Beyond the sequels and tent-pole franchises, I am convinced that we receive one great original science fiction film every summer. “Oblivion” took the title last year, which also starred Cruise, while the year prior was won by Rian Johnson’s “Looper”, which also starred Blunt. With notable performances from both Cruise and Blunt and bringing rejuvenated life to the “Groundhog Day” concept as well as the alien invasion genre, “Edge Of Tomorrow” is this year’s best original science fiction film.
From a supporting character in “The Descendants” to the main player in the “Divergent” series, Shailene Woodley has proved she is a rising star. Now with another young adult turn in novel adaptation, “The Fault In Our Stars”, she plays a young woman struggling with falling in love on top of having cancer. In what resembles the heart of a Nicolas Sparks adaptation, this best-selling novel is sure to turn out the crowds this weekend.
Taissa Farmiga (daughter of Vera Farmiga) has a bright future in Hollywood. Already successfully coming off her television series “American Horror Story”, she finds herself in the lead of this independent thriller, “Anna”. Mark Strong plays a detective who is able to enter the minds of victims to help recall events. Taissa plays title character, Anna, a young girl accused of killing her classmates. Strong must enter her mind to find out what happened. And although this film does not look that exceptional, with both Farmiga and Strong, it is still a film worth checking out at some point.
From now on, whenever you compare a film to the Oscar nominated foreign language film “Dogtooth”, one of my favorite foreign films of the last five years, I am in. “Borgman” is receives that moniker along with the descriptors “surreal, creepy, and blackly funny”. These words signal my bread and butter. With a trailer that steps out of the box, a strong leading man in Jan Bijvoet, and a director being compared to Michael Haneke, you have stacked the deck for an independent film that I would like to see.
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What looks like the queer version of “Top Gun”, two pilots find themselves in a secret relationship in the new film “Burning Blue”. With hints of “Brokeback Mountain”, as the men both have heterosexual relationships, when their secrets start to bubble to the surface, their bonds are tested. Had this starred some more recognizable names and contained a little bit more substance than the trailer leads on, it could have been a much more powerful film like those listed earlier. Instead it comes off second rate at best.
As interesting of a guy as he seems, the co-founder of Burt’s Bees, Burt Shavitz, is off the reservation and finds himself in a documentary chronicling his unique open and hippie lifestyle. Titled “Burt’s Buzz”, the film sets out to show the man behind the company and how unconventional he and his lifestyle really are. Begging the question how a man like this gets into selling one of the most popular lip balms in the world, I am still not convinced I need to see this film.
If you were involved or effected by the legal battle around gay marriage than the documentary “The Case Against 8” looks to be a powerful, moving, and informative venture behind the scenes of that highly publicized court case. And although I support gay marriage and followed some of the stories as they were happening, as far as I am concerned, I know enough about it to be content and do not need a documentary to show me what happened.
Almost every week, two types of documentaries surface. Ones about people and ones about the government. Yes, there are a few that fall in-between, but for the most part, these are the majority of options. “Citizen Koch” is a government documentary about the rise of the tea party thanks to corporations and billionaires funding them “anonymously” and the effect that has on citizens. Government issues perplex me and frustrate me, but it normally very hard to get me to watch one of these films.
I have to admit, any film that utilizes time travel is bound to capture my attention. However, unless this film has way more too it, “I’ll Follow You Down” looks like all build up and no pay off. The trailer sees Haley Joel Osment return to the big screen as a son whose father vanished mysteriously. Studying wormholes and what he believes his father was onto, Osment’s character looks to travel in time and fix his broken family. Also starring Gillian Anderson, my interest is minimally peaked.
Jenny Slate has a unique sense of humor that is on display in full force in her first leading lady turn in the film “Obvious Child”. She plays a stand-up comedian who sleeps with a really nice guy and finds out she is pregnant. What comes next is the struggle of whether to tell him that she is getting an abortion. Independent comedies can often run the gambit of actually being funny, but if this comedy is anything like its trailer, I have high hopes and I also hope to see Slate continue her unique work in comedy.
Some strange mix between “The Way Way Back”, “Hot Rod”, and “Napoleon Dynamite”, and set in the ’80s, “Ping Pong Summer” sees a young boy (Marcello Conte) on his family’s annual summer vacation at their vacation home. Here, he meets girls at the beach, practices his hip hop dance moves, and learns ping pong from his outcast neighbor played by Susan Sarandon. As much as I enjoyed almost all the films it looks like, for some reason this concept falls flat.
Visually, “Rigor Mortis” looks impressive, with what looks like plenty of practical effects mixed with computer graphics to make some stunning sequences. But the story of the film appears lacking, as a suicidal actor moves into a haunted apartment complex with vampire hunters and exorcists surrounding him. Falling somewhere between a thriller, a horror, and an action film, and without a distinctive through line, I am not sold at all.
Ti West continues to be a seminal name in the horror film genre. In his latest feature, “The Sacrament”, he enlists the help of his “You’re Next” co-stars Joe Swanberg and A.J. Bowen in delivering a found footage thriller that sees a camera crew visiting a cult. Gene Jones plays the convincing leader of the cult and delivers the horror element when the crew tries to leave. Presented by Eli Roth and delivered by Ti West, this is an absolute must-see in the horror genre.
In Mike Myers’ directorial debut, he takes a look at one of the biggest managers in the history of Hollywood, Shep Gordon. Interviewing the legend as well as his countless friends in Hollywood including Sylvester Stallone, Michael Douglas, and even Myers himself, you learn a lot about the man, including his dreams and aspirations that are pretty down-to-earth for man as successful as he. Normally, documentaries about people do not peak my interest, but set in Los Angeles and focusing on Hollywood, I am somewhat interested to see “Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon”.
Queer cinema is not a genre of drama or comedy that I often venture into, and not for the reasons you may suspect. Most of the time, these films simply just do not look appealing to me. Take the new film, “Test” for example. Set in 1985 San Francisco, as people were still not completely sure what AIDS and HIV entailed, the film follows a young dancer and a budding relationship with one of his mentors. The AIDS epidemic is featured in so many films these days that this alone does not sell a film for me.
Clark Gregg can be great in things, but as a down on his luck talent agent in “Trust Me”, he does not look at his best. But with quite the impressive cast including Alison Janney, Molly Shannon, Amanda Peet, William H. Macy, and one of my favorite actors, Sam Rockwell, and some heartfelt sentiment towards the end of the trailer, I am somewhat sold on the concept and could see it being enjoyable. Add to that the cute newcomer Saxon Sharbino as Gregg’s counterpart in redemption and the deck is stacked.
Yet another horror film about Bigfoot comes out and yet again I want to see it. This one, titled “Willow Creek” heads into Bigfoot Country with director Bobcat Goldthwait, whose last directing endeavor was the dark comedy “God Bless America”. With the feel of “The Blair Witch Project” and every other Bigfoot movie made, there is still something unique that radiates from this film that makes me what to see it.
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In the latest trashy film that goes way over the top with its concept, “Wolfcop” is exactly what the title suggests; a human police officer who is also a werewolf. Leaning on the campy nature of the premise, complete with sexual content, graphic violence, and endless self-awareness, it runs the line of films like “Hobo With A Shotgun” and “Machete”. With a tagline like “Dirty Harry… Only Hairier”, I think you know exactly what you are in for.