Theatrical Releases: The Maze Runner, This Is Where I Leave You, & A Walk Among The Tombstones

THE MAZE RUNNER || September 19th, 2014

TheMazeRunner-poster Since the boom in young adult adaptations, I have kept an open mind and have continuously given these films a shot, despite the low depths that they can sink to. “The Maze Runner”, however close it looks to the previous onslaught of these films at least tucks away the districts or divisions and places its dystopian future in a giant maze. Of course, it has to be filled with monsters called Grievers and of course, everything changes when the main character shows up, but for one these young adult films, enough is different to warrant at least one viewing.
THEATER
ThisIsWhereILeaveYou-poster Originally, when the trailer came out, “This Is Where I Leave You” looked like it could possibly land in my best of the year, with a great cast and a great mixture of comedy and drama. However, reviews have not been kind for the film and already I feel like this may not live up to my high hopes. Featuring Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Adam Driver, and Corey Stall as siblings that return home when their father passes away. One of his dying wishes is to have the family in one place for a week, so matriarch Jane Fonda oversees this and the hilarity and drama ensues. Although this will likely not be exactly what I wanted it to, it still looks quite enjoyable.
THEATER
Tracks-poster Part of me is a little saddened after reading the truth about the story “Tracks” is based on, stating that the real Robyn Davidson did not have romantic feelings for the National Geographic photographer that she met along the journey. However, the Weinsteins must not have been able to put Mia Wasikowska and Adam Driver on screen together without getting some chemistry out of them. Based on the true story of a woman leaving her city life behind to go on 2,000 mile Australian desert walk, all you have to do is cut M83’s “Outro” to a trailer and you have an emotional hook to sell your film.
THEATER
Tusk-poster Kevin Smith’s work has never quite caught on with me but now he delivers the horror film about turning someone into a walrus that we never knew we needed, titled “Tusk”. Starring Justin Long, this idea originated from Smith’s podcast Smodcast where Smith came across the story of a man posting a Craigslist ad requesting someone move in with him, wear a walrus costume, and only ever speak like walrus. Truth be told, I am sure that is miniscule on the list of creepy things on Craigslist. Regardless, “Tusk” looks strange enough to work and for that I will continue to give Kevin Smith’s work a fair shot.
THEATER
AWalkAmongTheTombstones-poster Liam Neeson is his own genre of film now. Ever since his strong statement into a phone during Luc Besson’s first “Taken”, Neeson has carried with him the same bad ass demeanor to every film since. Sit and think about all the films he has been in since that he utters killer words into a phone. In the slow burn, noir-like thriller “A Walk Among The Tombstones”, one would be hard pressed not to notice Neeson’s same old schtick and it works. His brooding former detective turned unlicensed private eye looks for the killers of a man’s wife, and what turns out to be serial women killers described as inhuman. What feels like a feature length episode of “True Detective” is still some strong work from Neeson.

