Theatrical Releases: Interstellar & Big Hero 6

INTERSTELLAR || November 7th, 2014

BigHero6-poster When 14-year-old Hiro loses his brother in a fire and finds out that his own invention is being used by a Kabuki mask wearing villain to threaten the city of San Fransokyo, he must bring together his brother’s friends and a white vinyl robot named Baymax in hopes of bringing this villain to justice. Following nicely in their newly laid footsteps of “Wreck It Ralph” and “Frozen”, Disney’s latest animated feature “Big Hero 6” successfully drives home many of the same morals and comedic values that those previous films produced. Based on a Marvel comic book, despite the marketing steering clear of that association for some reason, the real star of this film is Baymax, who offers not only the majority of the comedic relief but most of the life lessons as well.

Interstellar-poster2 Christopher Nolan takes a swing for the fences with his science fiction blockbuster “Interstellar”. After his successful “Dark Knight” trilogy and even the success of his wholly original “Inception,” Nolan has free reign to produce what ever he wants and with that comes a confidence in his work sight unseen. In his latest film, he ventures to the stars as the human race is destine to meet its end if they stay on Earth. Matthew McConaughey plays an engineer and former NASA pilot that leaves his kids behind to go out into space and try to find an inhabitable planet using wormholes. Delving into some extremely dense subject matter including the origins of life and quantum physics, Nolan is unabashed by the general viewer and delivers a smart man’s science fiction film along the lines of fellow space features like “2001: A Space Odyssey”.
Jessabelle-poster REPRINT: 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.
PASS
TheTheoryOfEverything-poster Carrying huge Academy Award ramifications with its brilliant young cast, “The Theory Of Everything” takes a look at the real life story of Stephen Hawking prior to and following his diagnoses of motor neuron disease. Eddie Redmayne plays Hawking, with many already calling his Oscar nomination a lock. Also starring a huge crush of mine in Felicity Jones (“Like Crazy”, “Breathe In”), if she were to get nominated as well, I would be ethereally over joyed as she deserves any accolades she receives. With a strong love story at the heart of the biographical depiction of this brilliant physicist, Hawking receives a film he can be proud of.
THEATER

