Theatrical Releases This Week
House at the End of the Street
Director: Mark Tonderai
PG-13; 101 mins
Seeking a fresh start, newly divorced Sarah (Elisabeth Shue) and her daughter Elissa (Jennifer Lawrence) find the house of their dreams in a small, upscale, rural town. But when startling and unexplainable events begin to happen, Sarah and Elissa learn the town is in the shadows of a chilling secret. Years earlier, in the house next door, a daughter killed her parents in their beds, and disappeared – leaving only a brother, Ryan (Max Thieriot), as the sole survivor. Against Sarah’s wishes, Elissa begins a relationship with the reclusive Ryan – and the closer they get, the deeper they’re all pulled into a mystery more dangerous than they ever imagined. (Synopsis by Relativity)
This one looks to be a fairly pedestrian horror flick. There are some twists in the source material, but whether they make to the screen version remains to be seen.
End of Watch
Director: David Ayer
R; 109 mins
From the writer of Training Day, End of Watch is a riveting action thriller that puts audiences at the center of the chase like never before. Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña star as young LA police officers who discover a secret that makes them the target of the country’s most dangerous drug cartel. (Synopsis by Open Road)
Not up to the pace of “Training Day,” but still a good exercise in buddy cop drama. It rides largely on the chemistry of Gyllenhaal and Peña. Mix in some gritty action and you have the best thing coming out this week.
Director: Pete Travis
R; 98 mins
The future America is an irradiated waste land. On its East Coast, running from Boston to Washington DC, lies Mega City One- a vast, violent metropolis where criminals rule the chaotic streets. The only force of order lies with the urban cops called “Judges” who possess the combined powers of judge, jury and instant executioner. Known and feared throughout the city, Dredd (Karl Urban) is the ultimate Judge, challenged with ridding the city of its latest scourge – a dangerous drug epidemic that has users of “Slo-Mo” experiencing reality at a fraction of its normal speed. (Synopsis by Lionsgate)
Yup. It’s back. At least this time they managed to maintain the feel of the comic source. As ultra-violent action flicks go, you could do worse. If nothing else, they didn’t bring back Rob Schneider to ruin it. Adam Sandler, take notes.
Trouble with the Curve
Director: Robert Lorenz
PG-13; 111 mins
Gus Lobel (Clint Eastwood) has been one of the best scouts in baseball for decades, but, despite his efforts to hide it, age is starting to catch up with him. Nevertheless, Gus-who can tell a pitch just by the crack of the bat-refuses to be benched for what may be the final innings of his career. He may not have a choice. The front office of the Atlanta Braves is starting to question his judgment, especially with the country’s hottest batting phenom on deck for the draft. The one person who might be able to help is also the one person Gus would never ask: his daughter, Mickey (Amy Adams), an associate at a high-powered Atlanta law firm whose drive and ambition has put her on the fast track to becoming partner. Against her better judgment, and over Gus’s objections, Mickey joins him on his latest scouting trip to North Carolina, jeopardizing her own career to save his. (Synopsis by Warner Brothers)
Eastwood continues to carefully select his roles in his later years, and picks another strong drama with a superb cast. While the box office may suffer from the obvious attempts to cash in on the success of “Moneyball,” the strong action films it’s running against this week, and Clint’s empty chair monologues, the film is still worth seeing.
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
R; 137 mins
A striking portrait of drifters and seekers in post World War II America, Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master unfolds the journey of a Naval veteran (Joaquin Phoenix) who arrives home from war unsettled and uncertain of his future – until he is tantalized by The Cause and its charismatic leader (Philip Seymour Hoffman). (Synopsis by Weinstein)
Anderson’s first film since “There Will Be Blood” and Phoenix’s first film since the bizarre “I’m Still Here” is an extremely cerebral film that relies heavily on the performance of the leads over the plot. While it is an outstanding meditation on a theme, it certainly is not for everyone—especially those that prefer their films to be less esoteric.
DVD Releases This Week
The Cabin in the Woods
Director: Drew Goddard
R; 95 mins
Five friends go to a remote cabin in the woods. Bad things happen. If you think you know this story, think again. From fan favorites Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard comes The Cabin in the Woods, a mind blowing horror film that turns the genre inside out. (Synopsis by Lionsgate)
Despite the fact that I usually drop hate all over the horror genre, this is one of the rare cases where most everything is done right, with a combination of traditional horror, thriller, and meta-moviemaking breathing life into an extremely stale genre. Hopefully a new sub-genre has been created: the thinking man’s horror.
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Director: John Madden
PG-13; 123 mins
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel follows a group of British retirees who decide to “outsource” their retirement to less expensive and seemingly exotic India. Enticed by advertisements for the newly restored Marigold Hotel and bolstered with visions of a life of leisure, they arrive to find the palace a shell of its former self. Though the new environment is less luxurious than imagined, they are forever transformed by their shared experiences, discovering that life and love can begin again when you let go of the past. (Synopsis by Fox Searchlight)
Speaking of horror: here is a quintessential example of trying to do too many things in one script. The only thing keeping it afloat is the talent of the veteran actors. Playing soon at a retirement home near you.