The Weekend Warrior: September 30 – October 2

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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.

If you aren’t doing so already, you can follow The Weekend Warrior on Twitter where he talks about box office, movies, music, comic books and all sorts of random things.

Updated Predictions and Comparisons

1. The Lion King 3D (Walt Disney) — $13.3 million -39% (Up .8 million and one spot)

2. Dolphin Tale (Warner Bros.) – $12.9 million -33% (down .1 million and one spot)

3. Moneyball (Sony) – $12.2 million -38% (up .2 million)

4. 50/50 (Summit) – $10.5 million N/A (down .2 million)

5. What’s Your Number? (20th Century Fox) – $9.3 million N/A (same)

6. Dream House (Universal) – $8.8 million N/A (up .4 million)

7. Courageous (Tristar/Sony) – $7.3 million N/A (up 1.4 million)

8. Contagion (Warner Bros.) – $5.2 million -38% (same)

9. Killer Elite (Open Road) – $4.9 million -48% (same)

10. Abduction (Lionsgate) – $4.5 million -60% (up .1 million)

*Not knowing the weekend theater count for The Lion King 3D, it’s hard to tell which one will come out on top, but it will be pretty close.

Weekend Overview

September transitions into October with two very different R-rated comedies, both with a connection to Sacha Baron Cohen’s Ali G oddly enough. They’ll be vying for the top spot against last week’s two-time champion, Disney’s The Lion King 3D, as well as last week’s two strong openers, Moneyball and Dolphin Tale.

Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg produced 50/50 (Summit), a dark comedy based on Will Reiser’s semi-autobiographical script about his struggle with cancer. It stars hot young actors Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Anna Kendrick and Bryce Dallas Howard, fresh off her appearance in The Help, as well as Rogen, a cast that certainly will make it more appealing to the more discerning 20-something moviegoing crowd. Although it has been receiving rave reviews, its prime competition, at least for young women, will be the R-rated comedy What’s Your Number? (20th Century Fox), starring Anna Faris, trying to keep some momentum going from her previous hit The House Bunny… which was actually three years ago! The movie should benefit from strong marketing focusing on the familiar sex and dating laughs and Faris’ impressive supporting cast including Chris Evans, Zachary Quinto, Andy Samberg and many more, as well as a release into over 3,000 theaters should allow it to end up in the same $10 to 12 million range as 50/50.

That puts them very close to where we think last week’s two returning movies might end up in their second weekend, which means we might be looking at a four-way race for #1 this week. Of course, all of this depends on whether Disney sticks to their original proclamation that they’d only have The Lion King 3D in theaters for a limited engagement of two weeks, which we don’t believe. If they don’t drop as many theaters as we expect (roughly half), it could pull a three-time victory, which would be even more embarrassing for everyone releasing new movies. Otherwise, we think one of the two new comedies will win Friday (probably What’s Your Number?) but then fall behind the returning movies over the weekend, and we wouldn’t be surprised if Dolphin Tale capitalizes on its A+ CinemaScore and pull a “Help” by being #1 in its second weekend.

In a different vein is the suspense thriller Dream House (Universal), starring Daniel Craig, Naomi Watts and Rachel Weisz, and directed by six-time Oscar nominee Jim Sheridan, which makes one think this might be a higher-caliber thriller. That is, if Universal were even bothering to screen it for critics. The fact they’re not is more than a little worrying that they know what a dog they have and are dumping it, hoping the younger moviegoers looking for early scares before October might check it out. Like What’s Your Number?, it feels this movie has been in the can for some time, and the studio took their time to get around to marketing it, which is never a good sign, so we think it will also end up with less than $10 million.

Opening more moderately in 1,200 theaters is Alex and Stephen Kendrick’s Courageous (TriStar Pictures/Sony), the fourth movie from their Sherwood Pictures, who had the enormous hit Fireproof three years ago, which followed Facing the Giants two years earlier. Both of them were released in the last week of September in less than 1,000 theaters and went onto impressive success, Fireproof grossing $30 milion, and one expects the audience the Kendrick Brothers have built among churchgoing audiences with their books and movies should return to this one for a place in the lower half of the Top 10.

This week’s “Chosen One” is Jeff Nichols’ acclaimed festival favorite, the thriller Take Shelter (Sony Pictures Classics), starring Michael Shannon & Jessica Chastain, which you can read more about below.

