Saturday, December 17, 2011

What's New in Blu? (Week of Dec. 20)

“Dolphin Tale” (PG)
Starring Harry Connick Jr., Ashley Judd, Nathan Gamble, Kris Kristofferson, Cozi Zuehlsdorff and Morgan Freeman
Directed by Charles Martin Smith

“Margin Call” (R)
Starring Kevin Spacey, Paul Bettany, Jeremy Irons, Zachary Quinto, Penn Badgley, Simon Baker, Mary McDonnell, Demi Moore and Stanley Tucci
Directed by JC Chandor

“Midnight in Paris” (PG-13)
Starring Kathy Bates, Adrien Brody, Carla Bruni, Marion Cottilard, Rachel McAdams, Michael Sheen, Owen Wilson
Directed by Woody Allen

“Straw Dogs” (R)
Starring James Marsden, Kate Bosworth, Alexander Skaarsgard, Dominic Purcell, Laz Alonso, Willa Holland and James Woods
Directed by Rod Lurie

“Warrior” (PG-13)
Starring Joel Edgerton, Tom Hardy, Jennifer Morrison, Frank Grillo and Nick Nolte
Directed by Gavin O’Connor

Sunday, December 11, 2011

What's New in Blu? (Week of Dec. 13)

“City of God” (R)
Starring Alexandre Rodrigues, Matheus Nathergaele, Leandro Firmino
Directed by Fernando Meirelles

With the Olympics coming to Brazil in 2016, it’s safe to say this movie won’t be promoted by the country’s board of tourism, as it tells a tale of crime and poverty in a particularly violent suburb over parts of three decades. Adapted from a novel by Paulo Lins, director Fernando Meirelles’ crime drama pulsates with energy and eye-catching visuals.

It features a cast mostly made up of local Brazilians, some from the very neighborhoods where the filming takes place. It could be seen, in part, as a Brazilian version of “Goodfellas.” But the locale itself differentiates it from that Oscar winner, producing a rare glimpse into making tough life choices when the options and opportunities are scarce.
Grade: A

“Fright Night” (R)
Starring Anton Yelchin, Colin Farrell, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, David Tennant and Toni Collette
Directed by Craig Gilespie

“Kung Fu Panda 2” (PG)
Starring the voices of Jack Black, Angelina Jolie, Dustin Hoffman, Gary Oldman, Jackie Chan, Seth Rogen, Lucy Liu, David Cross
Directed by Jennifer Yuh

“Rise of the Planet of the Apes” (PG-13)
Starring James Franco, Freida Pinto, John Lithgow, Brian Cox, Tom Felton, Andy Serkis
Directed by Rupert Wyatt

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Movie review: "The Descendants"

Starring George Clooney, Shailene Woodley, Beau Bridges, Judy Greer
Directed by Alexander Payne

First off, Alexander Payne should make movies more often. Seven years since winning an Oscar for co-writing the screenplay for “Sideways,” the writer-director has finally made his follow-up. And much like the great 2004 comedy-drama following a pair of men on a road trip into California’s wine country, “The Descendants” takes viewers on another journey of discovery that mixes laughs in with serious domestic upheaval.

Matt King (George Clooney), a workaholic lawyer in Hawaii, finds himself faced with some mighty big dilemmas as the story begins. His wife has fallen into a coma after a tragic speedboat crash, leaving him with the task of stepping up as a father to their two children: Scotti (Amara Miller), a 10-year-old with attitude to spare, and 17-year-old Alexandra (Shailene Woodley), who is just barely able to keep her anger and disappointment in her parents under the surface.

Learning early on from doctors that his wife’s condition will not improve, Matt goes to retrieve Alexandra from boarding school (finding her there drunk), and sets out with his children to break the bad news to family and friends. The painful process for Matt is unexpectedly complicated when he learns his wife was in the midst of an affair prior to her accident, setting him off on an obsessive hunt to discover who she was involved with.

