Saturday, January 7, 2017

But I Digress... Doctoring DuckTales

By: Cat

“Life is like a hurricane
Here in Duckburg
Race cars, lasers, aeroplanes
It's a duck-blur!
Might solve a mystery
Or rewrite history!”
-Lyrics by Mark Mueller

Has the song continued to play in your head? It has in mine! If not, then get ready – because once this show hits Disney XD, it’s going to have a resurgence! Resistance is futile… wait… we’re not talking the Borg, here. Promise!

One of the more pleasant things to come out of 2016 was the announcement that Disney was bringing back its beloved DuckTales (1987-1990). The new series is allegedly set to air in the summer of 2017, and teasers have already begun to get network airtime. Word is that it's set to release with the 30th anniversary of the original. I haven't found any concrete dates to support that, but I seriously hope we're not waiting until September. 

I was a little leery, at first, about this planned reboot. This is one of the beloved cartoons of my youth, after all. The original voice actor for Uncle Scrooge was claimed as one of the many losses of 2016. Alan Young (The Time Machine, Mickey's Around the World in 80 Days, Mister Ed) was 96 when he passed away in May. He was lending his voice to that iconic role even in his last year with us.

Without Scrooge, this whole show concept doesn’t even work. Who could even possibly fill such enormous shoes to make a reboot even remotely acceptable by long-time fans? The new voice actor had to be worthy of the physics-defying, money bin swimming, and spats wearing miser with a heart of gold and thirst for adventure.

David Tennant (Jessica Jones, Dragons: Race to the Edge, Broadchurch) is the answer. I had the most epic fangirl reaction when I learned this, and I am not even a little ashamed about it.

Fate seems to be at work in this man’s life. The boy that grew up loving Doctor Who (1963-) came to play the title role, himself, as the 10th Doctor from 2005 to 2013 (and various specials thereafter). Most die-hard Whovians can tell you that the “6 Degrees of Who” goes a bit deeper than that childhood dream come true. That’s not my focus of the moment, however.

Kismet may have been found once more for this role. Why do I say that? Well… Tennant wasn’t the name our new Scrooge was born with. His last name was McDonald. He is also a native of Scotland. Tell me I’m grasping at straws all you want – I’m convinced those straws are really the shiny gold of the coins within that skyscraper-sized vault belonging to the thrifty McDuck.

Tennant has an amazing acting range from classics to comedy, is no stranger to voice work, and has an authentic accent. He also brings the love of his personal fan base to the series. None of that is anywhere near a negative.

I hold great hope for this series. In a way, it’s Doctor Who that has prepared me for moments such as this. When the Doctor regenerated and got a new actor, it was a process to accept the new face for the beloved character. When I was little, and watching the classic series with my mom, Tom Baker (Little Britain, Agatha Christie's Marple, Star Wars Rebels) was my favorite Doctor – the 4th Doctor. Tennant, as the 10th, is my favorite of the current series. This very strongly feels like history repeating itself. 

From what I have gathered in reading the various articles released thus far, most of the core characters of the original series will be reprised in this reboot. The entirety of the cast has yet to be announced – but it’s really only the supporting roles the likes of Gyro Gearloose, Duckworth, and the bulk of the Beagles, etc. that have yet to be announced.

The only character in the series to retain their original voice actor is Donald Duck.

Tony Anselmo (The Lion King 1 1/2, Phineas and Ferb, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse) has been the voice of Donald Duck since 1986. I’m happy to see that Disney is keeping it that way. Of course, Uncle Donald only appeared in 8 episodes of the original series; so it’s a bit unclear how much of a role he’ll have in this reboot.

I am super exited that right now “…they’re out there making DuckTales! Woo-oo!”

Is the song back in your head? Good! Here’s a fun away to purge it. The cast got together for a sing-along. Join in with me!

If you’d like to learn more about show or the new cast, visit the show’s IMDb page here.

But I Digress... is a new weekly column for that can't be pinned down to just one thing. It's Cat's celebration of tangents, random references, and general fan geekdom that both intertwines with, revolves around, and diverges from our movie-review core. In homage to the beloved Brit comedians, we want to bring you something completely different!

Friday, January 6, 2017

1000 Rupee Note (2014) - Foreign Film Friday

Number Rolled: 77
Movie Name/Year: 1000 Rupee Note (2014)
Tagline: None
Genre: Drama
Length: 89 minutes
Rating: NR
Production Companies: Infinitum Productions
Producer: Ranjit Gugle, Shekhar Sathe, Shrihari Sathe
Director: Shrihari Sathe
Writer: Shrikant Bojewar
Actors: Devendra Gaikwad, Usha Naik, Pooja Nayak, Sandeep Pathak, Shekhar Sathe, Ganesh Yadav, Shrikant Yadav
Stunt Doubles: N/A

Speech Available: Marathi
Subtitles Available: English, Traditional Chinese, French, German, Spanish

Blurb from Netflix: After randomly receiving a handsome political bribe, a sweet, poor elderly woman decides to treat herself a shopping spree, which doesn’t go smoothly.

Selina’s Point of View:
Straight drama isn’t my thing, but I can still appreciate it when it comes in the form of a great film. And 1000 Rupee Note is a GREAT film.

