The Weekend Warrior: July 3 – 5

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Greetings and welcome back to the Weekend Warrior, your weekly guide to the weekend’s new movies. Tune in every Tuesday for the latest look at the upcoming weekend, and then check back on Thursday night for final projections based on actual theatre counts.

Updated Predictions and Comparisons

1. Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs (20th Century Fox) – $48.5 million N/A (same)

2. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (DreamWorks/Paramount) – $45.8 million -58% (down a million)

3. Public Enemies (Universal) – $28.6 million N/A (same)

4. The Hangover (Warner Bros.) – $11.5 million -33% (down .4 million)

5. The Proposal (Disney/Touchstone) – $10.8 million -42% (down .2 million)

6. My Sister’s Keeper (New Line/WB) – $7.5 million -39% (up .3 million)

7. Up (Disney/Pixar Animation) – $6.9 million -47% (same)

8. The Taking of Pelham 123 (Sony) – $2.6 million -52% (down .3 million)

9. Year One (Sony) – $2.5 million -58% (same)

10. Star Trek (Universal) – $2.1 million -45% (added at #10)

Weekend Overview

It’s the 4th of July weekend which is usually the time for one studio or another to release one of their bigger summer tentpole movies. This year, that movie opened one week earlier so all of this week’s new releases will have to contend with the second weekend of Michael Bay’s record-setting sequel Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.

The movie with the best chance at defeating it is the animated 3-quel Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs (20th Century Fox), which brings back the trio of mammal pals that helped make the first two movies such a success among family audiences. While it might not be the most anticipated sequel of the summer, the lack of strong kids’ fare with Pixar’s Up having already been playing for over a month should help the movie do decently over the weekend, even though 4th of July hasn’t generally been a great weekend for family fare. It probably will be a close one, but we’ll give “Ice Age” the slight edge over “Transformers” as it drops drastically in its second weekend.

Meanwhile, filmmaker Michael Mann explores the FBI’s earliest war on crime with the period film Public Enemies (Universal), co-starring Johnny Depp and Christian Bale. Although the star power is persuasive, it’s dealing with potentially strong subject matter in a way that doesn’t necessarily make it summer fare, since this is normally the type of movie that would be released in October or November in hope of awards. Still, there isn’t a lot for older and more discerning moviegoers looking for something of higher quality than normal summer fare that should allow this to open respectably.

One big unknown in both cases is how much the Wednesday opening will affect the weekends. One would assume that Public Enemies will have enough immediate interest that it will do well during the week; with school being out, so could “Ice Age,” but they both have to contend with the 4th falling on a Saturday, essentially a day people would not be at work anyway, and some might choose to take the 3rd off and go away for an extended weekend, which could limit the amount of weekend moviegoing business. Public Enemies will probably not have as big a bump on Friday as “Ice Age” will, but it should be a formidable combo at bringing people back into theatres after the slower month of June.

This week’s “Chosen One” is Anne Fontaine’s French comedy (of sorts) The Girl From Monaco (Magnolia Pictures), which you can read more about below.

Last 4th of July, Will Smith made a strong play at reclaiming the summer holiday with which he’s most associated with the superhero movie Hancock (Sony), which opened on Tuesday night with $6.8 million, followed by two $17 million days and a first weekend of $62.6 million, making it the fourth-biggest 4th of July opening before going on to gross $227 million. The Top 10 grossed $150 million over the holiday weekend, an amount that should be bested by this weekend’s offerings.


THE BATTLE CRY

Yes, it’s the return of the semi-sporadic Battle Cry, my chance to rant and rail about things that have been on my mind. This one has been on my mind for some time, and it seemed perfectly suited to the spirit of independence on the 4th of July weekend. This week I want to talk about RONIN. That would be the plural of the word “ronin,” which is absurd that there would even be a plural version of the word that’s generally used to denote a “masterless samurai.” Anyone who’s read my column over the years or my Top 25 list at year’s end, probably knows what a fan I am of Japanese samurai films, although it might not be immediately clear what this has to do with movies. To me, it’s just my way of celebrating the spirit of individuality and those who regularly go against the norm in order to maintain theirs.