As if his domestic drama wasn’t enough, a big decision was already weighing on Matt’s mind before his wife’s accident, involving the potential sale of 25,000 acres of prime real estate on one of the islands. As the primary beneficiary, Matt holds all the cards as to whether his family (including a large assortment of cousins) makes off like bandits by selling the pristine property to real estate developers. It’s a burden he probably could have done without at this exact point in his life.

Like Payne’s prior efforts, “The Descendants” moves at a relaxed pace, allowing time for the personalities and intentions of the characters to emerge. Clooney, leaving his almost trademarked charm at the door, strikes the right cord with a performance that could have easily veered off into scenery chewing, given the complexity of emotions required for his character. He’s matched consistently by Woodley (a newcomer to movies) as the eldest daughter, swimming through resentment at her mother and a wary skepticism of her father being able to keep their family unit together.

Balancing a steady dose of comedic moments with tragic drama isn’t easy to pull off. Most movies fail in this regard, lapsing into cheap sentiment and melodrama. But “The Descendants” finds a comfortable balance that manages to surprise at times, remaining effectively funny and moving, while staying true to the flawed nature of the characters.

Grade: A
(Rated R for language including some sexual references.)

Sunday, December 04, 2011

What's New in Blu? (Week of Dec. 6)

“Cowboys and Aliens” (PG-13)
Starring Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Olivia Wilde, Sam Rockwell, Adam Beach, Paul Dano, Noah Ringer
Directed by Jon Favreau

“The Debt” (R)
Starring Helen Mirren, Sam Worthington, Jessica Chastain and Tom Wilkinson
Directed by John Madden

“The Hangover Part II” (R)
Starring Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, Ken Jeong, Jeffrey Tambor, Justin Bartha and Paul Giamatti
Directed by Todd Phillips

“The Help” (PG-13)
Starring Jessica Chastain, Viola Davis, Bryce Dallas Howard, Allison Janney, Octavia Spencer, Emma Stone
Directed by Tate Taylor

“Mr. Popper’s Penguins” (PG)
Starring Jim Carrey, Carla Gugino, Angela Lansbury, Ophelia Lovibond, Madeline Carroll, Clark Gregg, Jeffrey Tambor
Directed by Mark Watters

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Back from hiatus

After a long hiatus, this site is back online and ready to get back into discussions of all things cinematic. Sorry for the absence, as movies were still a part of my life over these past few months. Just writing about them wasn’t. Can I use writer’s block as an excuse? (No? OK, fine.)

Anyway, for those of you who have visited here before, welcome back. I’m sure you’re noticing a different look to the presentation. Gone are the rather outdated links from the old site, and a more eye-catching look (at least I think so). Some more tweaks might be in the works once updates get rolling again.

And for those who’ve never graced me with your presence previously, welcome aboard. This site will try to fill that void in your life — you know, the one missing the guy telling you a bunch of stuff about movies you may or may not have ever seen or heard of before. Or telling you what things you can go rent or have streamed onto the electronic device of your choosing. You might not even know it’s a void in your life. But trust me, it is!

What’ll be coming in the next few weeks is still being tweaked, but count on previews (complete with trailers, which will be the best part of some of these movies) of coming releases both in theaters and on Blu-ray, occasional movie news items and reviews of films from yesterday and today. If you’ve got comments and suggestions for the site, feel free to drop me a line in the comments section at the end of the posts.

Oh, and for you social media lovers, you can also “tweet” and “like” the posts on Twitter and Facebook. Yes, that’s right, this site has stepped into the social media world, and only several years after it should have!

Well, that’s it for now. I’ve got some movies to watch and writing to do. So enjoy the show (and the new and improved site)!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Spring Movie Preview (April 2011)

Family-oriented fare mixes in with more adult-oriented sequels in a busy April release schedule. Several of the movies have the potential to become solid hits, but the crowded field could limit their box-office impact.