There were some cultural references that went right over my head, but that’s bound to happen. Not just because we haven’t been doing Foreign Film Fridays for very long, but because this was a very unique film for Netflix in general. This was the only Marathi language film I saw available. I have no idea how that particular Indian culture differs from the others. I imagine it’s similar to the U.S., where there is a huge cultural difference between the country, the suburbs, and the cities.

Despite a few names that just didn’t ring any bells at all, I still found it easy to disappear into Budhi’s tragic story. 1000 Rupee Note was a tale about human kindness, corruption, and greed. The plot went down roads I’m certain an American film wouldn’t have taken and told the plot in such a way that it spoke to many emotions all at one.

Usha Naik (Half Ticket, Jai Mohata Devi, Lapachhapi) was a phenomenal choice for the lead character, Budhi. She played her character so well that I couldn’t look away from the screen for more than a few seconds at a time. That’s impressive because this is the kind of film I would normally consider slow and boring – but it absolutely was neither of those things.

Budhi’s story was a strong and highly realistic one. Chinmay Kelkar (Timepass 2, Let the Wind Blow, And Gandhi Goes Missing…), the person in charge of casting, could have easily given the part to someone that tried to take it in a more surreal direction – which would have ruined everything. Naik 100% makes 1000 Rupee Note what it is.

Because I’m not a drama fan, I likely won’t be watching this film again – but that’s my own personal choice. I would highly recommend it to anyone that does enjoy the genre.

Cat’s Point of View:
I dove straight in on this one. I didn’t read the blurb or look for trailers. I worried a little in the beginning of the movie that I was going to be as bored as I was for that first foreign film we watched.

That quickly changed.

Do I think this is something to go screaming from the rooftops about? Ehh, not so much. What I do think is that this was a pretty solid movie. I connected with the main characters and I empathized with them.

I think I would have gotten a little more out of the movie had I been able to tie the musical selections in. Since they weren’t something I could easily recognize (such as the cover songs from that prior film we watched), and there were no subtitles for the lyrics; it was little more than ambient sound as part of the setting backdrop.

My curiosity is piqued by the music mostly because I recognize that there is much significance in every gesture and motion in Indian dance – such as seen in the Bollywood movies. It tells a story as much as the dialogue and other physical acting.

There was a lot of bleakness; but at the same time, the film was full of heart. It was a well told tale of how money can cause as many problems as it solves. I may not feel the need to watch this one again, but at least I do not feel that my time was wasted.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 80%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – None

Netflix’s Prediction for Selina – 3/5
Selina’s Trust-the-Dice Score5/5

Netflix’s Prediction for Cat – 3/5
Cat’s Trust-the-Dice Score3/5

The Random Rating: PG-13 (Keep in mind that this goes by the United States MPAA guidelines. Due to a difference in culture between the U.S. and India, we can't guarantee this meets Indian rating standards.)

Movie Trailer:

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Happy Christmas (2014)

Number Rolled: 42
Movie Name/Year: Happy Christmas (2014)
Tagline: Family is the gift that keeps on taking.
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Length: 82 minutes
Rating: R
Production Companies: Lucky Coffee Productions
Producer: Tom Aries, Matthew Eggers, Tara Eggers, Tom Eggers, Shelley Fox, Peter Gilbert, Janice Harris, Yra Harris, Breea Klong, Michael Klong, Eddie Linker, Susie Linker, Jeanne McInereney, Karen McKeon, Hartley Meyer, Laura Mizrahi, Theresa Snyder, Joe Swanberg, C.T. Terry, Alicia Van Couvering
Director: Joe Swanberg
Writer: Joe Swanberg
Actors: Anna Kendrick, Melanie Lynskey, Mark Webber, Lena Dunham, Joe Swanberg
Stunt Doubles: N/A

Speech Available: English
Subtitles Available: English

Blurb from Netflix: After splitting up with her boyfriend just before the holidays, a young woman tries to start over, but her self-destructive behavior gets in the way.

Selina’s Point of View:
Sitting through this film was torture. Not only was it painfully boring and poorly shot, but I fucking HATE Lena Dunham. I just hate her. I viscerally hate her. Even my absolute love for Anna Kendrick couldn’t overshadow it.

Normally, no matter how bad a movie is, when it’s over I feel good. Either because I get to write about it, or because I accomplished the task of removing a film from my list, or because there was something awesome about it.

I don’t feel good.

In fact, I hate Lena Dunham so much that I don’t think I could accurately judge the content of this film, no matter how hard I try. So I’m going to abstain. You’ll have to look to Cat for her opinion.

I wish Anna Kendrick wasn’t a part of this project. I really do. If she wasn’t, I might have noticed Dunham was in it and kept it off both our “Top Movies to Look Out For” list and our queue.

Cat’s Point of View:
I’m a bit torn about this movie.

Part of the quandary I find myself in is due to expectation vs. reality. When we rolled this movie it felt like a bit of a lark because the holiday had just passed. We might have had a technical “Christmas movie” just before, but not anything that screamed ‘tis the season’ at you. I expected something like that, going in.

That’s not what this movie is. Once more, the holiday is landscape here rather than an active participant in what’s going on; with minor exceptions.

