Sayonara, Four-Warned


Some of you may have noticed that our regular monthly preview feature Four-Warned has not yet appeared for April. That’s because, effective immediately, it has been discontinued.

The reasons for it are pretty compelling. First of all, it has become an enormous amount of work and takes up an even more enormous amount of time I can no longer afford to give it. In addition, the Coming Soon section covers a lot of  that territory and while it may not be as detailed as Four-Warned, it will at least give you a heads-up on what’s out there and what’s forthcoming.

This won’t effect the weekly New Releases or the Summer, Fall/Winter and Annual Previews which will continue to appear. However, just because I’m not completely willing to give up the sweet punishment of pulling together Four-Warned, there will be a new feature starting in May which I’m going to probably not call Pix, although that is the working title at the moment. In the new feature, I will be choosing three or four indie movies of merit that you may not have heard of unless you’re a very well-informed film buff, plus one Blockbuster of the Month – a wide studio release that I think is most worthy of your attention if you only see one movie that month.

Hopefully that will be a little easier for you to choose from among a handful of picks rather than having to plow through three dozen mini-previews and of course, if you’re curious about a title in the Coming Soon list, you can always drop me a line at cinema365@live.com or leave a comment on the Coming Soon page and I’d be glad to answer your questions as best I can or at least direct you someplace where you might find more information.

I did enjoy doing Four-Warned but with more movies being released non-theatrically and more movies coming out overall, it had become a chore that I no longer loved doing. Hopefully this will allow me to continue to provide a means of recommending less well advertised films without losing my sanity in the process.

Four-Warned: March 2015


The Second Best Exotic Marigold HotelEvery 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.

FOUR TO SEE
1. CHAPPIE (1.3)
2. THE DIVERGENT SERIES: INSURGENT (1.4)
3. RUN ALL NIGHT (1.5)
4. CINDERELLA (1.7)

FOUR TO SEEK OUT (FILMS NOT IN WIDE RELEASE)
1. THE SECOND BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL (1.0)
2. MAN FROM RENO (1.4)
TIE. MERCHANTS OF DOUBT (1.4)
4. KUMIKO, THE TREASURE HUNTER (1.5)
TIE. WHITE GOD (1.5)

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

MARCH 4, 2015

THE LESSON (Film Movement) Genre: Drama. A teacher whose drunken lout of a husband has mortgaged their house to repair his junkyard car and is unable to find a legitimate means of paying off the debt must seek out a loan shark whose terms may be more than she can afford to pay. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.9 A morality play about modern economic desperation that may hit too close to home for some.

MARCH 6, 2015

A YEAR IN CHAMPAGNE (Goldwyn/IDP) Genre: Documentary. Six Champagne houses in France from major players like Bollinger to boutique labels are examined in this look at how the magic sparkling wine is made and marketed. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.4 Looks fascinating at the tribulations of making a wine in a region which is just on the edge of where winemaking is possible, to how it has become connected with celebrations large and small.
BAD ASSES ON THE BAYOU (Goldwyn) Genre: Action. The third installment of the franchise finds senior ass-kickers Frank Vega and Bernie Pope headed to a wedding of a friend in Louisiana, only to find that chaos can happen even in Cajun Country. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.9 Danny Trejo is always a hoot but this franchise may have already worn out its welcome.
BUZZARD (Oscilloscope) Genre: Dramedy. Forced to flee his home town for the urban danger zone of Detroit, a paranoid small time con man is forced to rely on his wits to survive. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.2 Kind of an indie punk rock heavy metal caper film revolution which is fine if you’re into that kind of thing.
CHAPPIE (Columbia) Genre: Science Fiction. The development of a self-aware robot brings corporate and governmental powers that be down on the developer and the being itself. Release Strategy: Wide (Standard, IMAX). RATING: 1.3 From the creator of District 9 comes his take on Isaac Asimov’s favorite subject.
FAULTS (Screen Media) Genre: Thriller. The parents of a young woman who has been brainwashed by a cult consult with one of the world’s foremost experts on mind control, who finds the situation isn’t anything like what he thought it would be. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.2 The trailer has a quirky sheen not unlike the Coen Brothers.
HAYRIDE 2 (Freestyle) Genre: Horror. When the serial killer Pitchfork escapes from custody, a manhunt ensues with the killer taking refuge in a hospital. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.8 Doesn’t look to have added much to the traditional unkillable slasher genre.
KIDNAPPING MR. HEINEKEN (Alchemy) Genre: Crime Thriller. The true story of the kidnapping of a beer magnate whose captors would receive the highest ransom ever paid for an individual. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.0 Anything with the great Anthony Hopkins in it is going to be worth the effort to go see it.
THE LIFE AND MIND OF MARK DEFRIEST (City Drive) Genre: Documentary. When a legendary escape artist comes up for parole after 30 years behind bars, the shock becomes palpable when his original four year sentence for a minor offense is considered. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.8 Has anyone mentioned that our justice system is completely broken?
LIKE SUNDAY, LIKE RAIN (Monterey) Genre: Drama. A 12-year-old musical prodigy of wealthy parents but a cold existence is cared for by a 23-year-old au pair who is a sometimes musician and a full-time rebel estranged from her own family. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.4 Played the Orlando Film Festival last year.
MERCHANTS OF DOUBT (Sony Classics) Genre: Documentary. Spin merchants with no qualifications whatsoever pass themselves off as scientific experts to debunk climate change, the effects of toxic chemicals and overuse of pharmaceuticals. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 1.4 And here I thought this was going to be a comedy.
OCTOBER GALE (IFC) Genre: Thriller. In an isolated cabin on the Canadian coast, a recently widowed doctor finds a man suffering from gunshot wounds hiding out from two men intent on killing him. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.0 A different kind of role for Patricia Clarkson; color me intrigued.
ROAD HARD (FilmBuff) Genre: Comedy. With his career in a shambles, a former movie/sitcom superstar is forced to return to a standup career on the road, which is not his cup of tea at all. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.9 Wasn’t impressed with the trailer; this sounds like a great idea for a movie too.
THE SECOND BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL (Fox Searchlight) Genre: Comedy. The plucky AARP warriors are back along with their ambitious young Indian hotel manager as the success of the retirement resort necessitates the creation of a second. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.0 The first movie was one of my favorites of 2011.
STRAIGHT OUTTA TOMPKINS (Indican) Genre: Drama. A Noo Yawk street kid tries to survive in the brutal urban jungle of junkies, cops and pushers. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.8 Based on the young director’s own experiences which at least make it an interest just for authenticity.
THESE FINAL HOURS (Amplify/Well Go) Genre: Thriller. With the world ending in just a few hours, a pair of young people fight through a city gone mad to unite with loved ones before it all goes to hell. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.1 Really nice idea but the trailer for this Aussie apocalyptic thriller didn’t look particularly scintillating.
TWO MEN IN TOWN (Cohen Media Group) Genre: Drama. Released from prison, a troubled man uses his newfound Islamic faith to curb his violent impulses; the sheriff of the New Mexico town he lives in however thinks he won’t win that fight and goes on a campaign to get him jailed again – this time forever. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.6 Forest Whitaker vs. Harvey Keitel? Sounds like a winner to me!
UNFINISHED BUSINESS (20th Century Fox) Genre: Comedy. After starting up a new company, a hot shot salesman finds that he’s competing with the ruthless corporation he left for an account that his new firm needs to survive. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.9 For whatever reason I’ve always found Vince Vaughn to make pretty decent movies; even when they’re bad, he’s decent.
X/Y (eOne) Genre: Drama. Caught in the cracks between Generations X and Y, a group of friends try to establish relationships in an era of technology and social media Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.2 Has a lot of potential but needs to be light on the soap opera and heavy on the social commentary.

MARCH 10, 2015

BITE SIZE (Bond/360) Genre: Documentary. Childhood obesity is at epidemic levels; four kids from diverse backgrounds wage their own battle of the bulge in an attempt to beat the scale. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.1 We are a society obsessed with weight and image; kids these days are caught in between a rock (bullying) and a hard place (eating compulsions).

MARCH 13, 2015

3 HEARTS (Cohen Media Group) Genre: Drama. After missing a train home to Paris, two Parisians make a connection in a provincial town but end up going their separate ways but when one unknowingly marries the other’s sister, sparks end up flying. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.2 Nobody knows the ways of the heart like the French and given this is a master filmmaker with a strong cast, well, you do the math.
ALONGSIDE THE ROADWAY (Indican) Genre: Comedy. Two young people from two different cultures take a road trip together to the largest music festival in California. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.8 Has that indie vibe that can be a little bit overly precious.
ANARCHY (Lionsgate) Genre: Crime Drama. Crooked cops and an outlaw biker gang collide in all-out war over drug trade supremacy. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.6 Based on Shakespeare’s play Cymbaline.
CHAMPS (Amplify/Starz Digital Media) Genre: Sports Documentary. Follows the careers of Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield and Bernard Hopkins, how all three took differing roads from some of the most horrifying circumstances imaginable to become world boxing champions. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.9 Not just a look at triumph vs. adversity but also at one of the most corrupt and vicious businesses in sport.
CINDERELLA (Disney) Genre: Fantasy. The live action version of the timeless fairy tale in which a scullery maid, horribly abused by her wicked stepmother, is transformed by a fairy godmother into a mysterious beauty who catches the eye of the Prince. Release Strategy: Wide (Standard, IMAX). RATING: 1.7 Lushly filmed by Kenneth Branagh but the trailer didn’t really wow me.
THE COBBLER (Image) Genre: Fantasy. Working in the same shoe repair shop that has been in his family for generations, a man discovers a magical heirloom that allows him to step into the lives of his customers. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.1 An Adam Sandler fantasy that is coming out via the indie route; an interesting concept.
EVA (Weinstein) Genre: Science Fiction. A cybernetic engineer tasked with creating a realistic robot child develops a special bond with his niece. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.5 Sounds fascinating and I really like Daniel Bruhl but couldn’t find a trailer.
HOME SWEET HELL (Vertical) Genre: Dramedy. When a man living the perfect life embarks on an extramarital affair, he has no idea what lengths his image-obsessed wife will go to in order to maintain the facade of the perfect marriage. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.2 Patrick Wilson and Katherine Heigl are appealing leads.
IT FOLLOWS (Radius) Genre: Horror. Following an odd sexual encounter, a teenage girl has the inescapable feeling that something is following her and that something terrifying is closing in on her; and as it turns out, she’s right. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.7 Turns the urban legend horror convention on its ear.
THE LOVERS (IFC) Genre: Adventure. In a coma following a diving accident while trying to save his wife, a young archaeologist finds himself in 18th century India where he is an English sea captain involved in a steamy romance with an Indian warrior. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.0 A love story transcending time from acclaimed director Roland Joffe.
MUCK (Anchor Bay) Genre: Horror. Teenagers fleeing an ancient evil in a burial ground find refuge in a house, only to discover something even more evil lurks there. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.4 One of those horror movies that you can tell will either be great or just awful.
RUN ALL NIGHT (Warner Brothers) Genre: Action. When an assassin saves his estranged son from being shot by the son of a mob boss – who happens to be his closest friend – he must take his none-too-happy boy under his wing for the night to avoid teams of thugs and crooked cops out to kill them both. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.5 Liam Neeson is the current king of the action stars.
SEYMOUR: AN INTRODUCTION (Sundance Selects) Genre: Documentary. Piano prodigy Seymour Bernstein, who retired from performing to concentrate on teaching, is profiled by actor Ethan Hawke who met Bernstein while dealing with his own stage fright issues. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.2 While ostensibly about the artistic impulse, it is also about life; very inspiring.
TREADING WATER (The Orchard) Genre: Romantic Comedy. Going through life with a rare condition that leaves him smelling like a fish, a young man tries to cope with an eccentric family, loneliness and a childhood crush that might be his saving grace. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.8 Yet another indie film that looks like it takes its own quirkiness too seriously.
WALTER (eOne) Genre: Comedy. The son of God may be a movie ticket taker who has the ultimate responsibility to judge all who come into his theater which is fine until he meets a ghost stuck in Purgatory who wants a decision – Heaven or Hell – and he wants it now! Release Strategy: New York City/Los Angeles. RATING: 1.7 A pretty stellar cast and I have to admit the trailer is a lot better than I thought it’d be.
THE WRECKING CREW (Magnolia) Genre: Musical Documentary. One studio band played behind the Beach Boys, Frank and Nancy Sinatra, the Monkees and Sonny and Cher; they became legends in the industry and helped create rock and roll as we know it. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.3 Another “unsung heroes” musical documentary but all of them have been very good to outstanding in quality.

MARCH 18, 2015

AMOUR FOU (Film Movement) Genre: Drama. During the German Romantic era, a poet sorely wants to link love and death in a suicide pact but his lover, a married woman, will have no part of it – until she discovers she’s contracted a terminal illness. Release Strategy: New York City. RATING: 3.1 Seems a little morbid and more than a little pretentious.
KUMIKO: THE TREASURE HUNTER (Amplify) Genre: Drama. A Japanese office worker, condemned to a humdrum life, sees a fictional movie and becomes convinced that it is a documentary and that there is treasure buried in North Dakota and journeys to America to find it. Release Strategy: New York City (opens in Los Angeles March 20). RATING: 1.5 Beautifully shot, this has the quirky quality of a Coen Brothers film, appropriately enough.

MARCH 20, 2015

BACKCOUNTRY (IFC Midnight) Genre: Thriller. After agreeing to go with her outdoorsy boyfriend on a camping trip, a city girl sees everything that can go wrong go wrong – a creepy stalker guy who has eyes for her, then her boyfriend gets hopelessly lost, then they wander into a bear’s territory. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.9 …and then a dinosaur leaps out of a trans-dimensional portal…just seems a little bit too much to me.
CAN’T STAND LOSING YOU: SURVIVING THE POLICE (Cinema Libre) Genre: Musical Documentary. The rise, fall and reunion tour of one of the seminal New Wave bands of the 1980s.. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.0 One of my favorite bands from that era, always good to see footage you haven’t seen of a band you love.
CUPCAKES (Strand) Genre: Musical Comedy. Accidentally entered into the Universong competition as the representatives for Israel, a group of misfits set out to take the competition by storm – in their own unique style. Release Strategy: New York City. RATING: 2.4 There’s a disco-era kind of vibe that I found oddly charming in the trailer.
DANNY COLLINS (Bleecker Street) Genre: Dramedy. An aging singer-songwriter who hasn’t written a song in decades tries to resume writing music and reconnect with his estranged son after finding a long-lost letter written to him by John Lennon in the 1970s. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.7 A pretty impressive cast here with Al Pacino, Annette Benning, Bobby Cannavale, Jennifer Garner and Christopher Plummer.
THE DIVERGENT SERIES: INSURGENT (Summit) Genre: Science Fiction. The power-hungry Erudite group go to war with the rebels led by Tris and Four to rule over what’s left of Chicago. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.4 I have to admit I liked the first movie but the trailers I’ve seen for this one are troubling.
DO YOU BELIEVE (Pure Flix) Genre: Faith Drama. Encountering an old time street corner preacher, a suburban pastor is shaken to the core by his visible faith; twelve people whose lives have taken different courses are about to intersect at the crossroads of the titular question. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 4.0 Something to get the church crowd excited.
GROWING UP AND OTHER LIES (eOne) Genre: Comedy. On his last day in New York City, an artist and three of his buddies decide to recreate their moment of glory – a walk down the length of Manhattan but of course things don’t go quite as planned. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.8 Kind of your typical indie 30-something deal with growing up ensemble thing.
THE GUNMAN (Open Road) Genre: Action. Betrayed by the international intelligence organization he worked for, an operative must survive in a hunt across Europe to clear his name and find out who is responsible. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.1 Sounds like a pretty typical spy film – only this one’s with Sean Penn.
HUNTING ELEPHANTS (XLRator) Genre: Comedy. Two Israeli rest home residents, a penniless English lord and a precocious 12-year-old plan to rob a bank. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.6 Quirky Israeli comedy with, of all people, Sir Patrick Stewart in a supporting role.
JAUJA (Cinema Guild) Genre: Drama. In 19th century Argentina a Danish engineer arrives with his daughter to work for the Argentine army which is in the midst of a genocidal action in Patagonia; when she runs away with a soldier, he goes after her despite the hostile atmosphere. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.9 Beautifully shot and interesting concept; all this and Viggo Mortensen too.
LA SAPIENZA (Kino-Lorber) Genre: Drama. Trying to generate some passion, a middle aged architect and his bored wife travel to Italy. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.8 Looks very pretty from the trailer but get the sense this is very slow-paced.
THE LETTERS (Freestyle Releasing) Genre: Drama. The correspondence between Mother Teresa and her spiritual adviser Father Celeste van Exern over a 50 year period gives us insight into the woman behind the saint. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.7 The trailer hints at a very powerful spiritual experience.
LILY AND KAT (Mance) Genre: Dramedy. The friendship of two young women in New York is tested when one of them falls in love with an artist. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.1 Looks a little bit vacuous and the characters more than a little shallow.
LOST AND LOVE (China Lion) Genre: Drama. 15 years after his two-year-old daughter was kidnapped, a dogged Chinese father continues the search for her. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.7 The more I see of Andy Lau the more I want to see.
SECRET OF WATER (Paladin) Genre: Documentary. Water makes up most of the planet and most of our bodies but we seem to as a species take it for granted; this documentary points out why that’s not a smart move. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.5 Worthy subject for a documentary but no trailer anywhere.
SHE’S LOST CONTROL (Monument) Genre: Thriller. A sexual surrogate takes on a new client and finds her line between professional and personal beginning to blur. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.4 Illustrates the vulnerability of a surrogate; looks to be quite gripping.
SPRING (Drafthouse) Genre: Horror. While in Italy fleeing his past, an American gets involved with an Italian girl, unaware that her own past harbors a dangerous secret. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.1 One of those heady films that throws knockout punches when you least expect them.
TRACERS (Lionsgate) Genre: Action. Deeply in debt to a violent gang, a parkour expert joins a crew that uses the discipline to pull of increasingly daring heists that throw him from the frying pan into the fire. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.6 Very kinetic action sequences but looks pretty generic and with Taylor Lautner starring I’m definitely hesitant on this one.
THE WALKING DECEASED (ARC) Genre: Horror Spoof. The recent craze in zombie movies get their turn to be skewered by a spoof. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.4 I have to admit I’ve never seen a horror spoof I’ve liked but hope springs eternal.
ZOMBEAVERS (Freestyle Releasing) Genre: Horror. Groupies on the prowl for a good time get lost in a swamp infested with undead beavers.. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.3 I’m beginning to think that we’re running out of ideas.