“Source Code”

Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan, Vera Farmiga, Jeffrey Wright
Directed by Duncan Jones

A military airman finds himself part of a government experiment designed to allow him to briefly take over the identity of another person. He’s instructed to find a bomber on board a commuter train in the hopes of preventing an upcoming attack in Chicago. The science fiction slant on the material should work well with director Jones, who previously helmed the very good sci-fi drama “Moon.” (April 1)

Starring James Marsden, Russell Brand, Kaley Cuoco, Hank Azaria, Gary Cole, Elizabeth Perkins and Hugh Laurie
Directed by Tim Hill

The teenage son of the Easter Bunny decides to head to Hollywood to pursue his dream of becoming a drummer, only to be hit by a car driven by an unemployed slacker. He then takes the rabbit in, unaware of what he’s getting into. The live-action/CGI hybrid is certainly smart to capitalize on its pre-Easter release date. (April 1)

“Your Highness”
Starring Danny McBride, James Franco, Natalie Portman, Zooey Deschanel, Justin Theroux, Toby Jones, Damian Lewis
Directed by David Gordon Green

This comedy is a bit of a reunion between “Pineapple Express” director Green and two of that film’s stars (McBride and Franco), with the actors portraying brothers who embark on a quest to save their father’s kingdom. They are joined along the way by a warrior princess (Oscar-winner Portman), with very little likely to be historically accurate. Then again, that’s not really the point of a movie like this. (April 8)

Starring Russell Brand, Helen Mirren, Greta Gerwig, Geraldine James, Luis Guzman and Jennifer Garner
Directed by Jason Winer

While the initial thought of a remake of the excellent 1981 comedy starring Dudley Moore and Liza Minnelli held little promise, perhaps some judgment should be reserved, as this film at least looks to be avoiding a scene-for-scene retread. Oscar-winner Mirren takes over the role of the billionaire playboy’s butler (for which John Gielgud won an Academy Award of his own). (April 8)

“Scream 4”
Starring David Arquette, Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, Emma Roberts, Hayden Panettiere
Directed by Wes Craven

Picking up a decade after the last film’s action, the fourth film in the “Scream” franchise brings back the main trio of stars for another run-in with the Ghostface Killer. Killings start again in town when Sidney Prescott (Campbell) returns to promote a new book of hers. Filmmakers are reportedly looking at releasing another two films in the series if this one is successful. (April 15)

Starring the voices of Jesse Eisenberg, Anne Hathaway, Leslie Mann, Jamie Foxx, Jemaine Clement, George Lopez
Directed by Carlos Saldanha

The creators of the “Ice Age” franchise are back with more talking computer-animated animals, with this story focusing on a rare species of macaw who heads to Rio de Janiero to follow another macaw to win her heart. Having tapped into great success with the “Ice Age” films, its likely that these birds should be flying high at the box office throughout the rest of the spring movie season. (April 15)

“Water for Elephants”
Starring Reese Witherspoon, Robert Pattinson, Christoph Waltz, Hal Holbrook
Directed by Francis Lawrence

The popular historical novel of the same name by Sara Gruen gets adapated for the big screen with “Twilight” star Pattinson playing the part of a veterinary student who, after a personal tragedy, decides to work for a circus as a veterinarian. It’s there that he falls for an equestrian star (Witherspoon), the wife of a charismatic, yet cruel animal trainer (Waltz). The book has a passionate following which should equate to a strong audience turnout, provided it remains fairly faithful to its source material. That would probably sound like a familiar statement to Pattinson, who knows plenty of trying to please a ravenous fan base. (April 22)

“Fast Five”
Starring Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges and Dwayne Johnson
Directed by Justin Lin

Proving there may be no end to an action movie franchise that already had a thin premise to start with, “Fast Five” marks the fifth entry in what started as “The Fast and the Furious.” The central stars, Diesel and Walker, are joined by another tough action star (Johnson, portraying an FBI agent) on the trail of the street racing crew. Fair warning: A sixth film in the series is already under development. (April 29)

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Winter movie preview (February 2011)

With the Academy Awards looming later in the month, February releases don’t have terribly high box office expectations. Still, there are occasional breakout hits that emerge from the month, particularly around Valentine’s Day.