I’m going to be honest. I was bored to tears. Straight drama like this doesn’t usually do it for me. This wasn’t even an emotional rollercoaster drama (for which I am thankful). I distinctly remember that there was a point in the movie where I was thinking, “ugh how much longer is this?” and moused over the progress bar, only to see that I had 40 minutes left.

That being said, even though I was bored – the movie wasn’t bad. I wasn’t rolling my eyes or praying for it to end – I just wasn’t into it.

I liked the fact that the couple wasn’t “perfect” and their dynamic was wonderful. I actually loved the way they interacted and handled things. It felt real and far less staged than the melodrama one usually finds on the screen. I absolutely adored their interaction with the little boy. I think that little guy stole the movie for me, really.

Anna Kendrick (Into The Woods, The Hollars, Trolls) and Melanie Lynskey (Flags of Our Fathers, Win Win, Rainbow Time) are also actresses that I really enjoy. It was an interesting turn to see Kendrick in this sort of role; but let me tell you…Lynskey absolutely slayed her part. I got a kick out of the fact she used her native New Zealand accent, as well.

Joe Swanberg (Cats and Trees, V/H/S, Joshy) wore quite a few hats with this film as writer, director, producer, and male lead. He’s also little Jude’s real dad. Looking through his filmography, I was reminded where I’ve seen him before. I would have to say I like this a hell of a lot more than his offering in that horror anthology. It’s really apples and oranges, though.

Not only was the baby actually his child, but the film was shot in his actual house. I think that’s pretty cool. On top of that, the dialogue here was largely improvised. When I first read that after watching the movie, I was skeptical. I did some digging and found some interviews with Lynskey and Swanberg which confirmed it. It seems that this was one of those kismet moments of the right concept finding the right actors and crew. It didn’t feel improvised and had a good flow to it.

While this movie wasn’t the most entertaining for me, I have a hell of a lot more respect for it in retrospect after learning some of these details. Sadly, my score for the film is based on my enjoyment of the movie and not what I feel its overall ‘quality’ is.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 75%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 38%

Netflix’s Prediction for Selina – Who cares?/5
Selina’s Trust-the-Dice ScoreNot even fucking worth it./5

Netflix’s Prediction for Cat – 1.5/5
Cat’s Trust-the-Dice Score2/5

P.S. There’s some dialog near the end of the credits, and a long scene after the credits are over. It’s more like an extended scene.

Movie Trailer:

Monday, January 2, 2017

Top 20 Movies to Look Out For In January (2017)

According to: Selina 

20 – The Bronx Bull (1/6)

Tag Line: The true story of an American legend.
Production Company: Sunset Pictures, That’s Hollywood
Director: Martin Guigui
Writer: Rustam Branaman, Martin Guigui, Chris Anderson, Sharon McGehee, Jake LaMotta
Actors: William Forsythe, Joe Mantegna, Tom Sizemore, Paul Sorvino, Penelope Ann Miller, Mojean Aria, Ray Wise, Natasha Hanstridge, James Russo, Robert Davi, Cloris Leachman, Mike Starr, Joe Cortese, Bruce Davison, Dom Irrera, Claudia Ferri, Harry Hamlin, Alicia Witt, Rebecca Forsythe, Joey Diax, Eric Mamann, Alex Meraz, Dahlia Waingort, Juliet Landau, Sterling Fitzgerald, Russell Gannon, Dre’ Michael Chaney
Genre: Biography, Drama, Sport
Rated: R

I’ll be honest, there’s some slim pickings this month. I was really scraping the bottom of the barrel for my top twenty. Let me be clear, that doesn’t mean the films in the first half of this countdown are bad, it just means that I, personally, have little to no interest in them.

For instance, The Bronx Bull may actually be incredibly interesting to a boxing fan. I, however, couldn’t care less. I chose this film 100% for the cast. I enjoy the work of Joe Mantegna (Criminal Minds, Archie’s Final Project, Redbelt) and Paul Sorvino (No Deposit, The Devil’s Carnival, Goodfellas). The rest of the cast is relatively decent as well.

19 – The Bye Bye Man (1/13)

Tag Line: Don’t think it. Don’t say it.
Production Company: Intrepid Pictures, Los Angeles Media Fund
Director: Stacy Title
Writer: Robert Damon Schneck, Jonathan Penner
Actors: Douglas Smith, Lucien Laviscount, Cressida Bonas, Doug Jones, Michael Trucco, Faye Dunaway, Eric Tremblay, Cleo King, Merisa Echeverria, Jenna Kanell, Carrie-Anne Moss, Ava Penner, Martha Hackett, Jonathan Penner, Nicholas Sadler, Laura Knox, Andrew Gorell
Genre: Horror, Thriller
Rated: PG-13

First, let me get this out of the way because it has to be said.

What a shit-stain of a title. Creators, please start putting a touch more thought into naming your movies.

Moving on.

Personally, I think this film looks like every other horror movie that’s ever followed a recipe. They even put the signature move where one of the characters tilts the mirror and sees the paranormal bad guy, right in the trailer. If you’re gonna use obvious bullshit like that, don’t stick it in the trailer. It doesn’t look good for the film.

That being said, it was better that most of the other films coming out that didn’t make the list. Who knows? It is probably a recipe film, but maybe they did something interesting with it. Going by a recipe doesn’t necessarily disqualify a film from being good.

