Theatrical Releases: Ouija & John Wick

JOHN WICK || October 24th, 2014

Exists-poster “The director of The Blair Witch Project… takes you back to the woods.” The found footage genre exist because of director Eduardo Sanchez. And with the advent of GoPro cameras since his directorial debut, it is no wonder that he returns to the first person shooting style with his Bigfoot horror film “Exists”, which won the Audience Award at last year’s SXSW. The narrative feels stale, as a group of sexed up young adults head to the cabin in the desolate woods where they find they are being stalked by the elusive Sasquatch. Somehow, though, Sanchez makes this look easy.
75% MOST LIKELY
ForceMajeure-poster “Force Majeure” is this year’s Swedish entry into the Best Foreign Language Film category of the Academy Awards. Set around a family on a ski trip who experience some sort of avalanche, the trailer is successful at keeping most of what happens a mystery, delving into the off-beat foreign humor present in the film. Often, dark comedies such as this end up being my favorite foreign films of the year, including a previous favorite like “Dogtooth”. Having won the Un Certain Regard Jury Prize at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival, there is a good chance this will be competing at this year’s Oscars.
RENTAL
JohnWick-poster Truth be told, “John Wick” came out of nowhere. With very little groundswell, Keanu Reeves suddenly shows up in this action packed revenge flick that critics are touting as his best showing since “The Matrix”. All you need is some awesome fight sequences and great tongue-in-cheek lines like “everyone’s asking if I’m back… yeah, I’m thinking I’m back”, and you have an amazing start already. After a wannabe thug kills his dog and steals his car, retired hitman John Wick comes out of retirement to lay waste. Michael Nyqvist and “Game Of Thrones” star Alfie Allen play the villains while Adrianne Palicki, Ian McShane, John Leguizamo, and Willem Dafoe also star.
RENTAL
LowDown-poster With so many talented actors and actresses in “Low Down”, it would be hard to pass up. The immensely talented John Hawkes plays talented yet haunted musician Joe Albany in the based on a true story film adapted from his daughter Amy-Jo Albany’s memoirs. Playing Amy-Jo is sixteen year old Elle Fanning who brings a maturity to the role, as she faces her father’s heroin addiction and drive to make it as a musician. Also starring are “Game Of Thrones” stars Lena Headey and Peter Dinklage as well as what look like strong performances from Glenn Close and Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea.
50% PROBALY
Ouija-poster Almost 125 years after the board was introduced commercially, Hollywood finally capitalized on it and made a “Ouija” film. Yet all I kept thinking after the film was… “we waited over a century for that?” Olivia Cooke is on a roll with the horror genre, first starring in the television series “Bates Motel”, then the period horror film “The Quiet Ones”, and even a little science fiction horror with “The Signal”. With such a great presence in all of these films, I look forward to the day where she finds a role that actually pushes her. After her friend dies under mysterious circumstances, Olivia’s character turns to the board to get answers, awakening an evil in the process. Borrowing from just about every paranormal film ever made, “Ouija” feels as dusty as one of those old boards. Hopefully the studios are starting to realize films based on board games are not the best idea.

WhiteBirdInABlizzard-poster Taking a break from her own blossoming young adult franchise “Divergent”, Shailene Woodley takes on a much more independent film titled “White Bird In A Blizzard”. In it she plays Kat, a young girl whose cookie-cutter mother (played by the gorgeous Eva Green) disappears. Just on the brink of finding her sexuality, it takes some time for the disappearance to take hold in Kat’s life and apparently the reveal of where her mother went is quite the revelation. With Woodley baring in more ways than one, I have a feeling this will only continue the successful roll that she is on.
THEATER