Starring Richard Roxburgh, Rhys Wakefield, Alice Parkinson, Dan Wyllie and Ioan Gruffudd
Directed by Alister Grierson

An action-thriller focusing on a group of underwater cave divers is heavily promoting the involvement of filmmaker James Cameron (“Avatar”), who is one of the film’s producers. The story, which mostly has a cast of unknowns, will likely not appeal to claustrophobic people, as much of the action takes place in cramped caverns, as the divers struggle to find their way out after their original exit is cut off by a flash flood. (Feb. 4)

“Just Go With It”
Starring Adam Sandler, Jennifer Aniston, Brooklyn Decker, Nick Swardson, Nicole Kidman and Dave Matthews
Directed by Dennis Dugan

The frequent collaborating team of star (Sandler) and director (Dugan) are together again in a romantic comedy that involves a single guy looking to land a beautiful schoolteacher (Decker). He enlists the aid of his office assistant (Aniston) and her two children to pose as his ex-wife and kids to cover a lie of his. Ignoring the unrealistic aspects of the story (of which there would seem to be many), can the movie deliver laughs, and end a disappointing box office skid for Aniston? (Feb. 11)

“Justin Bieber: Never Say Never”
Directed by Jon Chu
Bieber fever looks to invade movie theaters, as the teenage music star gets his own documentary, with plenty of footage from his 2010 concert tour. It also includes reflections from the star on his relatively young career. For those of you who’ve been eagerly anticipating seeing Bieber in 3D (and you know who you are), now’s your chance. (Feb. 11)

“I Am Number Four”
Starring Alex Pettyfer, Timothy Olyphant, Teresa Palmer, Dianna Agron, Callan McAlliffe, Kevin Durand
Directed by D.J. Caruso

A highly exceptional teen takes refuge from a deadly alien enemy in a small town in an action-packed science fiction film that has Michael Bay (“Transfomers”) as one of its producers. So with Bay on board, you can expect things will blow up real good, but will a good story follow? (Feb. 18)

Starring Liam Neeson, Diane Kruger, January Jones, Aidan Quinn and Frank Langella
Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra

A couple of years ago, Neeson starred in an unexpected box-office hit, “Taken,” that reinvented the actor in an action hero. Clearly, filmmakers are hoping for the same result here, with the star in another action-thriller as a man who goes into a coma following a car wreck. He awakens to find his identity stolen by another man (Quinn) and his own wife (Jones) not even recognizing him. This sets him out on a desperate search to find out why. (Feb. 18)

“Drive Angry”
Starring Nicolas Cage, Amber Heard, William Fichtner, Billy Burke, Charlotte Ross, Christa Campbell and David Morse
Directed by Patrick Lusser

The constantly working Nicolas Cage is back playing another intense character looking for revenge. He plays Milton, a felon on the hunt for a cult who murdered his daughter and kidnapped his granddaughter. Needless to say, he’s in a foul mood, and will stop at nothing to catch them. Maybe not the best family flick of the season, but action fans looking for a “Mad Max” kind of film might get some satisfaction. (Feb. 25)

“Hall Pass”
Starring Owen Wilson, Jason Sudekis, Jenna Fischer, Richard Jenkins and Christina Applegate
Directed by Peter Farrelly and Bobby Farrelly

A pair of best friends (Wilson and Sudekis) who feel their marriages have become a little stagnant are given an unexpected gift by their wives – a “hall pass,” allowing them a week of freedom to do whatever they want in a comedy from the directors of “There’s Something About Mary.” The Farrelly brothers certainly have familiarity with this kind of humor and the cast is appealing, which could produce a late winter hit. (Feb. 25)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Oscar nominations overview

Few surprises were revealed yesterday when nominations for the 83rd annual Academy Awards were announced. Still, there’s a lot of good quality films that shared in the nominations, with “The King’s Speech” leading the way with 12 nods, followed by “True Grit,” with 10. While there is some carry over in nominations from the Golden Globes and the Oscars, just to highlight their difference, “True Grit” didn’t pick up a single nomination at the Globes.
Here’s some of the nominees in the major categories of the awards show, set for Feb. 27 on ABC:
Best Picture
“127 Hours”
“Black Swan”
“The Fighter”
“The Kids Are All Right”
“The King’s Speech”
“The Social Network”
“Toy Story 3”
“True Grit”
“Winter’s Bone”
A strong field of films fills this category, which was expanded to 10 nominees last year. The only surprise for some prognosticators (which shouldn’t be a surprise at all) would be the inclusion of the great, low-budget indie, “Winter’s Bone.”

