Friday, January 1, 2021

Top 20 Movies to Look Out For In January (2021)

  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 - American Dream (1/21)

Production/Distribution: Venice Films, Lionsgate Home Entertainment
Director: Janusz Kaminski
Writers: Duncan Brantley, Mark Wheaton
Actors: Michiel Huisman, Luke Bracey, Nick Stahl, Agnieszka Grochowska, Samantha Ressler, Ed Metzger, Kathleen Gati, Dmitriy Karpov, Elya Baskin, Kelly Mantle, Lindsay Seim, Mike Jerome Putnam, Vladimir Skomarovsky, Paul Renteria, Olya Milova, Robert Duchaine, Gregory Lee Kenyon, Mir Wave, Robert Powell
Genre: Drama
Rated: Unrated
Length: Unknown
Movifone Blurb: Two American entrepreneurs must face a Russian mobster's vengeance after they cut him out of a business deal.

I don’t have adequate words to express how thankful I am that 2020 is behind us. I know that most everyone can relate. What better way to kick off a brand new year than dive into some movie-induced catharsis?!
This month’s Top 20 movies are a grab-bag of escapism and emotion.
First up, American Dream appears to be a basic tale of bad business decisions and mob rackets. There are a few moments in the trailer, however, that give me hope that this will stray from the recipe and put a new spin on the narrative.
Further, this one appears to be far more brutal than this sort of film tends to be. It even seems borderline ‘torture-porn’ along the lines of Saw (2004) or Hostel (2005) at times. Thankfully, that is clearly not the entirety of the plot. I’m hoping that there’s just enough to underscore the peril that the main characters have put themselves in. Top that off with a solid cast, and you’ve got a production worth taking a chance on.

19 - The Marksman (1/15)

Production/Distribution: Cutting Edge Group, Raven Capital Management, Sculptor Media, Stonehouse Motion Pictures, Voltage Pictures, Zero Gravity Management, GEM Entertainment, Madman Films, Open Road Films, The Searchers, Ascot Elite Entertainment Group, Front Row Filmed Entertainment, Kyyba Films, Madman Entertainment
Director: Robert Lorenz
Writers: Chris Charles, Danny Kravitz, Robert Lorenz
Actors: Katheryn Winnick, Liam Neeson, Teresa Ruiz, Juan Pablo Raba, Lelia Symington, Dylan Kenin, Chase Mullins, Luce Rains, Grayson Berry, Christopher Mele, Alex Knight, Dominic Cancelliere, David DeLao, Kellen Boyle, Jacob Perez, Christian Hicks, Sean A. Rosales, Jared Corum, Elias Gallegos, Roger Jerome
Genre: Action, Thriller
Rated: PG-13
Length: 108 minutes
IMDb Blurb: A rancher on the Arizona border becomes the unlikely defender of a young Mexican boy desperately fleeing the cartel assassins who've pursued him into the U.S.

By now, most of us are very familiar with the notion that Liam Neeson (A Monster Calls, Cold Pursuit, Honest Thief) has ‘skills’ and that it is a rare thing for him to not find cause to use them in his movies.
The Marksman is no different. It’s clear from the trailer that this very particular set of skills will be used on the behalf of protecting an illegal immigrant boy from the Mexican cartel that desperately wants him.
Sure, sign me up! These movies are always interesting to watch for the action and wit at the very least. I get a kick out of seeing how many times they can rinse and repeat this concept with a new spin. Of course, I’ve been a huge Neeson fan since before Rob Roy (1995). I’m also jazzed that Katheryn Winnick (Polar, Vikings, Big Sky) is involved with this project, too. 
18 - Batman: Soul of the Dragon (1/12)

Production/Distribution: Warner Bros. Animation, DC Comics, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
Director: Sam Liu
Writer: Jeremy Adams
Actors: Jamie Chung, Kelly Hu, Grey Griffin, James Hong, Mark Dacascos, Michael Jai White, David Giuntoli, Robin Atkin Downes, Josh Keaton, Eric Bauza, Erica Luttrell, Patrick Seitz, Chris Cox
Genre: Animation, Action, Adventure
Rated: R
Length: 83 minutes
IMDb Blurb: In the 1970s, a missing teacher of martial arts is the subject of a quest by his devoted and brilliant but distant students, who include Batman.

