Theatrical Releases: Krampus, Macbeth, & Youth

KRAMPUS || December 4th, 2015

Dementia-poster DEMENTIA || Taking a page from “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest,” this semi-horror film “Dementia” takes a Vietnam war veteran that has suffered a stroke and suffers from the title illness, and gives him a sadistic live-in nurse hired by his grand kids. The veteran is played by Gene Jones, the leading bad guy from 2013’s cult horror hit, “The Sacrament,” while the sadistic nurse is Kristina Klebe from “Halloween.” Sadly, it all looks rather one dimensional and uninspired at that.
PASS
Krampus-poster KRAMPUS || Christmas takes a dark turn with “Krampus,” a horror-comedy exploring the mythos that is the “shadow of Saint Nick.” With an effective comedy cast in place, including Adam Scott, Toni Collette, and David Koechner, this feels like a mix of “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” “Gremlims,” and a really good, practical effect driven horror film. With no great horror films having really come out this year save for the Indie’s “It Follows” and “The Babadook,” this is a nice change of pace.
RENT
Macbeth-poster MACBETH || Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, and William Shakespeare? Sounds like it can’t be missed. Fassbender takes on the role of Macbeth, as Academy Award winner Cotillard plays his wife. You know the tale: Macbeth is given a prophecy that he will become king and with that ambition he slays his king to take rule for himself. Fassbender will be an Academy Award winner someday, and every role he takes until then is a continued stepping stone.
THEATER
Youth-poster YOUTH || Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel play the leads in their latest film, despite the title of it being “Youth.” Together they explore their lifelong friendship, to which they now vacation in the Swiss Alps pondering retirement. Paul Dano, Rachel Weisz, and Jane Fonda also star, in director Paolo Sorrentino’s follow-up to his Academy Award winning foreign-language film, “The Great Beauty.”
THEATER

