Project Almanac


Now let's see Criss Angel do THAT!!!

Now let’s see Criss Angel do THAT!!!

(2014) Science Fiction (Paramount/Insurge) Jonny Weston, Sofia Black-D’Elia, Sam Lerner, Allen Evangelista, Virginia Gardner, Amy Landecker, Gary Weeks, Macsen Lintz, Gary Grubbs, Michelle DeFraites, Curry Stone, Jamila Thompson, Katie Garfield, Hillary Harley, Courtney Bowers, Patrick Johnson, Joshua Brady, Danielle Rizzo, Onira Tares. Directed by Dean Israelite

Most scientists with any sort of background in physics will tell you that time travel is not possible, but the concept has certainly excited the imagination of cinemaphiles the world over, as well as filmmakers. It does make for some interesting “what if” discussions, no doubt about it.

Teenager David Raskin (Weston) is in his senior year in high school and has a brilliant scientific mind. He yearns to matriculate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology but has some stiff competition and even if he’s selected to go, will need a good deal of financial help to get there. He sends the selection committee a video of a new gadget that allows him to control drones remotely without the need of a joystick but through sensors in a glove he wears. This gets him accepted to the prestigious university; unfortunately, it doesn’t get him the scholarship money that is crucial to him actually attending.

With his mother (Landecker) willing to sell the house to raise the funds for his schooling, David feels obligated to try and get scholarship money with some other project, but it needs to be fast. He goes through the papers of his late father (Weeks) in order to find something that he might be able to work off of but nothing jumps out at him. What he does find is a camcorder which recorded scenes from his seventh birthday party, which sadly was the day his father died in a car crash.

He and his sister Christina (Gardner) – who incessantly video records everything – see on the tape something they don’t expect to – the reflection of the 17-year-old David at his party ten years earlier. This should be impossible, but clearly David has traveled in time, or is about to. Grammar can take a beating in a time travel movie, particularly where tenses are concerned.

As it turns out, his daddy was working on a time travel device for the military when he died and was close to getting it to work. David decides to build this just to see if it works. As you can guess, it does. This leads to David and his nerdy science class friends Quinn Goldberg (Lerner) and Adam Le (Evangelista) hanging out and getting involved in the construction of the device. Eventually popular girl Jessie Pierce (Black-D’Elia) discovers what they’re up to and joins the Scooby Gang. As it turns out, David has always had a huge crush on Jessie but has never had the gumption to talk to her. Now, she’s talking to him.

At first they start doing things that you would expect teenagers to do; going back in time so that Quinn can ace a chemistry test he needs to pass in order to graduate. Of course, it takes more than a few attempts before he gets it right (one of the more amusing ideas in the film). They also use the winning Lotto numbers to get rich; except they write the numbers down wrong so instead of getting a huge jackpot to set them up for life, they win not quite two million bucks to split among the five of them.

It’s all fun and games until David decides to break the rules that the group agreed upon. It seems like a harmless change at first but like the Butterfly Effect, it has enormous consequences and the teens begin to notice that each time they come back from a time travel trip, something horrible is happening in the world. And then horrible things begin to happen to them.

This is a movie that is very aware of other time travel movies, ranging from Back to the Future to the Bill and Ted movies to more recent films like Looper. Israelite, who has written a number of genre films, takes the director chair out for a spin and doesn’t do too bad a job, particularly in the very difficult time travel genre which tends to get confusing and overly involved.

Israelite, who also wrote this, doesn’t go into too many specifics of how it works (other than it takes an enormous amount of power). He does allow us to see the actual transition which involves a lot of magnetism, a vortex and bodies and debris being thrown about like rag dolls. Time travel is, in Israelite’s imagination, painful.

The young mostly unknown cast neither distinguishes themselves nor disgraces themselves. They play teens adequately, which means us grown-ups will be banging our heads in frustration as what are supposed to be super intelligent kids do incredibly dumb and dangerous things, but you have to remember – teens. To a teen, dealing with those emotions that are so incredibly intense and painful at that age take precedence over things like safety and sanity.

This is a found footage film, although it has a soundtrack and uses some camera tricks like slow motion, but it is still here in all of its shaky cam splendor. Those who are sensitive to such things – as I am – should be warned that the visuals can be fairly vertigo-inducing and I was very thankful that the screening I attended was less than a five minute drive from my home. Also, I think the whole subgenre of found footage has been overdone and needs to be given a rest for awhile as it seems to be more gimmicky than anything else these days. But that’s just me.

Still this is stylishly done and should appeal to your inner high school senior. Given its history of having been delayed a year (see below) and then dropped into the doldrums of late January most of us didn’t really expect much out of this, but quite frankly considering the limitations it turns out to be a pretty good diversion for this time of year.

