Friday, November 29, 2019

Top 20 Movies to Look Out For In December (2019)

According to: Selina

20 – Cats (12/20)

Production/Distribution: Working Title Films, Amblin Entertainment, Perfect World Pictures, Monumental Pictures, The Really Useful Group, Universal Pictures, Toho-Towa, United International Pictures (UIP), Universal Pictures International (UPI)
Director: Tom Hooper
Writer: T.S. Eliot, Lee Hall, Tom Hooper, Andrew Lloyd Webber
Actors: Idris Elba, Ian McKellen, Rebel Wilson, Judi Dench, Taylor Swift, James Corden, Ray Winstone, Francesca Hayward, Jennifer Hudson, Laurent Bourgeois, Mette Towley, Laurie Davidson, Larry Bourgeois, Jason Derulo, Naoimh Morgan, Robbie Fairchild
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Family
Rated: PG
Length: Unknown

IMDb Blurb: A tribe of cats called the Jellicles must decide yearly which one will ascend to the Heaviside Layer and come back to a new Jellicle life.

A lot of people probably expected this movie to be significantly higher on my list. Especially knowing me.

Here’s the sad to truth: I’ve never been interested in Cats (1982-2000). I’m a fan of Broadway. I have the soundtrack to Hamilton (2015 -) basically playing on repeat half the time. I fell in love with classics like A Chorus Line (1975-1990), Chicago (1996), Rent (1996-2008), Hairspray (2002-2009), Funny Girl (1964-1967), and the list goes on.

Broadway, in general, has always produced stories and music that I find easy to love. Cats, however… just never stood out to me.

For most people, this film would definitely be higher up on the list. For me, the only reason it even made my list is because I can understand and appreciate the cultural significance of the story, without personally being invested.

I don’t think the CGI seen in the trailer really stands up to the practical make-up and costumes of the play, either. It doesn’t leave me with the best impression of how the rest of the adaptation is going to go.

19 – Black Christmas (12/13)

Production/Distribution: Universal Pictures, Blumhouse Productions, Divide/Conquer, United International Pictures (UIP), Universal Pictures International (UPI)
Director: Sophia Takal
Writer: Sophia Takal, April Wolfe
Actors: Imogen Poots, Cary Elwes, Lily Donoghue, Brittany O’Grady, Aleyse Shannon, Madeleine Adams, Lucy Currey, Ben Black, Simon Mead, Caleb Eberhardt
Genre: Horror, Mystery, Thriller
Rated: PG-13
Length: 98 minutes

IMDb Blurb: A group of female students are stalked by a stranger during their Christmas break. That is until the young sorority pledges discover that the killer is part of an underground college conspiracy.

This B-movie horror flick immediately caught my attention. I love this stuff. Especially with recognizably nostalgic actors like Carey Elwes (The Queen of Spain, The Princess Bride, Saw).

I have noticed a few concerning issues with it that are preventing me from putting it higher. Like the PG-13 rating. All other Black Christmas movies before this one have been rated R. There’s also a lot of spoilers in the trailer. That said, it’s still right up my alley and I’m still going to watch the hell out of it.

18 – I See You (12/6)

Production/Distribution: Head Gear Films, Kreo Films FZ, Local Hero, Metrol Technology, Zodiac Features, GEM Entertainment, Saban Films, Bankside Films, Front Row Filmed Entertainment
Director: Adam Randall
Writer: Devon Graye
Actors: Helen Hunt, Jon Tenney, Judah Lewis, Owen Teague, Libe Barer, Gregory Alan Williams, Allison Gabriel King, Erika Alexander, Jennifer Grace, Riley Caya, Sam Trammell, Nicole Forester, John Newberg, Teri Clark, Jeremy Gladen, Wyatt McClure, Brooks Roseberry
Genre: Crime, Drama, Horror
Rated: R
Length: 96 minutes

IMDb Blurb: Strange occurrences plague a small-town detective and his family as he investigates the disappearance of a young boy.

This is my dark horse pick for the month.

The trailer looks a little basic for a crime thriller, but there seems to be some deeper psychological moments mixed in with the more basic jump scares. Still, if you just take it on that face value, it looks like most other crime thrillers.

It may very well be, but I’m putting my faith in it because of some minor details.

First of all, there looks to be some kind of supernatural aspect to it. That means that even though it looks basic, that small thread of the beyond can lead to some interesting twists. Second of all, Helen Hunt (Mad About You, Decoding Annie Parker, Then She Found Me) is a decent actress and might be able to pull something basic to a higher standard. Finally, the writer is fresh blood. You have to expect some rookie mistakes, but you can also expect a fresh voice. That means there’s almost an unlimited potential for the story.

I think it’s worth a roll of the dice.

17 – The Wolf Hour (12/6)

Production/Distribution: Automatik, Bradley Pilz Productions, HanWay Films, GEM Entertainment, Brainstorm Media, Universal Pictures International (UPI)
Director: Alistair Banks Griffin
Writer: Alistair Banks Griffin
Actors: Naomi Watts, Jennifer Ehle, Brennan Brown, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Emory Cohen, Jeremy Bobb, Maritza Veer, Justin Clarke, Sean Pilz
Genre: Drama, Mystery, Thriller
Rated: R
Length: 99 minutes

IMDb Blurb: June was once a known counter-culture figure, but that was a decade ago. She now lives alone in her South Bronx apartment, having all but cut herself off from the outside world. It's the notorious "Summer of Sam" and June only has to look out of her window to see the violence escalating with the brutal summer heat. The city is on a knife's edge, a pressure-cooker about to explode into the incendiary 1977 New York blackout riots.

