The biggest movie news of the week are the Oscar nominations, but just because there are a bunch of movies from last year that you need to catch up on, doesn’t mean that there is some fresh fun out there today. Take a look and judge for yourself.
$ellebrity – Kevin Mazur, who has made his living as a rock n’ roll photographer, puts together a collection of interviews, clips, and Cinema Verité style footage into a documentary about fame, celebrity, and most importantly, the voracity at which the public consumes it. This isn’t a documentary that provides an answer to the problem, because there probably isn’t a simple answer to the problem, but might illuminate some to something that they were blind too before. If you spend too much time reading TMZ and watching Insider type shows, then this just might be the one for you. Out in limited release from Independent Pictures.
The Baytown Outlaws – The word “mayhem” comes to mind here. Celeste (Eva Longoria) hires three redneck brothers to kidnap her Godson (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) from ex-husband (Billy Bob Thorton). They nab the kid, but not until they rain down hell-fire and an un-Godly amount of ammunition. Now they are being pursued by a group of female assassins, Native American hunters, thugs, criminals, the law, just about everyone in the South has decided to join in on the fun. That is if loud, cartonishly violent movies are your idea of fun. Barry Battles (what a name!) directs and co-wrote the screenplay with Griffin Hood. Out in limited release from Phase 4 Films.
Gangster Squad – Not too far removed from the above movie, let’s move from current day deep south to Los Angeles, 1949. Jewish gangster Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn) has the city by the throat. In his pocket: judges, lawyers, the LAPD. A group of LAPD outsiders toss their badges aside to deal justice the hard way. To catch a crook, you must think like a crook. This was pushed back from a September release due to the shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, CO and a scene where gunmen shoot a movie theater to pieces was excised. Josh Brolin, Ryan Gosling, Anthony Mackie, Nick Nolte, Bryan Cranston, Emma Stone, Giovanni Ribisi, and Michael Pena star. Ruben Fleischer directs this movie from Warner Brothers that will see a wide release.
A Haunted House – All these Paranormal Activity ghosts are always after white families with little vulnerable girls. I wonder what would happen if a ghost decided to haunt a house down on Crenshaw? Not many ghosts haunt the ghetto, I wonder why that is? A funny premise, and that is where Marlon Wayans and Rick Alverz started, but they open the movie up to more ridiculous spoofs and run the whole damn thing off the cliff. Michael Tiddes directs this spoof of found footage films with performances from Wayans, Essence Atkins, Nick Swardson, Cedric the Entertainer, and David Koechner. Out in wide release from Open Road Films.
I Am Not a Hipster – Written and directed by Destin Cretton and based in the San Diego music scene, Brook is a struggling musician who is also dealing with the death of his mother. His sisters and father show up to spread Mom’s ashes, and the healing can at least start to begin. It’s easy to say that you want to suffer and struggle and put that suffering and struggle into your art, it’s a completely different thing to actually do it. Dominic Bogart, Brad Williams Henke, Kandis Erickson, Alvaro Orlando, Tammy Minoff, and Lauren Coleman star in this independent debut. Available on DVD and streaming on January 15, you can see when it will be released in theaters in your town here.
In Another Country – Isabelle Huppert plays three roles in this South Korean comedy. In one story she is a filmmaker, in another she is an adulterer, and in the third, she is a divorcee. All three overlap, and all three explore the possibilities of a world before us. This is one of three films that the great Hong Sang Soo wrote and directed in 2012, and if you have never seen one of his movies, then this is probably a great place to start. His movies are of a special feeling, the one you get on the first day of an early summer vacation to the beach where you wonder what life is all about and what you are going to have for lunch. Yumi Jung, Kwon Heyhyo, Yu Junsang, Youn Yuhjang, and So-Ri Moon co-star with Huppert and Kino Lorber is giving the movie a limited roll out. You can read my review here.
Storage 24 – Talk about being at the wrong place at the wrong time, a broken up couple and their best friends are at a storage locker splitting up their belongings when a military plane crashes in London. They don’t know that the entire city is on lock-down and that the plane was carrying highly classified alien life forms, which have now found their way into the storage lockers! They are trapped and can’t get out, and your usual haunted house scenario plays out. Johannes Roberts directs and Noel Clarke, Antonia Campbell-Hughes, Colin O’Donoghue, and Laura Haddock stars in this one from Magnolia Pictures. Out in wide release.
Struck By Lightning – Chris Colfer, of Glee fame, writes and stars in this movie of an overachiever who wants to get free of high school and start his life. He wants to enter into the lucrative career of being a newspaperman (he should probably rethink that one) and he is doing everything he can to garner attention. His counselor suggests that maybe he should branch out a little, and put together a literary magazine. He garners submissions from his fellow students by blackmailing them, and in the process, learns a little something about the individual wants and desires of all of them. Colfer leads a cast of Rebel Wilson, Allison Janney, Dermot Mulroney, Christian Hendricks, and Sarah Hyland. Directed by Brian Dannelly and out in limited release from Tribeca Films and available everywhere via On Demand.
Zero Dark Thirty – Zero Dark Thirty is military speak for 12:30 am, the time that Osama Bin Laden was killed. Out in limited release at the end of December, just in time for the Oscar cut off, and rolling out wide today, the day after it received a Best Picture and Best Actress nomination, Zero Dark Thirty is a procedural about Maya (Jessica Chastain) and her ten-year hunt to find Bin Laden. There is a point toward the end of the second act where a colleague asks Maya a little bit about her past. She doesn’t have much of one really. She was recruited out of high school and has spent every waking moment since September 11, 2001 hunting the man responsible. Why? Does she have a dog in this fight? Director Kathryn Bigelow and writer Mark Boal keep that to themselves and let you decide. It is long, maybe thirty minutes too long, but the performances are good, especially Jason Clarke, and Bigelow knows just when to turn the screws. Not the best film of 2012, but nothing to shrug at. Out everywhere from Sony Pictures.