Admission – Mid-level movies can be the worst. We want them to be just a little bit more so we can love them, or if only they were a little worse, then we could write them off. Admission is a mid-level movie about single parents, broken people trying to piece things back together, and life lessons. I have no problem with life lessons, but this one looks spoon-fed. The lesson here: There is more than one-way to raise a child. Tina Fey plays an admissions counselor from Princeton University and Paul Rudd is a folksy single parent who finds the kid that Fey gave up for adoption during her college days. Only in movies do our lives rhyme quite like this. Karen Croner wrote the script based on a novel by Jean Hanff Korelitz with Paul Weitz directing. Focus Features gives this a limited release.
The Croods – At some point there was the first man, the first woman, the first child, the first family, and shortly thereafter, the first case of dysfunction. The comedy here is that the first family was just as ridiculous as a family from the 21st Century, and maybe they were. The Croods are cave dwellers that have never strayed from the safety of their home. but when they are forced to, adventure threatens to tear them apart. The instigator of this whole endeavor is the plucky daughter that is drawn to a larger world. Nicholas Cage, Emma Stone, Catherine Keener, Ryan Reynolds, Clark Duke, and Cloris Leachman lend their vocal talents and Chris Sanders directs this DreamWorks Production. In theaters everywhere.
Eden – Human trafficking is a business that is billions upon billions of dollars a year, yet it receives little to no attention by the media outlets. In movies, it is barely a plot point, never to explore the dehumanization or the animalistic nature of man. Based on true events, Eden takes a searing look at the horrors of human trafficking from the view-point of the victim. Jamie Chung stars a Korean-American teen kidnapped in New Mexico and taken to Las Vegas to become apart of a very intricate sex slave ring. In hopes of escaping the company, she tries to pretend to work with it to perfect it. Along with Chung, Beau Bridges, Scott Mechlowicz, and Matt O’Leary star. Written by Megan Griffiths & Richard B. Phillips with Griffiths directing. Limited release on March 20th from Phase 4 Films.
Gimme The Loot – There are countless stories on the streets of New York City, and all of them seem to somehow ring true. I don’t know why that is, it must just be the city itself. Malcolm (Ty Hickson) and Sofia (Tashiana R. Washington) are two teenage graffiti writers from the Bronx who have their eye on a huge prize. To tag it, they will need $500, and that will bring Malcolm to a beautiful, rich, white girl with an expensive necklace. All they need is that money, and they will be the most famous bombers in all of New York, but it’s a couple of hot, sun-drenched days in New York and that leads to all kinds of trouble. Plus, they are adolescent, and that certainly throws a kink in every plan they have. A stunning debut from writer/director Adam Leon, and out in limited release from IFC Films. You can read my review of the movie here.
Hunky Dory – Wales, 1976: the protagonist, Viv (Minnie Driver), a fiery high school teacher who is determined to grab her hormonal obsessed students and get them to participate in the end of the year musical. Instead of re-treading familiar territory, Viv wants to take Shakespeare’s The Tempest and smash into it with the music of David Bowie, ELO, Iggy Pop, and The Byrds. If the rock n’ roll doesn’t get these kid’s juices flowing, then the hot summer sun will, and the community doesn’t like that one bit. Exploring the argument of whether art exists to distract and provide something familiar or advance and challenge society, constantly making the old guard a little queasy. Script by Laurence Coriat and direction from Marc Evans, Variance Films gives this a limited release.
InAPPropriate Comedy – Movies like this seriously make me wonder what the initial drive, the initial idea, the initial want behind this project was. Was it to entertain with lewd and crude humor? Was it to satirize our culture? Was it to push as many buttons as possible? Was it meant to make a joke of anyone willing to actually pay money to see something like this? The history of cinema is littered with movies that were misunderstood and kicked aside in their time, only then to be discovered later and praised as masterpieces. I’m going to go out on a limb here, and say that this isn’t one of those movies. Starring Adrien Brody, Rob Schneider, Michelle Rodriguez, Ari Shaffir, and Lindsay Lohan and directed by Vince “Slap Chop Guy” Offer. Out in limited release from Freestyle Releasing.
My Brother The Devil – Rashid (James Floyd) runs a traditional Arab gang in Hackney, one of London’s most violent and ethnically diverse neighborhoods. His younger brother, Mo (Fady Elsayed) idolizes Rashid and wants to be just like him, but Rashid doesn’t want Mo to have anything to do with the gangs. The two grow up, and time changes all, and they trade places, only then to trade back. Each time, trying to reconcile their self to the other, and the new other to the self. This is the stuff of high drama, captured by first time director Sally El Hosaini with a script by Hosaini and Aymen Hamdouchi. Out in limited release from Paladin.
Olympus Has Fallen – Here’s a special one for John Boehner, terrorist has kidnapped the President of the United States of America, and The Speaker of the House is now acting as the Commander-in-Chief. Boehner would have blocked Obamacare, but thankfully this Speaker is none other than Morgan Freeman, so there is a chance that the President (Aaron Eckhart) might actually live to see the last reel. The President’s ex-detail man (Gerard Butler) has been trapped inside the White House (code name: Olympus) and now he has to assemble the troops to rescue the Prez and blow the lid off the terrorist’s plans. Directed by Antoine Fuqua with a supporting cast that includes Angela Bassett, Melissa Leo, Ashley Judd, and Rick Yune. Out in wide release from FilmDistrict.
The Sapphires – Based on a true story from 1968, Dave (Chris O’Dowd) is a talent scout in Australia and happens to come across four aboriginal women singing Country-Western music. They want to go to Vietnam and entertain the troops, but they need Dave’s help to get them there. First order of business, ditch the Country-Western vibe and pick up Soul Music. Second order, a name, The Sapphires works. Now it’s off to Vietnam, who could resist such a gig? Along the way they learn about friendship, love, and life, not bad at all. The Sapphires are played by Miranda Tapsell, Deborah Mailman, Jessica Mauboy, and Shari Sebbens. Wayne Blair directs a script from Tony Briggs & Keith Thompson and The Weinstein Company gives it a limited release.
Starbuck – David Wosniak (Patrick Huard) is in arrested development. He may be forty-two years old, but he acts like a teenager. He knocks up his girlfriend and decides to make a change and get his act together. That would have been hard enough for David, but his past comes back to haunt him in a very unusual way. When David was a youth, he perpetually donated sperm under the name of ‘Starbuck’, and now he’s not just a father once over to his girlfriend, he’s a father 533 times over to the world! David starts to go around trying to figure out who his children are, meanwhile a group of them have demanded that Starbuck come forward. Complications, indeed! Written by Ken Scott and Martin Petit with Scott directing, this French-Canadian movie gets a limited release from Entertainment One.