Theatrical Releases: The Book Of Life & Fury

FURY || October 17th, 2014

TheBestOfMe-poster Said to be one of the worst Nicholas Sparks adaptations yet, “The Best Of Me” sees young love ripped apart only to meet back up again 20 years later. Roping James Marsden and Michelle Monaghan into the lead adult roles, once again under question is a strange twist at the end of the film, which was also prevalent in “Safe House”. Despite all this, ever since “The Notebook”, these melodramatic love stories have captivated me in the most basic of ways and for that I will continue to give them a shot. It really is too bad, however, that all this talent is being wasted here.
RENTAL
Birdman-poster Michael Keaton makes a huge comeback in this buzz worthy, critically acclaimed masterpiece of a film titled “Birdman” or “The Unexpected Virtue Of Ignorance”. The biggest feat of this film is the pairing of Academy Award nominated director Alejandro González Iñárritu with Academy Award winning cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, who take it upon themselves to seamlessly transition this film into looking like one continuous shot. With standout performances from Edward Norton, Emma Stone, and Naomi Watts, this jaunt in poking fun at Hollywood and critics alike will definitely be talked about come awards season.
TheBookOfLife-poster Speaking of awards season, many are saying that the Guillermo Del Toro produced animated film “The Book Of Life” is so brilliant in color and depth that it will likely land as one of the five animated feature nominations. With a voice cast consisting of Zoe Saldana, Channing Tatum, and Ice Cube, the story delves into strong Mexican culture as two men fight over the same woman, with one being sent to the world of the dead where he must prove his worthiness to return to the woman that he loves. Bright colors and great animation styling are what will get me in the theater to see this film.
THEATER
Fury-poster David Ayer paints a vivid picture of the dour reality of war. With era appropriate tanks, dirt covered garb covering the soldiers, and a desaturated cinematography that provides a drab brilliance, there is a sense of turmoil and despair instilled into each and every frame of the film. Combined with career defining performances, “Fury” reminds us what perfect war films should be while just falling short of becoming a classic in its own right.

