The 2013 Winter Movie Season Preview

Winter

Ok, boys and girls. The Holiday Season is over… and the Spring Season, full of mini Blockbusters, is still months away.

Between now and then lies Hollywood’s dumping ground. The Hollywood fields lie fallow in the winter, bearing little quality product. It’s the two months of the year we need to “Get through”. While January typically offers some limited releases from the prior year going wide, there’s typically little else to get excited over.

Will this year be different? Are there any movies to get excited about these next two months? Let’s take a look at the release slate and see what we’ve got!

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Moonrise Kingdom

With the end of the year rapidly approaching, I’ll be circling around to a handful of reviews over the next month or so that I didn’t have a chance to review when they hit the theatre initially. I’d include this in the “Under the Radar” series, but… with stars like Ed Norton, Bruce Willis, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, etc., plus a heavy national advertising campaign in spite of a slow national roll out, “Moonrise Kingdom” isn’t under the radar at all.

Still, I couldn’t wait for it to hit cable. This was one of my most anticipated movies for the year, I had to see if it was a Top Ten candidate.

The answer? It just might be.

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Looper

It’s a great feeling for a movie fan when a highly anticipated movie exceeds your expectations.

Rian Johnson’s “Looper” was one of the most eagerly awaited films of 2012. The combination of Johnson, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis, and the high concept cross-stitching of hit men and time travel held a potential that people couldn’t help but build hope for.

I’m happy to report that “Looper” delivers on its promise in a big way. It’s a sci-fi thriller with a soul. Clever, intense and original, “Looper” is easily one of the best movies of 2012 so far.

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The Cold Light of Day

“The Cold Light of Day” is the “story” of a young man whose family is kidnapped while on a sailing holiday. While he is briefly separated from them, their family sailboat is boarded and his mother, brother and brother’s girlfriend are taken. Eventually he discovers that his father (Bruce Willis) is a CIA agent, and that the family is being used as pawns in an international espionage battle over a mysterious briefcase.

Unfortunately, the brief plot description above is deeper than the shooting script the production worked off of. “The Cold Light of Day” is one of those generic, nondescript action films that give action movies a bad name.

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The 2012 Fall Movie Preview – Part I

With this weekend’s release of “The Expendables 2″ and “ParaNorman”, the summer movie season is pretty much over. One weekend remains in August, and those movies wont have much room to run before school is back in session.

Nope, the season of the big blockbuster is behind us. It’s time to look ahead to the fall.

Not to despair, though, the fall brings sharp movies for the thinking movie fan. Movies which may have more selective box office appeal, but which may be some of the best movies all year.

So click through to take a look at the first part of this year’s fall preview. Today we’ll look at the last week of August, plus September, and then we’ll come back tomorrow with October and the first week of November. Together they’ll take us right up to the start of the Holiday movie season, and the November 9th release of Skyfall!

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The Expendables 2

Two years ago, Sylvester Stallone parlayed the momentum of his comeback successes of “Rocky Balboa” and “Rambo” into the start of a new franchise, “The Expendables”. Featuring a virtual who’s who of aging action stars, “The Expendables” dealt up a heaping portion of carnage and camaraderie and proved to be surprisingly enjoyable movie. It was also successful enough to warrant a sequel.

For the return engagement, Stallone recruits additional semi-retired movie heroes (Jean-Claude Van Damme and Chuck Norris), and expands the roles of pals Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis. But would it be enough to support an already thin concept?

Fear not, “Expendables” fans, “The Expendables 2″ more than delivers on its B-movie promise of bullets, blood, and bromance.

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Now showing on cable: “Red”

Making its debut on Showtime this weekend was 2010′s “RED”, starring Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren, John Malkovich, Karl Urban and Mary-Louise Parker.

“RED” tells the story of Frank Moses (Bruce Willis), a retired CIA operative. Frank has been spending his time having flirtatious phone calls with a phone operator at the company that administers his pension. When he is suddenly targeted for elimination, he shows up at her apartment unannounced and kidnaps her… ostensibly to keep her from being eliminated due to her association with him. He also gets in contact with his old team, who are all retirees, just as he is.

Hence the title of the movie. Retired, Extremely Dangerous.

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Hollywood Mysteries: M Night Shyamalan (Part III: Still Falling)

(You can find Part I here and Part II here)

By 2008, I had completely soured on M Night. “The Lady in the Water” was that bad. I honestly had no expectations of him any more, and no anticipation of his future projects. If he was atop my favorite working directors list in 2002, he was nowhere near it in 2008.

Which is why I was surprised when trailers for his next film, “The Happening” were intriguing. It was apocalyptic looking and moody, and features that great shot he got of bodies falling through the air.

What if “The Lady in the Water” were an aberration? I mean, you take that movie out, and the guy’s filmography was awesome. Three great flicks and one ok one. So maybe he just had one wild idea and he whiffed on it. I mean, even if it sucked, it was still…. unique. What if now he was pissed off over being called a hack, and this movie was his return to form? With a vengeance?

Oh my God no. No, no, no. LOL.

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Hollywood Mysteries: M Night Shyamalan (Part II: The Fall)

(If you missed Part I: The Rise, it’s here.)

In the summer of 2004, M Night Shyamalan was the hottest Director in the World. His name was selling tickets to the extent where the promo poster for that summer’s “The Village” has essentially NOTHING on it except his name. “M Night Shyamalan’s The Village”, some wooden planks, a stripe of paint. In those days, that was all his movies would need. It opened with a $50 million dollar weekend.

A funny thing happened though.

It wasn’t any good.

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Hollywood Mysteries: M Night Shyamalan (Part I: The Rise)

Welcome to “Hollywood Mysteries”, my essay series about things that BAFFLE me in movies and tv. No, I’m not going to be writing about the Black Dahlia, or Bob Crane or George Reeves, or that kind of Hollywood Mystery. I’m going to write about crazy production decisions, no brainers that got fumbled, people who lost their fastballs suddenly, that sort of thing.

First up? M Night Shyamalan.

Nowww you get what I’m talking about! Click “Continue reading” to read my take on the story of “The Man Who Heard Voices”. Continue reading