I think the story shown in the trailer for The Wolf Hour is fascinating. A shut-in woman experiencing the Summer of Sam through her apartment window. It’s a take I don’t believe I’ve ever seen.

Based on that, alone, I’d want to see it – but the trailer is also very well made. It makes me uncomfortable in the way that I expect a thriller to. That means I’m going to go into watching the film already predisposed to feel what the director wants me to feel.

On top of that, the director/writer – Alistair Banks Griffin (Two Gates of Sleep, Gauge, Dear Julia) – is still relatively new to full-length feature films. He only has one other full-length credit to his name – and you know how much I like a fresh voice.

16 – 6 Underground (12/13)

Production/Distribution: Bay Films, Skydance Media, Netflix
Director: Michael Bay
Writer: Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick
Actors: Ryan Reynolds, Adria Arjona, Mélanie Laurent, Ben Hardy, Dave Franco, Hélène Cardona, Sebastian Roché, Corey Hawkins, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, James Murray, Kim Kold, Elena Rusconi, Ikumi Yoshimatsu, Remi Adeleke, Daniel Adegboyega, Tom Wells, Constantine Gregory, Kate Beecroft
Genre: Action, Thriller
Rated: R
Length: Unknown

IMDb Blurb: Meet a new kind of action hero. Six untraceable agents, totally off the grid. They've buried their pasts so they can change the future.

I love Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool, Detective Pikachu, Self/Less), so this movie was destined for my list.

Yes, I know. It’s also Michael Bay (Transformers: Age of Extinction, Pearl Harbor, 13 Hours). But, hear me out.

He’s not only the guy who killed the Transformers. He’s also a guy you can count on for a good, brainless, explosion-packed action movie (as long as it’s not based on anything). That’s what this film looks like. It looks like an action film you can shut your brain off for and just revel in the hero-takes-on-evil setting.

If you don’t expect anything too deep and you’ve just had a hard day at work, so you’re not looking to think too hard, this is probably the kind of film that’s going to appeal to you. There’s nothing wrong with that. Epic can be epic without making you think.

15 – The Aeronauts (12/6 - Limited)

Production/Distribution: Amazon Studios, Mandeville Films, One Shoe Films, Popcorn Storm, Entertainment One, Shaw Organisation, The Searchers, Ascot Elite Entertainment Group
Director: Tom Harper
Writer: Tom Harper, Jack Thorne
Actors: Felicity Jones, Eddie Redmayne, Himesh Patel, Phoebe Fox, Tim McInnerny, Rebecca Front, Tom Courtenay, Anne Reid, Lewin Lloyd, Vincent Perez, Robert Glenister, Julian Ferro, Thomas Arnold, Andy Mihalache, Bella
Genre: Action, Adventure, Biography
Rated: PG-13
Length: 100 minutes

IMDb Blurb: Pilot Amelia Wren (Felicity Jones) and scientist James Glaisher (Eddie Redmayne) find themselves in an epic fight for survival while attempting to make discoveries in a gas balloon.

The Aeronauts does seem to have an exciting, claustrophobic story to it. There seems to be an air of thrill, with empowering moments woven throughout. It’s good, old-fashioned, Oscar-bait.

But that’s really all it is. As interested as I am in it, it doesn’t feel like more than a basic biography. It has those same flavors that all the biography tales have. Which is why it’s this low on my list. Although it looks decent, I can’t give it too much credit because it doesn’t really seem all that original.

14 – Trauma Center (12/6)

Production/Distribution: BondIt Media Capital, Buffalo 8 Productions, Emmett/Furla/Oasis Films (EFO Films), Pimienta, Youplanet Pictures, Andamiro, Daro Film Distribution, Feelgood, Five Stars, Highland Film Group, JL Vision Film, Lionsgate Home Entertainment, MoviePass Films, Nikkatsu Home Video, Prima, Tanweer Group
Director: Matt Eskandari
Writer: Paul Da Silva
Actors: Bruce Willis, Nicky Whelan, Steve Guttenberg, Roman Mitichyan, Tyler Jon Olson, Texas Battle, Heather Johansen, Tito Ortiz, David B. Meadows, Sergio Rizzuto, Lynn Gilmartin, Catherine Davis, Jaime Irizarry, Carroll ‘Pinky’ Duwart III, Lydia Styslinger, Leslee Emmett
Genre: Action, Thriller
Rated: R
Length: Unknown

IMDb Blurb: Alone and trapped in a locked-down hospital isolation ward overnight, an injured young woman must escape a pair of vicious killers who are after the only piece of evidence that can implicate them in a grisly murder - the bullet in her leg. Luckily, a veteran cop is assigned to protect her, and he becomes her protector as the night grows more dangerous.

This is a straight-forward action film with a sprinkle of 80s structure to it. At least, that’s what I get from the trailer. It’s possible that my opinion is being colored by the inclusion of the police officer played by Bruce Willis (Motherless Brooklyn, Glass, Death Wish), but I don’t think so.

You have one building, two bad guys, and a female witness in need of protection. All of that just screams 80s to me. I love me a good 80s action flick. How could you not? They’re bloody and full of tension.

