New Releases for the Week of August 28, 2015


(Warner Brothers) Zac Efron, Wes Bentley, Emily Ratajkowski, Jonny Weston, Shiloh Fernandez, Alex Shaffer, Jon Bernthal, Alicia Coppola. Directed by Max Joseph

An ambitious Valley Boy dreams of making it out of the suburban Hell of the San Fernando Valley and becoming a world class DJ. An older, damaged DJ takes the young man under his wing, showing him a world of decadent Hollywood parties and star-studded night clubs. Things get complicated when the younger man falls for his mentor’s much younger girlfriend, and his friends begin to see the changes in him. With everything he ever cared about unraveling in the face of achieving his dream, he has to choose between loyalty and ambition.

See the trailer, clips and a featurette here.
For more on the movie this is the website.
Release Formats: Standard (opens Thursday)
Genre: Drama/Musical
Now Playing: Wide Release
Rating: R (for language throughout, drug use, sexual content and some nudity)

The Diary of a Teenage Girl

(Sony Classics) Bel Powley, Kristen Wiig, Alexander Skarsgard, Christopher Meloni. Amid the transition from counterculture to Me Generation in San Francisco in the mid-70s, a young girl experiences a sexual awakening and a coming of age as she develops an intimate relationship with her hard-partying mother’s boyfriend. Based on the highly acclaimed, slightly disturbing, sometimes shockingly graphic and beautifully poignant graphic novel by Phoebe Gloeckner.

See the trailer, clips and an interview here.
For more on the movie this is the website.
Release Formats: Standard
Genre: Dramedy
Now Playing: AMC Downtown Disney, Epic Theaters of Clermont, Regal Oviedo Marketplace, Regal Pointe Orlando, Regal Waterford Lakes, Regal Winter Park Village, UA Seminole Towne Center
Rating: R  (for strong sexual content including dialogue, graphic nudity, drug use, language and drinking – all involving teens)

Frank the Bastard

(Paladin) Rachel Miner, Andy Comeau, Chris Sarandon, William Sadler. A young woman, who fled her small Maine home town with her father after the mysterious death of her mother, has lived in New York City ever since. Now, she is returning to find out what happened so long ago, what caused her father to flee and what really happened to her mother. Through her nosing into events of the past she discovers indelible links to events of the present, links that make certain people uncomfortable and put this young woman into mortal jeopardy.

See the trailer here.
For more on the movie this is the website.
Release Formats: Standard
Genre: Thriller
Now Playing: Fashion Square Premiere Cinema
Rating: NR

No Escape

(Weinstein) Owen Wilson, Lake Bell, Pierce Brosnan, Thanawut Kasro. An American businessman relocates his family to Southeast Asia, despite the reluctance of his children. At first, things seem pretty idyllic there and his family eventually relaxes and begin to enjoy life in their new home. However, a violent political uprising throws the country into turmoil and the lives of foreigners are especially at risk. He must get his family to the American embassy to find a safe refuge but first he must travel across a war-torn city to do it.

See the trailer, clips, interviews and B-roll video here.
For more on the movie this is the website.
Release Formats: Standard (opened Wednesday)
Genre: Action
Now Playing: Wide Release
Rating: R (for strong violence throughout, and for language)


(Dreamline) Rusty Joiner, Murray Gray, James Gaudioso, Erin Boyes. A beautiful young African-American track star is abducted by a pair of sociopaths. From there it is a game of cat and mouse to see if she can get away and outrun her two tormentors.

See the trailer here.
For more on the movie this is the website.
Release Formats: Standard
Genre: Thriller
Now Playing: Regal Winter Park Village
Rating: R (for violence including a rape, language and brief drug use)

War Room

(Tri-Star) Priscilla C. Shirer, T.C. Stallings, Karen Abercrombie, Beth Moore. On the surface, the Jordan family is happy with a middle class family with great jobs, a beautiful daughter, a dream home. However appearances can be deceiving; in reality the marriage is a war zone with mother and father fighting tooth and nail and the daughter is the collateral damage. With the aid of an older, wiser woman, the two discover the power of prayer can cure about anything, no matter how impossible it seems.

