Theatrical Releases: Dark Shadows

DARK SHADOWS || May 11th, 2012

DARK SHADOWS || Tim Burton’s seventh collaboration with Johnny Depp, Dark Shadows is a 60’s soap opera revamped (no pun intended) for the big screen. Depp plays a vampire who is awakened in the 70’s after an immortal witch who loves him locks him away in a casket for centuries. Determined to get his family’s fishing business back on track and vowing to clear his family’s curse, Depp’s character, Barnabas, attempts to figure out this new era while connecting with his family. Eva Green adds the pizzazz and sexiness that the film needs as the witch who curses Barnabas’ family. Surprising only a PG-13 film, containing blood and sexual innuendoes, Dark Shadows looks to be an enjoyable time for Burton fans and movie-goers alike. THEATER
GIRL IN PROGRESS || Eva Mendes plays a single mother who hasn’t grown up yet in this girlie drama sufficiently titled Girl In Progress. Focusing more on her struggling daughter, played by Cierra Ramirez, there is little to this film that will draw anyone to the theater to see it, with a rehashed story and an obvious ending. I am not sure why Mendes chooses to play these watered down roles when she has such potential, but none-the-less, this is not a film I will venture out to see.
PASS
HICK || Two films released this weekend star young actress Chloe Grace Moretz, Dark Shadows and Hick, with the latter actually raising Chloe to leading lady. Chloe is one of the best young actresses around, and has proven from an extremely young age that she will be around for as long as she chooses to be. Hick depicts a young woman running away from home, on the road to Vegas. Starring fellow promising young stars Eddie Redmayne (“My Week With Marilyn”) and Blake Lively (“The Town”, “Green Lantern”), this film has all the makings to be a great little independent film. THEATER