This weekend last year–actually the first weekend of October–David Fincher’s Facebook movie The Social Network (Sony), starring Jesse Eisenberg and Justin Timberlake, opened with $22.4 million on its way to Oscar night nearly five months later where it would win for Aaron Sorkin’s screenplay, the editing and Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’ score. Two horror films opened poorly in the bottom half of the Top 10 with the long-delayed Case 39 (Paramount), starring Bradley Cooper and Renee Zellwegger, bringing in $5.3 million for seventh place, followed by the remake of the Swedish vampire film Let Me In (Overture) which only did $5.1 million. Universal may want to take note to see what they can expect for Dream House this weekend. The Top 10 grossed $82.6 million and this week’s offerings as well as strong returning movies should help this weekend or slightly better.


50/50 (Summit)
Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, Anna Kendrick, Bryce Dallas Howard, Anjelica Huston, Philip Baker Hall
Directed by Jonathan Levine (The Wackness); Written by Will Reiser (debut)
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Rated R
Tagline: “It Takes a Pair to Beat the Odds”
Plot Summary: When Seattle native Adam Lerner (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) discovers that he has a rare form of spinal cancer, he has to call upon those around him to help get through it, including his pot-smoking friend Kyle (Rogen), his smothering mother (Anjelica Huston), a fairly inexperienced therapist (Anna Kendrick) and an unsupportive girlfriend (Bryce Dallas Howard).

Interview with Jonathan Levine

Video Interviews with the Cast (Coming Soon!)

Review

Analysis:

Formerly known as “I’m with Cancer,” this dark comedy from the successful comedy writing team of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, who have been responsible for comedy hits like Superbad, Pineapple Express and The Green Hornet earlier this year, get a bit more serious with this lower-budget movie based on a screenplay by Will Reiser that was on the respected “Black List” a few years back. The story goes that Rogen and Goldberg were working together with Reiser on “Da Ali G Show” for HBO years ago when the latter got cancer and they were there to see him go through it all as well as to convince him to write about his experiences. With a number of successes under their belt, Rogen and Goldberg were able to get this one produced with Jonathan Levine, director of another popular stoner comedy from the festival circuit, The Wackness.

This is a great showcase for the acting talents of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, whose early role as Tommy on the hit sitcom “3rd Rock from the Sun” has led to being an indie darling and finally his casting in the popular hit comedy (500) Days of Summer and a role in Christopher Nolan’s Inception. Even before then, Gordon-Levitt had scored a role in Stephen Sommers’ G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, although most weren’t likely to recognize him except in flashbacks, but next year, he’ll be appearing in Nolan’s The Dark Night Rises, which should help solidify his status as an actor on the rise. Right now, he really needs to carry a movie on his own as the lead, which he’s done with plenty of indie movies, and fortunately for this one, he has a great supporting cast.

Seth Rogen himself plays Kyle, Adam’s best friend, coming off the unlikely success of his superhero comedy The Green Hornet earlier this year (also co-produced with Goldberg) as well as providing the voice of the alien in Greg Mottola’s Paul. Before then, Rogen had established an interesting career, first as the star of Judd Apatow’s movies–he’s played a large part in all three–and then starring in movies he’d co-written like Superbad ($121 million gross) and Pineapple Express ($87 million). He also starred in two smaller movies, one for Kevin Smith (Zack and Miri Make a Porno) and “Eastbound and Down” mastermind Jody Hill’s Observe and Report, as well as providing his distinctive voice for animated family movies. It’s an interesting time for Rogen because 50/50 is literally a turning point for him and will determine whether audiences will be interested in seeing him do more serious fare. He also has an even more dramatic role in Sarah Polley’s Take This Waltz, which has yet to find a distributor despite rave reviews at TIFF. We think that Rogen’s fans have grown with him and those who discovered him in The 40-Year-Old Virgin are five years older and ready for a movie like 50/50.

On the other hand, Anna Kendrick hasn’t done a lot of movies, though her small role in “The Twilight Saga” and her Oscar nomination for Jason Reitman’s Up in the Air have both elevated her own status. Then there’s Bryce Dallas Howard, fresh off her appearance in the hit The Help, playing Adam’s uncaring girlfriend, and the impressive ensemble also includes the legendary Oscar-winner Anjelica Huston and Philip Baker Hall, just in case anyone over 40 happens to wander into this movie.

