Theatrical Releases: Black Mass, Everest, & The Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials

EVEREST || September 16th, 2015

AboutRay-poster ABOUT RAY || With the makings of a great trailer, including a heartfelt song by Sam Mendes titled “Life Of The Party” and an ensemble cast of Naomi Watts, Elle Fanning, and Susan Sarandon, the story of the film feels like a cash-in on the latest transgender surge in our media rather than actually telling a meaningful story. Elle plays a transgender male in a female’s body looking for the elective surgery. But she’ll need her absentee father’s signature first. Bring on the tears!
PASS
BlackMass-poster BLACK MASS || Truly one of Johnny Depp’s best performances to date, “Black Mass” encapsulates an actor’s dream, bringing to light so many great character actors finally doing what they do best with epic roles. Joel Edgerton, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Cory Stohl all knock their performances out of the park as well, bringing to life the true life story of Whitey Bulgar, the man that sat atop the FBI’s Most Wanted List, while alleged acting as an informant. Expect to see this show up with some Oscar nominations.
Captive-poster CAPTIVE || “The greatest tragedy in life is not death… but life without purpose.” Who knew a statement like that and a book titled “The Purpose Driven Life” by Rick Warren could inspire such a heartfelt true story about an escaped convict that takes a mother hostage in her apartment. Why stuck together, she reads from the book and not only inspires herself, but brings about a better resolution for the convict as well. Both incredibly talented, David Oyelowo and Kate Mara team up in this faith-based drama, “Captive”.
PASS
Everest-poster EVEREST || Inspired by true events, there are enough documentaries and books telling these stories, now “Everest” brings us an ensemble cast to portray these mountain-climbing pioneers that faced one of the harshest snowstorms known to man. Jason Clarke, Josh Brolin, John Hawkes, Robin Wright, Michael Kelly, Sam Worthington, Keira Knightley, Emily Watson, and Jake Gyllenhaal: how’s that for a cast? With epic visuals of the mountain, I can only assume this one has to be seen in theaters.
THEATER
TheMazeRunnerTheScorchTrialsposter THE MAZE RUNNER: THE SCORCH TRIALS || Why does “The Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials” look exactly like the first film? They are awakening in a new place, they’ve got to escape once again, and the main character is rushing to slid under a closing door once again. This time, they’re in some sort of post-apocalyptic city complete with zombies and falling over buildings. Aidan Gillen (“Game Of Thrones”) and Lili Taylor (“The Haunting”) join the cast.
RENT
Sicario-poster SICARIO || From director Denis Villeneuve (“Prisoners”, “Enemy”) and legendary cinematography Roger Deakins, “Sicario” is the darkest film I’ve seen this year. It also contains some of the best performances of the year, with Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin, and especially Benicio Del Toro bringing all they have as FBI agents infiltrating a Mexican drug cartel with an anything-goes task force. Oscar winning composer Jóhann Jóhannsson provides the score. Also, do not be surprised to see this film nab some well deserved Oscar nominations.

