New Releases for the Week of December 3, 2021


WOLF

(Focus) George MacKay, Lily-Rose Depp, Paddy Considine, Eileen Walsh, Senan Jennings, Darragh Shannon, Lola Petticrew. Directed by Jared Bush and Nathalie Biancheri

A man who believes he is a wolf trapped in a human body is eventually committed to a clinic that specializes in those types of disorder. He undergoes increasingly aggressive forms of therapy until he meets a woman who believes she’s a wildcat. As the two fall in love, he must choose between true love and his true self.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Genre: Mystery
Now Playing: AMC Altamonte Mall, AMC Disney Springs, Regal Waterford Lakes
Rating: R (for some abusive behavior, sexuality, nudity and language)

Akhanda

(Radha Krishna) Nandamuri Balakrishna, Pragya Jaiswal, Jagapathi Babu, Meka Srikanth. A fierce devotee of Lord Shiva must stand against the unrighteous.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Genre: Action
Now Playing: Cinemark Orlando, Regal Pavilion Port Orange, Regal Winter Park Village
Rating: NR

Bergman Island

(IFC) Mia Wasikowska, Tim Roth, Vicki Krieps, Anders Danielsen Lie. Two American filmmakers who also are a romantic couple, decide to summer on Farö Island (the place where legendary director Ingmar Bergman lived and shot many of his most celebrated films) in order to find inspiration for their own endeavors, but the magic of the island begins to drive a wedge between the two.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Genre: Drama
Now Playing: Cinematique Daytona
Rating: R (for some sexual content, nudity and language)

C’mon C’mon

(A24) Joaquin Phoenix, Gaby Hoffman, Woody Norman, Scoot McNairy. A radio journalist is thrown together unexpectedly with his young nephew during a cross-country road trip, creating a tenuous but transformational relationship between the two.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Genre: Drama
Now Playing: Cinemark Orlando, Enzian, Regal Waterford Lakes
Rating: R (for language)

Castle Falls

(Shout!) Dolph Lundgren, Scott Adkins, Kevin Wayne, Jim E. Chandler. A derelict hospital is about to be demolished but braving the dynamite are three desperate men – two rival gang leaders and a hospital janitor, looking for a cache of stolen money hidden in the walls. They have exactly 90 minutes to find the loot and get out – or be blown up with the rest of the building.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Genre: Action
Now Playing: Studio Movie Grille Sunset Walk
Rating: NR

Encounter

(Amazon) Riz Ahmed, Octavia Spencer, Janina Gavankar, Lucian-River Chauhan. A decorated Marine takes his two young sons on a journey to evade a mysterious threat. As the trip grows increasingly dangerous, the two boys will have to grow up much sooner than they might have otherwise.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Genre: Science Fiction
Now Playing: CMX Daytona
Rating: R (for language and some violence)

The End of Us

(Saban) Ben Coleman, Ali Vingiano, Derrick Joseph DeBrasis, Gadiel Del Orbe. A couple on the verge of breaking up is forced to continue living together during the COVID lockdown. Petty squabbles between the two – one career-driven, the other a slacker – lead to self-evaluations that may change them and doom their relationship.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Genre: Dramedy
Now Playing: Studio Movie Grille Sunset Walk
Rating: R (for language and sexual references)

Home

(Gravitas) Jake McLaughlin, Kathy Bates, Aisling Franciosi, Lil Rel Howery. A man returns to his small town after 20 years in prison to find that forgiveness is in short supply. He is, however, willing to accept the repercussions of his past deeds if it can lead to a better future.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Genre: Drama
Now Playing: CMX Grand
Rating: NR

Last Shoot Out

(Lionsgate) Cam Gigandet, Bruce Dern, Brock Harris, Skylar White. When a frontier wife flees her husband after discovering he had her father killed, she is rescued by a gunman who protects her from the wrath of her husband’s wealthy – and well-armed – family.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Genre: Western
Now Playing: CMX Grand
Rating: PG-13 (for violence and bloody images)

Marakkar: Lion of the Arabian Sea

(Phars) Mohanial, Sunil Shetty, Arjun Sarja, Manju Warrier. An Indian hero fights the invading Portuguese.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Genre: Action
Now Playing: Amstar Lake Mary, Cinemark Orlando
Rating: NR

