Welcome to another year of movie geekdom, analysis and snark. To kick things off, let's take a look at the smaller movies releasing in the beginning of the year, since the larger movies tend to be disappointments (not like some smaller ones aren't as well, but still). Check out a few notables below:
Release Date: Opened in select cities on December 28th and will open nationwide on Friday, January 4, 2013
Synopsis: In Promised Land, Matt Damon stars as Steve Butler, a corporate salesman whose journey from farm boy to big-time player takes an unexpected detour when he lands in a small town, where he grapples with a surprising array of both open hearts and closed doors. Gus Van Sant helms the film from an original screenplay written by John Krasinski & Matt Damon, from a story by Dave Eggers.
Steve has been dispatched to the rural town of McKinley with his sales partner, Sue Thomason (Academy Award winner Frances McDormand). The town has been hit hard by the economic decline of recent years, and the two consummate sales executives see McKinley’s citizens as likely to accept their company’s offer – for drilling rights to their properties – as much-needed relief. What seems like an easy job and a short stay for the duo becomes complicated – professionally by calls for community-wide consideration of the offer by respected schoolteacher Frank Yates (Academy Award nominee Hal Holbrook) and personally by Steve’s encounter with Alice (Rosemarie DeWitt). When Dustin Noble (John Krasinski), a slick environmental activist, arrives, suddenly the stakes, both personal and professional, rise to the boiling point.
A Focus Features presentation in association with Participant Media and Image Nation Abu Dhabi of a Sunday Night, Pearl Street, Media Farm production, Promised Land also stars Scoot McNairy (Killing Them Softly) and Titus Welliver (Argo). The executive producers are Gus Van Sant, Ron Schmidt, Jeff Skoll, and Jonathan King. The producers are Matt Damon, John Krasinski, and Chris Moore.
Release Date: Available on demand December 19, 2012 and select theatrical beginning in New York, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Denver, Portland, Columbus, and Fresno on January 11, 2013.
Demonstrating that life is what happens while you’re busy planning your future, Carson recounts the last few weeks of his life via witty, insightful flashbacks, including a blackmail scheme targeting the popular kids in school that he concocts with his best friend (Rebel Wilson, BRIDESMAIDS), and a home life that includes a mother (Allison Janney, JUNO, “The West Wing”) who’s more interested in the bottle than her son’s future and an estranged father (Dermot Mulroney, MY BEST FRIEND’S WEDDING) who suddenly appears with a pregnant fiancée (Christina Hendricks, “Mad Men”).
Factoid: Premiered at the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival. Writer: Chris Colfer
Release Date: January 18th
Synopsis: An 11-year-old boy gets a crash course in what it means to be a man when he spends a day with the ex-convict uncle he idolizes in LUV, a poignant and gritty coming-of-age story featuring standout performances by Common, Danny Glover, Dennis Haysbert, Charles S. Dutton and newcomer Michael Rainey Jr.
Factoid: Reviewed on Reel Talk here.
Release Date: January 18th
Synopsis: Once upon a time there was a little girl who had never known her mother. She learned the art of her father, a famous bullfighter, but was hated by her evil stepmother. One day she ran away with a troupe of dwarves, and became a legend. Set in southern Spain in 1920s, Blancanieves is a tribute to silent films.
Factoid: Blancanieves is Spain’s official entry for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar for 2012.
Release Date: Available on demand January 23, 2013 and select theatrical beginning in New York on January 25, 2013.
Release Date: February 1st
Written and directed by acclaimed director Austin Chick (XX/XY, August) Girls Against Boys stars Danielle Panabaker (The Crazies), Nicole LaLiberte (HBO’s “How to Make It in America”), Andrew Howard (Limitless), Michael Stahl-David (Cloverfield), and Liam Aiken (Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events).
Factoid: Official Selection of the 2012 SXSW Film Festival
STAND UP GUYS
Release Date: Opened in theaters for an Oscar-qualifying run in NY/LA on December 14, 2012, and will release nationwide February 2013
But one of the friends is keeping a dangerous secret- he’s been put in an impossible quandary by a former mob boss, and his time to find an acceptable alternative is running out. As the sun rises on the guys’ legendary reunion, their position becomes more and more desperate and they finally confront their past once and for all.
Lionsgate, Sidney Kimmel Entertainment, Lakeshore Entertainment present a Lionsgate, Sidney Kimmel, Lakeshore Entertainment Production. Al Pacino, Christopher Walken, Alan Arkin “Stand Up Guys” Julianna Margulies. Casting by Tricia Wood, CSA, Deborah Aquila, CSA; Music by Lyle Workman; Costume Designer Lindsay Ann McKay; Editor Mark Livolsi, A.C.E; Production Designer Maher Ahmad; Director of Photography Michael Grady. Executive Producers Eric Reid, Ted Gidlow, Bruce Toll, Bingham Ray, Matt Berenson. Produced by Sidney Kimmel, Tom Rosenberg, Gary Lucchesi, Jim Tauber. Written by Noah Haidle. Directed by Fisher Stevens.
SOMEBODY UP THERE LIKES ME
Release Date: Available on demand March 12, 2013 and in select theaters beginning March 2013.
Synopsis: SOMEBODY UP THERE LIKES ME depicts thirty-five years in the life of Max (Keith Poulson), a kind-hearted man with the uncanny ability to make all the wrong choices. Joined by his best friend Sal (Nick Offerman), and the woman they both adore, Lyla (Jess Weixler). When good things happen despite the trio’s uncanny ability to stumble through life while making the same poor decisions, SOMEBODY UP THERE LIKES ME proves that the only way to make itstumbles through life making the same poor decisions while expecting different results, their unfousuccess might suggest that we have to be a little insane to make it out alive. Through marriage, divorce, marriage, children, divorce, and funerals, SOMEBODY UP THERE LIKES ME proves that time can sneak up and swerve right around us and the only way to make it out alive is with a little help.
Factoid: Special Jury Prize winner at the 2012 Locarno Film Festival, Official Selection of 2012 SXSW Film Festival and 2012 AFI Film Festival.
HOW TO MAKE MONEY SELLING DRUGS
Release Date: Available on demand and in select theaters beginning Spring 2013.
Synopsis: HOW TO MAKE MONEY SELLING DRUGS offers a captivating glimpse into the lives of those on both sides of the “war on drugs,” delivering a diverse and unique perspective on the controversial subject through interviews with 50 Cent, “The Wire” producer David Simon, Arianna Huffington, Woody Harrelson, Eminem and Susan Sarandon, as well as infamous drug kingpin “Freeway” Rick Ross.
Presenting a shockingly candid examination of how a street dealer can rise to cartel lord with relative ease, the documentary reveals how public policy and government drug enforcement have struggled to creatively adapt to and effectively disincentive Americans from dealing drugs. Bert Marcus Productions was granted unprecedented access from top‐ranking government officials, from the U.S. Drug Czar to the Drug Enforcement Agency, all providing unique and honest viewpoints on this pervasive global topic.