For the most part, the life of a film critic or a journalist is a lonely one where a lot of our work is done sitting alone looking at a laptop screen, and yet, it’s still an insular society where one tends to talk a lot with their colleagues, both before seeing a movie and after. It’s something you’ll often see happening at film festivals, gathering of attending press discussing and debating the merits of the films they saw. When you spend a lot of time talking to like-minded individuals, it’s sometimes hard to separate one’s own opinion from those around you, which may be why so many movies get similar raves or drubbings across the board.

That’s where the RONIN comes in. These are the few people in the business who always stand alone, having their very own unique thoughts and opinions and voices, which often puts them in the crossfire, not only from moviegoers and their colleagues, but sometimes their very readers. These aren’t freelancers who will write for whomever about whatever or those who will take whatever stance is the most popular and will get them the most pats on the back from their peers or readers. These are the people who will say what they think, when they think it and be damned if they’ll back down from that opinion regardless of the amount of angry comments and Emails they might receive.

The best example of this has to be New York Press film critic Armond White, probably the most classic case of a movie biz ronin, because he’s a guy who clearly doesn’t care if his opinion differs with every other critic as well as every single moviegoer. It’s his review, his opinion and he’ll defend it as much and as voraciously as he has to, which has earned him the negative label of being a “contrarian” since he always seems to take the opposite stance of other critics. The most classic case of this was his negative review of Pixar’s Up (one of the few people who gave it a “rotten” on Rotten Tomatoes) and then turned around and gave the Wayans’ Dance Flick one of the few positive reviews. Gotta love a critic who is not afraid to go against the grain even when it puts him on the receiving end of slings and arrows himself.

Another personal favorite of mine in terms of symbolizing individualism is Jeffrey Wells of Hollywood Elsewhere, who will get on a kick about something he loves or hates, and he’ll stick to it, sometimes for months, driving the point home with post after post on his blog. There really is no one out there who will herald the things he deserves to get attention more than Jeffrey, even going after those who disagree, and really finding every possible angle in order to support the films and filmmakers he likes. He’s also a really intelligent man and a solid writer, so he tends to get a lot of flack when he goes off on a bender about something he doesn’t like… even if it has very little to do with movies. But his blog is very entertaining, especially how he takes down bad movies often just from seeing the trailers. (The funny thing is that I know both of the above guys quite well, having spent a lot of time talking and hanging with them, and you really could never meet two nicer guys, so it’s funny that they’re considered such cranky sourpusses by their “fans” when nothing could be further from the truth.)

There are also the women in the biz like Nikki Finke of Deadline Hollywood Daily whose voracious attitude about finding scoops and then proudly proclaiming “TOLDJA!” when they come true has caused a lot of bristling in the business, especially from the guys. But she does get the news scoops and probably has one of the best track records at getting insider information before anyone else. While Anne Thompson has been associated (and is usually the only saving grace) with industry trades like The Hollywood Reporter and Variety, she’s gone from breaking festival distribution news at her Risky Biz Blog to her current Thompson on Hollywood. She tends to be a lot more pleasant about it than Nikki, and she’s not nearly as opinionated or jaded as others in the industry, but one has to commend her ability to eschew the type of journalistic ethics the rest of us can only aspire to achieve. (Oddly, neither of these women write movie reviews, although it’s fairly obvious when Nikki is against something or someone in a similar way as Wells.)

Another individual who often sets himself apart from the pack is David Poland, founder of Movie City News and his own Hot Blog, whose outspoken opinion about movies and his colleagues in the industry tends to make even his readers bristle sometimes. I certainly don’t always agree with him, but there’s no question that he’s probably one of the most knowledgeable and insightful guys when it comes to things going on behind the scenes with studio decisions. He’s also a straight shooter who, like those mentioned above, is never afraid to say what he thinks even if it brings a lot of angry comments and Emails his way. For instance, he may have been one of the few people on earth who hated Iron Man, which was one of my favorite movies last year. So yeah, I don’t always agree with him but there’s no question that he’s a guy who writes his own rules, which is commendable.

