Theatrical Releases: Annabelle & Gone Girl

GONE GIRL || October 3rd, 2014

Annabelle-poster “The Conjuring” is one of the best horror movies to come out of the past decade, so the bar for “Annabelle” was set pretty high. Unfortunately, this horror film feels like it was rushed through writing and producing, ending up a little bit too cliche, with forgettable characters, a weak storyline, and not enough doll presence, at least that is not accompanied by some conjuring or demon as well. The horror elements are there and the scares are set up quite expertly, but with nothing to support them structurally, there really is no comparing this to James Wan’s masterpiece from which this was born.

GoneGirl-poster For those of us that have not read Gillian Flynn’s best selling thriller, “Gone Girl” is a new experience and for any film with a twist, that works in the favor of the newcomers. With all eyes on David Fincher following his recent success in the past few years, the auteur director packs a nice punch in this thriller, allowing the audience to be drawn into this dark world and constantly messing with their expectations. The fact that author Gillian Flynn also adapted the screenplay helps streamline the story and make it consumable by general audiences. A standout performance from Rosamond Pike, who finally takes a step into the spotlight sets this apart from all other thrillers this year and even Ben Affleck plays along nicely. “Gone Girl” is definitely not the film I thought I would be, with expert marketing giving absolutely nothing away and even duping the audience slightly a bit more.
TheGoodLie-poster Reese Witherspoon has delivered enough solid performances throughout her career for me to be drawn to her work no matter what it is. Now with “The Good Lie”, she plays a woman tasked with assimilating Sudanese refugees to American culture and helping them to get the rest of their family to safety. Although this becomes more their show than hers, just having her in the film should draw some viewers who are on the fence. Following in the footsteps of all the feel-good, displacement dramas that have come before it, like “The Blind Spot” and “Million Dollar Arm”, this will not break expectations and will likely land as an admirable addition to that genre.
RENTAL
GoodMarriage-poster With a screenplay actually written by Stephen King, based on one of his novella entries in the collection “Full Dark, No Stars”, “A Good Marriage” looks like just another King adaptation gone wrong. King is my favorite author of all time but there is something about adapting his work to the big screen that never quite catches on (barring a hand full like “Shawshank Redemption”, “The Green Mile”, and “The Shining”… which was actually nothing like the book). Setting up another “Gone Girl” atmosphere of a married couple not actually knowing what the other one does, the story that the trailer leads on feels a little too like to hold much attention, but perhaps a twist exists that allows this to be worthy of a viewing.
50% PROBABLY
LeftBehind-poster In another attempt at a rapture movie, “Left Behind” takes another stab at the best-selling book series originally brought to the theater by Kirk Cameron. This time, Nicolas Cage steps into the pilot’s seat, literally, as he plays an airline attendant on a flight when the rapture occurs. Following the same plot points as the previous iterations, people disappear, planes crash, homeless signs read “the end is near here”, and the characters attempt to make sense of a world where God only protects those that believe. With Cage being one of my favorite actors, I am willing to give this a chance, but I can tell already it is probably not going to be good.
25% MAYBE
MenWomenAndChildren-poster Following “Juno” and “Up In The Air”, director Jason Reitman has been struggling to find his foothold in the industry with “Young Adult” and “Labor Day” both failing to garner critical acclaim. And although hopes were high for his latest, “Men, Women, & Children” which takes a distinct look at the world of social media and the seclusion that comes along with it, critics are less than pleased about this entry into his filmography as well. What looks to be an attempt at “Crash” meets the internet age, there are enough familiar faces in this, like Adam Sandler and Judy Greer, to make it worth a viewing but sadly, it is not the boundary-pushing, award-winning work we were hoping from Reitman.
THEATER

