Theatrical Releases: As Above So Below & The November Man

AS ABOVE SO BELOW || August 29th, 2014

AsAboveSoBelow-poster Set on the track to be another horror disappointment this year, “As Above, So Below” actually muscles through its found-footage shakiness and delivers a unique adventure into the real life Paris catacombs. One part “Tomb Raider”, two parts “The Descent”, the plot follows a group of treasure hunters into the unknown. Unsure where the real catacombs end and the studio sets begin, the close quarters and claustrophobia really take hold and cause for some extremely stressful situations. Although the shaky cam gets nauseating at times, there is enough control and some stellar shot choices that eventually make up for it. And even though the characters are not entirely fleshed out, the ambiguous nature of the characters as well as their sordid pasts is worth the rather thin performances. So give yourself over to the white-knuckle, stomach-wrenching ride that is the hell of the Paris catacombs. (HORROR)

TheCalling0poster In the first of two new films starring Academy Award winner Susan Sarandon, “The Calling” sees her playing lead as an alcoholic sheriff in a quiet town when a serial killer comes through leaving clues on his dead bodies. Also starring Topher Grace, Oscar winner Ellen Burstyn, and Donald Sutherland, the cast is perfect for a small-time film such as this, with an intriguing story and the feel of (even though I have not seen it) small-town crime drama “Fargo” where the stakes are dark and the police are ill-prepared. (THRILLER)
50% PROBABLY
Ghostbusters30thAnniversay-poster Having never seen “Ghostbusters” on the big screen, I feel like there something to be said for a film where a team of paranormal ghost hunters fight a giant Stay Puft Marshmallow man on the big screen. Not fully capitalizing on this with the 3D or IMAX premiums tossed in, this is really just like an old movie house running reruns of the classics except major theater chains are chiming in, since it is the 30th Anniversary remastered version. Hopefully this will gauge public interest so they can get on with the third film. (COMEDY)

LastOfRobinHood-poster This Kevin Kline vehicle “The Last Of Robin Hood” sees Academy Award winner Susan Sarandon starring in the second of her two films out this weekend, this time in a supporting role for this true to life Hollywood story as the mother of a starlet named Beverly Aadland, played by the lovely Dakota Fanning, who catches the eye of a much older, much more famous actor named Errol Flynn (Kline). Despite her lack of skills, Flynn uses his leverage against the studios to get her put into films as he attempts to win her over. Fanning feels a little miscast in this role but that will not stop be from watching her in all her beauty, as well as witnessing Kline’s tour-de-force. (PERIOD DRAMA)
THEATER
LifeOfCrime-poster Ensemble cast, dark comedy capers are some of the best films ever made and getting such a brilliant cast together in “Life Of Crime” already solidifies that this will be a worthwhile trip to the movies. Here’s the story: Tim Robbins is leaving his wife, Jennifer Aniston, to be with Isla Fisher (at least he is trading up). Suddenly, three masked men, John Hawkes, Mos Def, and Mark Boone Junior (“Sons Of Anarchy”) kidnap Aniston for ransom. The catch is, Robbins does not want to pay as getting rid of his wife will save him from divorce and alimony. Thus, the caper ensues. Aniston and Fisher are gorgeous, Robbins looks in top form, and the pairing of Hawkes and Mos Def could be the best of year, so there is no way I will be missing this film. (DARK COMEDY)
THEATER
TheNovemberMan-poster Having played James Bond only twelve years ago, the now 60 year old Pierce Brosnan finds himself playing the washed up secret agent fighting a much younger assassin in “The November Man”. What feels more like a sequel, where the man he trained turns on him and is one of the biggest threats he has ever faced, this is something missing in having formed a strong connection between the adversaries, making the spy versus spy nature of the film lose a little bit of intensity. Olga Kurylenko (“Oblivion”) also stars as the sultry eye candy and makes this film only slightly more intriguing. (ACTION)
25% MAYBE