Best Actress
Annette Bening - “The Kids Are All Right”
Nicole Kidman - “Rabbit Hole”
Jennifer Lawrence - “Winter’s Bone”
Natalie Portman - “Black Swan”
Michelle Williams - “Blue Valentine”
All five of these actresses got Golden Globe nominations, with Bening and Portman winning in separate categories at the awards show. Both are seeking their first Oscar. Actually, Kidman is the only one to have received one previously.

Best Actor
Javier Bardem - “Biutiful”
Jeff Bridges - “True Grit”
Jesse Eisenberg - “The Social Network”
Colin Firth - “The King’s Speech”
James Franco - “127 Hours”
Bridges and Firth were both nominated in this category last year, with Bridges taking home his first Oscar for “Crazy Heart.” But Firth is the one who’s been picking up a ton of awards this season.

Best Supporting Actress
Amy Adams - “The Fighter”
Helena Bonham Carter - “The King’s Speech”
Melissa Leo - “The Fighter”
Hailee Steinfeld - “True Grit”
Jacki Weaver - “Animal Kingdom”
Somebody here will be taking home their first Oscar in what is typically a highly competitive category.

Best Supporting Actor
Christian Bale - “The Fighter”
John Hawkes - “Winter’s Bone”
Jeremy Renner - “The Town”
Mark Ruffalo - “The Kids Are All Right”
Geoffrey Rush - “The King’s Speech”
This category is often the most competitive, with various upsets over the years, including nominations. Hawkes getting a nomination here speaks to the popularity of “Winter’s Bone” with the Academy, which would seem to have squeezed out Andrew Garfield of “The Social Network.”

Best Director
Darren Aronofsky - “Black Swan”
Joel and Ethan Coen - “True Grit”
David Fincher - “The Social Network”
Tom Hooper - “The King’s Speech”
David O. Russell - “The Fighter”
It seemed the bigger news after the nominations were announced was who wasn’t in this category, namely Christopher Nolan (“Inception”). Presumably, the Coens would have taken a nod away from him, not that the Oscar-winning brothers are any kind of slouch themselves.

Best Original Screenplay
Mike Leigh - “Another Year”
Scott Silver, Paul Tamasy, Eric Johnson and Keith Dorrington - “The Fighter”
Christopher Nolan - “Inception”
Stuart Blumberg, Lisa Cholodenko - “The Kids Are All Right”
David Seidler - “The King’s Speech”
With Nolan missing out in the directing category, this might be a chance for him to get some love from the Academy.

Best Adapted Screenplay
Simon Beaufoy, Danny Boyle - “127 Hours”
Aaron Sorkin - “The Social Network”
Michael Arndt, John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich - “Toy Story 3”
Joel Coen and Ethan Coen - “True Grit”
Debra Granik and Anne Rosellini - “Winter’s Bone”
Sorkin has been cleaning up during the awards season, but could an upset be possible here with other nominees having won writing Oscars before?

Monday, January 17, 2011

Golden Globes wrap-up

Few, if any, surprises emerged from Sunday’s Golden Globes broadcast – unless you count the television categories, as several perceived upsets occurred. But I’ll just be covering the movies side of the award show, so below is a recap of the main categories of the night. As for the broadcast itself, it was fairly entertaining, with host Ricky Gervais showing an utter fearlessness at skewering Hollywood and various celebrities – both in attendance and not. To be honest, not all of the jokes were very funny, while others were mean-spirited (and I’m a Gervais fan), but at least he wasn’t boring. Still, I’m imagining he won’t be back for a third go-around at the awards show next year. Not that he’d probably want to anyway.

Best Motion Picture - Drama
“Black Swan”
“The Fighter”
“The King’s Speech”
“The Social Network” - Winner
With its win in the final award presented for the night, “The Social Network” would appear to be the favorite for Oscar’s top prize. Still, momentum is fleeting in Hollywood, so time will tell if it has legs to the Academy Awards broadcast at the end of next month.

