Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Opening This Week - February 17

Wide Releases:


A Cure For Wellness

Directed by: Gore Verbinski
Runtime: 2hrs, 26mins
Mystery, Thriller
R
Trailer

Starring: Dane DeHaan, Jason Isaacs, Mia Goth




Despite some intriguing trailers, A Cure For Wellness seems to be getting a lot of mixed to negative reviews. The consensus seems to be that Gore Verbinski gets close to recapturing the tone and spirit of The Ring (one of his more successful films), but at nearly two and half hours it overstays its welcome on its way to a painfully obvious conclusion. That's a shame because it genuinely does look visually well crafted, and there's been some excitement for the film.


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Fist Fight

Directed by: Richie Keen  
Runtime: 1hr, 31mins  
Comedy
R
Trailer

Starring: Charlie Day, Ice Cube, Christina Hendricks, Tracy Morgan




Fist Fight is a loose remake of the 1987 comedy Three O'Clock High, in which a bully challenges a kid to a fight after school. The obvious twist here being the fight is between two teachers, one of whom snitches on the other costing him his job. It looks like fairly standard, over-the-top comedy fare, but it has a likable enough cast. If you're in need of some light-hearted frivolity to escape a week marred by Valentine's Day (hey, it's not a happy day for everyone) and even more political drama, Fist Fight might just fit the bill.



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The Great Wall

Directed by: Zhang Yimou  
Runtime: 1hr, 43mins  
Action, Adventure, Fantasy
PG-13
Trailer

Starring: Matt Damon, Tian Jing, Andy Lau, Willem Dafoe, Pedro Pascal, Eddie Peng




I still want to see The Great Wall despite some lackluster trailers and a lot of mixed reviews. For years Hollywood has been trying to cast more Asians in their summer blockbusters in order to gain more attention by the vast number of Asian moviegoers. This marks one of the few films to cast notable western actors in lead roles in an Asian film that hopes make waves here in the States. However, western audiences might not be ready for Asian cinema's brand of over-the-top action fantasy. Yet I can't help but want to know for myself whether it's the fault of the film or western audiences for all the lackluster reviews. I mean, the cast here is excellent and it was directed by one of China's best big budget directors (see: Hero, House of Flying Daggers, Curse of the Golden Flower). I have to know where this film went wrong. I have to...



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Limited Releases:


American Fable

Directed by: Anne Hamilton
Runtime: 1hr, 36mins
Drama, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
PG-13
Trailer

Starring: Peyton Kennedy, Richard Schiff, Kip Pardue




It would seem there's a resurgence of fables and fairytales in the world of film. However, instead of Disney-style bright, colorful, happy films, they're dark, thrillers bordering on the horror genre. Films like Pan's Labyrinth, Crimson Peak, Tale of Tales, and even The Fall come to mind. American Fable is perhaps another entry into this subgenre. Like many of the other films mentioned, it's about a young girl who finds escape from a tough reality in an imaginative world of fantasy that is both beautiful and haunting. 



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Everybody Loves Somebody

Directed by: Catalina Aguilar Mastretta  
Runtime: 1hr, 40mins  
Comedy, Romance
PG-13
Trailer

Starring: Karla Souza, Ben O'Toole, José María Yazpik




This romantic comedy casts Karla Souza (How to Get Away with Murder) in the role of an OB-GYN that asks an attractive friend to pose as her boyfriend on a trip to a family member's wedding in Mexico. She does so simply to avoid the pressure she knows her family would put on her. But things become more complicated than she could have predicted when an old flame, and friend of the family, turns up. Yes, the synopsis sounds very familiar, but the reviews have stayed mostly positive in spite of that. The claim is that there is enough charm and solid performances to make this a mostly enjoyable film, even if it is a little familiar.


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From Nowhere  

Directed by: Matthew Newton  
Runtime: 1hr, 29mins 
Drama
Not Rated
Trailer

Starring: Sydni Beaudoin, Helen Beyene, Erica Camarano






From Nowhere looks to be a compelling coming of age drama complicated by the fact that the three teens in question are all trying to work around their undocumented immigration status. There aren't enough reviews out there to come to a consensus about this film yet, but from the outside looking in, this kind of story is extremely timely and relevant. 



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Ghost of New Orleans

Directed by: Predrag Antonijevic
Runtime: 1hr, 38mins
Crime, Drama, Thriller
R
Trailer

Starring: Josh Lucas, Terrence Howard, Lake Bell, Deborah Ann Woll, Cary Elwes




Ghost of New Orleans is a thriller involving an investigation into a series of murders with a supernatural twist. There's a solid cast here featuring Josh Lucas as a disgraced detective connecting with the spirit of a murder victim, played by Lake Bell, who wants to help him solve the case. To be sure the film looks a little hokey, and makes me think of a dark, mystery version of the Reese Witherspoon romantic-comedy Just Like Heaven. I doubt that's intentional.



