New Releases for the Week of April 25, 2014


(20th Century Fox) Cameron Diaz, Leslie Mann, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Kate Upton, Taylor Kinney, Nicki Minaj, Don Johnson. Directed by Nick Cassavetes

A high-powered lawyer who has her pick of men has settled on one – who might be the One. When she discovers he’s married, she’s devastated. When she accidentally gets together with the wife of her former boyfriend, they discover that they have a lot in common – among other things that he’s cheating on the both of them with another woman. Joining forces with the other other woman, the three women plot this philanderer’s comeuppance.

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

Rating: PG-13 (for mature thematic material, sexual references and language)

Brick Mansions

(Relativity) Paul Walker, David Belle, RZA, Gouchy Boy. In the Detroit of the near future (does that sound familiar?) a gigantic wall has been built around the worst slum, Brick Mansions. The crimelord of the district has put into motion a plan to devastate the entire city. An undercover cop and a fearless ex-con, each of whom have a stake in apprehending the crimelord, must (reluctantly) team up to stop him before all Hell breaks loose.

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: Action

Rating: PG-13 (for frenetic gunplay, violence and action throughout, language, sexual menace and drug material)

From the Rough

(Freestyle Releasing) Taraji P. Henson, Michael Clarke Duncan, Tom Felton, Justin Chon. The swim coach of the woman’s swim team makes history as the first woman to coach a men’s golf team. Not only is she a pioneer, but she successfully takes the team to record-breaking heights. Based on a true story.

See the trailer here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Release formats: Standard

Genre: Sports Drama

Rating: PG (for language and thematic elements)


(Roadside Attractions) Nicolas Cage, Tye Sheridan, Gary Poulter, Ronnie Gene Blevins.An ex-con with a hair-trigger temper takes a homeless young boy under his wing to the chagrin of the boy’s alcoholic and brutal father. The ex-con, beset by his own demons, tries to set the boy on the right path of life while facing the consequences of his own poor choices. Sold out it’s showing during the Florida Film Festival, you can read my review here.

See the trailer and clips here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Release formats: Standard

Genre: Drama

Rating: R (for violence, disturbing material, language and some sexual content)

The Last Passenger

(Cohen Media Group) Dougray Scott, Kara Tointon, David Schofield, Lindsay Duncan. A weary London commuter and his son board the last train of the evening, headed home. As the train rolls into the night, he discovers that the conductor has disappeared and the brakes have been sabotaged. A lunatic has taken control of the train and means to commit suicide by train, taking the passengers with him.  This passenger, however, isn’t ready to die just yet.

See the trailer here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Release formats: Standard

Genre: Thriller

Rating: R (for language)

The Quiet Ones

(Lionsgate) Jared Harris, Sam Claflin, Erin Richards, Olivia Cooke. University students set out to create a poltergeist, the focus of their experiments being a dangerously disturbed young woman who seems able to manifest dark energies. However as the experiment continues, they soon discover to their horror they have unleashed something far more dangerous than they imagined and much too powerful to contain.

See the trailer, clips, interviews, featurettes and B-Roll video here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Release formats: Standard (opens Thursday)

Genre: Supernatural Horror

Rating: PG-13 (for intense sequences of violence and terror, sexual content, thematic material, language, and smoking throughout)

The Railway Man

(Weinstein) Colin Firth, Nicole Kidman, Stellan Skarsgard, Hiroyuki Sanada. A veteran of the Second World War is haunted by his harrowing experiences in a Japanese prisoner of war camp. He and his cohorts are used as forced labor to build a railway system. Years after the war is over, he discovers that the interpreter whom he holds responsible for much of his brutal treatment is still alive and sets out to confront him and make him pay for what he did. This true story is based on the autobiography of Eric Lomax.

See the trailer, clips, interviews and B-Roll video here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Release formats: Standard

Genre: Drama

Rating: R (for disturbing prisoners of war violence)

Walking With the Enemy

(Liberty) Ben Kingsley, Jonah Armstrong, Hannah Tointon, Burn Gorman.In the waning days of World War II, a young Hungarian man utilizes a stolen Nazi officer’s uniform to try and find his displaced family. Trying to get as many Jews to safety as he can, he disrupts the activities of the Germans in order to keep them from implementing their final solution in his city. Said to be inspired by actual events.

