New Releases for the Week of February 7, 2014


(Columbia) George Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, Cate Blanchett, Jean Dujardin, John Goodman, Bob Balaban, Hugh Bonneville. Directed by George Clooney

In the waning days of World War II, it became evident that the Nazis weren’t just planning on a final solution regarding Jewish lives but also the culture of Europe as well. Thousands of piece of art, stolen by the Nazis, were going to be destroyed and in the retaking of Europe, thousands of buildings with historical and architectural significance were going to be reduced to rubble. To prevent this from happening, FDR tasked a group of museum curators, artists and architects to saving what they could as time ticked down to the last gasp of the Third Reich. This true story shows that these men, hardly soldiers at all, became soldiers for the saving of humanity’s finest achievements.

See the trailer, featurettes, a promo and a clip here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Release formats: Standard (opens Thursday)

Genre: War

Rating: PG-13 (for some images of war violence and historical smoking)

A Fantastic Fear of Everything

(Cinedigm) Simon Pegg, Amara Karan, Clare Higgins, Alan Drake. An author of children’s books decides to make a career change into a crime novelist. While doing research into Victorian-era serial killers for his latest book, his already fragile psyche takes a turn for the worse especially when a Hollywood executive, sniffing out a potential blockbuster, gets involved.

See the trailer here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Release formats: Standard

Genre: Comedy

Rating: R (for language)


(Roadside Attractions) Paulina Garcia, Sergio Hernandez, Diego Fontecilla, Fabiola Zamora. A woman approaching middle age still feels young. She hangs out at the social dance clubs of Chile and while she’s lonely, she makes the best of things. Then she meets Rodolfo, a passionate lover who turns her life inside out. The trouble is Rodolfo is a bit of a roller coaster ride, and she must call upon emotional reserves she never knew she had to gather her inner strength to stand up for herself and for the things that will ultimately lead to her own happiness and fulfillment.

See the trailer here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Release formats: Standard

Genre: Dramedy

Rating: R (for sexual content, some graphic nudity, drug use and language)

Hasee Toh Phasee

(Reliance) Sidharth Malhotra, Parineeti Chopra, Adah Sharma, Manoj Joshi. A prospective groom is given seven days to prove himself to a suspicious father of the bride and given the task of installing the mischievous sister of the bride in a hotel. To save money, he installs her in the flat above his own home, putting her in contact with his quirky family. This being Bollywood, they become closer than they intended, fall in love and several musical numbers ensue.

See the trailer here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Release formats: Standard (opens Thursday)

Genre: Bollywood

Rating: NR

The LEGO Movie

(Warner Brothers) Starring the voices of Chris Pratt, Will Ferrell, Liam Neeson, Morgan Freeman. Emmet, a perfectly ordinary LEGO minifigure is mistaken for a kind of savior and drafted into an epic quest to stop an evil would-be dictator, a task for which he is hopefully and woefully unprepared.

See the trailer, clips and a promo here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Release formats: Standard

Genre: Animated Feature

Rating: PG (for mild action and rude humor)

Nurse 3D

(Lionsgate) Paz de la Huerta, Katrina Bowden, Corbin Bleu, Boris Kodjoe. A sadistic nurse who spends her nights luring married men into dangerous liaisons forms a friendship with a young and naive student nurse. But when she spurns her more intimate attentions, the sadistic nurse goes on a bloody rampage.

See the trailer here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Release formats: Standard, 3D

Genre: Horror

Rating: R (for bloody violence, strong sexual content, language and some graphic nudity)

The Vampire Academy

(Weinstein) Zoey Deutch, Lucy Fry, Gabriel Byrne, Joely Richardson. Two best friends – a princess of the mortal vampires and her half-human, half-vampire protector, must navigate the pitfalls of high school while the half-human must protect her charge from those who would exploit her from within vampire society and the evil immortal vampires who want her dead. From the bestselling young adult book series.

See the trailer, a clip and a featurette here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Release formats: Standard

Genre: Teen Horror Comedy

Rating: PG-13 (for violent bloody images, sexual content and language)


Four-Warned: February 2014

The Monuments MenEvery 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.

2. WINTER’S TALE (1.2)
4. NON-STOP (1.4)


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

FEBRUARY 4, 2014

SCORNED (Anchor Bay) Genre: Horror. While on a romantic weekend with her boyfriend, a woman discovers he’s having an affair with her best friend and spirals into an uncontrollable rage and lust for revenge. Release Strategy: VOD only. RATING: 2.2 Clearly a play on the “hell hath no fury” thing.

