Theatrical Releases: Divergent & Muppets Most Wanted

DIVERGENT || March 21st, 2014

Divergent-poster Following in the footsteps of other young adult book adaptations, watching the trailer for “Divergent”, you get a strong twinge of “The Hunger Games” mixed with the emotional conflicts of “Twilight”. Shailene Woodley in on a lot of critics’ radar and for that, just like the success of “The Hunger Games” latched to the impressive Jennifer Lawrence, the “Divergent” star with rise and fall with Woodley’s ability to carry the film. With somewhat of a big following, “Divergent” will likely take number this weekend and will definitely launch Woodley in any direction she will want to go.
RENTAL
MuppetsMostWanted-poster At the very least I will rent “Muppets Most Wanted”, that attempts to bring back the magic of Muppet capers like “Muppets Take Manhattan” and “The Great Muppet Caper”. Coming off it’s reclaim to fame, headed by Jason Segel and his undying love for the Muppets, the last film had star power on top of being a “get the band back together” story plot. This sequel however, has stars, but none of them of leading quality, with Ty Burrell, Tina Fey, and Ricky Gervais all feeling like second tier choices. However, my undying love for the Muppets will likely get me to see the film one way or another.
RENTAL

50To1-poster Skeet Ulrich (“Scream”) and Christian Kane (“Just Married”) are two actors we know best from antagonist roles that take a different route in this new cowboy picture, “50 To 1” borrowing from the inspirational sports dramas like “Secretariat” and “Seabiscuit” but on a much smaller scale and without the impressive leads that made those films so enjoyable. There’s no charisma in this trailer and with zero star power to launch this beyond an independent pile of low quality deliveries and even lower quality visuals, I’d be surprised if anyone ventured out to see this film.
PASS
Anita-poster Social and political injustice stories are always intriguing to me, especially when approached like the story of Anita Hill in this documentary about her trials, titled “Anita”. Filled with court archival footage and interviews with Anita now, as well as some classroom discussion of the issue, this multimedia documentary is intriguing. If you look up the accused, Clarence Thomas, he is still a Supreme Court judge and it makes me question the outcome of this very widely known case of race, sexism, and the power of one person’s voice.
25% MAYBE
ABirdersGuideToEverything-poster Even Ben Kingsley is not enough to see me on the latest independent coming of age drama, “A Birder’s Guide To Everything”. What appears to be a nerdier version of “The Kings Of Summer”, three friends and a girl go out to try and capture a picture of an extinct duck that they stumbled across once, but failed to get a decent photo. Pitted against professional bird photographers, it becomes a race to find the duck first. Why bird watching has spawned films like this and “The Big Year” I will never understand but I simply choose not to take part.
PASS
BloodTies-poster On a cinematic and story level, I do not think I would normally see “Blood Ties”, a drama reminiscent of “We Own The Night”, pitting two brothers against each other on opposite sides of the law. But what makes this film different is the amazing cast, which is most often than not what sells a film for me. Clive Owens and Billy Crudup are the brothers, whom I both enjoy for the most part, but toss in amazing females like Zoe Saldana, Mila Kunis, and Marion Cotillard, plus the impressive Matthias Schoenaerts (“Bullhead” and “Rust and Bone”) and I’m sold.
75% MOST LIKELY
CheapThrills-poster Dark comedies hold a special place in my movie-going heart, and “Cheap Thrills” looks like it could be one of my favorites of the year. Pitting two friends, Pat Healy and the reemergence of Ethan Embry (“Can’t Hardly Wait”) against one another for money, Sara Paxton and David Koechner are the rich couple that escalate an evening full of “who can do it firsts”. Starting with things like shots and fist fights, the night eventually tailspins into who can cut off their pinky first. The performances look great, with an intriguing sex kitten turn from Paxton and hopefully a return to fame for Embry, “Cheap Thrills” is a must see for me.
THEATER
FalconSong-poster With no idea what the hell this is or what it’s about, “Falcon Song” is the epitome of a dud. Surrounding some ranch that might get bought, this community comes together to scare away the people that want to buy it. But then the trailer digresses into some strange supernatural exploration with people using some sort of power to levitate a watch and strange dancing for who knows what reason. The music used in the trailer is laughable too and leaves this entire film completely forgettable.
PASS
TheFrenchMinister-poster What looks to be an attempt at light humor in a political atmosphere, “The French Minister” sees its main character take a job as a speech writer for the not quite sharp minister, who is constantly asking for more and more from this character, in the most darkly comedic ways. Foreign comedies are a tough sell in general, but when you have one that falls a bit flat with most of its jokes, it is hard to really root for such a film.
PASS
GodsNotDead-poster Growing up learning the Catholic religion and being surrounded, in a small part, by Christians, I know the type of people that made “God’s Not Dead”, a feature length endeavor that exists only to put the debate of God on a pedestal in favor of the Christians. Making everything black and white, where the antagonists wholeheartedly do not believe and shame those for believing, while those holding their beliefs are the heroes, you might as well slap be across the face with the Bible. Life is not black and white and this fluff that Christians call a dynamic film is offensive to me both entertainment wise and religious wise. Believe what you want to believe, but don’t force your beliefs on other people (and that goes for both sides of the debate).
