Mark Neveldine & Brian Taylor
Gerard Butler, Michael C. Hall, Logan Lerman, Ludacris, Kyra Sedgwick
Gamer Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor are the Michael Bay of skaterat sleaze. Never content to deliver the standard action movies to the big screen, they bloat their titles with excess unknown to even the celluloid papa of the already tired Transformers. After leading musky man machine Jason Statham through two installments of the sensational cinematic crack known as Crank, the boys have wandered over into the sci-fi arena with this confounding combination of future shock, video games, and Running Man like social commentary. While few outside the studio have seen the effort (Lionsgate is treating the film like a late Summer blockbuster, though they won’t screen it in advance), what’s clear is that Neveldine and Taylor may have dropped most of their camera crazed gimmickry to deliver a straight ahead bit of thrills. With 300‘s Gerard Butler on hand as the hero, they could very well succeed.
Jason Bateman, Ben Affleck, Kristen Wiig, Mila Kunis, J.K. Simmons
Hopefully, the third times the charm for animator/filmmaker Mike Judge. After two less than successful attempts at making his live action efforts as popular as his cartoon titles (Beavis and Butthead, King of the Hill), he’s back with another satiric slice of life, this time featuring Jason Bateman as a small businessman with a world of problems. His wife won’t sleep with him. His extract plant employees are shiftless and angry. One has been horribly injured in a freak accident, and though he doesn’t plan on suing, a temp girl named Cindy (Mila Kunis) is stirring up trouble. While Office Space and Idiocracy went on to be cult hits on home video, Judge is hoping for a little more mainstream love this time around. With his Coen Brothers Lite approach, he might just get it.
Àlex Pastor &David Pastor
Chris Pine, Piper Perabo, Christopher Meloni
Alex and David Pastor are a couple of Spanish filmmakers making their American feature film debut with this tale about a deadly virus, a group of traveling young people, and the moral dilemmas they face when they realize there’s no avoiding the oncoming pandemic. Designed as a pre-Halloween fright film but clearly imbued with a strong sense of character and conscience, many have hailed it as a clever complement to Danny Boyle’s brilliant 28 Days Later. With Star Trek‘s Chris Pine as one of the leads and some favorable festival buzz, this could be a genre-specific sleeper. It could also be the kind of well meaning movie that gets lost in the post-Summer stumble to refocus the industry landscape.
All About Steve
Sandra Bullock, Bradley Cooper, Thomas Haden Church, Ken Jeong, DJ Qualls
All About Steve
Sandra Bullock remains an amiable acting enigma. She seems to excel at Romantic Comedies, delivering laughs and heartfelt fun with such titles as The Proposal, Two Weeks Notice, and Miss Congeniality. But she’s really known for her more accomplished work with turns in that ‘other’ Truman Capote film Infamous, Oscar winner Crash, and chick flicks like Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. Now comes what is perhaps the most bizarre performance of her entire career. Playing pseudo-psycho dorkette Mary Horowitz, self-proclaimed crossword freak and puzzle creator, Ms. Bullock drops all pretty girl pretense to play blatantly awkward, ditzy, and dense. Paired up with The Hangover‘s Bradley Cooper, the results are a surreal satire in which stalking becomes an excuse for possible soulmates. It will be interesting to see if the same audience that embraces her wistful side buys a more farcical façade.
Eli Wallach, Annie Parisse, Lawrence Pressman, Ronald Guttman Victoria Clark
It’s Holocaust time again, about 10 months too late. Last year, the Cineplex was swarming with stories based in and around Hitler’s heinous Final Solution. Now filmmaker Jeremy Davidson wants to focus on a footnote to said genocide - the tale of Hungarian Rudolph Kasztner’s collusion with Adolph Eichmann to save several hundred Jews in exchange for his silence and support. Tying it to a modern story featuring Eli Wallach as an old man suffering from dementia, and the troubled family that uncovers the truth about their dad’s involvement with Kasztner, Davidson hopes the horrors of such a revelation will lead to a more universal sense of understanding and healing. Some critics believe his film succeeds. Others believe it’s an important facet of history homogenized by an unnecessary update.