Fall Movie Guide: September 2011 – Week 1

Week 1: September 2nd, 2011

Title: Apollo 18

Story: Cory Goodman

Writer: Brian Miller

Director: Gonzalo Lopez-Gallego

Decades-old found footage from NASA’s abandoned Apollo 18 mission,
where two American astronauts were sent on a secret expedition,
reveals the reason the U.S. has never returned to the moon.”

Found footage has become a genre all its own, and while catering primarily to the horror genre, Apollo 18 is a sci-fi take on the horror found footage film. Spanish director Gonzalo Lopez-Gallego only has credits on Spanish-language films and this will be screenwriter Brian Miller’s first feature film credit.

After the creepy trailers and lack of a cast list, many are wondering what this film is all about. With movies like Cloverfield and Atrocious the most important part of selling a found footage film is keeping the details under wraps. Despite many preview screenings (and I heard there were some recuts) the basic plot of this film remains unknown to most.

So far, all we know from the advertising is that Apollo 18 was a manned space mission to the moon, but something went horribly wrong on it, which is why we (the general public) don’t know about the further missions to the moon.

With any found footage film, you can guess there will be a monster, an alien, or something similar, since that’s how so many found footage films have went recently. However, I’m not so convinced that it’s that simple, as the advertising has me a bit stumped on what to guess at. With a genre that grows increasingly predictable with each movie, I can’t complain about my lack of knowledge about this film.

Made for relatively little money, Apollo 18 is sure to turn a profit, but in the meantime, I hope we get an entertaining film at the very least. The lack of anyone recognizable only lends more credibility to the found footage premise; however, it can also have negative effects on the film if the actors are absolutely terrible.

Apollo 18 releases this Friday, September 2nd, 2011, from Dimension Films and The Weinstein Company in theaters nationwide.

Title: The Debt

Based on the film Ha-Hov written by Assaf Bernstein & Ido Rosenblum

Screenplay: Matthew Vaughn, Jane Goldman and Peter Straughan

Director: John Madden

Starring: Helen Mirren, Tom Wilkinson and Sam Worthington

“The espionage thriller begins in 1997, as shocking news reaches retired Mossad secret agents Rachel (Helen Mirren) and Stefan (Tom Wilkinson) about their former colleague David (Ciarán Hinds). All three have been venerated for decades by their country because of the mission that they undertook back in 1966, when the trio (portrayed, respectively, by Jessica Chastain, Marton Csokas, and Sam Worthington) tracked down Nazi war criminal Vogel (Jesper Christensen) in East Berlin. At great risk, and at considerable personal cost, the team’s mission was accomplished – or was it? The suspense builds in and across two different time periods, with startling action and surprising revelations.”

The Debt is a film that has fallen under the radar of many film fans, but it is a film I want to see. Based on the film Ha-Hov (The Debt 1997) from Israel, this remake was originally written by the screenwriting team of Matthew Vaughn and Jane Goldman, the team behind such films as Stardust, Kick-Ass, and X-Men: First Class, who have had a nice rise in Hollywood the past few years. Their script was rewritten by Peter Straughan, the man behind the scripts for The Men Who Stare at Goats, How to Lose Friends and Alienate People, and this year’s hotly anticipated Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.

Director John Madden first made a big splash with Shakespeare in Love, and has since done a wide array of different films, from Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, the thriller Proof, and an excellent adaptation of Elmore Leonard’s book Killshot. He has proven himself to be a capable director, and with an excellent cast (at least Helen Mirren, Cirian Hinds and Tom Wilkinson) on hand, he’s sure to come up with something interesting.

When three retired Mossad agents, who have been retired for years, learn that one of their greatest missions might not have been accomplished in the way they thought it was. The film will cut between present day, where the three are retired, to the past, 1966, where they are portrayed by younger actors, and the mission to catch Nazi war criminal Vogel is underway. The film will intercut between the two time periods, showing what the trio did in 1966, and cutting back to present day, showing how those actions affect the people currently.

Backed by a stellar cast, with a capable director, The Debt is sure to be a slam-bang thriller with a brain. Cirian Hinds rarely appears in television or films, but when he does, he seems to only make the best choices, while I’m sure he has many at his fingertips. Wilkinson and Mirren tend to do more films, but they again mostly make smart choices, appearing in consistently entertaining and smart films.