18 – Bastards (1/27)

Tag Line: The ultimate paternity test.
Production Company: Alcon Entertainment, DMG Entertainment, the Montecito Picture Company, Paragon Studios
Director: Lawrence Sher
Writer: Justin Malen
Actors: J.K. Simmons, Owen Wilson, Bill Irwin, Ed Helms, Glenn Close, Ving Rhames, Katie Aselton, Harry Shearer, Ryan Cartwright, Retta, Brian Huskey, Katt Williams, Terry Bradshaw, Rachel Eggleston, Debra Stipe, Ryan Gaul, Taylor Treadwell, Liam Tomasiello, Ann McKenzie, Sarah Skeist, Hunter Flanagan, Rushdi Rabia, Keller Kuhn
Genre: Comedy
Rated: R

Meh. I guess this film is something that could be good. It’s another case of a film joining the list just because of the cast. Only this was literally JUST because of the cast. I have very little interest in the story. Of course, it could wind up being awesome and I’m just grumpy.

17 – Claire in Motion (1/13)

Tag Line: None
Production Company: Sacha Pictures
Director: Annie J. Howell, Lisa Robinson
Writer: Annie J. Howell, Lisa Robinson
Actors: Betsy Brandt, Chris Beetem, Zev Haworth, Anna Margaret Hollyman, Sakina Jaffrey, Brian Evans, David Haugen
Genre: Drama
Rated: Unrated

The trailer for Claire in Motion makes it seem like a decent indie film.  It looks like a generally interesting story. Not that it’s particularly unique, but it does seem to place a thrilling spin on a familiar subject. What really got this film added to the list, was the way the main character was portrayed. Betsy Brandt (Life in Pieces, Mothers of the Bride, Breaking Bad) seemed to really throw herself into her part. That kind of commitment can carry a film, even if the rest of it is lacking.

That’s not to say I suspect that Claire in Motion would be found lacking. I have no idea what it’s going to be like, I only have what you have to judge by: a trailer. What I’m saying is that Brandt could very well make this film worth seeing regardless of the quality of the story.

Of course, if the story winds up being great, that’s a bonus.

16 – Live By Night (1/13)

Tag Line: Witness the price of the American dream.
Production Company: Appian Way, Pearl Street Films, Warner Bros.
Director: Ben Affleck
Writer: Dennis Lehane, Ben Affleck
Actors: Ben Affleck, Scott Eastwood, Zoe Saldana, Elle Fanning, Sienna Miller, Chris Sullivan, Anthony Michael Hall, Brendan Gleeson, Titus Welliver, Chris Messina, Max Casella, Chris Cooper, Ford Austin, Derek Mears, Robert Glenister, Amy Mader, J.D. Evermore, Austin Swift, B.C. Halifax, Matthew Maher, Bruna Amato, Michael Mantell
Genre: Crime, Drama
Rated: R

The reason this film made the list is because Ben Affleck (The Accountant, Suicide Squad, Gone Girl) tends to have some really elevated moments as a director. I enjoy him as an actor, but I might very well like him better as a writer/director. It helps that he’s joined by some spectacular actors: Zoe Saldana (Star Trek Beyond, Center Stage, Guardians of the Galaxy), Scott Eastwood (Suicide Squad, Snowden, Fury), Sienna Miller (Burnt, High-Rise, Foxcatcher), Brendan Gleeson (Assassin’s Creed, Stonehearst Asylum, In Bruges), and Elle Fanning (Maleficent, Trumbo, The Neon Demon).

The story looks pretty interesting as well, but if the cast and crew were different, I likely wouldn’t be interested.

I just wish Affleck would stop writing himself parts that he needs an accent for. He thinks he’s better at it than he is.

15 – Apple of my Eye (1/10)

Tag Line: When she lost her sight, she found her way.
Production Company: Sweet Tomato Films, Character Brigade, Expression Entertainment
Director: Castille Landon
Writer: Castille Landon
Actors: Amy Smart, Burt Reynolds, AJ Michalka, Liam McIntyre, Jack Griffo, Nick Bateman, Charlie Barnett, Lindsay Lamb, Castille Landon, Avery Arendes, Maddi Jane, Thaddeus Ygnacio, Samm Levine
Genre: Family
Rated: PG

Yes, I know this is a film that’s going straight to DVD, but I don’t care. It looks adorable.

The plot is not at the center of my interest though.

I’m very interested in Castille Landon (Workers’ Camp, Halfway to Nowhere, Every Other Second) as a writer/director. She’s young, 25-years-old, and just breaking into her directing career. Her first writing credit was in 2011 and she started acting in 2007, but her first directing credit was only two years ago.

I fully believe in supporting new writer/directors. Our next legends are going to come from that pool of unknowns. We all know I can be a bit… brutal… at times, but not usually where someone new is concerned.

It’s important to support the newbies, especially when it looks like they’re putting out something interesting. Apple of my Eye looks like it follows some of your basic tropes for the genre, but there’s a unique spin to it that makes it seem like it would be a great addition to a family movie night.