PASS
ItFeltLikeLove-poster Highly praised and super stylized dramas such as “It Felt Like Love”, that delve into the emotions of first love and having sex for the first time, are usually powerful pieces of work and with the right cast and right script, these films can resonate right into the best of the year lists come December. An awkward girl that finds love on the beach, explores what it is to love and lose, while holding onto parts of yourself that you do not want to let go. There are some amazing visuals in the trailer alone and with a style all it’s own, I will probably be seeing this film at some point.
50% PROBABLY
JodorowskysDune-poster As an aspiring film-maker, it’s hard for me to pass on a documentary about movie making, even if the documentary is about a film that never actually got made. “Jodorowsky’s Dune” interviews director Alejandro Jodorowsky about his adaptation of the science fiction book “Dune” that was highly ambitious, fully realized with storyboards, costume designs, and casting, but that was ultimately never made. In Hollywood, I’m sure this story could be a thousand times over, but there’s something intriguing about Jodorowsky’s story.
25% MAYBE
JohnDoeVigilante-poster “The Punisher” meets “V For Vendetta” in this Aussie thriller “John Doe: Vigilante” as a man takes justice into his own hands while trying to prove to the public that punishments do not fit the crimes any longer and action needs to be taken. Told while the suspect John Doe is being put on trial, there’s some sort of revolutionary storyline in here, but sadly it’s reminiscent of far too many films to rise above the pack and be considered relevant.
PASS
Maladies-poster Look at James Franco’s IMDB, and you’ll see a man that will not only do just about every type of film, but does so many films in one year, you’re amazed he has any sort of life outside of acting whatsoever. Last year alone, he has nine film acting credits, ranging from big budget films like “This Is The End” to small pieces that he directed like “Interior. Leather Bar” and “As I Lay Dying”. The man is an enigma and with “Maladies” he continues with the portrayal of an out of work soap opera actor who deals with some mental issues. Also starring Catherine Keener, the film doesn’t quite click with me, but it is fun to see what Franco will do next.
PASS
McCanick-poster David Morse is an unsung hero of acting, whom I am often drawn to in his work, but “McCanick” looks a little too derivative of the New York crime drama to completely get me interested. Even with Ciaran Hinds, Mike Vogel, and Rachel Nichols, I am leery about seeing this film, just because it is so dry and so reminiscent of such better films from such better eras, that even David Morse cannot pull it off as well as say Al Pacino and Dustin Hoffman.
PASS
MistakenForStrangers-poster Documentary Pick Of The Week: How many times can we compare a film to “Spinal Tap”? With that said, the story behind “Mistaken For Strangers”, which is an actual documentary and not something fabricated, pits Tom Berninger, slacker brother to lead singer of The National and widely known rock star Matt Berninger, on the road with the band, unqualified to be a roadie, but holding a camera to this real life odd couple in the form of brothers. With such great punchy jokes and a story that sounds so much like fiction that it has to be seen, this documentary is the first film that really made me want to see it.
RENTAL
NymphomaniacVolume1-poster Call my a masochist if you will, but I love the films of Lars Von Trier, or at least the artistic intent behind most of them. With “Melancholia”, he captured my imagination and emotions in a way I had yet to experience in a film and now with his new venture, “Nymphomania: Volume I” surrounding the idea of reminiscing about a highly sexual active woman’s sordid sexual past, and this ensemble cast including Shia LaBeauf, Jamie Bell, Stellan Skarsgard, and Ethan Hawke, just to name the males, this will be a must see that coincides with rave reviews from everyone that’s at least seen the first volume of the film.
THEATER
OurVinylWeighsATon-poster At least once a year we are saddled with a film about a “pivotal” record label that launches careers. In the vein of “Sound City” and “Muscle Shoals”, this year’s incarnation is “Our Vinyl Weighs A Ton”, looking at the Stones Throw Record label that launched such hip hop artists as Peanut Butter Wolf and Madlib, and a hand full of other artists you’ve absolutely never heard of. And even Kanye West shows up, most likely just to hear himself talk. Pass, pass, and triple pass.
PASS
RobTheMob-poster Michael Pitt has grown on me since his days in “Murder By Numbers” alongside Ryan Gosling. Now with a bigger claim to fame in “Boardwalk Empire”, his inclusion in “Rob The Mob” is what seals the deal for this not to be passed on. Also starring Ray Romano in a role that fits him perfectly and which he should do more of and with Andy Garcia as the head of the mob, this film is just crazy enough to work.
25% MAYBE
Stay-poster Aidan Quinn and Taylor Schilling is a strange couple to begin with, but this heavy drama titled “Stay” about a couple debating whether to keep a baby that they’re about to have is so dry, the trailer alone was enough to depress me. Although I have yet to see “Orange Is The New Black”, Schilling looks like a great actress and could pull the role off, but overall, I feel like this film would just bore me to tears.
PASS

THEATER

  • Cheap Thrills
  • Nymphomaniac: Volume I

RENTAL

  • Divergent
  • Mistaken For Strangers
  • Muppets Most Wanted

MOST LIKELY CATCH ON NETFLIX (75%)

  • Blood Ties

PROBABLY CATCH ON NETFLIX (50%)

  • It Felt Like Love

MIGHT CATCH ON NETFLIX (25%)

  • Anita
  • Jodorowsky’s Dune
  • Rob The Mob

PASS

  • 50 To 1
  • The Birder’s Guide To Everything
  • Falcon Song
  • God’s Not Dead
  • John Doe: Vigilante
  • Maladies
  • McCanick
  • Our Vinyl Weighs A Ton
  • Stay

HELL NO

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