CHIMPANZEE || Disneynature continues to produce quality work, but the marketing of this film is horrible, setting up real-life nature like a bad sitcom. “Caught” on tape for the “first time”, Chimpanzee follows an abandoned chimpanzee who is taken in by a lone chimpanzee. I am curious how this aspect of primate mentality works, but I really can’t justify sitting in a theater and watching what is basically a zoo on a movie screen. Sure, it’s taking place in their actual habitat, but with Disney just churning these films out and focusing on single groups of animals, I have completely lost interest in these ventures.
THE LUCKY ONE || None of Nicholas Sparks’ adaptations (save for maybe The Notebook), can live up to their trailers. The Lucky One is no different. We are told the entire story, or all that we really need to know, we can make a pretty safe bet as to how the film will turn out, and with all the best moments highlighted and the gorgeous music of The Fray, nothing can really top the emotional prowess delivered by this advertising. The good news for the studio: this will get every sappy, love-struck female in the seats of the theater for this film, the bad news: these films will just keep coming. The adaptations of Sparks’ novels are usually hit or miss for me. Out of the now seven adaptations, A Walk To Remember, The Notebook, and Dear John are really the only films I can handle and that’s mainly for the actors, not really the story playing out behind them. Will I see The Lucky One? Probably on DVD, because I’m a hopeless romantic. If I had girlfriend that wanted to see this in the theater, I would take her in a heartbeat. But there’s something sad about a dude seeing this with other dudes. Plus, this looks to be one of Sparks’ more improbable and melodramatic pieces yet, though nothing could be worse than The Last Song…
DARLING COMPANION || Fun fact of the day: did you know that the same man that penned The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, and Raiders of the Lost Ark also penned Body Heat, The Bodyguard, and his newest drama, Darling Companion? After almost a decade long hiatus, Lawrence Kasdan has returned to write, direct, and produce this over-the-hill drama. Not a huge fan of these coming-of-age dramas for the older generations, this film is lost on me. Personally, the trailer comes off a lot like bratty women yelling and screaming about a lost dog that they found on the freeway. Though I also don’t necessarily agree with Kevin Kline’s character, who loses the dog, this whole film appears heavily overdramatic and therefore not my cup of tea. A great cast is ultimately wasted on mid-to-low level drivel from a once great writer.
DOWNTOWN EXPRESS || OH DEAR GOD… In the opening moments of the trailer, I thought this was going to be a documentary about a set of musicians that play symphonies in the subway systems. It had the qualities of a documentary, the close-ups of a documentary, and felt like a full-fledged introspective look at real people. Boy was I wrong. Not only does this film feel like a gigantic joke, there is literally no way I would see this film.
FIGHTVILLE || MMA popularity is on the rise and with that comes countless stories of men trying to make it in the cage. Fightville is a documentary following some of those men and their stories of how they got there, why they love fighting, and what will happen to them after stepping into the ring. I enjoy my fair share of combat, but with the overwhelming amount of fighting media coming to theaters and television, it all starts to look the same.
GOODBYE FIRST LOVE || There is something about Sundance films that just beckon me and with Goodbye First Love portraying the adolescence of love, it will be hard not to catch this film at some point. A independent foreign film, Goodbye First Love depicts a young woman as she falls in love with a young man. When he heads to South America, leaving her behind, she is left to fend off the emotions of first-time heartbreak. The trailer gives off a sense of nostalgia for me and leads me to believe this will be a very authentic love story.
THE HIGHEST PASS || Winner of several awards worldwide, The Highest Pass is a documentary about a group of people that attempt spiritual awakening by driving motorcycles through the highest pass of the Himalayas. A bit too preachy for my liking, that appears to be the only element of the film that could keep it from becoming Academy Award material. Also, there are so many different ideas playing out in the trailer, it is hard to keep straight what exactly will be the underlying thread that holds this film together. On one hand, there’s a man with a prophecy regarding his own death, and on the other, the down-to-earth, reality checks in the form of the actual dangers on this particular road. I am interested to see what this award-winning film has to offer, but probably not until it reaches me for free.
