Saturday, March 4, 2017

But I Digress... Stranger Familiar

By Cat

Series Name/Year: Stranger Things (2016-)
Tagline: A Netflix Original Series
Genre: Drama, Fantasy, Horror
Length: Season 1, 8 Episodes (Renewed for a Season 2), Runtime range of 41-55 min. per episode
Rating: TV-14
Production Companies: 21 Laps Entertainment, Monkey Massacre, Netflix
Producers: Dan Cohen, Matt Duffer, Ross Duffer, Justin Doble, Jessica Mecklenburg, Alison Tatlock, Rand Geiger, Shawn Levy, Iain Paterson, Karl Gajdusek, Cindy Holland, Matthew Thunell, Brian Wright, Emily Morris
Directors: Matt Duffer, Ross Duffer, Shawn Levy, Andrew Stanton, Rebecca Thomas
Writers: Matt Duffer, Ross Duffer, Justin Doble, Paul Dichter, Jessica Mecklenburg, Jessie Nickson-Lopez, Alison Tatlock
Actors: Winona Ryder, David Harbour, Finn Wolfhard, Millie Bobby Brown, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin, Natalia Dyer, Charlie Heaton, Cara Buono, Joe Keery, Noah Schnapp, Rob Morgan, Joe Chrest, Matthew Modine, Anniston Price, Tinsley Price, Mark Steger, Ross Partridge, Shannon Purser
Stunt Coordinators: Cal Johnson, Lonnie R. Smith Jr., Anderson Martin, Reece Fleetwood, Michael R. Long

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

Blurb from Netflix: A love letter to the ’80s classics that captivated a generation, Stranger Things is set in 1983 Indiana, where a young boy vanishes into thin air. As friends, family and local police search for answers, they are drawn into an extraordinary mystery involving top-secret government experiments, terrifying supernatural forces and one very strange little girl.

Stranger Things was almost an instant sensation following its Netflix release mid-July 2016. It quickly skyrocketed into common pop culture knowledge and references to the show were everywhere. If this had been a standard television show, the ratings would have been astronomical.

I’ll admit that I didn’t watch this series right away. For whatever reason, I’d felt that I didn’t have the time for the eight hours to dedicate to a good binge-session. Of course, I was silly. It’s been on my ‘to-watch’ list ever since, though. I wanted to see what the big deal was!

I finally decided to jump down the rabbit hole into the world of ‘80s nostalgia. My first impression? Wow.

I’m an ‘80s baby. That was the decade of my elementary school years. This movie touched on so many things from that era that I was practically pointing at the screen and going “ooh!” for something in every scene. Not really, but it felt that way. I mean seriously – Dungeons and Dragons (back then I didn’t play but I was into the cartoon), Trapper Keepers (I still have one), rotary phones, I swear I saw a Pacer (which was my mom’s car in the ‘80s), and the RadioShack Realistic brand walkie talkies. I could go on forever.

Aside from just the physical stuff that is sprinkled throughout this period piece, this series phenomenally captures the feeling laced through the media landscape of ‘80s cinema. The title sequence electronica and other music from that decade that permeates the soundtrack sets the tone, reminiscent of Tangerine Dream’s contribution to the US release version of Legend (1985). There seems to be more than one reference to that particular movie in the series but it’s also in close running with the Silent Hill video game (1999). Of course, that was after this series’ timeline but it fits well enough stylistically once you identify the shared elements. 

If I had to make comparisons, I’d say this series plays out like an eight hour movie that was a mashup of The Goonies (1985), Stand By Me (1986), and E.T. (1982) with shades of Aliens (1986), Poltergeist (1982), a little bit of Jaws (1975), and A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984). There’s really so much more, but I could talk Easter eggs with you forever – it’s better just to see for yourself (and then look them up if you think you missed some).

The creators of the show, twins Matt and Ross Duffer (Abraham's Boys, Wayward Pines, Hidden), are a package deal better known as The Duffer Brothers. This dynamic duo has been cited attributing inspiration to the works of greats such as H.R. Giger (Future-Kill, Poltergeist II, Prometheus), Guillermo del Toro (Pan's Labyrinth, Crimson Peak, The Strain), Clive Barker (Hellraiser, Nightbreed, Candyman) , Stephen King (Carrie, The Shining, Firestarter),  and John Carpenter (Halloween, The Thing, Big Trouble in Little China) – all masters of the strange and scary.

I could babble on about references and homage to the ‘80s and the practical effects creature feature genre, but there’s so much more to shine the light on with this series.

The casting for Stranger Things was absolutely phenomenal. It’s no wonder that they won the award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series at the 2017 SAG Awards, and were nominated for many others. 

This series is mostly about the kids, but before I go further in talking about them, I’ve got to mention Winona Ryder (Black Swan, Frankenweenie, Experimenter). She’s no stranger to dark movies, though this was her first appearance in a series. I’ve generally enjoyed her in the past, but this performance was on an entirely new level of awesome. The experiences of her character deliver a gut-punch of emotions as we ride this supernatural mystery rollercoaster with her.

