NO ESCAPE || August 28th, 2015

NoEscape-poster NO ESCAPE || At the very least, “No Escape” is a tension filled thriller with a decent cast. Starring Pierce Brosnan, Owen Wilson, and the gorgeous Lake Bell, the story sees Wilson as an American family man that moves for work. Suddenly, he and his family find themselves in the middle of a Southeast Asian political uprising and must get to the American embassy without getting killed. Coming off very much like a video game, with the plot-line carrying the family through one predicament after another, the film is written and directed by John Erick Dowdle (“As Above, So Below” and “Quarantine”).
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QueenOfEarth-poster QUEEN OF EARTH || Despite having rave reviews for Elisabeth Moss’ performance, “Queen Of Earth” is a little too much what it’s trying to be, a throwback to the Hitchcock period of thrillers. This one in particular sees Moss playing a mentally shaky woman that flees to her friend’s lakehouse retreat, where her sanity and friendship are put to the test. Very grainy and drab in color puts this film in the era of film-making that it’s trying so hard to represent, along with the creepy ’80s voice-over, but there’s nothing here that you can’t get from Hitchcock himself.
PASS
TheSecondMother-poster THE SECOND MOTHER || An interesting concept in studying the nature of classes and different generations, “The Second Mother” centers around a live-in housekeeper that works for a rich family. But when her estranged daughter decides to move in with her, the class structure is broken down, as she eats at the family’s table and swims in their pool. The performances look strong and the story is actually quite refreshing and if this were to get nominated for Best Foreign Language Feature, I would definitely give it a shot. But until then, I’ll admire it from afar.
PASS
WeAreYourFriends-poster WE ARE YOUR FRIENDS || A critic put it perfectly when they stated that “We Are Your Friends” was probably a decade or two late in being released, but none-the-less, here Zac Efron is, playing a lowly DJ looking for his big break. And that comes in the form of Wes Bentley… the only problem is, Efron is interested in Bentley’s girlfriend. Now, even though the film itself looks rather played out and not nearly as exciting as it should be, Emily Ratajkowski is a hot young talent that needs to be watched and Efron may not be capitalizing on his “Neighbors” success quite like he should, but he’s still enough to slightly sell this, even if this one of the worst releases in the box office this year.
STREAM

7ChineseBrothers-poster 7 CHINESE BROTHERS || Normally, I would say that Jason Schwartzman could sell me on almost anything, but “7 Chinese Brothers” feels like an exploration of his idiosyncrasies and that is not necessarily a good thing. In the film, he plays a down-and-out loser that cannot keep a job and spends most of his time talking to his dog or annoying his seemingly only friend. But when he gets a job at Quick Lube with a cute, female boss, apparently he is willing to turn it all around. As much as I like Schwartzman, this feels a little lame to me.
PASS
Drown-poster DROWN || “Drown” is all over the place, delving into the world of competitive surf-lifesaving, the homosexual underground of partying, and extreme violent homophobia. The trailer does not do a very good job of explaining what exactly is going on and every time I felt like I was starting to get a grasp on where the film was headed, it would switch tones and subject matter. Winning awards in the LGBT community, it seems like this is one that will probably not quite get out of that realm.
PASS
ITouchedAllYourStuff-poster I TOUCHED ALL YOUR STUFF || Despite passing on this particular documentary, “I Touched All Your Stuff” does look quite intriguing from a mystery standpoint. Telling the story of Chris Kirk, “a brilliant IT technician from Michigan, [who] left a stable job in Olympia, Washington, moved to Bogotá, fell in love with a mysterious Colombian-Japanese woman and ended up in a Brazilian jail for international drug smuggling.” The trailer doesn’t give you much more than that. Thought-provoking for sure, but not quite entirely entertaining.
PASS
MemoriesOfTheSword-poster MEMORIES OF THE SWORD || Betrayal, revenge, battles, honor, justice; these are all terms you associate with most martial arts or high concept fighting films such as this (see: “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” which was nominated for several Academy Awards). Stellar cinematography is also becoming a staple in these films (see: “The Grandmaster,” which was nominated for an Academy Award). However, nothing quite sets “Memories Of The Sword” apart from the rest of this genre, and although this is probably the best looking entry released this year, it still doesn’t quite rate as a must-see.
PASS
POD-poster POD || Good horror is hard to find these days and more often than not, I’ll give horror films (even B-horror films) the benefit of the doubt. However, “Pod” is not quite up to snuff, a cabin in the woods thriller involving a paranoid man cooped up with a gun with a “pod” he found in the woods locked up in the basement. His friends come to find out what’s going on and end up releasing whatever is being held captive in the basement. Congratulations to Dean Cates, whom is part of my extended family, for grabbing a major role in the SXSW select, but “Pod” feels a bit stale.
PASS
TurboKid-poster2 TURBO KID || Visually, “Turbo Kid” has something going for it, as it mixes ’80s and ’90s style with the likes of “Mad Max” and washed out post-apocalyptic world. And I can definitely see why someone would call it a “cult classic in waiting” because it has the flare that would attribute a cult following. But personally, it looks a bit too psychedelic, hinging on a midnight masses that are desperately wanting to be different. Honestly, you could do a lot worse… but you could also do a lot better.
PASS
WarRoom-poster WAR ROOM || Following the footsteps of religious based films like “Courageous” and “Fireproof,” the latest film from these creators is titled “War Room”. I watched two different trailers for the film and after watching them, I really couldn’t discern exactly what the film was about. They both involve an element of a husband and wife at odds, fighting in their home, mixed with some wisely, Biblical advice from an old black lady. Leaning on the Christian aspect heavily, this is definitely for a specific group of movie-goers.
PASS
WhenAnimalsDream-poster WHEN ANIMALS DREAM || A Danish dramatic horror film, “When Animals Dream” places the coming of age story of a young woman against the backdrop that she’s becoming a werewolf. Despite being of medium quality and containing not a lot of star power or attention to visual effects, the practical effects present in the trailer are entertaining, especially in things like the woman’s back bulging and her eating glass at the conclusion. What also helps is that the film seems to lean into its darkness, bringing sex and violence to the forefront.
STREAM
ZForZachariah-poster Z IS FOR ZACHARIAH || You had me at Margot Robbie, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Chris Pine. Now put them in a post-apocalyptic adaptation of a novel about the last woman on Earth meeting the last man… and then yet another “last” man. With emotions already heightened because it being the end of the world, toss on some sexual tension and some huge life decisions, and this has the elements of being one the best sleeper films of the year.
THEATER
Zipper-poster ZIPPER || For some reason, it takes a lot for me to believe Patrick Wilson in most of his roles. But with “Zipper,” he actually pulls it off. He does so as an aspiring politician that runs on the platform of being a clean-cut family man. But of course, if that’s what he stands for during election, in true conflict fashion, he must be a cheating, lying, adulterer behind the scenes. Boasting a fairly strong cast, with Lena Headey, John Cho, Dianna Agron, Ray Winstone, and Richard Dreyfuss offering supporting roles, and a sheen look with an R-Rating, there’s actually quite a bit going for this film.
RENT

THEATER

  • Z For Zachariah

RENT

  • Zipper

STREAM

  • No Escape
  • We Are Your Friends
  • When Animals Dream

PASS

  • 7 Chinese Brothers
  • Drown
  • I Touched All Your Stuff
  • Memories Of The Sword
  • POD
  • Queen Of Earth
  • The Second Mother
  • Turbo Kid
  • War Room

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