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The Notable Films of 2010: Part Three

By Garth Franklin Friday December 18th 2009 01:42AM

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Dear John
Opens: February 5th 2010
Cast: Channing Tatum, Amanda Seyfried, Henry Thomas, Richard Jenkins
Director: Lasse Hallstrom

Summary: A young soldier home on leave falls for an idealistic college student during her spring vacation. Over the next seven tumultuous years, the couple is separated by his dangerous deployments and their mail correspondence triggers fateful consequences.

Analysis: While the Miley Cyrus-led "The Last Song" is getting all the hype and tabloid coverage, another book by Nicholas Sparks ("A Walk to Remember," "The Notebook") is getting an adaptation released this Spring and could well prove to be a quiet sleeper thanks to its clean cut, tear-jerking romantic appeal. The cast isn't too shabby and director Lasse Hallstrom ("Chocolat," "The Cider House Rules") is a better director than usual for this sort of material. It's formula though and follows it to the letter so don't go in expecting anything more. While Tatum seems suited for the role, Seyfried seems too sharp and self-aware to play the naive homespun country girl pinning after her soldier boyfriend.

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The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud
Opens: 2010
Cast: Zac Efron, Dave Franco, Kim Basinger, Amanda Crew, Donal Logue
Director: Burr Steers

Summary: Charlie is a young man overcome by grief at the death of his younger brother, so he takes a job as caretaker of the cemetery in which he's buried and actually communicates with the deceased boy every night. When a girl comes into his life, he considers the choice to move on.

Analysis: Re-teaming with his "17 Again" writer/director Burr Steers, tween hunk Zac Efron made headlines shooting this film more for his shirtless wandering around on-set in Vancouver than for actually filming anything. This was also the project he dropped out of the "Footloose" remake for, an adaptation of Ben Sherwood's 2005 novel that sounds like a light fantasy drama akin to "The Legend of Bagger Vance" and "Just Like Heaven". The character is 28 in the book, though the film has obviously gone younger with Efron, but whether he can pull off the serious dramatic moments is hard to say as his performance in "Me and Orson Welles" was considered the weakest element of that film.

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Death at a Funeral
Opens: April 16th 2010
Cast: Chris Rock, Tracy Morgan, Martin Lawrence, Loretta Devine, Ron Glass
Director: Neil LaBute

Summary: A re-imagining of Frank Oz's 2007 British comedy. The ensemble comedy deals with a funeral ceremony that leads to the digging up of shocking family secrets, as well as misplaced cadavers and indecent exposure. While the original was set in Britain, the new film will take place in a US setting with a mostly African-American cast.

Analysis: Though there's many cases of Hollywood delivering passable yet notably inferior remakes of recent British hits, this one is a rather strange example. Dean Craig penned the screenplays for both films and it would appear he really didn't do much extra work on the American version - the trailers are cut with the exact same gags in the same order with the only change really being colloquial expressions and Tracy Morgan's subplot.

While the various faces have been changed - Matthew MacFadyen becomes Chris Rock, Alan Tudyk becomes James Marsden, etc. - Peter Dinklage once again plays the exact same role he did in the original (a dwarf extortionist who had a gay affair with the deceased). Frank Oz ("In & Out," "The Score," "Bowfinger") helmed the original whereas the generally more risk-taking Neil LaBute ("Lakeview Terrace," "The Wicker Man") did this version, however nothing released so far would indicate anything but paint-by-numbers directing. Will be fine for those who haven't seen first one and dismiss British films on principle, otherwise the best bet is usually to stick with the original.

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The Debt
Opens: 2010
Cast: Sam Worthington, Helen Mirren, Ciaran Hinds, Tom Wilkinson, Martin Csokas
Director: John Madden

Summary: In 1965, three young Israeli Mossad agents on a secret mission capture and kill a notorious Nazi war criminal. Now, thirty years later, a man claiming to be the Nazi has surfaced in the Ukraine and one of the former agents must go back undercover to seek out the truth.

Analysis: Like "Death at a Funeral", here's another remake of a 2007 foreign film that apparently sticks fairly close to its originator. Peter Straughan ("The Men Who Stare at Goats") and Matthew Vaughn ("Kick Ass," "Stardust") performed some minor polishing of Assaf Bernstein's original script to adjust it for Western audiences and in the process managed to get a nod for their work on last year's Black List.