14 – Split (1/20)

Tag Line: Kevin has 23 distinct personalities. The 24th is about to be unleashed.
Production Company: Blinding Edge Pictures, Blumhouse Productions
Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Writer: M. Night Shyamalan
Actors: Anya Taylor-Joy, James McAvoy, Haley Lu Richardson, Kim Director, Jessica Sula, Brad William Henke, Sebastian Arcelus, Betty Buckley
Genre: Horror, Thriller
Rated: PG-13

I know there’s been a lot of disappointment where M. Night Shyamalan (Signs, Wayward Pines, The Village) is concerned, but hear me out.

Regardless of the issues people have with some of his films, Shyamalan is still an iconic director… and I’d consider him a house-hold name if I could pronounce it. Aside from that, I’m thinking this film might help him escape his rut of trying to make every film the next Sixth Sense (1999). Is it possible there might be some weird twist at the end that makes everyone face-palm? Sure. But I don’t think there will be this time.

I think this film seems very straight-forward for a Shyamalan project. That alone makes it interesting. When you add the actual storyline and the brilliant James McAvoy (The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby, Filth, Wanted) to the mix, it’s impossible to not want to see this film.

13 – Sleepless (1/13)

Tag Line: Don’t judge a cop by his cover.
Production Company: FilmNation Entertainment, Open Road Films, RIverstone Pictures, Vertigo Entertainment
Director: Baran bo Odar
Writer: Andrea Berloff, Frederic Jardin, Nicolas Saada, Olivier Douyere
Actors: Michelle Monaghan, Dermot Mulroney, David Harbour, Jamie Foxx, Gabrielle Union, Scoot McNairy, Sala Baker, T.I., Octavius J. Johnson, Briana Marin, Veronica McCluskey, Tim Connolly, Chelsea Hayes,
Genre: Action, Crime, Thriller
Rated: R

My first taste of Jamie Foxx (A Million Ways to Die in the West, Annie, Horrible Bosses 2) in a serious role, was Django Unchained (2012). Since then I’ve been starving for more of that kind of thing. Sleepless has practically nothing in common with that film, of course, but it IS a serious film that Foxx is starring in. That alone makes it worth watching.

Foxx always had good comedic timing, but his action/drama acting is so much better. If he’d started his career in the action/thriller/drama genres, he’d have been bigger than the most well-known actors out there.

Also, the film itself looks like a lot of adrenaline-filled awesomeness.

12 – The Book of Love (1/13)

Tag Line: How far would you go for a lost love?
Production Company: The Darwin Collective, Iron Ocean Films, Nine Nights, Campfire
Director: Bill Purple
Writer: Bill Purple, Robbie Pickering
Actors: Jessica Biel, Mary Steenburgen, Maisie Williams, Jason Sudeikis, Paul Reiser, Orlando Jones, Joshua Mikel, Cailey Fleming, Jayson Warner Smith, Russ Russo, Christopher Gehrman
Genre: Drama
Rated: PG-13

Oh my god, this film is going to be a Grand Canyon’s worth of feels. I’m not often a fan of straight on dramas, but the cast is amazing and the story looks like something unique.

If the chemistry is there between the actors, this film could be absolutely incredible. There are a FEW pitfalls that could hinder something like The Book of Love, but the trailer makes it seem like none of those possibilities affected the filming or final product.

11 – Monster Trucks (1/13)

Tag Line: On January 13, meet Crunch.
Production Company: Disruption Entertainment, Nickelodeon Movies, Paramount Animation, Paramount Pictures
Director: Chris Wedge
Writer: Derek Connolly, Matthew Robinson, Jonathan Aibel, Glenn Berger
Actors: Lucas Till, Jane Levy, Thomas Lennon, Barry Pepper, Rob Lowe, Danny Glover, Amy Ryan, Holt McCallany, Frank Whaley, Aliyah O’Brien, Jedidiah Goodacre, Samara Weaving, Tucker Albrizzi, Chris Gauthier
Genre: Animation, Action, Adventure
Rated: PG

Seriously? How cute is this? It’s like E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982) meets Transformers (2007). It makes me a squee a little when I watch the trailer.

10 – Bad Kids of Crestview Academy (1/13)

Tag Line: Welcome back to hell.
Production Company: BKG2H Productions, Bad Kids
Director: Ben Browder
Writer: Barry Wernick, James R. Hallam
Actors: Sean Astin, Gina Gershon, Sammi Hanratty, Drake Bell, Ali Astin, Ben Browder, Sophia Taylor Ali, Sufe Bradshaw, Cameron Deane Stewart, Matthew Frias, Billy Blair
Genre: Action, Comedy, Thriller
Rated: R

This is the sequel to a film I watched and reviewed a while before Cat came on board. A LONG while. Hell, I wasn’t even recording the Netflix predictions, Producers, or Rotten Tomato percentages yet. After reading the old review, I’d have to say I wasn’t even writing anything interesting yet, but I think all artists read their old stuff and try to hide under the bed sometimes.

In the review of the original, Bad Kids Go to Hell (2012), I gave it a 3 out of 5 rating, but over the years I think that’s changed.

I don’t remember every single film I watch. I watch something like three new films a week, not counting any that I watch with my husband or in the theaters. With my husband I usually watch roughly two new films a month and we go to the theaters enough. Altogether, that means I watch (rounded up) approximately 200 new films per year. That’s a lot of fucking movies to remember. Some of them just aren’t worth the brain space.

