Theatrical Releases: Bridge Of Spies, Crimson Peak, & Goosebumps

CRIMSON PEAK || October 16th, 2015

BridgeOfSpies-poster BRIDGE OF SPIES || Spielberg and Hanks fourth collaboration together (“Saving Private Ryan,” “The Terminal” and “Catch Me If You Can”). Hanks plays Brooklyn lawyer, James Donovan, “who finds himself thrust into the center of the Cold War when the CIA sends him on the near-impossible task to negotiate the release of a captured American U-2 pilot.” Like “War Horse” and “Lincoln,” relies mainly on the director’s and the leading man’s name.
THEATER
CrimsonPeak-poster CRIMSON PEAK || Guillermo Del Toro’s name is synonymous with well-crafted horror, including his Oscar winning film “Pan’s Labyrinth.” Edith (Mia Wasikowska) enters the world of the paranormal when she moves into Crimson Peak after marrying mysterious stranger Thomas (Tom Hiddleston) who is accompanied everywhere by his sister, Lucille (Jessica Chastain). Lacking scares and ingenuity, the film relies on its masterful production and costume design.
Experimenter-poster EXPERIMENTER || Stanley Milgram is the mind behind the experiment where ordinary people were asked by a person in authority to shock a complete stranger located in another room. Peter Sarsgaard plays Milgram, who ends up testing the boundaries of the human conscience, alongside Winona Ryder and Jim Gaffigan. However, with strange exterior backdrops and a middling tone, this trailer misses its mark.
PASS
Goosebumps-poster GOOSEBUMPS || The teenage version of me would have died for this movie, as these books were all that I read growing up. Bringing to life the world of R.L. Stine’s young adult horror books, “Goosebumps” delivers all the monsters that I read about when I was a kid. Mostly for kids, adults will still appreciate the high production design and CGI monsters as well as the tongue-in-cheek jabs at Stephen King and Jack Black meeting the real Stine in a high school hallway.

Truth-poster TRUTH || Featuring Cate Blanchett and Robert Redford, “Truth” is about the true story of CBS’ attempt to break open the story of President George W. Bush and his absence from the National Guard prior to his election, which then blew up in their faces. Redford plays Dan Rather, with a cast including Topher Grace, Elisabeth Moss, and Dennis Quaid. With plenty of high profile actors and a rather straightforward story, this could definitely find its way into Oscars Season.
THEATER