The Debt is rated R, and releases wide on Friday, September 2nd, 2011 coming from Focus Features, a label that has consistently put out quality films over the past few years.

Title: A Good Old Fashioned Orgy

Written & Directed by: Alex Gregory & Peter Huyck

Starring: Jason Sudeikis, Leslie Bibb and Tyler Labine

“A group of 30-year-olds who have been friends since high school attempt to throw an end-of-summer orgy.”

So far, the word on A Good Old Fashioned Orgy is positive. The cast is strong with comedy actors, supported by comedians like Nick Kroll, Will Forte, and Martin Starr to round things out. The title is the draw for most people, I can’t think of a film before it with the word “Orgy” in the title. However, I think audiences will be surprised at the intelligence on display in the script. Jason Sudeikis is still a rising star, and this role sounds like it’s right up his alley. He’s playing the wild man in this film, as opposed to his usual roles as the straight man. His character, Eric, likes to throw “White Trash” themed parties, he is the epitome of the modern man-boy, stuck in adolescence permanently. His best buddy Mike, played by the always hilarious Tyler Labine hops on board his idea to throw a Labor Day orgy right away.

Don Johnson plays Sudeikis’ father, who is selling his house in the Hamptons. To celebrate, Eric and Mike start organizing an orgy with their friends from high school to celebrate. When Eric meets Kelly (Leslie Bibb), who is selling his father’s house, he does everything he can to convince her to come. Meanwhile, his therapist (Lake Bell) thinks it’s a disaster waiting to happen, that is, until she breaks up with her boyfriend and decides that an orgy is just what she needs.

While the premise may sound (and it might even be) ridiculous, the film has garnered praise for the likeable cast, and the hilarious sketch-style comedy. In a summer landscape that hasn’t had a comedy hit since The Hangover Part II, I think people will be ready to laugh at this one, and I think the title will draw them in, but hopefully the quality will keep them coming.

Co-writers/directors Alex Gregory and Peter Huyck were staff writer for TV shows like King of the Hill and the classic HBO series The Larry Sanders Show after spending a good portion of their time writing for David Letterman’s late night show. They have the pedigree to make good comedy, but we’ll see if together they come up with something different and funny.

Releases wide September 2nd, 2011 from Samuel Goldwyn, don’t miss the last comedy hit of the summer.

Title: Shark Night 3D

Writers: Will Hayes and Jesse Studenberg

Director: David R. Ellis

Starring: Joel David Moore, Sara Paxton and Dustin Milligan

“A weekend at a lake house in the Louisiana Gulf turns into a nightmare for seven vacationers as they are subjected to fresh-water shark attacks.”

Director David R. Ellis has become the modern big-budget exploitation master, with his past films like Snakes on a Plane, Cellular, and Final Destination 2 (the best in the series), along with the mediocre The Final Destination.

Here, he returns to the schlock where he seems to excel the most. He’s working with a young, little-known cast. Dustin Milligan achieved his greatest fame on the most recent incarnation of 90210. His main co-star, Sara Paxton first gained notice in Superhero Movie, but she has recently caught the attention of horror fans in films like the 2009 remake of The Last House on the Left and Ti West’s upcoming horror hit The Innkeepers. Of course, to round things out, genre veteran Joel David Moore is in the mix to keep everyone on the level and probably to add some humor that the movie wouldn’t work without.

Taking a new spin on a classic tale is the rage lately, and Ellis is not one to shy away from a media event or name-only hype for his films. Yes, it’s Jaws meets Pirahna 3D, but if you’re paying for a ticket, that’s what you’re expecting, right?

The most unfortunate part is the rating, with a PG-13, we know there won’t be much gore in the film, but with shark films, that hasn’t mattered in the past. Jaws is of course a pre-PG-13 rating PG, but the only similar film I can think of to compare to would be the now-cult Deep Blue Sea which was rated R for graphic attacks. So we might lack graphic attacks, but there’s no denying this still could be a ton of fun.

Shark Night 3D might lack some of the things the main audience for it seeks, but there’s no denying that with Ellis at the helm, things will be light and cheesy, and it may prove to be a fun time at the movies.

Shark Night 3D opens September 2nd,2011 in theaters nationwide, from Relativity Media, right in time for back to school, and final lake-based vacations, I guess.

Stay tuned for Week 2, which will be posted on Friday!

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