Canopy-poster Similar to the American version of “Behind Enemy Lines” starring Owen Wilson and Gene Hackman, this Australian film titled “Canopy” with the same sort of premise is set in 1942 Singapore where an Australian pilot goes down in enemy territory. Forced to navigate and fight through the dangerous jungle, this trailer remains void of any dialogue and as this could prove to add a weight to the film it also takes away a dynamic of initial interest coming out of the trailer. Were I to hear more about this film I could possibly be persuaded but for now I will pass. (PERIOD DRAMA)
PASS
Cantinflas-poster Truth be told, it is about time Hollywood found their untapped market in the Hispanic community. Honestly, it took them long enough to realize that films with predominantly Spanish-speaking casts, like surprise hit “Instructions Not Included”, are just what that demographic was waiting for. So seeing “Cantinflas” get the publicity it deserves makes me happy just in general. However, the feel looks slightly too goofy for my liking, producing the true story of title character and his rise to comedy fame through his Mexican upbringing to his Hollywood endeavors throughout his career. Having never heard of him and with little interest in the subject matter, this film is simply not oriented at me and that is completely fine. (FOREIGN PERIOD COMEDY)
PASS
TheCongress-poster Robin Wright plays a version of herself in this trippy science fiction drama. With an ailing son (Kodi Smit-McPhee) and an agent (Harvey Keitel) and producer (Danny Huston) breathing down her neck with a revolutionary new role for her to take on, “The Congress” blends live action with animation as Wright’s character is scanned into a computer and becomes her new persona. Not just blending mediums, the film also mixes reality with fiction, referencing Wright’s real life career with her role in “The Princess Bride” mentioned several times within the narrative. Also starring Paul Giamatti and Jon Hamm, this idea is just crazy enough to work. (SCI-FI)
25% MAYBE
TheDamned-poster Ten bucks says that at least one critic takes the tagline “heaven help us” and uses it negatively towards the film in a review (i.e. “heaven help us, indeed”). “The Damned” is the age old tale of a group people that area strangers to an area getting lost and stranded at an old hotel, only to find the residents hiding a young girl in a locked room in the basement. Letting her out, the strangers are warned that they will all die and one by one they become possessed by whatever demon possesses this little girl. On par with the big budget horror films coming out these days, and starring Peter Facinelli and Sophia Myles, this could be sub-par or this could be absolutely fucking terrible. (HORROR)
25% MAYBE
JamieMarksIsDead-poster How does a town react when the nerdy, picked on, outcast of high school, Jamie Marks, is suddenly found dead, half naked under a bridge? Better yet, how does an average high school boy named Adam (Cameron Monaghan) react when the deceased Jamie Marks comes to visit him one night? Forming a strong bond with Jamie’s ghost, Adam slowly loses touch with reality as though around him simply lose touch. You may recognize Cameron Monaghan (no relation to Michelle from what I could find) from his supporting role in “The Giver”. Also starring Judy Greer and Liv Tyler, if this dark coming of age film can capitalize on its premise, it might just be worthwhile. (DRAMA)
25% MAYBE
Jessabella-poster Blumhouse Productions gets its hands on yet another horror film, this time on “Jessabelle, a backwoods thriller which sees the title character, played by the mostly unknown Sarah Snook returning home in a wheelchair after a fatal crash with her boyfriend. Staying in her deceased mother’s room, she finds a tape of her mother (Joelle Carter of “Justified”) giving her a tarot card reading that leads to horrific events around her including her finding her own grave, along with her new friend, played by Mark Webber. Although IMDB now lists this film as coming out on November 7th, I figured since I was passing anyway and I had already watched the trailer, I would post it now and get it over with, so do not be surprised if you do not see this playing in your area for a few months. (HORROR)
PASS
KundoAgeOfTheRampant-poster Chinese or Japanese martial arts films can be great. In fact, mixing them into other genres like Westerns or action adventure films can be a recipe for a perfect film. But the films simply based on mythology and lore tend to run the gambit of being dull and repetitive, causing the mentality that if you have seen one, you have seen them all. “Kundo: Age Of The Rampant” is one of the films that has the fights and the lore, but ends up blending into all the other martial arts films that have come before it. With no stand out stars and a greyish brown color palate, this film feels flimsy at best. (FOREIGN MARTIAL ARTS)
PASS
LastWeekend-poster Patricia Clarkson should be enough to sell this film, “Last Weekend”, as she plays an eccentric mother of three sons as they gather at their Lake Tahoe cabin one last time before she sells it. With a smorgasbord of recognizable faces, including Fran Kranz (“The Cabin In The Woods”), Zachary Booth (“Damages”), Tara Thornton (“True Blood”), and Jayma Mays (“Heroes”, “Glee”), the dark comedy of the film is overshadowed by the depression with Clarkson’s character and what should be a dysfunctional family feast turns into what could be a heartbreaking drama. (DRAMA)
25% MAYBE
LeGrandCahier-poster Based on the trailer alone, I am tempted to see “Le Grand Cahier” or translated, “The Notebook” about two young boys living through the brutality of World War II with their heinous grandmother and an unbreakable bond with one another. In addition, this Hungarian film was on the Foreign Language Film shortlist for the 86th Academy Awards but never got nominated. Whenever foreign films are allowed to go dark, say like “Dogtooth” or “Bullhead”, they usually leave a lasting impression with me and this has the makings of something memorable. (FOREIGN PERIOD DRAMA)
