Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Top 20 Movies to Look Out For In February (2018)

According to: Cat

20 – Before We Vanish (2/2)

Tag Line: From Kiyoshi Kurosawa, the award-winning director of The Cure & Pulse.
Production Companies: Nikkatsu Corporation, Django Films
Director: Kiyoshi Kurosawa
Writers: Tomohiro Maekawa, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Sachiko Tanaka
Actors: Masami Nagasawa, Ryuhei Matsuda, Hiroki Hasegawa, Mahiro Takasugi
Genre: Sci-Fi, Thriller
Rated: NR
Length: 129 minutes

IMDb Blurb: Three aliens travel to Earth in preparation for a mass invasion, taking possession of human bodies.

While foreign films with subtitles don't often make the monthly Top 20 list, there are rare occasions that the movies look so interesting or phenomenal that they just shouldn't be missed. This is definitely one of those. 

Body-snatching aliens isn't exactly an original subject matter, but this film seems to come at it from a fresh angle. The trailer almost made it look like an anime come to life - and definitely not in any sort of cheesy or cartoony way. Action and sci-fi mayhem abound, and I was left wanting more. You can bet I'll be tracking this movie down to watch as soon as I'm able.  

19 – Bomb City (2/9)

Tag Line: The more I see of man, the more I like dogs.
Production Companies:  Gravitas Ventures, 3rd Identity Films, Bomb City Film
Director: Jameson Brooks
Writers: Jameson Brooks, Sheldon Chick
Actors: Dave Davis, Glenn Morshower, Logan Huffman, Lorelei Linklater, Eddie Hassell, Henry Knotts, Dominic Ryan Gabriel, Luke Shelton
Genre: Thriller, Crime. Drama
Rated: TV-MA
Length: 95 minutes

IMDb Blurb: A crime-drama, about the cultural aversion of a group of punk rockers in a conservative Texas town. Their ongoing battle with a rival, more-affluent clique leads to a controversial hate crime that questions the morality of American justice.

The punk culture is often misrepresented and misunderstood. This crime drama takes a look into that world and seems to give an unvarnished take of the prejudices that often face those that identify with that culture. The old saying that people fear what they don't understand rings true here. 

Hate crime is something relevant today that faces more than just this one cultural niche. More importantly, this movie is shining a light on a true story of the death of a young punk musician in 1997. I won't get all soap-boxy, but I can say that the trailer intrigued me and sucked me in to invest in the plight of the characters. This looks to be a powerful film that will resonate with many.

18 – Tad the Lost Explorer and the Secret of King Midas (2/9)

Tag Line: Here we go!
Production Companies: 4 Cats Pictures, Generalitat de Catalunya - Departament de Cultura, Gree Products, Ikiru Films, Institut Català de les Empreses Culturals (ICEC), Instituto de la Cinematografía y de las Artes Audiovisuales (ICAA), Lightbox Animation Studios, Lightbox Entertainment, Mediaset España, Ministerio de Educación, Cultura y Deporte, Movistar+, Tadeo Jones y el Secreto de Midas A.I.E., Telecinco Cinema, Telefonica Studios
Directors: David Alonso, Enrique Gato
Writers: Jordi Gasull, Neil Landau, Javier López Barreira, Paco Sáez
Actors: Trevor White, Alex Kelly, Gemma Whelan, Joseph Balderrama, Ramon Tikaram
Genre: Animation, Comedy, Adventure, Family
Rated: PG
Length: 85 minutes

IMDb Blurb: Tad Jones, the most awkward explorer, must rescue his beloved Sara from a millionaire who is looking for King Midas' necklace.

This movie looks a little silly, but it's really cute. This is apparently an installment within a movie franchise that hasn't had wide exposure thus-far in the States. This film, as well as its prior installments, seem to be released primarily in Spanish-speaking countries. 

All the same, it looks like a great family movie full of adventurous fun and a love story of an every-man rescuing his beautiful lady-love. 