There’s no question 50/50 has a strong cast, something that’s being focused on in the marketing, and though it has stoner elements, one can’t imagine many of Rogen’s biggest fans will see this as something remotely in the vein of his more successful movies, which means it’s shooting for a different and slightly older audience. Fortunately, the presence of Gordon-Levitt will mean more women will be interested in seeing it as he’s genuinely well-liked among the fairer sex.

The movie has been receiving rave reviews so far–it’s already one of our favorite movies of the year, up there with Warrior, which bombed horribly when it opened earlier this month (not a good sign?)–and it’s an incredibly funny and touching movie, especially if you’ve ever had someone in your life suffering from cancer. Those reviews certainly will help get younger audiences interested, because few people will want to pay high movie prices for bad movies.

Fortunately, this wasn’t a very expensive movie to make, so it has a good chance at being profitable early on out of the gate as long as Summit doesn’t overspend on marketing. It’s been a tough movie to market, not only due to the somewhat awkward title–yes, even compared to “I’m with Cancer”–but also because Summit has to try to play down the fact that the movie is about a guy with cancer, something that could turn people off. Summit has released difficult movies before like the Robert Pattinson drama Remember Me, but that had Robert Pattinson, yet it still only opened with $8 million. The comedy aspect of 50/50 should definitely help it over a romance set around the time of 9/11, but it’s still coming from a difficult place.

Even so, we’re being optimistic that there are enough well-read 20 and 30 somethings who’ll have been reading or hearing about the movie and will give something like this a try over some of the more standard fare, especially following more prestigious releases like Contagion and Moneyball. We don’t think this is going to be a huge opener but should fare well from word-of-mouth.

Why I Should See It: It’s one of the best movies of the year – funny, warm and taking a serious look at something that affects millions every year.
Why Not: Does anyone who watches the commercials have any idea the movie is about cancer?
Projections: $9 to 11 million opening weekend and $37 million total.

COMPARISONS


What’s Your Number? (20th Century Fox)
Starring Anna Faris, Chris Evans, Ari Graynor, Blythe Danner, Joel McHale, Dave Annabelle, Andy Samberg, Zachary Quinto, Tom Lennon, Aziz Ansari, Anthony Mackie, Martin Freeman, Mike Vogel
Directed by Mark Mylod (Ali G in Da House, plus TV shows like “Entourage,” “Shameless,” “United States of Tara” and more); Written by Gabrielle Allan (“Scrubs”), Jennifer Crittenden (“Seinfeld,” “Everybody Loves Raymond,” “The Simpsons”)
Genre: Comedy
Rated R
Tagline: “Ally’s looking for the best ex of her life”
Plot Summary: Ally Darling (Anna Faris) is looking for a date to her sister’s wedding, but then she learns that women who sleep with more than 20 guys have a harder time finding a husband, so she decides to go back through the 19 relationships in her life to see if any of her ex-boyfriends may in fact have been the true love she missed out on. Helping Aly find them is her “playah neighbah” (Chris Evans) who… wait a second, he’s a guy, too! Could it be that the two of them might hook up and fall in love? I mean, this is a romantic comedy, right? Okay, maybe I won’t have to see this one, because already figured out the “twist ending.”

Mini-Review (Held Until Friday)

Analysis:

If you thought the run of R-rated comedies at the box office ended with the summer, apparently you’re wrong, because offering the new Rogen/Goldberg joint a bit of competition is a more straightforward studio comedy about sex and relationships, which will mostly be targeting young women who can relate to that kind of thing.

The best thing going for the movie is that it’s another starring vehicle for the awesome Anna Faris who has been cracking moviegoers up since she debuted in the first Scary Movie way back in the summer of 2000. For years after that, she relied on those “Scary Movies” to keep her relevant, even while she appeared in comedies that disappointed at the box office like Just Friends and My Super Ex-Girlfriend. Things really took off for Faris in 2008, when she was cast in The House Bunny, which got a release in late August (normally a dumping ground) and it still grossed nearly $50 million domestically. Like Rogen–who Faris appeared with in Observe and Report–she’s had more success with her family movies, providing her voice in the “Alvin and the Chipmunks” sequel and Sony’s Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs as well as appearing in last year’s Yogi Bear 3D. Earlier this year, Faris was part of the ensemble cast of the comedy bomb Take Me Home Tonight, which might make some wonder if she’s a big enough star to get women to see this one.