Does anyone really need a good reason to want to watch a DC movie involving Batman? I mean, really?
If that isn’t enough for you, I don’t know what to say. Though, I can give a few extra tidbits that make this one particularly interesting for me.
David Giuntoli (Grimm, Buddymoon, A Million Little Things) isn’t the usual go-to for voicing the animated Caped Crusader, however, if the trailer is any indication, he’s done a pretty good job of it.
Another newcomer to the DC Universe is one of those actors that tends to spark cries of ‘hey it’s THAT guy!’ when you see him on-screen. At least, I know I do that occasionally. I digress… Mark Dacascos (Iron Chef America: The Series, Hawaii Five-O, John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum) is an excellent fit for a martial-arts themed movie. Further, his character seems to be heavily stylized to look a lot like Bruce Lee (The Green Hornet, Enter the Dragon, Fist of Fury) and the feel of the film in general seems to echo one of Lee’s movies from the 70’s to some degree. Fans of the martial arts movie genre could either take that as some warm fuzzy nostalgia or an insult. I am leaning on the nostalgia side, personally.
Fans of the Arrowverse collection of DC TV shows on the CW network will be happy to know that Michael Jai White (Black Dynamite, Accident Man, Send It!) is reprising his role as Ben Turner/ Bronze Tiger in this film. He originally took on the character for about 10 episodes of Arrow (2012-2020).
Kelly Hu (Phineas and Ferb, Death Valley, Maximum Impact) is no stranger to the DC Universe, or even Arrow. Her Arrow character was significantly different. She originally voiced her character in this movie when working on a DC video game.
With a knock-out cast on-board, and a stand-alone story not based on any particular comic, I expect a really enjoyable experience from this new Batman installment. 

17 - Supernova (1/29)

Production/Distribution: BBC Films, British Film Institute, Quiddity Films, The Bureau, ARP Sélection, Cinéart, Cirko Film, Filmtrade, Lucky Red, Madman Entertainment, StudioCanal UK, Ascot Elite Entertainment Group, Bleecker Street Media, Front Row Filmed Entertainment
Director: Harry Macqueen
Writer: Harry Macqueen
Actors: Colin Firth, Stanley Tucci, Pippa Haywood, Peter MacQueen, Nina Marlin, Ian Drysdale, Sarah Woodward, James Dreyfus, Lori Campbell, Daneka Etchells
Genre: Drama, Romance
Rated: R
Length: 93 minutes
IMDb Blurb: Sam and Tusker are traveling across England in their old RV to visit friends, family and places from their past. Since Tusker was diagnosed with dementia two years ago, their time together is the most important thing they have.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that this movie is quite likely going to be an award contender. I would be absolutely boggled if it isn’t.
Not only do you have powerhouse actors such as Colin Firth (Dorian Gray, The King's Speech, The Secret Garden) and Stanley Tucci (The Fifth Estate, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, The Silence) in the leads, the story has great gravitas.
I was getting a bit misty-eyed watching the trailer, to tell you the truth. A whole pack of tissues is going to be required to watch this whole movie about such a profound and tragic love story.  The only reason the film has placed where it is on my list is purely to do with my personal tastes. I have to be in the right mood to watch a heavy drama like this. Though, after the year we’ve all just come out of, a good cathartic cry does seem to be in order. 

16 - Penguin Bloom (1/27)

Production/Distribution: Made Up Stories, Broadtalk, A Contracorriente Films, Netflix
Director: Glendyn Ivin
Writer: Cameron Bloom, Harry Cripps, Shaun Grant, Bradley Trevor Greive
Actors: Rachel House, Andrew Lincoln, Naomi Watts, Jacki Weaver, Leeanna Walsman, Gia Carides, Lisa Hensley, Randolph Fields, Felix Cameron, Griffin Murray-Johnston, Abe Clifford-Barr
Genre: Drama
Rated: Unrated
Length: 95 minutes
IMDb Blurb: A family takes in an injured Magpie that makes a profound difference in their lives.

When I see a pairing of actors such as Andrew Lincoln (Love Actually, Strike Back, The Walking Dead) and Naomi Watts (The Sea of Trees, The Book of Henry, Twin Peaks) attached to a project, it tends to immediately grab my attention.
I will admit, however, that it is very hard for me to shake Lincoln’s character of Rick Grimes when I see him – so it is an extra incentive to watch other projects of his. Hopefully, so that he doesn’t get stuck in that one role permanently within my mind.
After watching the trailer for Penguin Bloom, I was left with the profound realization that this movie was going to be hard to watch for me.
I can relate to the mother’s role here. There’s a clear line of demarcation in my life of ‘before’ and ‘after’ MS. The challenges brought on by this invisible illness make things frustrating sometimes. I can’t do what I used to, and it’s occasionally hard for me to come to terms with limitations. It’s also a greater challenge to be present and everything my family needs of me within the constraints that MS has placed on my life.
Aside from that, there’s the whole animal rescue aspect of the story that I absolutely adore. Of course, we sometimes think that we’re the ones rescuing a creature – when it is the animal that is, in fact, rescuing us. That seems to be the crux of this story. 

15 - Hunted (1/14)

Production/Distribution: Charade Films, Kidam, Savage Productions, Wrong Men North, Longride, Shudder
Director: Vincent Paronnaud
Writers: Vincent Paronnaud, Léa Pernollet, David H. Pickering
Actors: Christian Bronchart, Lucie Debay, Ciaran O'Brien, Jean-Mathias Pondant, Kevin Van Doorslaer, Gilles Vandeweerd, Dianne Weller, Arieh Worthalter
Genre: Action, Thriller
Rated: Unrated
Length: 87 minutes
Moviefone Blurb: Eve meets what she thinks is a charming guy in a bar. Yet things go terribly wrong once she realizes she’s come across a psychopath and his puppet accomplice. They engage in a death chase until she decides to fight back. The forest will be her ally.

Hunted comes to us from overseas, and thus I really don’t recognize the cast. Its placement on the Top 20 this month stems solely from its story. I am of firm belief that there won’t be anything ‘lost in translation’ for the US release.
The trailer left me intrigued. I want to know how this plays out, and I absolutely adore the aspect that nature helps this woman fight back against her aggressors. It’s the sort of visceral instant karma that we wish would happen to those committing assault. 

14 - Redemption Day (1/8)

Production/Distribution: H Films, Buffalo 8 Productions, Redemption Film, GEM Entertainment,Front Row Filmed Entertainment, Première TV Distribution
Director: Hicham Hajji
Writers: Sam Chouia, Hicham Hajji, Lemore Syvan
Actors: Gary Dourdan, Serinda Swan, Andy Garcia, Brice Bexter, Ernie Hudson, Martin Donovan, Robert Knepper, Samy Naceri, Don Bigg, Jay Footlik, Lilia Hajji, Mehdi Ouazzani, Brahim Rachiki, Karim Saidi, Joe Drago, Hayet Belhalloufi, Soumaya Akaaboune, Kristina Denton, Bradley Gregg, Khalil Kharraz, Christen Angelique Kirk, Michael Patrick Lane, Aubrey Manning, Sonia Okacha, Mark Joyce Wolf, Michael Graham, Hami Belal, Maher Bannani, Abderrahmane Baalla, Yassine Azzouz, Issam Abouali, Alison Clark
Genre: Action, Thriller
Rated: R
Length: 99 minutes
Moviefone Blurb: Having just returned home, decorated U.S. Marine Captain Brad Paxton's (Gary Dourdan) wife, Kate, is kidnapped by a terrorist group while working in Morocco. He is forced back into action for a daring and deadly operation to save the woman he loves.

I’ve debated with myself regarding the placement of Redemption Day on this month’s list. While I don’t feel it will be as powerful or an award contender like some of the others,  it’s made it higher on the list for the fact that it’s a solid film to escape into, and I wouldn’t need a packet of tissue handy while watching it. Silly, I know.
That being said, there’s a good cast here and an interesting story. If the trailer was a good indication, this will be a satisfying rescue-mission action movie. I’m crossing my fingers that it turns out the way I anticipate. It would be shocking and intriguing if it doesn’t. 

13  - Born a Champion (1/22)

Production/Distribution: ESX Entertainment, Forrest Films, Lionsgate Home Entertainment, Red Sea Media
Director: Alex Ranarivelo
Writers: Sean Patrick Flanery, Alex Ranarivelo
Actors: Dennis Quaid, Ali Afshar, Katrina Bowden, Sean Patrick Flanery, Currie Graham, Maurice Compte, Harrison Xu, Costas Mandylor, Reno Wilson, Chris Boudreaux, Renzo Gracie, Steve Tanabe, David Kait, Edson Barboza, Porter Louis Flanery, Charlie T Flanery, Mario Martinez, Josiah Rayray, Al Atieh
Genre: Action, Drama, Sport
Rated: R
Length: 112 minutes
Movifone Blurb: After a blood-soaked jujitsu match in Dubai, fighting legend Mickey Kelley falls to superstar Blaine. But years later, an online video proves that Blaine cheated, and the world demands a rematch. Can the aging underdog get back into shape in time to vanquish his foe, get revenge, and claim his prize?

OK so I’ve said in the past that I’m not the biggest fan of sport-themed movies. I think martial arts is where I make one of my few exceptions. While I don’t really follow MMA matches on TV or the like, I find martial arts exhilarating and intriguing.
When you figure Sean Patrick Flanery (The Boondock Saints, Dexter, Hunter's Moon) and Dennis Quaid (The Day After Tomorrow, The Intruder, Midway) into the equation, you really have my attention.
I find the premise of this story interesting. I’m curious as to whether or not this is based on a true story, though, considering one of the tags on the movie poster. Whether or not that’s the case, the fighting here is for real. There were no stunt doubles used during the fights or sparring. That has me super excited.  

12 - The Ultimate Playlist of Noise (1/15)

Production/Distribution: American High, LD Entertainment, Hulu
Director: Bennett Lasseter
Writer: Mitchell Winkie
Actors: Madeline Brewer, Oliver Cooper, Keean Johnson, Ariela Barer, Ian Gomez, Emily Skeggs, Carol Mansell, Gordon Winarick, Carrie Louise Putrello, Heather Giangreco, Noah Winchell
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Music
Rated: Unrated
Length: Unknown
IMDb Blurb: Marcus, an audio-obsessed high school senior, learns he must undergo brain surgery that will render him deaf, and decides to seize control of his fate by recording the Ultimate Playlist of Noise.

MS is a scary disease. It can impact any nerves in your entire body – though, it tends to especially target your central nervous system. For that reason, any sense is potentially up for grabs when flares happen. Someone suffering from MS can lose sight, hearing, the ability to speak, and so forth. Thankfully, I haven’t experienced any of the more severe or serious symptoms such as that during my MS journey… but the thoughts linger. What happens next? What nerve group is potentially up on the chopping block? Will I be able to see when I wake up tomorrow?  
I know that the main character in this movie isn’t experiencing MS, but I can seriously relate to something looming overhead medically. I understand completely the feelings where the character anticipates losing one of his senses. I also admire his plan of living and experiencing everything he can before the loss.
Of course, the cute love story aspect of the film is also a bonus. It always helps to have a good support system with the people you care about and that care for you when facing something big like this. While some aspects of the story may be fairly basic, it ranks high for me due to how well I identify with the sentiment behind the main character’s quest. 

11 - No Man’s Land (1/22)

Production/Distribution: Margate House Films, Front Row Filmed Entertainment, IFC Films
Director: Conor Allyn
Writers: Jake Allyn, David Barraza
Actors: Frank Grillo, Andie MacDowell, George Lopez, Alex MacNicoll, Esmeralda Pimentel, Jake Allyn, Jorge A. Jimenez, Ofelia Medina, Andrés Delgado, Sandra Zellweger, Julieta Ortiz, Fernando Cuautle, Juan Carlos Remolina, Alessio Valentini, Iván Aragón, Steven Destello
Genre: Action, Adventure, Thriller
Rated: PG-13
Length: 114 minutes
IMDb Blurb: A modern Western inspired by the real-life "no man's land" areas along the Texas-Mexico border. While out on a father-son border patrol, Jackson accidentally kills a Mexican immigrant boy. When Jackson's father tries taking the blame, Jackson flees south on horseback, becoming a gringo "illegal alien" in Mexico. Chased by Texas Rangers and Mexican Federales, Jackson journeys across Mexico to seek forgiveness from the dead boy's father only to fall in love with the land he was taught to hate.

There’s something beautiful about the irony in this story. The trailer gives me the impression of a harrowing and gritty narrative, and also something all too plausible. I really could see this happening somewhere along the border of Texas.
When you also take into consideration the casting, it would be hard to miss this movie. I’ve always found it intriguing when comedians play serious roles – and do so well. George Lopez (Gnome Alone, River Runs Red, Tax Collector) takes on the role of a US officer here, and there doesn’t seem to be anything comedic about the situation he’s in. Then, of course, there are action and dramatic powerhouses, respectively, with Frank Grillo (The Purge: Election Year, Beyond Skyline, Jiu Jitsu) and Andie MacDowell (Beauty Shop, Only the Brave, Ready or Not) onboard.
I am also curious as to how the story, itself, flows. Jake Allyn (The Quad, Hidden in Plain Sight, The Baxters) not only stars in this film, but also wrote it. There’s plenty to draw me in to this story even without the pretty horses. Those are, however, a wonderful bonus.

