THE FIVE-YEAR ENGAGEMENT || April 27th, 2012

THE FIVE-YEAR ENGAGEMENT || Produced by Judd Apatow and directed by Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Get Him To The Greek director Nicholas Stoller, comes another comedy involving weddings. Ranging around the same humor as Bridesmaids but with a much more diverse cast, Jason Segel and Emily Blunt show they have amazing chemistry along with Chris Pratt, Alison Brie, and tons of other comedians. Beyond the two hour mark, The Five-Year Engagement has a lot of time to discover some amazing jokes and I believe this film will pick up steam after its first week and word-of-mouth hype brings more people to the theater. THEATER
THE PIRATES! BAND OF MISFITS || If you’re a fan of Wallace & Gromitt or claymation, then The Pirates! will be for you. However, I am not a fan and will probably be keeping my distance. I am not saying there isn’t some humor to be had in the writing and I have always had a deep respect for those that commit to producing the stop-animation/claymation feature productions, but do not expect me to be running out to see this one.
STREAM
THE RAVEN || Mainly a reason to get the works of Edgar Allen Poe playing out on the big screen, this murder mystery combines the thoughtful and present John Cusack with the horrific imagination of Poe. Not attempting to glamorize Poe as a crime fighter at least, The Raven brings some talented stars to the screen with Luke Evans stealing the show with a high caliber performance and Alice Eve delivering a gorgeous performance as the damsel in distress. Though there is an essence missing in the film to make it as fleshed out and dark as From Hell, the film still achieves in bringing something rather new to the theaters. THEATER
SAFE || There’s Bond films, Bourne films, and films like Iron Man and The Avengers where actors like Matt Damon and Daniel Craig find themselves in reoccurring roles. Jason Statham, though never playing the same role, appears to have his own genre of film. Look at any Statham film in the last few years and you’ll notice that almost every action film he graces has about the same plot and action sequences. The next installment in this ever-growing anthology is Safe, where Statham, playing an ex-cop, must protect and young asian girl who has the ability to memorize anything she sees. With the wrong guys after this young girl, Statham must kill, kill, kill to keep her safe. The action looks textbook and there appears to be some worthwhile jokes (at least from the trailer) like“you got some balls” to which Statham responds “it’s amazing I can even walk”. RENT