MARCH 25, 2015

THE KIDNAPPING OF MICHEL HOULLEBECQ (Roadside Attractions) Genre: Dramedy. Accidentally abandoned by his squad in Belfast in 1971, a British soldier struggles to make it back to his barracks over the course of a deadly night. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.8 A soldier caught behind enemy lines always makes for compelling drama.

MARCH 27, 2015

A GIRL LIKE HER (Parkside) Genre: Drama. The victim of a school bully secretly takes video footage of her bullying which threatens to tear their community apart. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.1 Bullying has been a serious subject as of late in movies and on television; this is a different look at it.
THE BARBER (ARC Entertainment) Genre: Horror. A man on the hunt for a serial killer – not to capture but to become his protégé – finds one in a mild-mannered barber. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.8 I’ve always had a soft spot for Scott Glenn.
GET HARD (Warner Brothers) Genre: Comedy. Convicted of a white collar crime, a man who has lived a pampered and sheltered existence and has 30 days to get his affairs in order turns to the only black man he knows to get him ready for prison – despite the fact his friend is as upstanding a citizen as there is. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.8 Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart is a partnership I can get behind.
HOME (DreamWorks) Genre: Animated Feature. A well-meaning but kind of klutzy alien is hunted by his own people to the place where he has taken refuge – Earth. Release Strategy: Wide (Standard, 3D, IMAX 3D). RATING: 2.0 Seems an awful lot like Lilo and Stitch to me with only some minor character differences.
MAN FROM RENO (Gravitas) Genre: Mystery. Two people – one a small town sheriff, one a best-selling mystery writer taking a breather from a brutal book tour, both encounter a mysterious Japanese man who disappears without a trace. Release Strategy: New York City/Los Angeles. RATING: 1.4 I think I could get into the noir element that this movie seems to embrace.
NIGHTLIGHT (Lionsgate) Genre: Horror. Five teens camping in the woods for a night of flashlight games and ghost stories awaken a slumbering evil that will have them fighting for their lives. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.2 Judging from the trailer this is another found footage horror movie; hope the movie is better than the trailer.
THE RIOT CLUB (IFC) Genre: Drama. Students at Oxford are recruited for an underground society which promises wealth and luxury but descends into an orgy of violence. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.6 Based on an actual club at Oxford that counts current Prime Minister David Cameron among its alumni.
SALT OF THE EARTH (Sony Classics) Genre: Documentary. Photographer Sebastiao Salgado has turned the focus of his lens from great events in human history to chronicling pristine places on Earth to pay tribute to the planet’s beauty – while these places still exist. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.8 The Oscar-nominated doc from acclaimed filmmaker Wim Wenders.
SERENA (Magnolia) Genre: Drama. In the 1920s, a North Carolina timber baron’s marriage is threatened when his wife learns about secrets from his past. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.2 Reunites Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence from American Hustle.
WELCOME TO NEW YORK (IFC) Genre: Drama. The business trip of a French banker to New York descends into debauchery, ending in a shocking event. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.6 Based on an actual incident that grabbed headlines all around the world not that long ago.
WHILE WE’RE YOUNG (A24) Genre: Drama. A middle-aged couple seems to have things figured out until they are befriended by a younger couple. Release Strategy: New York City/Los Angeles (expanding in April). RATING: 2.1 Noah Baumbach is a director to be reckoned with, particularly when he has a cast that includes Ben Stiller, Naomi Watts, Amanda Seyfried and Adam Driver.
WHITE GOD (Magnolia) Genre: Drama. When the State turns against dogs, dogs turn back against the State. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.5 Looks like a great movie, but as a soft-hearted dog lover I don’t know how well I’ll be able to handle it.
A WOLF AT THE DOOR (Outside) Genre: Thriller. The ultimate parental nightmare happens to a Brazilian couple; their daughter has been picked up by a strange woman from school and has disappeared but what makes things even worse is that it is discovered that the husband has been having an extramarital affair and his paramour may be involved. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.7 Sounds like a compelling drama but the trailer is oddly unexciting.

MARCH 31, 2015

TO WRITE LOVE ON HER ARMS (Sony Classics) Genre: True Life Drama. Hooked on drugs, a young Orlando teen makes a heroic effort to kick her habit and inspires others to create a foundation to help kids just like her. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.0 Was the 2012 Florida Film Festival opening night film, finally getting a theatrical and VOD release; you can read my review of the movie, which was then entitled Renee here.

SCHEDULED TO BE REVIEWED HERE AS NEW RELEASES
Chappie, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Unfinished Business, Cinderella, Run All Night, The Wrecking Crew, Danny Collins, The Divergent Series: Insurgent, The Gunman, Get Hard, Home

Four-Warned: February 2015


Jupiter AscendingEvery 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.

FOUR TO SEE
1. JUPITER ASCENDING (1.0)
2. KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE (1.2)
3. FOCUS (1.6)
4. MC FARLAND (1.8)
TIE. THE SEVENTH SON (1.8)

FOUR TO SEEK OUT (FILMS NOT IN WIDE RELEASE)
1. GETT: THE TRIAL OF VIVIANNE ANSALEM (1.4)
2. ALL THE WILDERNESS (1.5)
TIE. WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS (1.5)
4. BECAUSE I WAS A PAINTER (1.6)
TIE. THE SALVATION (1.6)

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

FEBRUARY 6, 2015

1971 (Maximum Films) Genre: Documentary. At the height of the Vietnam War, a group of ordinary citizens broke into the FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania and stole documents only to mail them to newspapers, leading to the COINTELPRO investigation; their identities have never been revealed until now. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 1.4 In the face of Edward Snowden’s revelations, this is more relevant than ever.
3 NIGHTS IN THE DESERT (Monterey Media) Genre: Drama. Three former bandmates reunite for a three-night camping drip in the desert only to have old romantic entanglements rear their heads once again. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.4 A kind of indie rock mini-Big Chill with some gorgeous desert vistas thrown in.
BALLET 422 (Magnolia) Genre: Documentary. A look at the creative process within the New York City ballet as they craft their newest original work. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.2 A fascinating look at what goes on within one of America’s most elite and prestigious institutions.
BOY MEETS GIRL (Cinephile International) Genre: Romance. Three Kentucky young people, one a transgender, find that their friendship is being tested by sexual longing. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.7 Much respect for tackling modern romantic relationships without resorting to stereotypes.
CALL FOR HELP (The Orchard) Genre: Documentary. Details the story of the Global Disaster Immediate Response Team in the aftermath of the Haitian earthquake. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.5 Not sure what to make of this; will have to see the whole documentary to really form an opinion but could be something special.
ENTER THE DANGEROUS MIND (Variance) Genre: Psychological Thriller. A reclusive composer with a sizeable online following falls for a beautiful social worker but when his fragile mind breaks with the voices in his head growing louder and more destructive, her true devotion will be tested. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.9 Looks pretty intense.
JUPITER ASCENDING (Warner Brothers) Genre: Science Fiction. The fate of the galaxy is in the hands of an insignificant human woman whose genetic code marks her as the heir to a mind-blowing empire. Release Strategy: Wide (Standard, 3D, IMAX 3D). RATING: 1.0 The Wachowskis have not had a hit in awhile but this might just be the one.
LISTEN (Mance) Genre: Science Fiction. After a man discovers that everyone has music inside them, he uses his discovery to find his own true love. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.1 Kind of an odd trailer but the premise has promise.
LOVE, ROSIE (The Film Arcade) Genre: Romantic Comedy. Two childhood best friends are separated through the years but keep reconnecting; is it just friendship or something more? Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.6 I’ve been wondering when Sam Claflin would be getting a lead role.
ONE SMALL HITCH (Freestyle Releasing) Genre: Romantic Comedy. Two childhood friends agree to pretend to be engaged to please a dying father but things quickly get out of hand. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.0 Wacky families, a wedding, a plethora of misunderstandings and a little white lie – haven’t we seen this one before?
THE OTHER MAN: F.W. DE KLERK AND THE END OF APARTHEID (First Run) Genre: Documentary. The story of the last president of apartheid South Africa and his role in ending the heinous policy. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.1 A fascinating look at the other side of the equation, seeing things from a viewpoint other than Mandela’s.
OUTCAST (eOne) Genre: Action. When a ruthless older brother takes the throne of China from the rightful heir, he seeks out a legendary bandit, the White Ghost, to help set things to rights. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.2 Another forgettable Nicolas Cage action movie.
PASS THE LIGHT (DigiNext) Genre: Faith. A high school student runs for Congress on a candidacy based on Christian love to face down a candidate running on exclusion and fear. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 4.0 Way too preachy for my tastes.
THE SEVENTH SON (Universal/Legendary) Genre: Fantasy. The last member of a mystical order seeks out a prophesied hero to stop an evil witch bent on ruling the world. Release Strategy: Wide (Standard, 3D, IMAX). RATING: 1.8 Despite having Jeff Bridges and Julianne Moore in it, trailer didn’t impress me as being anything more than another hack fantasy film.
THE SPONGEBOB MOVIE: SPONGE OUT OF WATER (Paramount/Nickelodeon) Genre: Family. The denizens of an underwater world are forced to come to our world to save their own. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 3.7 For those who loved The Smurfs, this is for them; for those who hated it…
THE VOICES (Lionsgate) Genre: Horror Comedy. After being stood up for a date, a sweet but psychotic man begins to hear voices coming from his dog (good) and his cat (evil). Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.0 Weird in a satisfying kind of way; Ryan Reynolds and Anna Kendrick are two very appealing actors.

FEBRUARY 10, 2015

ACCIDENTAL LOVE (Millennium) Genre: Dramedy. After a freak accident with a nail gun turns an ordinary woman into a supercharged sexpot, she goes to Washington DC to campaign for health insurance relief since no company will cover her and ends up involved with a conniving politician with his own agenda. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.1 Despite a strong cast, this one turned out so great that David O. Russell, who directed it, took his name off of it.

FEBRUARY 13, 2015

50 SHADES OF GREY (Focus) Genre: Drama. The sexuality of a repressed college student is opened up by a 27-year-old billionaire. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 3.4 While mommies are entitled to their bondage fantasies, this soft-core story looks like a Cinemax adult film for the big screen which doesn’t hold a lot of interest for me.
BECAUSE I WAS A PAINTER (The Cinema Guild) Genre: Documentary. Jewish inmates of concentration camps made secret drawings and paintings which reveal daily life in the camps more vividly than any words ever could. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.6 As we pass the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz it behooves us to look back so that we might be reminded of the need to remember.
DA SWEET BLOOD OF JESUS (Gravitas) Genre: Horror. When a scientist discovers an ancient African artifact, he is infected with a cursed thirst for blood. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.8 The latest Spike Lee joint is his first foray into horror, but the trailer looked a bit…ummm…disjointed.
GETT: THE TRIAL OF VIVIANNE ANSALEM (Music Box) Genre: Drama. Trapped in a loveless marriage, an Israeli woman fights for a divorce that must be approved in a rabbinical court but requires full cooperation of her husband who is intransigent. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.4 A gripping courtroom drama as well as a relationship story; A Golden Globe nominee.
GIRL HOUSE (eOne) Genre: Horror. Trying to make some extra cash for college, a young co-ed moves into a house where X-rated video is streamed out but when a demented fan hacks into the system, she finds herself in a fight for her life. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.9 Sort of a standard slasher film with a 21st century twist.
KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE (20th Century Fox) Genre: Spy Action. An erudite and cultured operative for a secret espionage organization takes a street kid under his wing just as a global threat from an insane tech genius emerges. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.2 Matthew Vaughn is one of my favorite directors and Colin Firth looks to be a great spy in the John Steed mold.
THE LAST FIVE YEARS (Radius) Genre: Musical. The five years of a relationship and marriage is told through song in a unique fashion; the woman’s point of view begins at the end of the marriage whereas the man’s begins at the beginning of the affair; they meet in the middle when he proposes. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.3 Really intriguing concept but the songs I heard on the trailer didn’t impress me.
OLD FASHIONED (Freestyle) Genre: Romance. A free spirited young woman and a more socially conservative young man with a checkered past develop a relationship. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.0 The trailer makes it out to be a kind of anti-50 Shades but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have its share of cliches.
PLAYING IT COOL (Vertical) Genre: Romance. Trying to write a romance, a screenwriter’s own limited jaded experience are making it impossible so he turns to his friends to see if their experiences can help him write the ultimate romance. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.9 Could be very powerful but the trailer was awfully talky.
THE RE-WRITE (RLJ/Image) Genre: Comedy. A burned-out screenwriter takes a teaching job in an upstate New York college and instead of working on his own screenplay becomes invested in the work of his students. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.6 Kinda looks sweet and the cast, led by Hugh Grant, is stellar.
WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS (Paladin/Unison) Genre: Horror Comedy. Vampires living together in a flat invite a documentary crew to chronicle their daily lives. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.5 Some very funny stuff from the people behind Flight of the Conchords.
WYRMWOOD (IFC Midnight) Genre: Sci-Fi Action. When an infection turns all the people around him into marauding zombies, an ordinary mechanic soups up his car into a mean machine and takes to the wasteland. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.0 A turbo-charged Aussie Mad Max meets Day of the Dead.

FEBRUARY 18, 2015

QUEEN AND COUNTRY (BBC America Worldwide) Genre: Drama. Having survived growing up during the London Blitz, a young man is conscripted into the British army and sent to Korea. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.2 A sequel to John Boorman’s semi-autobiographical Hope and Glory.