10 - Palmer (1/29)

Production/Distribution: Sidney Kimmel Entertainment, Hercules Film Fund, Rhea Films, SK Global, Apple TV+
Director: Fisher Stevens
Writer: Cheryl Guerriero
Actors: Juno Temple, June Squibb, Justin Timberlake, Dean Winters, Alisha Wainwright, Ryder Allen, Wynn Everett, Jesse C. Boyd, Charmin Lee, Jake Brennan, J.D. Evermore, Stephen Louis Grush, Lance E. Nichols, Carson Minniear, Zonia Pelensky, Nicholas X. Parsons
Genre: Drama
Rated: R
Length: 110 minutes
IMDb Blurb: An ex-convict strikes up a friendship with a boy from a troubled home.

Justin Timberlake (Trouble with the Curve, Wonder Wheel, Trolls World Tour) has become synonymous with a high caliber performance – whether that’s on stage or screen. His involvement in this movie caught my attention first.
After watching the trailer, I am of the impression that the film will be hard to watch at times but completely worth it for the story of growth, found-family, and redemption.
Another aspect that has me curious is the direction. Fisher Stevens (The Grand Budapest Hotel, Succession, The Blacklist) is generally known for directing documentaries and music videos when he’s not taking direction from others as an actor. The last feature film he directed prior to this one was Stand Up Guys (2012). This brings up the question for me  - what got his attention with this particular project?

I definitely intend to watch it in order to find out.

9 - The Dig (1/29)

Production/Distribution: Clerkenwell Films, Magnolia Mae Films, Netflix
Director: Simon Stone
Writers: Moira Buffini, John Preston
Actors: Carey Mulligan, Ralph Fiennes, Lily James, Danny Webb, Archie Barnes, Robert Wilfort, James Dryden, Joe Hurst, Paul Ready, Peter McDonald, Christopher Godwin, Ellie Piercy, Bronwyn James, Monica Dolan, Johnny Flynn, John Macmillan, Ken Stott, Arsher Ali, Eamon Farren, Amelia Stephenson, Ben Chaplin
Genre: Biography, Drama, History
Rated: PG-13
Length: 112 minutes
Moviefone Blurb: As WWII looms, a wealthy widow hires an amateur archaeologist to excavate the burial mounds on her estate. When they make a historic discovery, the echoes of Britain's past resonate in the face of its uncertain future‎.

I enjoy a good historical movie now and again. This one takes place on the cusp of World War II in the English countryside. While some creative license might have taken place with this tale, it is based in fact. Sutton Hoo is the site of an archaeological dig in England of massive historical significance. It was, in fact, begun at the direction of the landowner before eventually being taken over by the government.
I’m geeking out a little bit extra about this movie for two reasons. First has less to do with the movie, and more to do with findings from the actual dig of Sutton Hoo. The intricate sword recovered from the ship burial there was featured in a recent episode of Forged in Fire (2015-), which is a TV series featuring home bladesmiths competing against each other recreating historical weaponry.  A recent pandemic special featured the judges creating blades in their own home forges. One of them re-created the blade from Sutton Hoo. It was fascinating to watch.
I digress…
The other geek-out topic for me is Ralph Fiennes’ (The Grand Budapest Hotel, Spectre, Holmes and Watson) involvement with the movie. Of course, he’s an acclaimed and accomplished actor – but he’s also involved in archaeology with his brother, as well. The fact he plays an archaeologist helping with the historical dig feels meta to me and adds another special bit to enjoy this movie.
The trailer also gives a bit of a thrill aspect to the film with the looming aspect of war. I’m sincerely hoping that the movie manages to capture that feeling rather than clinging to the drier bits of history.