Silent Night

(RJLE) Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, Annabelle Wallis, Lucy Punch. A couple and their son entertain family and friends for an wonderful Christmas dinner in an idyllic country cottage in England. The only thing that keeps it from being perfect: the world is about to end.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Genre: Dramedy
Now Playing: Fashion Square Premiere
Rating: R (for language and violence)

The Souvenir: Part II

(A24) Honor Swinton Byrne, Jaygann Ayeh, Tilda Swinton, Richard Ayoade. A young film student who has escaped from an abusive relationship with an older man, tries to untangle her feelings by throwing herself into her graduate project, but soon finds trouble separating reality from fiction.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Genre: Drama
Now Playing: Cinematique Daytona
Rating: R (for some strong sexuality, and language)

Sword Art Online: Progressive – Aria of a Starless Night

(Aniplex USA) Starring the voices of Yoshitsugu Matsuoka, Inori Minase, Bryce Papenbrook, Haruka Tomatsu. A newbie gamer enters the deadly world of Aincrad discovers that she must beat all 100 levels of the game in order to escape back to reality, but dying in the game also means dying in the real world.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Genre: Animé
Now Playing: AMC Altamonte Mall, AMC Avenue 16, AMC Disney Springs, Amstar Lake Mary, Cinemark Lakeland Square, Cinemark Orlando, CMX Daytona, Regal Eagle Ridge Mall, Regal Waterford Lakes, Regal Winter Park Village
Rating: R (for language and violence)

True to the Game 3

(Faith Media) Erica Peeples, Columbus Short, Starletta DuPois, Omar Gooding. A woman is given 72 hours to return home to let her friends know her plans, before she starts a new life with the handsome, mysterious outlaw that she loves.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Genre: Romance
Now Playing: AMC Altamonte Mall, AMC Disney Springs, Cinemark Orlando, CMX Merritt Square, Fashion Square Premiere
Rating: R (for violence and pervasive language)

Twas the Night

(Vertical) Nicole Pringle, David Steven Perez, Paul Van Scott, Lisa Panagopoulos. An engaged couple are hosting their future in-laws for the holidays, and they want everything to be just right. That’s even harder to do, when you’re trying to hide a body at the same time.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Genre: Holiday Comedy
Now Playing: Studio Movie Grille Sunset Walk
Rating: NR

COMING TO VIRTUAL CINEMA/VOD:

A Clusterfunke Christmas (Saturday)
Benedetta
Cobalt Blue
Deadlock
Diary of a Wimpy Kid
Fatal Distraction
(Tuesday)
The Forever Prisoner
(Monday)
The Great Balloon Bomb Invasion
(Thursday)
Listening to Kenny G
(Thursday)
Love and Fury
Missing and Alone
Mixtape
Red Stone
The Reenactment
(Tuesday)
Single All the Way
(Thursday)
The Slow Hustle
(Tuesday)
This Game’s Called Murder
The Wishing Tree
(Tuesday)

SCHEDULED FOR REVIEW:

Encounter
The Great Balloon Bomb Invasion
Mixtape
The Wishing Tree
Wolf

New Releases for the Week of March 27, 2015


HomeHOME

(DreamWorks) Starring the voices of Jim Parsons, Rihanna, Steve Martin, Jennifer Lopez, Matt Jones, Brian Stepanek, April Lawrence. Directed by Tim Johnson

The Earth has been overrun by an alien race called the Boov who are looking for a new home and have begun relocating humans because they want OURS. Only a plucky young girl, her cat and a banished member of the Boov who destroys everything he comes in contact with are all that stand between us and losing out home. Guess we’d all better start packing our bags.

See the trailer, a clip and a featurette here.
For more on the movie this is the website.
Release Formats: Standard, 3D, IMAX 3D (opens Thursday)
Genre: Animated Feature
Now Playing: Wide Release
Rating: PG (for mild action and some rude humor)

’71

(Roadside Attractions) Jack O’Connell, Richard Dormer, Sean Harris, Sam Reid. During the troubles in Northern Ireland in 1971, a young British soldier is inadvertently left behind in the streets of Belfast during a particularly tense riot. He must find a way to survive in hostile territory while making his way back to his unit, but the IRA want him dead and will take extraordinary measures to make it happen.