What that means, is that if I remember a film for an extended period of time, it’s either because something truly resonated with me, or I hated it so much that I wish I could forget it and can’t. Since I didn’t hate Bad Kids go to Hell that means something resonated with me more than I realized at the time.

Knowing that, I’m really looking forward to the sequel. The original was like The Breakfast Club (1985) meets Final Destination (2000). So it followed those kind of 80s teen flick tropes, but with a seriously dark spin.

Dark is my wheel-house.

I’m really looking forward to seeing what they did with this sequel. I hope they made it as memorable as the first.

9 – Hidden Figures (1/6)

Tag Line: Meet the women you don’t know, behind the mission you do.
Production Company: Levantine Films, Chernin Entertainment, Fox 2000 Pictures
Director: Theodore Melfi
Writer: Allison Schroeder, Theodore Melfi, Margot Lee Shetterly
Actors: Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monae, Kevin Costner, Kirsten Dunst, Jim Parsons, Mahershala Ali, Aldis Hodge, Glen Powell, Kimberly Quinn, Olek Krupa, Kurt Krause, Ken Strunk, Ludya Jewett, Donna Biscoe, Ariana Neal, Saniyya Sidney, Tre Stokes, Selah Kimbro Jones, Corey Mendell Parker, Ashton Tyler, Alkoya Brunson, Karan Kendrick, Jaiden Kaine, Gregory Alan Williams, Maria Howell, Arnell Powell, Crystal Lee Brown, Tequilla Whitfield, Dane Davenport, Evan Holtzman, Travis Smith, Scott Michael Morgan
Genre: Drama
Rated: PG

There have been a lot of very important films being made lately. Films that tear through racism, sexism, and hate. Right now, that is some seriously necessary shit. Hell, that kind of thing is always necessary. Anything that strikes a blow against undeserved hatred is welcome, in my mind.

I’m not saying there aren’t legitimate reasons to hate. Someone murders your parents? I’d say it’s pretty damn normal to hate them. Hate someone because of their skin color or whether or not they have dangly bits between their legs? You’re just an asshole.

Hidden Figures takes a blow at that kind of unnecessary, asshole-centric, hatred. It brings a little known true story into the light, and it’s one of those true stories that seems like it’ll truly able to hold someone’s interest.

When important meets interesting, you know that’s worth watching.

8 – Silence (1/13)

Tag Line: Sometimes silence is the deadliest sound.
Production Company: AI-Film, Cappa Defina Productions, CatchPlay, Cecchi Gori Pictures, Emmett/Furla/Oasis Films, Fabrica de Cine, IM Global, SharpSword Films, Sikelia Productions, Verdi Productions, Waypoint Entertainment
Director: Martin Scorsese
Writer: Jay Cocks, Martin Scorsese, Shusaku Endo
Actors: Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver, Liam Neeson, Ciaran Hinds, Issei Ogata, Shin’ya Tsukamoto, Yoshi Oida, Yosuke Kubozuka, Kaoru Endo, Nana Komatsu, Ryo Kase
Genre: Drama, History
Rated: R

For some reason, this film wasn’t on our master list for January 2017 when we started watching trailers for this top 20. I didn’t know it was coming out until just before we went on vacation. By then we both already had our lists together, and we had to change them last minute.

I don’t regret it.

How could either of us not mention a new Martin Scorsese (Shutter Island, Gangs of New York, The Wolf of Wall Street) film? I wrote about iconic directors before and, well, he’d be one of them.

The storyline, the settings, the actors, the crew… there’s really nothing about this film that doesn’t demand that I see it.

7 – A Monster Calls (1/6)

Tag Line: Stories are wild creatures.
Production Company: Apaches Entertainment, La Trini, A Monster Calls, Participant Media, River Road Entertainment
Director: J.A. Bayona
Writer: Patrick Ness, Siobhan Dowd
Actors: Lewis MacDougall, Sigourney Weaver, Felicity Jones, Toby Kebbell, Ben Moor, James Malville, Oliver Steer, Dominic Boyle, Jennifer Lim, Max Gabbay, Morgan Symes, Max Golds, Firda Palsson, Wanda Opalinska, Patrick Taggart, Lily-Rose Aslandogdu, Geraldine Chaplin, Liam Neeson
Genre: Drama, Fantasy
Rated: PG-13

Trauma affects children on a deeper level than adults often realize. In a case like this, where a child is forced to grow up way too quickly… fantasy is all they have to see them through it.

A Monster Calls reminds me a lot of A Little Princess (1995), which is one of my favorite movies ever. As a child I turned to fantasy so often that a story like this speaks right to my soul. What I wouldn’t have given to have some of my fantasies and written works come to life when I was trying to deal with the worst of my childhood…

I really hope this film turns out to be as great as I want it to be.

