ARGO || As if we didn’t see this coming, Ben Affleck proves yet again that his work behind a camera far outshines anything he did prior to directing. Plus the roles he takes on in his own films have become some of his best work. “Argo” is no different. With strong performances from the ensemble cast and a strong tie to the real life story, this film builds suspense from a very dramatic standpoint. Although not where it could be emotionally, the plot still draws you in, and by intertwining filmed reenactments with actual recorded footage from these events, “Argo” takes ‘Based On A True Story’ to new heights.
HERE COMES THE BOOM || A film lacking a distinct genre, “Here Comes the Boom” tries to be a heartfelt comedy, but more-or-less comes off like a goofy ploy to get UFC into a widely released film. While Kevin James looks and acts the part, it is hard to get behind any character in the film due to the ridiculous nature of the plot; a teacher becomes a UFC fighter to raise money for his school’s art programs. Though the film does achieve several heart-warming moments, that doesn’t change the fact that the rest of the film is filled in with lame, half-cocked ideas that hardly belong on the big screen (i.e. grown men getting hit in the head with yoga balls, food fights in Vegas, and public vomiting).
SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS || Delivering much more depth than originally anticipated, “Seven Psychopaths” is both self-aware and entirely humorous, all while remaining punchy and new. Sam Rockwell and Woody Harrelson produce high caliber performances as two of the psychopaths, easily keeping the crazy plot afloat, while Colin Farrell and Christopher Walken securely anchor the story down, both with solid, steadfast performances. McDonagh’s second director/screenwriter venture rarely skips a beat and even with the overabundance of gruesome violence, it still succeeds in coming out completely unique and memorable.
SINISTER || “Sinister” is the best horror film I’ve seen so far this year. With a complete understanding of what makes a horror film frightening and rarely taking the common, easy ways out, the film delivers the maximum amount of spooks while keeping your fear heightened through the entire film. Besides Ethan Hawke, the performances aren’t much, but in a horror film, I’m more apt to let that slide, as long as I am entertained to the same degree. The cinematography and score are both above par, with some experimental elements that pay-off. “Sinister” is not going to win any awards, but from a strictly subjective viewpoint, horror films in this day and age don’t get much better than this.
SMASHED || I love small films. And even though Sony produced this film, it feels like an Indie. With Aaron Paul and Mary Elizabeth Winstead heading this film, as a married couple equally dependent on drugs and alcohol, I am completely invested. Mary Elizabeth Winstead is known as Ramona in “Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World” and the lead in the latest version of “The Thing”, but in “Smashed” she is a young woman attempting to get her life together, surrounded by people where sober is a foreign word. I wholeheartedly believe Ms. Winstead will pull this film off wonderfully.
3,2,1… FRANKIE GO BOOM || Charlie Hunnan of “Sons Of Anarchy” fame steps into a comedic role as the brother of Chris O’Dowd in “3,2,1… Frankie Go Boom”. With the lovely Lizzy Caplan playing Hunnan’s love interest who is caught in a sex tape with him, the rest of the film is basically about getting the film back before it hits the internet. Toss in “Sons Of Anarchy” co-star, Ron Perlman in drag and you have the makings of a very odd, yet interesting film.
ATLAS SHRUGGED – PART TWO || Having not seen “Part 1” of “Atlas Shrugged”, it is hard for me to weigh in completely on this new release. However, reading the synopsis, I was fully on board, even as far as to wonder if I should read this book. But the trailer for this film, makes it look rather bland and over-exaggerated, with nothing really sticking out. I will probably watch the first part to see if the second is actually worth the hassle.
EXCUSE ME FOR LIVING || Too low budget for my liking, there are actually quite a few big names in “Excuse Me For Living” that could almost sell thing film including Christopher Lloyd, Jerry Stiller, and Wayne Knight. However, the story and look of this film are just not enough to grab my attention.
GAYBY || There’s something about “Gayby” that just feels wrong. The leading lady is not attractive, the idea of a gay man having sex with a straight woman in order to have a baby is awkward, and “Friends With Kids” basically already covered this topic, without the odd twist of opposite sexual attractions. There’s absolutely nothing in this film for me.
GRAVE ENCOUNTERS 2 || Why aren’t these films more widely known about? Not does this trailer make me want to see this sequel, but it makes me want to see the original as well. With some great looking effects in the dwindling world of found-footage, I am wholly on board with seeing this film, especially with Halloween approaching.
HITLER’S CHILDREN || After watching this trailer, I have a very vague sense of what this is about. I get that these people have Nazi last names, but I do not understand where the documentary is going with this. At one point a woman asks man, “what are you doing here?”, to which I became completely dumbfounded. Sorry, but if you can’t inform me on the subject of your film, I’m probably not going to see it.
LEAST AMONG SAINTS || Had this film been shopped to the proper outlets, it could have been much more heartwarming and widely acceptable than in its current state. The quality of the film is all wrong, the casting choices seem somewhat off, and what could have been this year’s “A Better Life” is a low budget Indie with no hope of getting recognized, despite its strong, emotional plot.
MIDDLE OF NOWHERE || “Middle of Nowhere” not only has some strong performances, but it also won a Best Director award at Sundance this year. Following the life of a woman whose husband is in jail for eight years, she must decide how to continue on, while another man steps into her life.
SIMON AND THE OAKS || As well meaning as this film appears to be, “Simon and the Oaks” is all over the place. I get that it spans over a certain extended period of time, but there is something missing from this trailer to tie everything together. What this film does have going for it is Stellan Skarsgård’s son, Bill, portraying the older version of Simon, though this is still not enough to get me to see it.
SMILEY || You think you can simply put a freaky mask on someone and it somehow becomes scary. And now you’re going to tell me this killer is summoned through the internet. Despite its rather creative and well-done marketing campaign (mostly the posters), “Smiley” lacks a hook to get me to see it.
SPECIAL FORCES || I thoroughly enjoy Diane Kruger, which is basically the only reason I would see this film, which is very reminiscent of “Tears of the Sun”, as a special ops team enters Afghanistan to rescue a news reporter.
THE THIEVES || Could have been the foreign version of “Oceans Eleven”, but it just doesn’t do the trick, lacking in just about every area a film could lack.
WAR ON THE BUTTONS || What an odd marketing strategy. I get that its the Weinsteins and they’re going to sell that “The Artist” was produced under their watch, but talk about films that have very little in common. That and a foreign film narrated by a heavily used American narrator is an extremely odd choice. Not sure there’s much for me in this film either.