CampXray-poster Slowly but surely, Kristen Stewart wriggles her way free from the binds that her dismal “Twilight” franchise strapped her with. In “Camp X-Ray” she plays a female soldier who makes a connection with one of the in-mates on her detail. Where is she stationed? Why Guantanamo Bay of course. Finally becoming the woman and actress we always wanted her to be, from the trailer she looks to immerse herself in the role. Although probably not carrying the gravitas of similar war films like “Zero Dark Thirty”, this could still be a captivating little Indie.
THEATER
CultureHigh-poster “The Culture High” makes some strong points about the media and if they are not questioning authority than what is the point, but the documentary’s main point about marijuana is a bit jumbled, with no clear delineation as to what the point of the film is, or perhaps I missed it. The production quality of the film looks great and the people being interviewed, including Snoop Dogg, are very articulate. But in a documentary calling for change, I am already unsure what that exact change is supposed to be.
PASS
DearWhitePeople-poster Read enough positive reviews about a particular film and you begin to get the sense that you are missing something about avoiding that film. I would not say I am avoid “Dear White People”, but from the trailer it did not scream out to me. But as the critics continue to stamp it with their endorsement, I continue to grow more and more intrigued. Following a young black woman running a radio station at a college filled with predominantly white people, her no filter, no prisoner attitude should make for some hilarious, if not eye-opening exchanges.
RENTAL
Default-poster Found footage has found its way into the thriller genre with the hijacking film “Default”. A high profile television star is preparing to head home after shooting in a tropical location when their plane is hijacked. Using all the cameras from the shoot, this shaky footage, first person view is basically “Captain Phillips” on a plane. The interesting thing here is that this very raw independent feature has a rising star of David Oyelowo (“The Butler”) playing the leader of the hijackers, so for that it will probably fall a bit more on the watchable side, but still does not give it enough bang for your buck.
PASS
Diplomacy-poster Believe it or not, but the character of General Dietrich von Choltitz in the film “Diplomacy” is actually based on an actual General in the Nazi Army who was ordered to leave the city of Paris in a pile of rumble if it were to come under Allies occupation. The film version of this story is based on a successful stage play and it shows, having guessed that halfway through the trailer as the screenplay focuses on two main characters in one room having a heated discussion about the fate of Paris. Although interesting in its own right, this foreign language film sounds much more interesting on paper than it does in production.
PASS
EternityTheMovie-poster At first glance, I was almost positive “Eternity: The Movie” was the latest feature from Tim and Eric, with the film’s poster looking exactly like the duo. Instead, the film is a just as preposterous comedy about a singing duo in the ’80s with strong gay undertones. This is one of those films and openly pokes fun at itself and exists as a satire of an era and maybe even a genre of movies, while weaving its own story. Feeling like a low budget “Night At The Roxbury” or “Hot Rod”, it borrows from these films without ever really capitalizing on them.
PASS
EveryThreeSeconds-poster “Every Three Seconds” is a documentary about the steps that can be taken by all ages, by all races, by people from all over the world, to end poverty for those struggling in Third World countries. Even a young British boy finds himself raising money for the cause because he feels so strongly about. Another woman helps laborers harvest corn to produce meals for the needy. And other women lobby large corporations in hopes of donations. The imagery is a bit higher quality than one would see in a sad donation commercial, but with “Available now for the Classroom – Educational DVD” listed below the video, this appears to be more for schools than it is for general consumption.
PASS
Felony-poster Honor and justice; two ideas that are the source of conflict in many of today’s police thrillers. In “Felony,” a up-and-coming police officer played by Joel Edgerton takes a bullet to the vest during a drug bust, so to let off steam afterwards, the entire squad goes out to celebration. However, Edgerton makes the mistake of driving home and drunk and allegedly runs over a man on a motorcycle on the way home. What follows is your basic thriller of Tom Wilkinson trying to help a friend by covering up the incident, while Jai Courtney plays the detective trying to nail Edgerton for the crime. With a brilliant cast, this could almost be a high profile film if it did not feel so thin.
PASS
FreewayCrackInTheSystem-poster Pulling on the same threads as the recently released “Kill The Messenger”, the film based on the same topic starring Jeremy Renner, “Freeway: Crack In The System” is a documentary telling the same origin stories about the crack epidemic and the governments alleged involvement in those origins. With interviews with men directly involved in the dawning of crack in South Central California as well as prior interviews with the journalist Gary Webb who was one of the first people to write about the incident and who “Kill The Messenger” was actually based on.
PASS
GuardianAngel-poster Independent films do not get much more low budget than this. “Guardian Angel” feels like a second rate follow-up to “The Equalizer” which also sees a capable man go after the bad guys to help out a woman in need. Except where “Equalizer” had an enormous star like Denzel Washingon, this film has Bokeem Woodbine in a very supporting role as a detective. Films do not come much less inspired than this. When even the trailer is hard to watch, the thought of actually watching the film becomes unbearable to fathom.
PASS
Housebound-poster Normally British comedy does not appeal to me, but one thing that have been able to get right is horror comedy. “Shaun Of The Dead” is the perfect example, which ties zombies to comedy in a way that ushered in films like “Zombieland” and “Warm Bodies”. Now they delve into the world of the paranormal with “Housebound,” as a house arrest turns into a young woman facing off with the spirits haunting her mother’s house. Producing humorous jokes is mildly important, but what is key is making the scares truly scary, showing the best of both the genres they are trying to emulate.
PASS