Since then however it has become one of the most secret films of next year with not a single still, set photo, promo art or piece of footage released as of the time of this article's initial posting despite director John Madden having wrapped filming in London & Hungary this past Easter and already indicating he's essentially finished post-production.

The cast have said very little about it, and troubled distributor Miramax haven't set a release date despite it being one of the most high-profile projects it has sitting in its vaults right now. Of course one must also ask, will people really buy the likes of Mirren and Worthington as Mossad agents?

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The Descent: Part II
Opens: 2010
Cast: Shauna Macdonald, Natalie Mendoza, Gavan O'Herlihy, Joshua Dallas
Director: Jon Harris

Summary: A search and rescue team take sole survivor Sarah back to where the horrible events happened to find any possible answers and survivors. However, whilst down in the cave... things don't go to plan as the group fight for their lives against the crawlers.

Analysis: Director Neil Marshall's 2005 British horror film "The Descent" was one of the best efforts of the horror genre in years and scored excellent reviews upon its release. Yet doing a follow-up to that claustrophobic spelunking effort seems almost sacrilegious as there really is simply no need. Early reviews from the UK seem to prove this theory out, even normally generous horror reviewers delivered very mixed reviews and claims that it follows all the usual horror sequel cliches.

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Despicable Me
Opens: July 9th 2010
Cast: Steve Carell, Jason Segel, Kristen Wiig, Will Arnett, Russell Brand
Director: Chris Renaud, Pierre Coffin

Summary: Gru is a supervillain whose arsenal vanquishes all who stand in his way. Until the day he encounters the immense will of three little orphaned girls who look at him and see something that no one else has ever seen: a potential Dad.

Analysis: Not Pixar, Dreamworks or Fox, 'Despicable' is from Universal's new outfit Illumination Entertainment who're also behind the Russell Brand-led Easter Bunny project "I Hop". There's some nice CG design work, a strong voice cast of skilled comedians rather than unnecessary film stars, and two semi-decent teaser trailers so far. Yet with the CG-animated genre so plagued by inferior product these days, it's hard to get excited for something like this.

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Diary of a Wimpy Kid
Opens: April 2nd 2010
Cast: Zachary Gordon, Chloe Moretz, Steve Zahn, Rachael Harris, Robert Capron
Director: Thor Freudenthal

Summary: Based on the best-selling illustrated novel "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" by Jeff Kinney, the film chronicles the adventures of wisecracking middle school student Greg Heffley over the course of an academic year, as told through the young man's diary and hand-drawn cartoons.

Analysis: Beloved web comic turned publishing success, there's a lot of expectation that this live-action incarnation will have to live up to, not to mention a lot more difficulty than you might expect translating something like Kinney's books into a film medium. "Hotel for Dogs" director Freudenthal helms this adaptation which has already drawn a few criticisms for casting too young, but Fox 2000 so far has been more careful than it needs to be with how this film is coming together so don't expect a dud from lack of trying.

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Dinner for Schmucks
Opens: July 23rd 2010
Cast: Steve Carell, Paul Rudd, Zach Galifianakis, Bruce Greenwood, David Walliams
Director: Jay Roach

Summary: A renowned publisher encourages his friends to invite the most pathetic guests possible for their weekly dinner party. Just as they find the most pathetic man yet, the host is injured and ends up trapped with the man all night long.

Analysis: A remake of director Francis Veber's 1998 César award-winning "Le Diner des cons", 'Schmucks' is one of the highest profile comedies of next year with one of the strongest casts for the genre in recent memory. It also marks the return of "Austin Powers" and "Meet the Parents" helmer Jay Roach who has produced several films in recent years but hasn't directed since 2004's "Meet the Fockers".

The question now lies not in the performers or director but the material itself and whether a Gallic comedy can make the transition to Hollywood without the edge of the often quite esoteric French sense of humor being watered down by a nervous studio. No less than seven writers are currently attributed to the script which is of concern, but much will depend upon getting the buzz started early enough with audience preview screenings.