BeingCanadian-poster BEING CANADIAN || Apparently someone thought we needed a documentary about what it is to be Canadian, so the director gathered all the Canadian celebrities he could find and interviewed them. It deals with misconceptions about the country, things that represent the country, and overall just immerses the viewer in everything Canadian. However, it feels a little home video/student film like, with poor production quality, making it look like it was made several years ago.
PASS
Cooties-poster COOTIES || The zombie film is taken to elementary school, was a group of little kids become flesh eating zombies, while the teachers have to fend them off. Your run-of-the-mill comedy/horror film is made better by a highlight cast of Elijah Wood, Rainn Wilson, and Alison Pill. There’s a high production quality that helps this along, as well as some great lines from Rainn Wilson. Part of me feels like this could be great, another part feels like it will be fairly juvenile. Only one way to find out.
STREAM
TheCut-poster THE CUT || The trailer for “The Cut” opens with a quote from Martin Scorsese telling how important this film was to him. Following the journey of a man that survives the 1915 Armenian genocide searching for his two daughters that are said to still be alive. He journeys to America, searching high a low. There is something about the film that makes it feel very classic and rich, while also feeling like a true epic.
PASS
EastSideSushi-poster EAST SIDE SUSHI || Girl power! “East Side Sushi” dives into the world of a Mexican American trying to become a renowned sushi chef. With her family working against her, her bosses telling her no, and the world generally making it clear that a woman doesn’t belong in sushi, Juana fights back by not taking no for an answer. Part of me wonders if this is actually a thing, where women aren’t accepted in the sushi world. Part of me feels like there’s no such gender gap, as I’ve seen plenty of female sushi chefs.
PASS
Eden2015-poster2 EDEN || Nate Parker (“Beyond The Lights”) wrote and stars in this survival based film where an American soccer team’s airplane goes down on a deserted island. When rations get low and the general mindset of the group starts to get violent and muddied, death and survival become the name of the game. Were “Eden” to fully embrace its dark side, this could be a successful film. But with the trailer promising very little in the way of darkness, I would bet money that it’s not.
PASS
Hellions-poster HELLIONS || At some point in the trailer for the horror film “Hellions,” it becomes an acid trip nightmare where the sky turns pinkish-purple and it comes off like an ’80s drug trip. Set on Halloween night, a seventeen-year-old Dora (Chloe Rose) finds out that she’s pregnant. Deciding to go out for the night, she waits for her boyfriend to arrive. But when two small, masked children show up on her doorstep with her boyfriend’s head in a bag, the acid trip begins. Chloe Rose looks decent but that’s not enough to warrant a viewing.
PASS
TheHive-poster THE HIVE || As with most horror films, I’m inclined to give them a chance and with “The Hive” looking very polished, with some truly disturbing visuals, I am even more inclined to see it. Looking very much in the vein of a zombie infection, the story follows a couple working as camp counselors when a plane crashes nearby. With chaos ensuing, a man named Adam wakes up in a boarded up cabin with notes written on the wall for himself. With a score from Steve Aoki, this definitely has things going in its favor.
STREAM
JeremyScottThePeoplesDesigner-poster JEREMY SCOTT: THE PEOPLE’S DESIGNER || This documentary about fashion designer Jeremy Scott hits quite a sensitive mark when it points out the fact that life can be hard for someone that sticks out and has such a style all their own. “Anytime you look different or think different or stand out in any way, sadly, it’s a threat to people.” From a kid that was probably picked on to being surrounded by the likes of Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry, and Rihanna, Jeremy Scott has really made a name for himself.
PASS
KeithRichardsUnderTheInfluence-poster KEITH RICHARDS: UNDER THE INFLUENCE || The Academy Award winning director of “20 Feet From Stardom” releases his next documentary via Netflix, with the solo look at Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones. With no focus put on any of his other band mates, Richards lets the cameras follow him as he continues to be music and tells the stories of days past being apart of one of the most famous rock’n’roll bands of all time.
PASS
TheManWhoSavedTheWorld-poster THE MAN WHO SAVED THE WORLD || Imagine being the person with the moniker of “the man who saved the world.” That title was given to Russian Lt. Colonel Stanislav Petrov who saved countless lives by refusing to launch a counter-attack when confronted with what was a false alarm bomb signal allegedly from a U.S. military base. The documentary splits its time between fictionally reenacting the events and following Petrov as he comes to America to accept an award and to meet celebrities Robert De Niro and Kevin Costner.
PASS
TheMartialArtsKid-poster THE MARTIAL ARTS KID || When the biggest star in your film is Kathryn Newton of “Paranormal Activity 4,” you should probably realize you have a problem. “The Martial Arts Kid” might as well have come out not long after “Karate Kid’ as it feels like a blatant rip-off, but watered down to the point of being laughable. Half the cast is kick boxing and martial artists by day, and terrible actors with monotone deliveries by night.
PASS
