Releases for the week of November 23:
*just so you know, I wasn't really compelled to write anything last week because the releases were pretty much limited to The Twilight Saga: New Moon and Planet 51 and the Sandra Bullock weepy, The Blind Side... so here are some picks that look a lot more promising.
Me & Orson Welles
- Dir. Richard Linklater; Zach Efron, Christian McKay,
Ben Chaplin, Claire Danes.
Graduating from the stage of High School Musicals, Efron plays a young thespian looking for a break on the Great White Way, and fins himself landed a role in "Julius Caesar" directed by a young Orson Welles. McKay, a relative unknown, is a ringer for the blustery genius Orson. Linklater's hot'n'cold career has
thus far produced such offerings as A Scanner Darkly, Before Sunrise/Sunset, The School of Rock & Bad News Bears ('05). Judge accordingly.
Ninja Assassin: Dir. James McTeigue; with Korean superstar Rain, Rick Yune, Naomie Harris (Tia Dalma from 'Pirates' films), Ben Miles.
With production by The Wachowski Brothers (the Matrix trilogy, V for Vendetta),
this story of feuding ninja clans and an orphaned boy all grow up and looking for vengeance is certain to feature plentiful slow-mo, physics defying fight sequences and minimal character development. If you're looking for 99 minutes of brain-in-neutral eye candy, you have a lot to be thankful for this week.
Old Dogs: Dir. Walt Becker; John Travolta, Robin Williams, Kelly Preston, Ella Blue Travolta, Lori Loughlin, Seth Green, with Matt Dillon, Justin Long (the Mac guy) and the final appearance of Bernie Mac.
From the director of Wild Hogs and Van Wilder, Travolta and Williams play career guys with no immediate plans on settling down with kids, when one of them is informed by his ex-wife that he does in fact have a pair 7-year-old twins.
Shenanigans and hi jinks abound. The trailer has been providing some LOL moments so this family-friendly heart warmer is sure to be safe entertainment for your kids and your parents. After the stinkers RV and License To Wed, it's obvious Williams really does need a little help from some friends.
*This is also a family project for the Travoltas, with John and wife Kelly Preton, and daughter Ella.
The Road: Dir. John Hillcoat; Viggo Mortensen, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Charlize Theron, Robert Duvall, Guy Pearce, and Canadian Molly Parker.
Based on the novel by Cormac McCarthy (All The Pretty Horses, No Country for Old Men, Blood Meridian) a father and son travels the American wasteland after a presumably global ecological catastrophe leaves most of the population dead and the environment in ruins. The story follows their trek south, looking for safe refuge from the deadly winter ahead. The Road screened to rave revues at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival, and director Hillcoat is virtually unheard of in North America, having directed a handful of films in his native Australia, as well as several music video for the likes of Depeche Mode, Siouxsie and the Banshees, and Nick Cave.
*Early teaser poster for The Road
The Princess & The Frog: Dir. Ron Clements & John Musker; Anika Noni Rose, Keith David, Jenifer Lewis, Ritchie Montgomery, Bruno Campos, Oprah Winfrey
In a return to traditional hand-drawn cell animation, Disney brings back a couple of guys who know how to do it right - Directors Clements and Musker have collaborated on a number of Disney classics since The Great Mouse Detective,
including The Little Mermaid and Aladdin. This time out the story is set in 1920's New Orleans, in the heart of the jazz age. A young woman sets out to establish her own business, and a little night magic causes her to cross paths with a talking frog. If you've ever seen one Disney movie, you know how the story unfold from there - songs, someone who embodies evil with totality, more talking animals and a fairy tale ending. Great for the kids but with a jazzy soundtrack, should appease parents and adult animation enthusiasts with a fresh, jazzy soundtrack. Oh yeah... songs by Randy Newman... take that for what you will.
Fantastic Mr. Fox: Dir. Wes Anderson; George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Wallace Wolodarsky, Eric Chase Anderson.
All the usual Anderson suspects are here, but now they're represented by hand-made stop-motion puppets covered in real hair and clothe costumes. In this retelling of Roald Dahl's beloved classic story, Clooney's the voice behind the Fox, an established mammal looking to provide for his family, primarily by raiding the stores of three nearby farmers who are in turn on to his dirty deeds and plan to do him harm. Anderson has blended the 39 year old story with his 'could only be a soap opera' style to make the trials of the Fox family and friends a little more metropolitan and give the story a little more weight and beef up the running time. It'll be like Life Aquatic mashed-up with Team America without the fart jokes. Excellent.