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In Dubious Battle

Directed by: James Franco
Runtime: 1hr, 50mins
Drama
R
Trailer

Starring: James Franco, Nat Wolff, Vincent D'Onofrio, Selena Gomez, Robert Duvall,  Ed Harris,  Bryan Cranston, Sam Shepard, Zach Braff



Based on John Steinbeck's novel of the same name, In Dubious Battle tells the story of a group of young farmers caught up in the labor movement during the 1930's. The film has a stellar cast, but seems to be getting some mixed reviews so far. Most take note of the film's potential even if it just misses the mark. It's a tad uneven, but remains watchable due to it's very recognizable cast putting on great performances. If nothing else, it demonstrates that Franco, who served as director on the project, has the potential to make good movies both in front of the camera and behind it.



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Lovesong

Directed by: So-yong Kim
Runtime: 1hr, 24mins
Drama
Not Rated
Trailer

Starring: Jena Malone, Riley Keough, Cary Joji Fukunaga




Lovesong is the story of two friends who go on a road trip to escape a rough home life. Throughout their trip the two grow very close, but end up pulled apart by circumstances. Years later they try to reconnect before one of them gets married.


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My Name Is Emily

Directed by: Simon Fitzmaurice
Runtime: 1hr, 40mins
Drama
Not Rated
Trailer

Starring: Evanna Lynch, Michael Smiley, Martin McCann




Evanna Lynch (of Harry Potter fame) plays 16 year old Emily, a shy girl who runs away from her foster home. She asks the boy from school who has a crush on her to accompany her as she travels to break her father out of a psychiatric institution.


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Non-Transferable

Directed by: Brendan Bradley
Runtime: 1hr, 23mins
Comedy
Not Rated

Starring: Ashley Clements, Shanna Malcolm, Katie Wee, Christopher Nicholas Smith




I really can't tell whether or not this is a legitimate movie or a lengthy piece of advertising for Turkish Airlines. Either way, its a romantic-comedy about a girl who buys a non-refundable vacation package with her and her boyfriend's name on it in order to surprise him on their anniversary. However, he chooses that moment to break up with her. So instead of letting her money and her trip go to waste, her friends convince her to find a guy with the same name as her now ex-boyfriend in order to be able to go on the trip. She might just find new love in the process.

If that doesn't sound like the most ridiculous and contrived rom-com plotline you've ever heard of, the trailer won't change your mind. It looks about as cheesy and corny as you might expect. 



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The Great and the Small

Directed by: Dusty Bias
Runtime: 1hr, 44mins
Drama
Not Rated

Starring: Ritchie Coster, Ann Dowd, Nick Fink




A 26 year-old on probation for petty crimes lives on the street, deals with a nasty boss, and tries to avoid a detective all while trying to earn his way back into the good graces of his ex-girlfriend - who is a working single mom.



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Running Shaadi

Directed by: Amit Roy
Runtime: 
Comedy, Romance
Not Rated

Starring: Arsh Bajwa, Amit Sadh, Tapsee Pannu




In the face of a community whose social norms often keep young people from choosing the one they want to marry, this comedy is about a couple of young friends in small town India who design a website devoted to helping young couples elope.



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Smothered By Mothers

Directed by: Brian Herzlinger
Comedy
Not Rated
Trailer

Starring: Shannon Brown, Heather Matarazzo, Jim O'Heir





This small budget indie comedy is about a former football star who looses his fortune in a Ponzi scheme and gets three women pregnant all at the same time. Circumstances force all three women to live to live under his roof while he tries to come up with a scheme to get his money back.



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XX

Directed by: Jovanka Vuckovic, Annie Clark, Roxanne Benjamin, Karyn Kusama
Runtime: 1hr, 20mins
Horror
R

Starring: Sheila Vand,  Melanie Lynskey, Kyle Allen




XX is an anthology film featuring 4 short horror stories about four women directed by 4 talented female directors. Or at least that's how the marketing campaign is selling it. It's not a bad line. I'm actually somewhat relieved to only have one indie horror film to talk about this week. 



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You're Killing Me Susana

Directed by: Roberto Sneider
Runtime: 1hr, 40mins
Comedy, Drama, Romance
Not Rated
Trailer

Starring: Gael García Bernal, Verónica Echegui, Ashley Grace




Gael García Bernal leads this oddball romantic-comedy about a man who wakes to find his wife has left without warning. After asking around he discovers that she had gone to a writer's workshop in Iowa. He rushes to fly from his hometown of Mexico City to join her in the frigid midwest, but finds out she has already begun a relationship with a poet. He tries desperately to win her back but soon realizes a lot of his quirky tendencies may have been what drove her from him in the first place.


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