See the trailer and clips here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Release formats: Standard

Genre: War Drama

Rating: PG-13 (for war violence including crimes against humanity)

The Zero Theorem

(Well Go USA) Christoph Waltz, David Thewlis, Matt Damon, Tilda Swinton.  In a dystopian future, a reclusive computer genius is given the assignment of finding the meaning of life. Plagued by angst and confusion, he is tortured by unwanted visitors by those he doesn’t trust. It isn’t until he breaks down the walls he has erected for himself with love and desire that he finds the tools to carry out his assignment. The newest film from visionary director Terry Gilliam.

See the trailer, featurettes and a clip here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Release formats: Standard

Genre: Science Fiction

Rating: R (for language and some sexuality/nudity)

Joe (2013)

Joe has his sights set on opening that there can of whoopass.

Joe has his sights set on opening that there can of whoopass.

(2013) Drama (Roadside Attractions) Nicolas Cage, Tye Sheridan, Gary Poulter, Ronnie Gene Blevins, Adriene Mishler, Brian Mays, AJ Wilson McPhaul, Sue Rock, Heather Kafka, Brenda Isaacs Booth, Anna Niemtschk, Elbert Evan Hill III, Milton Fountain, Roderick L. Polk, Aaron Spivey-Sorrells, John Daws, Kay Epperson, Lico Reyes, Erin Reed, Dana Freitag. Directed by David Gordon Green

florida-film-festival-2014We are none of us born perfect and some of us come into the world with more obstacles than others to achieve perfection. We still plug away nonetheless, eking out our place in the world and trying to make a life that we can call our own.

Joe Ransom (Cage) is an ex-con with a hair-trigger temper. He is trying the straight and narrow as the boss of a crew that poisons trees so that a developer can come in and snatch the land for rock bottom prices, then raze it and do what they like with it. It’s illegal as hell, but it’s the most honest living Joe can find.

He drinks and smokes too much and from time to time gets into bar fights, particularly with a lout named Willie Russell (Blevins) who shoots Joe in the shoulder in retaliation. Joe takes up with hookers and drives a battered old truck, occasionally running in with the law and getting bailed out by his old friend Earl (McPhaul) who knows that despite the rough edges Joe is basically a decent sort.

One day a young teenage boy named Gary (Sheridan) shows up looking for work along with his father Wade (Poulter). The dad is an absolute disaster; a raging alcoholic who beats his son up and takes the money he earns to buy cigarettes and booze. Gary on the other hand is a hard worker who impresses Joe from the get-go and the not easily impressed Joe takes the boy under his wing somewhat and becomes a mentor to him.

Certainly Gary could easily be headed on the same freight train that his father is riding but even the exceedingly imperfect Joe is more of a role model than his dad. Of course this doesn’t sit well with Wade who meets up with Willie Russell who after further humiliation from Joe is ready for something even more violent.

Cage in recent years has achieved the kind of notoriety that no actor wants – for excessive scene-chewing and taking on roles in movies that are wildly forgettable or worse. Here in one performance he very nearly erases a decade of performances that are simply put not worthy of a man of Cage’s talent. This is the Nicolas Cage whose movies I looked forward to seeing; this is the guy who won Oscars and charmed critics with his offbeat charisma. Those who have been disappointed by his recent run of B, C and D movies can rejoice that he’s finally been given a role deserving of him.

Sheridan continues his hot streak of excellent roles in mainly Southern gothic films. As in Mud he has a first-rate adult actor to work with and one gets the sense that Sheridan is learning well from watching pros like Cage and Matthew McConaughey at work. One gets the sense that he is going to be around for a good long time and may well be the most decorated actor of the 2020s.

Green, like Cage, had a little bit of a career hiccup after a promising start; it seems likely that he knew that he wasn’t doing his best work and took a step back and started where he came from – the indie drama. This is his best work in awhile, the fine Prince Avalanche notwithstanding. He captures the sordid desperation of the very lowest and impoverished classes in rural Texas and allows them their own brand of dignity. These aren’t people you may hang out with or even want to, but Green gives them more respect than other directors might have been willing to in the same position. Kudos to him for that much.

This can be tough going in places. The sordid existence of Joe, Gary, Wade and Willie Russell may be too much grit for some but those willing to stick it out will be rewarded with a real gem of a movie.

REASONS TO GO: Cage’s best performance in years. Gritty and unpleasant but always compelling.

REASONS TO STAY: The ugliness can be overwhelming.

FAMILY VALUES:  There’s some fairly disturbing stuff including depictions of child abuse and alcoholism, violence, foul language and strong sexuality.

TRIVIAL PURSUIT: Poulter, who passed away two months after filming concluded, was actually a homeless man with a history of alcoholism and violent behavior when cast by Green, who is known for casting local non-professionals in his movies.