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The Disappearance of Alice Creed
Opens: 2010
Cast: Gemma Arterton, Eddie Marsan, Martin Compston
Director: J Blakeson

Summary: Two masked men kidnap a millionaire's daughter and take her to an abandoned, soundproofed apartment. Her have worked out a meticulous plan, but she is not going to play the perfect victim – she's not giving in without a fight.

Analysis: Scoring a world premiere in September at the Toronto Film Festival to good reviews, Blakeson's directorial debut is more a minimalist psychological thriller than exciting kidnap drama with its one-too-many reversals receiving criticism for a lack of credibility. Marsan scored the best notices of the trio though Arterton character's was chided for all too quickly becoming a figure as cold and ruthless as her kidnappers.

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District 13: Ultimatum
Opens: February 5th 2010
Cast: David Belle, Cyril Raffaelli
Director: Patrick Alessandrin

Summary: Despite government promises to maintain order, the state of the racially charged ghetto 'District 13' has deteriorated, and a group of corrupt cops and elected officials are conspiring to cause civil unrest in D13, looking for an excuse to raze the area and cash in on its redevelopment.

Analysis: It was the acclaimed 2004 French action film "District 13" that really brought parkour, the sport of free running, into public consciousness. Its subsequent use in various Hollywood efforts from "Casino Royale" to "Live Free or Die Hard" have sadly now made it something that's already lost some of its freshness and edge.

The first 'B13', helmed by Pierre Morel who followed it up with the even bigger international success of "Taken", scored very good reviews. Five years on its sequel has played in Europe and several film festivals where it garnered a similar if somewhat less enthusiastic reaction as Luc Besson-produced action films (e.g. the "Taxi" and "Transporter" series) generally stick to the same formula with minimal variations. One quite noticeable change is that it's longer and features a more pointed political context which makes the pacing more uneven than the first.

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Don McKay
Opens: April 2010
Cast: Thomas Haden Church, Elisabeth Shue, Melissa Leo, M. Emmet Walsh
Director: Jake Goldberger

Summary: The story centers on a man, haunted by a tragedy that forced him to flee his hometown 25 years earlier, who returns when he hears his long-lost love is dying. He's soon caught in a web of confusion, deceit and murder.

Analysis: Though somewhat unsure of its title, which seems to keep swapping between "Don McKay" and "Moment of Truth", this indie black comedy/thriller ended up becoming a critical favourite at the Tribeca Film Festival this past April and scored a lot of praise for its often surprisingly twisty journey and solid performances by the likes of Church and Shue. Criticisms were levelled at its rather obvious homages to various filmmakers of the genre like Billy Wilder and Brian DePalma, while an early trailer leak didn't look to promising. Nevertheless Image Entertainment thought it strong enough that an April limited release is planned.

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Dorian Gray
Opens: 2010
Cast: Ben Barnes, Colin Firth, Rebecca Hall, Ben Chaplin, Emilia Fox
Director: Oliver Parker

Summary: Dorian Gray is a young man who becomes the subject of a painting. As the man descends into a hedonistic lifestyle, the portrait begins to age and morph, but he doesn't. Firth plays Lord Henry Wotton, the aristocrat who corrupts Gray with his worldview.

Analysis: Despite nearly twenty film or made-for-television adaptations over the years, the darkly handsome metaphor incarnate at the centre of Oscar Wilde's sole published novel has yet to see a truly definitive portrayal hit the screen. No less than six adaptations of the work, featuring the likes of Josh Duhamel to David Gallagher, have sadly gone direct-to-DVD in most countries this decade alone - an irony Wilde would appreciate considering a hedonistic lifestyle is a dream more exalted by the young and the vain than ever. The last time and possibly only time many saw Gray onscreen was Stuart Townsend's portrayal in 2003's woeful "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen".

Released in the UK in September to so-so reviews and middling box-office, this 'Gray' delivered a well-budgeted take on the tale with good production values, a strong supporting role from Colin Firth, a decently played lead role by Ben Barnes, and a more faithful work than many films before it. However director Oliver Parker once again came under criticism for delivering a rather flat adaptation along the same lines as his other Wilde-related works like "The Importance of Being Earnest" and "An Ideal Husband", not to mention a climax that dissolves into an overblown effects-fuelled mess.