A BAG OF HAMMERS || Independent comedies like this one come out every year, but few of these have two amazing young actresses in them like Rebecca Hall (“The Town”) and Amanda Seyfried (“Chloe”). A Bag Of Hammers does not star them as leads like they should but instead stars Jason Ritter and Jake Sandvig as two men who steal for a living and cannot hold on to meaningful relationships. However, when they come across a mistreated boy, they take him in and give him an escape from his neglectful mother. There could be a lot of charm in this film and for that, it will earn my viewership. STREAM
BARFI || Synopsis: Barfii is a romantic and mystery movie in which Ranbir plays the role of a deaf and dumb person and Priyanka as a mentally-challenged girl.
PASS
BONSAI || With enough dark humor, any comedy can survive. Bonsai, though suffering from a poorly produced trailer, still supplies enough dark humor to become interesting. Films based on characters writing books and the audience delving into the works in progress as the characters write them are interesting plot devices and could work well for this film. PASS
CHANGING THE GAME || Synopsis: An epic tale about a bright young African-American male who rises from the ferocious and oppressive streets of North Philadelphia to being a shining star in the lucrative world of high finance at Wall Street’s most prestigious firm. However, he soon finds that the white-collar world is filled with crime and death just like the drug-filled hood he left behind. His only chance of survival is to fully integrate a mysterious gift from a slain childhood friend fully into the fabric of his character. PASS
THE CUP || With nothing huge to his name except the film Free Willy, Australian director Simon Wincer directs this heartfelt horse-racing drama about a family of jockeys who fight the odds to become the best. Brendan Gleeson is the only notable name in the film and fills the voids of intense dramatic moments with his above average stature. Reminiscent of most horse-racing dramas based on true stories, The Cup looks interesting but suffers from too much going on to grab ahold of any one strong element. PASS
DRAGON EYES || Yet another action film with one man versus the world, Dragon Eyes stars a villainous looking Jean Claude Van Damme. Complete with martial arts fighting throughout, this film appears to be a one-hit wonder, relying on its combat rather than its combatants or the story behind them. PASS
EL GRINGO || I have missed Christian Slater and from the looks of it, do not expect to see him much in this new film El Gringo. The biggest name in this film, Slater should have more of a starring role but instead the characters appear to be portrayed by unknowns. Despite this lack of star power, the cast of characters and their interactions does look to be quite a spectacle and for that (as well as Christian Slater), I will probably check this film out. STREAM
GOD BLESS AMERICA || You know him as the squeaky voiced comedian from the 90’s (look him up and you’ll know who I am talking about), but Bobcat Goldthwait has moved into the director’s chair. A few years ago, he directed Robin Williams in the dark comedy, World’s Greatest Dad, and this year takes a step towards the dementedly dark comedic side of murder in God Bless America. About a man who discovers he has a fatal tumor, instead of killing himself, he proceeds to kill all those annoying people we all come to hate, including a young teen from a television show resembling My Super Sweet 16, and a guy that double parks without remorse. You know this will be a film you simly want to stand up and applaud for as the deranged killer/normal guy on the brink of insanity mows down those annoying celebrities and everyday people that make certain lives miserable. STREAM
I WISH || Magnolia Pictures are normally solid when distributing films, but I Wish does not have the wherewithal to prove interesting enough to get me to see it, now or ever. This foreign drama takes a look at childhood, specifically from the eyes of a young Asian boy from a broken family. The title comes from this boy’s wish to bring his family back together and the rumor that if you see two trains pass each other, your wish will come true. From an marketing standpoint, none of this gets me excited to see this and therefore, falls completely flat. PASS
NESTING || Relationship films are often hard to sell unless the actors are perfectly fit for their role. So you would imagine  that an independent comedy about a relationship is even harder to sell, with actors we are not used to, and a lower budget to get the point across. But Nesting comes off like a big budget romantic comedy all while selling a brand new couple on the screen in Todd Grinnell and Ali Hillis. The humor is fresh, the situation looks worthy of telling, and ultimately, I have high hopes for this Indie.
RENT
NOBODY ELSE BUT YOU || Billed as the closest thing to come close to The Coen Brothers’ Fargo in recent memory, Nobody Else But You involves a man with writer’s block and a woman who believes she is the reincarnation of Marilyn Monroe. With not much to go on from the trailer, the visuals alone, as well as the sexiness of leading lady Sophie Quinton makes this film only slightly peak my interest. PASS
OTTER 501 || These documentary-makers want you to know that this is a story about a real otter which is found clinging to the chest of its dead mother. Like the otter, this trailer needs some serious help, as it struggles with being able to explain what the documentary is about and comes off extremely staged and poorly put together. There are very few facts about why otters are in danger and without any information, I would not venture out to see this film. PASS
PHILLY KID || Ask me what Philly Kid is about and from the trailer I couldn’t tell you. It involves MMA, a shooting, and what appears to be another nail of the coffin of Devon Sawa’s career. What looks to attempt to follow in the footsteps of the great MMA film Warrior, Philly Kid lacks the cast of great actors and the compelling story to match. PASS