8 - Our Friend (1/22)

Production/Distribution: Black Bear Pictures, STX International, Scott Free Productions, Gravitas Ventures, Film & TV House, GEM Entertainment, Elevation Pictures, Lucky Red, Metropolitan Filmexport, STX International, Roadside Attractions, Storm Pictures Korea, The Searchers, Tohokushinsha Film Corporation
Director: Gabriela Cowperthwaite
Writer: Brad Ingelsby
Actors: Dakota Johnson, Casey Affleck, Jason Segel, Gwendoline Christie, Cherry Jones, Marielle Scott, Ahna O'Reilly, Reed Diamond, Violet McGraw, Azita Ghanizada, Ritchie Montgomery, Michael Papajohn, Isabella Kai, Chandler Head, Jennifer Pierce Mathus, Sampley Barinaga, Denée Benton, Jacinte Blankenship, Jake Owen, Gerald Brodin, Mike Lutz, Mark Costello, Veda Joy Martin, Marguerite Pons
Genre: Drama
Rated: R
Length: 124 minutes
IMDb Blurb: After receiving life-altering news, a couple finds unexpected support from their best friend, who puts his own life on hold and moves into their family home, bringing an impact much greater and more profound than anyone could have imagined.

Our Friend is going to be another movie coming out this month that is going to be very hard for me to watch. Some of the emotional notes here just tend to hit too close to home.
However, the story is gorgeous and I love the portrayal of the trio of best friends. I adore the dynamic that I watched in the trailer. It is absolutely possible for people of opposite sexes to be best friends without sexual relationships getting involved and it’s too infrequently portrayed accurately in the media.
The narrative looks like it will be heartwrenching and heartwarming at the same time – with a fine tasteful sprinkling of comedy. That’s a really hard combo to deliver correctly, but from what I’ve seen so far, I think they’ve nailed it here.

I will be eagerly anticipating watching this film with my full pack of tissues on standby. Ugly crying will likely ensue for a good bit of this film. This one will likely be a contender for some awards, as well.

7 - American Skin (1/15)

Production/Distribution: Tiny Giant Entertainment, Sterling Light Productions, Eagle Pictures
Director: Nate Parker
Writer: Nate Parker
Actors: Omari Hardwick, Theo Rossi, Beau Knapp, Jahir Acosta, Allius Barnes, Hunter Bodine, Wolfgang Bodison, Dominic Bogart, James C. Burns, Vanessa Bell Calloway, Sierra Capri, Evan Dodge, Tony Espinosa, Milauna Jackson, Nicole Randall, Andrew Laugheinhouse, Aaron Leddick, AnnaLynne McCord, Shane Paul McGhie, Mo McRae, Michelle M. Miracle, Ryan Mulkay, Nate Parker, Karibel Rodriguez, Brighton Sharbino, Larry Sullivan, Kristofer Sykes, Michael Warren, Ceyair J Wright
Genre: Drama
Rated: R
Length: 89 minutes
IMDb Blurb: A Marine veteran working as a school janitor tries to mend his relationship with his son after a divorce. When his son is killed by a police officer found innocent without standing trial, he takes matters into his own hands.

With the climate of the world today, this movie feels significant and relevant in ways that I really can’t put into adequate words. For that reason, I’m not going to even try to wax philosophical here or get onto a soapbox.
Just watch the trailer and make up your own mind whether or not you should watch it. 

6 – Dr. Bird’s Advice for Sad Poets (1/12)

Production/Distribution: Kreate Films, Ketchup Entertainment, StoryBoard Media, Particular Crowd
Director: Yaniv Raz
Writers: Yaniv Raz, Evan Roskos
Actors: Jason Isaacs, YaYa Gosselin, Lisa Edelstein, Taylor Russell, Tom Wilkinson, David Arquette, Lucas Jade Zumann, Chase Stokes, Lily Donoghue, Roger Dale Floyd, Caroline Arapoglou, Odiseas Georgiadis, Bryan McClure, Tyler Bunch, Thomas K. Belgrey, J. Gaven Wilde, Michael H. Cole, Sarah Michael Novia
Genre: Drama
Rated: R
Length: Unknown
IMDb Blurb: In the emotionally charged, wild and humorous world of sixteen-year-old James Whitman, we see his struggle to overcome anxiety and depression by seeking advice from Dr. Bird - an imaginary pigeon therapist - in the wake of his sister's disappearance.

I’m really not entirely sure what to think about this movie. That’s part of the huge appeal of it. I want to watch and figure it out!
On one hand, it seems to be tackling the stigma of mental illness. On the other, it’s taking a humorous stab at the unraveling of a teen’s psyche in the wake of his sibling’s disappearance and his parents’ struggle to come to terms with both that and the trauma, too.
Or was the sister only in his mind? Is the love-interest imaginary? If a bird is a psychologist, could everything else be a figment as well? Is that why the parents’ reactions are so emotionally charged, rather than the lingering pain of a missing child?
I have so many questions and guesses. You can bet I’ll be taking the plunge down this rabbit hole as soon as I can. 

