The preamble to Awards Season proper starts off with a collection of leftovers, a few failed tentpoles, some festival favorites, and at least two films centering on sex addiction and cannibalism. Now what does that say about September in general and specifically what Hollywood thinks you’ll tolerate before the Oscar bait is unleashed?
Vin Diesel, Jordi Mollà, Matt Nable, Katee Sackhoff, Dave Bautista, Bokeem Woodbine, Raoul Trujillo, Karl Urban
Apparently, a billion and a half dollars for your last two starring roles is enough commercial clout to enable anyone to resurrect a beloved old character, even one no one was really interested in revisiting in the first place. Still, Vin Diesel has always had a soft spot for alien anti-hero Richard B. Riddick, and so he’s used the fruits from his Fast and Furious fortunes to get writer/director David Twohy to go back to the failed franchise one more time. Oh sure, this brutal otherworldly warrior has been part of two previous feature films, an animated offering, and a pair of video games. Early reviews suggest the duo shouldn’t have bothered.
J. D. Salinger, Martin Sheen, Ed Norton, John Cusack, Judd Apatow
He was one of the most popular and enigmatic authors of the 20th century. He was also one of the most reclusive. Few had seen pictures of him post the success of his seminal novel A Cather in the Rye, but that doesn’t mean J.D. Salinger stopped living or writing. This documentary purports to follow the famed hermit as he lives out his last days in seclusion, scribbling away at several unpublished manuscripts and angrily protecting his privacy. Screenwriter turned documentarian Shane Salerno did exhaustive research on his subject and interviewed hundreds of people for the film. The result is supposedly overlong but intriguing.
Thomas Lennon, Robert Ben Garant
Rob Corddry, Leslie Bibb, Keegan Michael Key, Riki Lindhome, Paul Scheer, Rob Huebel, Robert Ben Garant, Thomas Lennon, Michael Ian Black, Kumail Nanjiani
Thomas Lennon and Robert Ben Garant have enough box office clout (thanks to their scripts for the otherwise ordinary Night at the Museum movies) that they can go off an make an intriguing indie horror spoof like this. Riffing on The Exorcist and Rosemary’s Baby, we meet a couple (Rob Cordrry and Leslie Bibb) who buy a dilapidated old manor in New Orleans, only to discover the place’s paranormal past. Then our heroine goes from expecting one child to being pregnant with twins… and one of the fetuses is apparently possessed by demons. Uneven and odd, it’s a million miles away from those sour Shawn Levy kiddie flicks.
Jennifer Hudson, Terrence Howard, Wendy Crewson, Elias Koteas
Quick, when you think of someone to play the iconic and controversial wife of South African savior Nelson Mandela, who comes to mind? Angela Bassett? Viola Davis? Alfre Woodard? Apparently, those sensational actresses and their amazing body of work didn’t have the necessary clout—read: Oscar in hand—to take the part. So who did producers pick? Why, none other than Jennifer Hudson. It’s one thing to glom onto the success of Jennifer Holiday in a role you more or less mimicked, but do you really have to sully the legacy of this woman and her role in eliminating Apartheid? No? Then why has this film sat on the shelf for the last three years?
Good Ol’ Freda
George Harrison, Freda Kelly, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr,
Good Ol’ Freda
She was the secretary in charge of the Beatles fan club. She was also a close personal friend of the Fab Four as well as their families. She was there are the beginning and helped wrapped things up in the end. Then, for the next 40 years, she never spoke of her involvement with the musical legends. Until now. Ryan White’s documentary is a fascinating look at the life of one of the last Beatles insider, but don’t except dirt to be dished here. This is really the story of how a young, naive 17-year-old became part of the group’s inner circle, and how why she kept quiet about it for so long.