See the trailer and clips here.
For more on the movie this is the website.
Release Formats: Standard
Genre: Action
Now Playing: Regal Winter Park Village
Rating: R (for strong violence, disturbing images, and language throughout)

Get Hard

(Warner Brothers) Kevin Hart, Will Ferrell, Craig T. Nelson, Alison Brie. An arrogant hedge fund manager is caught committing fraud and convicted of the crime. Sentenced to do hard time in San Quentin, he turns to the only African-American he knows – who happens to be as law-abiding a citizen as you’re likely to find – to get him ready to survive in prison.

See the trailer, clips, interviews and B-roll video here.
For more on the movie this is the website.
Release Formats: Standard (opens Thursday)
Genre: Comedy
Now Playing: Wide Release
Rating: R (for pervasive crude and sexual content and language, some graphic nudity and drug material)

It Follows

(Radius) Keir Gilchrist, Maika Monroe, Daniel Zovatto, Jake Weary. When a young high school girl engages in a seemingly normal sexual encounter, her life is changed. She begins having disturbing visions and feels that she is being watched and stalked. As she realizes that something horrible is after her and her friends, she must find a way to get the entity that is approaching her out of her life for good.

See the trailer here.
For more on the movie this is the website.
Release Formats: Standard (opens Thursday)
Genre: Horror
Now Playing: Wide Release
Rating: R (for disturbing violent and sexual content including graphic nudity, and language)

Wild Tales

(Sony Classics) Ricardo Darin, Rita Cortese, Nancy Duplaa, Oscar Martinez. Seven tales of ordinary life spiraling out of control and the revenge that is taken by those involved. This was Spain’s official entry into the 2015 Oscar Foreign Language Film category and it ended up on the short list.

See the trailer, clips and an interview here.
For more on the movie this is the website.
Release Formats: Standard
Genre: Dramedy
Now Playing: Enzian Theater
Rating: R (for violence, language and brief sexuality)

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey


Bilbo, Bilbo Baggins, the greatest little hobbit of them all!

Bilbo, Bilbo Baggins, the greatest little hobbit of them all!

(2012) Fantasy (New Line) Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Cate Blanchett, Hugo Weaving, Ken Stott, Graham McTavish, James Nesbitt, Aidan Turner, John Callen, William Kircher, Stephen Hunter, Dean O’Gorman, Peter Hambleton, Jed Brophy, Mark Hadlow, Sylvester McCoy, Adam Brown, Andy Serkis, Elijah Wood, Ian Holm, Christopher Lee, Barry Humphries, Manu Bennett. Directed by Peter Jackson

It is easy to become attached to one’s hearth and home. Here are we most comfortable, here is where our routine is. It is also very easy to fall into a rut at home. Why have adventures of your own when you can stay safely at home and live vicariously through the adventures of someone else’s reality or imagination on a computer/television screen?

Bilbo Baggins (Freeman) is of this mind. As a hobbit, he has a particular love of fine victuals, a comfortable bed and a cozy hole. Yet one day the sorcerer Gandalf the Grey (McKellen) turns up at his door, looking for a hobbit who wants to go on an adventure with him. He’s definitely in the wrong place for that. Bilbo is, after all, as respectable a hobbit as you’re likely to find anywhere and respectable hobbits don’t go on adventures, no sir. Adventures are messy, inconvenient things that make one late for dinner.

But Gandalf knows better and soon a company of dwarves are knocking on Bilbo’s door, including Balin (Stott), Dwalin (McTavish), Bifur (Kircher), Bofur (Nesbitt), Bombur (Hunter), Fili (O’Gorman), Kili (Turner), Oin (Callen), Gloin (Hambleton), Nori (Brophy), Dori (Hadlow), Ori (Brown) and their leader Thorin Oakenshield (Armitage).

