armie Hammer, and Naomi Watts

“As the face of law enforcement in America for almost 50 years, J. Edgar Hoover was feared and admired, reviled and revered. But behind closed doors, he held secrets that would have destroyed his image, his career and his life. “

Leonardo DiCaprio makes some odd choices, but they generally end up playing into his favor, even if the roles aren’t perfect and he’s not dripping with Oscars.  However, he manages to get involved with the best directors alive on a continuing basis, so no one can really question the guy’s process very hard, for some reason it just works.  Here, he takes on another period biopic, this time portraying national lawman J. Edgar Hoover, leader of what became the FBI for 50 years, all the while hiding his own personal demons behind closed doors while using the secrets of others to get what he needed.

With a script by Oscar-winning Dustin Lance Black (Milk) and the legendary Clint Eastwood behind the camera, DiCaprio has everything going for him, he just needs to make the final push to sell the life story.  The trailers look epic, but at the same time, I question some of the old age make up choices, and as I often do, I wonder if DiCaprio listens to the accents he uses or not.

Rated R.  See for yourself:

Melancholia

Written and Directed by Lars Von Trier

Starring Kirsten Dunst, Charlotte Gainsbourg, and Keifer Sutherland

“Two sisters find their already strained relationship challenged as a mysterious new planet threatens to collide into the Earth. “

Lars Von Trier has made what has become his most controversial film, since it’s the one he took to Cannes where he made comments that set the world media on the warpath to crusade against him.  All those silly comments aside, his latest is also being called one of his most mainstream, it’s another drama featuring interesting photography and big ideas.

As his films always do, Melancholia has divided people pretty well between those that hate it and others that see deep emotional explorations of human interaction.  Being Von Trier, this comes as no surprise.  For those unfamiliar, he’s a very polarizing filmmaker, and most of his films are either loved or hated, so it’s nothing new.  Recommended to those into art film, but beyond that, general audiences probably won’t find much worth coming back to.

Rated R.  See the trailer right here:

11-11-11

Written and Directed by Darren Lynn Bousman

Starring Timothy Gibbs and Michael Landes

“After the death of his wife and child, an author travels to Barcelona to see his estranged brother and dying father, where he learns that his life is plagued by events that occur on 11/11/11. “

Many things can sell a movie, and a once-in-a-lifetime date has seemingly sold this film beyond the audience that would have seen it if it were sold like any other horror film, which it ultimately is.  Saw franchise vet Darren Lynn Bousman takes a crack at something different with this film, the trouble is it isn’t a whole lot different from other religious horror films.

For fans of The Order, and those obsessed with made-up conspiracy theories, 11-11-11 offers little in the way of big plot ideas, but a lot in atmosphere and design.  In my review, I said “how a date can be the sole basis for a horror film’s plot is beyond me, but that’s the concept Bousman rolled with.”  To read the rest of it, click right here, especially if you like to look at the possible lovechild of Jon Hamm and George Clooney.

Rated PG-13.  See the trailer below.

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