FEBRUARY 20, 2015

ALL THE WILDERNESS (Screen Media) Genre: Drama. A young man with deep psychological problems retreats into a world of darkness but glimmers of light appear in the form of a girl he’s fond of and a mysterious young boy who takes him into a strange city. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.5 The trailer looks visually impressive.
BLACKBIRD (RLJ/Image) Genre: Drama. When his dad abandons them, a teen boy must take care of his emotionally disturbed mother while hiding a secret of his own. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.4 Takes on the ongoing struggle between being who others expect you to be and being who you are.
DIGGING UP THE MARROW (RLJ/Image) Genre: Horror. A documentary filmmaker is contacted by a man who says he can prove monsters are real and gets a lot more than he bargains for. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.8 Based on the art of Alex Pardee, looks like an inventive horror film with a unique look.
THE DUFF (CBS) Genre: Teen Comedy. It stands for “Designated Ugly Fat Friend” and when a high school senior discovers that she carries this designation, she decides to rehabilitate her image. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.3 This could either end up a typical teen comedy or one that actually has something to say.
GLORIA (Picturehouse) Genre: Musical Biography. Latin American pop star Gloria Trevi has had a checkered career but has faced every adversity she’s encountered and emerged triumphant. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.7 Looks like a fairly standard musical biopic about a performer not well known outside the Latin community, although there is a certain kind of 80s spunkiness with some fairly lurid overtones.
HOT TUB TIME MACHINE 2 (Paramount/MGM) Genre: Sci-Fi Comedy. In this sequel, the boys use their hot tub time machine to go back and change things for their better but each time they go back, they make things worse. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.4 I’m not sure this will work as well without John Cusack, although Rob Corddry, Craig Robinson and Clark Gregg are fine comedians.
MCFARLAND USA (Disney) Genre: True Life Sports. In a California farming community, Hispanic farm workers make up the bulk of a high school and have no real shot at the American dream until a cross country coach comes along and pushes them farther than they thought they could ever go. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.8 Kevin Costner seems to be at his finest in these underdog sports movies.
TREEHOUSE (Uncork’d) Genre: Horror. Two teenage boys discover a missing girl in a treehouse and become part of her fight to keep an unimaginable evil from entering our world. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.8 Looks intensely creepy but doesn’t seem to be too terribly original from what I could tell.
WILD TALES (Sony Classics) Genre: Thriller. Disparate people cross the line between civilization and barbarism as they give in to the pleasure of losing control. Release Strategy: New York City/Los Angeles. RATING: 2.7 This Spanish movie looks to be heavily influenced by Pedro Almodovar.

FEBRUARY 25, 2015

FAREWELL TO HOLLYWOOD (International Film Circuit) Genre: Documentary. A young woman’s video diary meant for her soulmate shows the effect of art on her life as she fights the cancer that will eventually take her life. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.8 The trailer is oddly moving and uplifting at once; could be a sleeper.
WILD CANARIES (Sundance Selects) Genre: Comedy. When their neighbor in a Brooklyn rent-controlled apartment suddenly drops dead, a couple suspect foul play. Release Strategy: New York City (opens in Los Angeles March 6). RATING: 2.5 Sounds intriguing but was unable to find a trailer online for it.
WORLD CIRCUS (FilmBuff) Genre: Documentary. In Monte Carlo, circus performers vie for the highest awards their profession gives out. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.7 Appeals to the kid in all of us who loves the circus.

FEBRUARY 27, 2015

’71 (Roadside Attractions) Genre: Action. Accidentally abandoned by his squad in Belfast in 1971, a British soldier struggles to make it back to his barracks over the course of a deadly night. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.8 A soldier caught behind enemy lines always makes for compelling drama.
A LA MALA (Pantelion) Genre: Romantic Comedy. An aspiring actress is persuaded to flirt with her best friend’s boyfriend to test his fidelity which becomes a lucrative business for suspicious women all over town – until she falls in love with one of her marks. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.4 While we’ve seen rom-coms with similar themes, the Latin twist makes it intoxicating.
BLUEBIRD (Factory 25) Genre: Drama. When a Maine school bus driver fails to notice a child sleeping in the back of his bus, the consequences are enormous. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.0 Set in a frigid winter setting in Maine, the trailer looks bleak and cold but with a lot of passion burning through.
DELI MAN: THE MOVIE (Cohen Media Group) Genre: Documentary. Ziggy Gruber is a third generation deli man with lox running through his veins and corned beef in his heart; he explores not only his life behind the counter but the joys of delicatessens everywhere. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.9 Suddenly I have an intense craving for pastrami.
EASTERN BOYS (First Run) Genre: Drama. Illegal immigrants from the Ukraine to Paris band together for support; when one is picked up by a gay Parisian man for sex, he figures he’s doing what he must to survive, but the relationship spirals into something more profound and dangerous. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.2 Sometimes anonymous pickups can be something else entirely.
EVERLY (Radius) Genre: Action. A mob boss, furious at his ex-girlfriend, sends assassins to take her out but she has some skills of her own as it turns out. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.8 Salma Hayek is one of the most beautiful women in the world and she makes a terrific action star.
FOCUS (Warner Brothers) Genre: Drama. In the midst of one of his most dangerous and complex cons, a grifter has his game thrown off by the appearance of a former girlfriend who is also his former protégé. Release Strategy: Wide (Standard, IMAX). RATING: 1.6 I’d see Will Smith in just about anything, although he has been in the throes of a dry spell as of late.
FUTURO BEACH (Strand) Genre: Drama. After failing to save a drowning man, a would-be rescuer decides to start his life over in Berlin but his past doggedly follows him. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.1 Gorgeously shot, this is a Brazilian film about a man’s search for his own identity.
THE LAZARUS EFFECT (Relativity) Genre: Horror. During an experiment on bringing dead animals back to life, a researcher accidently is electrocuted, then brought back to life – but she’s not the same anymore. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.2 We’ve seen this kind of thing before but damn if it doesn’t scare the beejezus out of me every time.
MAPS TO THE STARS (Focus) Genre: Thriller. When a renowned Hollywood actress takes on the role that her mother – who died in a fire – made famous, she is haunted by a young woman who may or may not be her late mom. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.1 Director David Cronenberg takes on a type of supernatural movie that up until now he hasn’t tackled.
OUT OF THE DARK (Vertical) Genre: Horror. Having relocated to a new life in South America, a young American family take possession of a house which is already possessed – and not by anything good, spiritually speaking. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.3 Strong cast and some strong scares – who could ask for anything more?
THE SALVATION (IFC) Genre: Western. After a peaceful settler takes revenge on the men who killed his family, a local outlaw gang leader decides to get his own brand of justice; with the corrupt and cowardly townsfolk turning their back on him, the settler will have to kill the entire gang if he is to find peace. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.6 Terrific cast includes the great Mads Mikkelsen, Jeffrey Dean Morgan and a scar-faced Eva Green.

SCHEDULED TO BE REVIEWED HERE AS NEW RELEASES
Jupiter Ascending, The Seventh Son, What We Do in the Shadows, 50 Shades of Grey, Kingsman: The Secret Service, The DUFF, Hot Tub Time Machine 2, McFarland USA, Focus, The Lazarus Effect, Maps to the Stars

Four-Warned: January 2015


Still AliceEvery 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.

FOUR TO SEE
1. BLACKHAT (1.3)
2. TAKEN 3 (1.4)
3. MORTDECAI (1.5)
TIE. PROJECT ALMANAC (1.5)

FOUR TO SEEK OUT (FILMS NOT IN WIDE RELEASE)
1. STILL ALICE (1.2)
2. STILL LIFE (1.3)
3. MATCH (1.4)
TIE. BLACK SEA (1.4)

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

JANUARY 2, 2015

[REC] 4: APOCALYPSE (Magnet) Genre: Horror. The survivor of an outbreak of a deadly disease that turns its victims into bloodthirsty madmen awakens in a research facility that may be more sinister than the environment she escaped from. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.8 The phenomenal Spanish horror franchise in all its gory bloody goodness.
THE SEARCH FOR GENERAL TSO (Sundance Selects) Genre: Documentary. Asks the culinary question “Who is General Tso and how did his chicken become so popular?”. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.0 It is the most popular single entree in America – and you won’t find it on any menus in China.
THE WOMAN IN BLACK 2: ANGEL OF DEATH (Relativity) Genre: Horror. During World War II, a group of orphans and their caretakers move into Eel Marsh House, not realizing it’s the same place that Arthur Kipps experienced the Woman in Black 40 years before. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.3 Doesn’t look to have the same Gothic vibe that the first film had.

JANUARY 7, 2015

PERSISTENCE OF MEMORY (AMC Independent) Genre: Biographical Drama. Young Salvador Dali is expelled from art school but meets the muse he would later marry and who would inspire his greatest works. Release Strategy: New York City/Los Angeles (expanding to Limited release January 16). RATING: 2.5 I’m a Dali fan but unfortunately couldn’t find a trailer for this one.

JANUARY 9, 2015

BELOVED SISTER (Music Box) Genre: Drama. The true story of an 18th century German poet who married one sister and maintained a romantic relationship with the other in a daring flaunting of convention that would raise eyebrows even now, 250 years later. Release Strategy: New York City/Los Angeles. RATING: 2.3 A florid period piece but German filmmakers seem to excel at this sort of thing.
BLACK NOVEMBER (eOne) Genre: Thriller. Citizens of an oil-rich Nigerian community who are tired of being systematically poisoned and having their way of life destroyed rise up and take an American oil baron hostage. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.8 While this is based on actual events, the trailer felt a little bit too in-your-face power to the people; dialing it down a bit might be more effective.
DARK SUMMER (IFC Midnight) Genre: Horror. A teen on house arrest for internet stalking a high school classmate manages to piggyback his internet signal on a neighbor’s only to discover that something sinister is stalking him. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.9 Looks like a truly nifty scarefest, a real hoot.
LET’S KILL WARD’S WIFE (Well-Go/Tribeca) Genre: Comedy. Everybody hates Ward’s wife and wants her dead, Ward most of all but when an accident makes that fantasy a reality, they must scramble to get rid of the body and still make their 3pm tee time. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.2 The blackest of black comedies.
PREDESTINATION (Stage 6) Genre: Science Fiction. A temporal agent whose job is to go back in time and prevent murders from taking place seeks a final showdown with his nemesis with thousands of lives hanging in the balance. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.5 Sounds like a cross between Minority Report and Timecop.
TAKEN 3 (20th Century Fox) Genre: Action. When his wife is brutally murdered, an extraordinary special forces veteran goes after her killers to settle their grudge once and for all. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.4 The franchise that reinvented Liam Neeson as an action hero goes full circle.
THE WORLD MADE STRAIGHT (Millennium) Genre: Thriller. A rebellious young man who is on his way to a criminal life has an opportunity to take the fork in the road and make it straight but this may be his only chance. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.1 Has a kind of Winter’s Bone vibe to it but a little more mainstream than that.

JANUARY 14, 2015

HUMAN CAPITAL (Film Movement) Genre: Drama. The fate of two different families become irrevocably entwined after a cyclist is run off the road on a cold night before Christmas Eve. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.9 A class-conscious whodunit – the very best kind.
I (Aascar) Genre: Adventure. Two people appear in a variety of guises, their lives intertwining romantically and otherwise in a series of different settings. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.6 One of the most impressive-looking trailers I’ve seen for an Indian film.
MATCH (IFC) Genre: Drama. During an interview about his life, a beloved dance instructor is forced to confront painful events from his past that have a direct bearing on his present. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.4 Could well end up being one of Patrick Stewart’s signature performances.

JANUARY 16, 2015

APPROPRIATE BEHAVIOR (Gravitas) Genre: Comedy. A young woman in Brooklyn struggles to create an identity for herself as the perfect daughter, a politically correct bisexual and an urban hipster but fails miserably at her every attempt. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.6 Looks pretty good albeit loaded with indie hipster cliches.
BLACKHAT (Universal/Legendary) Genre: Thriller. When a cybercrime ring begins to take on more and more dangerous targets, a genius hacker is released from prison to help combat the threat. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.3 I like Chris Hemsworth and this is definitely a different role for him.
ESCOBAR: PARADISE LOST (Radius) Genre: Thriller. An unsuspecting American surfer falls in love and marries a beautiful young Latin woman – who happens to be the niece of drug kingpin Pablo Escobar. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.2 A very interesting concept and a very interesting cast including Javier Bardem and Josh Hutcherson.
LITTLE ACCIDENTS (Amplify!) Genre: Drama. The disappearance of a teenage boy, a mining disaster, the loveless marriage of a mining executive, a provocative affair with the sole survivor of the disaster and a young boy with a secret set a small mining community on edge. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.6 Saw this at the Sundance Across America festival last January; read my review here.
LOITERING WITH INTENT (The Orchard) Genre: Dramedy. Heading to a bucolic country retreat to concentrate on writing the script that might save their careers, a couple of out-of-work actors get caught up in a bacchanalian romp as well as the crossfire of old family wounds. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.3 Can’t complain when your cast includes Sam Rockwell and Marisa Tomei.
PADDINGTON (Weinstein) Genre: Family. When a family adopts a talking bear they found in a railway station, hi-jinks ensue. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.7 In all honesty when I first heard about this project I was unenthused but after seeing the trailers I’m definitely intrigued.
PERSISTENCE OF MEMORY (AMC Independent) Genre: Biographical Drama. The life of young Salvador Dali from his expulsion from Art School to his 1934 New York exhibition and his meeting and courting of his wife Gala, his lifelong muse. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.5 A really interesting concept but unfortunately no trailer that I could find anywhere.
SON OF A GUN (A24) Genre: Crime Drama. Befriending a veteran thug in prison, a young inmate gets ensnared in a criminal world whose allure isn’t enough to make him realize he’s in way over his head. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.0 Looks like a reasonably well-made Aussie action thriller.
SPARE PARTS (Pantelion) Genre: True Life Drama. The true story of an underprivileged high school where four Hispanic students enter a robotics competition against schools like MIT and Cal Tech and without almost any funding and zero experience but with determination and chutzpah. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.9 Might just be the movie role George Lopez has been waiting for.
STILL ALICE (Sony Classics) Genre: Drama. At the height of a brilliant career as a linguist, a woman contracts Alzheimer’s. Release Strategy: New York City/Los Angeles. RATING: 1.2 Was originally going to be released in December for Oscar consideration; I’m mystified why they didn’t follow through with that – Julianne Moore looks amazing in the trailer.
STILL LIFE (Tribeca) Genre: Drama. Believing everybody deserves a dignified exit, a London man spends time tracking down the kin of those who died alone and arranging funerals and writing eulogies for those that wouldn’t have them but when he meets the daughter of an alcoholic who abandoned her long ago, something else is kindled inside him. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.3 Beautifully shot, it looks wonderfully moving; another one I’m looking forward to eagerly.
THREE NIGHT STAND (Freestyle) Genre: Romantic Comedy. Desperate to re-energize his marriage, a video game designer decides to take his wife to the ski lodge where he had some of his most memorable weekends with his ex-girlfriend; the strategy takes a turn for the quirky when they discover his ex-girlfriend running the lodge. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.0 Looks like a fairly cliche romantic comedy which is to say, a romantic comedy.
VICE (Lionsgate) Genre: Science Fiction. In the near future, a resort is created with human-seeming androids where the very rich can act out any fantasy they wish, no matter how illegal or immoral but when one of the robots develops self-awareness then the stakes change drastically. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.2 While there are definitely hints of Westworld, the approach here looks quite different.
THE WEDDING RINGER (Screen Gems) Genre: Comedy. A desperate groom rents a best man and groomsmen, only to discover that his new best man has become his new best friend. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.4 Kevin Hart has been ridiculously hot as of late.

JANUARY 20, 2015

VERONIKA DECIDES TO DIE (eOne) Genre: Drama. After a botched suicide attempt lands her in an asylum, Veronika discovers she only has a short time to live. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.4 Almost a Latin American-style thriller; Sarah Michelle Gellar hasn’t been doing a lot of movies lately so this is a welcome return.

JANUARY 22, 2015

WE’LL NEVER HAVE PARIS (Orion) Genre: Romantic Comedy. When Quinn terminates a long-time relationship after a beautiful young girl professes her love for him, he soon realizes he made a horrible mistake and leaves for Paris where the girl of his dreams has moved to. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.1 Do we really need another brainless romantic comedy?

