Four-Warned: April 2014

Captain America-The Winter SoldierEvery month I’m going to look at every movie on the release schedule and try to assign them a numerical value corresponding to how anxious I am to see it. The lower the number, the more I want to see it. A one means I would walk through hell and high water to see it; a four means there’s no interest whatsoever. The numbers are not arrived at scientifically but they aren’t arbitrary either.

The numbers aren’t a reflection of the artistic merit of any of these films, but merely a reflection of my willingness to go to a movie theater and see it. The top four scores will be gathered as a means of reflecting the movies I’m anticipating the most; you may use that as a guide or not.

Most of the movies will never play theatrically where you live (unless you live in either New York or Los Angeles) but many of those that won’t will be available through Video-on-Demand; check with your local cable or satellite providers to find out if any specific movie is available through that medium.

Each entry is broken down as follows:

NAME OF FILM (Studio) Genre A brief description of the plot. Release plans: Wide = Everywhere, Limited = In selected markets. RATING A brief comment

Keep in mind that release dates are extremely subject to change, even at this late date.

3. OCULUS (1.5)

TIE. JOE (1.5)

RATING SYSTEM: 1) Must-see, 2) Should-see, 3) Perhaps-see, 4) Don’t-see

APRIL 2, 2014

DOM HEMINGWAY (Fox Searchlight) Genre: Dramedy. After serving a 12 year prison sentence, a larger-than-life safecracker tries to reconnect with his estranged daughter while retrieving what he thinks he’s owed for serving his time and protecting his boss with his silence. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.2 One of the spotlight films from this year’s Florida Film Festival.
THE RETRIEVAL (Variance) Genre: Western. On the cusp of the Civil War a young slave boy is sent north by a bounty hunter to lure a wanted man back to the South. Release Strategy: New York City only (expands April 18). RATING: 1.9 Looks like a cross between 12 Years a Slave and The Unforgiven.

APRIL 3, 2014

CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER (Disney/Marvel) Genre: Superhero. Cap gets caught in a conspiracy that threatens SHIELD and at the center of it is someone he wouldn’t have thought of in a million years. Release Strategy: Wide (Standard, 3D). RATING: 1.0 The buzz is huge on this; could be one of the top box office performers in Marvel’s already impressive history.

APRIL 4, 2014

AFFLICTED (CBS) Genre: Horror. Two young bloggers documenting their trip of a lifetime around the world find themselves in a world of terror when a mysterious young woman infects one of them with a strange disease. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.3 Not so sure about found footage films anymore but this one looks intriguing.
ALAN PARTRIDGE (Magnolia) Genre: Comedy. A conceited and venal broadcaster gets caught up in a hostage situation at his television station. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.1 Steve Coogan’s legendary British character gets his own feature film and high time he did.
ALIEN ABDUCTION (IFC Midnight) Genre: Science Fiction. While vacationing in North Carolina a family encounters a terrifying phenomenon. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.6 Reportedly based on the Brown Mountain Lights in North Carolina.
FRANKIE & ALICE (Codeblack) Genre: True Life Drama. The story of a go-go dancer in Los Angeles in the ’70s who struggles with multiple personalities. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.4 Halle Berry delivers yet another stunning performance.
THE GALAPAGOS AFFAIR: SATAN CAME TO EDEN (Zeitgeist) Genre: Documentary. A group of back-to-nature misfits from the 1930s who have emigrated to the Galapagos become embroiled in a murder investigation which remains unsolved to this day. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.1 An impressive story that has elements of noir and nature film; with home movies from the actual participants themselves.
GOODBYE WORLD (Goldwyn/Phase 4) Genre: Drama. Living off-the-grid proves useful when a mass cyber attack crashes civilization; however when old friends come looking for shelter and protection, things get a little bit complicated. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.3 Does the end of technology mean the end of the world?
IN THE BLOOD (Anchor Bay) Genre: Action. When a newlywed’s husband is kidnapped on their honeymoon, she sets out to find him – by any means necessary. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.4 I’m always down for Gina Carano.
ISLAND OF LEMURS: MADAGASCAR (Warner Brothers) Genre: Nature Documentary. On one of the world’s most remote islands these amazing creatures are being protected by a group of dedicated volunteers. Release Strategy: Wide (IMAX 3D). RATING: 2.8 Some of the most adorable creatures you will ever see.
JINN (Freestyle) Genre: Supernatural Horror. A race older than men decide to take the world back they once ruled. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.5 Looks effects-heavy; could be pretty good if it isn’t the very best moments in the trailer.
NYMPHOMANIAC VOLUME 2 (Magnolia) Genre: Drama. Follows up the first volume with the story of the title character’s adult life and descent into darkness. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.9 The films of Lars van Trier do absolutely nothing for me; I’ll be giving this and its companion a miss.
THE PLAYERS (Weinstein) Genre: Comedy. A series of short films from a diverse group of French filmmakers set around the theme of infidelity. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.4 Intriguing considering Jean Dujardin is one of the stars – and one of the directors.
UNDER THE SKIN (A24) Genre: Science Fiction. After spending time on Earth, an alien who was initially hostile comes to discover the better angels of human nature. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.9 Some reviewers have compared this to the work of Stanley Kubrick which depending on your point of view is either damning or high praise.
THE UNKNOWN KNOWN (Radius) Genre: Documentary. Oscar-winning documentarian Errol Morris turns his sights on former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Release Strategy: New York City/Los Angeles. RATING: 1.8 A chilling look at a political figure who even today remains highly polarizing.
WATERMARK (eOne) Genre: Documentary. Stories from around the world documenting the human relationship with – and need for – water. Release Strategy: New York City (opens in Los Angeles April 18). RATING: 2.3 In a time where water is becoming an even more crucial resource than petroleum, it is absolutely critical we understand its effect on our everyday life.

