Jennifer Garner, Ty Burrell, Olivia Wilde, Rob Corddry, Ashley Greene, Alicia Silverstone, Hugh Jackman
Competitive butter sculpting? Surely, we are scrapping the bottom of the churn with this one, right? Well, not so fast. This has the Weinstein seal of approval and it’s directed by She’s Out of My League‘s Jim Field Smith. More importantly, the script placed third on Hollywood’s Blacklist of most popular unproduced screenplays. So there’s hope. Even the cast makes one smile, including Jennifer Garner, Hugh Jackman, Rob Corddry, and Olivia Wilde. Still, competitive butter sculpting? Such an odd subject for an ensemble comedy, but we’re keeping an open mind.
Matthew McConaughey, Zac Efron, John Cusack, Nicole Kidman, David Oyelowo, Macy Gray, Scott Glenn
On the surface, it sounds like a standard ‘issues’ movie: a pair of reporters decide that a Death Row inmate is probably innocent, and decide to exonerate him in the press (and get some personal publicity along the way). What they run into is a sexy siren who corresponds with the prisoner, and a whole bunch of wonky evidence. But once you see the cast, the setting, and the filmmaker (Precious’ Lee Daniels), you instantly recognize the seedy Southern Gothic twang. This sounds like a sensational potboiler. The response at Cannes was less than enthusiastic.
Charlie Tahan, Frank Welker, Winona Ryder, Catherine O’Hara, Martin Short, Martin Landau, Robert Capron, Atticus Shaffer
Tim Burton is an auteur in transition. After the sensational adaptation of Sweeney Todd, he’s been treading water. Sure, Alice in Wonderland was a huge international hit, but his take on the kitschy ‘60s Gothic soap Dark Shadows failed to win over most fans. So it’s interesting that he’s decided to go back to his roots and ‘resurrect’ his 1984 stop motion short subject for a full length animated feature in the same style. The tale surrounds an unusual boy who uses classic Universal cleverness to raise his late dog from the dead. Naturally, things don’t go as planned.
Anna Kendrick, Brittany Snow, Anna Camp, Rebel Wilson, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Skylar Astin, Freddie Stroma, Alexis Knapp
The chorus. The glee club. The swing choir. Who knew that audiences were so interested in the lives, loves, and low notes of high school Broadway wannabes? In this case, we have a stogy all girls a capella group who constantly lose out to the reigning champs - a bunch of boys. Enter Anna Kendrick as Beca, the knowing new gal who wants to shake things up and radicalize their set list. Though based around a non-fiction novel, this sounds a lot like Bring It On with a melody. Perhaps that was the ‘pitch.’
Ethan Hawke, Vincent D’Onofrio, James Ransone
Oh boy, more found footage. At least this time, however, we are spared an entire narrative based around some first person POV and instead follow an author (Ethan Hawke) who discovers a bunch of home movies in the attic of a house known as the sight of an infamous massacre. Apparently, the films show a ghoulish figure who preys on the souls of children. On the plus side, it’s being directed by Scott Derrickson, the man responsible for The Exorcism of Emily Rose. On the negative side, he also handled the unnecessary Day the Earth Stood Still remake.
Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Famke Janssen, Rade Šerbedžija
Liam Neeson signs up for another big payday, and the fanbase is in a froth. For many, this is great, great news. For others, an important creative change could make all the difference. Instead of Pierre District 13 behind the lens, the directing duties have been turned over to one… Olivier Megaton. Aside from never living up to his surname, this filmmaker is responsible for such rotten fare as Hitman, Columbiana, and Transporter 3. Still, as long as he remains a FoB (friend of producer Luc Besson), he’s got a job. Let’s see if he can keep it after this.
Adam Wingard, David Bruckner, Ti West, Glenn McQuaid, Joe Swanberg, Radio Silence
With Sinister, we complained about the whole horror as found footage dynamic. Well, here we go again. This time, a weird collection of genre wannabes show up to illustrate their filmmaking flash. The premise has a group of criminals breaking into a house to find a mysterious video tape. From there, we get an anthology approach, each short ‘story’ using the first person POV gimmick. While many still complain about such stunts, the reviews have been uniformly positive. Maybe, like Chronicle, this is one of those anomalies that find the cinematic value in such specious storytelling.