Theatrical Releases: Pan & Steve Jobs

STEVE JOBS || October 9th, 2015

KnockKnock-poster KNOCK KNOCK || Sexy, dark, and maybe even scary, “Knock Knock” is yet another thriller from director Eli Roth. Keanu Reeves plays a husband that makes the mistake of allowing two young, sexy women to enter his household when they show up needing help. What starts out as an innocent slight in his marriage, taking part in what could be considered every man’s fantasy, turns into something much more deadly. Lorenza Izzo and Ana de Armas play the seductresses and hopefully we’ll be seeing more them in the future.
THEATER
Pan-poster PAN || Warner Brothers tries to give us the live action origin story to Peter Pan that they thought we needed. Instead, what apparently is delivered is a visual effects heavy foray into a story that no one really cares about. Hugh Jackman looks terrifying, and not in a good way. His make-up and especially that beard look second-rate, making him not the formidable foe that WB would like him to be Garrett Hedlund and Rooney Mara are much more of a draw, but even in this, they look under used and given nothing to work with.
PASS
SteveJobs-poster STEVE JOBS || Academy Award winner Aaron Sorkin teams with Academy Award winner Danny Boyle to deliver Academy Award nominated Michael Fassbender as the title character, “Steve Jobs.” This just has to reek of Oscar bait. But rightfully so, as this expertly written character piece delivers the Jobs that has yet to be profiled in any of the documentaries or television pieces on the man. Sorkin’s writing is some of the best of the year and also starring Kate Winslet and Seth Rogen in some of their best roles yet, this will definitely end up owning at the Oscars.