Everyone’s been talking about the adorable young cast. Finn Wolfhard (Aftermath, The 100, Supernatural), Millie Bobby Brown (Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, Intruders, NCIS), Gaten Matarazzo (The Blacklist), Noah Schnapp (Bridge of Spies, The Peanuts Movie, Panic! At the Disco: LA Devotee), and Caleb McLaughlin (Forever, Shades of Blue, The New Edition Story) came together like a ‘dream team.’ I loved their group dynamic and my geeky heart felt right at home among them.

I also enjoyed that this series explored what was happening on so many different levels. The younger kids were off doing their own thing, the grown-ups were dealing with the adult-level repercussions of events, while the teens had issues of their own. Sure, some might poke at the series and see clichés left and right – but for this story, so what?! The way it was woven together made it fit in such a way that it didn’t feel cliché unless you were just watching to point and yell “I told you so.” Natalia Dyer (Blue Like Jazz, Don't Let Me Go, I Believe in Unicorns), Charlie Heaton (Casualty, As You Are, Shut In), and Joe Keery (Chicago Fire, Henry Gamble's Birthday Party, The Charnel House) are a triple-threat to keep your eyes on. I have so many burning questions about the dynamic of this trio in the wake of season one. 

David Harbour (Quantum of Solace, Snitch, The Equalizer) was the solid center of this cast. He’s clearly not entirely your ‘by the books’ kind of guy and you get to see flashes of his past as the series unfolds. I’ve read a lot where people claim to see shades of the Indiana Jones character in his performance. I can see that (though I think a lot of that is the hat). On the other side of the coin, we have Matthew Modine (Weeds, The Dark Knight Rises, Jobs). He lived through the ‘80s cinema landscape as star of both Vision Quest (1985) and Full Metal Jacket (1987). His role here flips the script a bit and comes from a darker place – no pun intended.

While children are the main focus of this series, it’s not necessarily a show geared to kids. My daughter’s at the age where she wants to start pushing the boundaries of her comfort zone in media such as movies and shows of this nature. I know I had a yearning to watch the stuff I ‘wasn’t supposed to’ when I was far younger. After my watch-through, I’m comfortable with letting her give it a go. The disturbing nature of some of the events and how an individual handles that sort of thing is really the clincher.

Less than a month from release, Netflix announced that Stranger Things was renewed for a second season. They’ve given two teasers so far – one as an ad during the Super Bowl, and the other released to YouTube as an adapted take on the opening title sequence, giving a rundown of the episodes we can expect in the Halloween 2017 release. Season Two boasts 9 episodes, one more than its preceding season, and new cast members. Among them are Sean Astin (Click, The Syrain, Bad Kids of Crestview Academy) and Paul Reiser (Concussion, War on Everyone, The Little Hours). I can’t wait to see what their contribution is. 

The next installment is said to get “weirder and darker” according to the Duffer Brothers. Ross Duffer was quoted in an EW article as saying "Just like we treated the first season like a big movie, we wanna treat this like a big movie as well and we don’t wanna coast on these characters. We’re trying to swing for the fences on this one.”

I’ve got to say that the teaser showcases some scary and trippy elements of what’s to come. I can’t wait for Halloween! I know what I’ll be doing as soon as the trick-or-treaters finish swiping all the candy.

If you’d like to get a peek into the minds of the Duffers and explore aspects left hanging from Season One and what might be coming in Season Two, you can check out a Variety article here. Please note that the article is HEAVILY spoiler riddled. I’d recommend giving it a peek after you watch the first season.

But I Digress... is a 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, March 3, 2017

The Film Critic (2013) - Foreign Film Friday

Number Rolled: 41
Movie Name/Year: The Film Critic (2013)
Tagline: What if your life becomes a movie… that you hate?
Genre: Romance, Comedy, Drama
Length: 97 minutes
Rating: NR
Production Companies: Haciendo Cine, Ibermedia, Instituto Nacional de Cine y Artes Audiovisuales, Lagarto Cine, Storyboard
Producer: Carolina Alvarez, Hugo Castro Fau, Harnan Guerschuny, Carlos Nunez, Gabriela Sandoval, Pablo Udenio
Director: Hernan Guerschuny
Writer: Hernan Guerschuny
Actors: Rafael Spregelburd, Dolores Fonzi, Ignacio Rogers, Telma Crisanti, Ana Katz, Daniel Kargieman, Eduardo Iaccono, Marcelo Subiotto, Blanca Lewin, Gabriela Ferrero, Pino Siano, Marta Paccamicci, Cecilia Czornogas, Alfonso Ponchi Baron, Pablo Krantz, Leonardo Sbaraglia, Luciano Rosso
Stunt Doubles: None

Speech Available: Spanish
Subtitles Available: English, Spanish

Blurb from Netflix: A pretentious film critic who despises romantic comedies realizes that his life is turning into one when he falls for a free-spirited woman.

Selina’s Point of View:
I didn’t enjoy this.

We’ll start with the base understandability of the film.

Normally, I don’t harp on the subtitles. That’s totally Cat’s bag right there, but these were atrocious. They weren’t even all in English and they went by so fast that you’d have to be a speed reader to keep up – which I am not. I’m fast, but not like that. This hour and a half movie took two hours to watch because I had to keep rewinding to catch shit I missed.

