Friday, January 4, 2019

Baby Mama (2008)

Number Rolled: 71
Movie Name/Year: Baby Mama (2008)
Tagline: Would you put your eggs in this basket?
Genre: Comedy, Romance
Length: 98 minutes
Rating: PG-13
Production Companies: Broadway Video, Michaels-Goldwyn, Relativity Media
Producer: Kay Cannon, Erin David, John Goldwyn, Ryan Kavanaugh, Jill Sobel Messick, Lorne Michaels, Louise Rosner
Director: Michael McCullers
Writer: Michael McCullers
Actors: Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, Greg Kinnear, Dax Shepard, Romany Malco, Sigourney Weaver, Steve Martin, Maura Tierney, Stephen Mailer, Holland Taylor, James Rebhorn, Denis O’Hare, Kevin Collins, Will Forte

Blurb from Netflix: When straightlaced Kate learns she’s infertile, she hires immature Angie to be her surrogate, inviting hilarity as both women prepare for motherhood.

Selina’s Point of View:
I wasn’t really a fan of this film. There was nothing all that wrong about it, but there wasn’t much right, either.

I am a Tina Fey (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, 30 Rock, Muppets Most Wanted) fan. Maybe if she had more of a hand in the writing of Baby Mama, it might have a difference.

Everything was just so basic. From the jump, I knew exactly how it would end and the exact road we would travel to get there. Michael McCullers (Enough About Me, The Boss Baby, Austin Powers in Goldmember), the writer/director, seemed to try to subvert expectations in a few scenes, but those attempts didn’t work.

I found myself bored. I don’t think I’ve ever been bored in a Tina Fey comedy. It sucks.

This film really isn’t for me, but it might serve as some brainless watching for someone that enjoys the kind of cringey comedy utilized.

Cat’s Point of View:
Baby Mama was definitely a refreshing change of pace. I had needed a little comedy today, and I was very glad that this one lived up to its genre definition. I had watched a movie earlier that was actually from Netflix’s comedies category. It was supposed to be a comedic horror. The only thing I could say was humorous was the laughable quality of the film overall. I digress. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case here.

All told, this movie took a rather sensitive topic and gave it both a comedic and respectful treatment. Of course, not everyone will agree on the latter – but people just get offended too easily these days. I actually know someone who quit saying ‘bless you’ when someone sneezes because they don’t want to be seen as feeding into the whole superstitious origin of that practice. I’m digressing again.

Seriously, though, this movie had an outstanding cast full of comedy star power from both the ‘old guard’ and new. When you put Steve Martin (The Pink Panther, Love the Coopers, Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk), Tina Fey (Date Night, Megamind, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot), and Amy Poehler (Arrietty, Inside Out, The House) together;  it apparently adds up to magic. I was also really excited to see Sigourney Weaver (Chappie, Ghostbusters, A Monster Calls) involved with this film. While she may be a sci-fi badass, I’ve really enjoyed her comedy work.

I felt that the story here was entertaining. Don’t get me wrong, though. When I mentioned the film was ‘respectful,’ I meant that only in the sense of treating the topic of infertility. The humor here is a bit on the crass side in places. While it may appeal to the lowest common denominator, it was still worth some good laughs and was a welcome stress reliever. After all the rush and hoopla surrounding the holidays, it’s great to just turn off your brain on occasion and giggle at the toilet humor.

While the movie wasn’t entirely unpredictable, and a little on the groany side in places; it was still enjoyable enough to get a recommendation. 

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 64%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 55%
Metascore – 55/100
Metacritic User Score – 7.7/10
IMDB Score – 6.0/10

Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating2/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating3/5

Movie Trailer:

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Bird Box (2018)

Number Rolled: 60
Movie Name/Year: Bird Box (2018)
Tagline: Never Lose Sight of Survival
Genre: Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi
Length: 124 minutes
Rating: R
Production Companies: Bluegrass Films, Chris Morgan Productions, Universal Pictures
Producer: Susanne Bier, Sandra Bullock, Dylan Clark, Mark Cotone, Ainsley Davies, Alexa Faigen, Eric Heisserer, Kelly Helstrom, Ryan Lewis, Chris Morgan, Clayton Townsend
Director: Susanne Bier
Writer: Eric Heisserer, Josh Malerman
Actors: Sandra Bullock, Trevante Rhodes, John Malkovich, Sarah Paulson, Jacki Weaver, Rose Salazar, Danielle Macdonald, Lil Rel Howery, Tom Hollander, Machine Gun Kelly, BD Wong, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Vivien Lyra Blair, Julian Edwards, Parminder Nagra, Rebecca Pidgeon, Amy Gumenick, Taylor Handley, Happy Anderson

Blurb from Netflix: Five years after an ominous unseen presence drives most of society to suicide, a survivor and her two children make a desperate bid to reach safety.

