Focus Features has set release dates for movies by some big names in pop-arthouse cinema, including The Coen Brothers, Ang Lee and Jim Jarmusch, along with a Tim Burton-produced animated fantasy simply titled 9, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Below are details I put together on Focus’ crop of features that will be gracing arthouse theaters, along with some multiplexes, throughout 2009:
9 takes place in a parallel world, in which the very legacy of humanity is threatened. A group of sapient rag dolls, living a post-apocalyptic existence find one of their own, 9 (Elijah Wood), who displays leadership qualities. There are at least several malevolent creatures up against the group, including a cat-skulled creature; a split-headed flying being that resembles both a bat and a manta ray; and an insectoid creature with jointed legs and a pod-like body.
Writer/Director: Shane Acker, who developed the project from his own critically acclaimed 2005 animated short film, that was nominated for an Oscar.
Cast: Tim Burton produced the animated fantasy, featuring a voice cast that includes Elijah Wood, John C. Reilly, Jennifer Connelly, Crispin Glover, Christopher Plummer and Martin Landau.
Release Date: Sept. 9, 2009 (the ninth day of the ninth month)
The Limits of Control
A crime thriller that tells the tale of a mysterious loner in the process of completing a job.
Writer/Director: Jim Jarmusch
Cast: Tilda Swinton, Bill Murray, John Hurt, Gael García Bernal, Paz de la Huerta, Hiam Abbass, Isaach De Bankolé, Youki Kudoh and Luis Tosar
Release Date: May 22, 2009 (limited)
A Serious Man
A 1967-set dark comedy that follows a Midwestern professor who watches his life unravel, as his wife prepares to leave him because his brother won’t move out of the house. Oh no…I can only imagine what he’ll do to his wife – or brother – or both!
Writer/Directors: Joel and Ethan Coen
Cast: Adam Arkin, Richard Kind, George Wyner, Fyvush Finkel, Katherine Borowitz, Michael Stuhlbarg, Amy Landecker, Fred Melamed, Raye Birk, Tim Russell and Sari Lennick
Release Date: October 2, 2009 (limited)
A stop-motion animated feature Coraline, that will be released in 3-D and conventional theaters. Coraline tells the story of a young girl (Fanning), who walks through a secret door in her new home, and discovers an alternate version of her life.
Writer/Director: Henry Selick (James and the Giant Peach, Monkeybone)
Cast: The voices of Ian McShane, Teri Hatcher, Keith David, Jennifer Saunders, Dawn French, John Hodgman and Dakota Fanning as the voice of Coraline
Release Date: February 6, 2009 (wide)
Sin Novembre will be screening at the Sundance Film Fest, which starts in just a few days. The Sundance site descibes Sin Novembre as:
A social-political thriller in the tradition of American film noir, Sin Nombre is set on the border, where Mexico becomes the crucible and the fearsome gangs of today’s Mexican countryside, the gauntlet, to freedom. The stories of Sayra, a teenager living in Honduras and hungering for a brighter future, and teen gang members Smiley and Casper, for whom the Mara Salvatrucha is nearly their entire universe, become interlaced on the train to the border, a journey that will determine the future of their lives.
Writer/Director: Cary Joji Fukunaga (short film Kofi)
Cast: Karl Braun, Paulina Gaitan, Diana Garcia, Damayanti Quintanar and Guillermo Villegas
Release Date: March 20, 2009 (limited)
Away We Go
A comedy about a couple expecting their first child, who travel around the U.S. in order to find the perfect place to start a family.
Director: Sam Mendes
Writers: Dave Eggers (who penned the script for Where the Wild Things Are) and Vendela Vida
Cast: John Krasinski, Maya Rudolph, Jeff Daniels, Carmen Ejogo, Jim Gaffigan, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Josh Hamilton, Cheryl Hines, Allison Janney, Melanie Lynskey, Chris Messina, Catherine O’Hara and Paul Schneider
Release Date: June 5, 2009 (limited)
A fact-based drama about Elliot Tiber a.k.a. Eliyahu Teichberg (played by Demetri Martin from The Rocker and Analyze That), who while working at his parents’ motel in the Catskills, inadvertently set in motion the generation-defining concert in the summer of 1969.
Director: Ang Lee
Cast: Demetri Martin, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Emile Hirsch, Liev Schreiber, Paul Dano, Eugene Levy, Kelli Garner, Dan Fogler, Imelda Staunton, Mamie Gummer, Katherine Waterston and Skylar Astin
Release Date: August 14, 2009 (limited)