I think this one is going to be pretty bad ass.

13 – 1917 (12/25)

Production/Distribution: Amblin Partners, DreamWorks, Neal Street Productions, New Republic Pictures, Universal Pictures, 01 Distribution, Monolith Films, United International Pictures (UIP), Universal Pictures International (UPI), WW Entertainment
Director: Sam Mendes
Writer: Sam Mendes, Krysty Wilson-Cairns
Actors: Andrew Scott, Benedict Cumberbatch, Richard Madden, Mark Strong, Dean-Charles Chapman, Colin Firth, George MacKay, Teresa Mahoney, John Hollingworth, Christ Walley, Daniel Mays, Adrian Scarborough, Nabhaan Rizwan, Gerran Howell, Richard McCabe, Robert Maaser, Justin Edwards, Adam Hugill, Michael Jibson, Jamie Parker, Anson Boon, Michael Rouse, Kaine Applegate, Mark Schneider, Jacob James Beswick
Genre: Drama, War
Rated: R
Length: 110 minutes

IMDb Blurb: Two young British privates during the First World War are given an impossible mission: deliver a message deep in enemy territory that will stop 1,600 men, and one of the soldier's brothers, from walking straight into a deadly trap.

My favorite war films are the ones that don’t focus – or fully focus – on glory or bravery, but on the horrors of war itself. From what I can see in the trailer, 1917 meets those requirements. The British army taking advantage of a man’s connection to his brother is pretty damn manipulative.

Because 1917 goes into the human connection of two related soldiers, it has the possibility of getting really dark.

The people involved are talented and the director, Sam Mendes (Jarhead, Revolutionary Road, Skyfall), is known for his action and war movies. That means we can expect to see something polished and easy to get sucked into.

12 – Daniel Isn’t Real (12/6)

Production/Distribution: SpectreVision, Ace Pictures (II), ACE Pictures Entertainment, Marc Graue Recording Studios: Voiceover and Post, Samuel Goldwyn Films, Front Row Filmed Entertainment, Shudder
Director: Adam Egypt Mortimer
Writer: Brian DeLeeuw, Adam Egypt Mortimer
Actors: Patrick Schwarzenegger, Miles Robbins, Sasha Lane, Mary Stuart Masterson, Hannah Marks, Andrew Bridges, Katie Chang, Michael Cuomo, Griffin Robert Faulkner, Chukwudi Iwuji, Rosanne Ma, Daniel Marconi, Nathan Chandler Reid, Cara Ronzetti, Chase Sui Wonders
Genre: Thriller
Rated: NR
Length: 96 minutes

IMDb Blurb: A troubled college freshman, Luke, suffers a violent family trauma and resurrects his childhood imaginary friend Daniel to help him cope.

There are a lot of reasons why I want to see this film.

First of all, psychological thrillers are some of my favorites. I love a movie that can twist my mind until I don’t know which way is up. Clearly, Daniel Isn’t Real is aiming for that kind of thing.

Secondly, the author of the book, Brian DeLeeuw (Curvature, Paradise Hills, Some Kind of Hate) has such a large part of writing the actual script of the film that he’s not only credited with the novel. I love seeing that, and fans of the original creation should, too. Chances are, we’re going to get a final product that’s much closer to the feel of the book than we would have otherwise.

Finally, I’m not familiar with Patrick Schwarzenegger’s (The Long Road Home, Midnight Sun, Dear Eleanor) acting just yet and I’m dying to see how he is. He’s carrying a hell of a name with him and I want to see if he’s able to live up to it. There’s got to be a ton of pressure associated with carrying the name of a legend.

11 – The Mandela Effect (12/6)

Production/Distribution: Periscope Entertainment, Gravitas Ventures
Director: David Guy Levy
Writer: David Guy Levy, Steffen Schlachtenhaufen
Actors: Charlie Hofheimer, Aleksa Palladino, Robin Lord Taylor, Clarke Peters, Madeleine McGraw, Tim Ransom, Ptolemy Slocum, Vernee Watson, Elena Campbell-Martinez, Steven Daniel Brun, Salme Geransar, Jonah Fuller
Genre: Drama, Sci-Fi, Thriller
Rated: NR
Length: 80 minutes

IMDb Blurb: A man becomes obsessed with facts and events that have been collectively misremembered by thousands of people. Believing the phenomena to be the symptom of something larger, his obsession eventually leads him to question reality itself.

The actual Mandela Effect makes my brain hurt. For those who don’t know, the Mandela Effect is when a large group of people believe an event happened, or something exists, that isn’t true. Now, I’m not talking about the anti-vax bullshit. This is more complex than stupidity. The most used example of it is how many people remember the “Berenstein Bears” as that cute child book series, when it’s actually the “Berenstain Bears.”

There are a lot of theories about why this happens and the one I find most disturbing is the one that suggests two (or more) dimensions crashed into each other and the people who remember the facts come from this dimension while people remembering the wrong information are from the other one. This film seems to operate off of that creepy theory.

Clearly, it’s going to dial the theory up to a million in order to make it work as a thriller.

I think there’s a lot of potential with this plot. It’s got not only the potential to be creepy and interesting – but might make movie-goers think too. I don’t know much about the creators, but I hear very good things about one of the writers, Steffen Schlachtenhaufen (Danger One, Blood Relatives, Loose Cannons: The Movie).

It’s worth looking into.