One presumes that her romantic co-star Chris Evans does have a number of female fans even though he hasn’t really been in a movie that caters to them, instead appearing in comic-related movies like The Losers, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and a little summer movie called Captain America: The First Avenger.

The movie also stars the very funny Ari Graynor (the new Anna Faris?), legendary actress Blythe Danner from the “Meet the Parents” movies, “Community” star Joel McHale and an amazing array of actors playing Aly’s past boyfriends including the ubiquitous Aziz Ansari, Zachary Quinto from “Heroes” and Star Trek, Thomas Lennon (last seen in Bad Teacher), Chris Pratt from “Parks and Recreations” (and seen in last week’s Moneyball), Martin Freeman from the British “Office” and upcoming “Hobbit” films, Andy Samberg from “Saturday Night Live” and Anthony Mackie, better known as a dramatic actor in movies like the Oscar-winning The Hurt Locker.

One of the things this has over its primary competition 50/50 is that its subject matter is far more accessible to mainstream audiences, especially women, who haven’t really had many movies geared to them or their girlfriends since The Help. There have been other movies they can see but this is clearly a raunchy R-rated comedy targeted directly towards them, which is wisely why Fox mentions both The House Bunny and one of the summer’s biggest hit comedies Bridesmaids in the ads.

What’s Your Number? is also opening in far more theaters than the other openers, another thing that gives it a slight edge over the competition, even if Fox have taken their sweet time releasing it. The first trailer appeared back in April, possibly when it was planned for a summer release, but then it was pushed back to September, and they didn’t really start pushing it until Labor Day.

Normally September wouldn’t be a great time for a movie like this although we have to remember this was the weekend when Reese Witherspoon’s Sweet Home Alabama was released, and currently, that’s the top opener of the month after nine years of releases. (Oddly, Anna Faris provided a voice for the #3 September opener, the animated Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.)

There’ll always be an audience for a corny romantic comedy, and though the R-rating might limit the number of younger teen girls, there should be enough 17 to 26 year old women who’ll give this a look over 50/50 despite the presence of dreamy Joseph Gordon-Levitt in that one. In other words, this one might be too close to call, and this one has just as much potential to tank as it is to do moderately well, which is why we’ll put it in the same $10 to 12 million range as the other movies this weekend.

Why I Should See It: Other than Emma Stone, Anna Faris may be the funniest and sexiest comedic actress working today.
Why Not: Some guys (and women) might find her annoying, especially due to her presence in the “Scary Movie” movies.
Projections: $8 to 10 million opening weekend and $28 million total.

COMPARISONS


Dream House (Universal)
Starring Daniel Craig, Naomi Watts, Rachel Weisz, Marton Csokas, Elias Koteas, Jane Alexander
Directed by Jim Sheridan (Brothers, In America, My Left Foot, The Boxer, In the Name of the Father); Written by David Loucka (Borderline, upcoming House at the End of the Street)
Genre: Suspense, Thriller
Rated PG-13
Tagline: “Once Upon a Time There Were Two Little Girls Who Lived in a House” (So this IS a sequel to In America… I’d been wondering…)
Plot Summary: Publisher Will Atenton (Daniel Craig) quits his job to move his wife (Rachel Weisz) and kids into a New England home where unbeknownst to them, a mother and her two children were murdered by the surviving husband. As Will investigates, he starts working with their neighbor Ann (Naomi Watts) who was close with the family before their death.

Analysis:

You can tell we’re starting to get into the weird portion of September when we get a horror film by Oscar-nominated director Jim Sheridan, best known for dramatic fare like In the Name of the Father, My Left Foot and In America.
There have been so many movies about families who move into a home and get terrorized by the ghosts of the past, the most famous one probably being The Amityville Horror from the ’70s, which was remade with Ryan Reynolds in 2005. Other movies in this vein include The Others, starring Nicole Kidman, and 2009’s The Uninvited, a remake of the Korean horror flick A Tale of Two Sisters. Oddly, the poster for Dream House has the same patterned wallpaper that makes one think that this is ALSO a remake of that movie.

This one probably has the strongest casts of the weekend with Daniel Craig trying to recover after the rather weak showing for Cowboys & Aliens, joined by his new wife Rachel Weisz and another Oscar-nominated actress in Naomi Watts. In that sense, it’s a bit like Disney’s remake of Dark Water, a horror movie being marketed not just for its scares but also for its prestigious cast, because it starred Oscar winner Jennifer Connelly as well as other Oscar nominees.