FEBRUARY 7, 2014

7 BOXES (Shoreline) Genre: Action. A wheelbarrow delivery boy in a busy Mexican market makes a delivery that will involve him in a crime of which he has no knowledge. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.6 IndieWire described it as “Fast and Furious with wheelbarrows;” who knew the world needed a movie like that.
A FANTASTIC FEAR OF EVERYTHING (Indomina) Genre: Comedy. When a children’s book author becomes a crime novelist and researches Victorian-era serial killers, his life becomes infused with paranoia and intrigue. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.5 If Simon Pegg is starring in it, I’m already halfway in the door.
A FIELD IN ENGLAND (Drafthouse) Genre: Horror. Deserters from a battle during the Second English Civil War find themselves running into a horror far worse than the one they left. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.0 An atmospheric period piece from the director of the excellent Sightseers.
AFTER THE DARK (Phase 4) Genre: Thriller. 20 college students, confronted by imminent nuclear catastrophe, must decide which ten of them will enter an underground shelter and reboot the human race. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.8 Actually looks kind of fascinating and thought-provoking.
CAVEMEN (Well Go USA) Genre: Romantic Comedy. After years of meaningless one-night-stands, an L.A. ladies man looks for true love – which is incredibly difficult to find. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.8 Didn’t see anything in the trailer that would indicate that this is any different than a thousand other rom-coms out there.
HASEE TOH PHASEE (Reliance) Genre: Bollywood. In order to prove his love to his betrothed, a young man puts her sister up in his house – and quickly becomes closer to the sister. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.1 No, I don’t get it either.
KIDS FOR CASH (SenArt) Genre: Documentary. While a small town celebrates a strict judge who means to keep the kids of the town in line, one parent dares to stand up and question his motives. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.7 An indictment of the judicial system working hand-in-hand with for-profit prison systems.
THE LEGO MOVIE (Warner Brothers) Genre: Animated Feature. An ordinary LEGO mini-figure is mistaken for a hero and ends up hanging out with Batman, Wonder Woman and all the LEGO heroes. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.8 There is some appeal here but damned if I can put my finger on it.
LOVE AND AIR SEX (Tribeca) Genre: Romantic Comedy. A depressed man recovering from a breakup flies to Austin in order to “accidentally” run into his ex but instead runs into another couple breaking up who are hell-bent on keeping him and his ex from getting back together. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.1 Kind of confirms my theory that young people have far too much time on their hands.
THE MONUMENTS MEN (Columbia) Genre: Historical Drama. A group of art experts at the conclusion of World War II try to save art and architectural treasures stolen by the Nazis from being destroyed. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.1 Thought this was going to be an Oscar contender for last year but still looking forward to seeing this big time!
NURSE 3D (Lionsgate) Genre: Thriller. Living a double life, a nurse develops an unhealthy obsession with a beautiful young colleague. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.6 Paz de la Huerta like you’ve never seen her before; this looks very sexy but kind of unchallenging.
THE OUTSIDER (RLJ/Image) Genre: Action. A British mercenary searches for his missing daughter and discovers that a corrupt cyber-billionaire may be at the center of the mystery. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.3 I’m always up for seeing James Caan, but Craig Fairbrass looks like an action star in the making.
THE PRETTY ONE (DADA) Genre: Drama. When a beautiful young woman dies in a car accident, her wallflower of an identical twin takes over her identity. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.7 Zoe Kazan is an up-and-coming actress who has a brilliant future ahead of her.
SOMEONE MARRY BARRY (FilmBuff) Genre: Romantic Comedy. Attempts to find a trio of friends woefully socially inappropriate friend a wife backfires when his new girlfriend turns out to be just like him. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.9 Tyler Labine has been a guilty pleasure of mine ever since I first saw him in Reaper.
VAMPIRE ACADEMY (Weinstein) Genre: Young Adult. Attending the academy to learn to protect a member of vampire royalty, a human girl becomes embroiled in a far-reaching conspiracy. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 3.8 Shouldn’t this be a series on the CW?
WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE (Cinedigm) Genre: Action Comedy. Office drones trapped on an island during a corporate retreat led by a psychotic ex-Marine must find a way to survive…despite themselves. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.0 JCVD as the villain and a pretty decent cast as the cubicle losers…might be worth a look.