Best Actress - Drama
Halle Berry - “Frankie and Alice”
Nicole Kidman - “Rabbit Hole”
Jennifer Lawrence - “Winter’s Bone”
Natalie Portman - “Black Swan” - Winner
Michelle Williams - “Blue Valentine”
No surprise here, as Portman takes home the award in a deep and impressive field.

Best Actor - Drama
Jesse Eisenberg - “The Social Network”
Colin Firth - “The King’s Speech” - Winner
James Franco - “127 Hours”
Ryan Gosling - “Blue Valentine”
Mark Wahlberg - “The Fighter”
As expected, Firth got the Globe in another strong acting field. He’s been winning consistently this awards season, with obviously one big one still to come – making the safe assumption that he will be nominated for an Oscar.

Best Motion Picture - Comedy or Musical
“Alice in Wonderland”
“The Kids Are All Right” - Winner
“The Tourist”
Another easy choice for the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, “The Kids Are All Right” has been loved by critics and Oscar nominations should come soon.

Best Actress - Comedy or Musical
Annette Bening - “The Kids Are All Right” - Winner
Anne Hathaway - “Love and Other Drugs”
Angelina Jolie - “The Tourist”
Julianne Moore - “The Kids Are All Right”
Emma Stone - “Easy A”
Speaking of “Kids,” Bening took home the film’s second Golden Globe of the night, beating out Moore, her co-star, among others.

Best Actor - Comedy or Musical
Johnny Depp - “Alice in Wonderland”
Johnny Depp - “The Tourist”
Paul Giamatti - “Barney’s Version” - Winner
Jake Gyllenhaal - “Love and Other Drugs”
Kevin Spacey - “Casino Jack”
Perhaps the only surprise in the movie portion of the awards show, Giamatti beat out HFPA favorite Depp twice in the same category, in the little-seen “Barney’s Version.” Still, this win translating into an Oscar nomination for Giamatti would be a substantial shocker.

Best Supporting Actress
Amy Adams - “The Fighter”
Helena Bonham Carter - “The King’s Speech”
Mila Kunis - “Black Swan”
Melissa Leo - “The Fighter” - Winner
Jacki Weaver - “Animal Kingdom”
In another category of co-stars competing against each other, Leo was victorious for her role as a domineering mother/manager of her boxing son in “The Fighter.”

Best Supporting Actor
Christian Bale - “The Fighter” - Winner
Michael Douglas - “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps”
Andrew Garfield - “The Social Network”
Jeremy Renner - “The Town”
Geoffrey Rush - “The King’s Speech”
Bale brought home another acting win for “The Fighter” in what was a very competitive field. The same should be likely for the Oscars, with the British actor looking like a front-runner – again, assuming he’s nominated.

Best Director
Darren Aronofsky - “Black Swan”
David Fincher - “The Social Network” - Winner
Tom Hooper - “The King’s Speech”
Christopher Nolan - “Inception”
David O. Russell - “The Fighter”
The shutout for “Inception” continued in this category with Fincher receiving the award for his work on “The Social Network.”

Best Screenplay
Simon Beaufoy, Danny Boyle - “127 Hours”
Christopher Nolan - “Inception”
Stuart Blumberg, Lisa Cholodenko - “The Kids Are All Right”
David Seidler - “The King’s Speech”
Aaron Sorkin - “The Social Network” - Winner
This seemed like the best category for “Inception” to get an award, but Sorkin’s highly-praised screenplay earned him the Golden Globe. All told, “The Social Network” grabbed four awards at the show, making it the biggest winner for the evening.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Winter movie preview (January 2011)

After the big Oscar push by Hollywood in the last couple of months of the year, January can often seem anticlimactic when it comes to the release schedule. But there are usually at least a couple films that have breakout hit potential during the month. But the number of releases certainly are scaled back.