10 – Little Women (12/25)

Production/Distribution: Columbia Pictures, New Regency Pictures, Pascal Pictures, Regency Enterprises, Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE), Sony Pictures Releasing, United International Pictures (UIP), Universal Pictures International (UPI)
Director: Greta Gerwig
Writer: Greta Gerwig, Louisa May Alcott
Actors: Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Timothée Chalamet, Florence Pugh, Eliza Scanlen, Laura Dern, Tracy Letts, Bob Odenkirk, James Norton, Louis Garrel, Chris Cooper, Jayne Houdyshell, Meryl Streep, Maryann Plunkett, Hadley Robinson, Charlotte Kinder, Ana Kayne, Dash Barber, Sasha Frolova, Bill Mootos, Jen Nikolaisen, Abby Quinn, Lilly Englert, J.M. Davis, Tom Kemp, Adrianne Krstansky
Genre: Drama, Romance
Rated: PG
Length: 134 minutes

IMDb Blurb: Four sisters come of age in America in the aftermath of the Civil War.

Now, granted, Little Women has been done and over done and done again. It’s a classic novel, so you have to expect that Hollywood is going to wring it out for every bit of marketability it has until it’s been drained dry. Then it’ll try to get more out of it. That’s just how the system works.

On one hand, it’s infuriating. On the other, I have to acknowledge that by telling the same story with updated methods, newer actors, and varying voices one opens up the story to younger generations. It goes back to that truth that some people just don’t enjoy reading. As much as some intellectuals like to look down their noses at those people, they’re wrong. People will enjoy what they enjoy. There’s no good reason to hate on that.

I love reading, but I find a lot of old classics written in dated terminology to be chores. I HATE people like Ernest Hemingway (The Old Man in the Sea, The Sun Also Rises, A Farewell to Arms) and I’ve never tried Louisa May Alcott (The Inheritance, The March Sisters at Christmas, Rosella). School ripped a lot of the interest I had in the classics away from me. So, I resort to movies for those stories.

In this case, they’ve taken some very likeable actors, like Emma Watson (The Perks of Being a Wallflower, This is the End, Beauty and the Beast) and Saoirse Ronan (Brooklyn, How I Live Now, The Lovely Bones), and put them into this classic which opens it up to fans of YA stories like Harry Potter (2001-2011) and The Host (2013). Add to that a writer/director like Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird, Northern Comfort, Frances Ha), someone who’s created some undeniably great works and you’re almost guaranteed to get a younger generation interested in a classic story that academia may have otherwise ruined for them.

9 – Clemency (12/27)

Production/Distribution: ACE Pictures Entertainment, Bronwyn Cornelius Productions, Big Indie Pictures, Neon
Director: Chinonye Chukwu
Writer: Chinonye Chukwu
Actors: Alfre Woodard, Wendell Pierce, Aldis Hodge, LaMonica Garrett, Richard Schiff, Vernee Watson, Michael O’Neill, Danielle Brooks, Debbie Pollack, Dennis Haskins, Noshir Dalal, Michelle C. Bonilla, Richard Gunn, Alma Martinez, Alex Castillo, Jed Bernard, Anahi Bustillos, John Churchill, Bex Marsh, Paul Mabon, William B. Simmons II, Harvey B. Jackson, Dan Lawler, Camryn Howard, Carlis Shane Clark
Genre: Drama
Rated: R
Length: 113 minutes

IMDb Blurb: Years of carrying out death row executions have taken a toll on prison warden Bernadine Williams. As she prepares to execute another inmate, Bernadine must confront the psychological and emotional demons her job creates, ultimately connecting her to the man she is sanctioned to kill.

I have to admit, I’ve never thought about the person tasked with actually carrying out executions. I’ve questioned whether executions are cruel and unusual or not, but I’ve never thought about the person who actually carries out the sentence.

This movie forces you to think about that person. I think movies that force you to think about others in ways you’ve never considered are important. Always have, always will.

Add to that the cast. Two of my favorite underrated actors are involved in this: Alfre Woodard (Luke Cage, 12 Years a Slave, See) and Aldis Hodge (Leverage, Hidden Figures, Friday Night Lights). I’m sure I’ve sung their praises before on this blog, but I can’t do it enough. With only three award wins between them, I think they are VASTLY under-used and under-appreciated. Seeing as this is the kind of film that might attract awards, I’m holding out hope that their collections will grow.

8 – Spies in Disguise (10/18)

Production/Distribution: 20th Century Fox Film Corporation, Twentieth Century Fox, Blue Sky Studios, Chernin Entertainment, Twentieth Century Fox Animation, 20th Century Fox Argentina, 20th Century Fox Brazil, 20th Century Fox España, 20th Century Fox, Forum Hungary, Walt Disney Studios Japan, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Director: Nick Bruno, Troy Quane
Writer: Brad Copeland , Lloyd Taylor
Actors: Karen Gillan, Will Smith, Ben Mendelsohn, Tom Holland, Rashida Jones, Rachel Brosnahan, Reba McEntire, Masi Oka, Carla Jimenez, DJ Khaled, Rashawn Nadine Scott, Peter S. Kim
Genre: Animation, Action, Adventure
Rated: PG
Length: 102 minutes

IMDb Blurb: When the world's best spy is turned into a pigeon, he must rely on his nerdy tech officer to save the world.