Also, it’s listed as a Spanish film. It’s only partially a Spanish film. A lot of it is actually in French.

Subtitles aside, language meshing aside, the actual format and story of the film wasn’t my thing at all.

I get what the film was trying to accomplish. They were trying to take a look at something pretentious and show how stupid it was – hollow and empty. Instead of reaching their goal, they just made an already unbearably snotty premise/character even worse.

For the record – when we say we’re not critics, we mean we’re not that character. The views we share on Trust the Dice aren’t meant to tell anyone that this is definitely, one-hundred percent, the way you should be looking at the movies we share with you. If you have an opposing stance, argue with us! We’re always up for a good debate. Our opinions are just that: opinions. We expect that some people will agree and others simply won’t. We’ll never look down on you for liking or hating something we feel the opposite of. We preach that people should have minds of their own, and we absolutely mean it.

Judge for yourself. Always.

Unless you like Uwe Boll (Postal, BloodRayne, House of the Dead). If you like Uwe Boll, get out. (Obviously, just kidding.)

The Film Critic came off a bit like a Woody Allen (Magic in the Moonlight, Blue Jasmine, Scoop) film and, quite frankly, I don’t like Woody Allen films. I’m sure there’s a reason people love his stuff so much, but I can’t – for the life of me – figure out why.

The only part of this film that I found at all interesting, or even attention-catching, was near the beginning when the main character went into a rant breaking down the romantic comedy recipe. That was both funny and sad while being completely true at the same time.

Even with that one moment, I still hated this film. I can’t recommend it.

Cat’s Point of View:
I didn’t love this movie. I had a bit of a love/hate relationship with The Film Critic, in fact.

A lot of what I didn’t enjoy was due to the fact that in parts it was a bit of a pretentious take on a pretentious character. The movement of the camera as the lead actor walked along wasn’t exactly the worst shaky cam but it was unpleasant. Not all of the camera work was like that so it seems to tell me that was on purpose. There’s even this one pan out shot pulling away that mimics the same type camera shot happening on the movie screen within the film simultaneously. That screams ‘trying to be artsy’ to me.

Part of me understands that the whole voice-over narration in French was illustrating how big of a douche-canoe this guy is because thinking in French sounds more pleasant than Spanish – his words, not mine. The main problem I had with that, though, was that the subtitles were already having a hard enough job keeping up – they were a bit laggy and the translation was shady every so often – but then throw a second language into the mix and I just had to throw my hands up in the air a couple times.

There was a fair amount of untranslated text, as well. That’s frustrating for me in a movie like this because the passages have to have some meaning to what’s going on, or an underlying message that highlights something about what the character is thinking or going through. One thing I like about watching anime with subtitles is that they generally translate everything on the screen from text to signs. No such luck here.

There were parts that I did enjoy in the movie, though – albeit grudgingly. I got so disgruntled that it kept me from really getting as invested as I would have liked to be. Even though the main character, played by Rafael Spregelburd (Water and Salt, The Gold Bug, Finding Sofia), is a cynical pervy creeper; I appreciated the parallel of what he was experiencing in his own life with the movies that he loved to hate on in his reviews.

Irony, right? Reviewing harshly a movie about a cynical movie reviewer. We maintain that we’re not critics, we’re fangirls… we’re just not fans of everything.

There was a subplot that was unexpected and the movie rather deftly both followed and balked at the recipe of the genre it poked fun at emulating.

I think the highlight of the movie for me was a scene that had me actually pointing at the screen and bouncing in my chair as I hollered “That guy!!” The Argentinian actor I randomly recognized was Luciano Rosso (Einstein, Rasputin, La ultima fiesta). He seems to have it all – he can act and dance and his body control is just crazy. He has a level of control over his expressions that rival ‘rubber face,’ himself, Jim Carrey (Fun with Dick and Jane, I Love You Phillip Morris, The Bad Batch). Look him up on YouTube. There are some hilarious videos in viral circulation of him lip syncing exaggeratedly to music – and then there’s his noir handlebar mustache that makes him look like he stepped out of a black and white silent movie villain role.

An excerpt of the stage production Un Poyo Rojo is featured in the movie. Rosso is one of the two actors taking part. The stage show is apparently a body of work that has been evolving since 2008, according to an article I found. It began in Buenos Aires, which was the location for filming for this movie, before it hit the road to reach an international audience in later years. I found the segment fascinating, as well as hilariously awkward in the context of the film.

I can’t say that I’d recommend this movie to anyone. It was too aggravating for me. For that same reason, I would be unlikely to watch it again.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 48%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 37%

Netflix’s Prediction for Selina – 2/5
Selina’s Trust-the-Dice Score1/5

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

The Random Rating: PG-13

P.S. There’s a child speaking in Spanish after the credits with no picture and no subtitles.