25% MAYBE
Loft-poster Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes yes! Sorry, but this trailer for the thriller, titled “The Loft”, may have been harder than hell to find, but the film looks absolutely amazing and makes me wonder why the hell the advertising for this has not been everywhere. Wikipedia offered this statement: “Universal planned to release the film on August 29, 2014, but the studio has since pulled it from the schedule, and it will be released at another date.” Again, I will mention here just because I took the time to watch the trailer and loved it. Five men share five keys for a loft that they bring their mistresses to but when one of the mistresses turns up dead in the loft and when the wives find out, all hell breaks loose. The cast is absolutely phenomenal with such an array of talented actors and actresses. The five men include Karl Urban (“Star Trek”), James Marsdan (“X-Men”), Wentworth Miller (“Prison Break”), Eric Stonestreet (“Modern Family”), and Matthias Schoenaerts (“Bullhead”). Plus, in a degree of separation, Rachel Taylor (“Transformers”) and Isabel Lucas (“Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen”) also star and look as stunning as ever. Please Universal, release this film before the end of the year. (THRILLER)
THEATER
PatemaInverted-poster “Patema Inverted” might as well just be the anime remake of the 2013 film “Upside Down” starring Kirsten Dunst and James McAvoy. Taking a dramatic page out of Miyazaki’s book, Yasuhiro Yoshiura brings this world to life as a young girl finds herself snooping in a strange place that eventually causes her world to literally turn upside down, where her center of gravity makes the ground her sky, as she falls into the actual sky. Sought after by some sort of group, the young boy she comes across vows to protect her. Not being a huge fan of anime already, I would rather watch the live action film on which this is likely stealing its source material. (ANIME)
PASS
StarredUp-poster Three things lead to me possibly wanting to see “Starred Up”. First of all, the fact that prison drama is slowly becoming its own genre of film is quite intriguing to me. With the success of “Oz” back in the late ’90s, it should come at no surprise. Secondly, although approval ratings often mean very little to me, a 98% on Rotten Tomatoes makes it out to be enjoyable for the mass majority of critics and for that I am slightly intrigued. All of this is topped off by the continued success of Ben Mendelsohn in dramas like this. Catching my eye in “Killing Them Softly” and “The Place Beyond The Pines”, this versatile actor will someday find his way into the awards spotlight but for now, his inclusion in films like this one help to peak my interest. (DRAMA)
25% MAYBE
TheStrangeColorOfYourBodysTears-poster Described as classic Italian Giallo horror, “The Strange Color Of Your Body’s Tears” goes far beyond the peculiar nature of its title and goes full tilt into art-house escapism complete with extreme close-ups, intense music, and an odd plot referencing an “Alice In Wonderland” horror trip of a man looking for his missing wife. With the only discernible images in the trailer being a man breaking down the tiled wall in his bathroom and close-ups of eroticism and blood, the only way I would see this film would be on drugs and seeing as that rarely happens, I will have to bow out of this one. (EROTIC THRILLER)
PASS
TheStream-poster According to this poster and trailer, “The Stream” actually came out a year ago in October. Presented by Rainn Wilson and benefiting the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, the film follows a group of kids who idolize “Star Wars” and reenact the fight scenes with whiffle ball bats. Too bad the production quality of the film is so low because had the film been of a higher standard, I would hold more hope for this charity raiser, but since its thin and unkempt, there is no way people are going to pay to see this movie unless they are directly involved somehow. (COMEDY)
PASS
ThroughALensDarkly-poster Setting out to display the rise of the black people through archival photographs, “Through A Lens Darkly: Black Photographers And The Emergence Of A People” is narrated by black artists alike, discussing their struggles with the color of their skin with a backdrop of historical references in print. Though not entirely sure what exactly this documentary is setting out to do, it is tough for me be able to get behind a film that offers so little in terms of culture relevance while touting such in the title of the film. (DOCUMENTARY)
PASS
TwoTheStoryOfRomanAndNyro-poster When do you think the copy line “a documentary twelve years in the making” was added? If you answer was after the success of Richard Linklater’s dramatic film “Boyhood”, which also touted a twelve year production, then you would probably be correct. This Morgan Spurlock produced documentary titled “Two: The Story Of Roman & Nyro” may be centered around two highly intelligent and humorous little kids, but the real story is about their parents, who are somewhat well known gay men and their struggle to get the same rights as heterosexual partners. A little too manipulative and scripted, Spurlock is beginning to lose me. (DOCUMENTARY)
PASS

THEATER

  • As Above, So Below
  • Ghostbusters: 30th Anniversary
  • The Last Of Robin Hood
  • Life Of Crime
  • The Loft

RENTAL

MOST LIKELY CATCH ON NETFLIX (75%)

PROBABLY CATCH ON NETFLIX (50%)

  • The Calling

MIGHT CATCH ON NETFLIX (25%)

  • The Congress
  • The Damned
  • Jamie Marks Is Dead
  • Last Weekend
  • Le Grand Cahier (The Notebook)
  • The November Man
  • Starred Up

PASS

  • Canopy
  • Cantinflas
  • Jessabelle
  • Kundo: Age Of The Rampant
  • Patema Inverted
  • The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears
  • The Stream
  • Through A Lens Darkly: Black Photographers and the Emergence of a People
  • Two: The Story Of Roman and Nyro

HELL NO

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