ABetterYou-poster A BETTER YOU || You’ve seen director Matt Walsh as a supporting player in many other people’s comedies, but now he brings you his own creation, titled “A Better You,” starring Brian Huskey as a hypnotherapist named Dr. Ron. Walsh stars as one of his patients, among many other recognizable faces. But the film itself has a strange, off-beat humor that does not quite add up to anything substantial, using Dr. Ron’s hot-headedness and awkwardness to produce jokes including one where he suggests double-teaming his wife in relation to a therapy session.
PASS
BigStoneGap-poster BIG STONE GAP || How long has it been since Ashley Judd and Jenna Elfman were relevant. Yes, they are such talented actresses in their own rights, but “Big Stone Gap” feels like a film that should have been released ten or more years ago. Patrick Wilson is also not a great supporting lead to Judd. Whoopi Goldberg is the best looking part of this film and even she’s not given much to work with. Judd is a small-town woman whose not really looking for love, but being told she needs it. This relies too heavily on small-town charm and not enough on story or characters.
PASS
BrandASecondComing-poster BRAND: A SECOND COMING || As interesting as I find Russell Brand, not just as an actor and comedian, but as an individual, and as much as I would like to know more about the inner workings of his life, like why he divorced Katy Perry, “Brand: A Second Coming” feels a little too self-exploitative for my liking. Also, if the documentary were to have been made after his death and were it to be of higher quality, it definitely would have held more weight. But instead, we’re making documentaries about living men that aren’t even that substantial.
PASS
BreakingThrough-poster BREAKING THROUGH || What the world does not need is another dance movie like “Step Up,” yet somehow, here we are, watching a trailer for “Breaking Through,” about a young choreographer discovered on YouTube and thrust into the world of competitive dance. Sophia Aguiar is actually a choreographer by trade, so at least her profession somewhat relates. Also, she is very attractive, which helps make the film not terrible to look at. But the story is abysmal, proving that dance films are just getting worse and worse.
PASS
AFasterHorse-poster A FASTER HORSE || Ford opens their doors to allow a documentary to showcase the fiftieth anniversary of one of their most popular models of cars, the Mustang. Going into its only fifth redesign, the Mustang has a huge following and coming up with the next best model, the 2015 Mustang is the challenge. Going to the ground floor and interviewing people involved at every stage, this is really for anyone that has a passion for cars. Personally, I love Mustangs, but I’m not going to sit down and watch a documentary on their history. To me, that’s usually what Wikipedia is for.
PASS
TheFinalGirls-poster THE FINAL GIRLS || Taking a spin on classic horror slasher films, “The Final Girls” positions a young girl named Max (Taissa Farmiga) on the anniversary of her mother’s death, who was a star in an ’80s slasher film titled “Camp Bloodbath”. When a fire forces Max and her friends through the movie screen, they actually find themselves transported into the movie. Playing with the horror tropes like everyone that has sex in slasher films die, therefore, no one is allowed to have sex, the film actually works on the level of a comedy as well as a horror film, even playing with slow motion and flashbacks in terms of people experiencing those things first hand.
RENT
TheForbiddenRoom-poster2 THE FORBIDDEN ROOM || Watch the trailer for “The Forbidden Room” and experience a time machine to an older era of cinema. But to describe it to anyone that hasn’t seen it feels almost impossible. So here’s the iTunes trailer synopsis: “The Forbidden Room is Guy Maddin’s ultimate epic phantasmagoria. Honoring classic cinema while electrocuting it with energy, this Russian nesting doll of a film begins (after a prologue on how to take a bath) with the crew of a doomed submarine chewing flapjacks in a desperate attempt to breathe the oxygen within. Suddenly, impossibly, a lost woodsman wanders into their company and tells his tale of escaping from a fearsome clan of cave dwellers. From here, Maddin and co-director Evan Johnson take us high into the air, around the world, and into dreamscapes, spinning tales of amnesia, captivity, deception and murder, skeleton women and vampire bananas.”
PASS
Gravy-poster GRAVY || A horror film where a group of people make games out of eating people, this horror/comedy is way too low on the production quality meter and could use a little more star power, despite having minimal support already. Working in its favor are a seductive Lily Cole at play, who honestly deserves this role but in a much more high profile film. Sarah Silverman also has a small role, as does Gabourey Sidbe, and apparently Molly Ephraim according to the YouTube description, though I do not recall her in the trailer. You’ll recognize a lot of faces, but none of them add up to this needing to be seen.
PASS
HookedUp-poster HOOKED UP || As the poster states, “Hooked Up” is the “first feature film shot entirely on an iPhone”. Whether that is something to advertise is yet to be seen. What the film becomes is your run-of-the-mill horror found footage film. The only difference between this and any other found footage horror film is that it likely was all shot on an iPhone. But they are making lenses for the iPhone camera’s these days that probably rival some of the lenses used on actual high end cameras. So there’s nothing completely new here, but it does take its hard R-rating by adding plenty of sex and violence.
STREAM
InMyFathersHouse-poster IN MY FATHER’S HOUSE || Che ‘Rhymefest’ Smith is best known for his collaboration with Kanye West on the single “Jesus Walks,” but in the documentary “In My Father’s House,” Smith reconnects with his father, who has been homeless in Chicago for the past 20 years. Smith, who purchased the house that he grew up in, sets out to help his father find a better path, since he’s currently living on the streets as an alcoholic, but Smith learns that some things aren’t so easy to fix.
PASS
Ladrones-poster LADRONES || In this Spanish language film, you’ve got two heist experts returning to take care of one more “Robin Hood” like heist, involving stolen land, but this is no “Oceans 11” despite following a similar approach. Recruiting a team to build a heist around, most of them are bumbling idiots including a man that claims he cannot feel pain even though after immediately putting his hand over fire, he drops it. “Ladrones” comedy is a bit juvenile.
PASS