Movie Trailer:

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

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

According to: Selina

20 – The Last Laugh (March 3)

Tag Line: None
Production Company: Tangerine Entertainment
Director: Ferne Pearlstein
Writer: Robert Edwards, Ferne Pearlstein
Actors: Renee Firestone, Klara Firestone, Gilbert Gotfried, Rob Reiner, Mel Brooks, Judy Gold, Sarah Silverman, Carl Reiner, Robert Clary, Etgar Keret, Aaron Breitbart, Jake Ehrenreich, Alan Zweibel, Susie Essman, Larry Charles, Deb Filler, Elly Gross, Jeffrey Ross, Harry Shearer, David Steinberg, Lisa Lampanelli, Roz Weinman, Abraham Foxman, David Cross, Shalom Auslander, Hanala Sagal
Genre: Documentary
Rated: NR

I don’t often include documentaries in my Top 20s. Nothing against the specific movies that have come out since I started writing this column… I just find that documentaries are usually significantly boring. There’s normally this monotone voice droning on about facts without any entertainment involved. There are documentaries that are exempt from that recipe, of course, but it’s just what I normally see when I opt to watch one.

This documentary is full of well-known comedians talking about offensive comedy, though. I cannot, for the life of me, figure out any possible way for this film to be boring.

I’ve heard of, and enjoyed, the work of nearly every single comedian that I see listed on this film’s IMDb page. That’s pretty cool, but the fact that the topic of Last Laugh is so relevant to things currently happening in the news – makes it even more interesting.

Jewish graveyards are being vandalized, anti-Semitism is in the news almost daily, and the biggest YouTuber in the world is being accused of being a nazi.

Quick side note – even as a Jew, I mostly stand with PewDiePie here. I’m not a member of the bro-army, I’m a JackSepticEye girl, but I’ve seen the videos the Wall Street Journal referenced and what that publication did was unacceptable.

Disney was right to drop Felix – personally I have no idea why they were with him to begin with, he’s always pushing boundaries that Disney doesn’t like to push – but the Wall Street Journal was completely in the wrong. They took his videos, cut them until they were barely recognizable, and posted them out-of-context. Felix’s sense of humor is offensive as all hell, but he’s not a nazi. And allowing a supposedly legitimate news source to post out-of-context information is a slippery slope. It gives credit to people like Trump that use the term ‘fake news’ to protect themselves from real facts being used against them.

I’ll move on, but I wanted to make my point of view very clear on this. It’s less about standing up for PewDiePie and more about standing against news sources using ‘alternate facts’ (lies) to support what they want their news stories to be.

Anyway. Last Laugh is all about why it’s important to joke about offensive topics. From what I’ve seen in the trailer – they’re not wrong. It’s an important message told through humor. That’s good stuff.

19 – The Discovery (March 31)

Tag Line: None
Production Company: Endgame Entertainment, Netflix, Protagonist Pictures
Director: Charlie McDowell
Writer: Justin Lader, Charlie McDowell
Actors: Rooney Mara, Riley Keough, Robert Redford, Jason Segel, Jesse Plemons, Kateri DeMartino, Ron Canada, Anastasia Tsikhanava, Brian McCarthy, M.J. Karmi, Kimleigh Smith, Richard O’Rourke, Connor Ratliff, Adam Khaykin, Paul Bellefeuille
Genre: Drama, Mystery, Romance
Rated: NR

Although this film seems a little heavy-handed with religion, I’m still intensely interested in it.

I’m not a very religious person, I have trouble believing in that kind of thing – though I know enough to know I don’t know anything. I don’t begrudge anyone else their religious beliefs. In fact, I think religious beliefs are incredibly important for many people.

Due to my non-religious beliefs, I struggle with the idea of death and an after-life. It’s hard for me to believe there’s anything after death outside of the transfer of energy from our bodies to whatever’s nearby and decomposition. Obviously, it’s not a comforting thought when put in the context of my own eventual death or the death of loved ones. I have some minor arguments to support the idea of reincarnation, but not in the sense preached by Eastern religions. Not even in the sense of the soul leaving the body – but based completely on the workings of energy. Since I’m not a scientist – it may all be bullshit, but it’s the only comfort I can give myself when thinking of death.

The Discovery is a film that asks the question: “what would happen if we could scientifically verify an after-life?” That’s a fantastically interesting question and one I’d love to see an answer to. Since this is a Netflix film, I expect an intriguing answer told in a story of incredible quality.

18 – The Ottoman Lieutenant (March 10)

Tag Line: In a land on the brink of war, the most dangerous place to be is in love.
Production Company: Eastern Sunrise Films, Y Production
Director: Joseph Ruben
Writer: Jeff Stockwell
Actors: Michiel Huisman, Hera Hilmar, Josh Hartnett, Ben Kingsley, Haluk Bilginer, Affif Ben Badra, Paul Barrett, Jessica Turner, Peter Hosking, Selcuk Yontem, Eliska Slansky, Hasan Say, Deniz Kilic Flak
Genre: Drama, War
Rated: R

I enjoy war movies. Especially ones with this kind of storyline that pits the passiveness of the medics against the offensive tactics of the soldiers. It’s my belief that peace and pacifism is something to be respected, but I also believe that there are times that violence is the answer and cannot be avoided.

Movies like this argue both points to the audience, allowing us to make up our own minds – which is important.

