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An uninspired animated comedy (Hotel Transylvania) dominated the box office last weekend. A hopefully more inspired animated film in the form of Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie, might snag the top spot, but it faces competition from Taken 2, the sequel to 2008's surprise action favorite.
PICK OF THE WEEK
Directing: Tim Burton
Writing: John August (screenplay), Tim Burton (characters, short film, and story), Leonard Ripps (story)
Starring: (voices ) Charlie Tahan, Catherine O’Hara, Winona Ryder
Theater Count: 3,005
What’s It About? In this loose adaptation of Frankenstein, a boy scientist brings his deceased dog back to life. If it wasn’t already clear that this one harkens back to old horror films, it’s shot in black and white, with the stop-motion technology adding to the eeriness.
Early Reaction: This one’s slowly but surely built buzz in the last few weeks, and word on the street suggests that it’s Tim Burton’s best film in quite some time.
Why It’s Our Pick of the Week: Tim Burton seems to be in top form again – With critical duds like Alice in Wonderland and Dark Shadows – the latter plummeting at the box office – the reviews for Burton’s latest indicate that he’s back to delivering great films. The movie also gets bonus points for horror references.
Directing: Olivier Megaton
Writing: Luc Besson, Robert Mark Kamen
Starring: Liam Neeson, Famke Janssen, Maggie Grace
Theater Count: 3,661
What’s It About? Taken saw Oscar nominee Liam Neeson hunting down his daughter who’d been sold into sex slavery. The film turned him into something of an action star, and since it made money, you knew a sequel was coming. This time around, it’s him his wife, played by Famke Janssen, who get kidnapped.
Early Reaction: Taken lacked originality but made up for it with a strong emotional resonance. More importantly, it highlighted an issue to which much of the media turns its head. The critics are mauling this sequel, however, saying that it’s low on the excitement that made the first film such a hit.
What to Watch for: Liam Neeson kicking tail once again - Enough said.
V/H/S – Misfits hunt down a rare VHS (get it?) tape in this found-footage horror flick that premiered at Sundance earlier this year. It’s premiered on Video on Demand back in August. (Player Affinity - 7/10, Metacritic: 54/100, Rotten Tomatoes: 57%) – Magnolia Pictures
The Paperboy – Nicole Kidman’s work steals the attention in this drama about a reporter's investigation of a man on death row. Despite acclaim for Kidman, Daniels' follow-up to Precious: Based on the Novel "Push" by Sapphire debuted to mixed notices at Cannes. (Metacritic: 49/100, Rotten Tomatoes: 50%) – Millennium Entertainment
Butter – Jennifer Garner leads the political satire as a surrogate for Hilary Clinton in this imaginative reinterpretation of the 2008 presidential election that also stars Rob Corddry, Ty Burrell, Olivia Wilde and Hugh Jackman. (Metacritic: 42/100, Rotten Tomatoes: 38%) – The Weinstein Company
Wuthering Heights – Andrea Arnold’s adaptation of the Emily Brontë novel premiered at the Venice Film Festival last year, winning the Outstanding Technical Contribution prize for Robbie Ryan’s cinematography. (Metacritic: 82/100, Rotten Tomatoes: 80%) – Oscilloscope Pictures
The Oranges – Two families’ relationship with one another gets tested when the divorced father of one has an affair with the daughter of another in this comedy that premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival last year. Hugh Laurie, Leighton Meester, and Catherine Keener star. (Metacritic: 42/100, Rotten Tomatoes: 27%) – ATO Pictures
Trade of Innocents – The often overlooked issue of sex trafficking gets the spotlight in this drama with Mira Sorvino and Dermot Mulroney (Metacritic: 27/100) – Monterey Media, Inc.
L'enfant d'en haut (Sister) – French breakout Léa Seydoux stars in this Switzerland-set drama that premiered at the Berlin Film Festival. Switzerland chose the film to be its entry in the Oscar race for Foreign Language Film. (Metacritic: 82/100, Rotten Tomatoes: 100%) – Adopt Films
Fat Kid Rules the World – A suicidal chubby teen becomes a punk-rock drummer in Matthew Lillard’s directorial debut. (Metacritic: 55/100, Rotten Tomatoes: 100%) – ARC Entertainment
Hold Your Breath – 30 Rock star Katrina Bowden stars in this horror flick in which – if you can believe it – young friends go missing while camping – The Asylum
Escape Fire: The Fight to Rescue American Healthcare – This documentary about the design of the United States’ healthcare system premiered at Sundance earlier this year. (Metacritic: 66/100) – Roadside Attractions
The Prosecution of an American President – This doc about George W. Bush’s dealings with Iraq and Saddam Hussein derives from a New York Times bestseller from Vincent Bugliosi. (Metacritic: 21/100) – Independent Pictures
Bel Borba Aqui – Brazil-based tattoo artist Bel grabs the spotlight in this documentary. (Metacritic: 44/100, Rotten Tomatoes: 50%) – Producers Distribution Agency
The Revisionaries – This doc focuses on the debate between teaching creationism and evolution – Kino Lorber
Now, Forager – A marriage between foragers faces a hurdle in this drama – Argot Pictures