Selina’s Point of View:
That was intense.

A couple of months ago I reviewed Cargo (2017) for Trust the Dice. I mentioned that it was one of the best zombie films I’d ever seen. Well, I guess someone at Netflix has the same obsession with end-of-the-world stories that I do, because they are not joking with these films. Bird Box is easily now my favorite non-zombie apocalypse movie.

The way the director, Susanne Bier (Serena, Credo, Things We Lost in the Fire), handled tension in this film was incredible. I finished watching it almost fifteen minutes ago and I still have this lump in my throat and line of dread weaving through my chest.

On top of that, either the screenplay writer – Eric Heisserer (Arrival, Hours, Extinction) – or the novelist – Josh Malerman (King Ripple, The Listing, Doctor Paradise) – (or both) put so much into the characters that it was impossible to not empathize with them. I have never wanted to see a protagonist have a happy ending more than I did in this film.

I won’t tell you whether or not they got it, though. Trust the Dice doesn’t do un-warned spoilers.

I do not think I should have watched Bird Box before bedtime, however. Not for the fear factor, either. It’s because there are so many dread-based emotions writhing around in me right now that I would undoubtedly have nightmares.

This movie was not paint-by-numbers. It was clearly someone’s passion project.

I recommend Bird Box to anyone that loves horror and is absolutely sick of the basic-bitch jump-scare bullshit that’s out there right now.

Cat’s Point of View:
I’ve been really looking forward to this movie ever since I saw the first trailer. Let me tell you, it did not disappoint.

I was excited to learn that this film was based off of a novel. My list of books to read grows exponentially by the day. My curiosity is piqued. I really appreciated how the production team approached dealing with the antagonist. I’m dying to know how it was treated on the written page.

While I do admit that I’m a bit hyper sensitive in regards to any ‘big bad’ potentially coming after kids, this story grabbed me and didn’t let me go.

The moments like those shown in the trailer where Sandra Bullock’s (The Lake House, Gravity, Minions) character screams out to not take her children are like a knife to the gut. When I find myself holding my breath and/or muttering to myself in hopes that things are going to be ok, I know I’ve really bought what a movie is selling. I was on the proverbial edge of my seat throughout.

IMDb mentions that both Bullock and the director nearly passed on this project. I am very grateful that they didn’t. I couldn’t see anyone else in the role of Malorie.

I appreciate that Netflix obtained an MPAA rating for this movie. A lot of their original content is self-rated. The extra steps to make this R rating ‘official’ goes a long way. I’m not sure that viewers really put enough weight behind TV-MA.

This is one of those movies where children might be integral members of the cast, but this is by no means ok for kids. Hell, this is disturbing enough for adults. So, keep that in mind when giving this a watch. You don’t want little ears or eyes around.

I have no qualms at all giving this film a hearty thumbs up.

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

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 65%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 68%
Metascore - 52/100
Metacritic User Score – 5.9/10
IMDB Score – 6.8/10

Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating5/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating4.5/5

Movie Trailer:

Monday, December 31, 2018

Top 20 Movies to Look Out For in January (2019)

According to Cat

20 - The Demonologist (1/1)

Tag Line: Behold The End
Production Company: Thriller Films, Tip-Top Productionsd, CS West Productions
Director: J.M. Stelly
Writer: J.M. Stelly
Actors: Brian Krause, Jared Bankens, Lara Grice, Thomas Francis Murphy, Kate Tumanova, Keegan Macy, Scott Allen Perry, Jeff Pearson
Genre: Thriller
Rated: NR
Length: 100 Minutes

IMDb Blurb: Detective Damien Seryph investigates a string of murders that connects to a group trying to bring forth the 4 King Demons of Hell. Damien's past connects him to those involved and will force him to become "The Demonologist".