Part of me wants to include Devin Faraci of CHUD.com in here, because like Poland and Wells, he’s as much a man with a unique vision about life as any of the others above, although he does sometimes take part in the group mentality that affects his taste in movies, far more than Wells, White or Poland. I’d love to think of myself as a RONIN, even though I obviously work for a fairly large site that requires working as a team. My tastes certainly tend to differ greatly both from my colleagues and even the CS readers, but I do tend to save most of my strongest opinions for this column and my reviews, and I do tend to hold back.

Either way, it seems unnecessary for anyone to have to explain the virtues of individualism. It should be fairly obvious that the opportunity to have your own opinion in this wonderful democratic world we live in is something everyone should take advantage of and benefit from. The sad truth is that the internet has become a microcosm where no one wants to stand apart from the pack or be different, because they’re likely to get slammed down by the far more vocal majority that have differing opinions. While it’s much easier to stand within a group and have people that have your back, it’s something that should be respected and commented to have such a strong opinion and sticking to it, whether or not the majority feels it’s right or wrong. Of course, that doesn’t justify that some of them will go to ridiculous lengths to defend their positions, never even considering the other side or that they may be wrong. (It might be good to note that we’re not necessarily agreeing with any of those opinions or recommending you do the same; just celebrating the fact they thrive in their desire to be their own men or women.)

While the opinions of those mentioned above might not always or often (or ever) gel with our own, you have to give them credit for sticking to their guns, because it’s far more interesting to read the unique perspectives of distinctive individuals than it is to just accept the sheep mentality that’s so prevalent in our world right now, because the internet has been far too good at spreading that kind of thinking.

With that in mind, I hope you’ll appreciate what I’m trying to say and use this 4th of July to stand up for something you believe in, even if it’s something that you think only you believe in. You might be surprised to learn that there are other like-minded individuals out there who have been waiting for someone who thinks like them to share their opinions.


Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs (20th Century Fox)
Starring (the voices of) Ray Romano, John Leguizamo, Denis Leary, Simon Pegg, Queen Latifah
Directed by Carlos Saldanha (Ice Age, Robots, Ice Age: The Meltdown), Michael Thurmeier (No Time for Nuts short and animation dept. of other Blue Sky movies); Written by Michael Berg, Peter Ackerman
Genre: Animated, Comedy, Family
Rated PG
Plot Summary: Manny the Mammoth (voiced by Ray Romano) and Sid the Sloth (John Leguizamo) are both trying to have families, making their friend Diego (Dennis Leary) wonder if he’s gotten too soft by hanging with them, but when Sid gets in trouble, trying to steal dinosaur eggs, his friends must come to his rescue along with a dino-hunting weasel named Buck (Simon Pegg).

Analysis:

One would normally think the 4th of July is good time for a family movie with school being out of session across the nation. In fact, it’s often a weekend when people go away for vacation, taking advantage of the extra day off from work, so that makes this a weird weekend for 20th Century Fox to release the third installment of their popular animated “Ice Age” franchise. It’s only the second animated movie to receive a second theatrically-released sequel after DreamWorks Animation’s successful “Shrek” franchise, so that’s quite a milestone on its own, but one wonders whether the “Ice Age” franchise is popular enough to sustain the success of the first two movies.