APRIL 11, 2014

A FRAGILE TRUST: PLAGIARISM, POWER AND JAYSON BLAIR AT THE NEW YORK TIMES (Self-Released) Genre: Documentary. The story of Blair, the notorious plagiarist that became a parable for the problems with modern journalism: New York City only. RATING: 2.7 A cautionary tale worth exploring, but that overly dramatic unwieldy title has GOT to go.
CUBAN FURY (eOne) Genre: Comedy. A one-time British salsa champion who lost it all in a bullying incident must once again take up his snappy outfit to impress the woman who makes his heart beat faster. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.5 It’s got Nick Frost in it; do you really need to know anything else?
DRAFT DAY (Summit) Genre: Sports Dramedy. The embattled GM of the Cleveland Browns with first pick in the upcoming NFL draft must use all his wiles to make the best move for the team. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.9 The Kevin Costner renaissance continues.
HANK AND ASHA (FilmRise) Genre: Romantic Comedy. An Indian woman living in Prague and a lonely New Yorker take up a video correspondence. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 2.9 Maybe the first romantic comedy that is authentically 21st century in nature.
HATESHIP LOVESHIP (IFC) Genre: Romance. A trio of tales based on short stories by the great Alice Munro. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.4 Kristen Wiig and Hailee Steinfeld take on dramatic roles.
JOE (Roadside Attractions) Genre: Drama. While trying to get his life back on the straight and narrow, an ex-con befriends a young boy and becomes his mentor, enraging the boy’s abusive father. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.5 Nicolas Cage may be making a return to serious acting; check it out at the upcoming Florida Film Festival.
KOCHADAIIYAAN (Eros International) Genre: Animated Feature. Good versus evil take center stage in an epic battle of love and betrayal in ancient India. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.9 This Indian motion capture film looks very much like a videogame from ten years ago.
OCULUS (Relativity) Genre: Horror. Ten years after being convicted of the brutal murder of his parents as a teenage boy, he is released into the custody of his sister who is determined to prove his innocence – and that the true culprit is a cursed mirror. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.5 The trailer looks pretty nifty and I love effects-driven horror like this.
ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE TRACKS (Weinstein) Genre: Crime Comedy. Two mismatched police detectives investigate the murder of the wife of a French business mogul. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.5 Unfortunately, the trailer isn’t available for viewing at this time and given that this is being released by Weinstein, I’d be frankly shocked if this was released this spring.
ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE (Sony Classics) Genre: Horror. Ageless beings watch as the world of humans spirals out of control around them. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.4 Jim Jarmusch takes on vampires? Color me intrigued…
PERFECT SISTERS (Gravitas) Genre: Thriller. Two sisters, facing their mother moving them in with her abusive boyfriend, plot her murder with classmates – and compulsively confess about it to their friends. Release Strategy: New York City/Los Angeles. RATING: 2.3 Based on the Toronto “Bathtub Girls” case; stars Abigail Breslin and Georgie Henley are perfect as the sisters.
THE RAILWAY MAN (Weinstein) Genre: True Life Drama. During World War II, a British POW in a Japanese camp is tormented while building a railway; years later he discovers his chief tormentor is still alive and travels to Asia to confront him. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.4 A true story about redemption and forgiveness, star Colin Firth looks in the trailer like he’s never been better.
RIO 2 (20th Century Fox) Genre: Animated Feature. Blu, Jewel and their kids head into the Amazon to see if the rumors of other blue macaws like themselves are still there. Release Strategy: Wide (Standard, 3D). RATING: 2.8 The first one had its moments but it didn’t impress me particularly; not sure that this will be any better.