HOW I BECAME AN ELEPHANT || I am impressed that the narrator and activist in this documentary is a fourteen year old girl, but with almost every documentarian trying to vie for their animal of choice, it is hard to see any difference between a documentary about saving elephants and any other documentary about saving an animal that is going extinct. Don’t mistake this statement as me not caring about the dying elephant population, because I do care. The world should be aware of the wrongful actions that masses of people participate in and I think The Cove documentary about saving dolphins did this extremely well. But when every other documentary is about a dying population of a certain animal, it becomes watered down. So, while I approve of the message and hope it reaches the appropriate ears, I will probably not be seeing this film anytime soon.
IN THE FAMILY || The trailer for In The Family is an example of bad marketing. Now, I agree that independent advertising has to be handled differently than big budget, theatrical advertising, in most cases, but this trailer fails on just about every level. The first thirty seconds of the trailer is text. The text is different blurbs of reviews about the film and even those reviews do not sell the movie very well. When the trailer actually does begin, it is just a man talking and what appears to be random single shots of the different people in the film. Not only does the two minute trailer feel like 20 minutes, but by the end it, you still have no clue what it is supposed to be about. And to be completely honest, I could care less.
JESUS HENRY CHRIST || Jesus Henry Christ is my independent film pick of the week. With a great cast, unique plot-line, and what looks to be some wonderfully handled graphics, especially for an independent drama, the film looks to go above and beyond. The humor appears reminiscent of Wes Anderson and even the camera angles give an Anderson vibe. The young boy in this film is what basically sells the film. Too often films try to pass off the wrong young actors as extremely intelligent, but I actually believe that Jason Spevack is child genius. I am truly hoping he gets some recognition for this role and I am also hoping this film lives up to its trailer.
MARLEY || Having won an Academy Award for his documentary work on a film entitled One Day In September, Kevin MacDonald releases his latest documentary about the legend of Bob Marley. With unseen footage and unheard tracks, Marley is receiving rave reviews from critics and just by watching the trailer and hearing Marley send his message and good vibes, there’s no real reason this can’t be a great film. Releasing the film on April 20th, or 4/20, was a great marketing plough and I will be interested to see how this film does over the weekend.
MY WAY || What sells this film is the graphics. What doesn’t sell this film? The overdramatic voice-over narration, the generic music attempting to force the viewer to feel a certain emotion, and an overall, straight-to-DVD feel to the entire production. From the start of the trailer, I wanted to like this film, but by the end of the advertisement, there is little chance I will be seeing this film.
OVERNIGHT || OH DEAR GOD… First of all, two ODG’s this week… Second of all, what is this film? A woman flies to Los Angeles to be with her what appears to be her boyfriend, but finds out he’s seeing some else. So she flies back and meets someone on the flight. But wait, then mix in the stories of several other passengers and the pilots for some reason and the film takes on this odd and extremely random feel to it. Add some blatant racism and some fucked up joke with a dog landing in an airplane toilet and this is one of the dumbest films I have ever witnessed.
THINK LIKE A MAN || I feel as though iTunes Trailers knew how much I didn’t want to see this film, because the trailer would not even play. However, upon traveling “across the street” to YouTube, the film doesn’t look as bad as I thought it would. That being said, there’s not much going for it either. Playing off like a Tyler Perry version of Valentine’s Day or New Year’s Eve, the stories look way over-exaggerated and uninteresting. The cast intrigues me, with Meagan Good, Regina Hall, Jerry Ferrera, and Gabrielle Union all looking to bring something unique to the otherwise lackluster comedy and even Kevin Hart adds some flare to the film and supplies just enough humor in the trailer to spike my interest.
TO THE ARCTIC || Two nature films released in the same weekend? Whatever am I to do? Well, to be honest, I am not quite sure what awards he’s won for being the “award-winning director of Everest, but Greg MacGillivray releases a film about animals in the arctic, “cleverly” titled To The Arctic (a slight step up from… Chimpanzee). This film, like Everest, is shot in IMAX format, so at least it has that going for it, but other than that, I think I’ll stick to the Discovery channel programming for all animal documentaries.
Jesus Henry Christ
The Lucky One
Goodbye First Love
The Highest Pass
Think Like A Man
How I Became An Elephant
In The Family
To The Arctic
Nothing great, but here are some additional releases this week: