Friday, October 30, 2020

Top 20 Movies to Look Out For In November (2020)

According to: Cat

We keep hearing that theaters are going to reopen and then finding out there’s been another postponement. (Wear your damn masks!) We’re going to be optimistic and keep to our original format for the Top 20. We’re considering all films coming out – whether digital, straight to DVD, or in theaters – as eligible for this list. However, we felt the need to still include a disclaimer. (Once theaters are fully opened, this disclaimer will no longer be used.)

There are certain states that meet all the requirements to reopen, and are doing well. In those states, we absolutely support people going to the movies, as long as they remain cautious, and the theaters are following all safety precautions.
However, a lot of states in the USA are opening before medical experts believe they should.
If you live in one of those states, especially those with rising COVID-19 cases, we urge you to stay home. There are a lot of great movies that continue to be released digitally, and we hope you stick with those. We understand that cabin fever is setting in with everyone right now, we’re not immune to it, but put your health and safety – and the health and safety of your family – first.
That said, all the release dates mentioned are tentative. Revisit this article throughout the month, we'll post small updates about postponed films as we are alerted to the delays.
Thank you for sticking with us through these strange times.

20 – A Place Among the Dead (11/9)

Production/Distribution: Miss Juliet Productions, Modern Films
Director: Juliet Landau
Writers: Juliet Landau, Deverill Weekes
Actors: Juliet Landau, Gary Oldman, Robert Patrick, Ron Perlman, Lance Henriksen, Anne Rice, Joss Whedon, Mariana Klaveno, Charlaine Harris, Meadow Williams, Tom Holland, David J, Kim Newman, Cole Haddon, Deverill Weekes, Janet Chamberlain, Amy Jennings, Denise Blasor, Louahn Lowe, Kay Oldman, Seven McDonald, David Carreno, Kevin Haney, Bryan Michael Hall
Genre: Crime, Horror, Thriller
Rated: Unrated
Length: Unknown
IMDb Blurb: An exploration of our cultural obsession with vampires and what they reveal about the human psyche.
Where do I even begin? The trailer for A Place Among the Dead mystified me a bit. I have to admit that under normal circumstances, I probably wouldn’t have placed this film on my Top 20 list. It felt a bit disjointed. Is the movie about psychological trauma and conditioning, or is it about hunting a serial killer that is pretending to be a vampire? Is it about hunting a real vampire? Is it a crime procedural or a mockumentary? I have too many questions.
Of course, it’s obviously here on the list, and the reasons why are simple.
I’m intrigued about the feature film directorial debut of writer/director Juliet Landau (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Bronx Bull, Bosch). She has quite the resume of acting credits and we could talk about her well-known last name – but it boils down to this: she has some experience in the genre and a potentially interesting point of view.
What grabbed my attention the most, however, was the cast. We’re talking the cream of the crop of actors, authors, and directorial talent within the horror genre – and specifically vampire horror. The moment Robert Patrick (Scorpion, The Laundromat, Honest Thief) appeared in the trailer, I instantly paid closer attention. Then none other than Gary Oldman (Paranoia, The Space Between Us, The Laundromat) appeared. Flash forward a bit and the title fades in with Landau, Oldman, and Patrick listed alongside Ron Perlman (Hellboy, Pacific Rim, Sons of Anarchy), Lance Henriksen (Aliens, Harbinger Down, The Blacklist), and Anne Rice (Interview with a Vampire, Lestat, Queen of the Damned).
Okay, so my curiosity is irrevocably piqued by this lineup. As an added bonus, IMDb also lists Charlaine Harris (True Blood, Aurora Teagarden Mysteries, Midnight Texas), Tom Holland (Child's Play, Thinner, Twisted Tales), and Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Avengers, Cabin in the Woods) attached to the cast.
I’m seriously geeking out and can’t wait for this movie to be released so that I can figure out what the hell is going on and how everyone fits into this film’s story.

19 – Christmas on the Square (11/22)

Production/Distribution: Magnolia Hill Productions, Sandollar Productions, Warner Bros. Television, Netflix
Director: Debbie Allen
Writer: Maria S. Schlatter
Actors: Dolly Parton, Christine Baranski, Treat Williams, Jenifer Lewis, Josh Segarra, Jeanine Mason, Mary Lane Haskell, Matthew Johnson, Selah Kimbro Jones, Douglas Sills, Vivian Nixon, Mary Donnelly Haskell, Donald Corren, Brandon Hudson, Brandon O'Neal, Mark Daniel Chmiel, Braxton Alexander, Yvonne Valadez, Jacob Moran, Stephen Caudill, Carol Swarbrick
Genre: Family, Musical
Rated: Unrated
Length: 98 minutes
IMDb Blurb: An embittered "Scrooge" of a woman plans to sell her small town, regardless of the consequences to the people who live there.
Whenever I watch something that Dolly Parton (Joyful Noise, Gnomeo & Juliet, A Country Christmas Story) is involved with, I generally get all sorts of warm fuzzies. She’s pretty much a national treasure and generally associated with so many wholesome projects. I love her musical talent, her wit, and poise, as well as her giving heart.
Her specials can occasionally feel a little too fairytale-happy for me – but I know that’s my own issues talking. It can be hard to watch a lot of saccharine goodness when you’re feeling miserable. That being said, it is important to push through the gloom sometimes – especially in a year where the world is on fire both literally and figuratively. I think that’s part of her message, considering how she came from nothing and fought her way to a point in her life she could begin to affect change and add more joy to the world.  I digress…
While Parton has taken on the great Dickins Christmas tale before, it looks like she’s putting a fresh spin on the tale of ‘Scrooge’ with Christine Baranski (A Bad Mom's Christmas, Mama Mia! Here We Go Again, The Good Fight). I love Baranski’s take on being an entitled mean lady. It’s a role she’s excellent in and it’s always fun to watch her find that reclusive inner heart-of-gold.
When you add Treat Williams (Deep Rising, Everwood, Chesapeake Shores) and lots of musical numbers to the mix, this movie is set to be perfect for the Holiday Season and family fun. 

18 – Blood Vessel (11/5)

Production/Distribution: Rock Island Films, Storm Vision Entertainment, SunJive Studios, Wicked of Oz Studios, Shaw Organisation, Entertainment Squad, The Horror Collective, Umbrella Entertainment
Director: Justin Dix
Writers: Justin Dix, Jordan Prosser
Actors: Nathan Phillips, Alyssa Sutherland, Robert Taylor, Christopher Kirby, Alex Cooke, Mark Diaco, John Lloyd Fillingham, Troy Larkin, Vivienne Perry, Ruby Isobel Hall, Steve Young, Jacinta Stapleton, Mackenzie Stephens, Dave Hughes, Richard Mueck, Roman Meyer
Genre: Horror
Rated: TV-MA
Length: 93 minutes
IMDb Blurb: Somewhere in the North Atlantic, late 1945. A life raft adrift at sea, and in it, the survivors of a torpedoed hospital ship: With no food, water, or shelter, all seems lost - until an abandoned German minesweeper drifts ominously towards them, giving them one last chance at survival.
While the cast for this movie is only vaguely familiar to me, it’s the story that draws me in. I love a good creature feature – and the bonus here is that these creatures have chowed down on a whole minesweeper ship full of Nazis. I’m curious to see how the rag-tag band of shipwreck survivors fare against what seems to be a vampiric menace. This is certainly a new take on a WWII horror movie.
While the month dedicated to chills and thrills may be over now, there are still many long nights ahead. The majority of the films in the coming months are likely to be dramas and holiday-oriented. Sometimes on a cold night, you just want to wrap yourself up in a cozy blanket (or with someone special) and scare yourself silly, rather than dealing with more heavy topics. 

17 – Ammonite (11/13)

Production/Distribution: See-Saw Films, British Film Institute, BBC Films, Cross City Films, Stage 6 Films, Lionsgate UK, Neon, Sony Pictures España, Sony Pictures Releasing, Ster-Kinekor Pictures, Transmission Films, United International Pictures, Universal Pictures International, Warner Bros., Ascot Elite Entertainment Group, Cross City Films
Director: Francis Lee
Writer: Francis Lee
Actors: Kate Winslet, Saoirse Ronan, Sarah White, Liam Thomas, Sam Parks, Gemma Jones, Fiona Shaw, Claire Rushbrook, Alec Secareanu, James McArdle
Genre: Biography, Drama, Romance
Rated: R
Length: 120 minutes
IMDb Blurb: 1840s England, acclaimed but overlooked fossil hunter Mary Anning and a young woman sent to convalesce by the sea develop an intense relationship, altering both of their lives forever.

This is another film that caught my attention because of the cast. The combination of Kate Winslet (The Dressmaker, Collateral Beauty, Blackbird) and Saoirse Ronan (Byzantium, Brooklyn, Lady Bird) automatically sold this movie for me.

I do enjoy a good dramatic period piece now and again, so the fact that this is a historical biopic, as well as an LGBTQIA+ romance, is really a bonus. While the main character, Mary Anning, was a real person; I couldn’t tell you how much of the story here follows truth or fiction.

That being said, the characters and location alone make for an interesting tale – whether it’s historically accurate or not. Winslet and Ronan are amazing, and I can’t wait to see them on screen together.

16 – Dreamland (11/17)

Production/Distribution: Automatik Entertainment, LuckyChap Entertainment, Romulus Entertainment, GEM Entertainment, Film & TV House, Paramount Pictures, Ascot Elite Entertainment Group, Eagle Films, Signature Entertainment
Director: Miles Joris-Peyrafitte
Writer: Nicolaas Zwart
Actors: Margot Robbie, Travis Fimmel, Garrett Hedlund, Finn Cole, Kerry Condon, Darby Camp, Lola Kirke, Jane Wilson, Hans Christopher, Tim D. Janis, Joe Berryman, Stephen Dinh, Paul Blott, Pab Schwendimann
Genre: Drama, Thriller
Rated: R
Length: 98 minutes
IMDb Blurb: A teenager's adventures as a bounty hunter takes an unexpected twist.
I am increasingly impressed with Margot Robbie’s (The Wolf of Wall Street, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, Bombshell) range as an actress. This particular role in Dreamland is a far cry from Harley Quinn. This thrilling drama seems to show her character running afoul of the patriarchy during the Depression-era. I’m curious as to what events transpired to send her character on the run and fighting for her life. There’s one thing I’m sure of, though – the on-screen chemistry between Robbie and Finn Cole (Slaughterhouse Rulez, Peaky Blinders, Animal Kingdom) is believable and fairly electric.
Travis Fimmel (Warcraft, Vikings, Raised by Wolves) and Garrett Hedlund (Tron: Legacy, Mudbound, Triple Frontier) are also listed in IMDb as among the cast members of this movie. I didn’t seem to catch them in the trailer, so I’m also wondering what their parts are within this story.
If nothing else, this film seems to give a peek into the life of a farmer in the Dust Bowl as the Great Depression roared through the country much like the giant dust storm visuals in the trailer. The cinematography here looks amazing and I can’t wait to watch those ominous clouds on a big screen.

15 – Triggered (11/6)

Production/Distribution: Polanomode Media, The First Order, Samuel Goldwyn Films, The First Order
Director: Alastair Orr
Writer: David D. Jones
Actors: Liesl Ahlers, Reine Swart, Sean Cameron Michael, Steven John Ward, Suraya Rose Santos, Craig Urbani, Kayla Privett, Michael Lawrence Potter, Russell Crous, Cameron Scott, Paige Bonnin
Genre: Thriller
Rated: Unrated
Length: 90 minutes
IMDb Blurb: Nine friends, all harboring a dark secret, go camping in the woods. After a wild night of partying, they wake up with SUICIDE BOMBS strapped to their chests, all with varying times on their countdown clocks. They decide to work out how to disarm the bombs or find help - until they discover they can 'take' one another's time by killing each other.
At first, it seemed like this would be your typical buddy-reunion goes awry trope, but as the trailer continued, it was clear that there would be a new twist. Toss that in the blender with teen camping misadventures and a psycho with some high-tech mayhem and it seems like the framework for an interesting horror or thriller flick.
Relationships are bound to devolve while the timers run down. I’m curious to see what the end-game of this particular scenario is. Is it possible for anyone to ‘win?’ Is everyone doomed to explode?
I don’t think this is really going to be a think-piece. I look forward to some thrills and getting a chance to just turn off my brain and watch how it all plays out.

14 – Chick Fight (11/13)

Production/Distribution: Yale Productions, Buffalo 8 Productions, Cranium Entertainment, Do More Productions, Idiot Savant Pictures, Jesse James Films, Media Finance Capital, SSS Entertainment, SSS Film Capital, Vested Interest, Quiver Distribution
Director: Paul Leyden
Writer: Joseph Downey
Actors: Bella Thorne, Malin Akerman, Alec Baldwin, Julie Michaels, Kevin Connolly, Kevin Nash, Fortune Feimster, Dominique Jackson, Alec Mapa, Mariana Paola Vicente, Alexia Barlier, Nicol Paone, Rey Hernandez, Dulcé Sloan, Ekaterina Baker, Vitoria Setta, John Wu, Yetta Gottesman, Kellen Boyle, Julia Sandstrom, Rohan Gurbaxan
Genre: Action, Comedy
Rated: R
Length: 97 minutes
IMDb Blurb: When Anna Wyncomb is introduced to an underground, all-female fight club in order to turn the mess of her life around, she discovers she is much more personally connected to the history of the club than she could ever imagine.
It feels like Bella Thorne (I Still See You, Midnight Sun, Infamous) is everywhere these days. That’s not a bad thing, though. For those of us waiting for word of when Paradise City (2020?) will finally be released, we can watch her kick ass in a more literal way here with Chick Fight. Of course, she’s apparently the antagonist in this movie – but she plays those so well.
I’m intrigued by the prospect of Alec Baldwin’s (Paris Can Wait, The Boss Baby, Motherless Brooklyn) character teaching protagonist Malin Akerman (CBGB, The Final Girls, Rampage) how to fight. Fans of MMA and comedy should have a match made in heaven here. The trailer promised some cheeky fun and plenty of action as well as physical comedy.

13 – Run (11/20)

Production/Distribution: Lionsgate, Hulu, GEM Entertainment, BF Distribution, BfParis, DeAPlaneta, Encore Films, Leonine Distribution, Lionsgate UK, Movie Cloud, Splendid Film, WW Entertainment, Ascot Elite Entertainment Group
Director: Aneesh Chaganty
Writers:  Aneesh Chaganty, Sev Ohanian
Actors: Sarah Paulson, Kiera Allen, Onalee Ames, Pat Healy, Sara Sohn
Genre: Horror, Mystery, Thriller
Rated: PG-13
Length: 90 minutes
IMDb Blurb: A homeschooled teenager begins to suspect her mother is keeping a dark secret from her.
The trailer for Run was seriously disturbing for me. I couldn’t tell if this is a story about Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy (now called Factitious Disorder Imposed on Another) or a kidnapping – or both.
Either way, Sarah Paulson (The Goldfinch, American Horror Story, Ratched) is absolutely amazing in these dark roles. I could feel the desperation of her character, and the sinister vibes sent chills down my spine.

I can’t wait to dive in and figure out what all the puzzle pieces of this mystery add up to. 
12 – Mortal (11/6)

Production/Distribution: 42, Automatik Entertainment, Eldorado Film, Nordisk Film Production AS, Stardust Effects, Nordisk Film, Ascot Elite Entertainment Group, GEM Entertainment, Culture Publishers, F & P Media, Saban Films, Signature Entertainment
Director: André Øvredal
Writer: André Øvredal, Norman Lesperance, Geoff Bussetil
Actors: Nat Wolff, Priyanka Bose, Iben Akerlie, Ania Nova, Sveinung Augestad, Per Frisch, Per Egil Aske
Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy
Rated: R
Length: 104 minutes
IMDb Blurb: Fantasy adventure origin story about a young man discovering he has God-like powers based on ancient Norwegian mythology.
IMDb’s blurb calls Mortal an ‘origin story.’ If that’s the case, I’m curious as to whether or not there might be future films dedicated to stories surrounding this character. Whether or not that’s the case, this movie looks really interesting and feels like something new.

I’m intrigued by the tease that this is related to Norse mythology. I’m wondering if there’s an actual tie to the Norse pantheon or if it’s being treated only as something similar – with all the Thor-like lightning, that assumption would be understandable.  
If you can get past the fact that part of the movie will be in the Norwegian language and subtitled, this looks like it could be really amazing. The special effects, alone, shown in the trailer teased a lot of bang for your bucks. 

11 – Jiu Jitsu (11/20)

Production/Distribution: Acme Rocket Fuel, Green Olive Films, Dutch FilmWorks, Highland Film Group, The Avenue Entertainment
Director: Dimitri Logothetis
Writers: Dimitri Logothetis, Jim McGrath
Actors: Nicolas Cage, Marie Avgeropoulos, Frank Grillo, Tony Jaa, JuJu Chan, Rick Yune, Alain Moussi, Marrese Crump, Tommy Walker, Ryan Tarran, John D. Hickman, Rigan Machado, Dan Rizzuto, Jack Kingsley
Genre: Action, Fantasy
Rated: R
Length: 102 minutes
Moviefone Blurb: An ancient order of expert Jiu-Jitsu fighters face fearsome alien invaders in a battle for Earth every six years.
When you mention the martial arts style jiu-jitsu, the name Nicolas Cage (The Humanity Bureau, Color Out of Space, Primal) is usually not the first that comes to mind. This movie may change that.
Now I’m not saying that Cage is some secret martial arts master by any means. I did find it interesting and noteworthy that he and his son have trained Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Wing Chun under the tutelage of a member of the UFC Hall of Fame. Does that mean he’s any good? Who knows?! He’s playing a supporting role in this movie, however, his name carries a lot of recognition and notoriety so it’s likely why his scenes were heavily featured in the trailer.
The real stars of this film are the various martial arts masters and professional stunt-people that comprise the jiu-jitsu fighters tasked with saving the world. This feels a bit like a modern-day Mortal Kombat (1995), but without the video-game story.
I love good martial arts action movies, and I’m thrilled that this one is laced with a little bit of science fiction. I can’t wait to see how this turns out.

10 – The Croods: A New Age (11/25)

Production/Distribution: DreamWorks Animation, B&H Film Distribution, Toho-Towa, United International Pictures, Universal Pictures Argentina, Universal Pictures International, Universal Pictures
Director: Joel Crawford
Writers: Kevin Hageman, Dan Hageman, Paul Fisher, Bob Logan
Actors: Ryan Reynolds, Nicolas Cage, Emma Stone, Kelly Marie Tran, Leslie Mann, Catherine Keener, Peter Dinklage, Cloris Leachman, Clark Duke, Chris Sanders, Randy Thom
Genre: Animation, Adventure, Comedy
Rated: PG
Length: Unknown
IMDb Blurb: The prehistoric family the Croods are challenged by a rival family the Bettermans, who claim to be better and more evolved.
Normally, a DreamWorks animated movie wouldn’t be this far down on my list. This one had a lot of competition, however, with titles that feel more fresh and exciting. That being said, this promises to remain true to form as a fun family movie worth watching.  The cave-family’s story just lost a bit of momentum with the length of time that has passed since the original film released in 2013.

The original cast has returned to reprise their roles, which is exciting. I’m curious how events will play out when the Crood family meets the slightly more evolved Bettermans. (The names have a serious ‘dad joke’ groan-factor to them.)

If you’re looking for something to watch with the family that doesn’t scream holidays, this might be a good pick for you. 

9Echo Boomers (11/13)

Production/Distribution:  Speakeasy, Organic Media Group, Wetzel Entertainment Group, Foton Pictures, Dark Dreams Entertainment, Saban Films, Universal Pictures International
Director: Seth Savoy
Writers: Kevin Bernhardt, Jason Miller, Seth Savoy
Actors: Michael Shannon, Lesley Ann Warren, Alex Pettyfer, Patrick Schwarzenegger, Oliver Cooper, Hayley Law, Leslie Stratton, Kate Linder, Mike Hatton, Gilles Geary, Ali Freeman, Karli Hall, Jeff Perkins, Ashley Marian Ramos, Jacob Alexander, Jonny Swenson, Stephen Lesser
Genre: Action, Crime, Drama
Rated: R
Length: 94 minutes
IMDb Blurb: Based on a true story, five college graduates decide the best way to get back at the unfair economy and live the life they've always wanted is to steal from Chicago's richest and give to themselves.

Echo Boomers promises to be not just another heist movie. There’s a twist here, and it makes me cringe just watching all the destruction. Since this film claims to be based on a true story, I’m curious how much of the tale follows real events and how much falls under creative license. Things that make you go hmmm… but I digress…
Either way, the trailer drew me in from the ominous moment Patrick Schwarzenegger’s (Scout Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse, Midnight Sun, Daniel Isn't Real) character got suckered into joining the mayhem by one of his friends. Of course, his name isn’t the only one that caught my attention. Michael Shannon (12 Strong, Fahrenheit 351, The Quarry) and Alex Pettyfer (I Am Number Four, Endless Love, The Last Witness) are also among the cast.
I hope that the meaning behind the movie’s name becomes clear in the film, because it doesn’t make a lot of sense to me now – but I definitely intend to watch this one as soon as I can. 
8Buddy Games (11/24)

Production/Distribution: WWE Studios, Saban Films
Director: Josh Duhamel
Writers: Josh Duhamel, Bob Schwartz, Jude Weng
Actors: Jensen Ackles, Olivia Munn, Dax Shepard, Neal McDonough, Josh Duhamel, James Roday Rodriguez, Kevin Dillon, Nick Swardson, Elysia Rotaru, Lucie Guest, Donna Benedicto, Dan Bakkedahl, Stephen Farrelly, Lauren McGibbon, Caitlin Howden, Cecilia Deacon, Melanie Chan, Linda Darlow, Emily Delahunty, Hannah Zirke,Keisha Haines, Mel Tuck, Irene Karas Loeper, Sienna Bohn, Chad Kartz, Janis Hanen
Genre: Comedy
Rated: R
Length: 90 minutes
IMDb Blurb: A group of friends reunite to play The Buddy Games, a wild assortment of absurd physical and mental challenges. In the process, they'll heal old wounds, right past wrongs and figure out the true meaning of friendship...or die trying.

I am super excited about this screenwriting and directorial debut of Josh Duhamel (Safe Haven, The Show, Transformers: The Last Knight). Buddy Games looks like a lot of raucous and crazy fun. This movie reminds me, in a way, of Tag (2018) but with a slightly more high-stakes version of ‘friendly competition.’

With the awesome cast and the fun premise, Buddy Games is sure to be entertaining and offering much laughter in a time we desperately need some.

7Let Him Go (11/6)

Production/Distribution: Mazur / Kaplan Company, Focus Features, United International Picture, Universal Pictures International, Universal Pictures
Director: Thomas Bezucha
Writers: Thomas Bezucha, Larry Watson
Actors: Diane Lane, Kevin Costner, Lesley Manville, Kayli Carter, Booboo Stewart, Jeffrey Donovan, Will Brittain, Ryan Bruce, Adam Stafford, Bradley Stryker, Tayden Marks, Caillou Pettis, Connor Mackay, Will Hochman, Bram Hornung, Otto Hornung
Genre: Crime, Drama, Thriller
Rated: R
Length: 114 minutes
IMDb Blurb: A retired sheriff and his wife, grieving over the death of their son, set out to find their only grandson.
Under normal circumstances (before Covid-19), I would have predicted that Let Him Go would be a blockbuster hit for sure. Every time I change the channel, it seems, I’m catching the trailer for this dramatic thriller.
The story looks poignant and powerful, and the production has a killer cast on board with the super couple of Diane Lane (Nights in Rodanthe, Inside Out, House of Cards) and Kevin Costner (Mr. Brooks, Hidden Figures, Yellowstone). If you’re feeling a little Deja Vu with this pairing, that’s because they played Clark Kent’s parents in Man of Steel (2013). In this movie, however, it seems that they will need to be their grandson’s heroes rather than a caped crusader.
Buckle up for this one, it looks like it’s going to be intense.

6 The Christmas Chronicles 2 (11/25)

Production/Distribution: 1492 Pictures, Wonder Worldwide, Netflix
Director: Chris Columbus
Writers: Matt Lieberman, Chris Columbus
Actors: Goldie Hawn, Kurt Russell, Judah Lewis, Julian Dennison, Kimberly Williams-Paisley, Darby Camp, Jahzir Bruno, Tyrese Gibson, Christy St. John, Tricia Munford
Genre: Adventure, Comedy, Family
Rated: PG
Length: 112 minutes
IMDb Blurb: Kate Pierce, now a cynical teen, is unexpectedly reunited with Santa Claus when a mysterious troublemaker threatens to cancel Christmas - forever.

It shouldn’t be a surprise that this sequel has made it to the list this month. I absolutely adored The Christmas Chronicles (2018) and am over the moon that I get to see Kurt Russell (The Art of the Steal, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Crypto) and Goldie Hawn (Death Becomes Her, The Banger Sisters, Snatched) reprise their roles as Santa and Mrs. Claus.

The story looks interesting, but honestly, I’d probably watch it even if it was only a tale about Santa reading the Naughty or Nice list in front of the fireplace. 
5 Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey (11/13)

Production/Distribution: Golden Girl, Brillstein Entertainment Partners, Get Lifted Film Company, Netflix
Director: David E. Talbert
Writer: David E. Talbert
Actors: Forest Whitaker, Keegan-Michael Key, Phylicia Rashad, Hugh Bonneville, Anika Noni Rose,  Ricky Martin, Sitara Attaie, Esther Chae, Madalen Mills, Justin Cornwell, Abraham Popoola, Diaana Babnicova, Lisa Davina Phillip, Gabriel Constantin, Duncan Airlie James, Kieron L. Dyer, John Alan Roberts, Metin Hassan, Miles Barrow, Sharon Rose
Genre: Family, Fantasy, Musical
Rated: PG
Length: 122 minutes
IMDb Blurb: An imaginary world comes to life in a holiday tale of an eccentric toymaker, his adventurous granddaughter, and a magical invention that has the power to change their lives forever.

Yes, there are quite a few Christmas movies on this list for November. I can’t help it. I promise I’m not someone that decorates before Thanksgiving. There are just a lot of movies that happen to be releasing this month that deserve the attention – and a lot of them are releasing closer to Thanksgiving.
Considering regular theater schedules used to start the holiday movies around this time of year, it’s not out of the ordinary. People start getting into the mood with family around during the turkey-day madness – and aside from Black Friday shenanigans, the day after Thanksgiving is usually a really big box office day.  
In this case, with Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey we don’t have to weigh whether or not theaters are open and the safety thereof into the equation – this movie’s releasing to Netflix.
There are so many reasons why this film looks absolutely fantastic. Aside from the amazing cast, I’m really jazzed that this is another musical releasing this month. Holidays and music go hand in hand so it fits perfectly. The story here feels fresh and interesting. I long to learn more about this adorable magical toy and the family who made it.
If you’re looking for something to watch with your whole ‘crew’ while you’re waiting on the turkey – or even after your post-meal nap, this would be a really good choice.

4 Iron Mask (11/17)

Production/Distribution: Buffalo 8 Productions, CTB Film Company, China Film Group Corporation, China International Picture, Fetisoff Illusion, GFA Entertainment, Gap Financing, Lime Studios, Russian Film Group Corporation, Sparkle Roll Media, Batrax Entertainment, Film & TV House, GEM Entertainment, Digi-Optic Films, Dutch FilmWorks, Nashe Kino, AB Vidéo, DeAPlaneta, Defiant Screen Entertainment, Eagle Films, Lionsgate Home Entertainment, Noori Pictures, Signature Entertainment
Director: Oleg Stepchenko
Writers: Dmitry Paltsev, Alexey A. Petrukhin, Oleg Stepchenko
Actors: Jackie Chan, Jason Flemyng, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Xingtong Yao, Anna Churina, Yuri Kolokolnikov, Rutger Hauer, Li Ma, Charles Dance, Paul Allica, Narupornkamol Chaisang, Chayanit Chansangavej, Christopher Fairbank, Anna Florence, Gennadiy Gorbachev, Aleksandr Gorbatov, Igor Kistol, Igor Korovin, Mengmeng Li, Sergey Lobanov, Charles Luu, Lance Luu, Mark Luu, Kemisara Paladesh, Kyle Paul, Melody Peng, Alexey A. Petrukhin, Kseniya Petrukhina
Genre: Action, Adventure, Family
Rated: PG-13
Length: 120 minutes
IMDb Blurb: Early 1700: Cartographer Jonathan Green (Jason Flemyng) from Forbidden Kingdom (2014) is back to map the Russian Far East. He's forced on to China, where he confronts the Dragon Master et al. The iron masked Russian Czar escapes the Tower of London to a Russian ship.
I have been dying to see Iron Mask ever since I saw the trailer for the first time. This movie looks absolutely bonkers in the best of ways. Arnold Schwarzenegger (Maggie, Killing Gunther, Terminator: Dark Fate) plays an over-the-top character that I can’t wait to see more of. Jackie Chan (The Foreigner, Bleeding Steel, Vanguard) adds another familiar face to the cast – and his involvement promises some excellent fight choreography and an interesting story.
This movie is also one of the few final projects for Rutger Hauer (24 Hours to Live, Channel Zero, Corbin Nash) before his passing in 2019.

I love the fantastical and magical story that the trailer promises and I can’t wait to see how it all turns out.

3Fatman (11/17)

Production/Distribution: Fortitude International, Ingenious, Mammoth Entertainment, RBL Studios, Rough House Pictures, Sprockefeller Pictures, Windy Hill Pictures, Zed Filmworks, Icon Film Distribution, Just Film Distribution, Splendid Film, Saban Films, Youplanet Pictures
Directors: Eshom Nelms, Ian Nelms
Writers: Eshom Nelms, Ian Nelms
Actors: Walton Goggins, Mel Gibson, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Shaun Benson, Chance Hurstfield, Deborah Grover, Paulino Nunes, Michelle Lang, Robert Bockstael, Sean Tucker, Ekaterina Baker, Bill Lake, Mikael Conde, Robert Reynolds, Ellison Grier Butler, Joyce Rivera, Ronald Tang, Susanne Sutchy, Michael Dyson, Peter Chow
Genre: Action, Comedy, Fantasy
Rated: R
Length: 100 minutes
IMDb Blurb: Santa Claus must contend with a hitman sent from a disappointed child.
I have never pondered what would happen if a spoiled rich child got mad at Santa for giving them coal and hired a hitman for retribution. (Talk about getting stuck on the permanent naughty list.) This movie promises to explore exactly that scenario.
While the concept is bonkers, to begin with, I am already impressed with the direction the production is taking the story, based on the little I’ve seen in the trailer.
I also really am loving the casting choices here. Mel Gibson (Edge of Darkness, Blood Father, Force of Nature) fits the role of a badass Santa to a ‘T.’ Walton Goggins (Sons of Anarchy, Justified, Them That Follow) is also amazing in kooky roles such as someone reckless and crazy enough to take a job to hunt Good Saint Nick on his home turf.
In a time where Hollywood loves to rehash so many things, I’m eagerly anticipating this film that feels wholly original in concept.

2Freaky (11/13)

Production/Distribution: Blumhouse Productions, Divide/Conquer, Cinemundo, United International Pictures, Universal Pictures Argentina, Universal Pictures Canada, Universal Pictures International
Director: Christopher Landon
Writers: Michael Kennedy, Christopher Landon
Actors: Alan Ruck, Kathryn Newton, Vince Vaughn, Katie Finneran, Uriah Shelton, Melissa Collazo, Kelly Lamor Wilson, Misha Osherovich, Deja Dee, Charles Green, Jennifer Pierce Mathus, Dustin Lewis, Carter W Glade, Dane Davenport, Zack Shires, Emily Holder, Nick Arapoglou, Nicholas Stargel, Magnus Diehl, Ezra Sexton, Tim Johnson
Genre: Comedy, Horror, Thriller
Rated: R
Length: 101 minutes
IMDb Blurb: After swapping bodies with a deranged serial killer, a young girl in high school discovers she has less than 24 hours before the change becomes permanent.
Disney has made a few adaptations of the 1972 book “Freaky Friday,” most notably the films in 1976 and 2003. I enjoy both of those movies. This, however, is not your average body-swap movie as the tale takes a new twist under the direction of the Blumhouse team. I think this is the first iteration of the story that isn’t owned by the mouse house. (Blumhouse is under Warner Brothers’ ownership.)
As this particular production company’s involvement suggests, this is a horror-take on the story – turning what would normally be wacky shenanigans into a gender-bending slasher.
I love this new spin on the concept and think the casting choices are great. I can’t wait to see this one!

1Come Away (11/13)

Production/Distribution: Endurance Media, Hammerstone Studios, Lakeview Entertainment, TinRes Entertainment, ACE Pictures Entertainment, Creasun Entertainment, Fred Films, Yoruba Saxon Productions, Batrax Entertainment, GEM Entertainment, Film & TV House, DeAPlaneta, Dutch FilmWorks, Relativity Media, Eagle Films, VVS Films
Director: Brenda Chapman
Writers: J.M. Barrie, Lewis Carroll, Marissa Kate Goodhill
Actors: Angelina Jolie, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Michael Caine, Derek Jacobi, Anna Chancellor, David Oyelowo, Clarke Peters, David Gyasi, Damian O'Hare, Keira Chansa, Jordan A. Nash, Jack Veal, Reece Yates, Shun Yin, Daniel Swain, Rishi Kuppa, James Pavey, Tristan Henry, Carter Thomas, Rob Pavey
Genre: Adventure, Drama, Fantasy
Rated: PG
Length: 94 minutes
IMDb Blurb: When their eldest brother dies, Peter and Alice seek to save their parents from despair until they are forced to choose between home and imagination, setting the stage for their iconic journeys into Wonderland and Neverland.
Come Away intertwines the stories of both Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan in this unique story. I love the inventiveness of that concept and the cast is just out of this world. Most notably, Angelina Jolie (Salt, The Tourist, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil) is attached, but Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Fast Color, The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, Motherless Brooklyn) and Michael Caine (Going in Style, Dunkirk, King of Thieves) are also involved.

I want to see how the stories mesh and the connecting tale that binds them together. This looks like another great family movie for the upcoming holidays and well worth the ticket or rental price. 
Movies to Look out For
According to: Selina
A Place Among the Dead .20
Buddy Games .19
Mortal .18
Triggered .17
Echo Boomers .16
Another Round .15
Ammonite .14
Dreamland .13
Run .12
Blood Vessel .11
Dating Amber .10
Jiu Jitsu .9
Iron Mask .8
Between the World and Me .7
Chick Fight .6
Princess of the Row .5
Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey .4
Fatman .3
Freaky .2
Come Away .1

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

The Beach House (2020) - Shudder Spree


Streaming Services: Shudder
Movie Name/Year: The Beach House (2020)
Genre: Drama, Horror, Mystery
Length: 88 minutes
Rating: Unrated
Production/Distribution: Low Spark Films, Uncorked Productions, Shudder, Front Row Filmed Entertainment
Director: Jeffrey A. Brown
Writer: Jeffrey A. Brown
Actors: Liana Liberato, Noah Le Gros, Jake Weber, Maryann Nagel, Michael Brumfield, Matt Maisto, Steven Corkin, Dan Zakarija, Veronica Fellman
Blurb from IMDb: A romantic getaway for two troubled college sweethearts turns into a struggle for survival when unexpected guests - and the surrounding environment - exhibit signs of a mysterious infection.