ListenUpPhilip-poster The faded and cynical world of “Listen Up Philip” is a hipster’s dream, with the clothing and hate-everything attitudes to boot. What makes it truly fascinating, however, is the brilliant young cast of characters in Jason Schwartzman, Elisabeth Moss, and Krysten Ritter. Jason plays a self-absorbed author preparing for the success of his second novel. When offered a chance to escape to his idol’s summer home, he welcomes the peace and quiet away from the city and his photographer girlfriend. What follows will, I can only assume, define his character. Call me game for dramas that challenge the norm, but this film remains mostly attractive because of its cast.
RENTAL
PrivateViolence-poster The documentary “Private Violence” attempts to get the word out about domestic violence through the work of one woman who was herself beaten by her significant other and has now become an advocate for the cause to stop it. Focusing on another woman’s case, whose truck driver husband beat her and her child, the documentary feels small but does represent a lot of domestic violence throughout the country. How that many men could get away with beating that many women is beyond me and really makes me feel for those women that are faced with death by the hands of the people that they love.
PASS
RunningWithDemons-poster Often documentaries run the risk of delivering too much of their stories in the trailer and therefore rendering their films obsolete because the viewer feels like they have learned enough from the trailer alone to feel fine about not actually seeing the film. Obviously if the subject matter clicks with you on any level, there is a chance you will see the movie anyway. But if you are on the fence and that trailer tells you everything you want to know, then what is the point. “Running With Demons” tells the story of a drug addict turned marathon runner that became the only man in the world to finish the Hawaii Ultra Man. While completely inspirational, I feel like I can admire this man’s effort without actually seeing his film.
PASS
Rudderless-poster Starring in William H. Macy’s directorial debut, “Ruddlerless,” Billy Crudup plays a father dealing with the sudden death of his son. His son happened to be a songwriter and coming across his work, Crudup decides to learn the songs and play them in public, catching the eye of a much younger musician in Anton Yelchin. Together they start a band, with Crudup’s deceased son’s music leading their way. What promises to be a strong emotional jaunt into the work of musicians just happens to contain some really spectacular actors and with Macy choosing this as his debut film, there has to be something special about it.
50% PROBABLY
SummerOfBlood-poster As far as vampire comedies go, “Summer Of Blood” does not look half bad. Written, directed by, and starring Onur Tukel, who plays a socially awkward asshole whose fear of commitment and generally cynical view on everything drives women away. That is until he is bitten by a vampire and embraces the life style, as he feeds on blood and turns plenty of people around him into vampires as well. The comedy style is rather dead pan but with that comes some great moments. Also, not being rated also works in the films favor, with promises of plenty of attractive women.
25% MAYBE
TheTaleOfThePrincessKaguya-poster From Studio Ghibli comes their latest animated feature, “The Tale Of The Princess Kaguya”. Much less visually dynamic then their previous installments like “The Wind Rises” and “Spirited Away”, “Princess Kaguya” has a much more hand drawn effect to its animation, with many scenes looking almost unfinished, making it feel rather dated. However, the story telling of a film from Studio Ghibli must not be underestimated and should definitely make up for what is lacking in the animation department. And you never know if this feature will catch on enough to be nominated for Best Animated Feature at this year’s Academy Awards. PASS
TownDreadedSundown_OneSheet_OCT16_F.indd Decades after slasher flicks like “Friday the 13th”, “Nightmare on Elm Street” and even “Scream,” horror directors are still attempting to find that next big recognizable serial killer. Of all that fare that comes out every year, especially around Halloween time, the killer in “The Town That Dreaded Sundown” is at least surrounded with enough positives to make it somewhat interesting. Based in a small town, what many people consider to be a ghost killing people is likely a human serial killer. Starring the amazingly gorgeous Addison Timlin and leaning hard into the elements that make these slasher films unique, this could possibly be a step in the right direction.
25% MAYBE
WatchersOfTheSky-poster Here is something most people do not learn about in their history classes: Raphael Lemkin, a Polish-Jewish lawyer was the man to coin the term genocide in the 1940s, begging for war mongers like Hitler to be held responsible for their actions and asking the question “why is the killing of a million a lesser crime than the killing of an individual?” The documentary “Watchers Of The Sky” sets out to show what impact this man had on our history and the world that produced a man that would finally stand up and do something.
PASS
YoungOnes-poster Chances are Jake Paltrow (younger brother of Gwyneth), has seen “Star Wars” and at least a hand full of Westerns. Even the poster for “Young Ones” is reminiscent of some of the stylistic choices made on the “Star Wars” posters as well. Sadly, however, even with an amazingly talented cast in Michael Shannon, Elle Fanning, Nicolas Hoult, and Kodi Smit-McPhee, the film feels a bit thin. In a future where water is scarce and robots replace your donkeys, Shannon plays a farmer with two kids, who finds himself in a fatal mess when his attempts to get a water pipeline redirected to his farm intertwine with his attempts to keep his young daughter away from the likes of Hoult. Not quite living up to any of the genres it is trying to emulate, there is enough here to remain entertaining but not enough to make it memorable in any real way.


THEATER

  • Birdman
  • The Book Of Life
  • Camp X-Ray
  • Fury
  • Young Ones

RENTAL

  • The Best Of Me
  • Dear White People
  • Listen Up Philip

MOST LIKELY CATCH ON NETFLIX (75%)

PROBABLY CATCH ON NETFLIX (50%)

  • Rudderless

MIGHT CATCH ON NETFLIX (25%)

  • Summer Of Blood
  • The Town That Dreaded Sundown

PASS

  • The Culture High
  • Default
  • Diplomacy
  • Eternity: The Movie
  • Every Three Seconds
  • Felony
  • Freeway: Crack In The System
  • Guardian Angel
  • Housebound
  • Private Violence
  • Running With Demons
  • The Tale Of The Princess Kaguya
  • Watchers Of The Sky

HELL NO

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