Craig was a hardworking dramatic actor for many years before his status exploded when he was cast as James Bond for Casino Royale and its sequel Quantum of Solace. He hasn’t done a lot in between then with another long-delayed horror film The Invasion tanking with just $15 million total gross. His WW2 movie Defiance, directed by Edward Zwick, did slightly better with $28 million, but many were looking at the summer’s Cowboys & Aliens (also released by Universal) as a determination whether Craig could be a moviestar without having the crutch of being James Bond. Craig has a much higher profile movie coming out in December with David Fincher’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, in which he’ll also play a publisher exploring a series of deaths oddly enough.

Craig’s co-star Rachel Weisz is the one member of the cast who already won an Oscar for her role in Fernando Meirelles’ The Constant Gardener and her choices since then have ranged from smaller indies like the recent The Whistleblower to a fairly small role in Peter Jackson’s The Lovely Bones. The closest she’s come to a true starring role was Rian Johnson’s The Brothers Bloom that only grossed $3.5 million. In fact, her role in this movie is probably getting more publicity because working with Craig brought the two of them together romantically, despite her having a child with director Darren Aronofsky (who we imagine would do a lot better with this type of material). Craig and Weisz were married earlier this year which had the tabloids talking and probably got more attention for this movie it may have had otherwise. As we’ve seen with movies like Gigli and Creation, appearing in a movie with your girlfriend or spouse is never a good idea. Ever.

Other than Craig’s role in The Invasion, Naomi Watts has probably had the most success with genre fare, having starred in Gore Verbinski’s horror remake The Ring, which is still one of her biggest hits. After breaking out in David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive, Watts has joined Weisz as a respected dramatic actress who has appeared in strong fare like David Cronenberg’s Eastern Promises, Tom Tykwer’s The International and Doug Liman’s Fair Game last year, none of which have shown she can bring people into theaters. She was nominated for her sole Oscar for 21 Grams in 2004.

Unfortunately, Universal hasn’t had great luck with horror films with movies like Dead Silence, the follow-up by the creators of Saw that was delayed for a long time before being released, and James Gunn’s Slither tanking. They have only had mixed luck with the Rogue Pictures movies they’ve released with last year’s Devil and Skyline not doing great. They did slightly better with Sam Raimi’s return to horror with Drag Me to Hell and David Goyer’s The Unborn, which both grossed $42 million, and their remake of The Wolfman did well but that was because it had the namebrand value of a hugely popular movie character.

Dream House is the one movie this weekend that won’t be screening at all for critics, which is never a good sign, especially for a horror movie, because that tells us that Universal knows they’d be more likely to get people interested if they sell it as a typical horror movie and then hope for the best. If this were even a remotely good horror movie, Universal would probably screen it at least on Tuesday night as they have with others, but when they don’t, it’s not a good sign at all.

Why I Should See It: Jim Sheridan is generally a director of high quality dramatic films.
Why Not: Yeah, but so is Walter Salles.. did you ever see Dark Water? QED. The movie is bad, we’re sure of it.
Projections: $7 to 9 million opening weekend and $26 million total

COMPARISONS


Courageous (TriStar Pictures/Sony)
Starring Alex Kendrick, Kevin Downes, Ben Davies, Matt Hardwick, Ken Bevel
Written and directed by Alex Kendrick (Facing the Giants, Fireproof) with Stephen Kendrick
Genre: Drama
Rated PG-13
Tagline: “Honor Begins at Home”
Plot Summary: A drama about four police officers who are struck by tragedy, forcing them to a decision that will change their lives.

Analysis:

The movie I probably know the least about this weekend is this new movie from Alex and Stephen Kendrick’s Sherwood Pictures, the filmmakers behind Fireproof and Facing the Giants, both huge hits for Samuel Goldwyn Films when they opened the same weekend in 2008 and 2006, respectively. Few of the moviegoers who regularly go to movies were aware of either movie because they were mainly being marketed towards the churchgoing communities in the bible belt, and whatever they did worked, since Facing the Giants earned an impressive $10 million and Fireproof did three times that amount. It was helped by the fact it starred Kirk Cameron who already had a fairly massive Christian hit with the controversial Left Behind.

