Weekend Openers: Woody Allen, Pixar Animation, Abraham Lincoln, the End of Earth and More

Penélope Cruz, Woody Allen and Geta Gerwig at the NYC premiere of To Rome with Love this week hosted by the Cinema Society. Photo by Nick Hunt/Patrick McMullan Co.

This weekend's new theatrical offerings include a massive array for any taste. In the studio realm, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter marks the 16th Prez as a savior from Vampires, Pixar's Brave centers on a Princess who must save her kingdom. Focus' Seeking a Friend for the End of the World pits a mismatched man and woman on an unlikely road trip, while doc The Invisible War is a fascinating but sad exposé on the sad truth about sexual assault in the U.S. military. Fellow doc Kumaré, meanwhile follows a man posing as an Eastern guru who builds his own following in Arizona.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
Director: Timur Bekmambetov
Writers: Seth Grahame-Smith
Cast: Benjamin Walker, Rufus Sewell, Dominic Cooper, Anthony Mackie
Distributor: Fox

Just the title itself makes it a worthy consideration. In this fantasy/horror pic, America's 16th President adds another credit to his stellar historical legacy. Vampires are planning to take over the United States and of course he is the man who takes it upon himself to eliminate them…

Brave (Animation)
Directors: Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman, Steve Purcell
Writers: Mark Andrews, Steve Purcell, Brenda Chapman, Irene Mecchi
Cast: Kelly Macdonald, Billy Connolly, Emma Thompson
Distributor: Buena Vista

Paramount/Dreamworks Animation has been bringing in lots of cash with their big summer animated feature Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted and it looks like Disney/Pixar will be reaping some box office gold themselves with Brave. So, for the plot… Princess Merida is a determined gal, who wants to follow her own destiny. She breaks with tradition and unfortunately it brings chaos to her kingdom. But, she is granted one wish and Merida must rely on her bravery and even her archery prowess to end the curse.

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World
Director: Lorene Scafaria
Writer: Lorene Scafaria
Cast: Steve Carell, Keira Knightley, Melanie Lynskey, Adam Brody
Distributor: Focus Features

The directorial debut of screenwriter Lorene Scafaria, this pic explores what people will do when faced with the end of the world. In the feature, an asteroid is speeding toward Earth and one attempt to avoid calamity has failed. Dodge (Steve Carell), a man who plays by the rules, is facing a failed marriage. His wife leaves him on the spot. Meanwhile, his neighbor Penny (Keira Knightley) is an extroverted woman who does not play by the rules. Dodge decides to seek out a long lost love, while Penny makes her way back to her family and the two unlikely travel companions set out on the road together.

The Invisible War (Documentary)
Director: Kirby Dick

Subjects: Helen Benedict, Anu Bhagwati, Susan Burke

Distributor: Cinedigm Digital Cinema, Docurama

This could very well get an Oscar nomination, so check it out before the hype begins. Kirby Dick and producing partner Amy Ziering delve into the mostly unknown scourge of rape and sexual assault that runs rampant in the U.S. military. Don't let the subject matter scare you off. Sure it's tough, but this is a great movie and - what the hell - why not educate yourself? Said Kirby Dick about making the film: "Each one of these interviews were equally stunning. Amy did each interview and she did a phenomenal job and she'd be emotionally drained and devastated and be incredibly angry afterward. It was a good combination."

Kumaré (Documentary)
Director: Vikram Gandhi
Subjects: Vikram Gandhi, Purva Bedi, Kristen Calgaro
Distributor: Kino Lorber Films

Ever wondered how gurus and other spirituals manage to find their, well… following? If so, then so has filmmaker Vikram Gandhi and his crew. Gandhi, who grew up in New Jersey and is skeptical of religion decides to don a beard, long hair and some made-up Eastern Mysticism jargon and heads West to Arizona where sure enough, he finds his followers. His message is quite benign, "the answers are within yourself," he tells his sheep. “It’s a place where nobody really knew us and a place that represented America, but at the same time open to new ideas," producer Brendan Colthurst shared about Arizona. Most of the country may have to wait a bit though, the film is only in New York this weekend.

To Rome with Love
Director: Woody Allen
Writer: Woody Allen
Cast: Woody Allen, Penélope Cruz, Jesse Eisenberg, Alec Baldwin, Ellen Page, Roberto Benigni, Judy Davis
Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics

Last year Woody Allen made the City of Lights a character in one of his most successful films to date, Midnight in Paris and this year, the New York director made the Eternal City a star in To Rome with Love. The film, a story about a number of people in the Italian capital, follows Americans and Italians in various romances and adventures throughout Rome. The film already opened overseas and opened the Los Angeles Film Festival last week. It had its own glittering premiere in New York earlier this week, courtesy of the Cinema Society and sponsor Piaget at Casa Lever. Fittingly, Italian beverage Disaronno was being served. Along with cast members, the celeb quotient was through the roof.



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