Despite its international release throughout the last few months of this year, no US distributor has yet picked up the film or set a release date, so despite its much higher gloss this incarnation of the character could well share the fate of many a Dorian Gray before him.

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The Dry Land
Opens: 2010
Cast: America Ferrera, Melissa Leo, Ryan O'Nan, Wilmer Valderrama
Director: Ryan Piers Williams

Summary: The story centres on a young war vet who returns home from a tour of duty only to find that his small-town life no longer fits. He sets off across the country with a buddy to find redemption.

Analysis: The feature directorial debut of post-production specialist Ryan Piers Williams, 'Land' is one of the quieter films making its debut in competition at the upcoming Sundance Film Festival. Shot early last Summer in New Mexico and Texas, there's no real word on how the film turned out and less hype surrounding it than some of the other Sundance debutantes. Thus critical reviews out of Park City will play a big part in determining its fate.

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Due Date
Opens: November 5th 2010
Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Jamie Foxx, Zach Galifianakis, Michelle Monaghan, RZA
Director: Todd Phillips

Summary: Downey will play an expectant father who finds himself on a road trip with a mismatched partner, as he races to get there before his wife gives birth to his first child. Galifianakis plays his road trip mate.

Analysis: "The Hangover" director Todd Phillips and its most acclaimed star Zach Galifinakis re-team on this older buddy road trip comedy with a script by Alan R. Cohen and Alan Freedland that made the Blacklist. Reports from the set are that Phillips has another hit on his hands up there with his other well-received work like "Old School" and "Road Trip", while the director is whittling down his two-hour director's cut into a more brisk 100-minute laugher. Despite the typecasting danger of doing another comedy again after his 'Hangover' performance, Phillips claims Galifianakis' character and style of humor is completely different in this which should be fun to see.

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The Eagle of the Ninth
Opens: 2010
Cast: Channing Tatum, Jamie Bell, Donald Sutherland, Mark Strong, Tahar Rahim
Director: Kevin Macdonald

Summary: In 140 AD, twenty years after the unexplained disappearance of the entire Ninth Legion in the mountains of Scotland, a young centurion arrives from Rome to solve the mystery and restore the reputation of his father who commanded the team.

Analysis: The second of two projects about the Ninth Legion hitting in the latter half of the year, the other being Neil Marshall's more action-heavy chase movie "Centurion". Though there's no direct relation between the two, 'Eagle' could easily serve as an unofficial sequel considering the storyline.

'Eagle' however has a stronger pedigree with "The Last King of Scotland" and "State of Play" director Kevin Macdonald at the helm, and a script based on Rosemary Sutcliff's acclaimed 1954 novel that is quite well-known. Whereas "Centurion" opts for pure action genre kicks, Macdonald intends his film to be historically authentic and much more an exploration of anti-imperialist themes.

Channing Tatum is a blander lead than Centurion's Michael Fassbender, but the supporting cast with talent like Sutherland and Mark Strong makes up for it. Shot in Hungary and Scotland late last year, the £15 million production scored worldwide distribution deals before a single frame was shot so there's lot of faith already about the film's quality. There's the slim possibility that Focus will also potentially give the film a big awards push, but that will depend entirely upon the critical reaction.

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Easy A
Opens: 2010
Cast: Emma Stone, Amanda Bynes, Patricia Clarkson, Stanley Tucci, Penn Badgley
Director: Will Gluck

Summary: A high school student who, after being ostracized by an unfounded rumor that she is sexually promiscuous, uses the rumor mill to her advantage. Soon she's able to pit puritanical students and teachers against their liberal counterparts.

Analysis: His first film, the tedious and far too tame male cheerleader comedy "Fired Up", doesn't give one hope. Nevertheless former "The Loop" and "Grosse Point" showrunner Will Gluck has returned with a far more interesting sounding premise and a cast whom generally avoid dumb studio comedies. Playwright Bert V. Royal helped out on the script which updates "The Scarlet Letter" for a modern setting. Still too early to tell how this will go.