17 – In the Cloud (2/8)

Tag Line: Decode the past. Decide the future.
Production Companies: Automatik Entertainment, Crackle
Director: Robert Scott Wildes
Writer: Vanya Asher
Actors: Gabriel Byrne, Justin Chatwin, Adetomiwa Edun, Tomiwa Edun, Laura Fraser, Charlie Carver, Max Carver, Nora Arnezeder, Daniel Portman
Genre: Sci-Fi, Thriller, Drama
Rated: NR
Length: 90 minutes

Moviefone Blurb: Using a VR environment to pinpoint the location of bombs, two geniuses invade terrorists' memories. But hiding in the shadows are those with secret agendas who seek to utilize the memory cloud for nefarious purposes.

This movie is going straight to streaming, much like Netflix Original or Amazon Original releases would. Crackle, a Sony network, is a free streaming service that puts out quite a bit of original content as well as other movies and television shows. I first found them when they ran their original show, CH:OS:EN (2013-2014). I was impressed with the quality of the content. That being said, this feature looks to measure up to the quality I have come to expect from this network. 

Stepping away from the viewing platform, the movie itself looks really interesting. The concept of 'The Cloud,' which seems to run with an augmentation to existing technology in the real world, as a repository for memories and a tool for crime-solving is innovative. The Sci-Fi film seems to delve some dark 'what-if' possibilities. The cast also looks solid. February seems to be the month for Gabriel Byrne (2:22, Vampire Academy, Louder Than Bombs). You'll find him in multiple movies on this list. 

16 – Scorched Earth (2/2)

Tag Line: Before the end of the world, Gage has some people to kill.
Production Companies: Lighthouse Pictures, Okanagan Media
Director: Peter Howitt
Writers: Kevin Leeson, Bobby Mort
Actors: Gina Carano, Ryan Robbins, John Hannah, Dean S. Jagger, Stephanie Bennett, Patrick Gilmore, Alisha Newton, Sarah Troyer, Patrick Sabogngui, Luvia Petersen
Genre: Action, Sci-Fi
Rated: R
Length: 96 minutes

IMDb Blurb: A bounty hunter named Atticus Gage tracks down criminals in a post-apocalyptic Earth.

It's a post-apocalyptic western-like sci-fi flick with a female protagonist, played by Gina Carano (Fast & Furious 6, Heist, Deadpool), and John Hannah (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., The Marker, Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency). What's not to love?!

This looks like an interesting and action-filled take on a climate-driven apocalypse narrative. It's not your average recycling of ideas, and the lead looks kick-ass. I can't wait to give this a viewing.

15 – Lies We Tell (2/2)

Tag Line: The Truth Can Kill
Production Company: Bradford International Film Associates
Director: Mitu Misra
Writers: Ewen Glass, Andy McDermott, Mitu Misra
Actors: Gabriel Byrne, Sibylla Deen, Harvey Keitel, Mark Addy, Jan Uddin, Reece Ritchie, Gina McKee, Nicholas Farrell
Genre: Crime, Drama, Romance,  Thriller
Rated: NR
Length: 104 minutes

IMDb Blurb: A trusted driver must deal with his dead boss' Muslim mistress, her dark past pulling him into a life-and-death showdown with her notorious gangster cousin/ex-husband.

Here we have another Gabriel Byrne movie. I'm really geeking out that he's in so many films coming up this year... but I digress. 

The trailer for this movie really captured my attention. (No, it wasn't the sex. Geez.) It was sprinkled with some visually stunning elements that crossed into different cultural landscapes. The story of a woman making difficult choices - sometimes the wrong ones - was also intriguing. 

The story looks poignant and drew me in. I want to know more about the characters and the world they live in. I want to know what was in the letter left to the driver. 

14 – Mad to be Normal (2/16)

Tag Line: So why even try?
Production Companies: Gizmo Films, Bad Penny Productions, GSP Studios, Lipsync Post
Director: Robert Mullan
Writers: Robert Mullan, Tracy Moreton
Actors: David Tennant, Elisabeth Moss, Michael Gambon, Gabriel Byrne, David Bamber, Trevor White, Rebecca Gethings, Nigel Barber
Genre: Historical Drama, Biography
Rated: NR
Length: 106 minutes

IMDb Blurb: During the 1960s, a renegade Scottish psychiatrist courts controversy within his profession for his approach to the field, and for the unique community he creates for his patients to inhabit.