The Dwarves were driven from their home in Erebor below the Lonely Mountain by Smaug the Dragon, who was attracted by the fabulous horde of gold and gems that were amassed by their King, who had grown greedy. Now homeless, doing odd jobs to get by, the small band means to reclaim their home using a map which will gain them entrance to Erebor through a secret entrance as the only other entrance to their beautiful home is guarded by the ever-watchful Smaug.

Bilbo is at first reluctant to join them but eventually relents, sympathetic to those who have no home. He means to help them retake theirs, even though the way is dangerous as it proves to be. They are captured by Trolls although Bilbo and Gandalf save them; they are also chased by Orcs led by the half-mad Azog the Defiler (Bennett) who bears a personal grudge with Thorin.

They also meet with Elrond (Weaving) in Rivendell although Thorin bears great enmity to the Elves who stood by and watched without helping when the Dwarves needed their aid against Smaug. Elrond alone can read the map and show them the way to the hidden door to Erebor. Also at this council is Galadriel (Bennett), queen of the High Elves, and Saruman (Lee), chief of the sorcerer’s order. Both Elrond and Saruman council caution, while news from Radagast the Brown (McCoy), a sorcerer who protects the Greenwood that a necromancer has appeared in the deserted fortress of Dol Guldur are met with skepticism.

Galadriel however sides with Gandalf and privately offers her support if and when it’s needed. However, there is some dismay when it is revealed that the Dwarves have already departed for the Misty Mountains through which they must pass in order to reach the Lonely Mountain and Erebor. However, in the Misty Mountains they will meet their greatest challenge and Bilbo will find a date with destiny –  a strange creature named Gollum (Serkis) who has a very peculiar ring.

Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy is one of the most beloved film series in history, not only generating a box office bonanza but Oscars as well. However, it was always known that the books they were based on were essentially sequels to The Hobbit which author J.R.R. Tolkien altered after publishing in order to create closer ties between the books.

The original novel was a children’s story and is shorter than each of the three of the books that comprised the trilogy, but Jackson has elected to create three movies from this book totaling well over eight hours of screen time (An Unexpected Journey clocks in at just under three hours). Buffering it with new material and some from other Tolkien works, this might upset purists who probably would have been happier with a single film.

Still, Jackson makes epics like nobody else and his attention to detail is legendary. Once again he has re-created Middle Earth in New Zealand and it looks every inch the part. So does Martin Freeman, a respected actor who is perfect as Bilbo. He gets the nuances of Bilbo, the good and courageous heart that is sometimes hidden beneath a stuffy exterior. Freeman’s voice even sounds like Bilbo. Happily enough, he resembles Ian Holm facially (Holm played Bilbo in the trilogy and reprises the role as the elderly Bilbo and narrates early on; he also gets a lovely seen with Frodo, with Elijah Wood reprising his role as well).

Armitage makes a splendid Thorin and may wind up getting the career boost Viggo Mortensen did from the trilogy. He is charismatic here with an inner nobility and a gruff exterior – just like I remember Thorin from the book. Like Mortensen, he’s also a very handsome man who is going to get his share of female attention.

Now the Dwarven company numbers thirteen including Thorin and while they all have their own personalities and characteristics, it’s difficult separating one from the other. Fili and Kili, the youngest and brashest members stand out as does the oldest, Balin and Dwalin. The others more or less run together – one’s the glutton, one’s the sensitive soul and then there’s the grumpy one. And Sneezy and Sleepy and Doc.

The party sequence at Bilbo’s runs on far too long; it could have easily been shortened by half. In fact, the whole movie is a bit longish; I would have been much happier had it been closer to two hours than three. We really don’t get much more than a glimpse of Smaug (which I suspect won’t change until the third film in 2014) or even the Lonely Mountain which we see from a distance at the very end of the film – not counting the prologue when we witness the Dwarves fleeing Erebor.

Does it recapture the magic of the first three films? Absolutely and that’s the thing to remember. It doesn’t duplicate it however – the mood of The Hobbit is a lot different than the mood of the trilogy – and I think a lot of critics who have dissed this movie have been thrown by that. If you’re expecting a note-by-note LOTR replay, you’ll be disappointed. This is clearly a new set of movies set in the same universe and unlike the Star Wars prequels, these is actually a good movie that you’ll want to see and not just because it’s Middle Earth but because you’ll be entertained.