Sure, this film had some romance in it and a lot of action, but that makes the arguments easier to swallow.

The Ottoman Lieutenant also sports a phenomenal cast. Ben Kingsley (Schindler’s List, Lucky Number Slevin, Gandhi), Josh Hartnett (Penny Dreadful, Girl Walks into a Bar, Black Hawk Down) and Michiel Huisman (Game of Thrones, Orphan Black, The Age of Adaline) are experienced in general and with this kind of film/storyline. I believe that if anyone can tell this story well enough to make a great film, it would be them.

17 – Atomica (March 17)

Tag Line: Earth needs a hero.
Production Company: Lifeboat Productions
Director: Dagen Merill
Writer: Kevin Burke, Frederico Fernandez-Armesto, Adam Gyngell
Actors: Tom Sizemore, Sarah Habel, Dominic Monaghan, Phil Austin, Tony Doupe, Hahn Cho, Jennifer Spriggs, Sarah-Eve Gazitt
Genre: Sci-Fi, Thriller
Rated: NR

Syfy films can go really well, or they can go incredibly badly. I’m interested in the storyline and the cast looks pretty damn good for a television film… but I’m keenly aware of the fact that it is still a Syfy film. The trailers make Atomica look pretty epic, so it’s kind of impossible for me to ignore.

Even with the trailer looking awesome, I’m still skeptical. The potential might be much greater than the reality.

16 – Lavender (March 3)

Tag Line: The past won’t forget.
Production Company: South Creek Pictures, 3 Legged Dog Films
Director: Ed Gass-Donnelly
Writer: Colin Frizzell, Ed Gass-Donnelly
Actors: Dermot Mulroney, Abbie Cornish, Justin Long, Diego Klattenhoff, Peyton Kennedy, Lola Flanery, Sarah Abbott, Mackenzie Muldoon
Genre: Drama, Thriller
Rated: NR

This is another film with a great cast involved. I believe Abbie Cornish (Seven Psychopaths, Sucker Punch, Limitless) has the talent she needs to make sure her character is portrayed in the thrilling manner she needs to be. Clearly, Dermot Mulroney (Shameless, Sacrifice, Crisis) can pull off just about anything as well.

Justin Long (Skylanders, Yoga Hosers, Ghost Team) seems to be playing a part that I’m not exactly used to seeing him in. I’m sure he’ll do great, but I’m still looking forward to seeing how it goes.

The storyline looks interesting, but they probably could have done a better job with the trailer. It actually makes the plot look very Silent Hill (2006). I don’t believe that’s the case, but we’ll be seeing… won’t we?

15 – Table 19 (March 3)

Tag Line: Don’t fit in? Take a number.
Production Company: 3311 Productions, 21 Laps Entertainment, Story Ink
Director: Jeffrey Blitz
Writer: Jay Duplass, Mark Duplass
Actors: Anna Kendrick, Stephen Marchant, Amanda Crew, Lisa Kudrow, Wyatt Russell, Maria Thayer, Margo Martindale, Craig Robinson, Tony Revolori, June Squibb, Elizabeth Ludlow, Thomas Cocquerel, Andrew Daly, Rya Meyers, Andy Stahl, Megan Lawless, Richard Haylor, Chris Whitley, Sheri Mann Stewart, Tommy O’Brien
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Rated: PG-13

Anna Kendrick (Pitch Perfect, Trolls, The Last Five Years).

She’ll always be my main reason for wanting to see any film she’s in. I LOVE me some Anna Kendrick. I even sat through a film with someone I HATED in it because of how much I love Kendrick.

It helps that this is a comedy and that is Kendrick’s bread and butter. She has great comedic timing.

The rest of the cast is decent as well, the plot seems hilarious, and the trailer shows a significant amount of hilarity. I really don’t see how this film could go wrong.

14 – Brimstone (March 10)

Tag Line: Retribution is coming.
Production Company: N279 Entertainment, Backup Media, Film I Vast, FilmWave, Illusion Film & Television, Prime Time, X-Filme Creative Pool
Director: Martin Koolhoven
Writer: Martin Koolhoven
Actors: Dakota Fanning, Kit Harington, Carice van Houten, Guy Pearce, Paul Anderson, Emilia Jones, Adrian Sparks, Carla Juri, Vera Vitali, Frederick Schmidt, William Houston, Ivy George, Jack Roth, Naomi Battrick, Bill Tangradi, Jack Hollington
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Western
Rated: R

I’m not a fan of Westerns, which really sucks because they usually have such in depth and interesting plots.

In the case of Brimstone I find the plot, the characters, and the cast SO interesting that I wind up forgetting it’s a Western. If it can speak to someone like me, someone who hates the genre, that says a LOT about the film as a whole.