FEBRUARY 12, 2014

THE NEW BLACK (Self-Released) Genre: Documentary. Examines the thorny issue of gay marriage in the black community and how the right wing are using faith as a means of pursuing their agenda. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.0 Draws interesting parallels between the current fight for Gay Marriage and the Civil Rights movement; I may have to check this one out.
ROBOCOP (Columbia/MGM) Genre: Science Fiction. Critically injured in the line of duty, a cop is reborn as a cyborg law enforcement but he isn’t willing to give up his free will without a fight. Release Strategy: Wide (Standard, IMAX). RATING: 1.7 A remake of a beloved 1987 Paul Verhoeven film that looks like it might actually hold up to the original…let’s hope.

FEBRUARY 14, 2014

ABOUT LAST NIGHT (Screen Gems) Genre: Romantic Comedy. Chronicles the relationships of two new couples from the first meeting into the bedroom and then into real life. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 3.6 A remake of a forgettable 80s rom-com with an African-American cast; I don’t think even Kevin Hart can save this one.
ADULT WORLD (IFC) Genre: Comedy. A would-be poet has to take a job in a sex shop to make ends meet. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.0 Could be pedestrian faux-sex comedy fare but looks to be elevated by the great John Cusack.
DATE AND SWITCH (Lionsgate) Genre: Comedy. A pair of high school seniors make a pact to help each other score before the prom – until one of them reveals that he’s gay. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.8 What starts out as a typical high school sex comedy turns into a funny movie about acceptance; I wish it luck but talk about an uphill battle.
DOWN AND DANGEROUS (Artis) Genre: Thriller. An expert drug smuggler must find a way to extricate himself and a beautiful woman from his past from a sticky situation. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.5 I’m not sure that this is as badass as it thinks it is.
EASY MONEY: HARD TO KILL (Cinedigm) Genre: Action. After doing time for drug smuggling, a paroled convict finds going straight is much harder than he thought. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.8 Indistinguishable from a dozen other films like it.
ENDLESS LOVE (Universal) Genre: Romance. Based on the 70s Brooke Shields film, a guy from the wrong side of the tracks woos a beautiful woman from a wealthy family, much to her father’s displeasure. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 3.0 Can’t say as it looks like it adds anything to the original film.
GIRL ON A BICYCLE (Monterey Media) Genre: Romantic Comedy. A bus driver in Paris falls for a beautiful woman on a bicycle until he accidentally hits her with his bus. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.2 Once again proof that there is nothing quite so French as a sex farce – even when the players are members of a variety of European Union countries.
GUNDAY (Yash Raj) Genre: Bollywood. Two boys rise from abject poverty to become Calcutta’s most beloved crime lords in the 70s. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.7 I still have trouble wrapping my head around what appears to be a gritty crime thriller interrupted by big musical numbers.
JIMMY P. (IFC) Genre: Drama. The story of the relationship between a French psychologist and a member of the Blackfoot tribe who suffered from psychological issues following World War II. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.8 This might be one of Benicio del Toro’s most electric performances.
THE RETURNED (levelFILM) Genre: Horror. A treatment for zombies that allows them to live relatively normally begins to run low, causing worldwide chaos. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.1 A Spanish take on the zombie flick with a very interesting premise.
WINTER’S TALE (Warner Brothers) Genre: Romantic Fantasy. Love blossoms during an epic battle between good and evil that spans a century. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.2 A fine cast that includes Colin Farrell, Russell Crowe and Jennifer Connelly has me intrigued.

FEBRUARY 19, 2014

CHILD’S POSE (Zeitgeist) Genre: Thriller. An upper class Romanian mother does whatever she can to keep her 30-year-old son out of jail after a car crash takes a life. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 1.9 Further testimony that Romanian cinema is some of the world’s best.