In a normal month, I'm not sure that this movie would have made the cut. The horror-phile in me wants to give this one a shot; though I'm afraid that the trailer didn't instill a huge amount of confidence as to the quality of the production. I'm hoping that there's something redeemable and worthwhile in the film that brings it beyond some tropey amalgamation of Se7en (1995), Eyes Wide Shut (1999), and The Ninth Gate (1999)... give or take a few serial killer and end-of-the-world via demonic invasion movies. I want to give it the benefit of the doubt, though.

19 - Dragon Ball Super: Broly (1/16)

Tag Line: A new adventure to become the strongest begins.
Production Companies: Toei, Fox International Productions, Shueisha, Fuji Television Network, Toei Animation, Bandai, Bandai Namco Entertainment
Director: Tatsuya Nagamine      
Writer: Akira Toriyama
Actors: Sean Schemmel, Christopher Sabat, Vic Mignogna, Chris Ayres, Sonny Strait, Emily Neves, Monica Rial, Kara Edwards, Alexis Tipton, Jason Douglas, Ian Sinclair, Dameon Clarke, Erica Lindbeck, Bruce Carey, Sonny Franks, Veronica Taylor, Phil Parsons
Genre: Animation, Action, Fantasy
Rated: NR
Length: 100 minutes

IMDb Blurb: Goku and Vegeta encounter Broly, a Saiyan warrior unlike any fighter they've faced before.

I have a confession to make. I haven't really watched the DBZ anime or read the manga. I have friends that really enjoy this franchise and so I know a bit about it... though, that's pretty much where my experience ends. That being said, I know enough to recognize that this is going to be something pretty huge for that fandom. I can't speak to whether or not this movie will be a good intro for anyone that's not already steeped in the lore, but I can say that the Japan release sold out 5 months in advance and the film will be available in IMAX here. I'd say it's worth a peek.

18 - Tall Tales from the Magical Garden of Antoon Krings (1/11)

Tag Line: From the Producers of The Little Prince
Production Companies: Bidibul Productions, ON Animation Studios, Onyx Films
Directors: Arnaud Bouron, Antoon Krings
Writers: Antoon Krings, Arnaud Delalande, Christel Gonnard
Actors: Kate Mara, Justin Long
Genre: Animation, Adventure, Comedy
Rated: PG
Length: 77 Minutes

Moviefone Blurb: A singing cricket makes new bug friends when he visits a magical garden.

What can I say? This movie looks a bit on the adorable side. Sure, it stands on the shoulders of the animated bug movies that have come before it – but I don’t think that will stop this film from being enjoyable.

17 - Escaping the Madhouse: The Nellie Bly Story (1/19)

Tag Line: None
Production Companies: Julijette, Bly Films
Director: Karen Moncrieff
Writer: Helen Childress
Actors: Christina Ricci, Joshua Bowman, Judith Light, Anja Savcic, Nikki Duval, Lauren Cochrane, Steve Pacaud, Johise Namwira
Genre: Thriller
Rated: NR
Length: 90 Minutes

IMDb Blurb: A young journalist looks behind the curtain of a nearby mental hospital, only to uncover the grim and gruesome acts they bestow upon their "patients".

It's not often that TV-movies make it to one of my lists. This month brings an exception for various reasons. I'm sad to say that slim pickings is one of them. That being said, I'm not entirely sure that this film wouldn't have made the list otherwise. Simply put, the cast is solid and the story is compelling. Judith Light (Last Weekend, Transparent, Hot Air) gave me a sense of dread just from the trailer, and Christina Ricci (Black Snake Moan, The Lizzie Borden Chronicles, Mothers and Daughters) is well known for her quirky roles that delve into the darker places of the human psyche. Rather than someone actually suffering from a mental health condition, this time she's reporting on the deplorable conditions that such unfortunates in 'the system' had to endure. You can bet I'll be setting my DVR for this one.