13 – Raw (March 10)

Tag Line: What are you hungry for?
Production Company: Petit Film, Rouge International, Frakas Productions, Wild Bunch, Canal+, Cine+, Centre National de la Cinematographie, Le Tax Shelter du Gouvernement Federal de Belgique, Casa Kafka Pictures Movie Tax Shelter Empowered by Belfius, La Wallonie, Bruxelles Capitale, etc.
Director: Julia Ducournau
Writer: Julia Ducournau
Actors: Garance Marillier, Ella Rumpf, Rabah Nait Oufella, Laurent Lucas, Joana Preiss, Bouli Lanners
Genre: Drama, Horror
Rated: R

I’m not immune to marketing tactics, and this film is being marketed brilliantly. Rumors state that people at the first showing of this film either vomited or passed out – depending on where you hear the story from. Now, obviously, I know that’s most likely a whole load of bullshit… but I’ll be damned if I’m not curious.

The trailer has some stereotypical indie moments in it, but if you can get passed that there’s a significantly interesting plot with a lot of horror in it. Not jump-scares, which is where a lot of horror goes these days, but a psychological kind of terror. Something so scary because it feels like it could happen.

I can’t wait to see this one.

12 – Life (March 24)

Tag Line: We were better off alone.
Production Company: Columbia Pictures, Skydance Media, Sony Pictures Entertainment
Director: Daniel Espinosa
Writer: Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick
Actors: Rebecca Ferguson, Jake Gyllenhaal, Ryan Reynolds, Hiroyuki Sanada, Olga Dihovichnaya, Naoko Mori, Ariyon Bakare, Alexandre Nguyen, Camiel Warren-Taylor, Hiu Woong-Sin
Genre: Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller
Rated: R

This may not seem like the most original idea that’s ever graced the silver screen… but it looks like an awesome take on it. It was almost impossible to sit through the trailer without thinking about how much I want to see the film.

The cast is also something to write home about. Jake Gyllenhaal (Source Code, Nightcrawler, Accidental Love), Ryan Reynolds (Woman in Gold, Deadpool, The Captive), and Hiroyuki Sanada (Helix, 47 Ronin, Mr. Holmes) are all incredible professionals with insane talent. I’d have wanted to watch any movie with all three of them in it at the same time.

11 – The Zookeeper’s Wife (March 31)

Tag Line: They gave all they had to save all they could.
Production Company: Scion Films, Czech Anglo Productions, LD Entertainment, Rowe / Miller Productions
Director: Niki Caro
Writer: Angela Workman, Diane Ackerman
Actors: Jessica Chastain, Johna Heldenbergh, Daniel Bruhl, Timothy Radford, Efrat Dor, Iddo Goldberg, Shira Haas, Michael McElhatton, Val Maloku
Genre: Biography, Drama, History
Rated: PG-13

World War II era films are my weakness. Growing up, I hated history classes, but I always read about the holocaust in my spare time. It’s a part of my cultural history and something human kind really fucked up on in the past. If we don’t learn from our mistakes… we’re doomed to repeat them.

I was so interested in learning about the horrific event that, when I was a teen, my favorite film was Escape from Sobibor (1987) for a little while. Heartbreaking film.

The Zookeeper’s Wife concentrates on that era, but it takes a different spin on the stories that resulted from the holocaust. It looks at things from the viewpoint of two ‘safe’ citizens that try to find a way to help the people who are being unjustly abused and killed. We get to see how the struggles of the times affected more than just the soldiers and those in the camps. It’s a story I am very much looking forward to seeing.

10 – The Boss Baby (March 31)

Tag Line: Born leader.
Production Company: DreamWorks Animation
Director: Tom McGrath
Writer: Marla Frazee, Michael McCullers
Actors: Alec Baldwin, Steve Buscemi, Lisa Kudrow, Tobey Maguire, Jimmy Kimmel, Miles Christopher Bakshi, ViviAnn Yee, Eric Bell Jr.
Genre: Animation, Comedy, Family
Rated: PG

This film isn’t getting nearly enough press. I haven’t seen so much as a single commercial about it. I had NO idea it was DreamWorks until I watched the trailer. It looks adorable and hilarious. In fact, I haven’t really seen any films like it, to be honest. I feel like this is what you would get if you took Toy Story (1995) and mixed it with Stewie from Family Guy (1999 - ). That’s a pretty awesome combination.

9 – Don’t Kill It (March 3)

Tag Line: None
Production Company: Archstone Pictures, Burning Sky Films, Bottom Line Entertainment, Last Pictures
Director: Mike Mendez
Writer: Dan Berk, Robert Olsen
Actors: Dolph Lundgren, Kristina Klebe, Elissa Dowling, Michael Aaron Milligan, Billy Slaughter, Aaron McPherson, Miles Doleac, Sam Furman, Jasi Cotton Lanier, Tony Bentley, Chloe Guidry, Laura Warner, Michelle West
Genre: Fantasy, Horror
Rated: NR

The name of this film might seem familiar to our usual readers. A little bit ago, it was featured in one of the weekly crowdfunding articles. It didn’t quite meet its monetary goal on Indiegogo, but because it went with a flexible goal, they received the money that was pledged to them anyway. I can’t wait to see what they did with it!

For a more in depth look at Don’t Kill It, along with Trust the Dice’s interview with producer Scott Martin (Awaken, Battle Force, Made in California), refer to our very first “This Week in Crowdfunding” article. 

