Still Alice


Julianne Moore may have Oscar's pulse.

Julianne Moore may have Oscar’s pulse.

(2014) Drama (Sony Classics) Julianne Moore, Kristen Stewart, Alec Baldwin, Kate Bosworth, Shane McRae, Hunter Parrish, Seth Gilliam, Stephen Kunken, Erin Drake, Daniel Gerroll, Quincy Tyler Bernstine, Maxine Prescott, Orlagh Cassidy, Rosa Arredondo, Zillah Glory, Caridad Montanez, Caleb Freundlich, Charlotte Robson, Jean Burns, Erin Drake. Directed by Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland

Some movies benefit from strong storylines, great special effects or subject matter that is timely. Still others benefit from perfect or near-perfect casting, with a performance that elevates the movie from merely ordinary into something else.

Dr. Alice Howland (Moore) is a brilliant linguist, a respected professor at Columbia University and an author of what is pretty much the definitive textbook on the subject. She lives in a beautiful Manhattan apartment with her husband John (Baldwin), himself a talented and in-demand research physician. Their three adult kids are Tom (Parrish), a promising med school student, Anna (Bosworth) who is married to Charlie (McRae) and who is trying to get pregnant, and the black sheep Lydia (Stewart) who alone lives in Los Angeles (the others are all clustered near New York) and is trying to get an acting career started, although her mother nags her to go to college because she considers acting a waste of Lydia’s intellect.

But then she begins to forget words and names, forget where she put her keys. All signs, her husband assures her, of growing older; the memory is one of the first things to go. But then she goes for a run around Columbia and stops suddenly, terrified; she doesn’t recognize a thing, it’s a completely alien place, even though she has been teaching on this very campus for 20 years. She goes to see a neurologist (Kunken), privately. No tumors. Nothing to really explain what is causing these memory lapses. Then comes the MRI and the news couldn’t be worse; early onset Alzheimer’s Disease.

Alice is devastated As an academic, she has built a career and a life based around the power of her mind. Now that is to all be stripped away from her. Alice is a fighter however; she uses memory techniques to keep hold of the important things. Her family rallies around her, although John longs for escape and is seriously considering a position at the Mayo Clinic which would be great for his career but would rob him of a year with his wife, possibly her last year as herself. The sort of Alzheimer’s that Alice has is genetic, which means her kids might be carriers. This gives Alice an enormous sense of guilt when one of them turns out to be positive for the disease as well.

Alice can’t imagine life as essentially a vegetable and as we watch her deteriorate and her frustration grows, we see those around her change as well. The devastation her disease creates not just to Alice which is observable, is heart-breaking. Still, being who she is, she has devised a way out, to spare her family the worst of her disease. Will she be able to take it?

Based on the novel by Susan Genova, the movie is a bit rote in terms of how it follows movies of similar coping with disease themes; small symptoms, easily dismissed, leading to larger symptoms, not so easily dismissed, followed by the diagnosis which is excruciating in its own right followed by the repercussions of the disease itself. I suppose most diseases follow the same timeline in reality but there is nothing particularly adventurous in the way the movie handles the subject.

What works here is Moore’s performance. She’s already won the Golden Globe for her work here, along with every significant acting award with only the Jewel in the Crown, the Oscar, waiting in the wings and she’s the odds-on favorite for adding it to her collection. This is absolutely scintillating work, as we watch the terrible progression of the disease. Moore humanizes the character; you feel for her but she doesn’t make Alice pitiable but rather as strong as anyone can be in the face of a disease that robs you of who you are. This is easily one of the best performances of the year and certainly worth the accolades she has received and should she win the Oscar, I don’t think anyone can really argue with it.

Baldwin actually does a pretty good job himself. He tends to play characters who are much more smarmy than this one, but this is a little bit out of his comfort zone in a lot of ways. There is a scene where John breaks down with Lydia, which summarizes the hardship this has been on him, caring for his wife and watching her slip away from him. It’s a heartbreaking moment and one of the worthier moments of the film because it is arrived at honestly. Not all the moments in the film are like that.

Stewart still remains an actress I have trouble connecting to. It’s not just because of her Twilight connection either; it’s just that there is a wall between her and me – maybe not for everyone in the audience, but for whatever reason I can’t seem to penetrate it. There is a disingenuous vibe about her that just makes me feel like she’s acting rather than creating a personality. Maybe it’s just me being unfair to her and I will cop to the possibility that it’s true, but she has yet to truly inspire me in any role she’s played to date.

I can’t say that this is a great film but it is a decent film that is elevated by the performance of its star. Without Moore, this would be just passable, worth the time only if you’re either interested in the subject matter or have seen most of the other items that are in theaters at that moment. With Moore, this is powerful in places and dominated by an actress who’s at the very top of her game. See this for Moore; it’s one of those sorts of performances that you won’t soon forget.