JANUARY 23, 2015

AGAINST THE SUN (The American Film Company) Genre: Drama. Three crewman of a U.S. Navy torpedo bomber during World War II survive a crash landing in the South Pacific, only to face near-impossible odds of getting their tiny life raft to safety. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.4 One of those true stories that might actually make for good cinema.
AMERICONS (Archstone) Genre: Thriller. A broken-down former college football star gets one last shot at redemption during the sub-prime mortgage boom. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.7 Another film about greed subverting the American Dream, but this one doesn’t look like it has anything particularly compelling or new to say about it.
ANARCHY (Lionsgate/Grindstone) Genre: Drama. Crooked cops take on an outlaw biker gang in this modern day update of Shakespeare’s Cymbaline.. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.1 With a cast that includes Ethan Hawke, Ed Harris, Milla Jojovich and Anton Yelchin, this could be intriguing.
BLACK SEA (Focus) Genre: Adventure. On the bottom of the ocean sits a Nazi submarine loaded with gold; a disgraced submarine captain with a crew of rogues and scoundrels means to claim it. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.4 Jude Law continues to take on roles that go outside his comfort zone.
THE BOY NEXT DOOR (Universal) Genre: Thriller. With her marriage seemingly over, a school teacher becomes the object of obsession for a boy next door; when her husband attempts to reconcile, the boy’s psychotic tendencies are revealed. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.8 I’m not a big Jennifer Lopez fan and given this subject matter, I’m not really looking forward to this movie.
CAKE (Cinelou) Genre: Drama. A chronic pain sufferer who lives on pain meds and alcohol, lashing out to those closest to her, becomes attached to a family that has suffered a recent loss. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.7 An unglamorous but intense performance by Jennifer Aniston makes this one something I’m really looking forward to seeing.
DARK SUMMER (IFC Midnight) Genre: Horror. While his mom is away on business, her 17-year-old son is under house arrest, trapping him in the house with an evil entity. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.0 A spookier take on Suburbia with Peter Stormare as a cop who is less-than-sympathetic.
THE DUKE OF BURGUNDY (Sundance Selects) Genre: Erotic Drama. Two women enact a daily erotic ritual until one of them begins to yearn for a more normal relationship. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.8 Not for the 50 Shades of Gray crowd but more like the crowd that are legitimately kinky.
THE HUMBLING (Millennium) Genre: Dramedy. Retiring to a bucolic farmhouse in upstate New York, a renowned stage actor gets involved with a much younger woman – who happens to be a lesbian. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.2 Would normally steer clear of films with loglines like this but when the actor happens to be Al Pacino and the lesbian Greta Gerwig I can’t help but take a look.
MANNY (Gravitas) Genre: Documentary. Manny Pacquiao grows up from extreme poverty to one of the greatest boxers in history, becoming a national hero in his native Philippines in the process. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.0 “Why do I fight?” says the 8-time champion, “Because it’s God’s will.”
MOMMY (Roadside Attractions) Genre: Drama. Regaining custody of her 15-year-old ADHD son is just the start of a feisty single mom’s problems but the help of a neighbor might just give her a ray of hope. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.9 Xavier Dolan is one of the most compelling directors in France right now.
MORTDECAI (Film Movement) Genre: Comedy. A somewhat eccentric but brilliant art dealer takes on a job for the British government that involves Russian mobsters, international terrorists, MI-5 agents, his incredibly gorgeous wife and his taciturn but loyal bodyguard. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.5 This will either be really bad or surprisingly good; I’m betting on the former but hoping for the latter.
SONG ONE (Cinedigm/Film Arcade) Genre: Musical. When her brother falls into a coma following an accident, his estranged sister turns to his music to try and piece together how his life evolved in her absence. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.2 With Anne Hathaway in the lead, the possibilities go up for this to be good.
STRANGE MAGIC (Touchstone) Genre: Animated Feature. From the Lucas Arts Animation team comes this animated feature based on Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s DreamRelease Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.6 Looks like it might be interesting but not compelling.

JANUARY 28, 2015

TIMBUKTU (Cohen Media Group) Genre: Drama. In the Malian desert outside the city of Timbuktu, a family of cattle herders live in peace while in the city the Jihadist rulers put the people through agony until an incident brings them into the crosshairs of the fundamentalist regime. Release Strategy: New York City/Los Angeles. RATING: 1.6 Stunningly photographed although the trailer doesn’t really give you any sort of idea about the story itself.

JANUARY 30, 2015

ALIEN OUTPOST (IFC Midnight) Genre: Science Fiction. Following an alien invasion that is successfully beaten back, leaving only one last outpost on Earth, the soldiers guarding it discover a second invasion is on the way. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.1 Looks a bit like a better budgeted SyFy film.
BLACK OR WHITE (Relativity) Genre: Drama. After the death of his wife, the white grandfather of a mixed race granddaughter faces a custody battle with the African-American paternal grandmother of the girl. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.9 Kevin Costner and Octavia Spencer are two actors whose movies are always at the top of my list.
COMING HOME (Sony Classics) Genre: Romance. Follows the life of a Chinese dissident from the 1920s through the 1990s. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.7 Beautiful imagery from the great Chinese director Zhang Yimou.
THE DEVIL’S VIOLINIST (Freestyle Releasing) Genre: Biographical Drama. The biography of Nicolo Paganini whom some consider one of the greatest musicians who ever lived. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.4 Paganini can be characterized as the world’s first rock star.
HARD TO BE A GOD (Kino Lorber) Genre: Science Fiction. A Terran scientist on an Earth-like planet studies the inhabitants going through their feudal stage. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 2.7 Filmed in black and white, looks a little on the pretentious side.
THE LOFT (Open Road) Genre: Thriller. Five guys share a secret loft in the city where they indulge their sexual fantasies but when the body of a woman is discovered in the loft, they realize one of them must be involved in her murder. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.4 Looks like a stylish thriller with Karl Urban and James Marsden leading the way.
PROJECT ALMANAC (Paramount) Genre: Science Fiction. A brilliant high school student discovers his dad had left an unfinished time machine in the basement and goes about finishing it which leads to incredibly dangerous consequences. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.5 This found footage time travel project was originally set to debut in July of last year.
SUPREMACY (Well Go USA) Genre: Drama. When a just-paroled white supremacist and his girlfriend kills a cop and takes an African-American family hostage, a number of unforeseen forces become arrayed against him. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.6 Could be a taut suspense film if they do it right.
WILD CARD (Lionsgate) Genre: Action. On the run from the mob, a Las Vegas bodyguard with a heavy gambling problem takes one last risk and it’s all or nothing. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.9 Da Queen wouldn’t ordinarily be interested in a movie like this but it’s Jason Statham in Las Vegas.

SCHEDULED TO BE REVIEWED HERE AS NEW RELEASES
The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death, Taken 3, blackhat, Paddington, The Wedding Ringer, Black Sea, Mortdecai, Strange Magic, Project Almanac

Coming Soon


A new feature we’re working on here at Cinema365 is a Coming Soon menu. You’ll see it directly below our logo at the top of our page. There we will post to the best of our ability what’s opening in theaters in wide, limited and regional release as best we can for the United States. This is not going to replace our monthly Four-Warned feature, at least not at present. This is a simple list of what’s playing that we’re gathering from a variety of sites.

The list will be set up in chronological order by release date. Movies scheduled to go into wide release will be in boldface type. Movies that our expanding their release from regional to limited, from regional to wide or from limited to wide will be in regular typeface. Movies that are scheduled to go into limited release will be in italics. Once a movie has been released, all typefaces will be changed from black to red. At least for the time being the plan is to keep all of these pages even after all the movies in that particular month have been released. As movies are reviewed here on Cinema365, links will be provided to the reviews so you can see what I thought. Hopefully that will help keep these pages relevant even after their use as a preview page has expired. Feel free to use it as a bit of a checklist to see how many movies you can see in any given month.

We feel here at Cinema365 that movie buffs like to keep abreast of what’s coming their way and hopefully those of you who are of that mindset will find it useful. January 2015 is posted now; we’ll be adding additional months as the days go on, hopefully a new month every day until we have it as up to date as is humanly possible to make it. Hope you like this new feature and find it helpful in making your movie-viewing decisions.

Four-Warned: November 2014


InterstellarEvery 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.

FOUR TO SEE
1. INTERSTELLAR (1.0)
2. THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY – PART I (1.3)
3. BIG HERO 6 (1.5)
4. HORRIBLE BOSSES 2 (1.6)

FOUR TO SEEK OUT (FILMS NOT IN WIDE RELEASE)
1. FOXCATCHER (1.0)
2. BEFORE I DISAPPEAR (1.2)
3. THE BETTER ANGELS (1.3)
TIE. THE HOMESMAN (1.3)

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

NOVEMBER 4, 2014

WORST FRIENDS (Level 33) Genre: Romantic Comedy. Badly injured in a car accident, a prankster has only a childhood friend and a physical therapist to help him recover – until his friend’s high school crush moves back in to town. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.6 Looks mildly interesting.

NOVEMBER 5, 2014

INTERSTELLAR (Paramount) Genre: Science Fiction. With the Earth no longer able to support life, a desperate attempt is made to use a wormhole to find us a new home. Release Strategy: IMAX (expands Standard Wide November 6). RATING: 1.0 The latest from Christopher Nolan looks like an epic science fiction experience.
NATIONAL GALLERY (Zipporah) Genre: Documentary. A fascinating glimpse backstage at London’s National Gallery as administrators argue (politely), docents wax rhapsodic and restorers…erm, restore. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 2.7 The love that goes into a major museum like this is evident but so is all the work.

NOVEMBER 7, 2014

21 YEARS: RICHARD LINKLATER (Gravitas) Genre: Documentary. The career of the Godfather of Independent Films is examined through interviews and animation. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.0 Interest in the director is high after the success and likely Oscar nominations of Boyhood.
A MERRY FRIGGIN’ CHRISTMAS (Phase 4) Genre: Comedy. After realizing he left his son’s gifts at home, Boyd takes an 8 hour road trip back home with his eccentric father to make sure his son has a Christmas. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.9 One of Robin Williams’ last films.
ACTRESS (The Cinema Guild) Genre: Documentary. Brandy Burre, who gave up a role on The Wire to start a family, decides to resume her career even though it might cost her that same family. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.4 I can’t say as this doesn’t have some fascination but I don’t know that I’m especially eager to see a portrait in narcissism.
THE BETTER ANGELS (Amplify) Genre: Drama. Preparing him for future greatness, the childhood of Abraham Lincoln was difficult and tragic. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.3 Filmed in black and white and produced by Terrence Malick, the movie looks gorgeous and has an impressive cast, enough to make this worth keeping an eye out for.
BIG HERO 6 (Disney) Genre: Animated Feature. In a future megalopolis a boy inventor adapts his robot to take on an insidious menace, joining like-minded teens in a team of high-tech heroes. Release Strategy: Wide (Standard, 3D). RATING: 1.5 Marvel’s first animated feature for Disney looks charming and fun.
ELSA AND FRED (Millennium) Genre: Comedy. After his daughter puts a grieving widower into a small apartment, he meets a sassy and vivacious woman who teaches him that however much life he has left deserves to be lived to the fullest. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.3 With a cast that includes Oscar winners Shirley MacLaine, Christopher Plummer and Marcia Gay Harden, how can you go wrong?
FUGLY! (Paladin) Genre: Comedy. Following a near-death experience, a Latino comic is forced to re-evaluate his life and accomplishments. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.8 John Leguizamo is one of those guys who is always compelling no matter how good the material.
JESSABELLE (Lionsgate) Genre: Horror. Jessabelle returns home after a serious car accident to recuperate only to discover that a malevolent entity there has been waiting for her and doesn’t intend for her to leave – ever. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.7 Very much a Southern Gothic looking movie has been release date shuffled and moved from a wide release to a limited one, making me wonder how much faith the studio has in the film.
THE LOOKALIKE (Well Go USA) Genre: Comedy Thriller. A drug lord’s obsession with a young woman puts in jeopardy a big drug deal when she dies inadvertently, causing his associates to frantically find a lookalike to keep things from going sideways. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.0 Intriguing cast, kind of a goofy premise…this one’s a wait-and-see for me.
ON ANY SUNDAY, THE NEXT CHAPTER (Red Bull Media House) Genre: Documentary. This sequel 30 years after the original shows that motorcycle racing is still a grand passion not only in America but abroad. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 3.7 The Red Bull logo is EVERYWHERE in the trailer which gives me a good deal of pause when recommending this.
OPEN WINDOWS (Cinedigm) Genre: Thriller. When an actress refuses to honor a commitment to a win-a-date contest, her unscrupulous manager gives the disappointed winner the option of unlimited access to her via hidden webcams, putting both him and her at terrifying risk. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.1 From promising up-and-coming horror director Nacho Vigalondo comes this modern riff on Rear Window.
THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING (Focus) Genre: Biographical Drama. Stephen Hawking went from a promising British student to a man in the throes of an insidious disease to one of the most brilliant minds of our time. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.6 Could be a career-making role for Eddie Redmayne.
THE WAY HE LOOKS (Strand) Genre: Drama. Fed up with bullying and his over-protected mom, a blind kid determines to study abroad much to the consternation of his best friend but when the student reconsiders after meeting a young man in town, things get even more complicated. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.9 A Brazilian coming-of-age film set to a soundtrack of Belle and Sebastian; how much more indie can it get?
WEST (Main Street) Genre: Drama. After the mysterious death of her boyfriend, an East German escapes to the West with her young son, only to discover that her past is catching up to her on the other side of the wall. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.5 Sounds intriguing but unable to locate a trailer online.
WHY DON’T YOU PLAY IN HELL? (Drafthouse) Genre: Action Comedy. In the midst of a yakuza war an ambitious film crew view for the chance to film a live battle to the death. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.2 A deranged Japanese self-parody over the obsession to make movies.

NOVEMBER 14, 2014

ALWAYS WOODSTOCK (Gravitas) Genre: Musical. An aspiring singer after losing her job and her fiancée pawns her ring and goes home only to find her muse and the love of her life. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.3 Seen this before in other films, although a good young cast including James Wolk, Alison Miller and Rumer Willis gives it one on the plus side.
BAD TURNS WORSE (Starz Digital Media) Genre: Crime Drama. Three teens, partying on stolen money, end up indebted to a sociopathic criminal who forces them to steal from his vicious boss – at which time things go from bad to worse. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.0 Mark Pellegrino makes for a charismatic villain but rest of trailer looked a bit bland.
BEYOND THE LIGHTS (Relativity) Genre: Musical. The latest R&B diva/superstar is crumbling under the pressure until she falls for a local cop assigned to her detail. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 3.5 A version of The Guardian without Whitney Houston seems kind of pointless.
DUMB AND DUMBER TO (Universal) Genre: Comedy. Lloyd and Harry return after a 20 year absence to find Harry’s daughter – did anyone miss them? Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 3.4 The Farrelly Brothers, once the toast of Hollywood comedies, now find themselves in sore need of a hit.
FOXCATCHER (Sony Classics) Genre: True Life Drama. An initially supportive but deeply disturbed multi-millionaire sets up a wrestling training center for the Olympics but his efforts only end in tragedy. Release Strategy: New York City/Los Angeles. RATING: 1.0 Said to be a sure thing Best Actor nomination for Steve Carell.
THE HOMESMAN (Roadside Attractions) Genre: Western. Three women on the edge of the American frontier who have been driven mad by the harsh life must be transported to Iowa where a kindly minister will take them in but the journey is a dangerous one. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.3 The latest from Tommy Lee Jones has a cast that includes Meryl Streep and Hilary Swank; will Oscar look past their general disdain for Westerns?
MISS MEADOWS (eOne) Genre: Action. Beneath the refined exterior of a school teacher lies a gun-toting vigilante who believes in correcting bad behavior the hard way. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.8 A modern revision of a vigilante film with a patina of quirky humor.
OCCUPY THE FARM (Self-Released) Genre: Documentary. Urban farmers in the Berkeley area take on the University of California to protect prime farmland from being sold for development. Release Strategy: New York City (opens in Los Angeles November 21). RATING: 2.2 Asks the very pertinent question who gets to decide what public land is used for.
RED ARMY (Sony Classics) Genre: Sports Documentary. The Red Army hockey team is one of the best in history; their impact on social change in the Soviet Union is largely unknown in the West but is immeasurable. Release Strategy: New York City (expands January 2015). RATING: 1.7 I love hockey but this isn’t strictly speaking about hockey.
ROSEWATER (Open Road) Genre: True Life Drama. A reported for Newsweek is arrested in Iran and held as a spy, tortured but refuses to break. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.4 An inspiring story of personal courage and the triumph of will from director Jon Stewart – yes, THAT Jon Stewart.
SAVING CHRISTMAS (Goldwyn) Genre: Faith-Based Drama. During an office Christmas party, a man realizes his brother-in-law who is unenthusiastic about the holiday needs to be shown the true meaning of Christmas. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 4.0 Strictly for conservative Christians, a present from Kirk Cameron.
WOLVES (Ketchup) Genre: Horror. Fleeing after the brutal murder of his parents which he’s accused of, a popular high schooler searches for answers about who he is and where he comes from. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.7 Not so sure this brings anything new to the werewolf genre.

NOVEMBER 19, 2014

BAD HAIR (Cinema Tropical/FIGA) Genre: Drama. As school picture day approaches, a nine-year-old Venezuelan boy fears he has “bad hair” and wants his frizzy hair straightened. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 3.0 The TIFF trailer is a bit incoherent but it would be interesting to get a glimpse into the slums of Caracas.
PULP: A FILM ABOUT LIFE, DEATH AND SUPERMARKETS (Oscilloscope Laboratories) Genre: Musical Documentary. One of the smartest and quirkiest bands to come from the Britpop movement, they prepare to say goodbye after 25 years with a final concert in their hometown of Sheffield. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 2.2 Criminally overlooked in the U.S. they are cult favorites in their native Britain.