Dumb title aside, this movie looks great. It seems like the kind of movie you can bring your kids to, but not hate your life during.

It does have some newbie directors, but the actors involved are no joke, they don’t really need much in the way of direction. People like Karen Gillan (Avengers: Endgame, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, Doctor Who), Will Smith (Concussion, Hancock, Men in Black), Tom Holland (Spider-Man: Far from Home, Edge of Winter, How I Live Now), Rashida Jones (Tag, Parks and Recreation, Cuban Fury), and Reba McEntire (Reba, Tremors, North) can be directed by anyone. Pretty sure the cup of pens on my desk could direct them, so I expect they’ll be making their fresh directors look good.

They’re also working off of, what I imagine will be, some decent writing. Although Lloyd Taylor (The Wild) is new to writing for Hollywood, Brad Copeland (The Inbetweeners, Arrested Development, Grounded for Life) is not, and he’s a funny guy.

It’s worth looking into this one, and not fighting if your kids want you to go see it.

7 – Seberg (12/13)

Production/Distribution: Phreaker Films, Bradley Pilz Productions, Automatik, Ingenious Media, Nelly Films, Amazon Studios
Director: Benedict Andrews
Writer: Joe Shrapnel, Anna Waterhouse
Actors: Kristen Stewart, Margaret Qualley, Zazie Beetz, Stephen Root, Vince Vaughn, Anthony Mackie, Jack O’Connell, Jade Pettyjohn, Colm Meaney, Ser’Darius Blain, James Jordan, Robin Thomas, Yvan Attal, Victoria Barabas, Cornelius Smith Jr. Fatimah Hassan, Grantham Coleman, Laura Campbell, Kerry Westcott, Chantelle Albers, Tobias Truvillion, Anne-Marie Olsen, Celeste Pechous, Diane Chernansky, Gabriel Sky, Kurt Collins, Misha Gonz-Cirkl, Michael Burnett, Aman Royal
Genre: Biography, Drama, Thriller
Rated: R
Length: 96 minutes

IMDb Blurb: Inspired by real events in the life of French New Wave icon Jean Seberg, who in the late 1960s was targeted by Hoover's FBI, because of her political and romantic involvement with civil rights activist Hakim Jamal.

This trailer looks absolutely chilling. The idea of a government coming after an individual for any reason other than a crime is nerve-wracking as fiction, but this movie is based on a true story and that makes it even more frightening.

Even if a less talented cast were involved, I’d be interested in seeing Seberg so the people who are involved are just the icing on the cake. People like Zazie Beetz (Joker, Deadpool 2, Wolves), Vince Vaughn (Fighting with my Family, Hacksaw Ridge, True Detective), and Anthony Mackie (Point Blank, Avengers: Endgame, The Hate U Give) are names that will absolutely draw an audience to a film.

Honestly, I think Kristen Stewart (Personal Shopper, Certain Women, Clouds of Sils Maria) is finally clawing herself away from her Twilight (2008-2012) years. Her co-star did it quicker, but Stewart has the talent to do it as well. We’re finally getting to see some of the range that was once hidden, and I’m looking forward to seeing more.

6 – Little Joe (12/6)

Production/Distribution: Coop99 Filmproduktion, The Bureau, Essential Filmproduktion GmbH, Arte Deutschland TV, Bayerischer Rundfunk (BR), British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), British Film Institute (BFI), Coproduction Office, Eurimages, Film Industry Support Austria, Filmfonds Wien, Filmstandort Austria (FISA), Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg, ORF, Société Parisienne de Production, Österreichischer Rundfunk, Österreichisches Filminstitut, Bac Films, Cinemien, Lumière, Magnolia Films, X Verleih AG, Alambique Destilaria de Ideias
Director: Jessica Hausner
Writer: Géraldine Bajard, Jessica Hausner
Actors: Emily Beecham, Ben Whishaw, Kerry Fox, Kit Connor, Phénix Brossard, Leanne Best, Andrew Rajan, David Wilmot, Goran Kostic, Yana Yanezic, Sebastian Hülk, Jessie Mae Alonzo, Phoebe Austen, Jason Cloud, Lindsay Duncan, Craig McGrath
Genre: Drama, Sci-Fi
Rated: NR
Length: 105 minutes

IMDb Blurb: Alice, a single mother, is a dedicated senior plant breeder at a corporation engaged in developing new species. Against company policy, she takes one home as a gift for her teenage son, Joe.

There is something very Rubber (2010) meets Little Shop of Horrors (1986) about this film. It’s unique and weird and kind of terrifying.

The scary part isn’t just that some plants affect people weirdly, it’s the thread of possibility that really does it. Scientific achievements can always cause side effects over time that weren’t previously known to the scientists involved. The most obvious example I can come up with is Marie and Pierre Curie’s discovery of radium. They had no idea on first look just how that element would affect them.

When a story has that thread of possibility in it, it’s always more frightening to me than any ghost story could be.

Not to mention it’s visually gorgeous.