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Eat, Pray, Love
Opens: August 13th 2010
Cast: Julia Roberts, Richard Jenkins, Javier Bardem, Viola Davis, Billy Crudup
Director: Ryan Murphy

Summary: Based on Elizabeth Gilbert's memoir, the story focuses on a married woman who seemingly has it all but realizes that she's not living the life she wants. She divorces her husband and sets off on a journey around the world.

Analysis: The guise of self-empowerment is a nice excuse to travel the world, and that's just what author Elizabeth Gilbert did when she used a book advance to pay for a year's vacation trying out life in Italy, India and Indonesia. Several years on the book has become a literary hit with some strong reviews, most notably from talk show queen Oprah Winfrey, thus the film adaptation was inevitable.

"Nip/Tuck" creator Ryan Murphy actually seems a good fit for the tone of the piece though the casting of 42-year-old Roberts to play the 32-year-old Gilbert has drawn criticism. Despite the age difference though the combination of Roberts, Javier Bardem as her love interest, and various exotic locale shooting should definitely make this a very appealing product for the middle-upper class older female demographic.

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Edge of Darkness
Opens: January 29th 2010
Cast: Mel Gibson, Ray Winstone, Danny Huston, Denis O'Hare
Director: Martin Campbell

Summary: Based on the acclaimed British TV miniseries which followed a cop unravelling the truth behind the brutal killing of his daughter. His investigations lead him into a murky world of corporate cover-ups and nuclear espionage with dark forces threatening the future of life on Earth.

Analysis: Though several award-winning British mini-series have been turned into bland Hollywood film adaptations ("The Singing Detective," "State of Play"), this one could be different in that original writer/director Martin Campbell is returning to the material over twenty years on and with several great films like "Casino Royale," "The Mask of Zorro" and "Goldeneye" under his belt.

The big question here is how will this be translated? 'Edge' was very much a product of 1985 with its critical examination of Thatcherism, corruption and nuclear proliferation. Yet it also threw in some left field Gaia theology talk of Mother Nature as a living organism who would terminate threats to her own survival. The first trailer for the film in October gave us our first clue, representing the film more as a "Taken" style action revenge movie, keeping the main storyline of the grieving father trying to learn the truth and not bothering with any of the environmental or political subtext.

Like "State of Play" it also appears as though the antagonists have been changed from Government and energy companies colluding to corrupt Haliburton-esque private military contractors. The result will likely follow the quality trend as well - a decent retread that works fine as is, but isn't a shadow of the longer, deeper and far richer original mini.

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Enter the Void
Opens: 2010
Cast: Nathaniel Brown, Paz de la Huerta, Cyril Roy, Emily Alyn Lind
Director: Gaspar Noe

Summary: An American slacker and budding drug dealer living in Tokyo gets a call from a friend to hook him up at a local bar. The meet proves a setup with the slacker killed in the ruckus, and his spirit floats above the city observing the ensuing fall out.

Analysis: A "wild, hallucinatory mindfuck" is one of the more common phrases used in early reviews to describe the third film from French director Gaspar Noe. After several short films, Noe made his feature debut in 1998 with the well-received but little seen "I Stand Alone". It was his second film however, "Irreversible", that drew international attention thanks to its controversial debut at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival where many walked out during its infamous single-take, nine minute rape scene with Monica Belucci.

Cut to seven years on and Noe returned to Cannes with 'Void' which basically defies all cinematic convention. Running a whopping 163 minutes (later edited down to 161 minutes) and shot almost entirely from a first person perspective, the main character dies half-an-hour in and we spend the rest of the film floating above Tokyo watching events unfold. The film blends crane shots on location in Tokyo, studio filming and miniatures to create the effect of rushing over and around the city to track the various characters.

Much more a sensualist than a storyteller, the plot essentially goes out the window and the trippy ride that ensues moves back-and-forth in time and features amongst other things both a graphic abortion and a shot of an ejaculating penis from a cervix's point-of-view. By its very nature it will struggle to find distribution, but there's a definite call for this to become a cult smash that will find a particular following when used in conjunction with illicit drug use.

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The Expendables
Opens: August 13th 2010
Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Jet Li, Jason Statham, Mickey Rourke, Eric Roberts
Director: Sylvester Stallone

Summary: "The Expendables" follows a team of mercenaries on a mission to overthrow a South American dictator.