NOVEMBER 21, 2014

A GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE AT NIGHT (Kino Lorber) Genre: Horror. In a small Iranian village the people living there are oblivious that there is a vampire in their midst. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.7 A VERY different take on the traditional vampire film and an unfiltered look at small town Iran.
EXTRATERRESTRIAL (IFC Midnight) Genre: Sci-Fi Horror. A young woman goes to her parents vacation cabin to cope with their divorce, bringing along a group of friends to keep her company when they witness the crash of an alien ship – and soon realize that the occupant is still alive. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.4 While the idea doesn’t seem particularly innovative the execution seems pretty strong judging on the trailer.
THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY – PART 1 (Lionsgate) Genre: Science Fiction. Panem erupts into civil war and Katniss becomes a symbol for the resistance but President Snow will stop at nothing to keep her out of this larger game. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.3 Maybe the best of the young adult book franchises except for Potter.
THE MULE (XLRator) Genre: Crime Comedy. Based on actual events, an Australian drug mule captured by the police decides to retain the product in his stomach in order to conceal the evidence. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.4 Just. Friggin. Weird.
REACH ME (Millennium) Genre: Drama. When a motivational book by a mysterious author goes viral it affects a disparate group of people in different ways. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.9 An impressive cast but movies about self-help books that revolutionize people’s lives always seem to end up being a bit of a circle jerk.
VHS: VIRAL (Magnolia) Genre: Horror Anthology. A group of fame-obsessed teens unwittingly become the stars of a viral video that they may not survive. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.7 In all honesty some of these anthologies can be real hit or miss but this one looks to be honest-to-God scarier than hell.

NOVEMBER 26, 2014

HORRIBLE BOSSES 2 (New Line) Genre: Comedy. The three losers from the first movie have gone into business for themselves only to find that business has been stolen out from under them, forcing them to turn back to a criminal act to set things right. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.6 Somehow doesn’t look quite as funny as the first film but given the talent onscreen am still optimistic this might be worth checking out.
PENGUINS OF MADAGASCAR (DreamWorks Animation) Genre: Animated Feature. The lovable title creatures go on an adventure of their own, filled with mystery, intrigue and snacks. Release Strategy: Wide (Standard, 3D, IMAX 3D). RATING: 2.4 The best part of the Madagascar franchise might be way better than those movies if we’re lucky.

NOVEMBER 28, 2014

THE BABADOOK (IFC Midnight) Genre: Horror. A mother struggles with her six-year-old boy but the sinister presence of a storybook monster may turn out to be real and threatening them both. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.3 One of the most acclaimed films to come out of this year’s Florida Film Festival.
BEFORE I DISAPPEAR (IFC) Genre: Drama. In the midst of committing suicide, a junkie gets an urgent call from his sister to babysit her daughter. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.2 One of my favorite films from this year’s Florida Film Festival, you can read my review of it here.
THE IMITATION GAME (Weinstein) Genre: Biographical Drama. During World War II, genius mathematician Alan Turing is called upon to break the unbreakable code – Enigma. Release Strategy: Limited . RATING: 1.9 More possible Oscar consideration for Benedict Cumberbatch.

SCHEDULED TO BE REVIEWED HERE AS NEW RELEASES
Interstellar, Big Hero 6, The Theory of Everything, Foxcatcher, The Imitation Game, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1, Horrible Bosses 2, The Penguins of Madagascar

Four-Warned: October 2014


FuryEvery 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 strategy: 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.

FOUR TO SEE
1. FURY (1.5)
2. GONE GIRL (1.6)
TIE. THE JUDGE (1.6)
4. ST. VINCENT (1.7)
TIE. DRACULA UNTOLD (1.7)

FOUR TO SEEK OUT (FILMS NOT IN WIDE RELEASE)
1. BIRDMAN (1.0)
2. DIPLOMACY (1.1)
3. RUDDERLESS (1.3)
TIE. WHIPLASH (1.3)
TIE. KILL THE MESSENGER (1.3)

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

OCTOBER 1, 2014

THE DECENT ONE (Kino-Lorber) Genre: Documentary. Correspondence and restored film from German archives show Heinrich Himmler, one of the true monsters of the Nazi regime, to have quite a different self-image than how history views him. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 2.6 Nobody ever thinks of themselves as monsters but some of the footage in the trailer was fascinating.
MEN, WOMEN AND CHILDREN (Paramount) Genre: Ensemble Drama. Explores how the internet impacts relationships of several high school students and their parents. Release Strategy: Limited (expands October 10 & October 17). RATING: 1.9 Really good young cast and director Jason Reitman makes this something to look forward to.

OCTOBER 2, 2014

BANG BANG (Fox Star) Genre: Bollywood. A mousy bank receptionist gets caught up in the adventure of a lifetime when a mysterious man comes into her life. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.0 A remake of the Tom Cruise vehicle Knight and Day; could appeal to audiences beyond the usual Bollywood enthusiasts.

OCTOBER 3, 2014

A GOOD MARRIAGE (Screen Media) Genre: Thriller. Happily married for more than 20 years, a woman stumbles across a box under a worktable that changes completely her perception of the man she married.. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.7 From the mind of Stephen King and starring the great Joan Allen who has been not as much onscreen as I would like.
ANNABELLE (New Line) Genre: Horror. For his pregnant wife, an expectant father buys the gift of a vintage doll in a wedding dress, but an attack by a satanic cult gives the doll a demonic presence. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.9 A prequel to the excellent horror film The Conjuring.
BITTER HONEY (Elemental) Genre: Documentary. Polygamy is more accepted in Indonesia; this film follows three families in Bali and in particular the wives and their place in Indonesian society. Release Strategy: Los Angeles only. RATING: 2.4 Definitely has the feel of being made by an academic but a fascinating subject nonetheless.
THE BLUE ROOM (Sundance Selects) Genre: Drama. A couple meet for an illicit romance but it ends up with the man under police scrutiny. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 2.0 Examines the French attitudes towards infidelity with the great Matthieu Almaric starring – and directing.
DRIVE HARD (RLJ/Image) Genre: Action. A former race car champion turned driving instructor is hijacked by a desperate criminal to be the getaway driver in his $9 million heist. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.8 Looks much more fun than I thought; with John Cusack and Thomas Jane in it, I guess I should have known better.
GONE GIRL (20th Century Fox) Genre: Thriller. When a beautiful woman disappears on her fifth wedding anniversary, the husband comes under scrutiny and their apparently perfect marriage begins to dissolve into lies, deceit and secrets. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.6 Ben Affleck has been on a winning streak of late and David Fincher is an always interesting director.
THE GOOD LIE (Warner Brothers) Genre: True Life Drama. Sudanese refugees who arrive in the U.S. prior to 9-11 are separated from their sister and prevail on a sympathetic social worker to help them. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.6 The first of two first-rate Reese Witherspoon performances this fall.
THE HERO OF COLOR CITY (Magnolia) Genre: Animated Feature. Heroic crayons take on the monsters from a child’s imagination to keep said monsters from hoarding all the colors for themselves. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 3.1 Looks a little cheesy but then again I think this is really meant for younger kids.
LAST HIJACK (Submarine) Genre: Documentary. The life of a Somali pirate told from his point of view through film of his everyday life and animated sequences. Release Strategy: New York City/Los Angeles. RATING: 1.8 A powerful subject but not sure the trailer captures that power.
LEFT BEHIND (Stoney Lake) Genre: Faith-Based Drama. After the rapture, those who remain in this world discover why it was a good thing to get called up to heaven Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 3.9 While going from Kirk Cameron to Nicolas Cage is arguably a trade-up, this isn’t necessarily a movie I wanted to see the first time let alone this time.
THE LIBERATOR (Cohen Media Group) Genre: Biographical Drama. Simon Bolivar is one of the most beloved historical figures in Latin America; this movie explains why. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.0 Although this movie has been rescheduled a couple of times, the trailer looks intriguing and it could do some indie-level box office damage.
THE SUPREME PRICE (Self-Released) Genre: Documentary. The democratically elected president of Nigeria is overthrown by a military coup and his wife assassinated when she tries to carry on his ideals; now their daughter returns to Nigeria to try and restore democracy to a nation in which the corruption is entrenched. Release Strategy: New York City/Los Angeles. RATING: 2.0 Powerful stuff, but some of the Nigerians’ accents are so thick that the extended trailer would benefit from subtitles.

OCTOBER 7, 2014

STRETCH (Universal) Genre: Action Comedy. During the course of a single night, a desperate limo driver is obliged to perform increasingly twisted tasks for his reclusive billionaire fare. Release Strategy: VOD. RATING: 2.2 From Joe Carnahan, a director whose projects always seem to have something interesting about them.

OCTOBER 10, 2014

ADDICTED (CODEBLACK) Genre: Drama. A successful female executive with a great family and loving husband falls for an artist client and begins a torrid affair, discovering that her physical needs have become an obsession. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 3.2 Yet another movie this month dealing with marital infidelity.
ALEXANDER AND THE TERRIBLE, HORRIBLE, NO GOOD, VERY BAD DAY (Disney) Genre: Family. What should have been a great day turns into the most miserable day ever for one particular family. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.9 Has at least Steve Carell in it to recommend it.
AUTOMATA (Millennium) Genre: Science Fiction. The investigation of potential manipulation of a robot’s programming exposes a dire threat to humanity. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.1 Has a distinctly Asimovian feel to the film.
THE CANAL (The Orchard) Genre: Horror. A man suspects that dark spirits in his home, the scene of a grisly turn-of-the-last-century murder, may be trying to destroy him and his family. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.9 Creepy, atmospheric Irish horror – is there anything better at Halloween?
DEAD SNOW 2: RED VS. DEAD (Well Go USA) Genre: Horror Comedy. The survivor of the first movie wants to get revenge on the Nazi zombies – by raising an army of the undead of his own. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.6 Might just be THE best horror movie of the season.
THE DEVIL’S HAND (Roadside Attractions) Genre: Horror. One of six girls born on the sixth day of the six month in a small devout village is destined to be the Devil’s Hand. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.8 A cross between a teen slasher movie and a supernatural horror film set in an Amish community.
DRACULA UNTOLD (Universal/Legendary) Genre: Horror Action. His family and people threatened, a Romanian warlord determines to protect them anyway he can – even if it means literally making a deal with the devil. Release Strategy: Wide (Standard, IMAX). RATING: 1.7 An alternative take on the origins of history’s most famous vampire.
I AM ALI (Focus World) Genre: Documentary. The Greatest Boxer of All Time’s life and career are recounted through unprecedented access to his archives and interviews with those closest to him. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.8 An icon from when boxing mattered.
THE JUDGE (Warner Brothers) Genre: Drama. When his estranged father who is in the throes of early dementia is accused of murder, his high-priced lawyer son reluctantly accepts the task of defending a man he can’t stand. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.6 Robert W. Downey is almost always entertaining.
KILL THE MESSENGER (Focus) Genre: Thriller. San Jose Mercury News reporter Gary Webb discovers a story with far-reaching implications into our government and the war on drugs, but his discoveries put his job, family and eventually his life at risk. Release Strategy: Limited (expands October 17 and October 24). RATING: 1.3 A true story involving one of the last heroic journalists of our time with Jeremy Renner as Webb.
ONE CHANCE (Weinstein) Genre: Musical Biography. The true story of Paul Potts, a shop assistant whose incredible performances on a British singing competition show took that country by storm. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.9 A movie whose release date has been shifted by Weinstein so many times it’s a wonder this hasn’t gone direct to VOD.
THE OVERNIGHTERS (Drafthouse) Genre: Documentary. With oil creating a boom in a small town in North Dakota, housing has become an issue; when a pastor opens up his church to itinerant oil workers he creates unexpected controversy that is exacerbated by secrets from his own past. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.0 Looks incredibly powerful, not just a snapshot of a moment but also of our attitudes towards those who work in our country.
THE PACT 2 (IFC Midnight) Genre: Horror. A woman’s life, which she seems to have put together in a careful fashion, begins to unravel when horrific nightmares begin to intrude on her waking life. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.7 A serial killer comes back from the grave film with better special effects than most for the genre.
ST. VINCENT (Weinstein) Genre: Comedy. Having moved into a new neighborhood, a single mom is forced to hire her curmudgeonly neighbor to babysit her kid. Release Strategy: Limited (opening wide October 24). RATING: 1.7 Looks like another winner for Bill Murray.
WHIPLASH (Sony Classics) Genre: Drama. An ambitious jazz drummer butts heads with his tyrannical drum teacher, pushing him to the brink of greatness – and possibly, insanity. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.3 Some say this is the best movie to come out of Sundance this year.
YOU’RE NOT YOU (eOne) Genre: Drama. An unconventional friendship forms between a successful classical pianist diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s Disease and the chaotic college student and wannabe rock star who is hired to care for her. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.2 Looks a bit like a tearjerker but with an amazing cast headed up by Oscar winner Hilary Swank.

OCTOBER 15, 2014

DIPLOMACY (Zeitgeist) Genre: Drama. The confrontation between a Nazi general and a Swedish diplomat becomes a game of high stakes. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 1.1 With the Allies knocking on the doors of Paris, the Nazis intended to destroy the city; one man alone stood in the way as this riveting drama proposes.

OCTOBER 16, 2014

THE TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN (Orion/MGM) Genre: Horror. 65 years after a masked serial killer terrorized a Texas town, the murders begin again but is it something more sinister than a copycat killer? Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.8 A spooky remake of a supposedly true story.

OCTOBER 17, 2014

THE BEST OF ME (Relativity) Genre: Romance. Two lovers are reunited 20 years later after life has kicked them around some and the woman is married to another man. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 3.3 Nicholas Sparks is at it again.
BIRDMAN (Fox Searchlight) Genre: Comedy. Trying to resurrect a stalled career, an actor best-known for playing an iconic superhero mounts a Broadway play, battling his own ego and the pressures surrounding him as he gives one last effort to make things right in his life. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.0 The latest from Alejandro Gonzales Inarritu looks funny, sad, beautiful and wonderful all at once.
THE BOOK OF LIFE (20th Century Fox) Genre: Animated Feature. Two young men battling for the heart of the same women attract the attention of supernatural entities who bet on the winner; one, hoping to tip the scales, sends one of the men to the land of the Dead. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.8 Set in the style of the Mexican Day of the Dead, the Guillermo del Toro-produced toon has a look that is completely unique and utterly enchanting.
THE CULTURE HIGH (eOne) Genre: Documentary. Examines both sides of the debate around legalizing marijuana. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.9 While the documentarians clearly favor legalization, they seem open to presenting opposing viewpoints.
DEAR WHITE PEOPLE (Roadside Attractions) Genre: Comedy. Four African-American students deal with racial attitudes in the 21st century in different ways. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.4 I’m still on the fence about this one; the trailer looked a bit stereotypical.
DEFAULT (Amplify) Genre: Thriller. Somali pirates capture a chartered plane with a legendary journalist aboard, demanding to be interviewed which the journalist agrees to without realizing the motives are much more deadly than he realizes. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.7 Somali pirates seem to have become an object of obsession in Hollywood lately.
FELONY (Gravitas) Genre: Crime Thriller. Three detectives are involved in the critical injury of a child; one committed a crime, one is covering it up and the third will try to expose it. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.0 Australian film with a terrific cast including Tom Wilkinson and Joel Edgerton.
FURY (Columbia) Genre: War. In the waning days of the Second World War, a tank crew behind enemy lines try to survive the furious final fight and make it home. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.5 Brad Pitt may be looking at another Oscar nomination.
HOUSEBOUND (XLRator) Genre: Horror Comedy. Sentenced to home detention in her mom’s house, a career criminal discovers that her mom’s babbling about the house being haunted turn out to be true. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.4 Keep Calm and Watch British Horror Movies.
LISTEN UP, PHILIP (Tribeca) Genre: Drama. A self-centered novelist seeks refuge in his idol’s summer home and gets an unexpected reality check. Release Strategy: New York City (expands October 24). RATING: 2.1 Looks pretty funny in a twisted sort of way.
RUDDERLESS (Goldwyn) Genre: Drama. The death of his son inspires his alcoholic dad to begin performing his son’s songs in public. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.4 The directing debut of William H. Macy offers a fine cast and a strong story.
THE TALE OF PRINCESS KAGUYA (GKIDS) Genre: Animated Feature. A baby discovered in a glowing bamboo stalk is raised by human parents to become a beautiful princess. Release Strategy: New York City/Los Angeles/Toronto. RATING: 1.6 Based on an ancient Japanese legend, this is the latest film (and last for awhile, possibly forever) from Studio Ghibli.
YOUNG ONES (Screen Media) Genre: Science Fiction. In a dystopic future in which water is disappearing from the Earth, a farmer fights to protect his land and his family. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.6 Not sure if this is post-apocalyptic action film or political statement.