23Blast-poster Based on an inspiring true story or not, “23 Blast” looks like a Hallmark movie original, with melodrama dripping out of every pore. Following two best friends whose lives are nothing but football, the unthinkable happens when one of them suddenly becomes blind. That turn in the trailer follows a long line of jokes and melodramatic moments in which they get the blind guy back on the field playing football. As heartwarming as this may be, I would much rather go meet the actual guy this is based on and hear him tell me about rather than watch this independent film butcher the story by making it feel like a Lifetime movie rather than a well told drama.
PASS
AmericanMuscle-poster “American Muscle” is a revenge flick of the most basic variety. As the lead gets out of jail, he seeks revenge on everyone, even those that he loves, for some reason that is never quite expressed in the trailer (unless I missed it which is wholly possible). Turning to fast cars, bar fights, and shotguns, he heads out to kill men and woman alike. With no recognizable stars apart from a woman who I mistook for someone on “Game Of Thrones”, this really is the straight-to-DVD action flick that it promises to be.
PASS
TheBlueRoom-poster At its core, “The Blue Room” is a drama about an adulterous man who has an affair behind the back of his wife. Often getting kinky while engaged in this affair, with lip biting that draws blood, the rest of the film becomes a mystery, involving what could be a disappearance or a murder. That mysterious element of this foreign film is actually what draws me in, making me wonder exactly where this story ends up. With a trailer just as cryptic as its potential story, actor and director Mathieu Amalric delves into this thrilling world of marriage and affairs which appears to be the theme of this week’s new releases.
25% MAYBE
Copenhagen-poster “Copenhagen” feels like that really so-so independent film that actors make before they finally take off. Even though we have seen actor Gethin Anthony in “Game Of Thrones”, he has yet to land as a recognizable actor and with a strong showing already in this trailer, alongside actress newcomer Frederikke Dahl Hansen, there is a chance that this could project them in a successful way despite this film probably not following suit. Built around a love story between the two main characters, the issue of age and maturity comes into play with Gethin dealing with his stunted coming of age.
25% MAYBE
DemonsRook-poster Some horror films exist only to see how gory they can get and “The Demon’s Rook” is one of those films. Complete with throat thrashing revenge and actual skin eating zombies, the trailer for the film is already so grotesque, it is hard to imagine how far the blood and guts actually go in the film. Low budget horror often produces these films, with the challenge to honor the best in horror, like say George Romero and his classic, gross out horror movies by reproducing as much as possible from those films. But with nothing standing out besides this shock value the film feels mishandled and way too disturbing.
PASS
DriveHard-poster Somehow I continue to hold out hope that John Cusack’s best days are not behind him. That being said, I know for a fact that his new film “Drive Hard” will not be putting him back on the map. But even so, with a big name co-star in Thomas Jane and an interesting enough plot involving a bank robbery turned to car chase, “Drive Hard” is not as dismal as say some of Nicolas Cage’s career moves have taken him. Because of this hope I still hold for Cusack, I will continue to enjoy him in these little Indie films until his rise from the ashes that will put him back in films where he can actually shine.
50% PROBABLY
ForThoseInPeril-poster “For Those In Peril” is an independent drama that I really want to like and be excited for, but unfortunately there is something missing to cause that reaction. The subject matter is definitely heavy enough, telling the tale of a young man that goes out to sea with a crew and is the only one to return. Dealing with loss and survivor’s guilt, he attempts to continue a normal life of dating and living with his mother, but there is a sense of melancholy about him and due to superstition, he is labeled as a misfit by the town. These days, with so many films coming out, it is hard to rely on just one emotional tone and while the film’s story definitely stands out, nothing else quite does.
PASS
Harmontown-poster Not being a fan of the television series “Community” (at least not yet), the name Dan Harmon was foreign to me before seeing the trailer for “Harmontown”, the new documentary chronicling the writer’s journey on a stand-up tour across the country along with his popular podcast. Displaying this extremely eccentric man who sets off on this tour without any stand-up prepared, hoping it will come to him when he goes out on stage, the self-destructive nature of Harmon is highlighted perfectly by the actors and showrunners that have worked with him and are interviewed in the film as well. With Harmon being this unbelievable real life person, it is hard not to want to see how this will turn out.
25% MAYBE
TheHeroOfColorCity-poster Trading in toys for color crayons, “The Hero Of Color City” directly borrows from Disney’s “Toy Story” with its premise that when little Ben goes to sleep all his crayons come to life. With big name voices like Christina Ricci and Wayne Brady, it is baffling still how low quality this film actually ends up being. The lesson to be learned, sadly, is that if you are not Disney, Pixar, Dreamworks, or one of the major animation studios, then chances are you should probably not be making animated feature films, because they just end up clunky and borderline unwatchable. This should be on PBS for children to watch, not in theaters.
PASS
InnerDemons-poster As I have stated on more than one occasion, I am super lenient on horror films, because of the fact that some of the lesser produced ventures in the genre turn out to actually be quite terrifying. “Inner Demons” has some valid additions to the genre that make the independent quality nature of the film feel slightly less in the spotlight. Taking the demonic possession genre out of the household is huge, where an AA meeting turns into the possession on display, this time for strangers rather than loved ones. Drawing huge comparisons to possession and drug use, the trippy nature of drugs mixed with the insane world of possessions feels like a natural mix.
25% MAYBE
NasTimeIsIllmatic-poster “Nas: Time Is Illmatic” is the new documentary out chronicling the rise of rapper Nas, who grew up on the streets of Queensbridge in New York and always dreamed of making it into the music industry. Nothing is more inspiring than men and women with rough backgrounds, either growing up in the ghetto where they could easily become a drug dealer or worse, or just growing up in rough situations in general, and somehow following their dreams and becoming a huge influence in people’s lives. Nas has definitely done that and in the film he returns to the streets that he came from to offer up some advice to the youth, all while being honored by the artists like Busta Rhymes and Pharrell, who have followed in his wake.
PASS
RedArmy-poster Produced by Werner Herzog, the documentary “Red Army” takes a look at the history of hockey in the Soviet Union and the political elements that have surrounded the sport for years. Normally I would pass on this sort of straightforward documentary, but one review had me thinking differently: “A sports doc for people who don’t give a damn about sports” (Jason Groeber, Twitch Film). With that sort of endorsement and Herzog behind the film in some capacity, I do have a slight urge to check out the film, as hockey apparently does not take front and center but simply offers insight into the country’s history.
PASS

THEATER

  • Annabelle
  • Gone Girl
  • Men, Women, & Children

RENTAL

  • The Good Lie

MOST LIKELY CATCH ON NETFLIX (75%)

PROBABLY CATCH ON NETFLIX (50%)

  • Drive Hard
  • A Good Marriage

MIGHT CATCH ON NETFLIX (25%)

  • The Blue Room
  • Copenhagen
  • Harmontown
  • Inner Demons
  • Left Behind

PASS

  • 23 Blast
  • American Muscle
  • The Demon’s Rook
  • For Those In Peril
  • The Hero Of Color City
  • Nas: Time Is Illmatic
  • Red Army

HELL NO

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