Upcoming Theatrical Releases
Fifty Shades of Grey
Director: Sam Taylor-Johnson
R; 1 hr. 50 min.
Literature student Anastasia Steele’s life changes forever when she meets handsome, yet tormented, billionaire Christian Grey. (Synopsis by Focus)
The source material leaves much to be desired, so it’s forgivable that this couldn’t be turned into a better movie. Taylor-Johnson does herself no favors by erring on the side of “Twilight” while conversing about S&M practices. The best part might be the restraint shown in regard to the graphic nature of the theme. Skip it.
Kingsman: The Secret Service
Director: Matthew Vaughn
R; 1 hr. 40 min.
Based upon the acclaimed comic book and directed by Matthew Vaughn (Kick Ass, X-Men First Class), Kingsman: The Secret Service tells the story of a super-secret spy organization that recruits an unrefined but promising street kid into the agency’s ultra-competitive training program just as a global threat emerges from a twisted tech genius. (Synopsis by Fox)
Check out my review later this week on The Dagger.
Director: Gabe Polsky
PG; 1 hr. 25 min.
From Oscar (R) nominated and Emmy award-winning filmmakers, RED ARMY is a feature documentary about the Soviet Union and the most successful dynasty in sports history: the Red Army hockey team. Told from the perspective of its captain Slava Fetisov, the story portrays his transformation from national hero to political enemy. From the USSR to Russia, the film examines how sport mirrors social and cultural movements and parallels the rise and fall of the Red Army team with the Soviet Union. RED ARMY is an inspiring story about the Cold War played out on the ice rink, and a man who stood up to a powerful system and paved the way for change for generations of Russians. (Synopsis by Sony Classics)
This is less about hockey and more about the Cold War politics that still color our international landscape. Polsky channels executive producer Werner Herzog with storytelling that helps the audience digest the content. An amazingly watchable take on the other side of the Miracle on Ice. See it.
Director: Andrey Zvyagintsev
R; 2 hr. 20 min.
The latest drama from Andrey Zvyagintsev, the acclaimed director of The Return (Venice Film Festival Golden Lion winner and Golden Globe nominee). Kolya (Alexeï Serebriakov) lives in a small fishing town near the stunning Barents Sea in Northern Russia. He owns an auto-repair shop that stands right next to the house where he lives with his young wife Lilya (Elena Liadova) and his son Roma (Sergueï Pokhodaev) from a previous marriage. (Synopsis by Sony Classics)
A challenging film that is equally dark and skillfully crafted. The story of human nature and survival makes this a captivating watch. One of the best films to come out recently. See it.
Upcoming DVD Releases
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
Director: Miguel Arteta
PG; 1 hr. 20 min.
Disney’s “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” follows the exploits of 11-year-old Alexander (Ed Oxenbould) as he experiences the most terrible and horrible day of his young life-a day that begins with gum stuck in his hair, followed by one calamity after another. But when Alexander tells his upbeat family about the misadventures of his disastrous day, he finds little sympathy and begins to wonder if bad things only happen to him. He soon learns that he’s not alone when his mom (Jennifer Garner), dad (Steve Carell), brother (Dylan Minnette) and sister (Kerris Dorsey) all find themselves living through their own terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. Anyone who says there is no such thing as a bad day just hasn’t had one. (Synopsis by Disney)
The high points are the physical comedy of Carell and Garner and the feeling of old-fashion family comedies from the ‘80s. Good for the younger viewers, but older ones may be doubtful of how “safe” Alexander’s day turns out to be compared to modern sensibilities. Rent it.
Director: Dan Gilroy
R; 1 hr. 57 min.
NIGHTCRAWLER is a pulse-pounding thriller set in the nocturnal underbelly of contemporary Los Angeles. Jake Gyllenhaal stars as Lou Bloom, a driven young man desperate for work who discovers the high-speed world of L.A. crime journalism. Finding a group of freelance camera crews who film crashes, fires, murder and other mayhem, Lou muscles into the cut-throat, dangerous realm of nightcrawling — where each police siren wail equals a possible windfall and victims are converted into dollars and cents. Aided by Rene Russo as Nina, a veteran of the blood-sport that is local TV news, Lou thrives. In the breakneck, ceaseless search for footage, he becomes the star of his own story. (Synopsis by Open Road)
Gyllenhaal is at the top of his game, reveling in the darkness of his character. The corporate metaphor is a little heavy-handed, but this is still a slick movie. Gilroy makes every frame count and the payoff is a fantastic film. See it.