THE BOY NEXT DOOR || January 23rd, 2015

BlackSea-poster Buried Nazi treasure under the sea sends a group of men in a submarine to retrieve it. But once they realize how much gold is actually down there, the real question becomes who is going to make it back from this journey to enjoy it. Starring Jude Law in the lead role and Scoot McNairy (“Monsters”, “Argo”) and Ben Mendelsohn (“The Place Beyond The Pines”, “Killing Them Softly”) in supporting roles, this is Oscar winning director Kevin Macdonald’s (documentary “One Day In September”) latest film, “Black Sea”.
TheBoyNextDoor-poster How many times has the obsessive, fatal attraction story-line been done? In this iteration, “The Boy Next Door,” a high school aged young man takes advantage of the lonely housewife seeking affection played by Jennifer Lopez. The problem is, he becomes obsessed and with her being one his teachers, his neighbor, and the mother of his best friend, things could get real awkward real quick. As hot and steamy as this could possibly get, cheesy lines like “I love your mom’s cookies” are like nails across a chalkboard to me.
DeathSquad-poster With the somewhat success of “The Expendables” franchise, it was only a matter of time before smaller budget films went after the bottom of the barrel celebrities to cram them into one film. With “Death Squad” its one man versus a team of mercenaries, with Stephen Baldwin facing off against Rutger Hauer, Darryl Hannah, and Michael Madsen, with Donald Glover looking on from the outside. What feels like an SNL sketch is sadly an actual futuristic action film with low budget graphics to boot.
Mortdecai-poster Johnny Depp has not been on point for quite some time now. In real need of a redirection, “Mortdecai” is a huge step in the wrong direction. Playing the bumbling, slapstick idiot title character, Depp wears a stupid mustache and prances around like one of the three stooges. Gwyneth Paltrow and Olivia Munn look physically amazing, but with Paltrow’s recent insurgence of craziness in the public eye, she has become much less attractive to me. Also starring Ewan McGregor, Jeff Goldblum, and Paul Bettany, it really is just too bad that this could not look more promising.
StrangeMagic-poster Something tells me, even from the poster and the horrible reviews, that the new animated film “Strange Magic” should have stayed in the mind of George Lucas. With a vague trailer spelling out some sort of battle between the good fairies and some not so good fairies, the humor of the film is that for only young children, not looking to appeal to the adults that would be willing to take their children to the movie, which is a big misfire these days. At least the animation styling is not hugely under produced, since it did come from Lucasfilms, but that does not make it worth seeing either.
VeronikaDecidesToDie-poster Sarah Michelle Gellar returns to the land of the thrillers with “Veronika Decides To Die”. Playing a woman who attempts suicide, she wakes up in a rehab center being looked after by a strange doctor (David Thewlis from “Harry Potter”) with unorthodox methods. Also starring Oscar winner Melissa Leo and Jonathan Tucker (2003’s “Texas Chainsaw Massacre”), the film does not quite feel like a thriller but also misses the mark on even feeling like a drama. More accurately, it feels closer to a Lifetime Original Movie.

