Posted on Thursday, January 21st, 2010 by Peter Sciretta
Welcome to the Rileys
The Pitch: The story follows a damaged man on a business trip to New Orleans who is seeking salvation by caring for a wayward young woman. The story has also been described as being about a couple torn apart after the death of their child.
Who: You might not know 42-year-old director Jake Scott, but you know his father Ridley, the filmmaker behind such films as Alien, Gladiator, and Blade Runner (Jake worked in the editing room during the school holidays). Jake’s directorial debut was a 1999 British historical action comedy titled Plunkett & Macleane which chances are you’ve never seen. But you’ve probably seen his work on the small screen, MTV top be exact. He’s directed iconic videos for REM’s Everybody Hurts, Radiohead’s Fake Plastic Trees, The Cranberries’ When You’re Gone, as well as videos for Soundgarden, The Smashing Pumpkins, Live, Blind Melon, Tori Amos, Lily Allen, The Strokes, The Verve, and U2. Written by Ken Hixon (who has written City by the Sea and Inventing the Abbotts). The movie stars James Gandolfini, Kristen Stewart, and Melissa Leo.
Why: I’ve always been really interested in families in the business. For example, Ivan and Jason Retiman, two directors, one a father, one a son, who produce very different kind of movies, which are equally good, but in very different ways. I’m interested to see Jake Scott’s second directorial effort, and see what kind of filmmaker he might become. Also, the cast is solid and I’ve talked to people who were part of the film production which had high praise for the script.
The Pitch: The story follows an 11-year-old Boy and his little brother Rocky who must reconcile reality with the fantasy dad they created in their imagination after their father returns home after many years away. “It’s 1984, and Michael Jackson is king-even in Waihau Bay, New Zealand. Here we meet Boy, an 11-year-old who lives on a farm with his gran, a goat, and his younger brother, Rocky (who thinks he has magic powers). Shortly after Gran leaves for a week, Boy’s father, Alamein, appears out of the blue. Having imagined a heroic version of his father during his absence, Boy comes face to face with the real version-an incompetent hoodlum who has returned to find a bag of money he buried years before. This is where the goat enters.”
Who: Taika Waititi, James Rolleston, and Te Aho Eketone.
Why: Taiki Waititi‘s indie comedy Eagle vs. Shark (which featured a pre-Conchords Jemaine Clement) was one of my favorite films from the 2007 Sundance Film Festival (I was even quoted on the international DVD cover). The film has been described as a kiwi Son of Rambow.
The Company Men
The Pitch: The story follows three men trying to survive a round of corporate downsizing at a major company, and how that affects them, their families and communities over the course of one year. Official description: “One of the first casualties of a corporate downsize is Bobby Walker, a hot-shot sales executive who is living the idyllic life—complete with two kids and a mortgaged picket fence. His boss, and founder of the company, doesn’t take Bobby’s severance well, and he storms into the boardroom to demand a reprieve of the severe measures. He learns quickly that some choices are out of his hands, and this is only the beginning. We embark on a journey that is all too familiar in today’s recessionary economy: one that will test friendships, loyalties, and family bonds. John Wells explores the powerlessness of losing one’s job while examining how anger, fear, and forced humility can replace the security of “normal.” The inspired casting of great actors, lending their formidable insight to this timely story, makes The Company Men a tribute to America’s unsung heroes: hard-working men caught in life’s unexpected misfortunes.”
Who: Ben Affleck, Tommy Lee Jones, Kevin Costner, Chris Cooper, Maria Bello, Craig T Nelson, and Rosemarie DeWitt. This is the feature directorial debut of John Wells, who is best known for writing and producing hundreds of episodes of both ER and The West Wing.
Why: A solid ensemble cast and I’m interested to see what Wells will be able to do with a feature film. It’s also worth mentioning that eight-time Academy Award nominated cinematographer Roger Deakins shot the film.
The Pitch: The film is a comedy about a recently divorced guy meets the woman of his dreams. But then he meets her son who is, well… interesting. “Alone and acutely depressed, having just learned of his ex-wife’s wedding plans, John can’t believe his luck when he encounters beautiful, charming Molly at a party. The two get along famously and launch a passionate affair, until Molly’s 21-year-old son, Cyrus, enters the scene. Will Molly and Cyrus’s deep and idiosyncratic bond leave room for John? Cyrus becomes a dark, poignant, sometimes hilarious war dance as Molly, Cyrus, and John walk the line between creepy and sympathetic. Each member of this awkward triangle teeters somewhere between bare honesty and furtive manipulation as he or she lets loose all manner of dysfunctionality. The excruciating, delightful fun is seeing where the boundaries ultimately land.”
Who: John C. Reilly, Marisa Tomei, Jonah Hill, and Catherine Keener.
Why: After watching The Duplass Brothers‘ The Puffy Chair at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival I remember telling a friend “this is what real independent filmmaking is all about.” The film helped spark an indie film movement called mumblecore, and the brothers have since gone a bit more mainstream, working within the Hollywood system (kinda, sorta… this film for instance features an “upgraded” cast).
The Extra Man
The Pitch: Based on a novel by Jonathan Ames (Bored to Death), the film tells the story of a down-and-out playwright who escorts wealthy widows in Manhattan’s Upper East Side takes a young aspiring writer under his wing.
Who: Kevin Kline, Paul Dano, John C. Reilly, and Katie Holmes.
Why: The film is directed by American Splendor helmers Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini, and features a solid cast.
Jack Goes Boating
The Pitch: Written by Bob Glaudini, the story follows a stoner limo driver who looks for different ways to improve his skill-set as a way to attract a girlfriend, and goes on a blind date, which “sparks a tale of love, betrayal, friendship, and grace centered around two working-class New York City couples.”
Who: Amy Ryan, John Ortiz, Daphne Rubin-Vega, and Tom McCarthy.
Why: I’m interested in this film because of the story, but more so because it is Philip Seymour Hoffman‘s directorial debut.