21YearsRichardLinklater-poster There is something to be said about a director who has some of the best actors and filmmakers in recent history acclaiming his success. With a huge legacy behind him and probably an even bigger career to come, Richard Linklater may not be the most widely known director out there, but everyone has seen at least one of his films, touting work like “Dazed And Confused”, “Bernie”, “School Of Rock”, and the “Before Sunset” trilogy”. Now, this documentary entitled “21 Years: Richard Linklater” chronicles his career thus far through interviews with actors and directors that have been involved with and that were inspired by his work.
25% MAYBE
Actress-poster You might know actress Brandy Burre from her stint on the television series “The Wire” from 2004-2006. But following that role, she did not do much in the way of acting. Now with two kids and hitting the age of forty years old, Brandy is being passed up for roles she is otherwise perfect for, which end up going to much younger actresses. This documentary-slash-drama entitled “Actress” follows her story in a very dramatic way, blurring the lines between reality and fiction. Had Brandy been someone even slightly more recognizable, this could be a viable documentary, but instead it feels like a missed opportunity.
PASS
TheBetterAngels-poster Having heard nothing about the film “The Better Angels”, seeing the trailer and finding out what this film is about was an absolute surprise to me. Following the coming of age tale of Abraham Lincoln, Terrence Malick produces this aside longtime collaborator and director A.J. Edwards. With a cinematography style reminiscent of Malick and an ensemble cast of hugely talented stars like Jason Clarke, Brit Marling, Diane Kruger, and Wes Bentley, I am astonished that I had not heard of this film prior to seeing this trailer.
RENTAL
DeathMetalAngola-poster Who knew that death metal could fix a broken country? “Death Metal Angola” is a documentary chronicling a couples attempt to use a rock festival as a healing agent for the town of Huambo, Angola. Drawing similarities between death metal and the misunderstood people of this community, there is a sense of coming together present in the trailer alone. What I am missing, however, is the bigger picture. If this is simply an informative documentary, letting me know about the people of the country, that is fine. But if this is a call to some sort of action, I am missing the point. The obvious solution is that the feature holds the answer to that question but unfortunately the trailer does little to persuade me into finding out.
PASS
ElsaAndFred-poster Academy Award winners Shirley MacLaine (“Terms Of Endearment”) and Christopher Plummer (“Beginners”) star in their latest feature, “Elsa & Fred”. At 80 and 84, respectively, these two look to be in great shape and are not missing a single beat. With the theme that its never too late to enjoy life, the story follows Fred after losing his wife. His daughter, played by Marcia Gay Harden, moves him into an apartment complex where he meets Elsa. Together, they discover that despite their old age, they can still act young and enjoy each others’ company. As much as I support the extremely talented careers of both prolific actors, I am afraid this subject matter is a little bit out of my wheelhouse.
PASS
AnEvergreenChristmas-poster What feels like a Lifetime Original Movie, “An Evergreen Christmas” or “Balsam Falls” is so superficial and low in production value that it registers less like a feature film and more like an episode of a crappy television show. After Evie’s father passes away, she leaves Los Angeles and heads home to Tennessee, where she has been named the owner of the failing Christmas tree farm despite her brother still living their and taking care of things. Bringing her uptight boyfriend, she faces the small town dilemmas head on and refuses to leave things behind. Had this offered any sort of star power I could have gotten aboard at least in the very slightest. Instead, this is a black hole of a holiday movie that will hopefully not suck you in.
PASS
Hangar10-poster Basically an alien visitor story meets “The Blair Witch Project,” a group of friends head out into the Rendlesham Forest to look for Saxon gold when they begin to encounter UFOs. Referencing the “infamous Rendlesham Forest UFO incident” of 33 years ago, “Hangar 10” has some great imagery for a found footage film, with military jets flying through and flashing lights in the sky that are really well done for such an independent film. Alien encounter movies often intrigue me, especially when they run into the realm of horror films, producing some truly eerie events.
50% PROBABLY
IAmSantaClaus-poster With the perfect tagline of “whose lap is your child sitting on?” Morgan Spurlock presents this documentary entitled “I Am Santa Claus” about the bearded men that dress up as Santa around the holidays and what they do for the other eleven months out of the year. Not does it show the Santas drinking, cussing, and running strip clubs, but it also follows around professional wrestler Mick Foley, who wants to make the transformation into an actual Santa Claus by dying his beard white and joining the fraternity of men that bring holiday joy to malls all across the country. Foley is an interesting character in and of himself, selling this documentary at least a little, and with Spurlock attached, that makes it a borderline pick to be watched.
25% MAYBE
TheLookalike-poster “The Lookalike” has a theme of actors and actresses taking huge steps away from the type of characters we have seen them play before. The biggest of these is Gillian Jacobs, who leaves her innocent “Community” days behind her to play the sexpot title character who is basically sold into the position of a lookalike. John Corbett also takes huge strides away from his “Sex And The City” days, becoming the sleazy antagonist of the film, the one requesting the lookalike in exchange for $300,000. Justin Long might not take any huge leaps away from the roles we have seen him in, but he looks to deliver a solid performance, as does Jerry O’Connell, in this taut crime drama.
75% MOST LIKELY
AMerryFrigginChristmas-poster With the passing of Robin Williams, his previous unreleased performances will now start to see the light of day, including this festive title, “A Merry Friggin’ Christmas”. Starring an ensemble cast consisting of big names like Joel McHale (“Community”), Lauren Graham (“Gilmore Girls”, “Parenthood”), Clark Duke (“Hot Tub Time Machine”), Oliver Platt, Wendi McLendon-Covey (“Bridesmaids”), Tim Heidecker (of Tim & Eric), and Candice Bergen, this is obviously not riding entirely off of Williams’ death, but it will have to seen now that he is gone and just in time for the holidays.
25% MAYBE
MrPip-poster Ever since “House M.D.” ended in 2010, actor Hugh Laurie has not quite landed any roles that have been as substantial or even as challenging as that of Dr. House. However, “Mr. Pip” looks to be at least a step in the right direction, as he plays Mr. Watts, a literature teacher and only white man left in Papua New Guinea following a blockade. With rebel forces scouring the area, Watts begins reading to the children Charles Dickens’ “Great Expectations” and they become fascinated with the main protagonist of the book, Pip. When one of the students writes Pip’s name in the sand, the rebels descend upon the village demanding to meet this Pip.