8 – The Belko Experiment (March 17)

Tag Line: None
Production Company: BH Tilt, Blumhouse Productions, Itaca Films, MGM, Orion Pictures, The Safran Company
Director: Greg McLean
Writer: James Gunn
Actors: Adria Arjona, Abraham Benrubi, Tony Goldwyn, Michael Rooker, John C. McGinley, John Gallagher Jr., Josh Brener, Sean Gunn, Mikaela Hoover, Brent Sexton, David Dastmalchian, Owain Yeoman, Melonie Diaz, Rusty Schwimmer, James Earl, David Del Rio, Gail Bean, Joe Fria, Maruia Shelton, Stephen Blackehart, Benjamin Byron Davis, Silvia De Dios, Valentine Miele, Ximena Rodriguez, Luna Baxter, Fran Fiol, Alfonso Olave
Genre: Action, Horror, Thriller
Rated: R

This film is an American business version of Battle Royale (2000). It’s the same base idea, without subtitles, and with some kickass actors involved. Judging from one of the three trailers I saw for this film, I believe they also poke some fun at the relatable idea that no one reads the shit they sign. So, it’s got a valid point, too.

I love films like this that go into the experimentation of human nature. I have a rather dark outlook of humanity, so these films tend to fit the way I see the world. Sad, I’m aware. I’d love for someone to prove me wrong. No one LIKES thinking this way.

My only issue is that I still have trouble seeing John C. McGinley (Burn Notice, Get a Job, 42) as anyone but Dr. Cox from Scrubs (2001-2010). Maybe this film will fix that.

7 – MindGamers [aka DxM] (March 28)

Tag Line: Let the Mind Games begin.
Production Company: Terra Mater Factual Studios
Director: Andrew Goth
Writer: Andrew Goth
Actors: Tom Payne, Dominique Tipper, Sam Neill, Melia Kreiling, Antonia Campbell-Hughes, Oliver Stark, Predrag Bjelac, Julian Bleach, Ursula Strauss, Turlough Convery, Simon Paisley Day, Ryan Doyle, Alexandra Marinescu, Pamela Forster, Copcea Alexandru, Andreea Mihaesei
Genre: Action, Sci-Fi, Thriller
Rated: R

This film looks artsy, but also intense and entertaining. It has an understated, but incredibly talented, cast and the plot seems to be kind of like the end of the first book of the Divergent series. Whatever else this film has going for it, the trailer makes it very clear that the project will be visually stunning.

It would be worth watching just for the visuals alone, but with everything else it has going for it? If it’s in a theater near me, I might just buy a ticket.

6 – Goon: Last of the Enforcers (March 17)

Tag Line: Twice as hard as the first time.
Production Company: No Trace Camping, Caramel Film
Director: Jay Baruchel
Writer: Jay Baruchel, Jesse Chabot, Adam Frattasio, Douglas Smith
Actors: Elisha Cuthbery, Kim Coates, T.J. Miller, Liev Schreiber, Jay Baruchel, Wyatt Russell, Alison Pill, Seann William Scott, Callum Keith Rennie, Marc-Andre Grondin, Andrew Herr, David Paetkau, George Tchortov, Nathan Dales, Jonathan Cherry, Boomer Phillips, Richard Clarkin, Sylvia Zuk, Karl Graboshas, Ellen David, Claire Stollery
Genre: Comedy, Sport
Rated: NR

I only just saw the first movie in this series two months ago. I absolutely adored it and I remember, very clearly, how impressed I was with Seann William Scott (Movie 43, Cop Out, Planet 51). I don’t know if this film is a creative sequel, or still based on a true story, but I super don’t care. I’m just glad it’s coming out and I can’t wait to see it.

Also, it’s Jay Baruchel’s (Man Seeking Woman, How to Train Your Dragon, This is the End) first full length film credit as a writer/director. I’m absolutely in love with Jay Baruchel and that information makes me want to see the film even more

It seems to only be coming out in Canada, but I’m definitely going to find a way.

5 – Kong: Skull Island (March 10)

Tag Line: Awaken the king.
Production Company: Legendary Entertainment, Warner Bros.
Director: Jordan Vogt-Roberts
Writer: Dan Gilroy, Max Borenstein, Derek Connolly, John Gatins
Actors: Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, Brie Larson, John C. Reilly, John Goodman, Corey Hawkins, John Ortiz, Tian Jing, Toby Kebbell, Jason Mitchell, Shea Whigham, Thomas Mann, Eugene Cordero, Marc Evan Jackson
Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy
Rated: PG-13

Confession time. I’ve never seen any of the King Kong movies.

Yes, I know almost everything about all of them, but that’s because of YouTube channels like WatchMojo and TV Shows/Movies that reference King Kong. Still, even not being a ginormous fan of the giant monkey, this film looks great.

Plus, you can’t really go wrong with Tom Hiddleston (The Night Manager, High-Rise, Thor: The Dark World), Samuel L. Jackson (Cell, Chi-Raq, Avengers: Age of Ultron), John Goodman (10 Cloverfield Lane, Trumbo, The Gambler), and Brie Larson (Don Jon, Short Term 12, Digging for Fire), can you?