TheLittlePrince-poster THE LITTLE PRINCE || More often than not, animated features that aren’t put out by the big name studios like Pixar or Dreamworks end up not being very good, but “The Little Prince,” directed by Mark Osborne (“Kung Fu Panda”) does an excellent job of being a decent rival to these studios. With a huge voice cast including Rachel McAdams, Jeff Bridges, Benicio Del Toro, Marion Cotillard, Paul Rudd, and Paul Giamatti, with decent production quality, similar to Pixar’s last feature “Inside Out,” and telling a heartwarming story about a young girl who breaks away from her planned out life to have an adventure reminds me of “Up” in its tone and delivery.
STREAM
MansonFamilyVacation-poster MANSON FAMILY VACATION || Presented by the Duplass Brothers, “Manson Family Vacation” stars Jay Duplass (“Transparent”) and Linas Phillips as brothers who do not see eye to eye. So when Linas’ Conrad comes to live with his somewhat established brother Nick (Jay), the two embark on a Los Angeles adventure based around Conrad’s latest obsession, Charles Manson and the book, “Helter Skelter”. While doing so, they run from the law and inevitable must face the giant rift between them. Unfortunately Phillips does not quite sell his role and with him being the center of this, I don’t believe this to even be watchable.
PASS
NavySealsVsZombies-poster NAVY SEALS VS. ZOMBIES || As if the zombie craze hasn’t gone on for long enough, now we have “Navy Seals Vs. Zombies,” which is exactly what it sounds like. Fighting the zombie apocalypse on the forefront, these men fly in and shoot their way out. This can only eventually become a glorified video game, as these men mow down hoards of zombies with no real storyline to follow them. Were this given a little more attention, it at least had the potential to be something slightly more high end, but instead falls hugely short.
PASS
Reversion-poster REVERSION || In the world of technology where your memories can be recalled with a device, the best marketer of this product, Sophie Clé (Aja Naomi King) is kidnapped and then returned with some memory issues. Now, she needs help uncovering exactly what happened and why. You’ll recognize faces in this, including Colm Feore (“The Amazing Spider-Man 2”) and Gary Dourdan (“CSI”), but the film itself feels stale and made for television.
PASS
Terror-poster (T)ERROR || If you don’t already have suspicions about the government and its agencies, “(T)error” attempts to instill some of its own fear: “Saeed “Shariff” Torres, a counterterrorism informant for more than two decades, takes on what he swears is his last job for the FBI and invites filmmakers to follow his covert efforts to befriend a suspected jihadist— without informing his superiors. As surprising revelations emerge, not only about Torres’ past, but also about the increasingly murky ethical grounds of his present mission, (T)ERROR explores just how far we are going to prevent terror and exactly what liberties we are sacrificing to get there.”
PASS
Trash-poster TRASH || When three boys find a wallet while digging through the landfills of Rio, what follows is a chase from the authorities who look to recover the information. Step in the recognizable faces of the film, Martin Sheen and Rooney Mara, as missionaries, helping the boys along their way. Were this to feel a little more like “Slumdog Millionaire” and a little less like the after-school special of the week, “Trash” could actually pack a punch, but instead it’s soft and one-dimensional.
PASS
Victoria-poster VICTORIA || The German directors of “Victoria” could have easily come across the idea for the film with the question, “what if “Birdman” was a heist film?” In this one take wonder, which is 2 hours 18 minutes mind you, follows the title character (Laia Costa) as she becomes involved in and takes part in a heist. Although, even with “Birdman,” this felt like a gimmick, the fact that’s it being delivered with “No cuts. No CGI. No cheap tricks. No expensive ones, either. Just one shot” sets it up as a must see. What should have been Germany’s entry for the Best Foreign Language film at this years Oscars, it was disqualified for containing to much English dialogue.
RENT
TheWineOfSummer-poster THE WINE OF SUMMER || After watching the trailer and reading the synopsis, I still do not have a real grasp on what exactly “The Wine Of Summer” is about. It pertains to a man quitting his job to become an actor, while an older man looks to visit a long lost love. And through the synopsis, it reveals that all the characters lives will become intertwined. But beyond these basic footnotes, I really have no idea. Oscar winner Marcia Gay Harden shows up, but to what part she plays in everything overall is beyond me.
PASS
WinterOnFire-poster WINTER ON FIRE: UKRAINE’S FIGHT FOR FREEDOM || In 2013, Netflix had a documentary that was nominated for an Academy Award titled “The Square,” which depicted the ongoing Egyptian Crisis which started with the Egyptian Revolution of 2011 at Tahrir Square. This year, they look to repeat a nomination with their documentary “Winter On Fire: Ukraine’s Fight For Freedom,” which dons the same attempt for peaceful protests which turn into violent revolutions through acts by the government.
PASS
Xenia-poster XENIA || Greece’s entry into the Best Foreign Language Feature for this year’s Academy Awards, “Xenia” sees two young brothers on the search for their biological father. Dany, 16, a young, gay man, must first find his brother and convince him to travel with him to find their father. What follows does not seem like the touching or even particularly dramatic story that it could be and feels a bit forced.
PASS
YakuzaApocalypse-poster YAKUZA APOCALYPSE || Their track record is amazing, as the studio that brought us “13 Assassins”, “Killers”, “The Raid”, and “The Raid 2,” but their latest feature, “Yakuza Apocalypse” is lacking in comparison to those. For starters, it lacking any strong leads that draw you in. Secondly, described as “a comedic vampire thriller, a gangster epic, a martial-arts extravaganza and an end-of-the-world spectacle,” it feels all over the place, rather than a direct, small concept similar to those previous films mentioned.
PASS

THEATER

  • “Knock Knock”
  • “Steve Jobs”

RENT

  • “The Final Girls”
  • “Victoria”

STREAM

  • “Hooked Up”
  • “The Little Prince”

PASS

  • “A Better You”
  • “Big Stone Gap”
  • “Brand: A Second Coming”
  • “Breaking Through”
  • “A Faster Horse”
  • “The Forbidden Room”
  • “Gravy”
  • “In My Father’s House”
  • “Ladrones”
  • “Manson Family Vacation”
  • “Navy Seals Vs. Zombies”
  • “Pan”
  • “Reversion”
  • “(T)error”
  • “Trash”
  • “The Wine Of Summer”
  • “Winter On Fire: Ukraine’s Fight For Freedom”
  • “Xenia”
  • “Yakuza Apocalypse”

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