Analysis: Stallone's $80 million tribute to 80's action cinema is a much-anticipated love letter to a time when men were men, computer effects were non-existent, and hard R-rated violence and politically incorrect humour was the norm. The plot is thin but perfunctory in many ways, the draw here is seeing a bunch of actors who made their name in the genre team up for an old-school, balls out blast of a good time.

Along with the five stars mentioned above you've also got Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, Steve Austin, Terry Crews, Danny Trejo, and cameos by both Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis. The few exceptions are Steven Seagal, Kurt Russell, Jean Claude Van Damme and Wesley Snipes who were all offered roles but turned them down due to various differing circumstances. While some expensive sequences were cut, the stars claim the action here is very much of the shoot, stab and fight variety rather than high-gloss FX-driven set pieces.

The concern will be the violence or potential lack thereof. Producer Avi Lerner will apparently test both a PG-13-rated and an R-rated version of the film to see which one will be officially released. Why they're even bothering with a PG-13 is because of the success of films like "Live Free or Die Hard" and Lerner's belief that 2008's "Rambo" could've made even more money had it not contained such extreme violence and gore. On the other hand there's more than a lion's share of people out there anticipating this who won't bother showing up at the cinema if this is to be watered down to a PG-13.

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The Experiment
Opens: 2010
Cast: Adrien Brody, Forest Whitaker, Travis Fimmel, Cam Gigandet, Clifton Collins Jr.
Director: Paul Scheuring

Summary: A remake of the German thriller "Das Experiment" which centered on a group of ordinary men recruited to take on the roles of guards and prisoners as part of a research study and examined how the effects of assigned roles, power and control affected the participants.

Analysis: This one's confusing so bear with me. Oliver Hirschbiegel ("Downfall," "The Invasion") directed the highly acclaimed 2001 German film "Das Experiment" which itself was inspired by the real life events of the Stanford University Prison Experiment in the US in 1971. Then in 2003, Maverick Films began work on "The Stanford Prison Experiement" - an entirely new film about the real 1971 incident using a script by Christopher McQuarrie ("The Usual Suspects") that he would direct.

Cut to 2006 Inferno Distribution was invited onboard to co-produce and declined as they were apparently already looking into remaking "Das Experiment" in an anonymous and contemporary U.S. setting. Legal threats and lawsuits ensued which stalled progress on both productions until it was settled in early 2008 with both companies free to develop their projects. By early 2009 "Prison Break" creator and showrunner Paul Scheuring was onboard to direct and adapt the screenplay for Inferno's remake, while Maverick's film currently sits stuck in development hell.

Shot over the summer, much of the cast has talked excitedly about the work they did on the project during recent interviews these past few months about other films. The first photos popped up at the American Film Market last month but beyond that there's no talk of a release as yet, though Sony Pictures is set to distribute the film sometime this year. Expect to hear more on this in a few months.

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The Extra Man
Opens: 2010
Cast: Kevin Kline, Paul Dano, Katie Holmes, John C. Reilly, Celia Weston
Director: Robert Pulcini, Shari Springer Berman

Summary: A young man moves into a New York apartment owned by a failed playwright and escort for the rich widows of the Upper East Side. As their mentor/apprentice relationship deepens and grows, he becomes infatuated with a young socially-aware co-worker.

Analysis: The duo behind "American Splendor" and "The Nanny Diaries" return with this quirky sounding coming of age drama which has its world premiere at Sundance this year. Finished only the other week, the cast is pretty stellar and there's quite a bit of anticipation but it seems that no distributor has yet picked it up in English-speaking territories. If the screening does well, this one could quite likely fetch a high bidding price.

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The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec
Opens: 2010
Cast: Louise Bourgoin, Philippe Nahon, Gilles Lellouche, Mathieu Amalric, Frederique Bel
Director: Luc Besson

Summary: Adèle Blanc-Sec is an intrepid young reporter in 1912, will go to any lengths to achieve her aims, including sailing to Egypt to tackle mummies. Meanwhile in Paris a pterodactyl egg in the natural history museum has hatched, and the bird subjects the city to a reign of terror.