Da Queen and I decided to go whole hog with this one and we saw it in IMAX 3D with the accelerated frame rate and I highly recommend it. For once the upcharge is worth it.

REASONS TO GO: A welcome return to Middle Earth. Freeman is the perfect Bilbo and the Dwarves are a merry lot. Nice cameos from LOTR veterans.

REASONS TO STAY: Runs a little bit too long; some of the beginning scenes with Bilbo meeting the Dwarves might have been cut a little bit.

FAMILY VALUES:  There are a few frightening images, plenty of action and violence.

TRIVIAL PURSUIT: This is the first film to be shot at a frame rate of 48 frames per second, twice the industry standard. The difference is noticeable with smoother motion, but especially in the 3D version which the depth of field is more realistic.

CRITICAL MASS: As of 12/22/12: Rotten Tomatoes: 65% positive reviews. Metacritic: 58/100. The reviews are surprisingly mixed.

COMPARISON SHOPPING: The Fellowship of the Ring

TROLL LOVERS: The troll scene contains some very realistic if dimwitted trolls.

FINAL RATING: 9/10

NEXT: The Holly and the Quill begins!

Of Time and the City


Of Time and the City

A bleak vista in postwar Liverpool.

(Strand) Terence Davies, the Beatles, Assorted local figures in Liverpool. Directed by Terence Davies

We are all products of our environment. We feel a sense of keen belonging to a place and time; it is there we feel comforted and where we feel we understand our surroundings at least to the degree that hindsight gives us.

Unfortunately, no place is static; every city changes. Old buildings crumble and new ones take their place, glittering in the architecture du jour of the era. We find ourselves lost in our own homes, unable to make sense at what had once seemed sensible.

Veteran director, writer and actor Terence Davies spent a quarter of a century in the British working class city of Liverpool, starting just after the Second World War. His was a world of compression; row after row of houses sharing common walls, made of brick, smoke curling from chimneys to join that which belched out of the factories and the shipyards.

Like most in Liverpool, Davies grew up in a working class family, the youngest of ten children (two of which died in infancy) in a deeply religious Roman Catholic household. He found the strictures of the Church too confining and eventually rejected Catholicism, becoming an atheist instead.

His budding homosexuality caused him great suffering, trying to reconcile his feelings with societal mores and eventually deciding that the problem was with society and not him, quite sensibly in fact. He considers himself a realist; he prefers to see things as they are rather than what they could be.

This is what puzzles me about the documentary he has made about his home town. He simultaneously labels it a love letter and a eulogy and indeed, it’s both, but it seems fairly certain that Davies prefers the Liverpool of his youth to the modern one. Using archival footage (some of it seems to be home movies; whether they were shot by Davies or other Liverpudlians is not clear), Davies weaves a sense of time and place that has a certain amount of allure.

Davies narrates the movie himself, often quoting from such sources as T.S. Eliot, Shakespeare, Shelley and Sir Walter Raleigh, among others. This is set to the background of funereal classical music and the occasional pop song (from such disparate sources as the Swinging Blue Jeans and the Hollies).

Most Americans are probably aware of Liverpool, if they are aware at all, for being the birthplace of the Beatles, but Davies gives them little thought, other than to dismissively sniff “they inspired me to love classical music.” Indeed, he has an acerbic tongue but most of his vitriol is saved for the monarchy, which he considers an outdated custom; he was especially incensed at the expenses spent on the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II at a time when England, still reeling from the damage from the Blitz, was stricken by intense poverty and hunger. He certainly has a point.

My problem with the movie boils down to this; if you are going to take us on a journey to see your home town as you see it, you need to give us a reason for us to go along, otherwise you’re just telling us that things change, something all of us are well aware of. I got the feeling that Davies is truly fond of Liverpool and despairs that the changes made to it are not for the better; that’s all well and good, but if I can’t love Liverpool – if you can’t adequately transfer your own love to me, then those changes aren’t going to feel as immediate to me. In other words, he might have stimulated the mind but not the heart.