OCTOBER 24, 2014

1,000 TIMES GOODNIGHT(Film Movement) Genre: Drama. A badly injured war photographer returns home to get an ultimatum from her husband and children; choose between her family and her career. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.1 Rarely do we see the price paid by the families of journalists who risk their lives doing their jobs.
CITIZENFOUR (Radius) Genre: Documentary. In the midst of making a documentary about security abuses in Post-9/11 America a filmmaker receives cryptic e-mails from a source that ends up being Edward Snowden. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.5 The details of how a whistleblower brought one of the biggest scandals in the history of the American intelligence community may well be a fascinating movie but couldn’t find a trailer.
EXISTS (Lionsgate) Genre: Horror. On the way to a weekend camping trip, five friends accidentally unleash an ancient horror hell-bent on revenge. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.9 The director of The Blair Witch Project brings us what might be the scariest Sasquatch movie ever.
FORCE MAJEURE (Magnolia) Genre: Dramedy. The actions of a father during a family ski trip lead to his wife questioning his character and indeed whether she should remain married to him. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.4 Funny and thought-provoking, a rare combination.
THE HEART MACHINE (IFC) Genre: Romance. An online relationship takes a strange turn when the man discovers that the woman may not be a long distance romance at all – she may actually live in his town. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 2.8 Love and obsession in the digital age.
JOHN WICK (Lionsgate) Genre: Action Thriller. A hitman comes out of retirement to take on the gangsters who took everything from him. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.2 Keanu Reeves in the kind of role that Liam Neeson has been getting lately.
LAGGIES (A24) Genre: Dramedy. Not quite ready to grow up yet, a 20-something girl hides out from a prospective fiancé in the home of a 16-year-old friend and her single dad. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.0 This Sundance favorite from one of my favorite young directors Lynn Shelton has a stellar cast.
LIFE OF RILEY (Kino Lorber) Genre: Romance. Three French couples living in the English countryside must navigate their way through emotional entanglements. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.3 A new Alain Resnais film is always worth seeking out.
LOW DOWN (Oscilloscope Laboratories) Genre: Biographical Drama. The relationship between a young girl and her aspiring musician father is complicated as they try to survive Los Angeles in the 70s. Release Strategy: New York City (opening in Los Angeles October 31). RATING: 2.0 Astonishing cast captures the era, the drug use and the music.
OUIJA (Universal) Genre: Supernatural Horror. In an attempt to contact her recently deceased sister using a Ouija board, a young woman may have inadvertently contacted the malevolent force that killed her. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.7 The latest from the Blumhouse bunch looks plenty scary.
STONEHEARST ASYLUM (Millennium) Genre: Horror. Newly graduated from med school, a doctor takes a position at a mental institution and falls for one of his colleagues, unaware of the repercussions of a recent staffing change. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.2 An adaptation from an Edgar Allen Poe short story.
WHITE BIRD IN A BLIZZARD (Magnolia) Genre: Thriller. The disappearance of her mother several years earlier profoundly effects a young college student as she confronts her own denial of the events surrounding it. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.4 Shailene Woodley just keeps getting better and better.

OCTOBER 29, 2014

REVENGE OF THE MEKONS (Music Box) Genre: Musical Documentary. Emerging from the punk scene in the UK in 1977, this long-running band continues to make exciting and relevant music today by consistently changing and adopting new influences. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 1.7 A band that has made some of the greatest music of the post-punk era but has had terrible luck with record labels and remains mostly a cult favorite today.

OCTOBER 31, 2014

ABCS OF DEATH 2 (Magnet) Genre: Horror Anthology. Once again, 26 directors from around the world contribute short films based on different letters of the alphabet with a horror theme. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.0 The first one had flashes of genius but was wildly uneven.
BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP (Clarius) Genre: Thriller. Every time a woman goes to sleep, she wakes up with no new memories of what happened that day; but disturbing truths begin to emerge that make her suspect everyone around her. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.9 Sounds a lot like 50 First Dates crossed with Memento.
HORNS (Radius) Genre: Supernatural Horror. Accused of raping and murdering his girlfriend, a young man wakes up with a set of horns which compel people to confess their sins and act out their hidden fantasies and decides to use their power to find out what really happened to his girlfriend. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.6 A tour-de-force for director Alexandre Aja and another career-building performance for Daniel Radcliffe.
NIGHTCRAWLER (Open Road) Genre: Thriller. Desperate for work, an unemployed man falls into the fast-paced underbelly of crime journalism in L.A. and slowly begins to unravel. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.4 Jake Gyllenhaal at the top of his game.
SAW (Lionsgate) Genre: Horror. Returning for one week only comes one of the seminal torture porn films. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.6 Remember when we got a new movie in this franchise every Halloween?

SCHEDULED TO BE REVIEWED HERE AS NEW RELEASES
Annabelle, Gone Girl, The Good Lie, Alexander and the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day, Dracula Untold, The Judge, Kill the Messenger, One Chance, St. Vincent, Whiplash, Birdman, The Book of Life, Fury, John Wick, Ouija, Nightcrawler

Four-Warned: September 2014


The EqualizerEvery 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.

FOUR TO SEE
1. THE EQUALIZER (1.3)
2. HECTOR AND THE SEARCH FOR HAPPINESS (1.4)
TIE. THE MAZE RUNNER (1.4)
4. TUSK (1.6)
TIE. A WALK AMONG TOMBSTONES

FOUR TO SEEK OUT (FILMS NOT IN WIDE RELEASE)
1. AT THE DEVIL’S DOOR (1.2)
2. THE ZERO THEOREM (1.4)
3. 20,000 DAYS ON EARTH (1.5)
TIE. LILTING (1.5)

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

SEPTEMBER 5, 2014

FRONTERA (Magnolia) Genre: Drama. When his wife is killed while riding on their ranch, an ex-sheriff investigates an illegal Mexican who was on their land when the incident occurred. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.3 Looks like another powerful performance from Ed Harris.
GOD HELP THE GIRL (Amplify) Genre: Musical. Although she’s been an absolute catastrophe, a Glasgow girl knows she has the talent to front a band and when she finds two similarly wounded souls, they form a band that might just go places. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 2.1 From Belle and Sebastian front man Stuart Murdoch, a gentle pop music comedy.
THE IDENTICAL (Roadside Attractions) Genre: Musical. Identical twins, separated at birth during the Depression because their parents couldn’t afford to keep them both, live very different lives but strikingly similar as well. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.8 The healing power of rock and roll.
INNOCENCE (JSC) Genre: Horror. A pair of youngsters who are dealing with tragedy in their own lives enter a new prep school which they soon discover may be run by a coven of witches who drink the blood of virgins to keep their perpetual youth. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.7 Looks a bit like something that should air on the CW.
LAST DAYS IN VIETNAM (American Experience) Genre: Documentary. During the military evacuation of Saigon in 1975, a group of American soldiers and diplomats face a moral quandary of whether to follow orders and save only U.S. citizens or try and save as many South Vietnamese citizens as they can. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.9 A searing look at one of the most unforgettable events of the late 20th century.
THE LONGEST WEEK (Gravitas) Genre: Romantic Comedy. The former heir to a fortune is disinherited and thrown out on his ass in a nasty divorce case; taken in by a close friend, he falls for his friend’s girlfriend and tries to maintain the charade that everything is okay. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.0 Jason Bateman is the closest thing to a sure thing in comedic acting these days.
MEMPHIS (Kino Lorber) Genre: Documentary. A singer of immense talent but a fragile psyche wanders in the mythic land of Memphis. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.5 The trailer looks a little bit scattered.
TRAILER PARK BOYS 3: DON’T LEGALIZE IT (Screen Media) Genre: Comedy. Plans to legalize marijuana in Canada threaten the boys plans to eventual riches so they head to Ottawa to lobby against it. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.9 A low-rent Canadian version of Cheech and Chong, only not funny.
WETLANDS (Strand) Genre: Dramedy. A rebellious teen with a penchant for masturbating with vegetables becomes infatuated with her male nurse during a hospital stay. Release Strategy: New York City (opens in Los Angeles September 12). RATING: 2.1 One of the most talked-about and polarizing movies to appear at this year’s Florida Film Festival.

SEPTEMBER 10, 2014

BORN TO FLY: ELIZABETH STREB VS. GRAVITY (Aubin) Genre: Documentary. Elizabeth Streb and her Extreme Action Troupe are revolutionizing dance – or perhaps more accurately, creating a brand new art form. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 3.5 It’s hard to tell the difference sometimes between someone genuinely pushing the limits or someone who thinks far too highly of themselves.
MY OLD LADY (Cohen Media Group) Genre: Drama. After inheriting a Parisian apartment from his estranged father, a New Yorker becomes embroiled in a real estate struggle regarding the person living there, her daughter and a rapacious developer. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 2.4 Any movie with Kevin Kline, Maggie Smith and Kristin Scott-Thomas is going to be on my list of must-sees.

SEPTEMBER 12, 2014

ARCHAEOLOGY OF A WOMAN (Emerald) Genre: Drama. The daughter of a woman who is in the beginning stages of elderly dementia discovers that her mom may be involved in a 30-year-old murder mystery. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 3.0 Interesting premise but the trailer is kind of disjointed.
AT THE DEVIL’S DOOR (IFC) Genre: Horror. An ambitious young realtor and her artist sister are pulled into the sinister web of a house she is selling that is inhabited by a sinister supernatural force. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.2 Looks absolutely terrifying.
ATLAS SHRUGGED III: WHO IS JOHN GALT? (Atlas) Genre: Drama. The conclusion (I think) of the trilogy based on the Ayn Rand novel. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 4.0 Conservative economists will be lined up at the door for this one.
THE DISAPPEARANCE OF ELEANOR RIGBY (Weinstein) Genre: Romance. The relationship of a couple that has been strained to the breaking point by tragedy is examined from both viewpoints. Release Strategy: New York City/Los Angeles (expands September 19). RATING: 2.7 Combines two films that played at Cannes, subtitled His and Hers which is economical I suppose.
DOLPHIN TALE 2 (Warner Brothers) Genre: Family. The legendary dolphin Winter comes to the rescue of a young foundling named Hope in this family tale loosely based on the ordeals of the real dolphins. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 3.3 Looks really treacly and may cause insulin shock in diabetics.
THE DROP (Fox Searchlight) Genre: Crime Drama. When a bartender whose bar is used as a covert means of funneling cash to Brooklyn criminals becomes embroiled in a robbery gone sideways, he must find out who’s responsible or risk losing everything. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.1 One of the last movies with the late James Gandolfini.
FINDING FANNY (Fox Star) Genre: Romantic Comedy. Five friends go on a 20-minute trip to locate the long lost love of an old postman but get lost and find something else. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.5 Has that oddball Bollywood charm.
THE GREEN PRINCE (Music Box) Genre: Documentary. The extraordinary true story about the son of a Hamas leader who becomes a prized informant of Shin Bet, the Israeli intelligence service, and the agent who protected him in an incredibly dangerous situation for more than a decade. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.2 Looks as gripping as any John Le Carre spy film except that this actually happened.
HONEYMOON (Magnet) Genre: Horror. When a newlywed finds his wife wandering in the woods disoriented on their honeymoon, he begins to suspect that she’s in the grip of something truly sinister. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.6 A very creepy film with a Game of Thrones star headlining.
NO GOOD DEED (Screen Gems) Genre: Thriller. After a charming stranger gains entry into her home ostensibly to call for a tow truck, a cat and mouse game begins between a young wife and mother and the stranger who turns out to be a brutal escaped convict. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.8 Idris Elba versus Taraji P. Henson – excellent casting, I’d say.
THE QUITTER (Goodface) Genre: Drama. An ex-ballplayer whose career was an utter failure is forced to face his life decisions when his former girlfriend moves back into the neighborhood with her seven-year-old daughter. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 2.5 A trailer for this film is lacking.
THE SKELETON TWINS (Roadside Attractions) Genre: Comedy. Estranged twins are forced into a reunion which may change both their lives for the better. Release Strategy: Limited (opens wide September 19). RATING: 1.8 Pairing Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig sounds like a winner to me.
TAKE ME TO THE RIVER (Abramorama) Genre: Musical Documentary. The musical history and influence of Memphis is brought together as generations of Memphis artists and those influenced by the sound come together to record a historic album. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.6 When you consider the caliber of artists that emerged from Memphis and the enormous influence they’ve had on modern music, this is a must-see for any music fan.

SEPTEMBER 16, 2014

WORST FRIENDS (Level 33) Genre: Romantic Comedy. Badly injured in a car accident, a prankster has only a childhood friend and a physical therapist to help him recover – until his friend’s high school crush moves back in to town. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.6 Looks mildly interesting.

SEPTEMBER 17, 2014

20,000 DAYS ON EARTH (Drafthouse) Genre: Music Documentary. Nick Cave has been one of the most respected and innovative performers in indie rock since his days with The Birthday Party and on through his time with the Bad Seeds. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 1.5 One of the true greats who doesn’t get his due.
THE GUEST (Picturehouse) Genre: Thriller. The grieving family of a soldier welcomes one of his comrades into their home, then as people around them begin to die mysteriously suspect their guest of being responsible. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.1 Adam Wingard is one of the most intriguing up-and-coming directors out there.

SEPTEMBER 19, 2014

A WALK AMONG THE TOMBSTONES (Universal) Genre: Suspense. A cop-turned-private detective investigates the kidnapping and murder of the wife of a drug boss, finding that it is the work of a team of sadistic serial killers. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.6 Liam Neeson is one of the most bankable action stars in Hollywood.
ART AND CRAFT (Purple Parrot) Genre: Documentary. The world’s most prolific art forger gets an exhibition of his own work. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 3.0 An interesting look inside the art world, warts and all.
FORT BLISS (Phase 4) Genre: Drama. Returning home from Afghanistan, a single mom and Army medic discovers her relationship with her son is fractured; she must find a way to rebuild it but the threat of re-deployment may put what progress she’s made in jeopardy. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.9 Although I like the cast, something about the trailer left me ambivalent towards this.
HECTOR AND THE SEARCH FOR HAPPINESS (Relativity) Genre: Dramedy. A psychiatrist, believing he can’t help his patients find happiness unless he finds it for himself first, goes on a journey to see what happiness looks like. Release Strategy: Limited (expanded opening October 3). RATING: 1.4 Simon Pegg is one of my favorites right now; this is a very different role for him.
ICEMAN (Well Go USA) Genre: Martial Arts. Three vengeful brothers and the Imperial guard wrongfully accused of murder are frozen during battle, thawing out 400 years later in the modern era.. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.2 An interesting mix of martial arts fantasy and modern hard bitten gangster movie.
KEEP ON KEEPIN’ ON (Radius) Genre: Musical Documentary. Jazz piano legend Clark Terry undertakes one last mentorship as his health begins to fail. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.8 Great music and a marvelously touching story.
LIFE’S A BREEZE (Magnolia) Genre: Comedy. A struggling Irish family races against time to find a lost fortune. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.8 Another charming Irish movie; you gotta love it.
THE MAZE RUNNER (20th Century Fox) Genre: Science Fiction. Teens who have no memory find themselves in a mysterious glade surrounded by a deadly maze; when a new arrival begins to show signs of recovering his memory, everything changes. Release Strategy: Wide (Standard, IMAX). RATING: 1.4 Based on a bestselling young adult novel, one hopes this will fare better than the dozens of poorly made and poorly received young adult would-be franchises.
RECLAIM (Lionsgate) Genre: Thriller. After their newly adopted daughter goes missing in a small town, a young couple realize that the adoption agency they trusted may be behind it. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.7 It worries me that John Cusack, an actor I adore, is turning into the new Nicolas Cage.
THE SCRIBBLER (XLRator) Genre: Science Fiction. Using a new treatment, a young woman with multiple personality disorder deletes the extraneous personalities one at a time but can she be sure that her own real personality won’t be eliminated at the end? Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.8 Visually impressive, this is based on an acclaimed graphic novel.
SPACE STATION 76 (Vertical) Genre: Sci-Fi Comedy. A space station is rife with drama as the alcoholic captain comes near to colliding with an asteroid. Release Strategy: New York City/Los Angeles. RATING: 2.8 Kind of an Airplane in space with a 70s vibe going strong.
THIS IS WHERE I LEAVE YOU (Warner Brothers) Genre: Dramedy. Four grown siblings struggle to carry out their father’s dying wish – that all four of them spend a week under the same roof with their mom. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.8 Awesome cast including Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Jane Fonda and Adam Driver.
TRACKS (Weinstein) Genre: Drama. The true story of a young woman who decides that in order to discover who she is, she must make a 2,000 mile trek through the Australian outback. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.0 Precedes the similarly themed and also-true story Wild by two and a half months.
TUSK (A24) Genre: Horror. An ambitious young journalist finds the story of a lifetime in an adventurer and raconteur who has an odd penchant for walruses. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.6 This Kevin Smith-directed opus looks plenty oddball and plenty intriguing.
THE ZERO THEOREM (Amplify) Genre: Science Fiction. Directed to work on a peculiar project by his boss, an eccentric computer genius discovers he is out to prove that life has no meaning. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.4 The latest from director Terry Gilliam received an Orlando premiere several months ago; read my review here.