CRITICAL MASS: As of 4/22/14: Rotten Tomatoes: 83% positive reviews. Metacritic: 72/100.



NEXT: The Lunchbox

2014 Florida Film Festival Begins Tonight!

Florida Film Festival 2014Tonight the 2014 Florida Film Festival gets underway and it promises to be a good one. Cinema365 looks forward to this event every year and this year is no exception. 170 feature films and shorts from all over the globe as well as just around the corner will take all our attention for the next nine days and nights.

My own personal recommendations include Before I Disappear, a feature based on the Oscar-nominated short Curfew. This was screened for critics a couple of weeks ago and although I never saw the short, I was impressed with the depth of emotion and passion in this film. It’s a sure winner this year. Also, you might keep a look out for Joe which stars Nicolas Cage in a return to the indie wunderboy form that marked his early years as an actor. Documentary fans should check out The Kill Team which looks at the squadron of soldiers courtmartialed for killing Afghan civilians for sport; it may well be the very best film of this year’s festival.

We’ll be there to cover all of those and plenty more. So many films that our coverage will extend well past the festival’s end. Each movie playing the festival this year will get the Festival logo on the review, even if the review is published after the festival is history. If you haven’t been to a film festival, this is the one to see – it’s where filmmakers, stars and fans hang out in one big fun party atmosphere.

Well, I’m off to the Regal for the opening night festivities and the opening night film A Trip to Italy starring Steve Coogan. Hope to see you all there or in the upcoming nine days!

Four-Warned: April 2014

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

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

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

Each entry is broken down as follows:

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

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

3. OCULUS (1.5)

TIE. JOE (1.5)

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

APRIL 2, 2014

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

APRIL 3, 2014

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

APRIL 4, 2014

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

APRIL 11, 2014

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

APRIL 16, 2014

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

APRIL 18, 2014

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

APRIL 23, 2014

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

APRIL 25, 2014

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

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

Florida Film Festival 2014

Florida Film Festival 2014Last night, the Florida Film Festival announced their line-up for 2014 and it is another impressive one. The Festival will run from April 4 through April 13 this year and 170 feature films and shorts are on this year’s menu. While we won’t be previewing all of them, this is just a taste of some of the films you can expect to see.

Last year’s opening night film, 20 Feet From Stardom, went on to win an Oscar for Best Documentary Feature and opening night guests were wowed by one of the film’s stars, Merry Clayton (the female voice on the Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter”) crooning a sensual and amazing version of Leon Russell’s “A Song for You.” While that set an awfully high bar, this year’s opening film has plenty of quality of its own. A Trip to Italy is the sequel to 2010’s The Trip and returns stars Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon as well as director Michael Winterbottom. Once again Coogan and Brydon play versions of themselves, sent to write restaurant reviews but this time not in the North of England but in Italy. They kept audiences in stitches with their impressions and comedic routines but deep down there was a story that kept the interest of the readers. I can’t wait to see what they do in the sequel.

Ernest and Celestine netted an Oscar nomination of its own for Best Animated Feature at the recent Academy Awards and while it lost to Frozen this story about the unlikely friendship between a bear and a mouse is sure to delight children of every age. The British crime comedy Dom Hemingway stars Jude Law as a safe cracker newly released from prison who wants to reconnect with his daughter and settle his debts but that proves to be a proposition far less easy than it sounds. For No Good Reason documents artist Ralph Steadman’s remarkable career, his collaborations with writers Hunter S. Thompson and William Burroughs and of course his unsettling and iconic drawings. Johnny Depp hosts this passion project. 

Joe is the latest from director David Gordon Green and stars Nicolas Cage as a rough and tumble ex-con with a hair-trigger temper who falls in with a young boy whose life has been at least as hard luck as his own. The ex-con takes a liking to the boy who finds in Joe a father figure which doesn’t sit too well with the boy’s actual father. This is said to be one of Cage’s best performances in years and might just elevate him out of the poor reputation he’s had in recent years. The Double is a stylish modernization of the Dostoevsky novella in which a shy and abused young worker, played by Jesse Eisenberg, has his life taken over by a brash and manipulative doppelganger, also played by Eisenberg. 

Gabrielle is a French-Canadian romance about a developmentally challenged woman’s quest to assert her independence. Obvious Child tackles the controversial subject of abortion as a young stand-up comedian finds her life turned upside down by an unexpected pregnancy. Before I Disappear chronicles a despondent young man’s attempts to commit suicide marred by his responsibility to babysit his niece. In Words and Pictures stars Clive Owens and Juliette Binoche play teachers of English and Art who in an effort to inspire students who couldn’t care less declare a war between words and images. Cheatin’ is the newest animated feature by Oscar winning animator Bill Plympton – ’nuff said. 

