Wes Anderson has an interesting directorial resume, working on films as varied as ‘The Darjeeling Limited’ and ‘Fantastic Mr. Fox’. He turns in another oddball project with ‘Moonrise Kingdom’ (PG-13), an indie comedy-drama set in New England in the 1960s. When a boy and a girl fall in love and run away together, hatching elaborate plans as they go, their entire town turns out to look for them—and the fun begins. Early reviews seem to indicate he’s churned out an ambitious and original piece of work, and in any case, the rather interesting cast list is reason to give it a try: Edward Norton, Bruce Willis, Bill Murray, Harvey Keitel, Tilda Swinton, and Frances McDormand all star.
Disabilities and accidents tend to be played for melodrama on the big screen, which makes ‘The Intouchables’ (NR) an incredibly refreshing change of pace. The movie is based on the story of Philippe Pozzo Di Borgo, a French aristocrat who became a quadriplegic following a hang-gliding accident in 1993. Three years later, his wife dies, leaving Philippe (Francois Cluzet) alone and in need of care; he begins interviewing for a live-in caregiver, and decides to hire a poor young man named Driss (Omar Sy) for the job. Slowly, the two men develop a friendship, as Driss helps Philippe overcome his depression and see beyond his disability. (In French with English subtitles)
Same year, different projects: after Tarsem Singh’s take on the classic Snow White story crashed and burned back in March, newbie director Rupert Sanders tries his hand with ‘Snow White and the Huntsman’ (PG-13), a decidedly darker take on the fairy tale. (Ironically, Lily Collins, who played Snow White in ‘Mirror Mirror’, first auditioned for this film but lost the role.)
Sanders’ version keeps many of the classic elements of the tale, casting Kristen Stewart as Snow White and Charlize Theron as the evil queen Ravenna, who becomes obsessed with youth and beauty at all costs. When Ravenna’s magic mirror informs her that Snow White will soon surpass her, the queen hires a huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) to kill the girl—but instead, he becomes her ally (and potential love interest), training her to become a warrior to overthrow the queen.
Rumors of an in-development sequel are already flying around the Internet, but before anyone gets too hyped-up, they might take a step back and remember another recent dark twist on a classic fairy tale, ‘Red Riding Hood’. ‘Snow White’ looks fantastic, from the visuals to the spot-on casting of Theron as the evil queen, but it might be wise not to start placing any bets before the movie actually hits theatres.
Eduardo Sanchez, who got his start in the film world with ‘The Blair Witch Project’, returns to horror with ‘Lovely Molly’ (R). After her father dies, newlywed Molly (Gretchen Lodge) moves into his country house, only to be beset by disturbing memories and creepy occurrences. Her husband, Tim (Johnny Lewis) dismisses the creepy phenomena as mere coincidence or local kids playing a prank; but when he leaves Molly alone for his job as a long-haul truck driver, she spirals downward into paranoia and relapses into a drug habit, intensifying her fear.
Sanchez keeps the audience guessing throughout the film: is the house haunted? Or is Molly’s drug use causing her to hallucinate and invent phenomena? She breaks out her hand held camcorder to record the events around her, but what’s really creepy, and what’s merely creepy when seen through Molly’s point of view? It might be a genre thriller, but as one of the guys who kick-started our obsession with found-footage horror, Sanchez knows that perspective is everything, especially when you’re all alone in an empty, creaky house.
What would summer be without a cheesy sequel…in 3D? ‘Piranha 3DD’ (R) finds the pack of bloodthirsty mutant fish leaving their lakeside feeding grounds to infest a busy water park. Cue the boobs, blood, and screams as a group of friends (Danielle Panabaker, Matt Bush, and David Koechner) try to save the water park staff and patrons from a grisly fate.
It’s interesting to note that the Weinstein Co. invested $20 million to produce this film. When ‘Piranha 3D’ hit theaters in 2010, it barely remade its $24 million budget at the domestic box office. But that film also released into theatres crowded with new releases and big-budget hits that had been reaping big numbers for multiple weeks. By comparison, ‘Piranha 3DD’ arrives during a lull in the box office, with recent releases like ‘Battleship’ sinking fast; only one major new release (‘Snow White’) for the weekend; and a lack of similar dark comedy or horror releases in theatres. Hmm, maybe the Weinsteins do have a chance of turning a profit after all.