20000DaysOnEarth-poster Nick Cave is a composer, mostly known for his collaborations with directors John Hillcoat and Andrew Dominick. Now, in his pseudo-documentary “20,000 Days On Earth” we attempt to get to know the man behind the music. I say pseudo-documentary because after you see the trailer, you wonder if its real or not. Shot in a very cinematic way, Cave plays himself living through a day in his life, but for the most part it is staged, with longtime friends Warren Ellis, Ray Winstone, and Kylie Minogue making appearances. Despite my love for the artist, I will strictly stick to enjoying his compositions in film.
PASS
ArtAndCraft-poster A real life “Catch Me If You Can” straight from the art world, “Art and Craft” is about the counterfeiter and con artist Mark Landis and the one of the registrars that he duped, Matthew Leininger, who is now after him. Landis creates these impressive replications of famous artists using only colored pencils. Yet, when he donates these works of counterfeit art, they are accepted as real. Going across the country to continue this hoax, it is amazing that with his face everywhere that people still buy into his work. My question is if he is not making money off these people, which is why he probably has not been arrested for it, how does he make his money?
25% MAYBE
Asmodexia-poster In this day and age of horror films, it is simply not enough to just be a straight up exorcism film. “Asmodexia” proves that. A foreign film following an exorcist for five days as he travels with his granddaughter through the Barcelona area, the film tends to use gore and grotesque images instead of solid, must-see eeriness. Blood and guts are abundant in the trailer alone so I cannot imagine what the entire feature must be like. To top it off, the quality of the makeup is not quite up to par and sadly reveals the artist’s brushstrokes.
PASS
AutumnBlood-poster From the poster for “Autumn Blood” I can tell whatever distributor bought the rights was trying to overproduce it. Because as you watch the trailer, you get a glimpse at the depth and independent feel of the film while the poster makes it out to be some high octane action movie. Actually, the film follows two young orphans living in the Tirolian Mountains by themselves, as Peter Stormare and his hunter friends take the tiny little town under siege. Tormenting these children, the film has such a layer of darkness too it, with coming of age being tainted with murder and rape, that the depth I mentioned is in full unadulterated form.
75% MOST LIKELY
DrCabbie-poster Bollywood meets Hollywood in this international comedy titled “Dr. Cabbie”. When an Indian doctor moves to New York City and cannot find a job, he finds himself stereotypically driving a cab. After delivering a baby in the back of the taxi and becoming a local hero, he turns his cab into a doctor’s office on wheels. Normally, Bollywood films escape me, but with a perfect blend between Indian and American filmmaking, including recognizable stars like Adrianne Palicki and Kunal Nayyar, this ends up looking mildly appealing instead of going completely over my head like most Bollywood films.
PASS
FatSickAndNearlyDead2-poster Joe Cross is the man taking credit for the current juice bar craze sweeping the world, after his first film, “Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead”. Now, four years later, he returns with the sequel, “Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead 2” where he travels the world to talk about his juicing. I support anything that gets people healthier but watching a documentary about it seems rather counter-intuitive. However, my favorite part of this trailer is the woman stating she hates vegetables and that they are gross.
PASS
FortBliss-poster Michelle Monaghan makes it so easy to watch her films. A master at playing gritty female roles, Monaghan has not had her chance to be recognized yet, but if she keeps up with films like “Fort Bliss” where shes plays an Army medic returning home after deployment to play single mom with her son that barely knows her, she is definitely on track for some awards buzz. What feels like a mixture of several films, including “The Hurt Locker” and “Trucker”, and also starring Ron Livingston, this film should tug at enough emotions and covers enough controversial topics to be worth the watch.
25% MAYBE
TheGuest-poster One of my favorite things about Hollywood is how quickly talented people show up and get carried off by the current. Dan Stevens, who just starred supporting in “A Walk Among The Tombstones”, also stars lead in Adam Wingard’s (“You’re Next”) new film, “The Guest”. Showing up on the doorstep claiming to be their son’s Army buddy, Stevens places suave and creepy with ease. With Wingard at the help and the talented Stevens on his way to becoming a household name, this is one of those rare independent films that looks absolutely amazing.
THEATER
HectorAndTheSearchForHappiness-poster With a cast like Simon Pegg, Rosamund Pike, Toni Collette, Christopher Plummer, Jean Reno, and Stellan Skarsgard, you cannot help but want to see “Hector and the Search for Happiness”. Bringing Pegg’s off-beat humor to the for front and gags like a woman’s accent making it sound like she is saying “a penis” instead of “happiness”, there is something magical about this otherwise textbook drama about love and searching for the meaning of life. One thing I am sure of is that I want to see more of Rosamund Pike and am really hoping for her to breakout in “Gone Girl” and get the recognition that she deserves.
50% PROBABLY
Iceman2014-poster Martial arts films can be intriguing but “Iceman” attempts to bring time travel into the mix and at that point it loses a little bit of its luster. Donnie Yen, apparently a big name in the world of martial arts is not an actor that I am familiar with, so relying on that name alone is not enough to sell me. The story follows a hero frozen for years and awoken centuries later to return to saving people. With an action packed trailer, one knows what they are getting into with this film and with gravity defying fight sequence, this is your standard Japanese martial arts fare.
PASS