1000TimesAGoodNight-poster Juliette Binoche plays an international war photographer behind enemy lines in “A Thousand Times Good Night”, fighting to get her provocative pictures of a woman having a bomb strapped to her out into the public eye. Also struggling to balance her extremely dangerous job with her husband and daughters who are constantly living in fear, there are some strong emotions permeating from this film. Also, it should be noted that this is the third film released this week starring a “Game Of Thrones” star with Nikolaj Coster-Waldau playing the worried husband.
PASS
Citizenfour-poster Last year in the news, Edward Snowden was a name we all became familiar with as the man behind the NSA classified information leaks. This year, the documentary “Citizenfour” puts Snowden in front of the camera and will likely get his side of the story. Mainly comprised of a recorded secret rendezvous between Snowden and journalist Glenn Greenwald in Hong Kong, I can only imagine this will shed tons of light on the issue for anyone who is not privy. Entered as one of the 134 documentaries in contention for the Academy Awards, there is enough buzz about this film to bring it to the forefront of the conversation.
PASS
ETeam-poster Another one of the 134 documentary entries for the Academy Awards, Netflix continues to prove that they are also at the forefront of producing documentaries. “E-Team” goes behind enemy lines in much the same way that the fictional film “A Thousand Times Good Night” does, as a team of undercover journalists attempt to provide a voice to the voiceless in other countries, documenting atrocities and bringing them to the public eye. With Netflix’s documentary “The Square” gaining an Oscar nomination last year, it is very likely this could end up in the final five as well. This is now available on Netflix Instant.
PASS
GlenCampbellIllBeMe-poster And yet another one of the 134 documentary entries for the Academy Awards, “Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me” takes a look at the history of the country musician who opened the door for performers like Keith Urban and Taylor Swift. But where it really gets good is when it reaches the past few years, where the rhinestone cowboy was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease at 75-years-old. With plenty of footage of his farewell tour along with interviews with musicians like Bruce Springsteen, any country music lover will be all over this film, but having never heard of Glen Campbell until this trailer and not being a huge fan of country, this film is rather lost on me.
PASS
HappyNewYear-poster This week’s edition of the Bollywood film that I will not be seeing is “Happy New Year” which is basically the Indian version of “Oceans 11”. Six “losers” come together to participate in a dance competition where they plan to steal a huge stock load of diamonds. With plenty of talking to the camera, strange camera movements, and a rooftop fight sequence straight out of “Mortal Kombat”, the list of things I do not understand about Bollywood films continues to skyrocket. At its core, Bollywood or not, this film is basically the equivalent of a Vegas slot machine with its bright colors and beeping noises.
PASS
TheHeartMachine-poster Imagine, if you will, in this new age of online dating that you meet the perfect man or woman, but they just so happens to be from Germany. Deciding to date long distance, imagine now that you start to suspect that this person does not actually live in Germany and in fact, lives in the same city as you, but has been lying and covering their tracks. “The Heart Machine” follows this storyline as a man’s paranoia leads him to believe his long distance girlfriend is in fact a liar. Why she’s lying is what I want to know.
50% PROBABLY
Laggies-poster All I really needed to see from this film to sign off on it were the names Sam Rockwell, Keira Knightley, and Chloe Grace Moretz. Sold. But “Laggies” just so happens to have an interesting story to it as well. Knightley plays Megan, a woman having a quarter-life crisis after her boyfriend (Mark Webber) tries to propose. Deciding to hide out for a week with the high school girl she bought booze for one night (Chloe Moretz) and her father (Sam Rockwell), whom she forms a connection with. Also starring Ellie Kemper, Jeff Garlin, and Kaitlyn Dever, it is nice to finally see a female life crisis film as most independent films lay pretty heavy on the male versions.
THEATER
LifeOfRiley-poster In this French dark comedy, “Life Of Riley,” three couples deal with the fatal illness of a friend named George to whom the three women of each couple have a powerful connection to. Asked to go away with George in his final days, the women contemplate whether or not to go while their male partners deal with the jealousy and conflicting emotions surrounding the entire thing. Adapted from the stage, this has the distinct feel of a play, with very little differentiating set pieces and more dialogue than the average film.
PASS
