Theatrical Releases: The Longest Ride & Ex Machina

THE LONGEST RIDE || April 10th, 2015

DesertDancer-poster As recent and inspiring as this story may be, “Desert Dancer” is one of those films that feels too produced and too by the book to really feel like anything special. Set in 2009 Iran and telling the true story of Afshin Ghaffarian from a young boy who is disciplined in school for getting caught dancing (which is banned) to becoming a young man and starting his own underground dance group where he falls in love with the gorgeous dancer Elaheh (played by the talented Freida Pinto), the tale feels both recycled and rather uninspired as it would seem.
PASS
ExMachina-poster Machines and humans intermingle in “Ex Machina,” the science fiction film that many are calling the best film of the year so far. Starring Domhnall Gleeson, Oscar Isaac, and Alicia Vikander as an artificial intelligence, Vikander is close to the top of the list of actresses that I have my eye on lately. Gleeson plays a young programmer brought in to evaluate the human qualities of the A.I. and what looks to be blossoming love story with a hint of mystery really does feel like a movie that could make my Top 10 of the year list.
THEATER
KillMeThreeTimes-poster Simon Pegg plays a bounty hunter in this new dark comedy, “Kill Me Three Times,” in which he is hired to kill a man’s wife (Alice Braga) when it’s discovered that she’s cheated on him and stolen his money. While stalking for the kill, however, Pegg is beaten to the punch as Teresa Palmer and her husband look to kill her and steal her money as well, becoming a mixed and matched cat and mouse game where everyone is after the money and everyone is out for the kill. Pegg looks in top form and the women look absolutely stunning as always.
25% MAYBE
TheLongestRide-poster In Nicholas Sparks’ latest film adaptation, “The Longest Ride” sees young love collide at the rodeo. Luke (Scott Eastwood) is a bull rider and Sophia (Britt Robertson) is an art student and despite their conflicting desires and paths, when they come across an elderly man with tales of his own young romance, they are inspired to work through their challenges. Britt Robertson is another young actress that I have my eye on, as she delivers some strong performances in what I’ve seen from her. Also, Sparks’ adaptations are sort of a guilty pleasure.
25% MAYBE
LostRiver-poster Ryan Gosling writes and directs his first film with “Lost River, a dark fairy tale about a lost city, and he looks to have cashed in most of his favors to do so. Starring former co-stars of his, including Christina Hendricks (“Drive”) and Ben Mendelsohn (“The Place Beyond The Pines”) as well as his girlfriend (also former co-star) Eva Mendes. Despite the trailer not looking too bad, the reviews were another story. Kudos to Gosling for not starring in the film however, which would have definitely given the film an edge cast-wise. But by remaining out of it, you can tell he actually had a story to tell and wasn’t just trying to write himself a part.
RENTAL