REASONS TO GO: Oscar-worthy performance by Moore. Baldwin provides strong support.
REASONS TO STAY: Occasionally wanders into the land of treacle.
FAMILY VALUES: The overall theme is pretty adult. There is some occasional profanity as well as a sexual reference.
TRIVIAL PURSUIT: Co-director Richard Glatzer suffers from ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) and is unable to speak; he used a text-to-speech app on his iPad to communicate with cast and crew.
CRITICAL MASS: As of 2/16/15: Rotten Tomatoes: 90% positive reviews. Metacritic: 72/100.
COMPARISON SHOPPING: Folks!
FINAL RATING: 7/10
NEXT: Project Almanac

Advertisements

New Releases for the Week of February 6, 2015


Jupiter AscendingJUPITER ASCENDING

(Warner Brothers) Mila Kunis, Channing Tatum, Sean Bean, Eddie Redmayne, James D’Arcy, Tuppence Middleton, Doona Bae, Tim Piggott-Smith. Directed by Andy and Lana Wachowski

A pretty young housecleaner who has grand dreams but has been hit with a series of tough breaks wonders where life is going to take her. As it turns out, it’s the cosmos – her genetic make-up marks her as royalty which puts her smack into a cosmic game the steaks of which are unfathomably high for the human race.

See the trailer, clips, interviews, a promo and a featurette here.
For more on the movie this is the website.
Release Formats: Standard, 3D, IMAX 3D (opens Thursday)
Genre: Science Fiction
Now Playing: Wide Release
Rating: PG-13 (for some violence, sequences of sci-fi action, some suggestive content and partial nudity)

Love, Rosie

(The Film Arcade) Lily Collins, Sam Claflin, Tamsin Egerton, Suki Waterhouse. Having been best friends since the age of 5, Rosie and Alex can’t imagine not having the other in their lives. However, as far as love is concerned, there might be something there – but it always seems to appear at inconvenient times. Are they really the best friends they think they are, or is there something more deep down?

See the trailer here.
For more on the movie this is the website.
Release Formats: Standard
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Now Playing: AMC Loew’s Universal Cineplex
Rating: R (for language and for some sexual content)

Old Fashioned

(Freestyle) Rik Schwartzwelder, Elizabeth Ann Roberts, LeJon Woods, Tyler Hollinger. An antique store owner with a checkered past and somewhat lofty and overblown theories of love and romance finds his life and his philosophy on l’amour thrown into a tizzy when a free-spirited young woman moves into the apartment above his shop.

See the trailer here.
For more on the movie this is the website.
Release Formats: Standard
Genre: Romance
Now Playing: AMC Altamonte Mall
Rating: PG-13 (for some thematic material)

Seventh Son

(Universal/Legendary) Jeff Bridges, Ben Barnes, Julianne Moore, Olivia Williams. When an evil witch holds a medieval kingdom in thrall, the last knight of a mystical order goes in search of the last Seventh Son of a Seventh Son, who prophecy claims has enormous potential to battle evil. Finding his would-be hero on a farm, the knight must train him quickly in order to survive the coming battle.

See the trailer, interviews, a clip, a featurette and B-roll video here.
For more on the movie this is the website.
Release Formats: Standard, 3D, IMAX (opens Thursday)
Genre: Fantasy
Now Playing: Wide Release
Rating: PG-13 (for intense fantasy violence and action throughout, frightening images and brief strong language)

Shamitabh

(Eros International) Amitabh Bachchan, Dhanush, Akshara, Rekha. Two men with dreams of becoming Bollywood superstars – one a deaf-mute with matinee idol looks, the other an aging alcoholic with an amazing voice – join forces to create one complete personality. However, the two have a very hard time getting along.

See the trailer here.
For more on the movie this is the website.
Release Formats: Standard
Genre: Bollywood
Now Playing: AMC West Oaks
Rating: NR

The Spongebob Movie: A Sponge Out of Water

(Paramount/Nickelodeon) Antonio Banderas, Tom Kenny (voice), Clancy Brown (voice), Slash. When the super-secret, double hidden, cross your heart and hope to die, promise not to tell recipe for Crabby Patties is stolen, Spongebob and his band of merry misfits must come to our world and get it back. Who lives in a pineapple under the sea? Paramount is hoping a ton of cash.

See the trailer, interviews, clips, premiere footage and B-roll video here.
For more on the movie this is the website.
Release Formats: Standard (opens Thursday)
Genre: Family (Live Action/CGI)
Now Playing: Wide Release
Rating: PG (for mild action and rude humor)

Still Alice

(Sony Classics) Julianne Moore, Alec Baldwin, Kristen Stewart, Kate Bosworth. A brilliant linguist who is at the top of her profession begins to display a worrying habit of forgetting words and having difficulty remembering things. When she is diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer’s Disease, she and her family find that the binds that connect them come under a great deal of pressure. As she struggles to remain connected to who she is – which is rapidly becoming who she used to be – she begins to learn what is really important and what is worth fighting for.

See the trailer and clips 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 mature thematic material, and brief language including a sexual reference)

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