Have I mentioned lately how much I love David Tennant (How to Train Your Dragon, Fright Night, Jessica Jones)? Finding out he was in this movie is what initially drew me in. (Yes, this is another one with Gabriel Byrne, too - but that's beside the point!)

Tennant could make reading an entire encyclopedia interesting, I swear. 

I also found the subject matter interesting, as this is a biopic of a famed (or, perhaps, infamous) Scottish psychiatrist. I want to learn more about this man who seems to have been known for treating the mentally ill as people rather than cogs in the medical machine. 

13 – Basmati Blues (2/9)

Tag Line: Journey to a place with a rhythm all its own.
Production Companies: Basmati Blues, Shout! Factory
Director: Dan Baron
Writers: Dan Baron, Jeff Dorchen, Danny Thompson
Actors: Brie Larson, Donald Sutherland, Scott Bakula, Tyne Daly, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Saahil Sehgal, Bugs Bhargava, Lakshmi Manchu
Genre: Comedy, Musical, Romance
Rated: NR
Length: 106 minutes

IMDb Blurb: A brilliant scientist is plucked out of the company lab and sent to India to sell the genetically modified rice she created - which she doesn't realize will destroy the farmers she thinks she's helping.

Let's put aside for a moment the potential political commentary about genetically modified foods. This film certainly has an element of that debate within it, but that's not what attracts me to this story. 

This movie seems to be a little bit of western culture meets Bollywood. The musical aspect is definitely there. Pair that with the romance and comedy and this just sounds like a good time at its very core. I know I was entertained by the trailer. The cast is crazy-amazing, too. I can't wait to see the full movie. This one might be a good choice for Valentine's Day. 

12 – Bilal: A New Breed of Hero (2/2)

Tag Line: A Legend Breaks Free!
Production Companies: Resnick Interactive Development, Barajoun Entertainment
Directors: Khurram Alavi, Ayman Jamal
Writers: Ayman Jamal, Alexander Kronemer, Michael Wolfe, Khurram H. Alavi, Yassin Kamel
Actors: Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Michael Gross, China Anne McClain, Ian McShane, Thomas Ian Nicholas, Fred Tatasciore, Jacob Latimore, Cynthia Kaye McWilliams
Genre: Action, Animated, Adventure
Rated: PG-13
Length: 105 minutes

IMDb Blurb: A thousand years ago, one boy with a dream of becoming a great warrior is abducted with his sister and taken to a land far away from home. Thrown into a world where greed and injustice rule all, Bilal finds the courage to raise his voice and make a change. Inspired by true events, this is a story of a real hero who earned his remembrance in time and history.

This is supposed to be a true story, or at the very least based on a legend. I'm not familiar with it,  however the archetype is a powerful one. Even in the 21st century, in what we consider an age of enlightenment, there are still many forms of slavery within the world. Stories of inspirational empowerment are usually exhilarating and enjoyable. Now consider that this is also framed within some stunning animation. 

11 – Kill Order (2/6)

Tag Line: He has no name. Only purpose.
Production Companies: 2X Entertainment, Iron Bay Films
Director: James Mark
Writer: James Mark
Actors: Chris Mark, Jessica Clement, Amos Crawley, Jason Gosbee, Reuben Langdon, Alain Moussi, Daniel Park, Denis Akiyama, Melee Hutton, Jennifer Li, Shiro Fujitaka, Scott Cavalheiro
Genre: Sci-Fi, Action
Rated: NR
Length: 77 minutes

IMDb Blurb: A troubled high school student discovers the truth behind his hidden abilities.

Square in the middle of our list is a solid action movie. Martial arts and mayhem - centered on a high school age boy. Sign me up for the adrenaline rush. This is also the shortest film on the list this month. It's my hope that this means that the story is streamlined rather than rushed. I'm optimistic!