16 - Girl (1/18)

Tag Line: A film by Lukas Dhont
Production Companies: Topkapi Films, Menuet Producties, Frakas Productions, Federation Wallonie-Bruxelles, Nederlands Filmfonds, Telenet
Director: Lukas Dhont
Writers: Lukas Dhont, Angelo Tijssens
Actors: Victor Polster, Arieh Worthalter, Tijmen Govaerts, Valentijn Dhaenens, Katelijne Damen
Genre: Drama
Rated: R
Length: 100 Minutes

IMDb Blurb: Lara is a 15-year-old girl, born in the body of a boy, who dreams of becoming a ballerina.

While this movie is a foreign offering, causing the necessity of subtitles; I feel that the story is powerful enough that it’s worth the mention. This looks to be a window into the tumultuous world of a transitioning transgender youth. It’s the integral backdrop to the tale of a young girl’s dream to be a ballerina. I feel that cinema of this nature that, if done correctly, accurately depicts the life of a trans person is important. Projects of this nature highlight that trans people are, at heart, just people – with hopes and dreams just like everyone else. The trailer paints the picture of a good story, so I’m rather looking forward to this one.

15 - SGT. Will Gardner (1/11)

Tag Line: Sometimes the battle follows you home.
Production Company: Mona Vista Productions
Director: Max Martini
Writer: Max Martini
Actors: Max Martini, Omari Hardwick, Lily Rabe, Dermot Mulroney, Robert Patrick, Elisabeth Rohm, JoBeth Williams, Gary Sinise
Genre: Action, Adventure, Drama
Rated: NR
Length: 125 Minutes

IMDb Blurb: A troubled Iraq War veteran struggling to reintegrate into society sets out on a cross-country journey with the hope of reuniting with his young son.

The suicide rate for our veterans is something rather terrifying. While I don’t believe that has any bearing on this movie’s plot, it is worth mentioning. Too many of those that put themselves in harm’s way in defense of our country come home with issues that aren’t easy to address. This film is about a father trying to make his way home to his family, in spite of the battlefield ghosts that haunt him. The trailer felt authentic, and the story heartfelt.

I hope this film does well at the box office, given its limited release. More than a quarter of its profits are slated to go to Higher Ground, Warriors Heart and Special Operations Charity Network. These three charities assist soldiers suffering from traumatic brain injuries, PTSD, and homelessness.

14 - All These Small Moments (1/17)

Tag Line: They all mean something.
Production Companies: Vineyard Point Productions, Jemstone Productions, Big Vision Creative
Director: Melissa Miller Costanzo
Writer: Melissa Miller Costanzo
Actors: Molly Ringwald, Brian d'Arcy James, Brendan Meyer, Sam McCarthy, Harley Quinn Smith, Jemima Kirke, Jazzy Williams, Salena Qureshi
Genre: Drama
Rated: NR
Length: 85 Minutes

IMDb Blurb: A teenage boy's infatuation with a woman he sees on the bus further complicates his already tumultuous adolescence.

This movie seems like it might be a drama a little on the heavy side; considering all the family and relationship dynamics going on. I feel like there’s going to be a slight edge of comedy to it, given some glimmers of hope gleaned from the trailer. Honestly, it seems worth the watch if only for the combination of Molly Ringwald (The Secret Life of the American Teenager, The Kissing Booth, Riverdale) and Harley Quinn Smith (Yoga Hosers, Holidays, Hollyweed) on the screen together. Of course, I have also enjoyed Brendan Meyer’s (Mr. Young, The Guest, Fear the Walking Dead: Flight 462) work. Here’s hoping that this film put all the talent at its disposal to good use.

13 - The Invisibles (1/25)

Tag Line: Berlin, 1943: The true story of four young people who must hide their identities to survive.
Production Companies: Look! Filmproduktion, Cineplus, Norddeutscher Rundfunk, Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg, Bayerischer Rundfunk, Westdeutscher Rundfunk
Director: Claus Räfle
Writers: Claus Räfle, Alejandra López
Actors: Max Mauff, Alice Dwyer, Ruby O. Fee, Aaron Altaras, Victoria Schulz, Florian Lukas, Andreas Schmidt, Sergej Moya, Lucas Reiber
Genre: Biography, Drama, History
Rated: NR
Length: 110 Minutes

IMDb Blurb: While Joseph Goebbels infamously declared Berlin "free of Jews" in 1943, 1,700 managed to survive in the Nazi capital through the end of the WWII. The Invisibles traces the stories of four young people who learned to hide in plain sight.