SEPTEMBER 24, 2014

JACK AND THE CUCKOO CLOCK HEART (DADA) Genre: Animated Feature. After his heart freezes, a young man must use a cuckoo clock to keep his heart operating. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.9 Lushly animated and whimsical, this is not necessarily for kids.

SEPTEMBER 26, 2014

ASMODEXIA (IFC Midnight) Genre: Supernatural Horror. A wandering exorcist believes that the devil is preparing for something truly evil and breathtaking. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.3 An over-the-top Spanish demon movie; nobody does it better.
THE BOXTROLLS (Focus) Genre: Animated Feature. Below ground, a group of mischievous but good-hearted creatures raise an orphaned human boy who comes to their defense when they are threatened by the town above. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.0 From Laika, the studio that brought you Coraline.
THE EQUALIZER (Columbia) Genre: Drama. When he sees a young girl under the control of violent Russian mobsters, a man with a mysterious past can’t sit idly by. Release Strategy: Wide (Standard, IMAX). RATING: 1.3 While I was never a particular fan of the TV show, I will see anything Denzel Washington is in.
FISHING WITHOUT NETS (Drafthouse) Genre: Drama. Forced to become a pirate to support his family, a Somali man must make difficult choices when their seizure of an oil tanker becomes violent. Release Strategy: Los Angeles (opens in New York City October 3). RATING: 2.5 The concept sounds intriguing but there’s no trailer available.
GOOD PEOPLE (Millennium) Genre: Thriller. When a deeply in debt couple find a stash of cash in the apartment of a murdered tenant, they decide to keep it and use it to get themselves out of debt which doesn’t sit well with the guy who stole it in the first place. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.7 Interesting cast but generic thriller.
JIMI: ALL IS BY MY SIDE (XLRator) Genre: Musical Biography. Follows a year in the life of guitar legend Jimi Hendrix when he was on the verge of breaking into international stardom. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.9 Not sure about this one; Jimi Hendrix is due for a great biopic but Andre Benjamin’s dialogue sounded so wooden on the trailer this might not be the one.
LILTING (Strand) Genre: Drama. A Chinese mother and her son’s lover (whom she only knows as his roommate) grieve together following the son’s untimely death despite a language barrier. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.5 Looks beautifully shot and emotionally powerful although the music drowned out the dialogue on the trailer I saw.
PRIDE (CBS) Genre: True Story. Striking British mine workers receive unexpected – and at first unwelcome – support from a Gay Advocacy group but the two sides eventually learn that there is greater strength in greater numbers. Release Strategy: New York City/Los Angeles/San Francisco. RATING: 1.8 Looks moving and funny and insightful all at once.
THE SONG (Goldwyn) Genre: Musical. A Country singer weds a vineyard owner’s daughter and writes a love song to her which becomes a breakout hit – and brings temptation into his life. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.9 Looks preachy and not in a good way.
THE TWO FACES OF JANUARY (Magnolia) Genre: Thriller. While vacationing in Greece in the 1960s, a wealthy couple become entangled with an American con man but the couple may not be what they seem either. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.6 Author Patricia Highsmith, promising young director Hossein Amini and stars Viggo Mortensen, Kirsten Dunst and Oscar Isaac make for a potent combination.
TWO NIGHT STAND (eOne) Genre: Romantic Comedy. What was supposed to be a one night stand turns into something longer as the hook-up couple are snowed in his Brooklyn apartment by a blizzard and are forced to get to know each other. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.9 Could be a terrific premise but looks to go the easy route judging on the trailer.

SCHEDULED TO BE REVIEWED HERE AS NEW RELEASES
The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby, Dolphin Tale 2, No Good Deed, Search Party, The Skeleton Twins, A Walk Among Tombstones, Hector and the Search for Happiness, The Maze Runner, Pride, This is Where I Leave You, Tusk, Jack and the Cuckoo Clock Heart, The Boxtrolls, The Equalizer

Four-Warned: August 2014


Guardians of the GalaxyEvery 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.

FOUR TO SEE
1. GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY (1.0)
2. FRANK MILLER’S SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR (1.1)
3. THE HUNDRED-FOOT JOURNEY (1.3)
4. THE GIVER (1.4)
TIE. INTO THE STORM (1.4)

FOUR TO SEEK OUT (FILMS NOT IN WIDE RELEASE)
1. TO BE TAKEI (1.3)
2. THE CONGRESS (1.4)
TIE. RICH HILL (1.4)
TIE. DINOSAUR 13 (1.4)

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

AUGUST 1, 2014

4 MINUTE MILE (Gravitas) Genre: Drama. A young man in a desperate neighborhood uses track and field as an escape but even that may not be enough. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.3 Looks a little hokey but does have a pretty decent cast with Richard Jenkins and Kim Basinger.
THE ALMOST MAN (Big World) Genre: Dramedy. Although he’s 35, Henrik lives at home and parties with his high school buddies like he’s young but when his girlfriend gets pregnant, it’s time for him to become the man he was meant to be. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 2.8 A celebration of life, Norwegian style.
BEHAVING BADLY (Vertical) Genre: Comedy. An awkward high school boy will do anything to secure the girl of his dreams but he doesn’t realize just how much he has to do to get her – and that it involves the mob. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.8 Definitely a “stop me if you’ve heard this one before” kind of movie.
CABIN FEVER: PATIENT ZERO (RLJ/Image) Genre: Horror. While on a Caribbean vacation, a group of friends swim in contaminated water and discover that an abandoned research facility may be the only key to save them from the flesh-eating disease they’ve contracted. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.1 Most of this series has gone direct-to-video; I’m wondering if this shouldn’t have as well.
CALVARY (Fox Searchlight) Genre: Dramedy. A good Irish priest must summon the courage to face sinister circumstances brought on by a mysterious parishioner. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.8 From the director and star of In Bruges.
CHILD OF GOD (Well Go USA) Genre: Thriller. A man who is deprived of home and family descends into a deep dark morass of crime and degradation. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.6 Based on a Cormac McCarthy novel; looks pretty intense.
FINDING FELA (Kino-Lorber) Genre: Documentary. The life of Nigerian musician and activist Fela Kuti whose fight for oppressed people and Pan-Africanist politics made him a hero in his native land. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.9 His music is most familiar to Americans through a Broadway musical based on his work.
GET ON UP (Universal) Genre: Musical Biography. James Brown came from a background of poverty to become one of the most influential figures in music in the 20th Century. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.2 Chadwick Boseman looks like he captures the essence of James Brown as he did with Jackie Robinson.
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY (Disney/Marvel) Genre: Science Fiction. A ragtag group of thieves, assassins and outsiders are all that stand between the galaxy and the ravages of a psychotic despot with unlimited power. Release Strategy: Wide (Standard, 3D, IMAX 3D). RATING: 1.0 An unusual choice for the next Marvel movie may end up being the best in the series to date.
LOUDER THAN WORDS (ARC Entertainment) Genre: Drama. Following the tragic death of their young daughter, a couple decide to honor her memory by founding a children’s hospital which isn’t as easy as it sounds. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.2 A great cast and an intriguing trailer make this one a sleeper to look out for.
RICH HILL (The Orchard) Genre: Documentary. Teenage boys in a small Midwestern town struggle to survive in an era of uncertain economics and hopelessness. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.4 This Sundance award winner is an early contender for an Oscar as a realistic portrayal of rural poverty in this time and place.
THE STRANGE LITTLE CAT (KimStim) Genre: Comedy. An extended family gets together for dinner in a middle-class Berlin flat. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 1.9 An unusual but inventive looking piece of cinema that played last year’s Toronto Film Festival.

AUGUST 6, 2014

WEB JUNKIE (Kino Lorber) Genre: Documentary. Internet addiction among teenage boys is an epidemic; in China they have developed “boot camps” to deal with it but the problem seems to be beyond the reach of parents, governments or the medical community. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 3.1 This is certainly a major problem but I’m not sure focusing on one failed solution really addresses it.

AUGUST 8, 2014

ABOUT ALEX (Screen Media) Genre: Dramedy. After one of them suffers an emotional breakdown, a group of 20-something friends gather for a weekend away but discover all the jealousies, political differences and unrequited love threaten to further divide them. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.2 Friendship and growing up in the age of Facebook.
AFTER (Paladin/Accretion) Genre: Suspense. The matriarch of a family struggles to hold things together when their family business starts to fail and shattering family secrets threaten to surface. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.9 The trailer doesn’t really differentiate this much from other family dramas with similar themes.
DEEPSEA CHALLENGE 3D (National Geographic) Genre: Nature Documentary. Director James Cameron’s passion for deep sea exploration culminates in a historic solo dive into the deepest place on Earth. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.0 An incredible adventure that even Cameron himself couldn’t script.
FIFI HOWLS FROM HAPPINESS (Music Box) Genre: Documentary. Bahman Mohassess is an Iranian artist known as “the Persian Picasso” was forced to abandon his country as a gay man in a repressive regime where such things were not accepted. Release Strategy: New York City (opens in Los Angeles August 15). RATING: 1.9 An iconoclastic artist allows access to his life and thoughts which may not necessarily be the nicest place in the world.
THE HUNDRED-FOOT JOURNEY (DreamWorks) Genre: Dramedy. In a small rural French village, a larger-than-life Indian restaurateur opens a garish Indian restaurant across the street from a Michelin star rated traditional French restaurant; warfare follows between the aristocratic owner of the bistro and the Indian with his talented son caught in the middle. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.3 The films of Lasse Halllstrom always have enormous heart.
INTO THE STORM (New Line) Genre: Adventure. A small town experiences a plague of tornadoes with weather scientists predicting that the worst is still yet to come. Release Strategy: Wide (Standard, IMAX). RATING: 1.4 Looks like Twister on steroids.
KEEP ON KEEPIN’ ON (Radius) Genre: Musical Documentary. Jazz piano legend Clark Terry undertakes one last mentorship as his health begins to fail. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.5 A trailer for this film is lacking.
THE MAID’S ROOM (Paladin) Genre: Thriller. When a maid to a wealthy family in the Hamptons realizes their teenage son was responsible for a fatal hit and run crash, the knowledge puts her in far more danger than she realizes. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.2 The trailer makes this look like a generic thriller.
STEP UP: ALL IN (Summit) Genre: Dance. A major dance competition in Vegas brings back stars from previous installments of this franchise. Release Strategy: Limited (Standard, 3D). RATING: 4.0 Can’t say as I have any interest in this sort of film.
TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES (Paramount) Genre: Action. When New York City is beset by the evil Shredder, four unique brothers will rise up from the sewers to protect the city. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.2 While this has a bigger budget than the previous incarnations of the live action version of this comic book, it doesn’t look particularly better.
WHAT IF (CBS) Genre: Romantic Comedy. After a series of bad relationships makes a young man reluctant to engage in any romantic relationships, he begins to realize that his best friend may just be the woman for him. Release Strategy: New York City/Los Angeles. RATING: 2.4 Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan make for an intriguing couple.

AUGUST 13, 2014

LET’S BE COPS (20th Century Fox) Genre: Comedy. When a couple of pals dress up as cops for a costume party and are mistaken for the real thing, they decide to see how far they can push their newfound respect and attractiveness to the ladies. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.6 Looks like kind of a big dumb comedy; hopefully all the best parts won’t be in the trailer.

AUGUST 15, 2014

DINOSAUR 13 (Lionsgate) Genre: Documentary. The discovery of the most intact T-Rex skeleton ever found should have been a major triumph right? However, a bureaucratic government, powerful museums, Native American tribes and competing colleagues threaten not only to take the find of the paleontologist that made the discovery but also his freedom. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.4 Even in our most triumphant scientific discoveries the ugly head of greed can be reared.
THE EXPENDABLES 3 (Lionsgate) Genre: Action. Barney and the team must go up against someone who was once a friend. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.7 More Expendables, more action, more fun.
FOUND (XLRator) Genre: Horror. A picked on high school kid hides a terrible secret; his older brother is a serial killer. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.6 A cross between a coming of age movie and a slasher film; a really unique and refreshing take on the subject.
FRANK (Magnolia) Genre: Comedy. Looking to make it as a musician, Jon joins a cult band of eccentric personalities that might be a little more than he bargained for. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.5 Original, inventive and funny; could be the coolest movie of 2014.
THE GIVER (Weinstein) Genre: Science Fiction. A young man in a Utopian society discovers that all is not well with his world and that he himself may be the key to changing things. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.4 Based on the popular young adult novels which is a statement that is getting to be the kiss of death for movies lately.
LIFE AFTER BETH (A24) Genre: Horror Comedy. Grieving for the sudden death of his girlfriend, a young man is overjoyed when she mysteriously comes back to life but as it turns out she’s not the same as when she left it. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.1 The Walking Dead have feelings too y’know.
RAGNAROK (Magnolia) Genre: Adventure. A historian obsessed with the Oseberg Viking ship discovers that runes found on the vessel may hold the key to the end of days in Norse mythology – and that it may be coming sooner than we think. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.3 Where is Thor when you really need him?
SEPTIC MAN (Starz Digital Media) Genre: Horror. When a curious sewage worker is trapped in a septic tank, he undergoes a horrifying transformation that will help him take on the madman that trapped him there. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.1 Looks pretty gruesome which is just the way I like it.
THE TRIP TO ITALY (IFC) Genre: Comedy. Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon take another journey to fine restaurants, five star hotels and bicker with each other incessantly. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.7 The opening night film from this year’s Florida Film Festival; you can read my review of it here.
THE WORD (Scarlet Sky) Genre: Drama. After his son is kidnapped and murdered by a religious sect, a grieving father plots an elaborate and wicked revenge. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.5 Sounds interesting but couldn’t find a trailer for it.

AUGUST 20, 2014

EXPEDITION TO THE END OF THE WORLD (Argot) Genre: Documentary. Climate change scientists explore a remote area of Greenland only now accessible and find it to be a life-changing experience. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 2.6 May not be as profound as it appears to be.
WINTER IN THE BLOOD (Kino Lorber) Genre: Drama. When a Native American’s wife leaves him and takes his beloved rifle with her, he sets out on a strange journey to get it back. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 2.2 This played the recent Florida Film Festival; read my review here.