This time the Kendricks (no relationship to 50/50‘a Anna) are exploring the police drama genre through the lives of four officers, including one played by Alex Kendrick himself. There haven’t been a lot of big police dramas because it’s not a genre that evokes huge box office, and being a police drama, this could limit the audience more to guys and potentially lose some of the women who may have been repeat customers familiar with Sherwood Pictures’ other releases.

Sony’s TriStar Pictures division is an interesting one, because they don’t release that many movies nationwide and really, the only one considered a bonafide success was District 9. They were involved with the production on another one of this year’s faith-based dramas, Soul Surfer, but that was distributed and marketed through FilmDistrict, while their other movie Jumping the Broom was released by Screen Gems. Tristar has been responsible for some classic bombs like Wind Chill and Passengers, which were delayed for a long time before being released. Others like Al Pacino’s 88 Minutes were saved by being released by their “big brother” partner Sony, who also helped the recent Luc Besson action-thriller Colombiana do better than expected.

Courageous is a different beast entirely, one that has a potential built-in audience from past successes of the Kendrick Brothers, which is why it’s being released into roughly 1,200 theaters by Sony/Tristar, although most of the focus of its marketing will be in the South and MidWest where it might find an audience whereas movie writers in bigger cities like New York and L.A. probably won’t even see ads or know about the movie. Even so, it should have a solid enough opening to make the bottom half of the Top 10 and if the movie’s any good, its audience should continue to go see it based on word-of-mouth.

Why I Should See It: Because we probably won’t be given an opportunity to see it.
Why Not: TriStar probably won’t screen it for New York critics a.k.a “heathens”
Projections: $5 to 7 million opening weekend and $20 million total

COMPARISONS


THE CHOSEN ONE:

Take Shelter (Sony Pictures Classics)
Starring Michael Shannon, Jessica Chastain, Shea Whigham, Katy Mixon, Kathy Baker
Written and directed by Jeff Nicholls (Shotgun Stories)
Genre: Drama, Thriller
Rated R
Plot Summary: Curtis LaForche (Michael Shannon) is an average family man living in Ohio and trying to take care of his wife (Jessica Chastain) and deaf daughter, but when he starts having nightmarish visions of an impending storm, he starts rebuilding the shelter behind their home although no one believes him and thinks he may be going crazy.

My Review from TIFF

Interview with Jeff Nicholls & Michael Shannon

Since we’ve already reviewed the movie out of the Toronto International Film Festival (see above) and that was after first seeing it at the Sundance Film Festival, where it got an Honorable Mention, we probably don’t have a ton to add. We do have to say that if you’re a fan of Michael Shannon or a new fan of Jessica Chastain from her recent movies The Help or The Debt, you absolutely must see this movie!

Much of the movie involves Shannon’s character trying to convince his wife and coworkers of this storm while he gets a bank loan and invests the money into rebuilding the storm shelter in the back, but his obsession with this mission starts worrying those around him and getting him into trouble at work.

It’s definitely a bit of a slower character drama than it is a psychological thriller, but it’s got a lot of really freaky moments in the visions Shannon’s character sees in his dreams, which leads him to think there’s an enormous storm coming. In that sense, it also reminds me of Conor McPherson’s The Eclipse, starring Ciaran Hinds, one of my favorite movies from 2010, because it has a normal guy haunted by visions, and mixing those two elements makes it a movie where you’re never quite sure what’s real or imagined.

It’s not a perfect movie since it drags at times, but in terms of production values, it’s such a step forward from Shotgun Stories, as well as a great showcase for two talented actors (and a great supporting cast, too). Being that it’s one of the first things Sony Classics has released in recent memory that approaches genre, but one of higher quality, one can only hope it will find an audience among discerning moviegoers looking for something different.

Take Shelter opens in New York and L.A. and we have a feeling Sony Pictures Classics will be rolling this out into more cities in the weeks to come.

Honorable Mention:

Tucker and Dale vs. Evil (Magnolia)
Starring Alan Tudyk, Tyler Labine, Katrina Bowen
Directed by Eli Craig (debut from Sally Fields’ kid); Written by Eli Craig, Morgan Jurgenson
Genre: Comedy, Horror
Rated R
Tagline: “Evil Just Messed with the Wrong Hillbillies.”
Plot Summary: A group of obnoxious college kids encounter a couple of hillbillies in the woods who they think are crazy murderers–having seen too many horror movies, obviously–but no, this is Tucker and Dale (Alan Tudyk, Tyler Labine), best friends who have bought a dilapidated vacation home in the woods which they hope to renovate before they encounter these crazed kids including one scared co-ed (Katrina Bowen) who gets separated from the group.

