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Trailer Talk: This Week In Movies - '50/50,' 'Dream House,' & More

Evan Crean Evan Crean
September 26th, 2011 12:00pm EDT

Trailer Talk: This Week in Movies 50/50

After hearing all the hype about “Drive,” I couldn’t believe how much I hated it.  It starts out promising: director Nicolas Winding Refn has some cool backseat perspectives of the driver (Ryan Gosling), and a sleek electronic soundtrack gives his shots of LA a seedy, neon glow. 

However the directing quickly becomes pretentious, since Refn frequently reuses the same types of shots.  Then the 80s style pop starts to feel COMPLETELY wrong, especially when you’re hit by unexpected, excessive violence on screen.  These things would be more tolerable though, if the film effectively built dramatic tension up surrounding the driver’s confrontation with the bad guys.  Instead, it remains on one flat note throughout, making the whole pace of the movie sag.  My Grade: C-

This week in theaters you’ll have the opportunity to see Seth Rogen/Joseph Gordon-Levitt cancer dramedy “50/50,” the Daniel Craig murder mystery “Dream House,” the Anna Faris romantic comedy “What’s Your Number,” the Anna Paquin coming-of-age drama “Margaret,” the Michael Shannon psychological thriller “Take Shelter,” the horror comedy “Tucker & Dale vs Evil,” the Sarah Palin documentary “Sarah Palin: You Betcha!” and the Christian drama “Courageous.” 

MY PICK FOR THE WEEK: 50/50

Look out later this week for my interview with Seth Rogen and writer Will Reiser for “50/50.” 

50/50

Adam (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a healthy guy.  He doesn’t drink, he doesn’t smoke, and he definitely doesn’t do drugs.  It comes as a huge surprise then, when the 20-something is diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, and told he has a 50/50 shot of beating it.  To brave the fight, Adam will need help from his best friend (Seth Rogen), his mother (Anjelica Huston), and his therapist (Anna Kendrick).           

Jonathan Levine, the director of 2008’s “The Wackness,” helms this dramedy.  Will Reiser pens the screenplay for the film, basing it on his real life experience battling cancer and the support he received from Seth Rogen during that time.        

ORIGINALITY RATING: High.  Plenty of films deal with the drama associated with serious illness, but this one is unique in the way it uses humor to make light of the situation.        

WHO SHOULD SEE IT:  People who are okay with the idea of a buddy comedy about dealing with something as heavy as cancer.  If you appreciate Seth Rogen’s sense of humor, and think you can handle the emotional parts of the film, then you should see “50/50.”        

WHEN TO SEE IT: See it opening weekend.

WHERE TO SEE IT: Your local multiplex. 

DREAM HOUSE

Will Atenton (Daniel Craig) moves with his family to a small New England town, but they soon make the ghastly discovery that a mother and two children were murdered in their new home.  Everyone thinks the killer is the husband, who survived the incident, though Will works with a local woman (Naomi Watts) to put together the pieces of the puzzle.  

Irish filmmaker Jim Sheridan directs this psychological thriller which also features Daniel Craig’s wife Rachel Weisz.  David Loucka, the scribe for 2002’s “Borderline,” writes the screenplay.                

ORIGINALITY RATING: Low.  This trailer makes the film seem very similar to “Shutter Island,” and it also spoils the twist, which seems to be that Craig’s character it the husband of the previously murdered family.    

WHO SHOULD SEE IT: Viewers that like heady thrillers which involve a character trying to reassemble shattered memories.  If you enjoyed the intense hallucinations of the main character in “Shutter Island,” and you dig Daniel Craig as an actor, then you should watch “Dream House.”    

WHEN TO SEE IT: Wait a week, so you don’t have to fight the crowds.

WHERE TO SEE IT: Your local multiplex. 

WHAT’S YOUR NUMBER?

Ally Darling (Anna Faris) reflects on the past twenty men she’s gone out with, and revisits each of them, when she starts to suspect one of them might actually be the love that got away. 

“Entourage” director Mark Mylod, runs this romantic comedy.  Television writers Gabrielle Allan and Jennifer Crittenden team up to pen the screenplay, basing it on Karyn Bosnak’s novel 20 Times a Lady

ORIGINALITY RATING: Medium.  Romantic comedies often have the protagonist revisit old lovers before they realize their friend, who has been there all along, is the right one for them (i.e. Chris Evans in the trailer).  What this film has going for it, is the R-rated raunchy jokes which it alludes to in the trailer, and Faris’s talent for self-deprecating humor.   

WHO SHOULD SEE IT:  Audiences that don’t mind R-rated comedies with a romantic side.  If you want to see Chris Evans break away from his more action based roles toward something new, you should view “What’s Your Number?” 