AUGUST 22, 2014

ABUSE OF WEAKNESS (Strand) Genre: Drama. After suffering a stroke, an acclaimed filmmaker is determined to continue her career taking on the story of a con man who swindles celebrities, not realizing that his manipulation of her is spiraling out of control. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.4 Based on the director’s actual experiences.
ARE YOU HERE (Millennium) Genre: Comedy. When his eccentric BFF inherits his late father’s fortune, a womanizing weatherman helps him fend off a legal challenge from his overbearing sister.. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.1 Considering a cast of Owen Wilson, Zach Galifianakis and Amy Poehler, this looks surprisingly dramatic.
FRANK MILLER’S SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR (Dimension) Genre: Horror. Two tales from the Frank Miller graphic novel series are woven together in a prequel to the first movie. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.1 Retains the stylized graphic novel look of the original.
IF I STAY (Warner Brothers/MGM) Genre: Fantasy/Drama. Caught between this world and the next after a tragic accident, a young girl must decide whether to live or die. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.7 I’m a big Chloe Grace Moretz fan and this looks like a different kind of role for her.
LOVE IS STRANGE (Sony Classics) Genre: Romantic Comedy. A gay New York couple is forced by economic circumstances to separate until they can afford to buy a new place to live. Release Strategy: New York City/Los Angeles. RATING: 1.6 John Lithgow and Alfred Molina are amazing actors; this one looks like it shouldn’t be missed.
THE ONE I LOVE (Radius) Genre: Drama. In a last ditch effort to save their marriage, a couple escape to a beautiful vacation home in the mountains but a chance discovery forces them to reevaluate who they are, what they want to be and where they’re going. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.4 There’s some indie royalty in this one.
THE POSSESSION OF MICHAEL KING (Anchor Bay) Genre: Supernatural Horror. A documentary filmmaker decides to debunk religion and spiritualism once and for all following the death of his wife gets a lot more than he bargained for. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.0 Looks like a pretty wild ride.
THE PRINCE (Lionsgate) Genre: Action. When his daughter is kidnapped, a retired assassin must confront his former rival to get her back. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.9 It may look like standard B-movie action fare but with John Cusack, Jason Patric and Bruce Willis I’m all in.
TO BE TAKEI (Starz Digital Media) Genre: Documentary. George Takei, the beloved icon from Star Trek chronicles his life from an internment camp during World War II to his status today as cultural hero and fierce activist for progressive causes. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.3 This guy is a living legend and one of the most beloved people on Earth; if he isn’t one of your heroes he should be.
VOD (Inline Image 2) Genre: Thriller. After five tourists in Bangkok go missing, a new arrival gets involved with a provocative website in town, which may well end up with her being added to the list of the disappeared. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.5 No trailer for this Thai film.
WHEN THE GAME STANDS TALL (TriStar) Genre: True Sports Drama. De La Salle High School’s football team had the longest winning streak in the history of sports but when the streak came to an end the players showed what winning was all about. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.7 I gotta say that I’m a sucker for these sorts of inspirational tales.

AUGUST 27, 2014

THE NOVEMBER MAN (Relativity) Genre: Spy Action. A CIA superspy is lured out of retirement to protect an important witness, but is marked for assassination himself and is up against his own protégé in an environment where there is nobody he can trust. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.8 Pierce Brosnan proves that he hasn’t lost his Bond touch.
STARRED UP (Tribeca) Genre: Crime Drama. When he’s transferred to the same prison facility as his estranged father, a brutal inmate is taken under the wing of a prison psychiatrist who gives him hope that there might be something better ahead for him. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.1 Certain to cause some discussion over the nature and usefulness of prisoner rehabilitation.
THROUGH A LENS DARKLY (First Run) Genre: Documentary. African-American culture and society are reflected through the lens of photographers of color from the 1840’s until present day. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.9 An important subject I agree; the trailer sounds like though that the filmmakers have been caught up in their own self-importance.

AUGUST 29, 2014

AS ABOVE, SO BELOW (Legendary/Universal) Genre: Horror. A group of researchers venture into the catacombs of Paris and find something terrifying. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.0 Abandon hope all ye who enter here.
CANOPY (Monterey Media) Genre: Adventure. During the Second World War, an Australian fighter pilot shot down in the Singapore jungle finds an injured resistance fighter; together they must work together to survive the unforgiving terrain and the Japanese troops who have overrun the forest. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 2.1 Could be very gripping; the trailer looks interesting.
THE CONGRESS (Drafthouse) Genre: Science Fiction. An actress licenses her digital image to a movie studio which then, twenty years later, initiates a comeback for her even though her image is much younger than the actress herself.. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.4 Startling and impressive images from the director of Waltz with Bashir.
THE LAST OF ROBIN HOOD (Goldwyn) Genre: Biographical Drama. The scandal of an aging Errol Flynn and underage actress Beverly Aadland and her fame-obsessed mother Florence would haunt the swashbuckling actor in the last days of his life. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.9 An interesting subject but I’m not sure they pulled it off properly.
LIFE OF CRIME (Roadside Attractions) Genre: Caper Comedy. After the wife of a corrupt real estate tycoon is kidnapped, he decides that he doesn’t want to pay the ransom to get her back. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.2 It’s based on an Elmore Leonard novel so that’s got my attention from the get-go.

SCHEDULED TO BE REVIEWED HERE AS NEW RELEASES
Get On Up, Guardians of the Galaxy, The Hundred-Foot Journey, Into the Storm, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Let’s Be Cops, The Expendables 3, The Giver, Frank Miller’s Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, If I Stay, When the Game Stands Tall, The November Man, As Above So Below

Four-Warned: July 2014


LucyEvery 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.

FOUR TO SEE
1. LUCY (1.2)
2. DELIVER US FROM EVIL (1.5)
3. DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES (1.6)
4. THE PURGE: ANARCHY (1.8)

FOUR TO SEEK OUT (FILMS NOT IN WIDE RELEASE)
1. LIFE ITSELF (1.0)
2. ALIVE INSIDE (1.2)
3. A LONG WAY DOWN (1.3)
4. MAGIC IN THE MOONLIGHT (1.5)

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

JULY 2, 2014

DELIVER US FROM EVIL (Screen Gems) Genre: Horror. Teaming up with a renegade Catholic priest, a down-to-earth Bronx police detective bears witness to supernatural evil. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.5 Eric Bana is a favorite and the trailer looks pretty damn spooky.
EARTH TO ECHO (Relativity) Genre: Family. A group of kids who are about to lose their homes to a highway project must find a way to rescue an extraterrestrial and help him find his way home. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 3.4 The similarities to E.T. are too much to ignore.
PREMATURE (IFC Midnight) Genre: Sex Comedy. In what seems to be a common theme lately, a high school senior relives the same day over and over again. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.3 Describes itself as American Pie meets Groundhog Day; now why doesn’t that sound appealing at all?
SCHOOL DANCE (Lionsgate) Genre: Comedy. To win the heart of his high school crush, a young man must make the school’s hottest dance crew, survive her gangsta brother and his own holy terror of a mom. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 4.0 A spoof of a genre that I can’t stand anyway figures to be an utter waste of my time.
TAMMY (New Line) Genre: Comedy. In the grip of a very bad day, Tammy decides to go on a road trip but the only way she can afford to do it is to take her feisty grandmother along. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.2 Thelma and Louise done for laughs – and with Melissa McCarthy and Susan Sarandon aboard, I’m betting this will be worth the trip.

JULY 3, 2014

NOTHING BAD CAN HAPPEN (Drafthouse) Genre: Horror. Based on actual events, a Swedish Christian punk street kid in a foster home finds himself increasingly at odds with the dysfunctional family he lives with as the cruel and vicious father tests his faith and capacity to love in ways that will drive him to his limit – and beyond. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 2.9 Was an official entry at Cannes and has won numerous awards on the horror festival circuit.

JULY 4, 2014

BEYOND THE EDGE (IFC) Genre: Crime Comedy. When two rival gangs try to rob the same bank at the same time, a teller and a customer try to save the day without getting caught in the crossfire. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.5 A very interesting trailer and a very attractive cast.
BOBBY JASOOS (Reliance) Genre: Bollywood. Perhaps the impossible dream is to become the best detective in Hyderabad; perhaps not. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.9 Like most Bollywood films looks cheesy but fun; I do wish they’d provide an English translation on the trailers though.
GABRIELLE (DreamWorks) Genre: Horror. A high school senior suspects his new neighbor is a vampire. Release Strategy: Wide (Standard, 3D). RATING: 2.0 Was a remake of this ‘80s horror comedy really needed? And does the new version add anything?
HEATSTROKE (Phase 4) Genre: Action. On a family trip to the African desert, a research scientist accidentally runs afoul of murderous arms dealers and must evade the killers and protect his daughter and girlfriend from them as well as from the dangerous African environment. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.6 Stephen Dorff is becoming a very capable action hero.
LIFE ITSELF (Magnolia) Genre: Documentary. Roger Ebert wasn’t only the greatest film critic who ever lived; his compassion and social awareness inspired many through his long and decorated career. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.0 Ebert was a personal hero of mine and a continuing inspiration; I’ll see this one even if I have to drive 500 miles to do it.

JULY 9, 2014

CLOSED CURTAIN (Reliance) Genre: Drama. An Iranian author, hiding inside his house with his dog, sees his life changed by the arrival of a woman fleeing for her life. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 2.1 I like the concept but the trailer doesn’t really reveal very much.

JULY 11, 2014

A LONG WAY DOWN (Magnolia) Genre: Drama. Four strangers who decide to kill each on the same night meet and mutually decide to wait six weeks, becoming media sensations as an unintended consequence. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.3 Looks really, really, REALLY good.
AFFLUENZA (FilmBuff) Genre: Drama. Escaping a middle class existence for a life of privilege and wealth, a would-be photographer watched his rich cousin’s life come crashing down around her. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.1 Interesting trailer but can’t help thinking that it has a bit of the “poor little rich girl” element to it.
BOYHOOD (IFC) Genre: Drama. Twelve years in the life of a young boy and his family. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.4 Director Richard Linklater filmed this over the course of 12 years with the same cast as the young actors literally grow up before our eyes.
DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES (20th Century Fox) Genre: Science Fiction. Ten years after a devastating virus has wiped out most of the human race, the genetically evolved apes led by Caesar and the remaining humans will fight it out for the role of dominant species on this planet. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.6 I think we can guess who wins the war.
LAND HO! (Sony Classics) Genre: Comedy. A pair of aging men, once related by marriage, try to reconnect during a trip to Iceland. Release Strategy: New York City/Los Angeles. RATING: 1.7 I’m all for movies that celebrate the joy of life.
MADE IN AMERICA (Phase 4) Genre: Musical Documentary. At a music festival created by Jay Z to celebrate how music unites us and engages us to pursue our dreams, director Ron Howard creates a documentary designed to immerse us in that vibe. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.5 The next best thing to being there I suppose.
RAGE (RLJ/Image) Genre: Thriller. When his daughter is kidnapped, a businessman with a dark past must revisit his violent years to get her back by any means necessary. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.8 I guess Nicolas Cage still has some of these awaiting release.
ROAD TO PALOMA (Anchor Bay) Genre: Thriller. A Native American on the run after avenging his mother’s murder discovers that justice has a cost. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.7 Jason Momoa stars and directs; looks pretty gritty from where I sit.
UNDERWATER DREAMS (AMC) Genre: Documentary. Four teenage boys from an impoverished school enter an underwater robot competition against MIT and won with a robot built with parts from Home Depot. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.2 The ultimate underdog story.

JULY 18, 2014

ALIVE INSIDE (BOND/360) Genre: Documentary. Dan Cohen founds a nonprofit organization called Music & Memory which uses music to help reawaken memories in people the healthcare system has given up on. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.2 A celebration of life and humanity; if the trailer doesn’t move you, nothing in life will.
AMONG RAVENS (Gravitas) Genre: Drama. During a 4th of July gathering, the secrets of a family begin to emerge and have a severe effect on their 10-year-old daughter. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.0 Tries to filter a serious subject through the eyes of a 10-year-old; the trailer doesn’t work for me.
AND SO IT GOES (Clarius) Genre: Romance. A curmudgeonly realtor just wants to sell one last home and retire but when his son drops off a precocious 9-year-old granddaughter he never knew he had, his outlook changes.. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.7 With Michael Douglas and Diane Keaton in front of the camera and Rob Reiner behind it, this is bound to be worth a look.
I ORIGINS (Fox Searchlight) Genre: Science Fiction. During his research on the human eye, a molecular biologist makes a discovery that will have implications on our spiritual and basic scientific beliefs. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.9 An interesting take on science vs. spirituality.
MOOD INDIGO (Drafthouse) Genre: Fantasy. In order to save his love from the effects of a flower growing in her lungs, a wealthy bachelor must keep her surrounded by flowers while he develops a cure. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.8 The latest from French visionary Michel Gondry is bound to be visually inventive.
PERSECUTED (One Media) Genre: Thriller. Framed for murder, an evangelist goes underground to prove his innocence and stop the coming wave of persecution against American Christians. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 4.0 This is the Tea Party’s wet dream.
PLANES: FIRE AND RESCUE (Disney) Genre: Animated Feature. Dusty Crophopper, facing retirement from racing due to a damaged engine, decides that he’d like to devote his life to fighting brush fires as an aerial firefighter. Release Strategy: Wide (Standard, 3D). RATING: 3.2 The first film was better than I thought it would be; it won’t take much for the second to make the same achievement.
THE PURGE: ANARCHY (Universal) Genre: Horror. The new Founding Fathers of America invite you to purge your sociopathic tendencies as innocents get caught in the crossfire. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.8 Last year’s surprise hit gets a sequel with new cast and bigger budget; could be worth a look.
SEX TAPE (Columbia) Genre: Sex Comedy. In the aftermath of making a sex tape to spice up their love lives, a couple frantically must hunt down all the tablets they gave away as gifts when the tape is accidentally uploaded to the cloud that each tablet is preloaded with. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.1 From director Jake Kasdan who has proven adept at comedy.
VIDEO GAMES: THE MOVIE (Variance) Genre: Documentary. The epic rise of video games from niche business to multi-billion dollar industry. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.0 My son is absolutely going to go bananas for this one, produced as it is by his hero Zach Braff.
WISH I WAS HERE (Focus) Genre: Dramedy. A man at the crossroads of his life decides to redefine his performance as a son, a husband, a brother and a father. Release Strategy: New York City/Los Angeles (expanding July 25 and August 1). RATING: 1.9 Zach Braff continues on the road to redefining his career.

JULY 23, 2014

THE MASTER BUILDER (Abramorama) Genre: Drama. In the twilight of his life, an architect who has bullied his family, friends, mistresses and employees seeks to make peace with himself. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 2.5 Starring Wallace Shawn and based on an Ibsen play, this could be a film buff’s wet dream.

JULY 25, 2014

A MOST WANTED MAN (Roadside Attractions) Genre: Thriller. When a half-Chechen, half-Russian man who has been tortured nearly to death arrives in the Islamic community of a Russian city, his arrival brings chaos into the lives of a banker, a lawyer and a master spy. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.2 A John Le Carre spy story that has one of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s last performances – that has must-see written all over it.
BENEATH (IFC Midnight) Genre: Horror. Supernatural forces are unleashed during the collapse of a coal mine, leaving the trapped miners and a female environmentalist trapped with them to battle for their lives. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.6 Claustrophobic horror with a tinge of creature feature.
THE FLUFFY MOVIE (Open Road) Genre: Stand-Up Concert Film. Excerpts from Gabriel Iglesias’ “Unity Through Laughter” tour. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.1 Iglesias emerged after a tough break eliminated him from Last Comic Standing to become one of the most popular stand-up comedians today.
HAPPY CHRISTMAS (Magnolia) Genre: Dramedy. Moving in with her novelist friend, her film director husband and their two-year-old after a break-up, a hard-partying 20-something starts to turn their lives upside down. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.6 The latest from prolific director Joe Swanberg.
HERCULES (Paramount/MGM) Genre: Swords and Sandals. A legendary warrior tries to escape his own legend. Release Strategy: Wide (Standard, 3D, IMAX 3D). RATING: 1.9 Based on a graphic novel with a revisionist non-supernatural take on the myth.
IRONCLAD: BATTLE FOR BLOOD (XLRator) Genre: Action. One of the few survivors of the Siege of Rochester Castle returns home to defend his family against brutal Celtic raiders. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.1 Medieval histrionics that would have been a B movie 50 years ago and still is today.
LUCY (Universal) Genre: Science Fiction. An unwilling drug mules finds the side effects of the drug that leaks into her system to be limitless. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.2 Looks like one of Luc Besson’s best and with Scarlett Johansson in the title role? Ooh La LA!
MAGIC IN THE MOONLIGHT (Focus) Genre: Romance. In the South of France during the Jazz Age, an English detective is brought in to unmask a swindler. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.5 Woody Allen does Agatha Christie.
MY MAN IS A LOSER (Lionsgate) Genre: Comedy. After a ladies man’s advice to his buddies to reconnect with their wives backfires horribly, a straight shooting friend proves that the Lothario has a lot to learn when it comes to the fairer sex. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.4 John Stamos as a modern single ladies man…talk about dated.
VERY GOOD GIRLS (Tribeca/Well Go USA) Genre: Sex Comedy. Two young women who make a pact to lose their virginity during the summer before they head to college fall for the same guy. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.8 Anyone remember Little Foxes?

SCHEDULED TO BE REVIEWED HERE AS NEW RELEASES
Deliver Us From Evil, Earth to Echo, Tammy, Life Itself, Boyhood, And So It Goes, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, The Fluffy Movie, Planes: Fire and Rescue, The Purge: Anarchy, Sex Tape, Wish I Was Here, Hercules, Lucy