KeepOnKeepinOn-poster What is likely a very emotional and informative documentary about the legendary jazz musician Clark Terry (93 years old) and his friendship with Justin Kauflin (23 years old), a young piano prodigy, also looks slightly forced and slightly stale. With Kauflin’s piano in the hospital room with Terry before his upcoming surgery, the melodramatic red flag is slightly raised. But these are impressive musicians who prove that even as or after you lose your sight nothing can stop you from following your dreams and I am glad they are getting their time in the light.
PASS
LifesABreeze-poster What a great concept for nice little independent film. In an attempt to do something nice for his aging mother, Colm and his family clean up her house, throwing things away, and updating items like her mattress. But when she returns to the home makeover she reveals that their was a fortune hidden in that mattress close to a million dollars. “Life’s A Breeze” follows the antics of the family as they search for the bed, which eventually leads to the entire country looking for the bed as well.
PASS
Pump-poster2 Since 1994 there have been Flex Fuel cars in production, that run off of alternate fuels than oil. And like the electric car debacle, the general public becomes even more aware how corrupt our nation actually is. What will it take for gas company monopolies to be taken down? What will it take for electric cars and local fuels to take precedent over foreign oil? As time goes on, it becomes abundantly clear that an old man mentality is running our nation when really the younger generation has it right, in supporting things like gay marriage, readily available birth control, and renewable resources for fuel.
25% MAYBE
Reclaim-poster2 John Cusack continues his era of being a villain, this time in “Reclaim”, playing a bad guy alongside Jacki Weaver as they set couples up with a child for adoption, get their money, and then make off with the kid and do it all over again. The couple in this film is Ryan Phillippe and Rachelle Lefevre (“Under The Dome”). It is nice to see Lefervre get work as “Under The Dome” leaves much to be desired from everyone involved. With a cast like this set in a tropical location, it really is hard to say no.
50% PROBABLY
SarnosLifeInDirtyMovies-poster Completing one film per week should tell you how low quality the films are that you are making. Showing the relationship between director Joe Sarno and his wife Peggy, and the industry of softcore pornography that they have worked their way through, the documentary focuses on Sarno’s work through the 1960’s and his latest project that he is having trouble producing. “The Sarnos: A Life In Dirty Movies” says it all in the title and even though softcore pornography is definitely not like it used to be, Sarno attempts to bring it back to its glory days.
PASS
TheScribbler-poster Based on a graphic novel that I have never heard of, “The Scribbler” is a science fiction action film which sees lead character Suki trying an experimental procedure to get rid of her multiple personalities and in doing so, appears to open up a world all its own, with monsters and shining lights galore. With some interesting visuals and an eclectic cast including Katie Cassidy, Michelle Trachtenberg, Eliza Dushku, Gina Gershon, Sasha Grey, and Garrett Dillahunt, I may just have to see this film to see what it is all about.
25% MAYBE
SpaceStation76-poster A raunchy science fiction comedy set in space during the 1970’s, “Space Station 76” sounds impossibly funny and the trailer displays the entire retro feel of the film along with its dark, sexy humor. Starring Patrick Wilson, Liv Tyler, Marisa Coughlan, Jerry O’Connell, and Jack Plotnick, one gets the feel of films like “Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy”, “Spaceballs”, and “Galaxy Quest”. With an R-rating and some very funny moments in the trailer like an epic countdown for a cigarette lighter and a beer serving robot, this should deliver at least minimal laughs.
50% PROBABLY
StopThePoundingHeart-poster Described as half-fiction, half-documentary, “Stop The Pounding Heart”, a film that debuted at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival tells the somewhat true story of a young woman dealing with an arranged marriage in rural Texas. Filmed with non-professional actors in their actual homes, the film covers themes of coming of age and dealing with religion despite strong gut feelings. My curiosity is mildly spiked just to see what is captured on film, wondering how much is real and how much is fake.
25% MAYBE
SwimLittleFishSwim-poster Why are movie wives always so damn insecure? Every time an attract female is brought into a family household, it is always the wife that has the shifty eyes and instantly does not trust her husband. If the male has done something previously where the wife has a right to be suspicious, then great, there is a reason. But otherwise it really becomes this level of insecurity that becomes almost a self-fulfilling prophecy, driving the man into the attractive woman’s arms. “Swim Little Fish Swim” touches on this idea, and much like “Breathe In”, centers around musical people with ambitions.
PASS
TheZeroTheorem-poster Teaming visionary director Terry Gillam with extraordinary character actor Christoph Waltz is simply a match made in heaven. Allowing Waltz to completely lose control in his role and allowing Gillam to push the envelope completely, “The Zero Theorem” is a science fiction venture that sees Waltz as a computer genius tasked to a mysterious project, which is to prove that the zero theorem is correct. The theorem basically boils down to life meaning absolutely nothing but with Waltz forming relationships in the film, this theorem becomes counter-intuitive to the process of living. Also starring Matt Damon, Tilda Swinton, and Mélanie Thierry, like with all Gillam’s work, I will see it eventually but feel no need to rush out.
25% MAYBE

THEATER

  • The Guest
  • The Maze Runner
  • This Is Where I Leave You
  • Tracks
  • Tusk
  • A Walk Among The Tombstones

RENTAL

MOST LIKELY CATCH ON NETFLIX (75%)

  • Autumn Blood

PROBABLY CATCH ON NETFLIX (50%)

  • Hector And The Search For Happiness
  • Reclaim
  • Space Station 76

MIGHT CATCH ON NETFLIX (25%)

  • Art And Craft
  • Fort Bliss
  • Pump
  • The Scribbler
  • Stop The Pounding Heart
  • The Zero Theorem

PASS

  • 20,000 Days On Earth
  • Asmodexia
  • Dr. Cabbie
  • Fat, Sick, And Nearly Dead 2
  • Iceman
  • Keep On Keepin’ On
  • Life’ A Breeze
  • The Sarnos: A Life In Dirty Movies
  • Swim Little Fish Swim

HELL NO

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