WHEN TO SEE IT:  Wait a week, so you don’t have to fight the crowds.

WHERE TO SEE IT: Your local multiplex. 

MARGARET

A New York City girl (Anna Paquin) who feels that she caused a fatal traffic accident, attempts to set things right, however she faces opposition at every turn. 

Kenneth Lonergan, the scribe for 2002’s “Gangs of New York,” writes and directs this coming-of-age tale starring Anna Paquin, Mark Ruffalo, Allison Janney, Kieran Culkin, Matthew Broderick, and Matt Damon.      

ORIGINALITY RATING: Medium.  Lots of teens end up maturing as a result of surviving a traumatic experience though this film seems to hint at something in the trailer which makes it different.  Perhaps her romantic relationship with her teacher, played by Matt Damon? Or the fact that people discourage her from telling the truth?  Tough to tell.       

WHO SHOULD SEE IT: Those looking to see a more grounded, realistic coming-of-age drama.  If you’re a “True Blood” fan, and you want to see Anna Paquin’s other acting work, then you should check out “Margaret.”       

WHEN TO SEE IT:  Wait for DVD.

TAKE SHELTER

When he’s haunted by a series of apocalyptic visions, Curtis LaForche (Michael Shannon) tries to decide whether he should protect his family from the impending storm or from himself.      

Jeff Nichols, the man behind the 2007 Michael Shannon movie “Shotgun Stories,” writes and directs this apocalyptic psychological thriller. 

ORIGINALITY RATING: Medium.  Plenty of prophets have attempted to warn people of an impending apocalypse in films, but none have had this large of a shadow of doubt cast upon their sanity.  It’s clear from the trailer that this guy experiences full on hallucinations in real time, which others can’t see, so it’s very possible that he could be losing it.       

WHO SHOULD SEE IT: Moviegoers who like to follow the isolation and alienation of a character that others perceive as crazy.  If you think “Dream House” is too cliché of a thriller for you and this one is more original, then you should catch “Take Shelter.”          

WHEN TO SEE IT:  Opening weekend.

WHERE TO SEE IT: Your local art house theater.    

TUCKER & DALE VS EVIL

Hillbilly pals Tucker and Dale (Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine) are just trying to enjoy a relaxing vacation in the mountains of West Virginia, when they bump into a group of college kids.  Mistaking Tucker and Dale for violent psychopaths, the kids attack them, and hilarity ensues.

Newcomer Eli Craig writes and directs this horror comedy.  Craig receives assistance on the screenplay Morgan Jurgenson.      

ORIGINALITY RATING: High.  This film takes slasher films and basically reverses the traditional formula.  Tucker and Dale are nice guys; it’s the kids that are wrongly suspicious of them.  They kids seem to keep killing themselves through a series of ridiculous accidents.  It’s a fun and fresh way to approach horror. 

WHO SHOULD SEE IT: Horror buffs that like to laugh.  If you love horror comedies which poke fun at clichés in the genre, you should seek out “Tucker & Dale vs Evil.”     

WHEN TO SEE IT:  Opening weekend.

WHERE TO SEE IT: Your local multiplex. 

SARAH PALIN: YOU BETCHA!

Documentarian Nick Broomfield travels to Alaska to trace the origins of Sarah Palin’s political career. 

Broomfield co-directs this political documentary with his frequent partner Joan Churchill.

ORIGINALITY RATING: N/A since the events are real.      

WHO SHOULD SEE IT:  Political junkies who want to know more about Sarah Palin’s past and about the opinions of those that have worked closely with her.  If you feel indifferent about Sarah Palin, and you’re looking to form an opinion either way, you could see “Sarah Palin: You Betcha!” to help decide.      

WHEN TO SEE IT:  Wait a week, so you don’t have to fight the crowds.

WHERE TO SEE IT: LA/NY. 

COURAGEOUS

When tragedy strikes in their lives, four police officers grapple with their faith and their roles as fathers.  Together, they make a pact which will change their lives. 

Alex Kendrick, the filmmaker responsible for the Kirk Cameron drama “Fireproof,” writes, directs, and stars in this faith-based drama. 

ORIGINALITY RATING: High.  It may be really cheesy, but this Christian drama actually features guys who take their roles as fathers seriously.  Realizing that they have not made as much time for their kids as they should have, they strive to be better fathers together.      

WHO SHOULD SEE IT:  Christian audiences looking for a film with solid family values and a positive message.  If you liked “Fireproof” and other movies from this rapidly developing genre of faith influenced stories, then you should watch “Courageous.” 

WHEN TO SEE IT:  Wait a week, so you don’t have to fight the crowds.

WHERE TO SEE IT: Your local multiplex. 

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