In another rare occurrence, we have a second foreign language film on this month’s list. This movie, however, has the weight of history and a powerful true story behind it. I can only imagine the struggles and horror endured by Jewish people residing clandestinely in Germany during WWII. I feel compelled to watch the retelling of stories like this one on multiple levels. If they could live through it, I can take the time to watch it, right? The trailer certainly hit a chord with me. It feels like this film brilliantly encapsulated the experiences of these brave youths who defied the odds. I think this one might have a hard time at the box office here, though, given the timing of its release and the other more mainstream productions coming out in the same time frame. If you can’t catch it in the theater, be looking out for it on streaming services or DVD.

12 - The Final Wish (1/24)

Tag Line: From the creator of Final Destination
Production Companies: BondIt, Global Renaissance Entertainment Group, Cinedigm Entertainment Group
Director: Timothy Woodward Jr.
Writers: Jeffrey Reddick, William Halfon, Jonathan Doyle
Actors: Lin Shaye, Michael Welch, Melissa Bolona, Spencer Locke, Tony Todd, Kaiwi Lyman, Jonathan Daniel Brown
Genre: Horror
Rated: NR
Length: 106 Minutes

IMDb Blurb: After the death of his father, Aaron returns home to help his grief-stricken mother and to confront his past. Going through his dad's belongings, he comes across a mysterious item that is more than it seems.

I was absolutely gobsmacked to discover that this movie is currently 100% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.

How often does that happen for a horror movie? I don’t think it’s often. Don’t quote me on that, though.

Seriously, though, they had me sold with the combination of modern horror staples Lin Shaye (Big Ass Spider!, Ouija, Abattoir) and Tony Todd (Army of the Damned, Hell Fest, The Flash). You might remember Todd from the Final Destination (2000) franchise; but like Shaye, his horror roots run deep. He will forever be the Candyman (1992) to me. His deep voice paired with the creep-factor he’s perfected over the years always adds a significant touch of dread to the productions he’s involved in.

The trailer left me with a few questions about how the wishes come into play with the story. I really want to watch it and find out.

11 - The Vanishing (1/4)

Tag Line: What's left when the light goes out?
Production Companies: Cross Creek Pictures, Saban Films, G-BASE, Mad As Birds, Head Gear Films, Kodiak Pictures, Metrol Technology
Director: Kristoffer Nyholm
Writers: Joe Bone, Celyn Jones
Actors: Gerard Butler, Peter Mullan, Connor Swindells, Ólafur Darri Ólafsson, Gary Lewis, Søren Malling, Emma King
Genre: Drama, Mystery, Thriller
Rated: R
Length: 101 Minutes

IMDb Blurb: Three lighthouse keepers on the remote Flannan Isles find a hidden trunk of gold, leading to their mysterious disappearance.

While I’m certainly interested in the mystery of what befell the lighthouse keepers that disappeared, I’m really jazzed about all the Scottish accents. No, really. I am. I think it’ll be great to see Gerard Butler (How to Train Your Dragon, Olympus Has Fallen, Hunter Killer) on his ‘home turf’ for a change.

10 - An Acceptable Loss (1/18)

Tag Line: The truth is a moving target.
Production Companies: CorradoMooncoin, IFC Films
Director: Joe Chappelle
Writer: Joe Chappelle
Actors: Tika Sumpter, Jamie Lee Curtis, Ben Tavassoli, Jeff Hephner, Deanna Dunagan, Alex Weisman, Ali Burch, Alysia Reiner
Genre: Drama, Thriller
Rated: R
Length: 102 Minutes

Moviefone Blurb: Libby Lamm is a former top national security adviser who, while working with a ruthless, steely-willed political veteran, signed off on a controversial military action that was supposed to end the war on terror. The problem: thousands died under false pretenses. Haunted by what she knows, Libby sets out to tell the truth, risking treason -- and her own life -- to expose a cover-up that stretches all the way to the top.