10 – The 15:17 to Paris (2/9)

Tag Line: In the face of fear, ordinary people can do the extraordinary.
Production Companies: Malpaso Productions, Village Roadshow Pictures, Warner Bros.
Director: Clint Eastwood
Writers: Dorothy Blyskal, Anthony Sadler, Alek Skarlatos, Spencer Stone, Jeffrey E. Stern
Actors: Anthony Sadler, Alek Skarlatos, Spencer Stone, Jenna Fischer, Judy Greer, P.J. Byrne, Tony Hale, Thomas Lennon, Jaleel White
Genre: Drama, History, Thriller
Rated: PG-13
Length: 94 minutes

IMDb Blurb: Three Americans discover a terrorist plot aboard a train while in France.

My interest was piqued the moment I saw that this movie was directed by Clint Eastwood (Gran Torino, American Sniper, Sully). He is skilled at crafting powerful movies about powerful moments. This is certainly one of them - and he took it one step further. 

This film is based on a book by the same name, penned to illustrate the point of view of events that actually took place, and written by the men that experienced it. Eastwood tapped those same three men to recreate what happened on that fateful train ride in France. Alek Skarlatos, Anthony Sadler, Spencer Stone share this movie as their first official acting credit on IMDb. Their other entries are all personal appearances on talk shows and one of them competed in a dancing competition. That doesn't really count when compared to a full-length feature film. 

What these guys experienced had to be harrowing. I admire their courage and willingness to step up into harm's way to save lives, and I look forward to learning more about their story.

– Monster Family (2/9)

Tag Line: Modern Family. Monster Curse!
Production Companies: Ambient Entertainment GmbH, United Entertainment, Mack Media, Agir, Timeless Films, Rothkirch Cartoon Film
Director: Holger Tappe
Writers: David Safier, Catharina Junk, Benedikt Niemann, Kirstie Falkous, Jens Benecke, Matthias Parchettka
Actors: Emily Watson, Jason Isaacs, Nick Frost, Jessica Brown Findlay, Celia Imrie, Catherine Tate, Ethan Rouse, Ewan Bailey, Emma Tate, Jessica McDonald, Daniel Ben Zenou, Bettina Kenney, Isaac Rouse
Genre: Animation, Comedy, Family
Rated: PG
Length: 96 minutes

IMDb Blurb: Despite the title, the Wishbone family are far from happy. In an attempt to reconnect as a family, Mum and Emma plan a fun night out. However, her plan backfires when an evil witch curses them, and they're all turned into Monsters.

There's no shortage of options for kids at the movies this month. This film seems like an animated spin on something like Freaky Friday (2003) but with the whole family affected and involving the whole monster aspect. It looks like fun! (The film was originally named 'Happy Family,' which is what the blurb was referencing.)

– Every Day (2/23)

Tag Line:  Every day a different body. Every day a different life. Every day in love with the same girl.
Production Companies: FilmWave, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Likely Story, Orion Pictures, Silver Reel
Director: Michael Sucsy
Writers:  Jesse Andrews, David Levithan
Actors: Angourie Rice, Maria Bello, Debby Ryan, Jacob Batalon, Justice Jesse Smith, Owen Teague, Lucas Jade Zumann, Colin Ford
Genre: Drama, Fantasy, Romance
Rated: PG-13
Length: 95 minutes

IMDb Blurb: A shy teenager falls for someone who transforms into another person every day.

This one is going to make me cry (but in a good way), I just know it. I am resolved to watch it all the same. This is certainly an original story. I can't say that I've heard of anything like it before. It's both fascinating in concept and also appeals to the hopeless romantic in me. I can't wait to see what happens with the main characters. 

– Annihilation (2/23)

Tag Line: Fear what’s inside.
Production Companies: Skydance Productions, DNA Films, Scott Rudin Productions, Paramount Pictures
Director: Alex Garland
Writers: Alex Garland, Jeff VanderMeer
Actors: Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, Tessa Thompson, Tuva Novotny, Oscar Isaac, David Gyasi, Sonoya Mizuno, Benedict Wong
Genre: Thriller, Adventure, Fantasy
Rated: NR
Length: 115 minutes

IMDb Blurb: A biologist signs up for a dangerous, secret expedition where the laws of nature don't apply.