Analysis: One of the first films I covered on this site back in 1997 was a then little known property called "The Fifth Element". Having broken through worldwide with "La Femme Nikita" and "Leon: The Professional", French helmer Luc Besson delivered a trippy sci-fi action fantasy that, despite mixed reviews upon release, has only gone up in many's estimation in the subsequent thirteen years. Though he's produced a hell of a lot since then, his few directorial efforts have either been flops ("Angel-A," "The Messenger: Joan of Arc") or just generally uninteresting (the "Minimoys" series).

Here though, Besson returns with his most interesting effort since and the first in a potential film trilogy. 'Adele' adapts Jacques Tardi's nine-volume comic series from the 70's which lent a satirical and supernatural adventure spin on the pre-WWI Belle Epoque era. This fusion of well-researched alternative explanations to historical events, a feisty heroinne who had no problems smoking or drinking, and 'out there' elements from dinosaurs and mummies to mad scientists and demon worshippers all became a trademark of the series.

Will it translate though? European comics are hits internationally bar the biggest market of all - the United States. The live-action film versions of "Asterix" and the heavily panned recent "Lucky Luke" didn't get theatrical releases in America or many countries outside of their home soil. Even with the likes of both Spielberg and Peter Jackson attached, the upcoming film versions of Herge's brilliant adventure books "Tintin" are meeting a surprising amount of venomous hatred online by many who've zero familiarity with the property and a passion for comic titles not fit enough to wipe the Belgian author's ass with.

Besson though has a strong enough reputation amongst the film geek crowd to push through this 25 million Euro production into at least a decent limited theatrical run States-side. The lure of the epic scale, visual effects and crowd-friendly tone might be enough to overcome any aversion to the subtitles and make this one of the top grossing foreign-language films to get a release in the US, even if it doesn't you can still expect this and any further sequels to become cult hits on DVD and Blu-ray.

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Extraordinary Measures
Opens: Janaury 22nd 2010
Cast: Harrison Ford, Brendan Fraser, Keri Russell, Courtney B. Vance
Director: Tom Vaughan

Summary: The story of a biotechnology executive who defied great odds to pursue a cure for his children's life threatening Pompe disease. He and his wife raise money to hire a research scientist and form a company to develop a drug to save his children's lives.

Analysis: The debut theatrical release of CBS Films sounds like a more hi-tech version of "Lorenzo's Oil" as one father bucks the medical system and develops his own treatment for his long-suffering child. Robert Nelson Jacobs adapted the screenplay and has made a habit out of adapting acclaimed books like "Chocolat," "The Shipping News" and "The Water Horse". Director Tom Vaughan though is a more mixed bag with his two previous features being the great "Starter for 10" and the god awful "What Happens in Vegas".

The January release date is a little unnerving, as is the trailer which looks too much like a rather feel-good sanitised melodrama (ie. "The Pursuit of Happyness") than a well-written anti-establishment crusading piece (ie. "Erin Brockovich"). It's also going for the sick kid tear-jerker angle that Hollywood too often brazenly exploits for revenue under the guise of being a 'message movie'.

The Complete Notable Films of 2010 Guide

Part One: 13, 44 Inch Chest, The A-Team, Abel, The Adjustment Bureau, After.Life, Agora, Alice in Wonderland, Alpha and Omega 3D, The American, And Soon the Darkness, Animal Kingdom, Area 51, The Back-Up Plan, The Baster, Beastly, The Beaver, Bitch Slap, Biutiful, Black Death, Black Swan, Blitz, Blue Valentine, The Book of Eli, Born to Be A Star, The Bounty Hunter

Part Two: Bran Nue Dae, Breaking Upwards, Brighton Rock, Brooklyn's Finest, Buried, Burlesque, Carlos the Jackal, Case 39, Cats and Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore, Cemetery Junction, Centurion, Chloe, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Clash of the Titans, The Company Men, Confucius, The Conspirator, Cop Out, Cracks, The Crazies, Crazy on the Outside, Creation, Cyrus, Date Night, Daybreakers