Personal politics aside, I imagine that most people these days have at least a slightly skeptical view of politicians and the veracity of their statements. We all hope that when lives are on the line, however, that they’re honest. It’s a heavy and horrifying thought that corruption and political advancement agenda could potentially play into decisions such as deployment of bombs and things of that nature. Aside from the fact that Jamie Lee Curtis (Veronica Mars, Scream Queens, Halloween) plays an excellent hard-case, the story here is riveting…and chilling.

9 - A Dog’s Way Home (1/11)

Tag Line: A lot can happen between lost and found.
Production Companies: Columbia Pictures, Bona Film Group, Pariah
Director: Charles Martin Smith
Writer: W. Bruce Cameron, Cathryn Michon
Actors: Bryce Dallas Howard, Ashley Judd, Jonah Hauer-King, Alexandra Shipp, Wes Studi, Edward James Olmos, Patrick Gallagher, John Cassini
Genre: Adventure, Family
Rated: PG
Length: 96 Minutes

IMDb Blurb: A dog travels 400 miles in search of her owner.

This movie is one that my daughter is excited to see on the big screen. We both really enjoyed the trailer when we went to a local multiplex recently to watch a certain movie about a yellow robot car. That aside, this film looks absolutely adorable. Of course, the natural reaction is to connect this movie with A Dog's Purpose (2017), but that’s just not the case. This is a stand-alone story that just happens to be penned by the same original author. It’s most certainly not a sequel. This story is more along the lines of Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey (1993). This time, however, it’s focusing on a single pet trying to reunite with an owner, rather than several. I can’t wait to see what comes of the unlikely help this little pup has along the way. 

8 - State Like Sleep (1/4)

Tag Line: None
Production Companies: Scythia Films, Sight Unseen Pictures, Code Red Productions
Director: Meredith Danluck
Writer: Meredith Danluck          
Actors: Katherine Waterston, Michael Shannon, Luke Evans, Michiel Huisman, Mary Kay Place, Mark O'Brien, Bo Martyn, Ian Matthews
Genre: Drama, Mystery, Thriller
Rated: NR
Length: 104 Minutes

Moviefone Blurb: A woman grapples with her deceased husband's double life.

While the trailer for this film had me scratching my head a bit, perplexed as to the actions of the main character; I am still intrigued as to what happened to her husband. Whether it is a murder mystery or a baffling suicide remains to be seen. While the trailer seems to point to the former, I've seen blurbs about the movie that indicate it might be the latter. I'm considerably hoping that IMDb hasn't spoiled this movie for countless people. The cast is pretty incredible here and I have high expectations. 

7 - American Hangman (1/4)

Tag Line: A new kind of trial.
Production Company: Hangman Justice Productions
Director: Wilson Coneybeare
Writer: Wilson Coneybeare       
Actors: Donald Sutherland, Vincent Kartheiser, Oliver Dennis, Paul Braunstein, Paul Amato, Matt Baram, Dan Beirne, Joanne Boland
Genre: Thriller
Rated: NR
Length: 99 Minutes

IMDb Blurb: An unidentified man posts a live feed on social media showing that he has kidnapped two strangers and intends to kill one before the day is out. His intention is to hold a capital "trial" online. As the authorities recognize what's happening, it becomes apparent that the online public is going to act as judge and jury.

While the general feel of this movie seems to be a mashup of Untraceable (2008) and Law Abiding Citizen (2009), there’s a core driving factor that pulls me to this film like moth to a flame.  Donald Sutherland (Horrible Bosses, The Liesure Seeker, Measure of a Man) is the focus of the whole story. I could listen to this man read the phone book and be happy. His voice is so dynamic and soothing – and yet shaded with enigma.  His involvement with the project sells it for me, hands down.

6 - Rust Creek (1/4)

Tag Line: Choose your prey carefully.
Production Company: IFC Films, Lunacy, Rust Creek
Director: Jen McGowan
Writers: Julie Lipson, Stu Pollard
Actors: Hermione Corfield, Jay Paulson, Sean O'Bryan, John Marshall Jones, Micah A. Hauptman, Daniel R. Hill, Jeremy Glazer, Laura Guzman
Genre: Drama, Thriller
Rated: R
Length: 108 Minutes

IMDb Blurb: An overachieving college student gets lost on her way to a job interview. A wrong turn leaves her stranded deep in the Kentucky forest. The woman must defend herself against the harsh elements and a band of ruthless outlaws. She is forced into an uneasy alliance with a strange loner who has unknown intentions.