LoveRosie-poster Despite this being your typical romantic comedy where best friends would obviously be perfect together but instead life gets in the way, “Love, Rosie” actually looks like a decent outing. Starring the pretty Lily Collins and a disheveled Sam Claflin (“The Hunger Games: Catching Fire”), the narrative puts plenty of obstacles in their way, like a pregnancy and long distance, but there is something solid about the performances that makes this film look refreshing and worth a viewing.
50% PROBABLY
MysticBlade-poster David Ismalone has been the stuntman and stunt coordinator on films like “Ultraviolet”, “Ong Bak”, and even the latest “Furious 7”, but with “Mystic Blade”, he tries his hand at directing for the first time. Once you see the trailer, the fact that Ismalone is a stuntman makes the whole thing click, as entire trailer is really one big fight scene between different men. As always, the main character used to be part of an elite group, but when his family is killed by one of them, he ventures back to get revenge. Nothing feels fresh about this and sadly it becomes another case of the stuntman thinking he has been on enough sets to venture out on his own. The problem is, he brings nothing new to the table.
PASS
TheOtherSide-poster You know a film is bad when the performances of people portraying zombies could be confused with the people playing regular characters. “The Other Side” is on the level of student film, with actors who clearly should not be in front of a camera, with a case of overacting in almost every scene displayed in the trailer. Whether it is a woman yelling completely unnaturally or the old pushing objects off a desk in anger, this film is ripe with horrible ideas, none of which are even related to the zombie storyline which is hardly even touched upon.
PASS
ThePin-poster There is something magical about love stories set during WWII especially with films like “The Pin,” where young love sparks while hiding from Nazis. With copy explaining that this couple is forced together and slowly grow closer and closer through time, it also has promises of showing this couple when they are much older as well, allowing for some hope. Similar to something like “The Notebook,” where the characters are portrayed through different generations, this foreign language film fails slightly by pulling on those same strings.
PASS
RevengeOfTheGreenDragons-poster “A fisherman in China will never be anything but a fisherman in China.” Martin Scorsese executive produces this thriller titled “Revenge Of The Green Dragons” about a group of immigrants coming to the United States in search for the American Dream. That concept is so funny to me, especially coming from other cultures and what they picture it to be. Justin Chon (“21 & Over”) stars in this serious role across Ray Liotta, as they venture to take down the corruption and illegal importing of humans which were all apart of that concept of the American Dream.
PASS
RhymesForYoungGhouls-poster In its own right, “Rhymes For Young Ghouls” is a powerful film about Native American culture, but in its packaging, the trailer falls a bit short. For a young Canadian actress in her first leading role, Devery Jacobs looks great and pulls off an emotional maturity that sets her above the rest but surrounding her is a much less impressive cast which basically just exists to fill in the Indian culture background. With themes of drugs and imprisonment, this is definitely a unique film aimed in the right direction.
PASS
StonehearstAsylum-poster With so many elements working in the films favor, it is baffling to me that “Stonehearst Asylum” does not feel like a bigger deal. With an all star cast of Jim Sturgess, Michael Caine, Ben Kingsley, and Kate Beckinsale, any director would kill for a line up like that. Then, being based on the short story by Edgar Allan Poe, there is a creep factor built in. But somehow it still feels like actors wearing costumes pretending to be something that are not. But even giving away a twist in the trailer still leaves plenty questions to answer. In the end, with a cast like this, it is impossible to turn down a viewing.
50% PROBABLY
TheTakingOfDeborahLogan-poster As always, I am more lenient on horror films, even when they do not look very good. “The Taking Of Deborah Logan” actually has an interesting enough hook to get me to see it. Posing as a documentary about Alzheimer’s disease, the old woman that is the subject of the film is slowly shown to be possessed by a demon instead of actually having any disease. With some great visual gags and a set up similar to “Paranormal Activity,” despite being rather low budget, the actress that plays Deborah Logan is actually quite genius.
25% MAYBE

THEATER

  • Laggies
  • Ouija
  • White Bird In A Blizzard

RENTAL

  • Force Majeure
  • John Wick

MOST LIKELY CATCH ON NETFLIX (75%)

  • Exists

PROBABLY CATCH ON NETFLIX (50%)

  • The Heart Machine
  • Love, Rosie
  • Low Down
  • Stonehearst Asylum

MIGHT CATCH ON NETFLIX (25%)

  • The Taking Of Deborah Logan

PASS

  • A Thousand Times Good Night
  • CitizenFour
  • E-Team
  • Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me
  • Happy New Year
  • Life Of Riley
  • Mystic Blade
  • The Other Side
  • The Pin
  • Revenge Of The Green Dragons
  • Rhymes For Young Ghouls

HELL NO

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