Get Geeked

Several intriguing, under-the-radar titles populate the 2010 movie slate

Feb 17, 2010 at 2:06 pm

Everyone knows about Iron Man 2. People have already bought their tickets for the next (and penultimate) Harry Potter installment. You have June 30 marked on your calendar, knowing you’re seeing the new Twilight that weekend. You and about 70 million pre-pubescent girls.

But what about the films getting little-to-no love in all those 2010 previews? Here are a few that piqued our interest.


Frozen: Open Water… on a ski slope? The premise is simple enough: Three skiers are accidentally left stranded high on a chair lift after their ski resort closes. What would you do? Ponder that next time you’re at Perfect North.

I Love You, Phillip Morris: Steven Russell is a happily married, law-abiding straight man in every sense of the word — until an accident prompts him to re-invent himself as a freewheeling gay con artist. Funny, right? Jim Carrey returns to darker, less populist comedy here, with Ewan McGregor along as the titular object of his affection.

Greenberg: Ben Stiller stars in Noah Baumbach’s latest indie-leaning life-examination. Baumbach (The Squid and The Whale) does quirky drama about as well as anyone right now, so we’ll go along for the ride about a middle-aged man trying to do nothing with his life.

Hot Tub Time Machine: Four pals discover a time machine in their hot tub and use it to revisit the 1980s, when life was simpler and hair was worse. This soabsurd-it-could-be-brilliant comedy stars John Cusack, Rob Corddry and Craig Robinson. Do you think when Cusack goes back, he becomes Lloyd Dobler or Lane Meyer?

Chloe: Alluring and ubiquitous Amanda Seyfried (Dear John, Big Love) jumps head-first into adult roles as a seductive call girl hired by Julianne Moore to see if her husband (Liam Neeson) is cheating on her. The trailers look smoking hot and Atom Egoyan directs. There is plenty here to get excited about.

The White Ribbon: Nominated for Best Foreign Language Film and Best Cinematography at this year’s Academy Awards, The White Ribbon appears to be an intense, harrowing story of pre-WWI Germany from director Michael Haneke. Look for its local release just after the Oscars are announced.

Tales from the Script: Hollywood screenwriters share their war stories, successes and failures. A film about screenwriting mightn’t sound engaging, but the A-list talent assembled bodes well. Directed by Peter Hanson, who also co-wrote the script with Paul Robert Herman.

Kick Ass: Paging Shadow Hare. Kick Ass is director Matthew Vaughn’s take on comic-book fanboys, who don the costumes, courage and alter-egos of super heroes, without all the super powers or crime fighting skills. It’s got great buzz and it was selected to open the SXSW film festival.

Solomon Kane: Author Robert E. Howard might be better known as the creator of Conan the Barbarian, but he also penned the Solomon Kane series. This intriguing film adaptation looks exactly like the old adventure movies from the ’80s (Conan, Beastmaster, etc). This might prove a nice trip down memory lane for kids who played swords and fought demons after school.


Losers: Call this the B-Team. A group of CIA operatives (including Avatar’s Zoe Saldana and Watchmen’s Jeffrey Dean Morgan) go underground and vow revenge when they’re targeted for assassination. This comic-book adaptation action film was recently pushed from a quiet April release into the frenzy that is the summer blockbuster. That must mean the solid Internet buzz is warranted.

Cyrus: John C. Reilly plays a divorcee who might finally have found love again, if he can just get the woman’s grown son (Jonah Hill) to accept him. Easier said than done. Comic sparks have to fly when Reilly and Hill battle it out in this Sundance hit.

Get Low: Robert Duvall stars as a reclusive Southerner who — only when the end is near — ventures out into the world to own up to his reputation in the town. Early word is that it’s the performance of his career.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: Scott Pilgrim Ben Stiller stars in Greenberg, the latest indie-leaning effort from writer/director Noah Baumbach. (played by the always reliable Michael Cera) must defeat his new girlfriend’s seven evil exboyfriends in order to win her heart. Director Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead) should keep it light and frothy, the perfect antidote to the summer blockbusters that take themselves entirely too seriously.

The Beaver: Mel Gibson returned from his self-imposed career purgatory earlier this year with the hit Edge of Darkness. But his next project — directed by Jodie Foster, no less — will truly show whether he’s still a movie star. Beaver follows the plight of a depressed man (Gibson) who finds solace in wearing a beaver hand puppet. Who hasn’t been there?

The People vs. George Lucas: This interesting documentary chronicles the often irrational love-hate relationship between the creator of Star Wars and his fans, who clearly don’t always agree with his creative choices. Says one angry fan in the trailer, “If he wants to fix something, go back and redo Howard the Duck.” Search your feelings; you know it to be true.


The Social Network: The conception and creation of social-media stalwart Facebook might not seem like compelling cinema. But add in David Fincher (Fight Club) behind the camera and an Aaron Sorkin script (adapting The Accidental Billionaires by Ben Mezrich) and suddenly you have a worthy status update. But if they spend one minute on Farmville, I’m un-friending them.

Black Swan: Darren Aronofsky (The Wrestler) directs this trippy thriller about a ballerina (Natalie Portman) competing against a rival dancer (Mila Kunis). That they might have a super-steamy scene together in no way affects our professional judgment.

Cemetery Junction: Ricky Gervais re-teams with Stephen Merchant, his longtime writing partner and co-creator of The Office, to present this coming-of-age tale in 1970s Britain. Strangely, it looks nothing like any previous Gervais/Merchant creation, and maybe that’s why it’s so interesting.

Paul: Director Greg Mottola (Superbad, Adventureland) teams with writing/acting duo Simon Pegg and Nick Frost (Shaun of the Dead) to follow two sci-fi geeks on their road trip to Area 51, where they meet a fugitive alien by the name of Paul. It’s a story ripe for the brand of offbeat humor at which Mottola, Pegg and Frost excel. Along for the ride are funnypeople Bill Hader, Jane Lynch, Jason Bateman, Kristen Wiig and Seth Rogen.

Hereafter: Suddenly, you can’t separate Matt Damon and Clint Eastwood. Their followup to Invictus is the supernatural drama Hereafter, in which Damon’s character sees dead people. Haley Joel Osment must not have been available. Still, with a late-year release, this could be awards fodder.

Please Give: A New York couple waits for their elderly neighbor’s death so they can buy her place and expand their apartment. Another Sundance hit, Please Give is from writer/director Nicole Holofcener (Friends with Money) and stars Catherine Keener, Oliver Platt and Amanda Peet.

The Way Back: Peter Weir’s The Way Back follows a gang of soldiers and their escape to freedom from a Siberian gulag in the 1940s. You can bet Weir’s camera will capture the beauty of the Siberian arctic, the Gobi desert and the Himalayas. Starring Colin Farrell, Jim Sturgess and Ed Harris.