The computer animated genre has really exploded over the last few years, and while Pixar and DreamWorks Animation continue to dominate, the third major company who has had decent success is Blue Sky Animation out of White Plains, who’ve been making movies with 20th Century Fox. The first “Ice Age” movie opened with $46.3 million in March 2002 at a time when the only games in town were DreamWorks (coming off the huge hit that was the first “Shrek”) and Pixar (who had just released their fourth movie Monsters, Inc. months earlier). It went on to gross $176 million domestically and $383 million worldwide. The sequel Ice Age: The Meltdown opened four years later with $68 million, the fourth-biggest opening for an animated movie at the time, and slightly surpassed the original in terms of domestic box office. It was enough for Blue Sky to start production on a third movie, even as the company had a smaller hit with last year’s Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who

The voice cast is generally the same as the last two movies with Ray Romano, John Leguizamo, Dennis Leary and Queen Latifah all returning in their respective roles, characters who have generally become as known and popular as the character from the “Shrek” or “Madagascar” movies. The only new member of significance being the character of dino-hunter Buck, voiced by British comic actor Simon Pegg, who recently appeared in J.J. Abrams’ summer hit Star Trek after building a reputation among with genre fans with movies like Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. It’s hard to say if any of the latter might go see “Ice Age” merely due to Pegg’s role in the movie, especially since the character has not been featured that prominently in the commercials.

The biggest difference this time around is that “Dawn of the Dinosaurs” is opening in the middle of summer, rather than in March. This might normally benefit it, because school is out and it can have five full days of family business, but there’s also a lot of other choices for leisure time activity in the summer, things like going to the beach or SeaWorld. There probably isn’t as much demand or this anticipation for this 3-quel as there was for Shrek the Third, and one can’t just presume that the sequel factor will still be in effect, especially considering the minor box office bump the last movie saw. (It received slightly lower user ratings than the first movie and less positive reviews as well.) Earlier this summer, Ben Stiller’s Night at the Museum: Battle at the Smithsonian opened with $70 million and has grossed $160 million compared to the $250 million of the original, but that also wasn’t competing with other family films, while the third “Ice Age” is opening against one of Pixar’s stronger movies, which has remained in the Top 5 for over six weeks.

Either way, the movie will open in over 4,000 theaters including digital 3D theatres, on Wednesday, and one could safely assume that the 3D screenings will be very popular among family audiences who’ve gotten used to the medium thanks to the success of Up and Monsters vs. Aliens. With school out, there’s no reason to wait until the weekend to see the movie so we might see some of the weekend business taking place on Wednesday and Thursday. The 4th of July tends to be a holiday where people go away because it’s the first long summer weekend after school has let out nationwide, which is why we often see sequels like Spider-Man 2 and Men in Black 2 doing a lot of their business during the week rather than on the weekend. It’s not a holiday weekend where we often see family fare for this reason, which is why the only significant family film released over the Independence Day weekend was Cats & Dogs in 2001, which grossed $36 million in its first five days and $93 million total. That’s pretty decent but not great for the sequel to a $200 million animated hit.

Reviews won’t matter for this one, since kids who’ll want to see their favorite character probably won’t read them, although their parents might. Even so, the marketing of the movie has almost been an afterthought, so one probably won’t see the kind of $20 million plus days for this one that the previous installment saw its opening weekend, especially with the Wednesday opening taking away from the weekend.

The movie should do decently over its five-day holiday opening, and then it has roughly two weeks before Warner Bros. opens Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, the franchise’s return to the PG rating, which will likely take all the air out of this 3-quel’s sails. We think this one will end up grossing generally more than the first movie but less than the second.

Why I Should See It: There are many fans of the “Ice Age” movies and the funny characters who starred in them. Maybe you’re one of them?
Why Not: Does anyone really feel there’s enough material that can be generated with these characters for a third movie?
Projections: $27 to 31 million on Wednesday and Thursday and another $47 to 50 million over the three-day weekend—that’s approximately $77 to 80 million in five days–and roughly $170 to 180 million total.

