Theatrical Releases: The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies
Pack as many stars into the new “Annie” as you want, but there is still very little chance that I will want to subject myself to it. Not quite making it clear whether the film is actually a musical, even the joke selection in the trailer makes me wonder if this is actually for children (“not looking for temporary companionship”). Kudos for thinking outside the box and making the title character black, especially with the super talented Quvenzhané Wallis, but unless I get dragged to this, I will not be seeking it out.
One of the most stressful times I have ever had at the movies, “The Gambler” knows the exact chords to strum in order to make the viewer unfortunately when it comes to the subject of debt and gambling. Owing all the wrong people, Mark Wahlberg plays the title character, Jim Bennett, who is a college professor by day and high stakes gambler by night, and whose self-loathing knows no bounds or decimal points. Surrounded by an amazing supporting cast in Brie Larson, John Goodman, Jessica Lange, and Michael K. Williams, this nails what it is and completely delivers.
Closing out “The Hobbit” trilogy is “The Battle Of The Five Armies” (originally titled “There And Back Again”). Having made the long journey to the Lonely Mountain and having left our adventurers in the midst of unleashing Smaug the dragon on the small Laketown, this film picks up with the giant fire breathing dragon attacking the city. Complete with Thorin’s drudge through the coveting of his gold and an epic battle, the likes of which haven’t been seen since “The Lord Of The Rings,” this final iteration brings you everything you’ve loved about the series so far and plenty of grandiose goodbyes. Once again dragging for time, however, this further reiterates that this series could have easily been two films.
Not only do we say goodbye to another trilogy in “Night at the Museum” with “Secret Of The Tomb,” but this also feels like a valiant goodbye to the comedian Robin Williams, who reprises his role as Theodore Roosevelt. With plenty of unknowing moments that touch on the heartbreaking nature of his death and this solemn goodbye, there is something eerily on point about the writing. Ben Stiller returns as the night watchmen, this time needing to travel to London to get answers from the Phaoroah (Ben Kingsley) about the dying magic tablet. Meeting newcomers like fellow watchmen Tilly (Rebel Wilson), the incomparable Sir Lancelot (Dan Stevens), and the newest caveman (also Ben Stiller), this definitely comes off as its own adventure, but derives heavily from everything that came before.
If “Berberian Sound Studio” wasn’t strange enough for you, the creators have returned with yet another twisted tale titled “The Duke Of Burgundy” about two women bringing their strange sexual desires to the forefront of their relationship. The trailer is highly erotic, with plenty strong sexual insinuations and imagery of women in their underwear, but where this film goes beyond that is not quite touched upon. But with rave reviews and some high end visuals, like their previous film, this might just have to be seen.
Paul Schneider gets the perfect leading role for himself as a divorcee who is jumping back on the horse and quite successfully indeed in “Goodbye To All That”. Splitting from his wife (played by Melanie Lynskey), he begins taking home very attractive women, including Heather Graham, Anna Camp, and Ashley Hinshaw. But his one night stands might be setting a bad precedent for his young daughter, who witnesses most of this and even finds a dildo in the backseat of the car. Schneider is finally landing the roles he deserves and is hopefully on his way to a comeback.
“If You Don’t, I Will” is a French comedy about a couple, Pomme and Pierre, who are settling into mediocrity in their relationship. No longer passionate, they set off for a hike in the woods that ends with Pomme deciding to stay and Pierre heading back to his normal life. However, their parting is anything but normal as Pomme as a spiritual awakening in the forest and Pierre begins to question his life without Pomme. Pomme is played by Emmanuelle Devos, who appeared in “Violette” last year and Pierre is played by Mathieu Amalric
“A building of bizarre portions” is how Barcelona’s La Sagrada Familia is described. A cathedral started in 1882 by the artist Antoni Gaudí, people come from around the world to witness the beauty of its structure. Still not finished, and apparently not even close, “Sagrada: The Mystery Of Creation” allows viewers to contemplate the cathedral’s fascinating design while learning about the history of the building from those currently closest to it. What I am most interested in is seeing what is left to design and why it is taking so long.
Still in contention for Best Animated Feature at the Academy Awards this year and from the Oscar nominated director of “The Secret Of Kells” comes his next animated film, “Song Of The Sea”. With adult tones, like the death of a mother, this is definitely Oscar fodder for those willing to give it a chance, telling the story of a young girl who happens to be the last Seal-child. Delving into the Irish lore of Selkies, or beings that are seals in the sea but human when on land, it does appear that this director is very fond of Irish mythology.
The 1992 French drama “A Tale Of Winter” has been digitally remastered and re-released for anyone that is actually interested. Telling the story of a woman who meets the perfect man and accidentally gives him the wrong address, therefore losing him forever. Fast forward to her future relationships, where she juggles two guys and dreams of that perfect man to return to her some day. Despite Roger Ebert giving this film four stars back when it originally came out, I am afraid its just not for me.
With much talk about the Turkish drama “Winter Sleep,” especially in regards to the Best Foreign Language Feature category for the Academy Awards, many were surprised not to see it make the shortlist. Set during a winter at a small hotel in central Anatolia, a man, his wife, and his sister run the establishment while dealing with their issues with one another. Brilliantly filmed and apparently wonderfully acted, this would have been the perfect film to discover during my Oscar Challenge, unfortunately, with a laundry list of films to see already, I have to be more selective, especially with its run-time listed as 3 hours 16 minutes.