This film looks to be part creature feature, and part an adventure through an alternate world. The effects look absolutely amazing. The trailer has left me with a feeling of both wonder and dread. I'm excited to see what awaits within 'The Shimmer' and whether or not there's hope for the sole survivor of prior expeditions within. 

– Accident Man (2/6)

Tag Line: Accidents happen. He can guarantee it.
Production Companies: LINK Entertainment, Six Demon Films
Director: Jesse Johnson
Writers: Scott Adkins, Pat Mills, Stu Small
Actors: Scott Adkins, Ray Stevenson, Ashley Greene, David Paymer, Michael Jai White, Ray Park, Amy Johnston, Nick Moran, Ross O'Hennessy,
Brooke Johnston
Genre: Action, Crime, Thriller
Rated: R
Length: 112 minutes

IMDb Blurb: Mike Fallon, the Accident Man, is a stone cold killer whose methodical hits baffle the police and delight his clients. He is the best at what he does. But when a loved one is dragged into the London underworld and murdered by his own crew, Fallon is forced to rip apart the life he knew in order to hold those accountable and avenge the one person who actually meant something to him.

Even though this movie is going straight to on-demand and DVD, it definitely deserves a place on this list. The release for the film in that manner only means it's accessible to watch from the comfort of home much faster than if it hit big screens first. While this looks like an action movie that would be served well by the large-screen and theater surround experience, it still should pack quite the punch on a smaller scale. 

I am curious as to the various 'accidents' that the main character orchestrates as his hitman M.O. The couple that were shown on the trailer were crazy amazing from an effects and stunts standpoint. There are bound to be silly gangster names, but it's good to have a comedic element along with fight scenes, explosions, and gunfire!

– Game Night (2/23)

Tag Line: This is not a game.
Production Companies: New Line Cinema, Aggregate Films, Davis Entertainment
Directors: John Daley, Jonathan Goldstein
Writer: Mark Perez
Actors: Jason Bateman, Rachel McAdams, Billy Magnussen, Sharon Horgan, Lamorne Morris, Kylie Bunbury, Jesse Plemons, Danny Huston, Kyle Chandler
Genre: Action, Comedy, Crime, Mystery
Rated: R
Length: Not Available

IMDb Blurb: A group of friends who meet regularly for game nights find themselves trying to solve a murder mystery.

Rather than a board game or other 'game night' staples, let's stage a kidnapping mystery! What could possibly go wrong? 

And hilarity ensued. 

While that is definitely a situation I would have 'noped' right out of, if it was an idea proposed to me; framed as an action comedy film, I think it's insane fun. 

– Braven (2/2)

Tag Line: They threatened his world. He will destroy theirs.
Production Companies: Braven NL, Hassell Free Production, Ingenious Media, Pride of Gypsies, Tinker Productions
Director: Lin Oeding
Writers: Michael Nilon, Thomas Pa'a Sibbett
Actors: Jason Momoa, Jill Wagner, Zahn McClarnon, Garret Dillahunt, Stephen Lang, Brendan Fletcher, Sala Baker, Teach Grant, Sasha Rossof
Genre: Action, Thriller
Rated: R
Length: 94 minutes

IMDb Blurb: A logger defends his family from a group of dangerous drug runners.

All I've got to say is that these drug runners have definitely screwed up. A mad Jason Momoa (Stargate: Atlantis, The Bad Batch, Justice League) and Stephen Lang (Avatar, Don't Breathe, Into the Badlands) protecting their family? Terrifying. I can't wait to see what happens when these badasses of the screen take their pound of flesh from the bad guys. 

– Peter Rabbit (2/9)

Tag Line: Not your garden variety hero.
Production Companies: 2.0 Entertainment, Animal Logic Entertainment, Columbia Pictures, Olive Bridge Entertainment, Screen Australia, Screen NSW, Sony Pictures Animation, Sony Pictures Entertainment
Director: Will Gluck
Writers: Will Gluck, Rob Lieber, Beatrix Potter
Actors: James Corden, Rose Byrne, Domhnall Gleeson, Sam Neill, Daisy Ridley, Elizabeth Debicki, Margot Robbie, Sia
Genre: Animation, Adventure, Comedy
Rated: PG
Length: 93 minutes

IMDb Blurb: Feature adaptation of Beatrix Potter's classic tale of a rebellious rabbit trying to sneak into a farmer's vegetable garden.