Part Three: Dear John, The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud, Death at a Funeral, The Debt, The Descent: Part II, Despicable Me, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Dinner for Schmucks, The Disappearance of Alice Creed, District 13 Ultimatum, Don McKay, Dorian Gray, The Dry Land, Due Date, The Eagle of the Ninth, Easy A, Eat Pray Love, Edge of Darkness, Enter the Void, The Exam, The Expendables, The Experiment, The Extra Man, The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec, Extraordinary Measures

Part Four: Fair Game, The Fighter, The First Gun, Fish Tank, Flipped, From Paris with Love, Frozen, Furry Vengeance, Georgia, Get Low, Get Me to the Gig, The Ghost Writer, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, Glorious 39, Going the Distance, The Good Guy, The Greatest, Greenberg, The Green Hornet, Green Zone, Grown Ups, Guardians of Ga'Hoole 3D, Gulliver's Travels, Happy Tears, Harry Brown

Part Five: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part One, Heartless, Henry's Crime, Hereafter, Hesher, High School, Hippie Hippie Shake, Holy Rollers, Hot Tub Time Machine, Howl, How to Train Your Dragon, The Hungry Rabbit Jumps, I Am Love, I Love You Phillip Morris, Inception, The Irishman, Ironclad, Iron Man 2, It's Kind of a Funny Story, It's A Wonderful Afterlife, Jackass 3D, Jack Goes Boating, John Rabe, Jonah Hex, The Joneses, The Karate Kid

Part Six: Kick Ass, The Kids Are All Right, The Killer Inside Me, Killers, The King's Speech, Knight and Day, The Last Airbender, The Last Song, The Last Word, Leap Year, Legion, Let Me In, Letters to Juliet, Life as We Know It, Life During Wartime, Little Fockers, London Boulevard, The Losers, The Lottery Ticket, Love and Other Drugs, Love and Other Impossible Pursuits, Love Ranch, MacGruber, Machete, Main Street

Part Seven: Marmaduke, The Mechanic, Megamind, Micmacs, Middle Men, Morning Glory, Mother, Mother's Day, Mother and Child, Mr. Nobody, Multiple Sarcasms, My Own Love Song, My Soul to Take, Nailed, Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang, Never Let Me Go, The Next Three Days, A Nightmare on Elm Street, North Face, Nowhere Boy, Oceans, Once Fallen, Ondine, The Other Guys, Our Family Wedding, Paul

Part Eight: Percy Jackson and The Lightning Thief, Perrier's Bounty, Piranha 3-D, Please Give, Predators, Priest, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, A Prophet, Rabbit Hole, Ramona and Beezus, Rapunzel, Red, Red Dawn, Red Riding, Red Tails, Remember Me, Repo Men, The Resident, Robin Hood, The Romantics, The Roommate, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Undead, The Rum Diary, The Runaways, Saint John of Las Vegas

Part Nine: Salt, Sanctum, Saw VII 3D, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Season of the Witch, Secretariat, Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll, Sex and the City 2, Shanghai, Shelter, She's Out of My League, Shrek Forever After, Shutter Island, Skateland, The Social Network, Solitary Man, Solomon Kane, Somewhere, The Sorcerer's Apprentice, The Special Relationship, Splice, The Spy Next Door, The Square, Stay Cool, Step Up 3D, Stone

Part Ten: St. Trinian's II: The Legend of Fritton's Gold, Sympathy for Delicious, Takers, Tamara Drewe, Tell Me, The Tempest, Three Backyards, Toe to Toe, The Tooth Fairy, The Town, To Save a Life, Toy Story 3, The Tree of Life, Triage, Tron: Legacy, True Legend, Tucker and Dale vs. Evil, Twelve, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married Too, Unstoppable, Unthinkable, Untitled Mike Leigh Project, Valentine's Day, Valhalla Rising

Part Eleven: Vincere, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, The Warlords, Warrior, Waska, The Way Back, Welcome to the Rileys, What's Wrong With Virginia, When in Rome, The Whistleblower, Wild Grass, The Winning Season, Winter's Bone, The Wolfman, Womb, Wonderful World, The Yellow Handkerchief, Yogi Bear, You Again, You May Not Kiss the Bride, Young Americans, You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, Your Highness, Youth in Revolt, The Zookeeper

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