Spring Movie Guide: March 2012 – Week 4

The Hunger Games

Based on the novel by Suzanne Collins

Screenplay by Suzanne Collins and Gary Ross and Billy Ray

Directed by Gary Ross

Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Wes Bentley, Elizabeth Banks, and Woody Harrelson

“Set in a future where the Capitol selects a boy and girl from the twelve districts to fight to the death on live television, Katniss Everdeen volunteers to take her younger sister’s place for the latest match.”

The latest “big thing” in young adult fiction rumbles to the big screen in epic fashion.  Well, at least the advertising says so, and in this country, that’s enough to convince most people to go see a movie.  Suzanne Collins‘ series of novels have taken over the Twilight crowd’s interest while the last entry in the Twilight series lays in wait for a release later this year.  There has been a lot of criticism from internet critics about its reliance on mythos plucked from everything from The Running Man to Battle Royale to Spartacus.  The author will argue otherwise, saying its a coming together of ideas she got while watching a show about Roman gladiators and the Iraq war.

None of that matters to Lionsgate, as their cash cow has arrived, with enough of a built in audience to make a run at The Dark Knight Rises‘ opening weekend box office record.  While there might not be much interest from older audiences, they will still go see it based on the national fervor over the film, and the sweeping popularity of the series of novels.  Director Gary Ross takes a step outside his comfort zone with this one, but he’s proven he can make money and stay true to source material, and his take is what will probably bring in some older audiences.

Courtney saw the movie earlier in the week, you can read her review right here.

The film opens wide from Lionsgate and is rated PG-13.


4:44: Last Day on Earth Written & Directed by Abel Ferrara

Starring Willem Dafoe, Shanyn Leigh, and Natasha Lyonne

“A look at how a painter and a successful actor spend their last day together before the world comes to an end.”

Exploitation filmmaker Abel Ferrara returns to narrative filmmaking with an interesting experiment in the medium, a minimal take film that plays more like a film.  Many critics have criticized the film  for being a meandering mess, but everyone agrees that Willem Dafoe does his standard job of coming through with interesting acting choices, while others wonder what Ferrara’s fascination with male genitalia really means.

This one will be hitting limited theaters this weekend, and it sounds to me like a different take on the themes explored in Lars Von Trier‘s Melancholia, which I found to be a failed experiment in the genre of doomsday films.  I don’t imagine there will be a ton of interest for this one, I expect it will peter out quickly and go to home video quickly.

I couldn’t find a rating for this one, but IFC Films will be putting it out in a few theaters this weekend.

The Raid: Redemption

Written & Directed by Gareth Evans

Starring Iko Uwais

“A SWAT team becomes trapped in a tenement run by a ruthless mobster and his army of killers and thugs.”

The Raid: Redemption has made a big splash at film festivals across the planet, and it finally hits some limited theaters this weekend.  The insane Indonesian Silat film from a Welsh director takes full advantage of its concept, advertised as “100 minutes of straight action”, and based on early reviews, that’s exactly what it is.  The trailer is pure insanity across the board, introducing the film world to Silat in the way that Ong Bak introduced the world to Muay Thai.

Director Gareth Evans has an interesting story of how he ended up making the film, and he has expressed plans to make it into a trilogy, and of course, there is an American remake in development already.  See this one first, and hopefully it will expand beyond the limited release once people fall in love with the crazy action.

Rated R, releasing from Sony Pictures Classics.

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