Box Office Preview – September 3, 2010

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The American

Director: Anton Corbijn

Writers: Rowan Joffe (screenplay); Martin Booth (novel)

Stars: George Clooney, Paolo Bonacelli, Violante Placido

MPAA Rating: R

Synopsis: An assassin hiding out in an Italian village while he anticipates his last-ever assignment tempts fate by seeking out the friendship of a priest as well as the affection of a local woman.

Lars’ take: It’s going to be good. It’s got a legit director and a legit writer and everyone likes George Clooney. The only problem I have with it is that I don’t buy George Clooney as brooding. He’s too naturally gregarious to pull off a dark, brooding character and that seems like what this is.

Joel’s take: Bruce Altman apparently has an uncredited role as the voice on the other end of the phone talking to Clooney in the first trailer. I love Bruce Altman, he’s a great “that guy.” The movie itself looks good, but I’m not completely sold on seeing it in the theater. I’m sure it’s a solid film, but I’d rather wait and get it on Netflix.

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Going the Distance

Director: Nanette Burstein

Writers: Geoff LaTulippe

Stars: Justin Long, Drew Barrymore, Ron Livingston, Jim Gaffigan, Kelli Gellar, Rob Riggle, Jason Sudeikis, Charlie Day

MPAA Rating: R

Synopsis: A romantic comedy centered on a guy and a gal who try to keep their love alive as they shuttle back and forth between Chicago and Los Angeles to see one another.

Lars’ take: As far as romantic comedies go, I think this one’s a winner. I think it will be totally watchable. I wouldn’t be embarrassed to tell someone I was taking my girlfriend to see this movie.

Joel’s take: I think Drew Barrymore has been picking interesting roles lately. Plus, this film has Charlie Day and Jim Gaffigan in it, which gives me hope. I like them as the comic relief and, judging from the trailers, this film seems like it actually gives them funny material to work with.

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Machete

Directors: Ethan Maniquis, Robert Rodriguez

Writers: Robert Rodriguez and Álvaro Rodríguez

Stars: Danny Trejo, Robert De Niro, Jessica Alba, Steven Seagal, Michelle Rodriguez, Jeff Fahey, Cheech Marin, Don Johnson

MPAA Rating: R

Synopsis: After being betrayed by the organization who hired him, an ex-Federale launches a brutal rampage of revenge against his former boss.

Lars’ take: It’s going to be awesome. Go see it. There’s going to be lots of nudity, loud music, blood and violence. It’s going to be the shit.

Joel’s take: It’s still bizarre that this is a movie based on a fake trailer. And I was disappointed to learn that Lindsay Lohan doesn’t actually have any nude scenes (she uses a body double), which makes her presence in this film completely pointless. But Danny Trejo is awesome and this seems to be right in Robert Rodriguez’s wheelhouse, so I’m sure it’s entertaining. This movie seems like a true throwback to old school action movies (unlike The Expendables, which misleadingly bills itself as such).

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A Simple Noodle Story (LA/NY)

Alternate title: A Woman, A Gun and A Noodle Shop

Director: Yimou Zhang

Writers: Jianquan Shi & Jing Shang; Ethan Coen & Joel Coen (1984 screenplay Blood Simple)

Stars: Dahong Ni, Ni Yan, Xiao Shen-Yang

MPAA Rating: R

Synopsis: The owner of a Chinese noodle shop’s scheme to murder his adulterous wife and her lover goes awry.

Lars’ take: Yimou Zhang did House of Flying Daggers and Hero, which were both really cool. It’s another plot heavy, dramatic martial arts movie. It seems like it’s rather formulaic, but this formula seems to work, especially with this director behind the camera. I think it will definitely be worth seeing.

Joel’s take: I find it very intriguing that the movie is in part based on an old Coen brother’s movie (Blood Simple). We are used to seeing American remakes of foreign films, so it’s interesting to see it go the other way. Matching a Coen brother’s script with Yimou Zhang’s directing style is an intriguing idea and I’m betting the result is a solidly entertaining film.

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Last Train Home (LA/NY)

Director: Lixin Fan

Stars: Suqin Chen, Changhua Zhan, Qin Zhang, Yang Zhang

MPAA Rating: PG

Synopsis: A family embarks on an annual tormenting journey along with 200 other million peasant workers to reunite with their distant family, and to revive their love and dignity as China soars as the world’s next super power.