In a sense, without involving the viewer in your emotional point of view, you’re making what amounts to cinematic masturbation. While I was able to at least find some of it – enough to make it worth my while – intriguing, for the most part this is ponderous and pretentious, a collection of images that while compelling, ultimately become meaningless without an emotional center to anchor to.

WHY RENT THIS: This is certainly a love letter to Liverpool.

WHY RENT SOMETHING ELSE: A bit pretentious and overbearing at times, the film doesn’t give viewers a reason to love Liverpool themselves.

FAMILY VALUES: There isn’t anything here that isn’t suitable for all audiences, although I would think most children might find this boring.

TRIVIAL PURSUIT: This is the first film Davies has directed since 2000’s The House of Mirth and it is also his first documentary.

NOTABLE DVD EXTRAS: None listed.

FINAL RATING: 5/10

TOMORROW: The Stepfather

Home


Home

Marcia Gay Harden has just told this little girl that kids suck.

(Monterey Media) Marcia Gay Harden, Eulala Scheel, Michael Gaston, Candy Buckley, Pamela Jane Henning, Paul F. Nolan, Thomas Roy, Marian Seldes. Directed by Mary Haverstick

Home is where the heart is. Have you ever stopped to examine that statement? It’s meant to convey that home is the hearthstone where love resides, but the heart is so much more complicated. It is the source of everything from love to hate. If home is where the heart is, home is where the hate is as well.

Inga (Harden) is a housewife in 1969’s Eastern Pennsylvania in an area that is predominantly Amish. She is a breast cancer survivor, but that was child’s play compared to what’s going on in her house. Her workaholic husband Herman (Gaston) scarcely pays attention to her anymore. The two of them constantly bicker. She takes solace in her close-knit relationship with her daughter Indigo (Scheel) but even that is strained lately.

Inga turns to comfort from the bottle, and that strains the relationship with her daughter even further. The cancer has made a re-appearance, and Inga can’t help but dwell on the last days of her mother (Buckley), wasting away from cancer and morphine addiction, particularly as she tours the house of an elderly woman (Seldes) whose home reminds her of her childhood abode. She wanders through the home, flashing back to her childhood and is more than eager to purchase the home and restore it, but Herman, whose business is failing, refuses and the battle begins anew.

Much of the narration is done through poetry, ostensibly written by Inga but in reality written by the filmmakers mother, Mary Stuart Haverstick. There’s no doubt that the movie is inspired at least in part by the filmmaker’s own experience and it shows in some of the raw emotion of several of the scenes.

Inga is a marvelous mom when she is sober, flying kites and lying in beautiful grassy fields with her daughter, watching the clouds blow past (is there anything more wonderful than a summer’s day in a grassy field, watching clouds with your mom?) but when she drinks, she is Beelzebub. She lashes out at her daughter and all the demons, all the disappointments and frustration come burbling up to be spewed at the most defenseless one in the house.

This is a treatise on home and motherhood, and to the credit of writer/director Haverstick this essay is unflinching and honest, perhaps to a fault. What it also is (occasionally) is maudlin and melodramatic. There are times I wondered if I was watching the Lifetime Movie Channel; this would fit in nicely there.

For my part, I found Harden’s performance to be outstanding. In most other years there would be some Oscar buzz for it, but this came out during a particularly strong year for actress performances; that and because it was distributed by a smaller outfit, it was little seen outside of New York. Nonetheless, as flawed as it is (and it is), there is much to recommend Home for cinephiles. Movies like this can capture your attention and imagination, leading to further reflection on the meaning of home and the relationship between a mother and her child. A movie that inspires you to think? The horror!

WHY RENT THIS: Harden gives a tremendous performance. The film carries a very authentic feeling for the most part.

WHY RENT SOMETHING ELSE: A bit on the melodramatic side, and sometimes sinks to a Lifetime movie-of-the-week level.

FAMILY VALUES: There are some disturbing scenes, particularly one in the final third of the movie when Harden goes on a drunken rant against her daughter. Some children may find the things she says to her daughter disturbing.

TRIVIAL PURSUIT: Scheel is Harden’s daughter in real life.

NOTABLE DVD EXTRAS: None listed.

FINAL RATING: 6/10

TOMORROW: Twilight