5 – Bombshell (10/18)

Production/Distribution: Annapurna Pictures, BRON Studios, Creative Wealth Media Finance, Denver and Delilah Productions, Lighthouse Management & Media, Lionsgate, Eagle Films, GEM Entertainment, Belga Films, BfParis, Golden Village Pictures, Independent Films, Metropolitan Filmexport
Director: Jay Roach
Writer: Charles Randolph
Actors: Margot Robbie, Brigette Lundy-Paine, Charlize Theron, Jennifer Morrison, Allison Janney, Nicole Kidman, Mark Duplass, Alice Eve, Tricia Helfer, D’Arcy Carden, John Lithgow, Liv Hewson, Kate McKinnon, Stephen Root, Alanna Ubach, Nazanin Boniadi, Ashley Greene, Madeline Zima, Richard Kind, Elisabeth Röhm, Connie Britton, Robin Weigert, Brooke Smith, Holland Taylor, Malcolm McDowell, Ben Lawson, Marc Evan Jackson, Anne Ramsay, Jenelle McKee, Rob Delaney, Ahna O’Reilly, Andy Buckley, Josh Lawson, Mark Moses, Spencer Garrett, P.J. Byrne, Bree Condon, Bonnie Dennison, John Rothman, Stephanie Styles, Luke Judy, Brianna Barnes
Genre: Biography, Drama
Rated: R
Length: 108 minutes

IMDb Blurb: A group of women decide to take on Fox News head Roger Ailes and the toxic atmosphere he presided over at the network.

Let’s just ignore the politics here for five minutes and acknowledge that this is a good story. It’s interesting. It has people taking on all-powerful bosses – the basic good vs. evil. The amusing part is that this is being directed by Jay Roach (Trumbo, Dinner for Schmucks, Meet the Parents), the guy who directed Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999). For some reason, that just amuses me.

The actors chosen to take on the lead roles couldn’t have been more perfect. Margot Robbie (Suicide Squad, Slaughterhouse Rulez, The Big Short), Nicole Kidman (Aquaman, Destroyer, Big Little Lies), and Charlize Theron (Tully, Girlboss, Atomic Blonde) look absolutely stunning. John Lithgow (The Tomorrow Man, Pet Sematary, Pitch Perfect 3) is almost unrecognizable – in the best way.

I think this a movie people on all sides of the political scale will be able to watch without exploding into tirades. Unless there’s more to it than the trailer shows in which case, be prepared.

4 – The Banker (12/6)

Production/Distribution: Romulus Entertainment, Iam21 Entertainment, Apple TV+
Director: George Nolfi
Writer: Brad Kane, Niceole R. Levy, George Nolfi, David Lewis Smith, Stan Younger
Actors: Samuel L. Jackson, Nicholas Hoult, Anthony Mackie, Nia Long, Jessie T. Usher, Colm Meaney, Taylor Black, Paul Ben-Victor, Gregory Alan Williams, Michael Harney, James DuMont, Rhoda Griffis, Xen Sams, Jason Davis, Crystal Coney, Chris Gann, Craig Welzbacher
Genre: Drama
Rated: PG-13
Length: 120 minutes

IMDb Blurb: Story of one of the first African-American bankers in the United States.

We could all use a little more Anthony Mackie in our lives and two movies featuring him during this month just makes me happy. Especially when it’s alongside the amazing Samuel L. Jackson (Glass, Avengers: Endgame, The Hitman’s Bodyguard). I’ll watch Sam L. in anything, anytime. He puts it out, I’m down to throw my money at it.

This story is based on something that actually happens, which makes what the trailer shows so much more baller. How could you not want to root for anyone trying to get around segregation in the 60s?

I’m looking forward to seeing how this story plays out. I’m actually gonna look into the Apple TV+ streaming service because of this.

3 – Jumanji: The Next Level (12/13)

Production/Distribution: Hartbeat Productions, Matt Tolmach Productions, Seven Bucks Productions, Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE), Columbia Pictures, Sony Pictures Releasing, United International Pictures (UIP), Universal Pictures International (UPI), Galaxy Distributors
Director: Jake Kasdan
Writer: Jake Kasdan, Jeff Pinkner, Scott Rosenberg, Chris Van Allsburg
Actors: Karen Gillan, Dwayne Johnson, Danny DeVito, Danny Glover, Madison Iseman, Jack Black, Awkwafina, Ashley Scott, Kevin Hart, Nick Jonas, Rhys Darby, Colin Hanks, Alex Wolff, Dania Ramirez, Morgan Turner, Rory McCann, Ser’Darius Blain, Sarah Bennani, Massi Furlan
Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy
Rated: PG-13
Length: 114 minutes

IMDb Blurb: In Jumanji: The Next Level, the gang is back but the game has changed. As they return to rescue one of their own, the players will have to brave parts unknown from arid deserts to snowy mountains, to escape the world's most dangerous game.

I absolutely adored all previous installments of Jumanji. The Robin Williams (The Angriest Man in Brooklyn, Happy Feet Two, Night at the Museum) version was the OG and it’s a classic. It holds up, even if the graphics are a little dated, it takes my imagination for a joy ride every time. The second one was just as good, but in a different way. It touched on video game stereotypes and was absolutely hilarious script-wise. I could watch them back-to-back and have a good day.

Needless to say, that means I’m here for The Next Level. With Danny Glover (Proud Mary, Sorry to Bother You, The Dead Don’t Die) and Danny DeVito (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Dumbo, Smallfoot) joining the already epic cast of the first one, including (but not limited to): Karen Gillan, Dwayne Johnson (Skyscraper, Rampage, Baywatch), Jack Black (Unexpected Race, The Polka King, Goosebumps), Kevin Hart (The Upside, Night School, Central Intelligence), and Nick Jonas (Kingdom, UglyDolls, Midway) – there’s even more star power for this film than there was before. Quality additions, too.

