Theatrical Releases: The Purge: Anarchy & Sex Tape
Director Mike Cahill, known for his work with Brit Marling in her breakout role in “Another Earth” attempts to make another societal breakthrough in his new film “I Origins” starring Michael Pitt and a returning Brit Marling. Mixing a passionate love story with a scientific mystery pertaining to the eyes, the film touches on the ideas of religion and predestination arguing both sides of the argument. With a standout cast and an interesting plot, this is a must-see.
Having skipped the first “Planes” for being too much of a straight-to-DVD fare, seeing “Planes: Fire & Rescue” is completely out of the question. Appearing even more weak than the original, this is essentially a sequel of a spin-off of a dying series (“Cars”). Containing a high end voice cast, unsurprisingly, given that this is a Disney film, I really wish the studio would focus more on original ideas rather than something that shows up on cartoon networks every week.
On par with the quality of the original, “The Purge: Anarchy” delivers what audiences desperately wanted from the first film. With the idea of purging once a year under government supervision is such a brilliant concept, not putting the viewer out on the street was a misstep to begin with, but being able to recognize that and deliver this film is expertly done. However, making caricatures of people rather than fleshed out characters, the film often falls flat and yet again leaves out a world of possibilities.
With films like “Sex Tape”, it is hard to imagine what particular audience this film was made for. Unless you are a super fan of Cameron Diaz or Jason Segel, a film about a married couple having sexual problems does not seem like must-see material. With a hollow premise and infrequent humorous sequences, you can see this film’s best features in its trailer. However, the casting is done well enough to keep the film watchable and there are a few one liners that will stick around.
Ten years later, Zach Braff follows up his directorial debut “Garden State” with the highly talked about crowd-funded feature “Wish I Was Here”. Stating that no studio would let him make the film he wanted to, Braff went to his fans, to which I have absolutely no problem with. Co-written with his brother Adam Braff, the film is a personal and often humorous look at what it is to be a family. Mandy Patinkin plays Braff’s father in the film and steals the show with some of the most touching scenes I have seen all year.
The last thing I remember seeing Monica Keena in was the television series “Entourage”. Now, she finds herself next to Edward Furlong in this low budget post-apocalypse movie titled “Aftermath” set in someone’s basement following the end of the world. With mostly unknowns besides the two mentioned, the trailer is somewhat exhausting with people fighting people for most of the two minutes. Relying more on gore, I fear, rather than scares or tone, there is only so much human fighting one can watch in any given film.
Most weeks there is at least one documentary that I am just happy to know exists. I do not necessarily need to see that film, but knowing that someone has shined a light on a particular subject is satisfying enough for me. “Alive Inside” is this week’s documentary, about bringing music back into the lives of the elderly. Showing several different patients who do not respond to anything, who are suddenly given headphones with music and are completely responsive, it heartwarming to say the least. Music is a powerful tool and I can see myself being the one to bring this into my parent’s lives when they reach a certain age.
Way too self-praising, “An American In Hollywood” is so low in quality, I thought it was a documentary at first. But as soon as the acting is featured, it is so stiff and poorly delivered that there is no way anyone would actually talk like that. Making business people the villains and street artists the heroes, the film tries to make a superhero statement but simply ends up confusing the viewer. They are setting out to make a film, but why? They are moving to Hollywood, but why?
How did I not know that singer-songwriter Natalie Imbruglia was acting? Known for her song “Torn”, she now appears in the low budget independent film titled “Among Ravens”. Also, starring one of my favorite actresses, Amy Smart, I would have said right away that I would see most anything with her in it, but after seeing this trailer, I am not so sure. Following a vacation retreat with a group of friends, I am not quite sure what the conflict in the film is despite a scene where an ex-husband makes a pass at his ex-wife. Other than that, this film escapes me.
Love stories do not get any more simple than “Fanny”, which apparently is actually two films, “Marius” and “Fanny”, which follow two different characters from the same story, a structuring of films that is rising in popularity as of late. Marius is infatuated with Fanny, Fanny is marrying another man but secretly loves Marius, and I bet you can tell what happens from there.
Giving Michel Gondry the benefit of the doubt, because of his extraordinary work on “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”, the only other reason I think I would see his latest film “Mood Indigo” is because of Audrey Tautou, who is absolutely stunning in everything that she does. This latest feature, about an eccentric couple and their blossoming relationship, appears to be a little bit too “out there” for my liking, with cloud ships and strange shooting styles, but perhaps it will be crazy enough to work.
Politics meet religion in this latest Christian film, “Persecuted”, starring James Remar (“Dexter”) as a man that simply wants to speak his mind. Bruce Davison (“X-Men”) is the politician that wants to silence him and to do so, gets a scandal rolling that sees one girl dead and Remar’s fingerprints all over it. With more emphasis on freedom of speech over what you should believe, this is a film I could probably get behind had there been a bigger cast in place. But with just an average thriller story to fall on, it is not enough to get me to see it.
With executive producer Zach Braff on board, “Video Games: The Movie” is a documentary about the evolution of video games from Atari and “Pong” to Xbox and Playstation and games like “Halo” and “Call Of Duty”. Along the way you get interviews with the people that developed these systems and a visualization of where video games could be going in the future. As a video game aficionado, this appears to be a valiant attempt and displaying this medium in a feature film presentation.
How do these low budget, poor quality films get such awareness when other limited release fare are far superior and are never recognized whatsoever? “The Virgins” is a poorly produced comedy about a couple that has waited for marriage to consummate their love, but when the husband finds out he is to ship out for the Army the day after his wedding, the pressure is on to make it happen before he leaves. Getting locked out of their cabin and ending up with strangers, there is literally nothing redeeming about this trailer.