With Halloween and all its customary horror movies behind us and long forgotten, this weekend seems to herald open season for awards contenders. Buzzed about awards-seeking films such as Danny Boyle's James Franco starring survival drama "127 Hours" opens in limited release against Tyler Perry's first possible award contender, the star-laden "For Colored Girls." Going head to head in the box office dollars race, lovable funny men Robert Downey Jr. and Zach Galifiankis tackle the road movie in "Due Date," while equally funny people Will Ferrell and Tina Fey lend their vocal talents to the animated "Megamind," for which children and their parents will turn out in droves, undoubtedly. Some interesting docs and smaller indies are also out there for anyone looking to stray off the popcorn-strewn beaten path.
Although we thought "Due Date" should have been terminated early, it's hard to argue with the winning combo of Zach G. and RDJ. Both have been on top of their game, and killing it at the b.o., with "The Hangover" and "Iron Man 1 & 2" under their belts. "Hangover" director Todd Phillips returns for this road-trip flick, however it's not the home run that those aforementioned films have been; our reviewer found it to be "limp, uninspired slush." And it seems others are in agreement, as the film stands at 39% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. Ah, well, there'll be other successes for these boys, we aren't worried about 'em. Rotten Tomatoes: 39% MetaCritic: 58
The animated flick "Megamind" will scoop up the highly lucrative parents-who-need-their-kids-to-be-silent-for-2-hours demo, and the winning combo of SNL alums Ferrell and Fey (plus Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill and David Cross) should at least make it bearable for the parents in question. Unfortunately, our review found the film lacking in story with "one hell of a scheme but can’t seem to pull it off," and the 3D that is less than memorable. However, it's hard to argue box office with an animated kid-targeted movie, and wethinks the weekend will come down to a contest between this kid-flick and late season comedy "Due Date." RT: 61% MC: 64
Tyler Perry goes for Oscar with his star-heavy film "For Colored Girls," based on the 70s play "For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf." It's Perry's first film not based on his own material, so we'll see how it turns out, though the man does have a hand for classic melodrama, and has adapted many of his own plays to the screen. We gave a defense of Perry's work when the trailer dropped, and NY Times critic Manohla Dargis is championing this newest effort, saying that Perry, "works very hard and gets it mostly right," and "sings the song the way he likes it — with force, feeling and tremendous sincerity" so we will have to see how this one plays out. It might not do "Madea" or "Why Did I Get Married" numbers (Perry's Hollywood trump card), but this film has little naked gold men in its eyes... RT: 33% MC: 49
Danny Boyle's adaptation of Aron Ralston's harrowing "127 Hours" starring James Franco trumpets the real kick-off of awards season, and is opening in limited release this week. Franco has already been touted for awards and the film itself has been universally praised. Boyle just might be making another trip to the Oscar podium with this one. Our review called it, "Lean, efficient, despairing, thrilling and ultimately life affirming," and, "deeply humane, rawly felt and astonishingly executed... one of the best films of the year." What are you waiting for?! This is going all the way to gold, in whatever fashion, so you should definitely check it out this weekend, if it happens to be playing in your city. RT: 93% MC: 84
Another based-on-a-true-story flick, "Fair Game," hits theaters today. Starring Naomi Watts as Valerie Plame Wilson, the CIA agent whose cover was compromised during the investigation of weapons of mass destruction preceding the current Iraq War. She's joined by Sean Penn, who plays her husband, Joe Wilson. Our Cannes review found the performances "rock solid" but the film itself lacking in "fresh insight," while our most current review also finds it suffers from its ending despite director Doug Liman's "energetic filmmaking." It has fairly solid reviews with the Rotten Tomatoes score at 74%, and looks to be worthwhile for historical and acting purposes alone-- we'd watch Naomi Watts and Sean Penn read the phone book. RT: 74% MC: 69
Also opening in limited release, the jihadist farce, "Four Lions" will be on screens today. The story of four would-be British terrorists who push their dreams of glory to the fullest, while the wheels fly off the bus amidst their competing ideologies, is audacious and funny, but we thought a bit slight at the end of the day when all is said and done. RT: 81% MC: 61
Meanwhile, anyone who lived in New York City during the Elliot Spitzer/Ashley Dupre scandal will be lining up to see "Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Elliot Spitzer" (or maybe they will be so sick of it they boycott). Either way, directed by Oscar winner Alex Gibney ("Taxi to the Dark Side"), it's sure to be a compelling look at power crippled by vice. RT: 95% MC: 71
Ain't it Cool News has been informing us for a week now that "True Blood" star Ryan Kwanten is a "BADASS" in "Red Hill," an Australian Western thriller about a rookie cop facing his demons with a prison break on his first day on the job. That sucks! And when we finally sat down to watch, we thought the hype was a bit of overkill. RT: 71%
In your home theaters, the Ryan Gosling/Kirsten Dunst film, "All Good Things" should be hitting Video On Demand this weekend, with a theatrical rollout beginning on December 3rd. Gosling plays real life wacky millionaire Robert Durst who maybe killed his wife! Ruh roh. Here's the trailer, and let us know if you catch it this weekend.
Also out this weekend: The utterly charming-looking music-and-dance in NYC film "Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench" RT: 75%; the doc "Making the Boys" about the making of and legacy of seminal gay play "The Boys in the Band," and you can make it a counter-culture double feature with another doc about a 60s thinker/writer/psychedelic/junkie, and check out "William S. Burroughs: A Man Within" about the "Naked Lunch" author. Another doc, the French film "Ne change rien" rocks a 100% on Rotten Tomatoes and follows singer Jeanne Balibar through the rehearsal, recording, concert and teaching process; sounds pretty awesome to us. RT: 100%; also on the documentary front is " NY Export: Opus Jazz" about "West Side Story" choreographer Jerome Robbins and a celebration of his cultural melting pot dance style, as performed by contemporary dancers. This won the SXSW 2010 Emerging Visions Audience Award and is sure to be a dance spectacle. "A Marine Story" is a film about a female Marine returning home, set against the Don't Ask Don't Tell policy (so topical!); maybe you want to check out the French flick "Outside the Law (Hors-la-loi)," the 2010 Algerian submission for the Academy Awards and the latest effort from "Days of Glory" director Rashid Bouchareb, a period WWII piece about three French Algerian brothers coming together in Paris after their lives take them on disparate paths. RT: 56%
In the post-Halloween horror canon, there's "Beneath the Dark," reminding everyone that creepy motels in Texas are never a good place to stop; "Violent Blue" tells the story of a musician locked in a birdcage by her husband (WTF?!?). And, if you love Bollywood (who doesn't? It's impossible not to) there's "Golmaal 3," which bills itself as India's first trilogy. That's weird! Anyway, is plot ever really the point in Bollywood? They'll cram in everything you need for a wondrous cinematic experience.
Have fun checking out the new flicks this weekend! We'll be holed up with DVDs of "Centurion" and "Predators" so tell us if there's anything we absolutely CAN'T MISS, k?