The trailer indicates that they’re going an interesting direction with this third installment, and I’m dying to see how they bring back all the previous characters.

Put simply, I cannot watch the trailer without smiling.

I’m very much looking forward to this one, and on another month, it would be even higher on my list.

2 – Code 8 (12/13)

Production/Distribution: Colony Pictures, Defiant Screen Entertainment, Elevation Pictures
Director: Jeff Chan
Writer: Jeff Chan, Chris Pare
Actors: Stephen Amell, Robbie Amell, Kari Matchett, Laysla De Oliveira, Greg Bryk, Sung Kang, Peter Outerbridge, Shaun Benson, Aaron Abrams, Alex Mallari Jr., JaNae Armogan, Glenda Braganza, Kyla Kane, Elena Khan, Simon Northwood, Casey Hudecki, Jai Jai Jones, Derek Barnes, Emma Ho, Jeff Sinasac, Chris Handfield, Nick Ford, Vlad Alexis
Genre: Sci-Fi
Rated: NR
Length: 98 minutes

IMDb Blurb: A desperate young man possessing special powers clashes with a militarized police force after committing a petty crime. Based on the short film.

Full transparency: I actually backed this project when it was making the crowdfunding rounds. And you know what? I regret nothing. I’m 100% here for Code 8. (Although I put $77 toward the project, it wasn’t enough for me to get any benefit from its success or harm from its failure, so it doesn’t affect my placement of the film on this list. I am certainly not sponsored.)

I find the plot, the setting, the cast… everything involving Code 8 to be spectacular. That’s why I donated to begin with. It seems like a fast-paced, well thought out, dystopian film and I love that kind of thing. Then you include Stephen Amell (Arrow, Private Practice, Hung) and Robbie Amell (When We First Met, The Flash, ARQ). They’re both phenomenal.

The only downside I see is that it’ll probably make me miss The Tomorrow People (2013-2014).

I’d donate to this project over and over if I had the power to go back in time. If I see that it’s in a movie theater near me when it’s released, I’m going to put my money where my mouth is again.

1 – Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (12/20)

Production/Distribution: Lucasfilm, Bad Robot, Walt Disney Pictures, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, B&H Film Distribution, Buena Vista International, Cinecolor Films, Cineforum, Falcon, Feelgood Entertainment, Forum Hungary, Walt Disney Studios Japan, Walt Disney Studios Sony Pictures Releasing (WDSSPR)
Director: J.J. Abrams
Writer: Chris Terrio, J.J. Abrams, Derek Connolly, Colin Trevorrow, George Lucas
Actors: Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, Billie Lourd, Lupita Nyong’o, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Keri Russell, Domhnall Gleeson, Ian McDiarmid, Oscar Isaac, Naomi Ackie, Kelly Marie Tran, Billy Dee Williams, Dominic Monaghan, Richard E. Grant, Anthony Daniels, John Boyega, Joonas Suotamo, Greg Grunberg, Jimmy Vee, Richard Bremmer, Dave Chapman, Simon Paisley Day, Brian Herring, Nasser Memarzia
Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy
Rated: PG-13
Length: 141 minutes

IMDb Blurb: The surviving Resistance faces the First Order once more in the final chapter of the Skywalker saga.

In all honesty, I’m more of a Trekkie than a Star Wars fan. I just always have been. I’m not as much of a rabid fan of the series as people might expect me to be.

The reason Star Wars made number one on my list is because I can appreciate the fandom and the cultural relevance of it. It does look like it will be a great installment for the majority of the fans.

I’m curious about the title, though. The production studio changed it from Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker to simply Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. I wonder why they opted to remove the episode number. Strange.

Movies to Look out For
According to: Cat

Uncut Gems .20
Trauma Center .19
The Mandela Effect .18
Black Christmas .17
Marriage Story .16
Daniel Isn’t Real .15
Bombshell .14
1917 .13
Belong to Us .12
Cats .11
Little Women .10
A Christmas Prince: The Royal Baby .9
Playmobil: The Movie .8
A Million Little Pieces .7
The Aeronauts .6
Spies in Disguise .5
6 Underground .4
Jumanji: The Next Level .3
Code 8 .2
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker .1


Wednesday, November 27, 2019

The King (2019)

Movie Name/Year: The King (2019)
Genre: Biography, Drama, History
Length: 140 minutes
Rating: R
Production/Distribution: Netflix, Plan B Entertainment, Porchlight Films, Blue-Tongue Films, Pioneer Stilking Films, Yoki
Director: David Michôd
Writers: David Michôd, Joel Edgerton
Actors: Timothée Chalamet, Joel Edgerton, Ben Mendelsohn, Sean Harris, Robert Pattinson, Lily-Rose Depp, Dean-Charles Chapman, Andrew Havill, Thomasin McKenzie, Steven Elder, Edward Ashley, Stephen Fewell, Tom Lawrence, Ivan Kaye, Philip Rosch, Lucas Hansen, Tara Fitzgerald

Blurb from IMDb: Hal, wayward prince and heir to the English throne, is crowned King Henry V after his tyrannical father dies. Now the young king must navigate palace politics, the war his father left behind, and the emotional strings of his past life.