“Season of the Witch”
Starring Nicolas Cage, Ron Perlman, Stephen Campbell Moore, Claire Foy and Christopher Lee
Directed by Dominic Sena

The ever-busy Nicolas Cage heads up the cast of a 14th century-set film in which he plays a Crusader returning to his homeland, which has been devastated by the Black Plague. He is given the task of taking a suspected witch to a monastery, with the hopes that the monks there can bring an end to the plague. Well, the subject matter certainly isn’t going to get audiences rushing to theaters. (Jan. 7)

“The Green Hornet”
Starring Seth Rogen, Jay Chou, Christoph Waltz, Cameron Diaz, Edward James Olmos, David Harbour and Tom Wilkinson
Directed by Michel Gondry

Sony Pictures would love nothing more than to have a new franchise launched with this adaptation of what started as a radio program in the 1930s. Seth Rogen stars as Britt Reid, a bit of a ne’er-do-well, until his father’s murder leads him into newfound responsibilities and a superhero alter-ego. The cast and director, Michel Gondry (“Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”) holds promise, but its release date being moved to mid-January is a bit troubling. (Jan. 14)

“The Dilemma”
Starring Vince Vaughn, Kevin James, Jennifer Connelly, Winona Ryder, Channing Tatum and Queen Latifah
Directed by Ron Howard

It’s surprisingly been more than a decade since director Ron Howard’s last comedy (“How the Grinch Stole Christmas”), but he’s certainly shown a knack for the genre in previous efforts (such as “Parenthood”). Stars Vaughn and James are also quite familiar with comedies, playing Ronny and Nick, a pair of best friends and business partners. That relationship gets put to the test when Ronny (Vaughn) finds out Nick’s wife (Winona Ryder) is cheating on him, putting him in the unenviable spot of determining when, or if, he should say something. This is another of those films that seems odd to have missed out on the holiday movie season, especially when considering Howard and Vaughn were two of the film’s producers. (Jan. 14)

“The Company Men”
Starring Ben Affleck, Chris Cooper, Kevin Costner, Tommy Lee Jones, Maria Bello, Rosemarie Dewitt, Craig T. Nelson
Directed by John Wells

A hotshot business executive (Ben Affleck) is taken by surprise when he’s swept up in a round of cuts at work, and struggles to find employment elsewhere. Writer/director John Wells is making his directing debut with this timely tale of corporate downsizing, featuring an all-star cast. The Weinstein Company picked up the movie after its debut at the Sundance film festival last January, but hasn’t been able to settle on a release date until now. Maybe. (Jan. 21)

“No Strings Attached”
Starring Natalie Portman, Ashton Kutcher, Cary Elwes and Kevin Kline
Directed by Ivan Reitman

Coming off her success of “Black Swan,” it seems surprising to see Natalie Portman in what would seem to be, at least at first glance, such a conventional romantic comedy. She and Ashton Kutcher (who is in danger of being trapped in this genre) play casual friends who aim to keep their relationship purely physical. Take a wild guess at what likely happens next? (Jan. 21)

“The Mechanic”
Starring Jason Statham, Ben Foster, Donald Sutherland, Tony Goldwyn, James Logan, Mini Anden, Jeff Chase, Christa Campbell
Directed by Simon West

A coolly calculated assassin (Jason Statham) finds himself on a mission for vengeance when his friend and mentor is murdered. He’s joined on the journey by his mentor’s son (Ben Foster), who seeks to learn some killing skills of his own. The film is a remake of a 1972 Charles Bronson action flick, and can hopefully bring something original to what is a rather warmed over plot. Statham is certainly no stranger to this kind of part, as he seems to portray an assassin in every other movie he does. (Jan. 28)

“The Rite”
Starring Anthony Hopkins, Colin O’Donoghue, Alice Braga, Ciaran Hinds, Toby Jones
Directed by Mikael Hafstrom

In this supernatural thriller, a young seminary student (Colin O’Donoghue) is asked to attend an exorcism school at the Vatican. Naturally, demonic forces are awaiting him, along with an unorthodox priest (Anthony Perkins). Supposedly inspired by actual events, Mikael Hafstrom (“1408”) directs what could be a sleeper hit or maybe just a sleeper. (Jan. 28)