6 – Alone in Berlin (1/13)

Tag Line: In the heart of terror, they resist everyday life.
Production Company: X-Filme Creative Pool, FilmWave, Master Movies
Director: Vincent Perez
Writer: Achim von Borries, Vincent Perez, Bettine von Borries, Hans Fallada
Actors: Emma Thompson, Brendan Gleeson, Daniel Bruhl, Mikael Persbrandt, Katharina Schuttler, Louis Hofmann, Godehard Giese, Uwe Preuss, Jacob Matschenz, Lars Rudolph, Joshua Grothe, Joachim Bißmeier, Holger Handtke, Rainer Reiners, Hildegard Schroedter, Marko Dyrlich, Jurgen Tarrach, Rafael Gareisen, Ernst Stotzner, Monique Chaumette, Katharina Abt
Genre: Drama
Rated: R

Brendan Gleeson (Trespass Against Us, In the Heart of the Sea, Edge of Tomorrow) is all over the place this month. I’m not complaining. The man is a phenomenal actor.

In this case, his part is in a film that tells a true story about World War II. It’s a story that really shows the heart of true rebellion and righteous disobedience. The punk in me feels that rebellion through every pore. The Jew in me likes any storyline based around trying kill Hitler. The fan-girl in me just wants to see Gleeson be awesome in an epic historical tale.

Those are just some of the many reasons to want to see Alone in Berlin. It just looks incredible.

5 – A Dog’s Purpose (1/27)

Tag Line: Every dog happens for a reason.
Production Company: Amblin Entertainment, Pariah Entertainment Group, Reliance Entertainment, Walden Media
Director: Lasse Hallstrom
Writer: W. Bruce Cameron, Cathryn Michon
Actors: Britt Robertson, Josh Gad, Dennis Quaid, K.J. Apa, Logan Miller, Luke Kirby, Gabrielle Rose, Juliet Rylance, Caroline Cave, Pooch Hall, Bryce Gheisar, Nicole LaPlaca, Michael Patric, Robert Mann, Chris Webb, Michael Bofshever, Kirby Howell-Baptiste, Primo Allon, Kalyn Bomback, Brooke Warrington
Genre: Adventure, Comedy, Drama
Rated: PG

I love dogs. I just do. I’ve always had a dog with me since I was young. There was a brief time after my first dog, Princess, died that I didn’t. Those were very bad months. Without a dog I just didn’t handle things well.

I need a dog in order to help me control my emotions. Not a service dog or anything, I don’t think it’s that bad, but I’m a much different person without a furry K-9 companion, and it’s a person I don’t like.

Honeybear is my current puppy. I adopted her something like seven years ago and she was in terrible shape at the time. She was matted from head-to-toe and painfully skinny. She was afraid of everything and had a mildly vicious streak. I had been living without a dog for several months at the time and was desperate for a furry companion.

I met her. She bit me. I brought her home.

Caring for Honeybear by cleaning her up and re-training her so that she lost that vicious streak and became the loveable fluff-ball she is today made me feel better than I had in a long time. She was afraid of scissors, so I had to use nail clippers to painstakingly remove all the mats from her body. It took double digit hours and three sessions to complete it, but what a hell of a way to get her to trust me quickly. After that, she just seemed to feel at home and it made her significantly easier to train.

The tagline of A Dog’s Purpose is a statement that I couldn’t agree with more. “Every dog happens for a reason.” I saved my Honeybear, and my Honeybear saved me. Dogs are some of the greatest creature to ever exist. A movie like this draws my attention very quickly because of that.

I’d just say that everyone needs to prepare themselves to be hit by the feels train before watching.

4 – Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (1/27)

Tag Line: Everything has led to this.
Production Company: Capcom Company, Capcom Entertainment, Constantin Film Produktion, Davis-Films, Don Carmondy Productions, Impact Pictures, Screen Gems
Director: Paul W.S. Anderson
Writer: Paul W.S. Anderson
Actors: Ruby Rose, Milla Jovovich, Ali Larter, Iain Glen, William Levy, Shawn Roberts, Rola, Eoin Macken, Joon-Gi Lee, Ever Anderson, Fraser James
Genre: Action, Horror, Sci-Fi
Rated: R

This is SUPPOSED to be the final film in the Resident Evil franchise but, let’s be honest. If this film grosses highly enough they’re gonna make another thirty or something. That should piss me off, and it kind of does, but I love the Resident Evil franchise. The video games, the movies… I want to not want to watch the next money guzzler they make, but we can’t all have what we want.

Actually, there’s rumors that there’ll be a TV show following this film… I’ll probably watch that too. I have no shame.

Something important to note, though, is that a stuntwoman was badly injured on the set of The Final Chapter. Recently, Trust the Dice has been trying to recognize the wonderful stunt people throughout entertainment, and I find this incredibly important to report on.

Olivia Jackson (Avengers: Age of Ultron, Dredd, Star Wars: The Force Awakens) was one of Milla Jovovich’s (A Warrior’s Tail, Survivor, Faces in the Crowd) stunt doubles. She was involved in a motorcycle crash during a stunt and was injured so badly that one of her arms had to be amputated.

Regardless of how you feel about a film, always give your respect to the men and women that actually put their lives on the line to make it happen.