FEBRUARY 21, 2014

3 DAYS TO KILL (Relativity) Genre: Action. A dying CIA Agent agrees to take on one last mission in order to obtain a radical cure for his disease finds it to be making a deal with the devil. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.6 Kevin Costner is undergoing a bit of a career renaissance at the moment and I’m eager to see what he does with this.
BAREFOOT (Roadside Attractions) Genre: Romance. The black sheep of a wealthy family takes a free-spirited, charming girl as his guest to his brother’s wedding where she impresses everyone – especially him. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.5 Looks a lot better than I thought it might be; we’ll have to give this one a look.
ELAINE STRITCH: SHOOT ME (Sundance Selects) Genre: Documentary. One of Broadway’s greatest treasures and most treasured gadflies is still breathing fire at age 87. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.6 From the golden age of Broadway to now, Elaine Stritch has been a part of it all.
HIGHWAY (UTV) Genre: Drama. A beautiful young bride, abducted just before her wedding, is caught in the middle of a game of chicken between the gang that has her and her wealthy and powerful father. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.7 Stockholm Syndrome, Bollywood-style.
HOLY GHOST PEOPLE (XLRator) Genre: Thriller. Searching for her lost sister in the Appalachian mountains, a teenager runs into a snake-handling cult who knows about her sister’s fate. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.1 Looks absolutely creepy.
IN SECRET (Roadside Attractions) Genre: Comedy. A sexually repressed Parisian woman trapped in a loveless marriage embarks on a tragic affair. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.4 A stellar cast headlines this latest lushly-filmed version of the classic Therese Raquin.
OMAR (Adopt) Genre: Drama. Deeply in love with the alluring Nadia, a young Palestinian man risks everything that he stands for. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.6 There are a lot of movies coming out of this region detailing the difficulties of daily life; I’m not so sure this one distinguishes itself particularly.
POMPEII (Tri-Star) Genre: Swords and Sandals. A gladiator in Pompeii fights corrupt politicians to win the heart of his lover but an erupting volcano may put paid all his ambitions. Release Strategy: Wide (Standard, 3D). RATING: 1.5 Could be really good but Paul W.S. Anderson hasn’t put out a movie on this scale that has really moved me.
THE WIND RISES (Touchstone/Studio Ghibli) Genre: Anime. A nearsighted young man dreams of flight and becomes the designer of amazing aircraft. Release Strategy: Limited (expands February 28). RATING: 1.3 Set to be legendary director Hayao Miyazaki’s last feature.

FEBRUARY 25, 2014

SILENT BUT DEADLY (Indican) Genre: Horror. The residents of a retirement home are being stalked and murdered. Who is doing it…and why? Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.3 I will admit that the cast, including Dawn Wells and Lee Meriwether is intriguing but the trailer looks cheesy as hell.

FEBRUARY 28, 2014

THE BAG MAN (Cinedigm) Genre: Crime Thriller. Several lowlifes are summoned to a remote bayou motel by a crime boss for reasons unknown. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.9 You had me at “starring John Cusack and Robert De Niro.”
HAIRBRAINED (Vertical) Genre: Comedy. A Harvard reject strikes up an unlikely friendship at his second choice school. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.2 Along the lines of an Accepted only with an insufferable lead.
THE LUNCHBOX (Sony Classics) Genre: Drama. Through an inadvertent mis-delivery of a lunchbox, a young housewife is connected to an aging man who constructs a fantasy world through exchanged notes. Release Strategy: New York City/Los Angeles. RATING: 1.6 Looks amazingly charming; the kind of movie that represents the best of Indian cinema.
NON-STOP (Universal) Genre: Thriller. A Federal Air Marshal, battling a fiendishly clever killer whose designs may be more than mere ransom, finds that he is the chief suspect in the crime. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.4 Liam Neeson in an action thriller? Slam dunk!
REPENTANCE (CODEBLACK) Genre: Psychological Thriller. A life coach with a controversial philosophy finds himself in the crosshairs of a deeply troubled client. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.6 Awesome cast and looks like edge-of-the-seat thrills.
SON OF GOD (20th Century Fox) Genre: Faith. The makers of the hit TV series The Bible turn to the big screen to capture the life of Jesus Christ. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 3.0 I have some reservations about this and not all of them are rational.
STALINGRAD (Sony Classics) Genre: War. Starving and desperate, Russian soldiers try to hold the city of Stalingrad from a determined and disciplined German foe. Release Strategy: IMAX 3D. RATING: 2.1 A true epic seen through Russian eyes.
WELCOME TO YESTERDAY (Paramount) Genre: Found Footage Sci-Fi. A group of teens manage to assemble a time machine one of their fathers had invented with catastrophic results. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.3 Could be really good…or could be REALLY bad.

The LEGO Movie, The Monuments Men, RoboCop, Endless Love, Winter’s Tale, 3 Days to Kill, Pompeii, The Wind Rises, Non-Stop, Welcome to Yesterday