AllThingsMustPass-poster ALL THINGS MUST PASS || Tower Records was once a force to be reckoned with in the music world, “with two hundred stores, in thirty countries, on five continents.” With most people assuming that the internet and music-sharing software like Napster put the once $1 billion company out of business, “All Things Must Pass” attempts to set the story straight. As much as I’d love to see Dave Grohl talk about his days working at this record store, I think we got plenty of what we needed about this story from the fictional film “Empire Records.”
PASS
TheAssassin-poster THE ASSASSIN || Taiwan’s official entry into the Best Foreign Language Film at this year’s Oscars, “The Assassin” is set in 9th-century China and is displayed in black-and-white. Raised by a nun after she is abducted, Nie Yinniang (Shu Qi) is trained in martial arts, and after a 13 year exile, she returns to her former hometown on a mission to kill. Often, even a film’s poster can get your hopes up about a particular film, but the trailer actually does not deliver the rich film promised on the once sheet.
PASS
ABallerinasTale-poster A BALLERINA’S TALE || Most ballets that you see will feature white women, with small chests and small overall figures; that’s just the way it goes. But “A Ballerina’s Tale” tells the real story of Misty Copeland, an African American, big chested, ballerina and her ascension in the ranks of big time ballet, changing stereotypes and blazing trails. As inspirational as Copeland’s story is and as interesting as ballet can be, this falls a little short on grabbing my attention.
PASS
BeastsOfNoNation-poster BEASTS OF NO NATION || What happens when all the major studios pass on your feature film, saying that no one will want to see it? In the case of “Beasts Of No Nation,” Netflix took a gamble on it, and it looks to be paying off, already grabbing some Oscar attention. The story of a young West African boy who witnesses his family being murdered and is thus taken in by a local militia headed by Commandment (Idris Elba). Powerful, well-shot, and well-acted, this is written, directed, and shot by Cary Joji Fukunaga, the director of all eight episodes of “True Detective: Season One.”
RENT
CutSnake-poster2 CUT SNAKE || Sullivan Stapleton is the man that lead the charge in “300: Rise Of An Empire” as Themistokles. In “Cut Snake,” he plays the antagonist to Alex Russell’s Sparra, an ex-con finally getting his life together with a new job and a fiancee, until Pommie (Stapleton), his ex-cellmate finds his way back into his life.  Not to bash an entire country of film-makers, but Australian thrillers often lack a sense of production that make them feel new and exciting and for that, this falls a bit off.
PASS
TheDiabolical-poster THE DIABOLICAL || In his directorial debut, Alistair Legrand delivers the paranormal film “The Diabolical” starring Ali Larter. “When a single mother (Ali Larter) and her two young children are tormented by an increasingly strange and intense presence in their quiet suburban home, she turns to her scientist boyfriend to take on the violent forces that paranormal experts are too frightened to face.” Despite always trying to support Larter’s work, with so many bad reviews not supporting this already wishy-washy trailer, this is one horror film I’ll likely miss.
PASS
Meadowland-poster MEADOWLAND || The latest cinematographer turned director, Reed Morano, delivers “Meadowland,” and despite a very deep and untethered debut, she does find that the more stars you put in your film, the better chance you have of people giving it a shot. On one hand, the film is about a couple (Wilde and Wilson) dealing with a great loss and their respected fallouts in the aftermath, which comes off rather lucid and unformed. But with a cast touting Olivia Wilde, Luke Wilson, Giovanni Ribisi, Elisabeth Moss, John Leguizamo, and Kevin Corrigan, I am inclined to give it a shot.
STREAM
MiAmerica-poster MI AMERICA || “Mi America” is a straightforward crime drama written, directed, and starring Robert Fontaine. When a hate crime is committed against five migrant workers, “Rolando Ramirez, a Mexican-American Detective, and a longtime resident of this community” is called upon to investigate the case. The problem with straightforward crime dramas is they feel like episodes of procedure shows that suck the life out of them, so by nature, they look played out.
PASS
Momentum-poster MOMENTUM || After great showings in “Oblivion” and “Quantum Of Solace,” Olga Kurylenko deserves better than independent action film “Momentum,” as does the man that will forever be pigeonholed as the villain, James Purefoy, after his incredible antagonist turn in the TV series “The Following.” Olga plays a spy whose identity is revealed and who then gets entangled in a government conspiracy, facing off against Purefoy. Although Olga gets to play lead, its in a second rate action flick that no one will see.
PASS
TheProgram-poster THE PROGRAM || Getting released overseas this weekend, I am not entirely sure if and when “The Program” is actually being released in the United States. Based on the story of Tour de France cyclist Lance Armstrong and the scandal that followed his wins, Ben Foster takes on the leading role and looks to transform into the part, giving one of his best showings yet. Were this to be released in 2015, you can be sure it would have a running at the Oscar Season as well.
RENT
Room-poster ROOM || Speaking of Oscar Season, there are no actresses being talked about more than Brie Larson in “Room.” Larson plays a kidnapped woman isolated in a one room shed, where she must raise her son who knows nothing beyond the walls of the room. With emotions set to run high and reviews raving about the performances, Larson is a powerhouse of an actress that is finally allowed to shine. Her previous role in “Short Term 12” put her on the Academy’s radar for sure, but this will make her a contender, with many predicting her rise to be similar to that of Jennifer Lawrence’s.
THEATER
TheRussianWoodpecker-poster THE RUSSIAN WOODPECKER || Apparently during the production of the documentary, “cinematographer Artem Ryzhykov was injured by sniper fire at Euromaidan and his equipment was destroyed. Two people standing next to him that day were killed at that moment.” (Wikipedia) “A Ukrainian survivor of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster discovers a dark secret and has to decide to risk his life by revealing it.” (Google)
PASS
SkinTraffik-poster SKIN TRAFFIK || Originally titled “A Hitman In London,” the film “Skin Traffik” sees a bundle of passed-their-prime actors attempting to stay relevant. But that’s not actually what the film is about. It’s about a hit man trying to stay alive in a seedy underworld. And that’s about all the trailer gives you either. But if you want to see a barely recognizable Mickey Rourke, forgotten actors like Eric Roberts, Daryl Hannah, Michael Madsen, and Dominique Swain, then this is definitely for you.
PASS
TabHunterConfidential-poster TAB HUNTER CONFIDENTIAL || Tab Hunter was an actor, singer, and American heartthrob, mainly in the ’50s and ’60s. Women everywhere wanted to be with him. But turns out, Tab was a closeted gay man. The documentary, “Tab Hunter Confidential” attempts to bring this fact to light as he was once romantically linked to actresses like Natalie Wood and Sophie Loren. Interviewing fellow gay actors like George Takei and Portia De Rossi, the film feels a bit exploitative, but if this is the first time the world is finding out about Tab, that would be something to see. But I don’t think it is.
PASS
TalesOfHalloween-poster TALES OF HALLOWEEN || Attempting to follow in the footsteps of horror anthologies like “V/H/S” and “The ABCs of Death,” the latest cash-in is “Tales Of Halloween,” displaying 10 films that are set on Halloween night, all from different directors. None of the director’s names jump off the page as anyone I should know, and the footage in the film looks like rather low quality for no apparent reason, making this feel like something that was released over thirty years ago, and not in a good way.
PASS
Woodlawn-poster WOODLAWN || Delivering another faith-based, sports film, “Woodlawn” depicts the true story of Tony Nathan, who, during his junior year, became the first black football player at Woodlawn High School in Birmingham, Alabama. Despite being apart of a team dedicated to love and unity, the school itself was rampant with racism and hate, which lead to some pretty heated football games. On paper, this sounds intriguing, but with the regular faith-based facade, this feels watered down and hokey.
PASS

THEATER

  • “Bridge Of Spies”
  • “Crimson Peak”
  • “Goosebumps”
  • “Room”
  • “Truth”

RENT

  • “Beasts Of No Nation”
  • “The Program”

STREAM

  • “Meadowland”

PASS

  • “All Things Must Pass”
  • “The Assassin”
  • “A Ballerina’s Tale”
  • “Cut Snake”
  • “The Diabolical”
  • “Experimenter”
  • “Mi America”
  • “Momentum”
  • “The Russian Woodpecker”
  • “Skin Traffik”
  • “Tab Hunter Confidential”
  • “Tales Of Halloween”
  • “Woodlawn”

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