AboutElly-poster Before he was winning an Academy Award for his foreign language film “A Separation,” director Asghar Farhadi had made a previous film titled “About Elly” which looks just as strong as the film that won him the Oscar. The first half of the trailer builds up the title character, a young and attractive Iranian girl named Elly. It is described, that “to know her is to love,” meaning it’s impossible not to fall in love with her. As her and her friends head out for a seaside picnic, suddenly the trailer turns dark, and now she has disappeared and mystery is taking place. Did she drown? Did one of the picnic party do something to her? The trailer uses a review which says “the less you know before seeing the film, the better,” so I will leave it at that.
25% MAYBE
BlackSouls-poster Based on a real mafia family in rural Calabria, “Black Souls” depicts the Carbone family which consists of three brothers, two of whom are still in the mafia business and the third who is a sheep herder in their hometown of Africo. The third brother’s son is ashamed of his father’s lack of connection to his uncles and takes matters into his own hands to rectify this, only to end up bringing even more harm down on the family name and forcing the other two brothers to return home to Africo to clean up his mess.
PASS
BrokenHorses-poster Reviews in a trailer hold a little more weight when they are from big time directors like James Cameron or Alfonso Cuaron, but book-ending the trailer with them is not quite the delivery method I would have taken. “Broken Horses” wins with a nicely placed cast of Anton Yelchin, Vincent D’Onofrio, and Chris Marquette (in an intense role), but beyond that the story feels a bit haphazard and even over-dramatic while there is nothing quite special or unique about anything in the trailer. Great quotes, but they aren’t really backed up.
PASS
CloudsOfSilsMaria-poster Juliette Binoche looks great, Kristen Stewart looks strong (for once), and Chloe Grace Moretz has yet to turn in an actual poor performance, so with these three high profile women, “Clouds Of Sils Maria” is already a must-see. Binoche plays an aging actress who is asked to star in a revival of a play that made her famous at the start of her career, but now she is to play the older character while Moretz’s scandal-ridden actress is set to play the role that made Binoche’s character famous. Stewart plays Binoche’s assistant and confidant in what even appears to be a budding sort of romance. I’ve heard great things about the film and look forward to seeing it.
THEATER
DialAPrayer-poster If it weren’t for Brittany Snow and William H. Macy, “Dial A Prayer” would look like just another Christian-undertone film, but instead, it actually packs some heart. Snow is such a talented young actress who has yet to find her actual stride as far as films go, but every now and then she delivers some really great work. Here, she plays a phone operator at Prayer Call Center, helping those that need a prayer. Under the guidance of the prayer leader, played by Macy, she is not only able to make a difference in the lives of the people that call in but she starts to be able to work through her own troubled past.
25% MAYBE
DiorAndI-poster Fashion documentaries never quite grab my attention the way that they are meant to and “Dior And I” is no different. Even if Elle Magazine has a quote stating it’s “the best movie about fashion I’ve seen,” it doesn’t change the fact that I’m simply not interested. Instated as the new Artistic Director of Dior, Raf Simons has a very short time to put together a line of dresses to both show off what he can create in this new position as well as successfully represent the acclaimed name of Dior.
PASS
Freetown-poster The problem with “Freetown” is that I feel like I see a trailer for this type of film every other week. In this case, a group of missionaries are making a trek to escape their oppressed home, driving to Freetown, Sierra Leone. But along the way, they find trouble in the form of a rebel army. Based on a true story, it is still hard to connect to this when the trailer feels just like everything else coming out these days. With no standout cast and not even a standout performance in the trailer, this feels a bit redundant to me.
PASS
TheHouseAcrossTheStreet-poster What feels like the most dull version of “Rear Window,” this thriller titled “The House Across The Street” depicts a woman that witnesses something (not sure what, guessing a murder) across the street from her house, but when the police don’t believe her (or at least the sheriff, played by Eric Roberts), she looks to the neighbors to back up her story. The trailer for this film is so dull and does not highlight a single moment that would make me want to see this film, literally showing the house across the street so many times, that that is all I really remember about the trailer now.
PASS
TheLastTimeYouHadFun-poster Points go to “The Last Time You Had Fun” for assembling a unique young cast including Demetri Martin, who definitely is not in enough films these days, and Eliza Coupe (“Happy Endings”), who deserves so much more than she’s been getting. In this comedy, Clark (Kyle Bornheimer) is going through a divorce and determined to give him a fun night out, his best friend Will (Martin) takes him out, sweatpants and all. They come across a female couple dealing with the same sort of issues and decide to join forces for the night, creating a night of debauchery with sex, skinny-dipping, and drunken limo rides. Despite the young cast and fun story, there is little here that hasn’t been done before, and it does not push the envelope in a way that it actually could feel unique.
PASS
TheLiving-poster Fran Kranz steps out of his wheelhouse to play Teddy, an abusive husband in the film “The Living”. Married to the beautiful and innocent Molly (Jocelin Donahue), on the surface, they look like a very happy couple, but when you see the cuts and bruises on her face, you realize it’s not so sweet. Fueled by their mother’s (Joelle Carter) harsh words, Molly’s brother Gordon (Kenny Wormald) decides to take matters into his own hands and find someone to take out Teddy, and if he can’t, he might even be willing to do it himself. The cast looks great, especially Kranz in this new role, but there still feels like something missing and for that, it starts to feel like every other domestic violence thriller.
PASS
RebelsOfTheNeonGod-poster Tsai Ming-liang’s 1992 cult classic “Rebels Of The Neon God” gets a digitally remastered American release. The trailer itself does very little to make me want to see this film about a young man that is obviously a little messed up as he dances in hallways and jumps on his bed. What eventually becomes an obsession and revenge story, this is a classic I simply had not heard of before this release. And with that, this is a remastered classic that I probably will not see.
PASS
TheSisterhoodOfNight-poster Ever since “The Craft” (1996), films about young, dark teenage witches never quite feel the same, and “The Sisterhood Of Night” continues to prove that. Putting a modern spin on the Salem witch hunts, the story of three girls who have given themselves over the dark side is revealed by one their peers, probably because of jealous, and their small town is spun upside down with media coverage and people wanting answers for what are being called the group’s deviant acts. You’ll likely recognize Kal Penn from his comedy days or even his days on the show “House M.D.” as well as Kara Hayward, who you recognize from Wes Anderson’s “Moonrise Kingdom”.
PASS
SongFromTheForest-poster Split between spending their lives in the forest as hunters and gatherers to living in the concrete jungle known as New York City, the subjects of the documentary “Song From The Forest” literally uproot their lives from one to the other. As described in the synopsis: “25 years ago, U.S.-born Louis Sarno travelled to the Central African rainforest—and never came back.” When he does return to the U.S. with his native born son that doesn’t speak any English, he finds that his son is the one that doesn’t want to leave, despite having grown up in the forest.
PASS
Underdogs-poster The Weinstein Company certainly swept this animated feature under the rug. Titled “Underdogs,” the quality of the animation is actually not that bad compared to many of the quietly released animated films that come out these days. With some bigger names on the voice cast, like Nicholas Hoult and John Leguizamo, as well as an interesting enough story involving a young, picked-on boy beating his bully at Foosball only to have his bully grow up to be one of the world’s best soccer players and coming to own his small town, for which the picked-on boy must give the bully a rematch to win back the town, with the help of the wood Foosball player that have come to life. As convoluted as that may sound, it actually rings through. But as far as animated films go in general, there is not much to write home about with this one.
PASS

THEATER

  • Clouds Of Sils Maria
  • Ex Machina

RENTAL

  • Lost River

MOST LIKELY CATCH ON NETFLIX (75%)

PROBABLY CATCH ON NETFLIX (50%)

MIGHT CATCH ON NETFLIX (25%)

  • About Elly
  • Dial A Prayer
  • Kill Me Three Times
  • The Longest Ride

PASS

  • Black Souls
  • Broken Horses
  • Desert Dancer
  • Dior And I
  • Freetown
  • The House Across The Street
  • The Last Time You Had Fun
  • The Living
  • Rebels Of The Neon God
  • The Sisterhood Of Night
  • Song From The Forest
  • Underdogs

HELL NO

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