Crimes Against Humanity pairs a woman whose pet rabbit has died and who has been hospitalized with frequent nosebleeds with a pompous boyfriend whose investigation of sexual escapades at the university he works at becomes an obsession. In I Believe in Unicorns a woman with a vivid imagination falls for a skateboarding punk and chooses to run away with him, leaving her disabled mother behind. Doomsdays covers two slackers who convinced the apocalypse is just around the corner take to squatting in vacant Catskills vacations homes until the food runs out or they are chased off. The addition of two other would-be squatters changes the dynamic irrevocably. This year’s Audience Award winner at Slamdance was Copenhagen, a voyage of discovery of a young man who journeys to the Danish capital to discover his last living relative and finds love instead. Last I Heard stars Paul Sorvino as a mob boss who returns from prison to find that his gang has become inconsequential and the world a far different place than he left it. 

No No: A Dockumentary follows the fabled career of Pittsburgh Pirate pitcher Dock Ellis who famously pitched a no-hitter while tripping on LSD in 1970. How he overcame his addictions and reached out to help others in similar straits is one of baseball’s great untold stories. Levitated Mass is a fascinating look at artist Michael Heizer’s monumental task of transporting a 340 ton boulder from a Southern California quarry to the L.A. County Museum of Art and creating a media and social sensation in the process. American Jesus examines the pervasive Christianity in all it’s different forms and effects on American culture as seen through the eyes of a Spaniard. 

Mail order brides is the subject of Love Me as the documentary filmmaker follows several relationships that were established in that manner and discovers that they aren’t all you might think. Mission Congo details the abuses of an American televangelist in the Congo following the Rwandan genocide under the guise of humanitarian aid. The Sacrament is the latest from horror auteur Ti West and covers a filmmaking crew’s descent into the hellish secret of a Utopian religious cult during a documentary shoot. The Babadook was one of the films at this year’s Sundance that got a great deal of attention; in it a single mom reads to her son from a mysterious storybook which prompts strange and frightening occurrences in their home.

Chu and Blossom stars Ryan O’Nan, Mercedes Ruehl and Melanie Lynskey in a story about  a unique Korean exchange student adjusting to life in the United States. After Winter, Spring is a loving tribute to a way of life that is rapidly disappearing – the French family farm. Led Zeppelin Played Here looks into a mythic concert that may or may not have taken place. 

In addition to new movies, there are some classics that will be available at the Festival this year including the Oscar-winning murder mystery Murder on the Orient Express with an all-star cast, The Big Lebowski which is one of the Coen Brothers’ classics, the Italian thriller Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion and the James Bond classic Goldfinger

There are usually celebrities involved at Film Festivals and the FFF has had their share. Not all of the celebrity attendees have been confirmed at press time but two who are on the list for 2014 include Paul Sorvino who will be in attendance on Friday April 11 for the screening of his new film Last I Heard and Giancarlo Esposito for a screening of Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing in celebration of the film’s 25th anniversary.

That’s just a rundown of some of the films that will be on the docket for this year’s Festival. There are also panel discussions and of course the legendary parties that the Festival throws every year.Ticket packages and passes are on sale now at the website (just click on the logo above to go directly there) and individual film tickets will be on sale Saturday, March 15th. 

This promises to be another memorable Festival and if you’ve never been, you owe it to yourself to go and experience it firsthand. Words can’t describe the experience but it is fun, engaging and unforgettable. Filmmakers and celebrities rub elbows with film fans at the Festival and you never know who you will run into while grabbing a drink at the Eden Bar at the Enzian. It might even be me.

As always, movies from the festival will have the Festival logo above attached to the review to mark it as a proud participant in the 2014 Festival. Cinema365 will cover the Festival from beginning to end and beyond – last year we posted over 50 reviews of Festival films and related events and we should be in the same neighborhood this year. This is one event that I look forward to all year long and as we get closer to opening night, the excitement is building exponentially. This truly is one of the great Film Festivals in the country – it has been ranked as one of the 50 best in the entire world by IndieWire and the top 25 coolest in the country by MovieMaker magazine. That isn’t by accident; while I do tend to gush about the Festival it is really a unique event. If you love movies – and even if you don’t love ’em but just love to socialize – this is your event. Get your tickets now – you’ll thank me for it later.