APRIL 16, 2014

HEAVEN IS FOR REAL (TriStar) Genre: Drama. After a near-death experience, a little boy starts telling people he saw heaven and has information he couldn’t possibly no, causing a crisis of faith for his pastor father. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.2 Faith-based dramas have been scoring at the box office so far this year; this is one I actually might see.
VISIONS OF MARY FRANK (Self-Released) Genre: Documentary. This artist, who began as a subject of photographers in the 1950s, has become an important artist who defies categorization over a 50 year career. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.5 Sounds intriguing but found no trailers anywhere online.

APRIL 18, 2014

13 SINS (Radius) Genre: Horror. Cryptic phone calls entice a down on his luck salesman to perform 13 tasks, each more sinister and disturbing than the last. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.2 Anyone can be turned into a monster, given the right level of desperation.
A HAUNTED HOUSE 2 (Open Road) Genre: Horror Spoof. The exorcist from the first film gets a new start, a new girlfriend and new hauntings. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.9 Nifty trailer doesn’t disguise the fact that this genre has really run its course.
AUTHORS ANONYMOUS (Screen Media) Genre: Comedy. A support group of unpublished authors has to deal with the overnight success of one of their number. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.0 One of Dennis Farina’s last roles; sadly the trailer doesn’t make the movie look worth his talents.
BANKSTAS (Main Street) Genre: Comedy. Recently graduated from college, a business major gets a job at a major financial firm only to discover the corruption there; along with a crusading lawyer he sets out to expose the crooked boss. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.5 Haven’t been able to find a trailer for this – but sounds kinda cheesy.
BEARS (DisneyNature) Genre: Nature Documentary. Two mother bears try to prepare their cubs to make it on their own in the wild over the course of a single year. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.3 The DisneyNature series has been uniformly solid.
FADING GIGOLO (Millennium) Genre: Comedy. To help his cash-challenged friend a man decides to become a professional gigolo with his friend acting as his pimp. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.8 John Turturro as the gigolo and Woody Allen as the pimp? I’m listening...
THE FINAL MEMBER (Drafthouse) Genre: Documentary. The only museum in the world devoted to the penis needs one more species to complete its collection – a human – but the competition to be the member-donating member is more complex than it would seem at first glance. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.0 Too crazy to be anything but true; one of this year’s selections at the Florida Film Festival.
KID CANNABIS (Well Go USA) Genre: Crime Drama. A high school dropout and his 27-year-old friend turn to smuggling marijuana across the border into Canada with life-altering results. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.2 Think of Savages but as a teen coming of age movie.
MAKE YOUR MOVE (High Top) Genre: Urban Dance. Two young people from different worlds find common ground at New York’s hottest underground club through dance. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 4.0 Could the plot be any more cliche for this sort of film?
PROXY (IFC Midnight) Genre: Thriller. After meeting through a support group for women who have survived violent assaults, two women bond but soon begin to lose their grips on reality. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 2.3 Looks sufficiently edge-of-your-seat for my purposes.
SMALL TIME (Anchor Bay) Genre: Drama. A used car salesman comes to a crossroad in his life when his son decides to follow in his footsteps – and may be a little bit too good at the job. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.1 Actually doesn’t look too bad with Christopher Meloni and Dean Morris up front.
TASTING MENU (Magnolia) Genre: Dramedy. After waiting a year for their table at the world’s most famous restaurant, a couple that has split up since making their reservation decide to both go on this last date. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.3 Looks like a foodie’s fantasy – and I for one would love to live it!
TRAILER PARK BOYS 3: DON’T LEGALIZE IT (eOne) Genre: Stoner Comedy. Three Canadian trailer dwellers try to stop the Canadian government from legalizing pot since that might threaten their lucrative illegal business. Release Strategy: Canada only. RATING: 3.9 Dumb stoner comedy done Canadian smile and a continuation of a hugely popular Canadian TV show.
TRANSCENDENCE (Warner Brothers) Genre: Science Fiction. When a brilliant AI researcher is shot, his wife and best friend transfer his intelligence into the machine he was working on – which might well spell the end of the human race. Release Strategy: Wide (Standard, IMAX). RATING: 1.2 One of those cautionary technology tales with Johnny Depp in the lead.