96 MINUTES || Brittany Snow won me over in the independent film The Vicious Kind so whenever she pops into a film that isn’t some sugary, teenage drama like John Tucker Must Die, my interest is peaked. However, 96 Minutes suffers from having a trailer that tells me absolutely nothing about the film or what it is about. Filled with screaming, crying, and fighting, and apparently based on a true story to which we know nothing about, all I can assume by the title is that it takes place in the period of 96 minutes which is a growing trend in films these days. STREAM
AREA 407 || Well, it wouldn’t be a release week without a found footage film new release, but none-the-less, at least it wasn’t Sound Of My Voice which also came out this weekend and could have easily been converted into a piss-poor found footage film instead of what looks to be an interesting dramatic thriller. Area 407 is about a plane crash which results in the survivors being stalked by what appears to be dinosaurs in a government facility. This has the plot structure of any found footage, monster films, much like TrollHunter. I am interested to see what the dinosaurs look like and that’s about it. STREAM
BERNIE || Richard Linklater has been all over the map, directing films like Dazed and Confused and School Of Rock, as well as the recent Me and Orson Welles, but now he tries his hand at the dark comedy, Bernie, starring Jack Black, Shirley MacLaine, and Matthew McConaughey. Filled with fake testimonials regarding the nature of this “based on a true story”, Bernie offers what looks to be ridiculous humor with a dark side, reminiscent of films like The Informant and Get Low. STREAM
BOOKER’S PLACE: A MISSISSIPPI STORY || Synopsis: Tells the story of past and current-day Mississippi via Booker Wright. While filming a documentary in Mississippi in 1965, Frank De Felitta forever changed the life of an African-American waiter and his family. In 2011, Frank’s son returns to the Delta to examine the repercussions of that fateful encounter. PASS
THE BROKEN TOWER || Uncannily reminiscent of Howl, also starring James Franco and also about a historical poet, Franco actually stars, writes, and directs this film, The Broken Tower. The trailer more or less teases at the film’s black-and-white medium and the appearance of one of my growing favorite actors, Michael Shannon. Ultimately, I am going to have to see what Franco is made of in this directorial debut. STREAM
CITIZEN GANGSTER || Apparently it is the week for new releases that are “inspired by a true story”. The fourth film to bear one of these cards is Citizen Gangster with a first-time director and a cast you will notice from many different films. You know Scott Speedman from The Strangers, Kelly Reilly as Watson’s fiance/wife in the Sherlock Holmes films, and Kevin Durand from Lost and Smokin’ Aces. We’ve seen countless old-time gangster bank robbery movies like Public Enemies and Bonnie and Clyde, and Citizen Gangster follows the same lines, except with the head of the gang being a WWII veteran and family man. The cast appears strong enough to hold a decent film but there is no “wow” factor to get anyone out to see this. STREAM
ELLES || Academy Award winning actress Juliette Binoche (“The English Patient”) finds herself in yet another sensual drama (“The Unbearable Lightness Of Being”) as a journalist studying the modern day philanthropists that are high class prostitutes. Living the lives of normal college students, yet whoring on the side, these women do not see a problem with their ventures and it even appears as if Binoche’s character will be involved as well. With an NC-17 rating, this one will be hard to turn away from. STREAM
THE GIANT MECHANICAL MAN|| Thank God for films like The Giant Mechanical Man, which combines many of the brilliantly talented actors and actresses that are normally stuck in supporting roles and gives them the leading spots to help them shine. Jenna Fischer and Chris Messina take the reigns of this romantic comedy about two people who are drifting through life. Malin Akerman and Topher Grace also add some colorful performances to make this film look that much more big budget. I am a sucker for these types of independent comedies. STREAM
HEADHUNTERS || Headhunters appears to be nothing we haven’t seen before. Revolving around a corporate headhunter who steals paintings as a side job, this foreign film has quite a bit going for it, with a trailer that holds your interest with women in their underwear, action sequences involving a semi-truck pushing a car off a mountain, and city chases. STREAM
INVENTING OUR LIFE: THE KIBBUTZ EXPERIMENT || Synopsis: Set against the backdrop of its glorious 100-year history, Inventing Our Life: The Kibbutz Experiment reveals the heartbreak and hope of Israel’s modern kibbutz movement as a new generation struggles to ensure its survival. Can a radically socialist institution survive a new capitalist reality? How will painful reforms affect those who still believe in the kibbutz experiment, and continue to call it home? PASS
JOFFREY: MAVERICKS OF AMERICAN DANCE || Synopsis: The Joffrey Ballet: Mavericks of American Dance, narrated by Mandy Patinkin, tells the full story of this groundbreaking company, from their founding in 1956 to the present. PASS
MAMITAS || It’s the age-old tale where the popular guy falls for the not-so-popular girl, and love ensues. Even before films like She’s All That and even West Side Story, this story was around. Now Mamitas attempts some Latino flavor to this dead horse, dying with Los Angeles as a backdrop. There is nothing original about this film. Boy falls for girl. Girl finds out boy isn’t as sincere as she thought. Teacher expects more from boy, and thinks he needs to apply himself. And I am sure everything works out in the end. PASS
OUTSIDE BET || This very British comedy looks a little too low quality and dry for me to anticipate wanting to see. The story of a young man betting on horse racing, there is little to grab you in the trailer despite best efforts to display the very loose humor involved in the film. Though audiences overseas may eat this film up, I will not be seeing this one. PASS
PAYBACK || Not to be shallow about this film, but the narrator, whom I assume is the writer of the book that this is based on, has the most annoying voice for a narrator and would make me rethink seeing this film from the get-go. I loosely understand what this documentary is reaching at but I am not sure the trailer effectively portrays that and because of that, it would be hard for me to run out and see this film. Being a zeitgeist film, which are gaining enormous popularity, Payback will probably garner some attention but probably not from me. PASS
PENUMBRA || Penumbra grabbed my attention more with its title cards and description than it did with the actual trailer. Billed as a contemporary Rosemary’s Baby and with this description: “Combining stylistic elements of classic Polanski with a contemporary vision that rivals anyone working in horror today” it hard not to be slightly intrigued with this film. Though the trailer does not sufficiently hook me into this film, I will most likely see it just to see if there are indeed Polanski elements. STREAM
PRESSURE || Synopsis: This is a coming of age story about five teenagers growing up in Harlem New York during the 1980’s. It is the beginning of a new generation of kids called the “hip hop” generation, which unfortunately was growing up alongside the “crack cocaine” generation. The Main character Karon falls into a deep sleep after his graduation in 1985. Having dreams within dreams takes him into a realistic drama along with his potential future in the 1990’s as a drug selling youth. His fast money attitude serves as the detriment to the community and ultimately his four best friends become caught in the crossfire of his illicit activity. He awakens back in 1985, realizing the “easy way out” that was offered wasn’t a glorious new beginning, it was the end. PASS
RESTLESS CITY || Synopsis: Tells the story of an African immigrant surviving on the fringes of New York City where music is his passion, life is a hustle and falling in love is his greatest risk. PASS
SOUND OF MY VOICE || Thank God this didn’t become a found footage film. Nothing against FF films but this film looks righteous and with the subtle cinematography present in the footage from the trailer, Sound Of My Voice is definitely a Fox Searchlight film I can get behind. Starring Brit Marling, whom I loved in Another Earth, as a cult leader “from the future”, this eerie drama looks like it could be just as suspenseful as any big budget thriller. The premise is masterful, as two investigatory journalists enter an underground cult to get the scoop but when it appears that it may be tricky to escape, the couple start to question whether its worth the risk. RENT
WARRIORS OF THE RAINBOW: SEEDIQ BALE || Warriors Of The Rainbow: Seediq Bale was one of the finalists during the For Your Consideration phase of the Academy Awards this past season. Though it ended up not competing for the Oscar, the film still remains noteworthy for being recognized that far into the deliberations. The production quality alone sets Warriors Of The Rainbow apart from other action-foreign films and with plenty of action sequences portrayed in the trailer, I would definitely consider seeing this film. STREAM

THEATER

  • The Five-Year Engagment
  • The Raven

RENT

  • Safe
  • Sound Of My Voice

STREAM

  • 96 Minutes
  • Area 407
  • Bernie
  • The Broken Tower
  • Citizen Gangster
  • Elles
  • The Giant Mechanical Man
  • Headhunters
  • Penumbra
  • The Pirates! Band Of Misfits
  • Warriors Of The Rainbow: Seediq Bale

PASS

  • Booker’s Place: A Mississippi Story
  • Inventing Our Life: The Kibbutz Experiment
  • Joffrey: Mavericks Of American Dance
  • Mamitas
  • Outside Bet
  • Payback
  • Pressure
  • Restless City

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