4 – Power Rangers (March 24)

Tag Line: Together we are more.
Production Company: Lionsgate, Saban Brands, Saban Entertainment, Temple Hill Entertainment, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Director: Dean Israelite
Writer: John Gatins, Matt Sazama, Burk Sharpless, Michele Mulroney, Kieran Mulroney, Haim Saban, Shuki Levy
Actors: Elizabeth Banks, Bryan Cranston, Becky G. Sarah Grey, Naomi Scott, Bill Hader, Dacre Montgomery, David Denman, Clayton Chitty, Ludi Lin, Emily Maddison, RJ Cyler, Fiona Vroom, Lisa Berry, Patrick Sabongui, Caroline Cave, Anjali Jay, Morgan Taylor Campbell, Kayden Magnuson
Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
Rated: PG-13

One confession out of the way, let’s get on to the next.

Let the hate-fest begin: I hate the original Power Rangers series (1993-1999).

I’m sorry. I know it’s popular, got a cult following, etc. But I hated it then and I still do. I know it has nothing to do with the corny stuff, though, because I love Sailor Moon (1995-2000). I couldn’t really explain why I dislike the Power Rangers… I just do.

This film, however, looks pretty damn good. It almost makes me want to give the original material another chance. And THAT, my friends, is the sign of a really good reboot.

3 – Ghost in the Shell (March 31)

Tag Line: None
Production Company: Arad Productions, DreamWorks, Grosvenor Park Productions, Paramount Pictures, Reliance Entertainment, Seaside Entertainment, Steven Paul Productions
Director: Rupert Sanders
Writer: Jamie Moss, Masamune Shirow
Actors: Scarlett Johansson, Michael Pitt, Juliette Binoche, Michael Wincott, Pilou Asbaek, Rila Fukushima, Takeshi Kitano, Chin Han, Chris Obi, Joseph Naufahu, Peter Fernando, Aswoa Aboah, Lasarus Ratuere, Yutaka Izumihara, Pete Teo
Genre: Action, Drama, Sci-Fi
Rated: NR

I have been looking forward to Ghost in the Shell since the moment I found out there was going to be a live action version. I’m practically dancing in my seat just thinking about how close we are to the opening of this film.

Do I need any more reason other than thinking the anime is awesome?

2 – Beauty and the Beast (March 17)

Tag Line: Be our guest.
Production Company: Mandeville Films, Walt Disney Pictures
Director: Bill Condon
Writer: Stephen Chbosky, Evan Spiliotopoulos, Jeanna-Marie Leprince de Beaumont
Actors: Dan Stevens, Emma Watson, Luke Evans, Ewan McGragor, Josh Gad, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Ian McKellen, Emma Thompson, Stanley Tucci, Kevin Kline, Sonoya Mizuno, Hattie Morahan, Audra McDonald, Adrian Schiller, Henry Garrett, Nathan Mack, Alexis Loizon, Zoe Rainey
Genre: Family, Fantasy, Musical
Rated: PG

Beauty and the Beast (1991) is my favorite of the old-school Disney cartoons. I related to Belle when I was a little girl because of how independent she was and how enthusiastic she was about reading. I’ve seen a few live action versions of it before, but they strayed so far from any incarnation of the story that I was familiar with, that they might as well have been something else entirely.

This film looks like it’s going to be very close to the original Disney project, which makes me happy. Besides, I think Emma Watson (My Week with Marilyn, The Bling Ring, Noah) is going to make an amazing Belle.

1 – Logan (March 3)

Tag Line: None
Production Company: Donners’ Company, Kinberg Genre, Marvel Entertainment, TSG Entertainment, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Director: James Mangold
Writer: James Mangold, Scott Frank, Michael Green, John Romita Sr., Roy Thomas, Len Wein, Herd Trimpe, Craig Kyle, Christopher Yost, David James Kelly
Actors: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Dafne Keen, Boyd Holbrook, Stephen Merchant, Elizabeth Rodriguez, Richard E. Grant, Eriq La Salle, Elise Neal, Quincy Fouse, Reynaldo Gallegos, Krzysztof Soszynski, Stephen Dunlevy, Daniel Bernhardt, Ryan Sturz
Genre: Action, Drama, Sci-Fi
Rated: R

This is supposedly going to be the last time Hugh Jackman (Chappie, Pan, Movie 43) plays Wolverine…. and he’s playing my FAVORITE incarnation of the character: Old Man Logan. It’s the end of an era.

The sadness of losing our Wolverine aside, the look of the trailer is incredible. The storyline actually looks great… and so do the characters.

Ladies and gents we may just have a stand-alone Wolvy movie that’s worth the millions they put into it!

I’ve already got my tickets.

Movies to Look out For
According to: Cat

Power Rangers .20
Deidra & Laney Rob a Train .19
Atomica .18
All Nighter .17
Kidnap .16
The Zookeeper’s Wife .15
The Last Word .14
Goon: Last of the Enforcers .13
Before I Fall .12
Lavender .11
The Belko Experiment .10
MindGamers (aka DxM) .9
The Boss Baby .7
The Ottoman Lieutenant .6
Kong: Skull Island .5
Life .4
Logan .3
Ghost in the Shell .2
Beauty and the Beast .1