Montana-poster MONTANA || “Straight there, straight back” is a rule that is never followed in any action film ever. Or obviously there would be no conflict. In this case, a young man named Montana is sent with a stash that is eventually taken from him on the journey. When the men that hired him come after him with guns, an older gentlemen that is after Montana’s employers offers to train him to fight back. The man is played by Lars Mikkelsen, Mads Mikkelson’s brother.
PASS
NaomiAndElysNoKissList-poster NAOMI & ELY’S NO KISS LIST || From the authors of “Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist” comes yet another film with two people’s names in it. “Naomi & Ely’s No Kiss List” is exactly what is sounds like. Naomi (Victoria Justice) and Ely are best friends. They’re perfect for each other… except Ely is gay. So to keep them from fighting over the same guys, they make a list of men to avoid as to avoid any hurt feelings. So what happens? Someone breaks the rules. It’s pretty melodramatic and handled much like a made for TV movie.
PASS
TheNewGirlFriend-poster THE NEW GIRL FRIEND || A woman finds out a disturbing secret about her deceased best friend’s husband: he likes to dress like a woman. What follows must be some sort of relationship between the two in French director François Ozon’s “The New Girl Friend”. Comparing the tone to something Hitchcockian, the trailer definitely gives that aura. But it also feels a little too much on the dramatic side and not eerie enough to be of Hitchcock.
PASS
PawnSacrifice-poster PAWN SACRIFICE || “After only four moves, there’s more than 300 billion options to consider”. Thus is game of chess. I wonder if the people that invented the game had any idea the obsession that it would cause. “Pawn Sacrifice” takes a look at the rise of Bobby Fisher (played by Tobey Macguire) as he decides to take on the Soviets in the game. With an impressive supporting cast of Liev Schreiber, Peter Sarsgaard, and Michael Stuhlbarg, this looks like an intense dramatic thriller, if only I had more faith in Macguire’s acting.
RENT
PeaceOfficer-poster PEACE OFFICER || There’s a decent story behind the documentary “Peace Officer”. A retired sheriff, “Dub” Lawrence, was the training officer for the very first SWAT team in his community. But thirty years later, his son-in-law is killed by the very same team. Now, he’s using his own investigation skills to find out what went wrong here and in several other cases where people were killed by officers. Quite relevant to the times, this still feels a little small time.
PASS
ProphetsPrey-poster PROPHET’S PREY || There’s something to see the FBI’s Most Wanted List and seeing the subject of the documentary “Prophet’s Prey” sandwiched between Osama Bin Laden and Whitey Bulgar. The subject is Warren Jeffs, a former president of Mormon fundamentalist denomination The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, that ran a compound where he married young girls. Apparently eluding police, this Showtime documentary is narrated by Jeffs’ creepy voice spouting his prophecy.
PASS
Pursuit-poster PURSUIT || I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, if you’re going to do a bank robbery movie or a heist movie or a getaway movie, you have to make it different than all the others somehow. It’s not enough to put different actors or actresses in the roles of stories that have already been told and expect to create something new. “Pursuit” is such a retread of absolutely everything else that it’s hard to even watch the trailer. There are a few recognizable faces but otherwise there’s nothing special here.
PASS
RacingExtinction-poster RACING EXTINCTION || From the award-winning filmmakers of “The Cove” comes a film about our potential extinction. Mainly focused on exposing people doing illegal shit, the same guy that exposed the dolphin killing in “The Cove” takes you inside illegal operations with hidden cameras, places where cameras would never be allowed, to expose the secrets killing our oceans and atmosphere. Trying to grab the world’s attention, I commend this documentary worker for his continued efforts and really hope he can bring about real change before it’s too late.
PASS
SomeKindOfHate-poster SOME KIND OF HATE || Some trailers simply miss the point. The trailer for “Some Kind Of Hate” is so vague and focuses on all the wrong parts and does not match music with imagery in way that sells the movie for what it is. Watch the trailer and then read the synopsis and you feel like you’re comparing two different films. A paranormal slasher film taking place at a troubled teens retreat, a young man summons the spirit of a suicidal teen that killed herself due to bullying. All I have to say is Grace Phipps is looking good in this film.
PASS
WarPigs-poster WAR PIGS || What the hell happened to Mickey Rourke? He looks like a caricature. “War Pigs” is your typical Nazi-killer fantasy where men like Dolph Lungren are recruited to go behind enemy lines and take out the Hitler followers. But instead of being a big budget, highly polished film like Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds,” it remains a low budget venture that feels more like a WWII reenactment get-together.
PASS

THEATER

  • Black Mass
  • Everest
  • Sicario

RENT

  • The Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials
  • Pawn Sacrifice

STREAM

  • Cooties
  • The Hive

PASS

  • About Ray
  • Being Canadian
  • Captive
  • The Cut
  • East Side Sushi
  • Eden
  • Hellions
  • Jeremy Scott: The People’s Designer
  • Keith Richards: Under The Influence
  • The Man Who Saved The World
  • The Martial Arts Kid
  • Montana
  • Naomi & Ely’s No Kiss List
  • The New Girl Friend
  • Peace Officer
  • Prophet’s Prey
  • Pursuit
  • Racing Extinction
  • Some Kind Of Hate
  • War Pigs

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