Cat’s Point of View:
I feel I must admit upfront that Shakespeare’s play of Henry V is not one that I’m well versed in. I do, however, generally remember the bullet points about the period and events that lend The King its setting and story. This is my disclaimer that I didn’t factor a comparison to such in my opinion of this movie.

That being said, let’s forge ahead.

The King was solid and generally watchable. I did find it a little on the slow side, though. It’s possible that the pacing was set in that manner to give certain points more weight, but it resulted in a film stretching over two hours. I’m not opposed to long movies. Braveheart (1995) is one of my favorite movies of all time, after all, and it is nearly 3 hours long. There are key differences between the two that impacted how I resonated with the film. Braveheart’s memorable score and its pacing helped the time fly just as much as the engaging story. The King’s soundtrack wasn’t as memorable in the background of this slower-paced endeavor.

All-around, the cast’s performances were generally on-point. I have no complaints there. Scenes flowed smoothly, even if it did feel like molasses at times. I also have great respect for the battle scenes that were created for the film.

The King is a good movie for its genre. I will likely watch it at least once more. I just doubt that I would be interested in any more than that. Even so, I wouldn’t hesitate to give it a recommendation to anyone that wouldn’t be put off by the length. 

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 71%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 85%
Metascore – 61%
Metacritic User Score –  7.9/10
IMDB Score – 7.3/10
CinemaScore – None

Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 3/5
Movie Trailer:

Monday, November 25, 2019

Frozen II (2019)

Movie Name/Year: Frozen II (2019)
Genre: Animation, Adventure, Comedy
Length: 103 minutes
Rating: PG
Production/Distribution: Walt Disney Animation Studios, Walt Disney Pictures, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, B&H Film Distribution, Forum Hungary, NOS Audiovisuais, Press Play Pictures, Walt Disney Studios Japan, Walt Disney Studios Sony Pictures Releasing (WDSSPR)
Director: Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee
Writer: Jennifer Lee, Chris Buck, Marc Smith, Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Robert Lopez
Actors: Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Josh Gad, Jonathan Groff, Sterling K. Brown, Evan Rachel Wood, Alfred Molina, Martha Plimpton, Jason Ritter, Rachel Matthews, Jeremy Sisto, Ciarán Hinds, Alan Tudyk, Hadley Gannaway, Mattea Conforti, Aurora, Santino Fontana, Livvy Stubenrauch, Eva Bella, Maia Wilson, Stephen John Anderson, Paul Briggs, Delaney Rose Stein, Halima V. Hudson

Blurb from IMDb: Anna, Elsa, Kristoff, Olaf and Sven leave Arendelle to travel to an ancient, autumn-bound forest of an enchanted land. They set out to find the origin of Elsa's powers in order to save their kingdom.

Selina’s Point of View:
I was looking forward to Frozen II. How could I not be? The first Frozen (2013) changed the Disney game.

Here’s the thing, although I was looking forward to this sequel, I was concerned.

Frozen worked because it was different. It took all the expectations we have as Disney fans and turned them on their heads. Hans worked as the villain because he didn’t just fool Anna, he fooled us too. We expected true love’s kiss to be the answer just as much as the characters did. It was the fact that we discounted any love but romantic as the answer that made Frozen catch our attention as well as it did.

But we’ve been there now. We’ve seen it. We know the lore of the story and I believed there was no way for Disney to really catch us off-guard with the ‘family love is the answer’ theme again.

That means, if Frozen II wanted to succeed, it had to find another theme to grip us.

I was so incredibly happy with what I saw. I spent money on that theater ticket and I have no regrets at all.

There were references to the first one, themes for adults that can keep parents interested while their kids watch, and some seriously epic songs. Nothing that really gives “Let it Go” a run for its money, but still catchy and re-listenable.

Some of the themes that Frozen II does explore involve grief and self-reliance. I can’t go too far into either of them without tossing spoilers at you, but I can tell you that if you are grieving or have anxiety-related issues, this is the movie to go see.

There’s a saying that pops up a lot throughout the film: “Just take the next right step.” Out of context, it seems simple, but it’s a great piece of advice to live by.

I have some serious anxiety. It takes me a long time to make friends because I find it hard to really even speak to new people. Hell, there are some people I’ve known for years that I still can’t really open up to. At the end of last month, I moved to a completely different city, two-hours from where I’ve lived my whole life. I can visit my friends and family here and there, but I can’t really see them as often as I used to, and that means I need to make new friends.

The problem with that is that I’m a pure geek. I’m awkward. I’m anxious. I’m not one of those social butterflies that’s just going to pop into a room and be instantly liked. I’m mostly going to be invisible and when people finally see me, I’m not exactly everybody’s taste. Knowing that, makes it even harder for me to try and make friends.

After I saw Frozen II, I used the themes in it as a mantra to help me talk to some people at the local gaming store and made a connection. It’s not much, but it’s a start. And it happened because of the advice in this movie.

Frozen, as a series (including the shorts), is probably Disney’s best. There are people who think it’s over rated, but I’m not one of them. If anything, I don’t think it’s given all the credit it deserves. They are films where a big production company has opted to take huge risks in order to give fans an inspiring and emotionally realistic story instead of regurgitating the same themes we’ve come to expect. I find that worth paying attention to.

I highly recommend Frozen II – to both kids and adults.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 75%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 94%
Metascore – 65/100
Metacritic User Score – 7.1/10
IMDB Score – 7.3/10
CinemaScore – A-

Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating – 5/5

Movie Trailer: