Theatrical Releases: Paper Towns, Pixels, & Southpaw

PIXELS || July 24th, 2015

10CentPistol-poster 10 CENT PISTOL || Personally, I didn’t find “Brooklyn’s Finest” to be the best film, so touting “10 Cent Pistol” from the same writer does nothing for me. Jena Malone can be great and has been great, even recently in “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire”. But she does not come off as the best femme fatale in this film. With two brothers getting involved with the mob, I feel like I’ve seen the story a million times before.
PASS
AmericanHeist-poster AMERICAN HEIST || A few weeks ago, I brought up the fact that bank robbery films were a thing of the past and should have stopped after “Dog Day Afternoon”. Now, “American Heist” comes out, where Adrien Brody and Hayden Christensen play brothers caught up in yet another bank heist, and I cannot help but feel my point is echoed, bank robberies are truly a thing of the past. My biggest hope is that some day the gorgeous Jordana Brewster will find a role that actually suits her, rather than sexy, grieving girlfriend.
PASS
PaperTowns-poster PAPER TOWNS || Not quite as emotionally investing as John Green’s “The Fault In Our Stars,” his newest adaptation, “Paper Towns,” is an ambitious labor of love about love. I can definitely relate with outcast Quentin (Nat Wolff). He fell in love with the mysterious girl next door without even really knowing her. The GNL happens to be model turned actress Cara Delevingne, and although she’s not quite my idea of perfection, she plays the role quite nicely. The plot follows Q as he goes on a scavenger hunt of sorts to find Margo (Delevingne) after a memorable night together. What grabbed me most about was a high school nostalgia it brought to a hopeless romantic like me.

Phoenix-poster PHOENIX || Set in post-World War II Germany, “Phoenix” tells the fictional story of a woman that survived a concentration camp, only her face was severely disfigured for a bullet and she must undergo reconstructive surgery. Looking slightly different, she’s basically brought back from the dead, as everyone believed her to be deceased, including her husband. Instead of telling him who she is, she plays a game of disguise to find out if he’s the one that sold her out to the Nazis. As different as this story may be, it’s still a little thin for my liking.
PASS
Pixels-poster PIXELS || Obviously when everyone asked for a film that brought classic video games to life, people were not expecting “Pixels,” starring Adam Sandler and Kevin James. But that’s the film we got. The story sees us sending a time capsule of sorts into space containing classic video games. However, alien life interpreted it as a threat and sent enormous, real-life versions of Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, and others to end the world as we know it. Although I wish it had a better cast, it still seems worth a viewing to me.
RENTAL
Southpaw-poster SOUTHPAW || Critics dubbed “Southpaw” Jake Gyllenhaal’s redemption from not getting nominated last year for his work in “Nightcrawler”. Now that the film has come out, many, I’m sure, are changing their tune. Written by Kurt Sutter (creator of “Sons Of Anarchy”) and co-starring Rachel McAdams, there’s no way I’m going to miss this film about a boxer needing to find redemption to keep his daughter, but I could have done without a trailer that gives away such an important twist in the film.
THEATER

TheAminaProfile-poster THE AMINA PROFILE: A GAY GIRL IN DAMASCUS || Catfish to the tenth degree, I can’t do any better describing this film than the synopsis on YouTube: “When well-known Syrian blogger Amina Arraf – purportedly kidnapped by local authorities during the Arab Spring – was revealed to be an elaborate hoax persona, an entire international community realized it had been catfished. But the betrayal cut deepest for Canadian activist Sandra Bagaria, who had been involved in an online relationship with Amina. Playing out like a detective story, A GAY GIRL IN DAMASCUS reconstructs this astounding tale of global deceit from Sandra’s perspective. As she crosses the globe in search of answers, questioning journalists, activists, and intelligence agencies, she prepares for a face-to-face confrontation with Amina’s true creator.”
PASS
BigSignificantThings-poster BIG SIGNIFICANT THINGS || A man in personal crisis goes on a road trip tour of all the World’s Largest things, like the world’s largest cedar bucket and the world’s largest rocking chair. Completely fixated on these things, there’s a dark, comedic nature to his involvement and the general disinterest of the people around him. An old girlfriend of mine was from a town with the world’s largest ball of twine, so I have some slight insight into the world of these peculiar small towns.
PASS
TheChosen-poster THE CHOSEN || The turn of this trailer simply comes out of nowhere. One minute we’re with a happy brother and his sister, playing and hugging and then next, she’s possessed for no apparent reason. And the only way to save her is to kill several other members of the family that have been marked. The acting could be worse, but is definitely not great. The flailing man getting gasoline dumped on him made me laugh out loud, but the kicker is really in the end of the trailer, where the lead is being flirted with, even though we’re not privy to any romantic relationship that he might have, with a twist you can obviously see from a mile away.
PASS
DarkWasTheNight-poster DARK WAS THE NIGHT || As always, I’m willing to give horror films the benefit of the doubt. “Dark Was The Night” does not come off as a very good thriller, but it has two things working in its favor. Kevin Durand plays lead, to whom I have a growing respect for and often look for him to make strides in his career. And the trailer does not give away too much about the “beast” terrorizing the small town, leaving enough mystery for me to wonder what’s going on.
25% MAYBE
FiveStar-poster FIVE STAR || Again, no description can top the synopsis for “Five Star” on iTunes Trailers: “A member of the notorious Bloods since he was 12 years old—both in the film and in real life—Primo takes John, the son of his slain mentor, under his wing, versing him in the code of the streets. Set in East New York, FIVE STAR blends documentary and fictional storytelling as director Keith Miller carefully avoids worn clichés of gang culture to offer a compelling portrait of two men forced to confront the question of what it really means to be a man.”
PASS
FrankTheBastard-poster FRANK THE BASTARD || Rachel Miner heads this Indie titled “Frank The Bastard,” about a woman who returns to her birthplace after her father dies, to confront the people she once knew, including who I assume is her strange brother named Frank. She brings along a girlfriend who is doing some digging of her own, but these creepy, cult-ish people do not take kindly to snoopers. As creepy as this should be, the film feels hollow and uninspired.
PASS
HorseMoney-poster HORSE MONEY || There’s no story here, so if that’s what you’re looking for walk away now. Matt Zoller Sietz describes it as such: “There are long stretches of “Horse Money” in which you will have no idea what’s going on or how the movie wants you to take it, if indeed it wants you take it in any particular way, and on the basis of Costa’s past work, that seems unlikely. The best approach is to surrender to it as you might a dream and let the images overwhelm you.” Mixing reality with fiction, Costa’s work looks beautiful if not completely and utterly trippy.
PASS
JackStrong-poster JACK STRONG || The creators of the film “Jack Strong” really want you to know that this is based on a true story. Centered around a spy in the Soviet empire, with knowledge of the most top secret plans, his cooperation with the U.S. not only put his and his family’s life in danger, but also helped bring down the empire. Patrick Wilson is one of the only recognizable faces in the trailer, but to no avail in a film that feels about twenty years too late in the making.
PASS
LuckyStiff-poster LUCKY STIFF || Some musicals simply need to stay on Broadway and “Lucky Stiff” is one of them. When a British shoe salesman named Harry Witherspoon (Dominic Marsh) finds out his uncle left him an inheritance, he must face off with the others that want a piece of it. But when your biggest star power draw is Jason Alexander, you really should rethink your priorities. With a British whimsy to it that I thoroughly do not enjoy, there is absolutely nothing redeemable about this film to me.
PASS
Samba-poster SAMBA || “The immigrant’s struggle is brought to pulsating life in Samba,” -We Got This Covered. Reuniting the creators of “The Intouchables” with actor Omar Sy, “Samba” is about a man living in Paris, trying to support his family, but dealing with a lack of citizenship and a need to work regardless of such, always on the run from the law. Charlotte Gainsbourg plays a social worker trying to help him with his case for citizenship, and in a nice way, this has some real heart behind it. Unfortunately, it simply does not resonate with me.
PASS
Sharknado3-poster SHARKNADO 3: OH HELL NO! || Yes, they’re still making these for the Syfy network and they only keep getting more and more names in them, including Tara Reid’s return and the inclusion of Mark Cuban and David Hasselhoff. This time, the entire east coast is under attack with tornadoes filled with sharks. Obviously these films never take themselves too seriously and that’s why they are beloved, but I haven’t seen one yet and I don’t plan to start now.
PASS
SmoshTheMovie-poster SMOSH THE MOVIE || Apparently these guys (Anthony Padilla & Ian Hecox) are some sort of internet sensations and in their new film, they go into YouTube videos in hopes of finding one of their own embarrassing videos that they want to get rid of. None of this really registers with me, however, because I’ve never heard of Smosh or almost any of the YouTube videos that they’re referencing, but Michael Ian Black as Mr. YouTube is about the only highlight of this trailer.
PASS
Unexpected-poster UNEXPECTED || As much as I want to support Cobie Smulders blossoming career outside of “How I Met Your Mother” and the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and as much as she looks to be taking steps in the right direction with “Unexpected,” a film about a pregnant lady deciding whether to continue her career or be a stay-at-home mom is not quite the film I’d look forward to seeing. Her connection with the pregnant student is a nice addition, but makes the film feel like some sort of fluffier version of “Dangerous Minds”.
PASS
TheVaticanTapes-poster THE VATICAN TAPES || Yet another exorcism movie comes to fruition in “The Vatican Tapes,” this time with Michael Pena playing the inexperienced priest set to take on the devil, who has possessed a young woman (Olivia Taylor Dudley from “Chernobyl Diaries”). Almost everything present here is derivative of the previous exorcism films, with flimsy work in setting it apart. Same tropes, same beats, same everything. Dudley looks intense, but not quite enough to warrant a viewing on her merits alone.
PASS
TheYoungKielowski-poster2 THE YOUNG KIESLOWSKI || Having seen another film that Haley Lu Richardson starred in, I am slightly more compelled to assume she’s not a terrible actress after all. In “The Young Kieslowski,” she plays a virgin that hooks up with a weird kid named Brian Kieslowski (Ryan Malgarini), resulting in a pregnancy. Owning their mistake, they set off together to tell their parents the news and come to terms with the future that is in store for them. I appreciate the story and truly find it compelling, but beyond that, there’s not much here. If I had heard of the film prior or saw a strong approval rating, I might have been compelled to give this a MAYBE.
PASS

THEATER

  • Paper Towns
  • Southpaw

RENTAL

  • Pixels

MOST LIKELY CATCH ON NETFLIX (75%)

PROBABLY CATCH ON NETFLIX (50%)

MIGHT CATCH ON NETFLIX (25%)

  • Dark Was The Night

PASS

  • 10 Cent Pistol
  • American Heist
  • The Amina Profile: A Gay Girl In Damascus
  • Big Significant Things
  • The Chosen
  • Five Star
  • Frank The Bastard
  • Horse Money
  • Jack Strong
  • Lucky Stiff
  • Phoenix
  • Samba
  • Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!
  • Smosh The Movie
  • Unexpected
  • The Vatican Tapes
  • The Young Kieslowski

HELL NO

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