REASONS TO GO: Some nifty visuals. Well-paced.
REASONS TO STAY: Predictable teen idiocy. Found footage has kind of had its day.
FAMILY VALUES: There is a little bit of foul language and some light sexual content.
TRIVIAL PURSUIT: The film was originally to be released in February 2014 under the title Welcome to Yesterday but was re-titled and re-branded with MTV Films helping with marketing, and the release was delayed nearly a full year.
CRITICAL MASS: As of 2/17/15: Rotten Tomatoes: 37% positive reviews. Metacritic: 47/100.
COMPARISON SHOPPING: Chronicle
FINAL RATING: 6.5/10
NEXT: Mr. Turner

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New Releases for the Week of January 30, 2015


Project AlmanacPROJECT ALMANAC

(Paramount) Jonny Weston, Ginny Gardner, Sam Lerner, Allen Evangelista, Sofia Black-D’Elia, Gary Weeks, Macsen Lintz, Gary Grubbs, Agnes Mayasari. Directed by Dean Israelite

A brilliant young high school student watches a video of his 7th birthday party and is flabbergasted to see himself at the age he is now in it. Not long afterwards, he stumbles upon a mysterious device in the basement his late scientist father had been working on and realizes that it’s a time machine and the opportunity to make right in his life all that is wrong is too much of a temptation to resist. Little does he know that such accidents have consequences and those consequences might mean the end of existence, or at least of his existence.

See the trailer, clips, interviews and interviews here.
For more on the movie this is the website.
Release formats: Standard (opens Thursday)
Genre: Teen Sci-Fi Thriller
Now Playing: Wide Release
Rating: PG-13 (for some language and sexual content)

Black or White

(Relativity) Kevin Costner, Octavia Spencer, Jillian Estell, Bill Burr. A mixed race child lives with her white maternal grandparents after her mother passes away and her father is unable to care for her due to his drug and alcohol problems. When her grandmother also passes away, the African-American paternal grandmother files for joint custody, something the white grandfather – having only his granddaughter left – can’t bear. As many things do in America, it becomes a racial issue as well as a guardianship issue.

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: Drama
Now Playing: Wide Release
Rating: PG-13 (for brief strong language, thematic material involving drug use and drinking, and for a fight)

Black Sea

(Focus) Jude Law, Scoot McNairy, Ben Mendelsohn, Jodie Whittaker. A disgraced submarine captain discovers the location of a Nazi sub at the bottom of the Black Sea filled with gold; it’s only a matter of getting to it and taking the gold. He’ll need some highly specialized men but once they find their prize, greed and paranoia stalk the claustrophobic sub as the men realize that the fewer that make it back home, the more gold for each of them.

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: Thriller
Now Playing: AMC Altamonte Mall, AMC Downtown Disney, Regal Winter Park Village, Regal Waterford Lakes
Rating: R (for language throughout, some graphic images and violence)

The Loft

(Open Road) Karl Urban, James Marsden, Rachael Taylor, Rhona Mitra. Five married men, in the prime of their lives and successful in their careers, conspire to rent a midtown loft for use in extramarital activities. When they discover the body of a beautiful but unknown woman in the loft, they realize that one of them must be the killer. Paranoia and fear build, marriages crumble, secrets are revealed and friendships and loyalties tested and discarded as the hunt to find the killer before he strikes closer to home drives them.

See the trailer and a promo here.
For more on the movie this is the website.
Release formats: Standard (opens Thursday)
Genre: Thriller
Now Playing: Wide Release
Rating: R (for sexual content, nudity, bloody violence, language and some drug use)

Two Days, One Night

(Sundance Select) Marion Cotillard, Fabrizio Rongione, Catherine Salee, Baptiste Sornin. When a woman returns to work after a severe bout of depression, she learns that her co-workers will be voting as to whether to allow her to keep her job. She goes from person to person trying to convince them to allow her to work which would mean smaller bonuses for all of them. Cotillard received an Oscar nomination for her performance here.

See the trailer here.
For more on the movie this is the website.
Release formats: Standard
Genre: Drama
Now Playing: Regal Winter Park Village
Rating: PG-13 (for some mature thematic elements)

Wild Card

(Lionsgate) Jason Statham, Stanley Tucci, Michael Angarano, Sofia Vergara. A bodyguard in Las Vegas with a gambling problem – which is a terrible place to have a gambling problem – comes to the rescue of a friend who’s being beaten up by a sadistic thug, who in turn gets a beating from the bodyguard. Unfortunately, said sadistic thug is the son of a mob boss. Suddenly gambling is the least of the bodyguard’s problems.

See the trailer and interviews here.
For more on the movie this is the website.
Release formats: Standard
Genre: Action
Now Playing: AMC Loew’s Universal Cineplex
Rating: PG (for some action and scary images)

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