Mini-Review: (Coming Soon)

Tucker & Dale vs. Evil has already been playing on Video on Demand, but you can catch special midnight screenings this weekend in select cities, and you can see the full list here.

Also in Limited Release:

Josh Hartnett stars in Guy (Holly) Moshe’s Bunraku (ARC Entertainment) as a drifter who arrives in the futuristic city of Bunraku, which has been terrorized by criminals, joining forces with a Japanese warrior named Yoshi (Gackt Camui) to take down the corrupt crimeboss Nicola (Ron Perlman) and his lady Alexandra (Demi Moore). Also starring Woody Harrelson as The Bartender, it opens in select cities following its run on Video on Demand.

Mini-Review: (Coming Soon)

Controversial doc filmmaker Nick Broomfield (Kurt and Courtney and co-director Joan Churchill go after the former Alaskan Governor and Vice-Presidential candidate Sarah Palin: You Betcha! (Freestyle Releasing), finding people in Palin’s hometown of Wasilla to talk about her, since they can’t get her to talk to them directly. It opens in New York, L.A. and San Francisco on Friday and then in Seattle, Phoenix, Portland and other cities October 7.

Mini-Review: (Coming Soon)

Vanessa Roth and Brian McGinn’s doc American Teacher (First Run Features) follow four teachers in different parts of the country, showing how the most important aspect of a child’s education and their future is reliant on a system where teachers are underpaid, making it hard to attract the type of teachers who really care. It opens in New York at the AMC Empire 25 and in Santa Monica at the AMC Loews Broadway, and expands to San Francisco on Oct. 7 and Hartford, CT on Oct. 28.

Patrick Takaya Solomon’s doc Finding Joe (Balcony Releasing) explores the work of author Joseph Campbell (“A Hero with a Thousand Faces”) and the influence he’s had on philosophers, musicians, artists and actors with interviews with Deepak Chopra, Mick Fleetwood, Rashida Jones, Catherine Hardwicke and more. It opens in Santa Monica at the Laemmle Monica 5 Plex on Friday.

Kenneth (You Can Count on Me) Lonergan’s long-delayed drama Margaret (Fox Searchlight) stars nearly 30-year-old Anna Paquin as 17-year-old New York City high school student Lisa Cohen (the movie was shot six years ago!) who plays a role in a terrible bus accident that takes a woman’s life, and unable to make things right, she starts attacking everyone around her, including a caring teacher, played by Matt Damon. Also starring Mark Ruffalo and Matthew Broderick (both in their 20s when they made the movie… ha ha), the movie finally gets unleashed in select cities on Friday.

Opening on Wednesday at New York’s Film Forum is Luc Côté and Patricio Hénriquez’s doc You Don’t Like the Truth: 4 Days Inside Guantanamo (Films Transit), which follows a 15-year-old child soldier for the Taliban captured by US forces and sent to Guantanamo with the understanding that he can confess his guilt and only get eight years or don’t and get life. The doc is culled from hours of surveillance footage of his interrogation declassified by the Canadians.

Sergei Loznitsa’s drama My Joy (Kino Lorbert Films) about a truck driver who is sucked into the madness of his country, loses his health and memory and is turned into a murderer. It opens in New York at the Cinema Village.

Nicholas Smith’s thriller Munger Road (Freestyle Releasing) stars Bruce Davison as one of two policemen in St. Charles who go looking for four missing teenagers on the eve of the yearly Scarecrow Festival along the railroad tracks along Munger Road, which is legendary for all the ghost stories set around the area.

Opening at the IFC Center on Friday, the road comedy Mammuth (Olive Films) stars Gerard Depardieu as 60-year-old working man Serge who retires but has to retrieve some missing documents in order to receive his pension, so he gets on his 1970s Mammoth motorcycles and sets off to collect.


Next week, it’s October, which means there are only two Weekend Warriors left to go! And in the first of those two, we’ll look at two very different movies, Shawn Levy’s action-adventure Real Steel (DreamWorks), starring Hugh Jackman, and George Clooney’s political thriller The Ides of March (Sony), co-starring Ryan Gosling and Evan Rachel Wood.

Copyright 2011 Edward Douglas