COMPARISONS


Public Enemies (Universal)
Starring Johnny Depp, Christian Bale, Marion Cotillard, Giovanni Ribisi, Billy Crudup, Stephen Dorff, Rory Cochrane, Stephen Lang, David Wenham, Stephen Graham, Channing Tatum, Jason Clarke
Directed by Michael Mann (Collateral, Heat, Miami Vice, Manhunter and more) ; Written by Ronan Bennett, Michael Mann, Ann Biderman (Primal Fear, Smilia’s Sense of Snow)
Genre: Crime, Thriller
Rated R
Plot Summary: As the first major mission of his new government agency, the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover (Billy Crudup) assigns his top man Melvin Purvis (Christian Bale) to run their “war on crime” against the outlaw John Dillinger (Johnny Depp) and his band of bank robbers. At the same time, Dillinger has fallen in love with Billi Frechette (Marion Cotillard), and he’ll do anything to protect her, even if it means putting his own life in danger.

Review

Analysis:

Adults cinephiles who haven’t really had much quality filmmaking to enjoy at the theaters should be thrilled that this week sees the return of filmmaker Michael Mann, who many consider one of the country’s finest filmmakers along with Scorsese, Coppola and others. Mann is once again exploring familiar crime territory as he has in the past, only this time heading back to 1933 to look at the early days of the FBI, working from Bryan Burroughs’ non-fiction novel “Public Enemies: America’s Greatest Crime Wave and the Birth of the FBI, 1933-34.” Mann’s last movie was the big screen version of his show Miami Vice, starring Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx, which became his biggest opening movie but quickly tailed off after opening, to the point where it ended up making less than some of his previous movies, like Collateral and Heat. Oddly, Mann has only been nominated for an Oscar once before (at least as a director) and that was for The Insider starring Russell Crowe, which was also one of his least successful films commercially.

This time, Mann has put together quite an amazing duo of box office stars, and much of the film’s success will come down to the casting of Johnny Depp as John Dillinger, especially considering how long it’s been since Depp’s last film, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, his 6th movie that teamed him with director Tim Burton. The dark musical wasn’t a huge success for either of them, but Depp still has proven himself as a draw, as his career took off after his first appearance as Captain Jack Sparrow in Disney’s The Pirates of the Caribbbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. The role of the infamous gangster is somewhat of a return to Depp’s earlier role as drugdealer George Jung in the late Ted Demme’s Blow, although that movie was during the slower period where Depp was still experimenting with his stardom.

If having Depp, the star of three $300 million blockbusters, isn’t enough, it also stars Christian Bale, whose success has exploded since he took on the role of Bruce Wayne in Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins back in 2005 with its sequel The Dark Knight not only being the biggest movie of 2008 but also the second-biggest movie domestically ever. Even with that success, the inability for the recent Terminator Salvation to even do as well as its predecessor despite Bale’s involvement makes one think that Bale is not quite up to the level of stardom that Depp achieved with Captain Jack, and one wonders how many people might see Public Enemies just for Bale. After all, after his success with Batman Begins, Bale was paired with Hugh Jackman for Nolan’s The Prestige and that was only a moderate hit. Like with American Gangster and the recent The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3, the two actors don’t really appear on screen a hell of a lot, something that’s not exactly advertised, because most people going in might think this is a chance to see Depp and Bale on screen together.

The third major player in the equation is French actress Marion Cotillard, making her first appearance on these shores since winning the Oscar for her portrayal of Edith Piaf in La Vie en Rose, and the rest of Mann’s cast is equally amazing, including the likes of Billy Crudup, Giovanni Ribisi and David Wenham. Usually, the presence of Stephen Dorff is a bad sign for a movie’s success, but his role is fairly small and he’s just a small part of an amazing ensemble cast that Mann brought together to tell this story.

