THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY – PART 2 || November 20th, 2015

Carol-poster CAROL || Set to be one of the bigger Oscar films this year, “Carol” comes from director Todd Haynes whose film “Far From Heaven,” starring Julianna Moore was nominated for 4 Oscars. This one, starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara has already started getting attention, as these two women fall in love with one another in 1950s New York. The production design and costumes look amazing, the acting looks exquisite and there’s no way this doesn’t represent.
THEATER
TheHungerGames-MockingjayPart2-poster THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY – PART TWO || There’s one thing almost everyone can agree on when it comes to the final installment of “The Hunger Games,” the last book should not have been split into two films. Had “Mockingjay” been one film, the worst portions of each parts would have been avoided and it would have been one action thrill ride. Instead, half the party feels over already and Jennifer Lawrence would not look as tired. Decent action, but overall, anti-climatic.
Legend-poster2 LEGEND || Tom Hardy alone is enough to get people to see a movie. See “Locke” for example, which only starred Hardy. Now there’s “Legend” where Hardy plays two characters… the identical Cray twins. Based on a true story about the twins who were involved in the London organized crime ring, each brother was unique in their own way. And it sounds like everyone is raving about Hardy’s performance alone, which may or may not carry the film.
THEATER
TheNightBefore-poster THE NIGHT BEFORE || Recapturing some of the magic that makes the classic Christmas movies, Seth Rogen and his gang bring us a weed-tinted Christmas movie where three friends must survive the night in order to get to the Christmas party of their dreams. Anthony Mackie and Joseph Gordon-Levitt also star, as well as a whole laundry list of other recognizable faces including Miley Cyrus, James Franco, and an amazingly comedic turn from Michael Shannon.

SecretInTheirEyes-poster SECRET IN THEIR EYES || Adapted from the same novel that the 2009 Oscar winning foreign language feature was, “Secret In Their Eyes” tells the story of a murder investigation that spans years. Reproducing some of the key scenes from the original film, this one happens to star a handful of Hollywood names like Julia Roberts, Nicole Kidman, and Chiwetel Ejiofor. This is also written and directed by Oscar nominated Billy Ray (“Captain Phillips”).
STREAM

AlteredMinds-poster ALTERED MINDS || Independent trailers that do a cast run are always quite humorous to me. Because besides touting the fact that they got Judd Hirsch in their feature, “Altered Minds” has no one really that notable. The only real story plot I got out of this entire trailer was something about a father having experimented on his kids and his now grown son trying to get the truth out. Other than that, there’s really nothing of value or note that comes from this.
PASS
CENSORED VOICES || In June of 1967, Israel pulled off a huge victory against the armies of Egypt, Jordan and Syria, which threatened to invade. Right after the event, author Amos Oz and editor Avraham Shapira compiled interviews with those involved with the conflict, but the recordings were censored until just recently. Now that they are accessible, the film-makers replay the interviews with the older versions of the men, while showing footage from the time period and exploring what actually happened.
PASS
CriminalActivities-poster CRIMINAL ACTIVITIES || John Travolta looks faker after every movie he does. And sadly that makes “Criminal Activities” not as good as it could be, especially considering the cast. Michael Pitt and Dan Stevens are two up-and-coming actors who have yet to truly show what they can do, but for some reason they take a pit-stop in this “Suicide Kings”-like thriller. Four men who owe Travolta’s character a debt, are asked to kidnap a man who just happens to be the son of the head of a rival gang. Now there’s a target on all their heads.
PASS
Democrats-poster DEMOCRATS || This documentary, titled “Democrats” is almost worth the crazy real life characters alone, but the political unrest featured in the film is not quite up to snuff. Here’s the YouTube synopsis: “In politically unstable Zimbabwe, a new constitution is being put together by the ruling party of strongman Robert Mugabe and the divided opposition. Various political, local and personal interests are bogging the process down.”
PASS
Flutter-poster2 FLUTTER || As far as the main character (Joe Anderson) of “Flutter” is concerned, normal horse race betting is only so much fun. So when a mysterious woman (Anna Anissimova) comes around offering a special type of betting, he’s all in. Her betting style lands in the “Cheap Thrills” realm where she’ll pay you X amount of dollars to pull out your own tooth. And the stakes just keep getting higher. Apparently this film came out in 2011, so I’m not entirely sure what puts it on the radar now, but here it is.
PASS
#horror-poster #HORROR || Stepping down a generation for horror films, “#Horror” follows a group of 12 year old girls as they fall into the dark side of social media and cyber bulling, with death and terror galore. There’s also a well-known adult cast in place as well, including Chloë Sevigny, Timothy Hutton, Taryn Manning, and Natasha Lyonne, but only Sevigny is really featured in the trailer. “Scream” did this with the right age group years ago, so this just feels like a retread but with younger faces.
PASS
KingdomOfShadows-poster KINGDOM OF SHADOWS || What seems like a good companion piece to “Sicario,” the documentary “Kingdom Of Shadows” takes a look at the U.S.-Mexican drug wars including the seedy side involving paid officials at the border and cover ups of bodies, even going as far as to show the remains of people that were disappeared. There’s a similar documentary that is still on the lines toward becoming Oscar nominated titled “Cartel Land” which also takes a look at this dark underbelly of a situation.
PASS
TheLionGuard-ReturnOfTheRoar-poster THE LION GUARD: RETURN OF THE ROAR || The story that started in 1994 of Simba and the Pride Lands continues today with “The Lion Guard: Return Of The Roar,” a Disney Channel special that brings back many of the characters we know and love, including Timon and Puba, the ghost of Mufasa, Rafiki and the grown up Simba. Apparently, “The Lion Guard” is a Disney television series and this is a feature length movie spinning off of it. All I can say is I definitely want my kid watching this series.
STREAM
Mediterranea-poster MEDITERRANEA || It seems like most countries are not quite sure on their stance towards immigration and migrants, but “Mediterranea” delves into the lives of some migrants from Africa finding their way to and trying to get by in Italy. Facing impossible odds getting there and then trying everything they can to survive the hostility from locals and officers when they get there, this is quite the timely subject matter for a film to explore.
PASS
MUSTANG || The official entry of France in the Foreign Language category of this year’s Academy Awards, “Mustang” is reminiscent of the American film “The Virgin Suicides” as it depicts a group of sisters who are basically put on lock down by their parents after a summer where they get the slightest bit wild. They are then forced to sneak around behind their parents’ backs with threats of arranged marriages and form an even stronger sisterhood.
STREAM
UpOnTheWooftop-poster UP ON THE WOOFTOP || Just as ridiculous as the name makes it sound, “Up On The Wooftop” sees Dennis Haskins (“Saved By The Bell”) as Santa Claus, and when one of his special talking puppies sneaks on the sleigh’s test ride and falls off, he must find a way to get back to Santa on the big night. With the help of a young girl, the Rocky training sequence spoofs begin. This is reminiscent of just about every Christmas and every dog movie ever made, reminding of “Beethoven” and “101 Dalmatians.”
PASS

THEATER

  • “Carol”
  • “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part Two”
  • “Legend”
  • “The Night Before”

RENT

STREAM

  • “The Lion Guard: Return Of The Roar”
  • “Mustang”
  • “Secret In Their Eyes”

PASS

  • “Altered Minds”
  • “Censored Voices”
  • “Criminal Activities”
  • “Democrats”
  • “Flutter”
  • “#Horror”
  • “Kingdom Of Shadows”
  • “Mediterranea”
  • “Up On The Wooftop”

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