3 – xXx: Return of Xander Cage (1/20)

Tag Line: Kick some ass, get the girl, and try to look dope while you're doing it.
Production Company: Maple Cage Productions, One Race Films, Revolution Studios, Rox Productions
Director: D.J. Caruso
Writer: F. Scott Frazier, Rich Wilkes
Actors: Vin Diesel, Donnie Yen, Deepika Padukone, Kris Wu, Ruby Rose, Tony Jaa, Nina Dobrev, Rory McCann, Toni Collette, Samuel L. Jackson, Ice Cube, Hermione Corfield, Tony Gonzalez, Michael Bisping, Al Sapienza, Andrey Ivchenko, Shawn Roberts, Nicky Jam, Neymar, Ariadna Gutierrez-Arevalo
Genre: Action, Adventure, Thriller
Rated: Unrated

There was a time when I didn’t like Vin Diesel (The Last Witch Hunter, Guardians of the Galaxy, Riddick)… but he grew on me. The original xXx (2002) was one of the films that really started making me enjoy his performances. Now I definitely see him in a different light.

That being said, xXx: Return of Xander Cage looks like a solid action flick and it stars some significantly experienced actors. I’m particularly looking forward to how Ruby Rose (Orange is the New Black, Sheep & Wolves, Around the Block) does in this kind of film. (She’s another actor that’s appearing in a couple of different projects this month.)

Not much to say here. The trailer speaks for itself really.

2 – Patriots Day (1/13)

Tag Line: The inside story of the world’s greatest manhunt.
Production Company: CBS Films, Closest to the Hole Productions
Director: Peter Berg
Writer: Peter Berg, Matt Cook, Joshua Zetumer, Paul Tamasy, Eric Johnson
Actors: Mark Wahlberg, Rhet Kiss, John Goodman, Christopher O’Shea, Rachel Brosnahan, Jake Picking, Lana Condor, Michelle Monaghan, Jimmy O. Yang, Melissa Benoist, Alex Wolff, Themo Melikidze, J.K. Simmons, Martine Assaf, Pamela Amicy, James Colby, Brandon Wahlberg, Kelby Turner Akin, Billy Smith, Paige MacLean, Cara O’Connell, Dustin Tucker, Lucas Thor Kelley, Toby Dearing, Kevin Bacon, Adam Trese, Hampton Fluker, Jay Giannone, Dean Neistat, John Fiore, David Ortiz
Genre: Drama, History, Thriller
Rated: R

Normally my historical interests are limited to very few events. The reason this film breaks through into it, should be obvious. The Boston Marathon bombing is still very fresh in everyone’s memory. The images of that horrible day are up there with some of the worst terrorism images taken on American soil.

So many people were hurt and/or affected in some way by the horrible events of that day. The more information out there, the better. Especially since there’s always that small group of conspiracy theorists that believe these things didn’t actually happen. I’ll never understand the logic behind that kind of denial. Anything that serves as a tool to break through the idiocy, is good in my book.

I really hope they did the story justice. If this film is bad, then they should never have released it. If you’re gonna tell a horrific, traumatizing story… tell it well.

1 – Underworld: Blood Wars (1/6)

Tag Line: Protect the bloodline.
Production Company: Lakeshore Entertainment, Screen Gems, Sketch Films
Director: Anna Foerster
Writer: Cory Goodman, Kyle Ward, Kevin Grevioux, Len Wiseman, Danny McBride
Actors: Kate Beckinsale, Theo James, Tobias Menzies, Lara Pulver, Charles Dance, James Faulkner, Peter Anderson, Clementine Nicholson, Bradley James, Daisy Head, Oliver Stark, Sveta Driga
Genre: Action, Horror, Supernatural
Rated: R

I saw the original Underworld (2003) in theaters with my best friend Mike. Do you see the amusing factoid there? For those that don’t, I’ll remind you that my name is Selina and the main characters of that film were Selene and Michael. There was no end to the amusement we felt because of that. It’s such a simple little thing… but it made us giggle anyway.

I enjoy the Underworld franchise. As a veteran Vampire: the Masquerade table-top RPer, I find I really adore the storyline and I think the movies are relatively well made. I also really like Kate Beckinsale (Stonehearst Asylum, Total Recall, Everybody’s Fine) as an actor.

One way or the other, Underworld: Blood Wars would have made this list. The reason it’s number 1 is because of the director.

I’ve expressed my distaste for the sequel/remake culture of Hollywood right now. The big directors don’t want to remake someone else’s story, they want to work on unique stuff. Except people like Michael Bay (Transformers: Age of Extinction, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen), of course, but we’re not gonna go there.

However, there is a certain benefit to all these sequels and reboots/remakes. It allows some big opportunities for newer directors to make a name for themselves. If they only hired new directors for this stuff, it wouldn’t bother me at all.

In this case, Anna Foerster (Outlander, Unforgettable, Criminal Minds) is directing Underworld: Blood Wars as her first full-length feature film. She’s directed a few television episodes, starting in 2011, but this is her first project going to the big screen. I think it’s phenomenal that a newer director was chosen. Taking a chance on talent is often a really good thing.

I can’t wait to see what she does with the franchise.

Movies to Look out For
According to: Cat

The Book of Love .20
Bad Kids of Crestview Academy .19
The Red Turtle .18
Apple of my Eye .17
Coin Heist .16
Alone in Berlin .15
Amityville: The Awakening .14
Live By Night .13
Patriots Day .12
Silence .11
A Dog’s Purpose .10
The Bye Bye Man .9
A Monster Calls .8
Hidden Figures .7
The Crash .6
Split .5
Monster Trucks .4
Resident Evil: The Final Chapter .3
xXx: Return of Xander Cage .2
Underworld: Blood Wars .1