Wednesday, September 5, 2012

John Gosling previews the week's new releases (09-07-12).

A relatively quiet weekend with just two major releases, only one of which is out to a substantial number of screens.The Words was written and directed by Brian Klugman and Lee Sternthal and follows a young author (Rory) desperately trying to come up with a story. When his latest effort is rejected he happens across an old manuscript in a house in which he is staying with his partner. Finding himself blown away by how good the story is, he sets to work re-typing it, with a view to passing it off as his own. Thanks to 'his' new book, Rory finds himself the sensation of the publishing world and reaps all the rewards that come with it. But when a man connected with the original manuscript comes into his life, the author soon discovers the high price he will have to pay for stealing another's story. The Words marks the directorial debut of Klugman and Sternthal, who received advice on the script from the Sundance Writer's Lab. With funding in place they set to work on casting, with Bradley Cooper taking the lead role of Rory, Zoe Saldana as his wife Dora and Jeremy Irons as the stranger with the potential to expose Rory's deceit. Other members of the cast included J.K Simmons, Dennis Quaid and Oliva Wilde, the last two acting as a framing device for the picture - Wilde interviewing Quaid's character who has himself written a book relating to the events that unfold as the main body of the film. 

Shooting took place during the summer of 2011 with Montreal doubling for both Paris and New York. The complete picture screened at Sundance in January 2012 and was witness to a furious bidding war, with CBS Films emerging victorious thanks in part to their promise to the directors that The Words would see a theatrical release. Reviews emerging from the festival were positive, with the distributor scheduling a September 2012 release date. The first trailer for the film debuted in May, with a second appearing in late July. As mentioned a couple of weeks ago, Bradley Cooper is on the up and up, and a dramatic turn here could further cement his growing popularity. While Zoe Saldana has been acting since 1999, she rose to prominence thanks to her motion captured performance in 2009's Avatar, as well as roles in J.J Abrams' Star Trek, The Losers and Columbiana. With little in the way of competition, The Words may be the number one choice for cinemagoers this weekend, but whether its central premise is thrilling enough to make a big splash remains to be seen.

The only other new release this frame is action thriller, The Cold Light of Day, starring Henry Cavill, Bruce Willis and Sigourney Weaver. Cavill plays Will Shaw, a man who finds his family kidnapped by intelligence agents while holidaying in Spain. He quickly discovers the ransom for their safety is a mysterious suitcase about which he knows nothing. Suspected of murder and forced to go on the run, Will has to get to the bottom of the situation before its too late for him and his family. Mabrouk El Mechri helms the picture, his first feature credit since the Jean Claude Van Damme mockumentary, JCVD. Willis joined the project back in August 2010 with shooting taking place prior to Cavill signing on as Zack Snyder's Man of Steel. Like The Possession last frame, the picture has sat finished for some time. The first trailer arrived in January of this year with the film receiving a slow but steady international roll out, starting with Spain in early April. In fact, North America and Japan are amongst the last territories to receive The Cold Light Of Day. It did seem that Summit themselves were unsure with what to do with it, originally scheduling a limited domestic release, before opting to put the feature in 1,500 or so locations (the mostly negative international reviews not helping matters). Both Willis and Weaver are big names, but neither are the huge draws they once were (Die Hard franchise aside in Willis' case) and with Summit's lack of marketing hype, it appears they just want their commitment fulfilled as quickly as possible. If The Cold Light of Day troubles the top ten, it won't be for long.

Finally, out to 40 locations is the raunchy comedy, Bacherlorette, which stars Isla Fisher and Kirsten Dunst. When three friends are asked to be bridesmaids for Becky, a girl they bullied at school, Regan (Dunst) is determined to give her a night she'll never forget. However, when things start to get out of control and the bride's dress is damaged, the night gets far wilder than Regan (or any one else) could have ever predicted. The history to Bacherlorette is an interesting one - produced by Will Ferrell and Adam McKay, it debuted at Sundance earlier this year and was promptly snapped up for distribution by the Weinstein subsidiary, RADius-TWC (This marks the company's first release). Instead of an initial theatrical run, Bacherlorette made its debut on VOD, beating out The Dictator, Battleship, and 21 Jump Street during its first 24 hours to become number one on the iTunes chart. At this point, having almost certainly recouped its $3M production budget, a very limited cinematic release seems almost a token gesture. The Weinstein's know that few will seek the film out if it's already available at home - something that they may actually be banking on happening.

John Gosling

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