AgainstTheSun-poster After having seen Angelina Jolie’s “Unbroken” film recently, I question if this new based on a true story film is actually based on those events as well. “Against The Sun” sees three men in WWII go down in the ocean in an airplane. Confined to a yellow raft with no help in sight, they brave the odds and each other as they float alone endlessly. The fact that this feels straight out of “Unbroken” begs the question of redundancy as well as being projected in a much better, contemporary story with “All Is Lost”. Garrett Dillahunt is a strong actor and looks to be the best part of this film, but that’s still not enough to sell it.
Americons-poster For weeks, while driving home from work, I would see a billboard for this new film “Americons” on Sunset Blvd. Thinking perhaps it was a documentary or some new Hollywood thriller with a big cast, I soon came to find that instead it was a very independent drama about swindling people to get to the “American dream”. First of all, this must prove that someone had a lot of money or connections to get that billboard on Sunset Blvd. And second of all, how many films can we make about people chasing the “American dream” is an ass backwards, douche-bag sort of way?
TheAtticusInstitute-poster On a quite regular basis now, horror films get some leniency from me because sometimes the lower budget ones are actually quite good. “The Atticus Institute” is one that may not look like much but could actually be quite scary. Set up like a mockumentary about the title institute in which doctors and scientists poke and prod certain patients that have psychic abilities, the narrative appears to focus on one woman who is obviously possessed by something, as she explodes little mice and bangs on a table without even moving her arm. It does come from the producers of “The Conjuring” for whatever that is worth.
BigMuddy-poster You can tell yourself that your film is like the next “No Country For Old Men” but it doesn’t make it true. “Big Muddy” is trying desperately to be that psychological thriller in the backwoods, but it simply feels hollow. The production quality is clean and admirable, but the dialogue and acting are paper thin and not engaging whatsoever. A prisoner is on the lose, as the lead character Martha fears not only for herself, but now her son, after he has committed a horrible crime. The film have lots of characters and seemingly nothing to do with them.
Cake-poster Jennifer Aniston apparently gives an impressive, award-worthy performance as a bitter woman suffering from chronic pain in “Cake”. Not her typical role, Aniston attends group therapy sessions, cusses out just about everyone that shares a scene with her, and looks impressive while doing it. Focusing on loss and dealing with all our own issues, the film does look like a downer, but it also has the potential to evoke some strong emotions. Anna Kendrick, Sam Worthington, and William H. Macy also look to give strong performances, filling out the supporting cast.
TheHumbling-poster Of course it would be 31 year old Greta Gerwig dating 74 year old Al Pacino in the new independent film, “Humbling” from Oscar winning director Barry Levinson (“Rain Man”). Gerwig fits the type that would set her sights on someone of a much older age and plays that part to the T, while Pacino plays the aging, washed up actor looking for a new start but instead finds a younger woman and an endless string of people telling him he’s crazy, including Oscar winner Dianne Wiest and Kyra Sedgwick.
Killers-poster Coming from the producers of “The Raid,” there’s enough faith built there that I am willing to give their new film, “Killers” a due shot. Coming from the directing combo of Kimo Stamboel and Timo Tjahjanto, who also did “Macabre” of which I want to see now, along with some of the shorts for “V/H/S/2” and “The ABCs Of Death” to which I also enjoy, “Killers” is about two men from different cities, connected by murders that just went viral. As the copy in the trailer says, “one kills for pleasure, one kills for justice”.
Manny-poster Most people know Manny Pacquiao from boxing, but as the documentary “Manny” spells out, the man is so much more. Coming from a life of poverty, Manny is now one of the most prolific boxers in the history of the sport, but he is also a spokesman, “congressman”, and “international icon”. Narrated by Liam Neeson, the film delves into his life, mostly through his boxing career and the adjunct career paths he has taken, but most of all it sets out to inspire. As masterfully produced as this looks, I normally pass on most documentaries about individual men.
Mommy-poster The first thing you will notice about the Canadian film “Mommy” is the aspect ratio. Explained by director Xavier Dolan as a way to cut out distractions and frame faces in more of a portrait structure, this choice led his film to the 2014 Cannes Film Festival where it won the Jury Prize as well as being the official submission of Canada in the Academy’s Best Foreign Language Feature category. Depicting a violent young man and his mother as they attempt to re-assimilate into society, the film has some impressive accolades but still falls a bit short in hooking the casual viewer.
R100-poster No one can make off the wall comedies quite like the Japanese, with the new dominatrix themed dark comedy “R100” about a lowly salesman that enters into a year long contract with a secret bondage club that promises different dominatrices to show up and beat the crap out of him when he least expects it. Wanting out of the contract, it looks as though one of the dominatrices begins stalking him. There’s a blunt humor to the whole thing but perhaps it’s that I’m not quite turned on by the whole beatings thing, but the film itself does not grab my attention. But perhaps I just need a good kick in the head.
SongOne-poster An answer for anyone that missed or avoided “Begin Again,” this female written and directed piece called “Song One” has the same New York backdrop with original music strewn throughout, written specifically into the film. Anne Hathaway plays the sister of a young man that has fallen into a coma. Using his notebook to follow in his footsteps and grab bits and pieces to bring back to him in hopes of waking him up, she meets his favorite musical artist, a shy guitar player with a giant heart, and though we know they start falling for each other, what I need to know now is if her brother wakes up from the coma. Lots of emotions are at play in the film and I feel like this could be a real tearjerker.
WellNeverHaveParis-poster Simon Helberg takes his first big step away from “The Big Bang Theory” by… wait for it… writing and directing his own independent romantic comedy. The biggest selling point for “We’ll Never Have Paris” unfortunately isn’t the comedy. Instead, it’s the bright young cast, with Melanie Lynskey and Maggie Grace filling the love interests category while Zachary Quinto appears to play the gay best friend. The most unbelievable part of the film is that these incredibly attractive young woman all want Simon.




  • Black Sea
  • Cake



  • The Atticus Institute
  • The Boy Next Door
  • Killers
  • Mortdecai
  • Song One
  • We’ll Never Have Paris


  • Against The Sun
  • Americons
  • Big Muddy
  • Death Squad
  • Humbling
  • Manny
  • Mommy
  • R100
  • Strange Magic
  • Veronika Decides To Die



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