THE ROAD || Independent directors are really trying to push horror films. Perhaps they believe this to be the easiest genre to attempt or that horror films have a built-in audience, but from the looks of The Road, the creators simply aren’t even trying. Yet another trailer that offers nothing to peak my interest of care about this film, beyond visuals of chasing and critics I don’t know telling me their “thoughts”. Though low budget horror films can often be the best, this one looks to have nothing special. PASS
ROMEO AND JULIET IN YIDDISH || Synopsis: Eve Annenberg’s gritty, funny new feature stars predominantly non-actor twenty somethings who grew up speaking Yiddish as a first language in Brooklyn. This is possibly the first narrative film acted by both men and women in this much spoken, colloquial Yiddish in over seventy years. PASS
SLEEPLESS NIGHT || Compared to the television series 24, Die Hard, and Taken, all in the trailer, the marketing team really wants you to think this is an action film. Whether they are right or wrong, telling me that this film is trying to be every action film out there instead of its own, unique film, negates me actually wanting to see this film. Why would I want to see three action films I’ve already seen when I could go discover something new? Everything about this trailer is tacky and I feel the same with come from the film. PASS
SMALL, BEAUTIFULLY MOVING PARTS || Anna Margaret Hollyman looks to give a nice, grounded performance is this drama about a woman who travels back to see her estranged mother when she finds out she is pregnant. More of a road trip movie with a pregnant woman than anything else, this film looks to remain basic, and in a world of complicated films, independent films are a great way to return to the basics. Hollyman might have sold this film for me, with her dead face humor and natural beauty in front of the camera. PASS
STASH HOUSE || Not that I am an award winning filmmaker, or even currently a filmmaker at all, but let me share a piece of advice for anyone reading. If your film relies on Dolph Lundgren to sell it, your film is doomed. What looks to be another version of David Fincher’s film, Panic Room, a couple moves into a house and finds out there is a giant stash of drugs in their walls. Dolph Lundgren shows up as the bad guy and begins harassing the couple, who in turn, fight back. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. PASS
STEVE JOBS: THE LOST INTERVIEW || Synopsis: This candid, in-depth interview with the late visionary was filmed in 1995 by Robert Cringely, and Jobs discusses at length his early days, career battles, and vision for the future. Small portions of the piece were used for a television series at the time, but the vast majority was shelved, and for 17 years thought to be lost. Recently unearthed, it is being presented in its unedited entirety, providing a fascinating look at Jobs at a particularly interesting, transitory moment in his career, two years before he would go on to retake control of Apple. PASS
TONIGHT YOU’RE MINE || The premise is a little hokey, but Tonight You’re Mine gives a different take on a love story. A famous musician, Adam, gets handcuffed to a strange woman, Morello, after getting in an altercation. Stuck together for the night, they must find a way to coexist and get through the night without losing their loved ones and without bickering each other to death. You get a feeling from the trailer that the writer and director’s hearts are in the right place and whether this film is truly phenomenal or not, it is different enough to grab my undivided attention. STREAM
TRANSIT || Of all the bad action thrillers to come out in any given week, Transit may not be the worst one. However, with a cast of people we normally see in small roles and a familiar premise that does little to differentiate, Transit still does not have much going for it. I do, however, like the official movie poster. Now, if only the film could be as good as its marketing. PASS
UNDER AFRICAN SKIES || Synopsis: Paul Simon returns to South Africa to explore the incredible journey of his historic Graceland album, including the political backlash he received for allegedly breaking the UN cultural boycott of South Africa designed to end the Apartheid regime. PASS
WAGNER’S DREAM || Not a fan of the opera at all, Wagner’s Dream was able to grab my attention with the process behind putting together the most ambitious opera performance ever assembled at the Met. With lavish set pieces and career-defining performances from the opera singers, this documentary is a behind-the-scenes look at the epic world that you never knew about opera and for that, I may just have to give this film a shot. PASS
WHERE DO WE GO NOW? || Opening in Los Angeles and New York this weekend, Where Do We Go Now is a foreign comedy about a small village that is half Christian and half Muslim, and after coexisting for some time, the men begin to butt heads. So to stop them, the women contrive to bring in what appear to be sexy pin-up models to distract the men. Earning the People’s Choice Audience Award at the Toronto International Film Festival, there has to be something about the film that is enjoyable and for that, I will probably give this film a chance. STREAM
YELLOW SUBMARINE || The Beatles’ 1968 animated film, Yellow Submarine, gets a re-release this week. No, it isn’t in 3D but it is digitally remastered for your viewing pleasure. Not that I don’t like the Beatles, but seeing this film on the big screen is not something I will need to experience. But this re-release exists more for those that were around for its original release and desire a trip down memory lane rather than myself, who missed that craze. PASS

THEATER

  • Dark Shadows
  • Hick

RENT

  • Nesting

STREAM

  • A Bag Of Hammers
  • El Gringo
  • God Bless America
  • Tonight You’re Mine
  • Where Do We Go Now?

PASS

  • Barfi
  • Bonsai
  • Changing The Game
  • The Cup
  • Dragon Eyes
  • Girl In Progress
  • I Wish
  • Nobody Else But You
  • Otter 501
  • Philly Kid
  • The Road (2012)
  • Romeo and Juliet in Yiddish
  • Sleepless Night
  • Small, Beautifully Moving Parts
  • Stash House
  • Steve Jobs: The Lost Interview
  • Transit
  • Under African Skies
  • Wagner’s Dream
  • Yellow Submarine

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