Sunday, December 27, 2009

Winter 2009 Movie Preview (Part 1)

As the big holiday movie season wraps up, January is often used by movie studios as a spot in the schedule to place films that didn’t fit anywhere else. The quality of the month’s roster can certainly vary from year to year, but gems can still be discovered.

“Youth in Revolt”
Starring Michael Cera, Portia Doubleday, Jean Smart, Mary Kay Place, Justin Long, Steve Buscemi
Directed by Miguel Arteta

Adapted from a series of books by C.D. Payne, “Youth” stars Michael Cera (“Juno”, “Superbad”) as a youth who creates an imaginary alter ego to help him win the heart of his dream girl (newcomer Portia Doubleday). Cera’s got a little bit of a fanbase, but it’s tough to see this appealing to a wide audience. (Jan. 8)
Official Web site

“Leap Year”
Starring Amy Adams, Matthew Goode, Adam Scott and John Lithgow
Directed by Anand Tucker

With a string of quality films under her belt in recent years, Amy Adams takes on what looks to be her most conventional role yet. Hopefully, the movie can rise above what sounds like a tired premise of a woman secretly following her longtime boyfriend to Ireland to propose to him on Leap Day. She meets up with an innkeeper (Goode) to help execute her plan. (Jan. 8)
Official Web site

“The Book of Eli”
Starring Denzel Washington, Gary Oldman, Mila Kunis, Michael Gambon, Malcom McDowell
Directed by Albert and Allen Hughes

The Hughes brothers have returned to directing after nearly a decade of silence (their last film was 2001’s “From Hell”). Their film focuses on a post-apocalyptic world, in which a mysterious loner (Washington) makes his way across America with a sacred book that could save humanity. Naturally, some unsavory characters (led by Oldman) desire the book as well. Washington can play the tough guy well (see “American Gangster” and “Man on Fire” for examples), so this might just work. (Jan. 15)
Official Web site

“Tooth Fairy”
Starring Dwayne Johnson, Ashley Judd, Julie Andrews, Stephen Merchant
Directed by Michael Lembeck

A rough and tumble hockey player (Johnson), nicknamed “The Tooth Fairy” for his ability to knock opponents’ teeth out, runs into trouble and is forced to serve one week as an actual tooth fairy as punishment. If the idea of “The Rock” dressed up in a tutu and wings is your idea of hilarity, then this comedy should have some appeal for you. If not, keep on moving. (Jan. 22)
Official Web site

“Extraordinary Measures”
Starring Brendan Fraser, Harrison Ford, Keri Russell, Dee Wallace
Directed by Tom Vaughn

Based on a true story, “Measures” involves the desperate search by John and Aileen Crowley (Fraser and Russell) to find a cure for a disease threatening the lives of two of their children. Ford plays a unconventional scientist tasked with taking on the difficult challenge. Films like these can tend to lean towards the melodramatic, but the true facts of the story and the solid cast will hopefully resist going in that direction. (Jan. 22)
Official Web site

“When in Rome”
Starring Kristen Bell, Josh Duhamel, Will Arnett, Jon Heder, Dax Shepherd, Danny DeVito and Angelica Huston
Directed by Mark Steven Johnson

A young woman (Bell), unlucky in love, goes to Rome for her younger sister’s wedding. While there, she takes several coins from a fountain, which mysteriously makes her the subject of romantic pursuit by four wildly different suitors. The cast is certainly appealing, but the plot seems quite hokey. Still, as far as winter time diversions in the theater, you’d could probably do worse. (Jan. 29)
Official Web site

“Edge of Darkness”
Starring Mel Gibson, Ray Winstone, Danny Huston, Bojana Novakovic
Directed by Martin Campbell

As hard as it might be to believe, this action-thriller marks the first starring role for Gibson since 2002’s “Signs.” He plays homicide detective Thomas Craven, who witnesses the murder of his only child. He begins to investigate, first uncovering his daughter’s secret life, then the shady people that had reason to have her killed. Suffice it to say, Craven gets all kinds of angry at these people. Gibson has a good track record in films as a determined man seeking the truth (“Payback” and “Ransom” among others). But will audiences embrace him after so much time away and less than flattering off-screen publicity? (Jan. 29)
Official Web site

Saturday, December 26, 2009

A New Year's Resolution

First off, apologies for such a long layoff from this site. General laziness and distractions were keeping me from updating this on a consistent basis. But as the new year – and decade – arrives, my resolution is to do a much better job of getting updates on here. (Yeah, that’s kind of lame as far as New Year’s resolutions go. I’m sure I’ll also come up with something more substantive not pertaining to this site.)

There will be more bite-size items to digest, be it entertainment news, commentary and reviews. I’ll occasionally throw in some longer form reviews, but will more often try to capsulize them to shorten my time writing them and your time reading them. Hopefully, that will get more of a volume of them posted, as there were plenty of movies I saw in 2009 with reviews that never saw the light of day. Hopefully, 2010 will be much improved on that front.

So for those of you who have semi-regularly checked in here this year (a quite small number, I’m sure), only to quickly leave due to a lack of updates, things should be different soon. For the rest of you intrepid online surfers, you didn’t miss much this year. But feel free to look back through the stupendous archives! And of course, Happy New Year to you all!

– MC