What’s odd is that this is Universal’s 8th or 9th movie from the last decade that’s set in the ’30s or earlier, as the studio seems to be obsessed with that era, going back to the adaptation of the best-selling non-fiction novel Seabiscuit six years ago, followed by Ron Howard’s boxing drama Cinderella Man starring Russell Crowe and others (King Kong, Changeling and many more). Even so, this is a strange movie to be releasing over the 4th of July weekend because it’s really more of the type of movie that gets released in October or November in hopes for awards, rather than a big summer movie. Universal may be looking at the late July success of Seabiscuit as a barometer for this film

The draw of Johnny Depp first and Bale second will play a large part in the audience going to see this, especially with so many teen and older moviegoers having already seen the new “Transformers” and not having much interest in the new “Ice Age” movie. The two actors should be able to bring in a variety of men and women from older teens to 30-somethings and even older. Avid cinephiles will certainly be aware of the quality of Mann’s work and might be interested in seeing it due to his involvement, although he’s not quite up there with Spielberg or other name directors at bringing in audiences, even after a number of successes. With the stronger cast and subject matter this time around, as well as the summer opening, there’s a chance that Mann can break the $101 million ceiling that has held him back at the box office.

Even so, word will get around fairly quickly that the movie is a slow drama and not necessarily the action-packed shoot ’em up some might be expecting from the commercials. It will probably lose some of its 20-30 something crowd when Universal’s comedy Brüno opens a week later. Opening should be decent but we think this will fall just short of Collateral‘s total gross.

Why I Should See It: Mann is one of the country’s best crime filmmakers and he’s working with some amazing actors from great source material, which should make this another film that cinephiles can love and appreciate.
Why Not: This might not be the type of exciting action-packed movie that people tend to be looking for over 4th of July weekend.
Projections: $16 to 18 million on Wednesday and Thursday and another $28 to 30 million over the holiday weekend and roughly $90 to 100 million total.

COMPARISONS


THE CHOSEN ONE:

The Girl From Monaco (Magnolia Pictures) –
Starring Louise Bourgouin, Fabrice Luchini, Roschdy Zem
Directed by Anne Fontaine (Entre Ses Mains, How I Killed My Father, upcoming Coco Before Chanel) with Benoît Grafin (Priceless, Apres Vous)
Genre: Comedy, Thriller
Rated R
Plot Summary: Bertrand Beauvois (Fabrice Luchini) is a powerful lawyer assigned to a high-profile court trial in Monaco and assigned a bodyguard named Christophe (Roschdy Zem) for his protection, but when he becomes involved with a sexy weathergirl named Audrey (Louise Bourgoin), he realizes he may be out of his depth. It doesn’t help that Christophe used to date her either.

Any heterosexual guy can understand the hypnotizing effects that beautiful women have, and how they can make you do crazy things that you might normally never do. That seems to be at least part of the motivation behind this new movie from Anne Fontaine, which deals with the relationship between three people who come together by chance in France’s beautiful beachside region of Monaco.

I was somewhat worried that Fontaine’s film starts almost exactly like the absolutely awful Shall We Kiss?, but it gets more interesting as the lead character, attorney Bertrand Beauvois meets Christopher, the man assigned to be his bodyguard, and Audrey, the sexy blonde woman who is destined to screw things up. It’s a strange triangle in that Christophe starts having a hard time protecting his client as Audrey’s attention forces Bertrand to neglect his own duties in this important case. Both of them soon realize that the lawyer is out of his depth, because Audrey is also nearly psychotic in her obsession with the older attorney but also a bit of a slut who’ll sleep with anyone. It certainly doesn’t help that Christophe once dated her, so Bertrand hopes to us his bodyguard’s loyalty in getting the information he needs to win over the object of his latest lust. Christophe is also useful to have around when Bertrand needs to get out of the trouble he’s put himself in.

The premise is somewhat similar to one of my favorite movies, Jonathan Demme’s Something Wild, which was also about a man used to a very orderly life, who suddenly has it turned upside down by a strange but beautiful woman, but it also has a subdued quality not unlike the work of Hal Ashby, most notably the classic Being There. That’s not to say that the story or characters are nearly as memorable, but there’s a similar tone. Working with screenwriter Benoît Grafin, who has written similarly-toned films like last year’s Priceless starring Audrey Tautou, Anne Fontaine maintains the French tradition of subtle dialogue-driven humor similar to locally-produced films like The Valet and My Best Friend.