ChiRaq-poster CHI-RAQ || Spike Lee directed a musical for Amazon’s first foray into feature film-making. It sounds like mad-lib, but “Chi-Raq” really is just that, a follow suit from Amazon in response to Netflix’s growing feature film department, and in particular, it’s release of “Beasts Of No Nation,” which could garner some Academy attention this year. The title of this film is a play on Chicago seeing more deaths than Iraq. The film stars everyone from Samuel L. Jackson, to Nick Cannon, to Jennifer Hudson, to John Cusack, and Wesley Snipes.
PASS
ChristmasEve-poster CHRISTMAS EVE || In what could easily be the worst premise to a movie that I’ve heard all year, “Christmas Eve” sees six different groups of New Yorkers getting caught in six different elevators after a power outage, and the life changing processes that they go through with the other members of their trapped parties. It may also contain some faith-based elements, but even with a recognizable cast like Patrick Stewart, Jon Heder, Cheryl Hines, and Gary Cole, this feels forced and completely unneeded.
PASS
CloseRange-poster CLOSE RANGE || Truth be told, I do not really recognize Scott Adkins except for having recently been in the film “The Brothers Grimbsy” which will be released next year. But in that he plays a villain and in “Close Range,” he plays the lead protagonist, protecting his family by taking out all those that get in his way. Reminiscent of Van Damme and other bottom of the barrel action stars now, this ranks right next to those, with cheesy one-liners and insanely ridiculous stunts.
PASS
HitchcockTruffaut-poster HITCHCOCK/TRUFFAUT || Not much more than this can be said about the film “Hitchcock/Truffaut”: “In 1962 Hitchcock and Truffaut locked themselves away in Hollywood for a week to excavate the secrets behind the mise-en-scène in cinema. Based on the original recordings of this meeting—used to produce the mythical book Hitchcock/Truffaut—this film illustrates the greatest cinema lesson of all time and plummets us into the world of the creator of Psycho, The Birds, and Vertigo. Hitchcock’s incredibly modern art is elucidated and explained by today’s leading filmmakers: Martin Scorsese, David Fincher, Arnaud Desplechin, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Wes Anderson, James Gray, Olivier Assayas, Richard Linklater, Peter Bogdanovich and Paul Schrader.”
STREAM
HotWater-poster HOT WATER || Faceless voices go ahead and tell us that all our water is contaminated with radiation. And although I could be willing to believe them with how bad our world is deteriorating and how little anyone actually cares, the fact that this documentary feels a bit weak is not working in its favor. When a faceless person tells me that they were never an activist until finding out about this problem, I am not particular swayed by this. So unless the findings are substantial in the documentary, “Hot Water” does little to persuade me to believe or even really care.
PASS
ImbaMeansSing-poster IMBA MEANS SING || “Only 17% of Ugandan children make it to high school.” That’s the UNICEF statistic that starts off the “Imba Means Sing” trailer. The documentary follows 20 of these children as they travel to America to sing and study, spending over a year on the road, visiting families. These children are support for their families, who eventually depend on them. They are also considered the future leaders of their country, with many of them having aspirations to do big things.
PASS
TheLadyInTheVan-poster THE LADY IN THE VAN || Regardless of what Maggie Smith does, she is hard to be denied. That being said, her leading role in “The Lady In The Van,” where she plays a hard-tongued old lady living in a yellow van, is anything but a must-see. It does have some decent reviews attached to it and I have seen Maggie’s name in the mix for Best Actress in a Leading Role for this year’s Oscar, but if you ask me, this isn’t anything we haven’t seen before.
PASS
TheLetters-poster THE LETTERS || When a movie about a high profile character like Mother Theresa comes out and isn’t talked about by anyone, you have to wonder what exactly was wrong with the film. Think of films like “Ali,” “Ray,” and “Gandhi.” All of those films were about real significant figures and were highly regarded. Yet a film about Mother Theresa, starring Juliet Stevenson and Max von Sydow is not even on the radar. It looks a little Lifetime Original Movie quality for starters. “The Letters” is based on some actual letters written by Mother Theresa, and although I’d love to see a movie about this woman, I’ll wait for the one that is actually worth garnering some attention.
PASS
Life-poster LIFE || Dane DeHaan plays a young James Dean in the film “Life,” an inspired by a true story film about the real life friendship between Dean and photographer Dennis Stock (Robert Pattinson) after being brought together for an assignment for LIFE Magazine. The film also stars Joel Edgerton and Ben Kingsley. DeHaan looks solid as Dean and honestly, we’ve gotten so many films about Marilyn Monroe (one of my favorites being “My Week With Marilyn”) that it’s nice to get some about other gone-before-their-time actors.
STREAM
MI5-poster MI-5 || Going from one of the biggest television series of all-time in “Game Of Thrones,” and being apart of the biggest story-line of this past season, to playing lead in a bit-action film middling between the titles “MI-5” and “Spooks: The Greater Good,” Kit Harrington continues to try to find a foothold in feature films, following his last in “Pompeii” but ultimately proves he’s got some work to do to actually find something solid. This is your run-of-the-mill, FBI escapee story with nothing flashy whatsoever.
PASS
NightOwls-poster NIGHT OWLS || Despite losing “Happy Endings” a few years ago, many of the stars from that great television series have found success elsewhere. Adam Pally, for example, is showing up everywhere, including “The Mindy Project,” “Iron Man 3,” and the upcoming Robert De Niro/Zac Efron comedy “Dirty Grandpa.” But we also stars co-lead in this small Indie film titled “Night Owls,” where he plays a man involved in a one-night stand in which his date takes sleeping pills and has to be kept awake all night.
STREAM
OnWar-poster ON WAR || The two actresses in “On War” are really the only things selling me on the film. Asia Argento and Lea Seydoux play supporting to Mathieu Almaric’s Charles who plays a strange man that accidentally gets locked in a coffin overnight and decides to change his life, being led to some place called The Kingdom where a war between men and women is going on and he lands in the middle of it, with Asia and Lea being some of the women. It all looks rather trippy and fever dream-like, but with those familiar faces, it might be a little more easily digestible.
STREAM
ARoyalNightOut-poster A ROYAL NIGHT OUT || Part of me wants to see “A Royal Night Out” because of the talented Sarah Gadon, who lights up every scene she is in, playing the young Queen Elizabeth in a film based on the untold story of the Princess sneaking out to have a night of fun with her sister Margaret (Bel Powley) after “the victorious end to a long and costly war.” Also starring Rupert Everett and Emily Watson, the film simply feels too small and too much like a children’s film, rather than a serious historical drama.
PASS
UncleNick-poster UNCLE NICK || Brian Posehn plays your run-of-the-mill inappropriate uncle visiting his much more sophisticated family at their new home, where he proceeds to get the kids drunk, defiles the bathroom, and offends everyone around him. The problem with “Uncle Nick” besides being rather stale and uninspired, is that is feels small and more like a skit rather than a feature film. The gags are reproduced and unfortunately, Posehn is not commanding enough as the leading man.
PASS
TheWannabe-poster THE WANNABE || Before he was Joe Caputo on “Orange Is The New Black,” Nick Sandow directed a small film called “Ponies.” Now he returns to the director’s chair for “The Wannabe,” a mobster film about a lowly thug trying to rise the ranks by pinching local gambling holes. Vincent Piazza plays the lead, with Academy Award winner Patricia Arquette filling the supporting role. You’ll also recognize David Zayas (“Dexter” & “Gotham”) and Domenick Lombardozzi (“Entourage”).
PASS
TheWorldOfKanako-poster THE WORLD OF KANAKO || Stylish in its own right, “The World Of Kanako” is also just not that captivating. An ex-detective Akikazu (Kôji Yakusho) looks for his missing daughter, Kanako. But what he finds along the way is completely life changing, with a string of “drugs, sex and violence.” Visually and thematically, this feels like Quentin Tarantino or even Robert Rodriquez, in delivery, with the dark noir-like framing and plot structure.
PASS

THEATER

  • “Macbeth”
  • “Youth”

RENT

  • “Krampus”

STREAM

  • “Hitchcock/Truffaut”
  • “Life”
  • “Night Owls”
  • “On War”

PASS

  • “Chi-Raq”
  • “Christmas Eve”
  • “Close Range”
  • “Dementia”
  • “Hot Water”
  • “Imba Means Sing”
  • “The Lady In The Van”
  • “The Letters”
  • “MI-5”
  • “A Royal Night Out”
  • “Uncle Nick”
  • “The Wannabe”
  • “The World Of Kanako”

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