APRIL 23, 2014

BICYCLING WITH MOLIERE (Strand) Genre: Comedy. A French soap opera star trying to rehabilitate his career by performing Moliere’s The Misanthrope on the Paris stage attempts to recruit a curmudgeonly expert on Moliere to play opposite him. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.3 As with most French comedies it looks charming.

APRIL 25, 2014

BLUE RUIN (Radius) Genre: Thriller. An act of vengeance gone awry leads to a fierce and bloody fight to protect an outsider’s adopted family. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.0 Has elements of Southern Gothic to it that I find quite appetizing.
BRICK MANSIONS (Relativity) Genre: Action. A cop and a con combine to stop a plot from Detroit’s worst ghetto to launch missiles into the rest of the city. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.6 Based on Luc Besson’s District B-13 is one of star Paul Walker’s last films.
FOR NO GOOD REASON (Sony Classics) Genre: Documentary. The life and work of Ralph Steadman whose art illustrated books by Hunter S. Thompson and William F. Burroughs is examined by Steadman’s friend Johnny Depp. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.5 Intriguing subject; will be playing at this year’s Florida Film Festival.
THE GERMAN DOCTOR (Goldwyn) Genre: Thriller. An Argentine family is unaware that the doctor they are harboring is Josef Mengele. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.5 Looks absolutely horrifying; I can’t wait to see it.
THE GIRL AND DEATH (Shadow Distribution) Genre: Romance. A doomed love between a prostitute and a rising young medical student changes his life for over 50 years. Release Strategy: New York City (opening in Los Angeles May 23). RATING: 2.6 Not quite sure what to make of this yet; looks grand and yet I didn’t connect with it on first glance.
LAST PASSENGER (Cohen Media Group) Genre: Thriller. On their way home on the last train from London, a single dad and his son discover the train has been taken over by a sociopath who means to kill everyone on board. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.9 The trailer is delightfully action-packed; hopefully we’ll get a chance to check it out.
LOCKE (A24) Genre: Drama. A man with the perfect life must risk it all after receiving a mysterious phone call. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.7 Tom Hardy once again shows that he is a leading man of the highest caliber in this different-looking drama.
THE MACHINE (XLRator) Genre: Science Fiction. Two programmers create a self-aware artificial intelligence which is then stolen by the government and turned into a killing machine. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.2 With Caity Lotz from Arrow in the cast this is one to keep an eye out for.
THE OTHER WOMAN (20th Century Fox) Genre: Comedy. A scumbag’s wife and mistress get together with the scumbag’s new mistress to plot their revenge. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.1 I’m generally not a huge Cameron Diaz fan but this one looks pretty funny.
THE QUIET ONES (Lionsgate) Genre: Horror. An attempt by students to artificially create a poltergeist leads to the unleashing of a devastating power. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.4 The trailer reminded me of one of my favorite horror films of all time, The Legend of Hell House.
WALKING WITH THE ENEMY (Liberty) Genre: War Drama. In the waning days of World War II a young Jew steals of Nazi officer’s uniform and uses it to disrupt their activities. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.3 Another war drama based on a true story; can we get enough of them?
YOUNG AND BEAUTIFUL (Sundance Selects) Genre: Drama. A year in the life of a 17-year-old French girl turns out to be pivotal as she makes choices that will affect the rest of her life. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.0 The latest from master French director Francois Ozon.

Dom Hemingway, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Draft Day, Joe, Oculus, Rio 2, Heaven is for Real, Bears, The Final Member, Transcendence, Brick Mansions, For No Good Reason, The Other Woman, The Quiet Ones


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