Stranger danger!

Getting stranded in the middle of nowhere is a scary thought. We live in a world where kind people get taken advantage of – and people who seem helpful don’t always have an altruistic agenda. Even with the advent of services like On-Star, not everyone has access to such conveniences. Do you trust the person offering to help call for a tow? Do they really plan to just give you a ride into town where you can get signal to call for roadside assistance or to let your family know you’re ok? 

While the ‘hillbilly up to no good’ trope has been done before, this film doesn’t seem like a rehash. I am curious how it all turns out. I’m crossing my fingers that the helper-stranger actually means to help. 

5 - Serenity (1/25)

Tag Line: On Plymouth Island, no one ever dies... unless you break the rules.
Production Companies: IM Global, Global Road Entertainment, Shoebox Films, Starlings Entertainment
Director: Steven Knight
Writer: Steven Knight
Actors: Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jason Clarke, Diane Lane, Djimon Hounsou, Jeremy Strong, Robert Hobbs, Kenneth Fok
Genre: Drama, Thriller
Rated: R
Length: 106 Minutes

IMDb Blurb: The mysterious past of a fishing boat captain comes back to haunt him, when his ex-wife tracks him down with a desperate plea for help, ensnaring his life in a new reality that may not be all that it seems.

My inner browncoat is shaking a fist at the title of this movie, but aside from that I’m intrigued.

There’s something fishy going on aside from the task given to Matthew McConaughey (The Sea of Trees, Kubo and the Two Strings, Gold). How many people are actually in on it? Are they spies for the antagonist? I have a decent grasp at what’s going on in the trailers – but at the same time I am rather baffled. That’s the sort of ambiguity that drives my curious nature up the wall. I absolutely must see the movie to put the puzzle together. The fact that there’s a stellar cast involved is clearly extra incentive.

4 - Escape Room (1/4)

Tag Line: Solve the Puzzle. Escape the Room. Find the clues or die.
Production Company: Original Film
Director: Adam Robitel
Writer: Bragi F. Schut, Maria Melnik
Actors: Taylor Russell, Logan Miller, Deborah Ann Woll, Jay Ellis, Tyler Labine, Nik Dodani, Yorick van Wageningen, Jessica Sutton
Genre: Mystery, Sci-Fi, Thriller, Horror
Rated: PG-13
Length: 100 Minutes

IMDb Blurb: Six strangers find themselves in circumstances beyond their control, and must use their wits to survive.

Escape rooms are all the craze these days. There are even toy kits that are all about escaping. My initial thoughts upon seeing commercials for kids breaking out of handcuffs were a mix of ‘hey that looks cool and is likely a useful survival skill’ … and ‘wait a minute, does this game teach kids how to be better hoodlums?’ I digress.

I know of several escape room establishments where I live. While I haven’t yet been to one, my daughter’s godmother and her family partake in them on a regular basis and have good things to say. 

Translated to the movie, I can see how easy it would be to lure in the victims of this particular tale with the promise of ‘harmless fun.’ I am intrigued how hobby is turned to horror here without borrowing too heavily from genre predecessors such as the Saw (2004) and Cube (1997) franchises.

3 - The Upside (1/11)

Tag Line: Based on a true story.
Production Companies: Escape Artists, Lantern Entertainment, The Weinstein Company
Director: Neil Burger
Writers: Jon Hartmere, Éric Toledano, Olivier Nakache
Actors: Kevin Hart, Bryan Cranston, Nicole Kidman, Julianna Margulies, Aja Naomi King, Golshifteh Farahani, Tate Donovan, Jahi Di'Allo Winston
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Rated: PG-13
Length: 125 Minutes

IMDb Blurb: A comedic look at the relationship between a wealthy man with quadriplegia and an unemployed man with a criminal record who's hired to help him.

I can’t wait to see this movie. I actually had to debate a bit as to whether I wanted to place it as #2 or #3 on my list. Honestly, the two movies in those respective places on this list are tied, as far as I’m concerned.