There’s little question that the movie will most be remembered for its introduction of the luscious Louise Bourgouin, an actual weather girl before being cast in the part as a weathergirl who seduces the older man. Bourgouin is unbelievably hot, and Fontaine has a way at bringing out her oozing sex appeal without the movie ever feeling exploitative. She’s a great counterpoint to the stodgy Fabrice Luchini, while Roschdy Zem is entirely her polar opposite as Bertrand’s bodyguard, always there with his steely and stern demeanor. It was definitely an interesting decision to cast an Algerian actor, since it adds another interesting layer to the character dynamics that’s never mentioned.

Fontaine is a solid director who does a great job realizing what is essentially a high concept relationship film, taking full advantage of the picturesque surroundings without ever overplaying them. The relationship between the three actors and the relationship between their characters is what always keeps the story so interesting even when there doesn’t see to be a lot going on.

The only criticism is that the film takes a rather sudden change in tone in the last 15 minutes, turning into something more akin to a Hitchcock thriller, which isn’t nearly as satisfying as the lightness of the earlier film, and the twist isn’t nearly as compelling or original as some of the ideas seen in last year’s Roman de Gare. Still, the movie should appeal to fans of French films like the ones mentioned above. It opens in New York and L.A. on Friday.

Also in Limited Release:

Tony Manero (Lorber Films) – Pablo Larraín’s Chilean crime-drama is set in 1978 Santiago, Chile where an illiterate social outcast named Raúl, who takes on the name and passion of his favorite film character–John Travolta’s in Saturday Night Fever–by banding together with a group of dancers all of whom are involved in the city’s underground. Raúl himself gets involved with crimes when he sees the opportunity to achieve his dream by entering a “Tony Manero” impersonation contest. It opens in New York at the Cinema Village.

Mini-Review (Coming Soon!)

The Beaches of Agnès (Cinema Guild) – Agnès Varda, who was heavily involved with the French New Wave of film, working with Chris Marker, Alain Resnais, Jean-Luc Godard, Jane Birkin, Michel Piccoli, Catherine Deneuve and Philippe Noiret, offers this autobiographical film including stories of her childhood in Brussels, as well as her time spent in Paris and Hollywood during the ’60s. It opens at New York’s Film Forum on Wednesday.

I Hate Valentine’s Day (IFC) – Nia Varadalos reunites with her My Big Fat Greek Wedding star John Corbett for her directorial debut, a romantic comedy (of course) involving a florist who tries to convince a “commitment phobic” restaurant owner to try “relationshiop-less” dating. Maybe this will help Vardalos’ fans get the taste of My Life in Ruins out of their mouths. It opens in select cities.

Nollywood Babylon (Lorber Films) – Ben Addelman and Samir Mallal’s documentary takes a look at Nigeria’s growing film industry, known as “Nollywood,” that’s grown out of the low-budget films that have come out of the street markets of Nigeria’s largest city Lagos to become the third largest film industry after the U.S. and India. It will get an exclusive week-long theatrical release in New York City at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in the Titus Theater from July 3 – 8.

Mini-Review (Coming Soon!)

Lion’s Den (Strand Releasing) – Argentine filmmaker Pablo Traperos’ drama stars Martina Gusman as Julia, a woman who wakes up in her apartment after a violent struggle with two men, one dead and one alive, and is sent to a prison for expectant mothers where she befriends another woman who has had two children in jail. Shot in real maximum-security prisons, this festival favorite opens Friday in New York at the IFC Center.


Next week, the month of July motors onwards with the new comedy from Sacha Baron Cohen’s gay Austrian supermodel alter-ego Brüno (Universal), while Christopher Columbus adapts Larry Doyle’s coming-of-age novel I Love You, Beth Cooper (20th Century Fox).

Copyright 2009 Edward Douglas