5 – The Little Things (1/29)

Production/Distribution: Gran Via, Warner Bros., Warner Bros. Pictures Germany, Warner Bros. Pictures, Warner Bros. Singapore, HBO Max
Director: John Lee Hancock
Writer: John Lee Hancock
Actors: Denzel Washington, Jared Leto, Rami Malek, Sofia Vassilieva, Natalie Morales, Tom Hughes, Chris Bauer, Jason James Richter, Terry Kinney, Michael Hyatt, Isabel Arraiza, Adam J. Harrington, Stephanie Erb, Kerry O'Malley, John Harlan Kim, Sheila Houlahan, Joris Jarsky, Ebony N Mayo, Tiffany Gonzalez, Anna McKitrick, J. Downing, Jeff Corbett, Thomas Crawford, Calliah Sophie Estrada, Sophia Castro, Peter Nikkos, Matteo Menzies
Genre: Crime, Drama, Thriller
Rated: R
Length: Unknown
Moviefone Blurb: Deke, a burnt-out Kern County, CA deputy sheriff teams with Baxter, a crack LASD detective, to nab a serial killer. Deke's nose for the "little things" proves eerily accurate, but his willingness to circumvent the rules embroils Baxter in a soul-shattering dilemma. Meanwhile, Deke must wrestle with a dark secret from his past.

OK, so at first blush, this seems to be a basic crime procedural of cops hunting down a serial killer.
However, when you mention the names of Oscar winners Denzel Washington (Inside Man, The Great Debaters, Fences), Jared Leto (Alexander, Mr. Nobody, Dallas Buyers Club), and Rami Malek (Papillon, Bohemian Rhapsody, Mr. Robot) it tends to pique my interest a bit more.
With that trio involved, this isn’t going to be any run-of-the-mill story.
This promises to be an intense movie and likely not for the faint of heart. I can’t wait to watch the mystery unfold.  

4 - Horizon Line (1/12)

Production/Distribution: SF Studios Production AB, Ombra Films, STX Films, Subotica Entertainment, Tre Vänner Produktion AB, Trevanna Post, Film & TV House, GEM Entertainment, Constantin Film, Elevation Pictures, ErosSTX International, Golden Village Pictures, Purple Plan, The Searchers, Cinemundo, Epix, Joy n Cinema
Director: Mikael Marcimain
Writers: Josh Campbell, Matthew Stuecken
Actors: Alexander Dreymon, Allison Williams, Keith David, Pearl Mackie, Jumayn Hunter, Orlaith Doherty, Amanda Khan, Kate Shepard, Dennis Gregory, Privilege Magezi, Anouchka Massoudy, Daniel O'Neil, Francois Groenewald, Marc Redmond, Nadine Theron, Daisy Yip Tong, Jean Philippe Gorapah
Genre: Thriller
Rated: PG-13
Length: 92 minutes
IMDb Blurb: A couple flying on a small plane to attend a tropical island wedding must fight for their lives after their pilot suffers a heart attack.

This concept feels really fresh to me – and that’s hard to find in Hollywood these days.
If you’re afraid of flying, though, I’d think twice about watching this movie on a big screen. Streaming is your friend here, so you can pause if things get too intense.
I am a nervous flyer, myself. Though I’m excited for the ride this film will take me on. The adrenaline rush from the edge of my seat is going to be a great way to leave last year in the dust. Hopefully this doesn’t amplify my distrust of air travel.  It's scarier because it's plausible!

3 - Outside the Wire (1/15)

Production/Distribution: 42, Automatik Entertainment, Inspire Entertainment, Leeding Media, Netflix, Pioneer Stilking Films
Director: Mikael Håfström
Writers: Rowan Athale, Rob Yescombe
Actors: Anthony Mackie, Pilou Asbæk, Emily Beecham, Michael Kelly, Damson Idris, Kristina Tonteri-Young, Bobby Lockwood, Enzo Cilenti, Velibor Topic, Henry Garrett, Adam Fielding, Elliot Edusah, Christine Grace Szarko, Louis Boyer, Karen Gagnon, Brady Dowad, Robert Jackson, Zina Esepciuc, Reda Elazouar, Tyler Kinghorn
Genre: Action, Sci-Fi
Rated: R
Length: 114 minutes
IMDb Blurb: In the near future, a drone pilot sent into a war zone finds himself paired with a top-secret android officer on a mission to stop a nuclear attack.