Lars’ take: That trailer made me nauseous. It looks like the kind of movie that is just going to be really painful to watch from start to finish. I’m sure it’s interesting to watch the family dynamic, but this just looks depressing. It’s not going to be lighthearted or fun or focusing on the good aspects of this culture. I don’t want to see it because it seems too real.

Joel’s take: Watching that huge swell of people fighting to get on the train at the beginning, I almost felt like I was watching March of the Penguins (which made me wish this documentary was narrated by Morgan Freeman). The film looks moving and I’m sure it’s well done, but I could never watch it in the theater. This is the type of movie you have to be in the right mood to watch and you need to be alone in your room with a bottle of whiskey by your side to help you through it.

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The Winning Season (LA/NY)

Director: James C. Strouse

Writer: James C. Strouse

Stars: Sam Rockwell, Emma Roberts, Rob Corddry

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Synopsis: A comedy centered on a has-been coach who is given a shot at redemption when he’s asked to run his local high school’s girls basketball team.

Lars’ take: I read a synopsis for this movie that talked about an alcoholic character played by Sam Rockwell seeking redemption by coaching a girl’s basketball team. I thought it was going to be a heavy drama that Sam Rockwell was going to be great in. But I watched the trailer and it’s a lighthearted PG-13 comedy and I don’t know what to do with that. I love Sam Rockwell, but I don’t want to see this movie and don’t understand why it was made.

Joel’s take: The Sam Rockwell casting seems so bizarre. He’s an underrated actor who is brilliant in everything I’ve seen him in, but why even bother to cast him in this? It looks like every other sports movie ever made. Even the “alcoholic seeking redemption by coaching kids” angle has been used before in The Mighty Ducks.

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White Wedding (LA/NY)

Director: Jann Turner

Stars: Kenneth Nkosi, Rapulana Seiphemo, Jodie Whittaker

MPAA Rating: Unrated

Synopsis: Elvis sets off from Johannesburg to travel the hundreds of miles that lie between him and his bride to be. Stopping first in Durban to pick up his best man, their road trip goes off-track, and they pick up an English doctor who questions the institution of marriage.

Lars’ take: Everyone these days is looking for a new twist on the romantic comedy. It’s great to see them come out of parts of the world that we don’t see them normally come from. I’m digging the South African backdrop and I really like the cast of characters. South Africa has such an eclectic group of people, which gives you an eclectic mix of comedy. It’s going to be really funny and somewhat poignant, but not to the point of being cheesy.

Joel’s take: I was really blown away by the trailer. When the two guys started dancing on the side of the road, I was officially hooked. I love the concept of this movie and I think other countries are better at making entertaining and not overly-formulaic romantic comedies. Most likely no one will go see this movie, but it looks charming and awesome and I hope it succeeds.

This week’s recommendations …

Lars:
Machete

I really go to the movies to be entertained and I think this movie will entertain the hell out of me. I want to see it on the big screen with the sound system blaring in my ears.

Joel:
White Wedding

Machete is probably the safe bet this weekend, but if I lived in New York or LA, I would definitely go see White Wedding. It’s the most original and most intriguing film to me and I really want to see how it plays out.

Confidence:
Confidence:

HoboTrashcan’s Confidence Rating System

Since we force Joel and Lars to make a recommendation each week (using the classic “If a gun was pointed to your head and you had to pick one” scenario), we are also having them rate their confidence in their pick using HoboTrashcan’s patented Confidence Rating System. The system is on a scale of one to five, which breaks down as follows:

  1. Eddie Murphy – Like every film Eddie Murphy has done in the last decade, avoid this movie at all costs.
  2. Nicholas Cage – The movie is most likely awful, but like Cage, there is a chance it may still surprise you.
  3. Samuel L Jackson – With this rating, you don’t know what you are going to get. It could be another Pulp Fiction or it could be Jumper.
  4. Bruce Willis – Like Bruce Willis, chances are the film is good, but there’s always a possibility it’s another Surrogates.
  5. Morgan Freeman – The highest possible rating. The film, like Morgan Freeman himself, is a lock to be entertaining.

[Editor's Note - Going the Distance was originally scheduled to be released last week, but was pushed back to today. We accidentally listed it in last week's new releases, but have corrected our mistake by listing it again this week.]

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