See the trailer, clips and a featurette here.
For more on the movie this is the website.
Release Formats: Standard (opens Thursday)
Genre: Faith-Based Drama
Now Playing: Wide Release
Rating: PG (for thematic elements throughout)


The Butterfly Effect 3: Revelations

The Butterfly Effect 3: Revelations

Chris Carmack finds out that Rachel Miner already has a boyfriend.

(After Dark/Lionsgate) Rachel Miner, Chris Carmack, Melissa Jones, Kevin Yon, Lynch Travis, Sarah Habel, Mia Serafino, Chantel Giacalone, Ulysses Hernandez, Richard Wilkinson. Directed by Seth Grossman

One of the more heinous attributes of Hollywood is that they’ll take a movie that has some degree of success and manufacture ultra-low budget direct-to-DVD sequels that often have little to do with the first film and very rarely have any cast members reprising their roles. These films are often bottom of the barrel when it comes to quality and readers should beware when renting them, attracted by the title only.

The Ashton Kutcher sci-fi fantasy movie The Butterfly Effect came out in 2004 and while not a smash success made a moderate profit. Here, the two films have little in common except the lead character is able to travel through time at will, as long as he can see a picture of the place he wants to travel to. Here, the character is Sam Reide (Carmack) who poses as a psychic. He travels back in time, sees the crime happen, then returns to tell the police who did it. Detective Glenn (Lynch) has an impressive arrest record thanks to Sam.

Sam is aided in this by his sister Jenna (Miner). Time traveling is dangerous; it amps Sam’s body temperature up, so much so that he must time travel from a bathtub filled with ice cubes. Jenna monitors his vital signs to make sure Sam doesn’t cook himself alive while time travelling.

Sam and Jenna are very close and they have a reason to be; Sam time traveled to save Jenna in a house fire. As usually happens when the past is altered, there is a heavy cost. The act of saving Jenna caused their parents to perish in the fire. Since then, Sam is under strict orders – as nagged to by his mentor Goldburg (Yon) – to use his powers to observe, not affect.

However this all changes when Elizabeth (Habel), the sister of Sam’s murdered girlfriend Rebecca (Serafino), approaches Sam convinced that the man on Death Row accused of the murder, Lonnie Flemmonds (Wilkinson) is innocent. Sam is reluctant to go back, and Goldburg reinforces this but Sam is obviously shaken by the encounter, so much so that he has some wild sex with the bartender Vicki (Jones).

He ultimately changes his mind and goes back, determined to prevent the murder despite the protestations of his sister and Goldburg. While there, he sees a drunken Elizabeth in her car outside Rebecca’s apartment and orders her to stay in the car. He goes into the house and finds he is too late to save Rebecca; while he’s in the apartment Elizabeth is attacked and murdered in her car.

Thus it goes, with the smallest of events leading to catastrophic consequences. That’s nothing new; it was explored in more clever ways in the first movie (the second, a direct-to-video disaster from 2006, was even worse than this one is). The saving grace for the movie is its inclusion of the police procedural into the sci-fi fantasy mix.

The acting here is atrocious, with Rachel Miner the only “name” actress in the cast. She does okay but frankly isn’t given a lot to work with. I hope the check cleared at least. Most of the rest of the cast commits the cardinal sin: they act like they’re acting. They speak in cadences no real human being speaks in, and while the dialogue they’re given to say is pretty craptacular, I can’t say they even do it justice, and that’s pretty bad.

The action sequences, such as they are, are handled well enough but to be honest, there really isn’t much to recommend the movie. As it is, if you’re into sci-fi and fantasy and you liked the first movie, you might be moved to see this one. Be warned; chances are you won’t like it. That’s too bad; the series has an interesting conceit and with a little imagination can make for some fine entertainment.

Generally, most of the movies in the After Dark series range from okay to really good. Unfortunately, they appear to be running into a dry well. Perhaps it’s time for a year off in order to stockpile some movies that live up to the ones from the first two festivals.

WHY RENT THIS: An intriguing procedural that, if nothing else at least gives some variation to the series.

WHY RENT SOMETHING ELSE: Poorly acted, poorly written and the end “revelation” isn’t much of a twist and it just makes you go “ewwwwwww!”

FAMILY VALUES: No….nudity, sex, graphic violence….just no.

TRIVIAL PURSUIT: This came out as part of the After Dark Film Festival III, the “Eight Films to Die For” for 2009. This remains the horror film festival in the world based on attendance and number of venues.



TOMORROW: Hot Tub Time Machine