I think I’ve mentioned before that I’m a huge fan of science fiction. Here, we have a prime example of the sort of movie that has me absolutely giddy.
I love the concept of an android super-soldier aimed at taking out robot combatants.
Anthony Mackie (The Hurt Locker, Detroit, Synchronic) is phenomenal and has proven himself a wonderful fit for super-hero movies. While this film doesn’t make him a caped (or shield-bearing) crusader for justice, his character’s android status ranks on up there.
I’m just excited to be along for the ride – and that since it’s streaming on Netflix, I won’t have to wait, either!

2 - Shadow in the Cloud (1/1)

Production/Distribution: Four Knights Film, Rhea Films, Film & TV House, GEM Entertainment, Splendid Film, Redbox Entertainment, Signature Entertainment, Vertical Entertainment
Director: Roseanne Liang
Writers: Max Landis, Roseanne Liang
Actors: Chloë Grace Moretz, Nick Robinson, Beulah Koale, Taylor John Smith, Callan Mulvey, Benedict Wall, Byron Coll, Joe Witkowski
Genre: Action, Horror, War
Rated: R
Length: 83 minutes
IMDb Blurb: A female WWII pilot traveling with top-secret documents on a B-17 Flying Fortress encounters an evil presence on board the flight.

Here, we have a bit of kismet hitting the screen – at least, I hope. This movie is a promising blend of historical fiction, science fiction, and horror.
Then add to that the kick-ass (no pun intended) Chloë Grace Moretz (The 5th Wave, Greta, The Addams Family) to the picture as a strong female lead, and you’ve got one gem of a movie in theory.
I have a feeling that this film has the potential for us to be shouting ‘what’s in the case?!’ to the screen much as echoes of Se7en (1995) cry out ‘what’s in the box?!’ to this day.
Planes, mystery, aerial combat, and monsters in the clouds… what’s not to love?

1 - Skyfire (1/12)

Production/Distribution: Meridian Entertainment, Base FX, Gosdom Entertainment, Production Capital, Albatros Film, Screen Media Films, Première TV Distribution, Second Gen Pictures, Source 1 Media
Director: Simon West
Writers: Wei Bu, Sidney King
Actors: Xueqi Wang, Hannah Quinlivan, Shawn Dou, Jason Isaacs, An Bai, Lingchen Ji, Liang Shi, Tongjiang Hou, Yiqing Li, Xinmo Ma, Alice Rietveld, Bee Rogers
Genre: Action
Rated: PG-13
Length: 97 minutes
IMDb Blurb: Tianhuo Island is as beautiful as a paradise. It almost makes people forget that it is located in the "Ring of Fire" the world-famous Pacific Rim volcanic belt. The volcano erupted, and the fate of the people in the island was entangled.
Jason Isaacs (Star Trek: Discovery, Hotel Mumbai, The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance) has been a busy busy bee. He’s featured in more than one of the movies on this month’s list. I’d have to say that this one is the one I’m looking forward to the most, however.
Why? Because it’s a good old-fashioned disaster action movie.
I have had a love of studying volcanoes since I was very young. I think having healthy respect and fear of lava is probably what kept me from pursuing geology/volcanology as a career… I digress. It is a little funny that this movie has come up for this month. I was just recently discussing the Yellowstone Caldera with some friends.
Unlike that very real and scary super-volcano, this is a fictional island resort that decides to gamble with lives to create a tourist attraction. Of course, things are going to go bad. I’m just curious as to who survives at the end. Well, that and I want to see all the spiffy special effects along the way.
If you’re getting cold this winter, a red-hot volcanic movie should be just the ticket to warm you up!

Movies to Look out For
According to: Selina
Batman: Soul of the Dragon .20
Born a Champion .19
Redemption Day .18
No Man's Land .17
The Marksman .16
Penguin Bloom .15
If Not Now, When? .14
Horizon Line .13
Hunted .12
Supernova .11
The Dig .10
Don't Tell a Soul .9
Skyfire .8
Palmer .7
The Queen of Black Magic .6
American Skin .5
Dr. Bird's Advice for Sad Poets .4
Our Friend .3
Shadow in the Cloud .2
Outside the Wire .1

            What makes a movie eligible for Trust the Dice’s Top 20?


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