This definitely doesn't seem to be the tale of Peter Rabbit that I remember. The stories by Beatrix Potter (1866-1943) were staples of my childhood. It looks like a really entertaining twist on the story, however; and my daughter and I are really looking forward to watching it. 

– Black Panther (2/16)

Tag Line: Long live the king.
Production Companies: Marvel Studios, Walt Disney Pictures
Director: Ryan Coogler
Writers: Ryan Coogler, Joe Robert Cole, Stan Lee, Jack Kirby
Actors: Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong'o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, Andy Serkis, Forest Whitaker, Sterling K. Brown, Angela Bassett, Florence Kasumba
Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Sci-Fi
Rated: PG-13
Length: 134 minutes

IMDb Blurb: T'Challa, after the death of his father, the King of Wakanda, returns home to the isolated, technologically advanced African nation to succeed to the throne and take his rightful place as king.

I know, I know. This Marvel movie isn't my #1 this month. It's not for lack of excitement, however. This film just looks kickass. The trailer promises breathtaking visuals, heart-stopping action, and a story of substance. 

I actually consider this one tied for #1, really. This is the movie my daughter is most excited to see this month. She shouts whenever the trailer appears on the TV. There's just one more movie I'm ever so slightly more excited about, and that's why it's slightly higher on my list. I still can't wait to see this one!

– Winchester (2/2)

Tag Line: Terror is building.
Production Companies: CBS Films, Blacklab Entertainment, Imagination Design Works
Directors: Michael Spierig, Peter Spierig
Writers: Tom Vaughan, Michael Spierig, Peter Spierig
Actors: Dame Helen Mirren, Jason Clarke, Sarah Snook, Angus Sampson, Finn Scicluna-O'Prey
Genre: Horror, Thriller
Rated: PG-13
Length: 99 minutes

Moviefone Blurb: The most haunted house in the world sits on an isolated stretch of land that's 50 miles outside of San Francisco. Built by Sarah Winchester, heiress to the Winchester fortune, it stands seven stories tall and contains hundreds of rooms. To an outsider, it looks like a monstrous monument to a disturbed woman's madness. But Sarah's actually building a prison, an asylum for hundreds of vengeful ghosts -- and the most terrifying among them have a score to settle with the Winchesters.

I am extra excited about this movie. The Winchester Mystery House, as it's commonly called, is a real thing. It has doors and windows in crazy places, and stairs leading to blank walls. There's all sorts of quirky things about the house that was built to entrap the spirits that the heir to the Winchester repeating rifles was convinced were after her and her family. She even held regular seances in the home. It really and truly is considered one of the most haunted houses ever - and it's a place I've been dying to visit for quite a while now. (Next time we find ourselves out in the San Francisco Bay Area to visit my husband's family, I am definitely strong-arming my way into getting to San Jose for a tour.)

From 1884 until 1922, the home was under almost constant construction at all hours of the day and night. I can only imagine the level of fear that would spur someone to undertake such an endeavor. 

While this film is based, in part, on true events - namely the house and the inspiration for all the intricate and seemingly crazy quirks of the design - there will, of course, be some creative license taken with the ghost story narrative of this horror feature. Some of the photography elements of the film were shot on property but the majority of filming had to be done on sound stages due to the close-quarters of the mansion's interior.

Movies to Look out For
According to: Selina

 The Mercy .20
Basmati Blues .19
Bilal: A New Breed of Hero .18
 Fifty Shades Freed .17
Nostalgia .16
Mad to Be Normal .15
Kill Order .14
Tad the Lost Explorer and the Secret of King Midas .13
Before We Vanish .12
Scorched Earth .11
Monster Family .10
Braven .9
Bomb City .8
Defective .7
Accident Man .6
Every Day .5
Annihilation .4
Game Night .3
Peter Rabbit .2
Black Panther .1

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