I think the casting pairing of Kevin Hart (Central Intelligence, The Secret Life of Pets, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle) with Bryan Cranston (Why Him?, Last Flag Flying, Isle of Dogs) was a stroke of brilliance. The trailers have left me in stitches every time. 

This is also touching, considering that the film is based on a true story. It only goes to show that everyone needs someone in their lives that are unfiltered and tell things how they are. Sometimes it can be infuriating, and sometimes hilarity ensues. No matter what, though, you always know where you stand. That’s the feeling I get from Hart’s character.  I think it’s going to be quite a ride to explore the dynamics of this unlikely pairing.

2 - Replicas – 1/11

Tag Line: Some humans are unstoppable.
Production Companies: Company Films, Di Bonaventura Pictures, Fundamental Films, Lotus Entertainment
Director: Jeffrey Nachmanoff
Writers: Chad St. John, Stephen Hamel
Actors: Keanu Reeves, Alice Eve, Thomas Middleditch, John Ortiz
Genre: Crime, Mystery, Sci-Fi
Rated: PG-13
Length: 107 Minutes

IMDb Blurb: A scientist becomes obsessed with bringing back his family members who died in a traffic accident.

I don't know about you, but I am rather giddy about the resurgence in Keanu Reeves' (John Wick, To the Bone, Destination Wedding) big screen presence in recent years. I’ve enjoyed that he’s popped up in unlikely places just as often as he’s headlined a project.

Here, he’s returning to his sci-fi roots with this movie. Some of the films he’s best known for are within this genre. I honestly can’t wait to see what he brings to the table with this one.

At the center of this tale is the timeless question – if you had the ability to seemingly bring back loved ones from the dead – would you? Of course, the underlying question from an ethical standpoint is ‘should you?’ I’m curious how this film spins the topic of cloning and the like. 

1 - Glass (1/18)

Tag Line: You Cannot Contain What You Are.
Production Companies: Universal Pictures, Blumhouse Productions, Blinding Edge Pictures
Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Writer: M. Night Shyamalan
Actors: James McAvoy, Bruce Willis, Anya Taylor-Joy, Sarah Paulson, Samuel L. Jackson, Spencer Treat Clark, Charlayne Woodard
Genre: Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi, Thriller
Rated: PG-13
Length: 129 Minutes

Moviefone Blurb: David Dunn pursues the superhuman figure of the Beast, while the shadowy Elijah Price holds secrets critical to both men.

I am fairly giddy about this movie finally coming to pass. It boggles my mind that the story began almost 20 years ago with Unbreakable (2000). I absolutely adore that movie and its grounded approach to the superhero mythos. It was begging for a sequel – and now there’s a full trilogy with the advent of Glass.

Say what you will about M. Night Shyamalan (Signs, Lady in the Water, The Visit) and whether or not other projects have been successful. Regardless of his misses, when he gets it right – it’s magic. The twists are amazing, and sometimes the stories he tells can give you chills. The combination of Bruce Willis (RED, The Prince, Death Wish), Samuel L. Jackson (The Legend of Tarzan, The Hitman's Bodyguard, Incredibles 2),  and James McAvoy (Atomic Blonde, Submergence, Watership Down) is something like kismet here. I also can’t wait to see what Sarah Paulson (Rebel in the Rye, American Horror Story, Bird Box) brings to the story. 

If you haven’t already seen the prior two movies in this trilogy, it’s not too late! Go find Unbreakable and Split (2016) – I’m sure they’re available on a streaming service or few – and catch up before heading to the theater for this third installment. I plan to watch them ahead of the new movie, myself, just to get psyched up for this piece of cinematic history. (Disney and Universal working together on a single production – pinch me now.)

Movies to Look out For
According to: Selina

Dragon Ball Super: Broly - 20
All These Small Moments - 19
SGT. Will Gardner - 18
Iron Sky: The Coming Race - 17
Girl - 16
The Final Wish - 15
Canal Street - 14
A Dog's Way Home - 13
The Demonologist - 12
The Vanishing - 11
An Acceptable Loss - 10
Rust Creek - 9
Escaping the Madhouse: The Nellie Bly Story - 8
American Hangman - 7
The Invisibles - 6
Replicas - 5
Escape Room - 4
Serenity - 3
The Upside - 2
Glass - 1