Cat’s Point of View:

It’s taken me a good deal of time sitting and staring at my screen to realize that I’m not experiencing an ADD moment. I honestly don’t have a lot to say about our Shudder Spree’s next stop – The Beach House.
The premise seemed interesting. The fact that the film’s writer/director has spent their career thus far as a location manager for prominent productions and has now made their directorial debut with this movie was another element that added some extra allure to the title. Now that I’ve watched it, I’m not sure that the best bits weren’t already shown in the trailer.

One positive note, however, is that the location the production utilized was wonderful for the setting. The producer that allowed their beachfront home to be used for filming deserves kudos.
To be fair, The Beach House wasn’t bad. I just felt like it drug on a little bit and I wasn’t excited about it.
I didn’t like the boyfriend character – but then, I’m not sure I was supposed to. The whole situation was just a bit odd. I did appreciate the fact that the girlfriend, Emily, had a good head on her shoulders and that she was given good sense to match the level of her implied intelligence.

I did find a few bits unique and special. These were mostly environmental elements. I enjoyed the effects employed regarding the bioluminescence and the use of the ‘fog’ as elements of the story.
Unfortunately, I’m not sure I’m going to remember this movie since it generally left me with a meh feeling. I wouldn’t steer anyone away from it. I imagine anyone wanting to dabble in a little minor body horror might find this a good stepping stone towards other movies. I just don’t see myself going out of my way to recommend The Beach House – especially in this season where everyone’s generally looking for heart-pounding thrills leading up to Halloween.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 81%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 28%
Metascore – 64/100
Metacritic User Score – 6.5/10
IMDB Score – 5.3/10
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 2/5
Trust the Dice: Parental Advisory Rating – R
Movie Trailer:

Monday, October 26, 2020

Can’t Take it Back (2017) - Shudder Spree

Streaming Services: Shudder
Movie Name/Year: Can’t Take it Back (2017)
Genre: Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller
Length: 88 minutes
Rating: NR
Production/Distribution: Big Block Media Holdings, Screen Gems, Afterparty VFX
Director: Tim Shechmeister
Writer: Matt Shechmeister, Tim Shechmeister
Actors: Ana Coto, Noah Centineo, Ivanna Sakhno, Lexi Atkins, Jill Larson, Logan Paul, Meredith Foster, Keith Pillow, Mandy Gonzalez, Paul Urcioli, Brenna Bloom
Blurb from IMDb: Following a group of students who leave hateful comments on the page of a fellow pupil who recently committed suicide.

Selina’s Point of View:
My first thought? “Ew. Logan Paul’s in this movie.” I mean, he’s on the cover so, naturally, I expected him to be in the movie quite a bit. Instead he’s pretty much inconsequential.
The significance of him being involved in a film about the soul of a girl who killed herself seeking revenge, is not lost on me. Logan Paul (The Thinning, Where's the Money, Airplane Mode) is just the worst.
Moving on.
Can’t Take it Back was basic. It was a paranormal horror film. It followed all the tropes and painted by all the numbers. It was acceptable, but not something I see myself even remembering by tomorrow.

It just didn’t have anything to set itself apart from every other flick tackling the same subject and sub-genre.
Ana Coto (DisCONNECTED, Ouija, True Fiction) was decent in her part and I enjoyed seeing Noah Centineo (The Fosters, Charlie's Angels, To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You) in a movie that wasn’t a teen romantic comedy – but even they didn’t elevate it. Hell, it had an ending that I rather enjoyed… but it needed something more.
Can’t Take it Back was meh. I won’t steer anyone away from it, but I also won’t be recommending it. There are much better paranormal, and revenge, flicks on Shudder.

Cat’s Point of View:
When I saw that we would be watching Can’t Take it Back during October, I was just as divided about it then as I am now. It bugs me. Some things you just can’t shake, though.
I’ll address the elephant in the room first. I can’t bring myself to forgive Logan Paul for his 2018 stunt in Japan. The world keeps turning and he was, technically, punished through loss of sponsorships for his distasteful antics. I, however, don’t feel that earned him redemption by any means. For that reason, I find myself going out of my way to avoid his work in an effort to not support him.
At the same time, the other actors and production crew working on films he just happens to be a part of are not responsible for him being a shit person. I was excited to see Lexi Atkins (Anatomy of Deception, The Boy Next Door, Some Kind of Hate) and Noah Centineo attached to this movie. I wanted to watch for their sake. We’ve reviewed and enjoyed other projects of theirs over the years, after all.
That being said, let’s talk about Can’t Take it Back.

I generally enjoyed my experience with the movie and was relieved to see that a certain person had a relatively small role. Atkins was great in her ‘mean girl’ role. Centineo did a great job with his part, as well. There was a fresh face at the forefront of this production. Ana Coto was a good fit leading the cast. I bought her story 100%.
There were a few spots here and there throughout the movie that were a bit more of a hard sell for me, but I was invested all the same. Nothing was wonky enough to lose my interest or make me roll my eyes.
The overall production value was really pretty good. The spectral effects were creepy, even if some of the jump-scares felt a smidge over-the-top. But hey, for a teen-centric horror, it wasn’t that bad.
I think Can’t Take it Back got the message across, as well as offered some good thrills and chills. I’m afraid this won’t haunt me as long as some of the other films within our Shudder Spree, though.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – None
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – None
Metascore – None
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score – 4.1/10
Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating2.5/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating3/5
Trust the Dice Parental Advisory Rating: R
Movie Trailer: