I’m really hoping to get a break from unpacking to go see the film Steven Soderbergh has said will be his last. Soderbergh’s work is always, always interesting, whether he’s going indie arthouse (Che; Sex, Lies and Videotape) or blowing up the box-office with smart takes on popular genres (Oceans 11-13, Erin Brockovich,Magic Mike). (Yes, Magic Mike was a smart film, and a surprisingly moralistic one. It’s a fascinating gender flip on the hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold trope. I’ll write about that some time.) With Side Effects, Soderbergh picked a great team to go out on. The screenplay is written by previous Soderbergh collaborator Scott Z. Burns (Contagion, The Informant!), and it stars Rooney Mara (The Social Network, The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo), Channing Tatum, Jude Law and Catherine Zeta Jones.
The story is a pharmacological thriller of sorts, focusing on the unforeseen consequences a new prescription drug has on a young woman’s life. The film currently has an 82% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Peter Travers, for Rolling Stone, writes “Side Effects is a hell of a thriller, twisty, terrific and packed with surprises you don’t see coming.”
The Valentine’s Day movie-going season is upon us, for worse or for worse. Fortunately, the first lovey-dovey date film I have to announce features brain-eaters. Warm Bodieshas a couple other things going for it, too. First, it’s directed and adapted (from the Isaac Marion novel) by Jonathan Levine, who was behind one of my favorites from 2011, 50/50. Secondly, it stars the charming (and fully grown up) Nicholas Hoult, who I’ve been following sinceAbout a Boy. And, as mentioned, zombies. Can love bridge the undead-notyetdead gap? I am really looking forward to finding out. Rotten Tomatoes has the unique rom-com at 73% right now. The New York Times‘s Manohla Dargis writes, “‘Warm Bodies’ is an improbable romance sweetened with appealing performances and buoyed by one of the better cute meets in recent romantic comedy…”
If you’ve still got Best Picture nominees to check off your list, by all means make that your Saturday mission. I’ve yet to make it to Les Miserables, which is on my to-do list for the upcoming long weekend. But if you’d like a break from all things gold, this weekend has some new releases that will offer the opposite of Oscar bait.
For starters, Best Actress nominee Jessica Chastain is sporting a mainstream goth look in Mama. Produced by elegant-scare-master Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth, Hellboy)and directed by newcomer Andrés Muschietti, the film tells the story of a couple who takes in their feral nieces. Scary things ensue, of course. (Would y’all stop taking in your feral nieces? Nothing good can come of it.) Early reviews on Rotten Tomatoes (only 42% fresh as of writing) makes it clear that this is no Zero Dark Thirty, but classic horror lovers should possibly take note. Hollywood Reporterwriter Todd McCarthy says, “Mama represents a throwback and a modest delight for people who like a good scare but prefer not to be terrorized or grossed out.” Hmmmm. That sounds a little like me.
“Hey girl, are you going to see Gangster Squad this weekend? I’m giving myself cancer for the sake of historical accuracy and everything.”
This star-laden period piece is directed by Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland, 30 Minutes or Less) and written by Castle-scribe Will Beall, based on the book by Paul Lieberman. It tells the story of how a small team of LAPD officers fought mob-boss Mickey Cohen for control of Los Angeles.
Written and directed by Quentin Tarantino (Pulp Fiction, Inglourious Basterds, Kill Bill) Starring Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington, Samuel L. Jackson, Don Johnson and more.
Apatow has stuffed his “sort of sequel” to Knocked Up(focusing on the lives of supporting characters Pete and Debbie as they navigate middle age and a maturing marriage) with a who’s who of hilarious folk. Jason Segal, Charlyne Yi, Michael Ian Black, Lena Dunham, John Lithgow, Melissa McCarthy, Albert Brooks…the list goes on and on and on. I might go to this one just to find out how Ryan Adams (playing himself) finds his way onto this cast list. Of course, I tend to like the sticky sweet hearts of Apatow’s super-crass-on-the-outside comedies.
Let’s do this, guys. Pack up your second breakfast and get your furry feet to a theatre tomorrow! Here’s a rundown on your Hobbit viewing choices (HFR 3D, IMAX 3D, RealD 3D and classic 2D). Find tickets to a local theatre here.
Bad Pitt fans rejoice: this film has nothing to do with Channel No. 5. Based on the trailer, I’d venture to guess that the world of Killing Them Softly smells more like burnt rubber, rain on gas-soaked streets and stale cigarette smoke.
The film is adapted and directed by Andrew Dominik (The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford) from the book Cogan’s Trade by George V. Higgins. After some rookies rob a mafia card game, enforcer Jackie (Brad Pitt) is hired to bring the local underworld back to status quo. The crime movie has a stellar supporting cast, including Richard Jenkins (I kept wanting to call the tiger in Life of PiRichard Jenkins, instead of Richard Parker), Ray Liotta, James Gandolfini and Scoot McNairy.
Life of Pi
Directed by Ang Lee, adapted by David Magee, starring Suraj Sharma
Based on the absolutely riveting book by Yann Martel, Life of Pi is being eagerly anticipated by book clubs that are curious how its magical realism plot (a young man is shipwrecked and stranded with a Bengal tiger) will translate to screen. Oscar-winning director Ang Lee (Sense and Sensibility, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Brokeback Mountain) is known for his genre-hopping, poetic vision.