Upcoming Theatrical Releases
Director: Keith Scholey and Alastair Fothergill
G; 87 mins.
In an epic story of breathtaking scale, Disneynature’s new True Life Adventure “Bears” showcases a year in the life of a bear family as two impressionable young cubs are taught life’s most important lessons. Set against a majestic Alaskan backdrop teeming with life, their journey begins as winter comes to an end and the bears emerge from hibernation to face the bitter cold. The world outside is exciting-but risky-as the cubs’ playful descent down the mountain carries with it a looming threat of avalanches. As the season changes from spring to summer, the brown bears must work hard to find food-ultimately feasting at a plentiful salmon run-while staying safe from rival male bears and predators, including an ever-present wolf pack. “Bears” captures the fast-moving action and suspense of life in one of the planet’s last great wildernesses-Alaska! Directed by Alastair Fothergill (“Earth,” “African Cats” and “Chimpanzee”) and Keith Scholey (“African Cats”), “Bears” arrives in theaters April 18, 2014, to celebrate Earth Day. (Synopsis by Disney)
A documentary that is also carefully-structured narrative about family. Extremely well-done and a joy to watch in a simple way. No one can hate on bear cubs in a meadow. See it.
Director: Wally Pfister
PG-13; 119 mins.
Dr. Will Caster (Johnny Depp) is the foremost researcher in the field of Artificial Intelligence, working to create a sentient machine that combines the collective intelligence of everything ever known with the full range of human emotions. His highly controversial experiments have made him famous, but they have also made him the prime target of anti-technology extremists who will do whatever it takes to stop him. However, in their attempt to destroy Will, they inadvertently become the catalyst for him to succeed-to be a participant in his own transcendence. For his wife Evelyn (Rebecca Hall) and best friend Max Waters (Paul Bettany), both fellow researchers, the question is not if they can…but if they should. Their worst fears are realized as Will’s thirst for knowledge evolves into a seemingly omnipresent quest for power, to what end is unknown. The only thing that is becoming terrifyingly clear is there may be no way to stop him. (Synopsis by Warner Bros.)
Check out my review on The Dagger later this week.
A Haunted House 2
Director: Michael Tiddes
R; 87 mins.
Crossing new lines and breaking old barriers, A HAUNTED HOUSE 2 is the sequel to the hilarious box-office hit starring Marlon Wayans as Malcolm who, after exorcising the demons of his ex, is starting fresh with his new girlfriend and her two children. After moving into their dream home, Malcolm is once again plagued by bizarre paranormal events. With spine-tingling tension and hilarious punch-lines A HAUNTED HOUSE 2 is inspired by the latest supernatural horror movie franchises and shows that this time… it’s not just the house that’s haunted! (Synopsis by Open Road)
More of the same aggressively stupid comedy seen in all the horror-spoofs before this one. Funny in a middle-school way-which is to say, not very. Skip it.
Director: Richard Shepard
R; 93 min.
Jude Law plays DOM HEMINGWAY, a larger-than-life safecracker with a loose fuse who is funny, profane, and dangerous. After twelve years in prison, he sets off with his partner in crime Dickie (Richard E. Grant) looking to collect what he’s owed for keeping his mouth shut and protecting his boss Mr. Fontaine (Demian Bichir). After a near death experience, Dom tries to re-connect with his estranged daughter (Emilia Clarke), but is soon drawn back into the only world he knows, looking to settle the ultimate debt. (Synopsis by Fox Searchlight)
Funny in the same way as Tarantino movies, with biting, witty, fast-paced dialogue. Law is fantastic in a role you wouldn’t think he could pull off. Yet for every joke that hits, two others miss. Too uneven to be memorable. Rent it.
Under the Skin
Director: Jonathan Glazer
R; 108 mins.
An alien seductress preys upon hitchhikers in Scotland. (Synopsis by the Official Site)
A simple premise creates a surprisingly complex story, and the broad strokes of the inherent meaning are left unclear. Highly thought-provoking and refreshingly intelligent and adult in theme. See it.
Upcoming DVD Releases
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
Director: Ben Stiller
PG; 114 mins.
Ben Stiller directs and stars in THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY, James Thurber’s classic story of a day-dreamer who escapes his anonymous life by disappearing into a world of fantasies filled with heroism, romance and action. When his job along with that of his co-worker (Kristen Wiig) are threatened, Walter takes action in the real world embarking on a global journey that turns into an adventure more extraordinary than anything he could have ever imagined. (Synopsis by Fox)
The biggest downfall here is the lack of focus—much of the story revolves around whimsy. Stiller misses that and the film suffers for it. Still, it has a good center and enough plot to keep you engaged. Rent it.
Director: Stephen Frears
PG-13; 98 mins.
Based on the 2009 investigative book by BBC correspondent Martin Sixsmith, The Lost Child of Philomena Lee, PHILOMENA focuses on the efforts of Philomena Lee (Dench), mother to a boy conceived out of wedlock – something her Irish-Catholic community didn’t have the highest opinion of – and given away for adoption in the United States. In following church doctrine, she was forced to sign a contract that wouldn’t allow for any sort of inquiry into the son’s whereabouts. After starting a family years later in England and, for the most part, moving on with her life, Lee meets Sixsmith (Coogan), a BBC reporter with whom she decides to discover her long-lost son. (Synopsis by Weinstein)
A perfect blend of excellent acting and careful directorial craft create a film that rises above the generic sentimental-comedy trope. A smart and warm meditation on motherhood and religion. See it.