25% MAYBE
NationalGallery-poster The first ten seconds of this trailer consists of people reading off the names of artists whose artwork hangs in the National Gallery of Art in Washington. Although ten seconds does not sound like a long time, for a second I thought the entire trailer was going to be flash frames of artwork with the names being called out. Instead, the aptly titled “National Gallery” documentary covers more, including the viewer in tours and conversations between certain key members of the art gallery. But whether the film was an actual look at the gallery or a vocal listing of artist’s names, there is no way I would watch either of those films.
PASS
OnAnySundayNextChapter-poster To be completely frank, motorcycling does not interest me in the slightest. But the documentary “On Any Sunday: The Next Chapter” is such a well shot, well articulated piece of film-making, I have the slightest of urges to watch this feature. In 1971, a documentary entitled “On Any Sunday” brought motorcycling to the big screen and apparently started a revolution, now decades later they revisit this concept of documenting this way of life for the new age. Following all different kinds of motorcyclists, the grand landscapes and unbelievable crashes will probably have to be seen to be believed.
25% MAYBE
OpenWindows-poster2 Former porn star Sasha Grey continues her feature film acting with “Open Windows,” in which she plays an actress whose biggest fan, played by Elijah Wood, wins a chance to have dinner with her. When she backs out of the deal, a mysterious man becomes involved, allowing Wood’s super fan access to video cameras in the actresses home, in which Wood can see everything. Eventually this spirals into a thriller where this mysterious man takes it upon himself to make Grey do exactly what he wants, leaving Wood attempting to save her. Continuing Wood’s foray in independent filmmaking (“Grand Piano” earlier this year) and seeing a decent showing from Grey, both of these elements definitely set this thriller apart.
THEATER
PelicanDreams-poster Apparently what spawned this documentary entitled “Pelican Dreams” was an injured pelican landing on the Golden Gate bridge and officers coming to retrieve it. Being brought to a rehabilitation compound for pelicans, these employees state they are not in it for the money or the glamor, as there is none, but they are in it to see these magnificent creatures sore through the air again. The voice over narration is a tad bit too melodramatic and if this is any sign of what is in the documentary, I fear for how mind-numbing this film could be.
PASS
PlotForPeace-poster The documentary “Plot For Peace” is a bit of a mystery. Involving Nelson Mandela and the fall of the apartheid, the main subject matter of the film falls on the “mysterious French businessman who was instrumental in Nelson Mandela’s release from jail”. Who this man is, and why and how he got involved with Mandela is the question I would want answered, but with so many political documentaries, it is hard to picture what is so much more interesting about this one.
PASS
SexEd-poster Following his slight resurgence in Kevin Smith’s “Tusk,” Haley Joel Osment finds himself in this raunchy independent comedy, “Sex Ed,” playing a sexual repressed teacher trying to teach his students the basics of sexual education. While most of the film is filled with him falling short and being made fun of by his group of friends, there holds hope in the storyline of him falling for one of his student’s sisters who is extremely attractive. Also starring “New Girl” alum Lamorne Morris as the goofy bouncer, this comedy has the slightest possibility of being watchable.
25% MAYBE
Virguna-poster Another week, another Netflix Original Documentary, this one, too, being considered for the Academy Awards. Exploring the Virunga National Park in Congo, “Virguna” takes vast sweeping shots of the gorgeous landscapes and produces some of the most thought-provoking imagery in a documentary this week. Following the park rangers that look after the area and attempt to protect it and the animals within from poachers and militia, there is a tension about the film that cannot be described. But the images with the last remaining mountain gorillas playing with the rangers is really what sets this film apart from most of the others.
25% MAYBE
TheWayHeLooks-poster Brazil’s entry into the Academy Awards’ Best Foreign Language Feature category, “The Way He Looks” is the story of a love triangle between a blind young man named Daniel, his best friend Giovana, and the new boy in town, Leo. With Giovana falling for Leo, the sudden feelings felt between Daniel and Leo cause them to spend a lot more time together and causing jealousy in Giovana. This is an interesting step into LBGT subset with coming of age being made so much more dynamic with the involvement of boy who is not just blind but probably also gay.
PASS
West-poster Commemorating the fall of the Berlin wall, “West” ventures back to the 1970s, telling the story of a single mother dealing with the apparent death of her boyfriend. Now, aiming to provide a better life for her son, she escapes from behind the wall and pretends to marry a West German, but with her past creeping back to ruin everything, she struggles to find her footing. What often looks like a light dramatic fare, the synopsis of the film makes it sound much more serious. The lead actress has some serious potential, but as with many foreign films, this one feels a bit dry.
PASS
WhyDontYouPlayInHell-poster One has to wonder what makes a critic write the statement: “mankind’s greatest achievement” about a foreign language action comedy that is clearly not the pinnacle of mankind’s continued struggles. “Why Don’t You Play In Hell?” is the story of a film crew that wants to film the greatest yakuza battle of all time and when a retaliation is planned from a rival gang, they take this opportune to get out their video cameras and produce their lifelong dream. With a sharp wit and Tarantino sense of style, this may be a great looking blood bath, but it is by no means our “greatest achievement”.
PASS
WorstFriends-poster Get hit by a car and injured severely and suddenly you find out who your real friends are, at least that is what the film “Worst Friends” chooses to explore. When Jake (Richard Tanne) is injured in a car accident, the only person willing to take care of him is his childhood friend Sam (Noah Barrow). Also starring Cody Horn (“Magic Mike”), Kristen Connolly (“The Cabin In The Woods”), and Geoffrey Arend (“Super Troopers”), this may have a somewhat recognizable cast, but with zero chemistry and zero laughs, there is not much that could actually sell this film.
PASS

THEATER

  • Big Hero 6
  • Interstellar
  • Open Windows
  • The Theory Of Everything

RENTAL

  • The Better Angels

MOST LIKELY CATCH ON NETFLIX (75%)

  • The Lookalike

PROBABLY CATCH ON NETFLIX (50%)

  • Hangar 10

MIGHT CATCH ON NETFLIX (25%)

  • 21 Years: Richard Linklater
  • I Am Santa Claus
  • A Merry Friggin’ Christmas
  • Mr. Pip
  • On Any Sunday: The Next Chapter
  • Sex Ed
  • Virguna

PASS

  • Actress
  • Death Metal Angola
  • Elsa & Fred
  • An Evergreen Christmas
  • National Gallery
  • Pelican Dreams
  • Plot For Peace
  • The Way He Looks
  • West
  • Why Don’t You Play In Hell?
  • Worst Friends

HELL NO

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