Totally forgot to do one of these for June. Oops.
Deliver Us from Evil
Scott Derrickson (Sinister) made one of the scariest movies I’ve ever seen: The Exorcism of Emily Rose. That movie legit gave me screaming night terrors. Thus Derrickson has earned my loyalty through fear and terror, and I will see whatever he makes (stoked for Dr. Strange). It helps that he’s a good director with a great sense of atmosphere, and this movie features a strong cast with Eric Bana and Edgar Ramirez, Joel McHale, and Sean Harris (Prometheus) in what is said to be a real scene-stealing performance.
If you can’t make it to Snowpiercer over the holiday weekend, this is your best shot for actual quality at the mainstream cineplex.
I don’t think Melissa McCarthy is funny. A talented actress, yes. Give her a good script and surround her with good actors to play off of (as in Bridesmaids), and she can hold her own and be an effective part of the ensemble. But when it comes to engineering comedy designed for her, by her, it falls flat every time. I hated Identity Thief and Tammy manages to be even worse in every way. Ugh.
Earth to Echo
How much coke do you have to consume to make this look like a good idea?
All of the coke. All of it.
More memorial than actual documentary, Life Itself is about the late film critic Roger Ebert. Ebert was an inspiration to me and pretty much everyone else who writes about/talks about/watches/loves movies, and Life Itself is a touching tribute to his legacy as a writer, critic and pundit. If you’re a fan of Ebert’s, if you’re a fan of cinema history or criticism, I highly recommend it.
If at all possible, SEE IT.
A Long Way Down
Pierce Brosnan, Toni Collette, Aaron Paul and Imogen Poots star in this adaptation of a Nick Hornsby novel about a group of strangers who come together during New Year’s Eve. Hornsby is a great writer but his adaptations are hit and miss—the things that make him a singular novelist often don’t translate to the visual medium of film—but between a Hornsby story and this cast, it’s a strong rental option when it hits digital platforms in a few months.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
I’m not into this franchise—Rise of the Planet of the Apes had a case of Avataritis, in which stunning VFX overshadow a hackneyed story and boring performances—but the fanboys are excited for it. This one does look more action-y and Jason Clarke and Keri Russell are so much more watchable than Phoning It In Franco, so I’m willing to believe this is better than Rise. I’m still not interested, though.
Critics have been losing their minds over Richard Linklater’s latest all year. It took him twelve years to make this movie, as he filmed for only a few weeks a year. The film depicts a boy (Ellar Coltrane, Fast Food Nation) as he ages from ages 7 through 18, with Coltrane aging in real time throughout the movie. It’s both ambitious and novel, and the result looks very good. Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette also star.
And So It Goes
For serious, at first glance I thought this was Because I Said So.
Planes: Fire & Rescue
Disney: Tired & Lazy
Here’s my problem with this movie—that iPad just randomly uploads his video. I am extremely loosey-goosey with my voice-activated technology, which I have enabled to aggressive levels on my smartphone and tablet, and I have never accidentally transmitted anything, at any time, in any form. There are so many safeguards to prevent just this scenario. And if you look at the actual scene in the trailer, he doesn’t say anything to prompt the action. He’s just talking and the thing starts uploading. The only potential keyword in the scene is “erase”, and that is not the action the tablet takes. Could it happen? Sure, but the odds are slim, and we’re smart enough to know that’s not how technology actually works. I feel like this movie was made for old people who still think word processors are amazing, and I can’t buy into this premise.
That said, the cloud joke is spot on.
The Purge: Anarchy
You know what? For Frank Grillo, I’m in. That guy is imminently watchable (see also: Warrior, The Grey, Captain America: The Winter Soldier), a born leading man with tons of charisma—seriously, he made a backstabbing neo-Nazi charming and likeable in The Winter Soldier—and there’s something kind of fun about watching a late career surge like he’s experiencing.
Also I like this take on the story way better than the first movie’s, which was basically just a home invasion tale. The idea of a “purge” in which for one night all laws are suspended seems much more suited to an on-the-road plot where you can show different parts of a city turning to chaos and explore how different people handle this scenario.
Wish I Was Here
Zach Braff’s Kickstarter-come-to-life will please if you still think Garden State is a good movie, or it will annoy you if you’ve realized that Garden State is a terrible movie.
A Most Wanted Man
One of Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s final performances.
What was the logline for this movie? Hercules on bath salts? It looks totally bananas.
Another one I can’t quite buy into—we do not use “only 10%” of our brains. We use all of our brains all of the time, it’s just that much of our brain is occupied with autonomous body functions like maintaining a heartbeat and breathing and blinking and shit. I feel like that “10%” has been pretty well debunked and I can’t believe someone didn’t stop the pitch meeting and ask for a better premise. Why even use that? Why not just say “designer drug makes us super smart”? Oh yeah, because that movie has already been made and it was called Limitless.
Magic in the Moonlight
Woody Allen’s latest, this time starring Colin Firth and Emma Stone. I like the 1920’s setting—Midnight in Paris’s period scenes were the most interesting thing Allen’s done in decades—but I’m getting strong Curse of the Jade Scorpion/Scoop vibes from the trailer.
The Fluffy Movie
Gabriel Iglesias is a funny dude, but the last time I caught his act, it was a lot of voices and noises. I don’t mind vocalizations when they’re used to punctuate a story, but it’s annoying when they completely take over someone’s act (see also: Pablo Francisco, Frank Caliente). Here’s hoping with his new concert tour he’s getting back to the storytelling style that brought him fame in the first place.
Very Good Girls
Screenwriter Naomi Foner (Bee Season, Losing Isaiah) makes her directorial debut with Very Good Girls, which is about two friends (Dakota Fanning and Elizabeth Olsen) who pledge to lose their respective virginities after graduating high school, except they end up falling for the same boy. Sounds pretty cliché, but Foner is a talented writer (she also wrote the script), so I’m curious to see if she can pull something more fresh and interesting out of it. Definitely a good VOD option.