A Birder’s Guide to Everything – To be a birder, all you need is a good eye, an excited mind and a motley crew of companions to keep things interesting when the birds decided to stay on the mysterious side. Not the typical hobby of a fifteen-year-old, but David Portnoy (Kodi Smit-McPhee) is far from typical. That’s how he stumbled upon a very rare, thought to be extinct duck. He will need a clear photo, and that will require the help of his friends, a girl he just met and a mentor. This duck might just help David come-of-age. Co-starring Ben Kingsley, James Le Gros, Alex Wolff, Katie Chang, Michael Chen, Daniela Lavender and Ethan Cohn. Written by Luke Matheny and Rob Meyer with Meyer directing as well. Out in limited release from Screen Media Ventures.
Cheap Thrills – Craig (Pat Healy) is struggling to make ends meet and put some food on the table. Losing his low-paying job doesn’t help anything, nor does going to blow off some steam at a bar with his buddy, Vince (Ethan Embry). Well, maybe it will. While they are out and about, they run into Colin (David Koechner), a deranged millionaire, and his wife, Violet (Sara Paxton). It starts as a series of silly dares for money, but Colin decides to up the ante on Craig, offering him more and more money for his dangerous and self-mutilating amusement. The question is, where is the line for Colin and where is the line for Craig? This could (and probably will) end nasty. Amanda Fuller, Claudia Salinas and Laura Covelli also star in this demented study written by David Chirchirillo and Trent Haaga. E.L. Katz directs and Drafthouse Films gives this a limited theatrical release followed shortly with a DVD release in May.
Divergent – Another week, another teen fiction franchise hits the big screen. In this near future, teenagers are placed in a sorting system that identifies their strengths and weaknesses. Thanks to this sorting system, confusion, choice and free will have been eliminated. Well, not totally eliminated. There still exists an irregularity, and that irregularity is called ‘Divergent’. Tris (Shailene Woodley) is one of these Divergents and is deemed a threat to the system. Hotly pursued by Jeanine (Kate Winslet), Tris finds other Divergents, including hunky Four (Theo James). Ansel Elgort, Ray Stevenson and Miles Teller also star in the big screen adaptation of Veronica Roth’s series. Written by Vanessa Taylor and Evan Daugherty with direction from Neil Burger. Out in wide release from Lionsgate Films.
The French Minister – Arthur Vlaminck (Raphaël Personnaz) is a recent graduate and has just received one cushy position, he is in charge of Speechwriting and Language for French Minister, Alexandre Taillard de Vorms (Thierry Lhermitte) who is well on his way to being the next Nobel Prize winner. Vlaminck quickly learns that this is anything but a cushy job, in fact, it’s downright intolerable as Alexandre is not only inept in modern ways, but he doesn’t even entertain the idea of learning. Sometimes, we get paid not for what we do or what we produce, but what we put up with. Looks like Vlaminck is going to have to put up with a lot. Hopefully the paycheck will match. Co-starring Niels Arestrup, Didier Bezace, Josephine de la Baume, Jane Birkin and Marie Bunel. Written by Christophe Blain and Abel Lanzac and directed by legendary French filmmaker, Bertrand Tavernier. Out in limited release from IFC Films and Sundance Selects.
It Felt Like Love – Fourteen-year-old Lila (Gina Piersanti) is spending her summer in Brooklyn surrounded by her friends. Being fourteen is tough, even tougher when you are consistently the third wheel with your friends. Lila resolves that this summer is going to be the summer and begins a relationship with an older guy because he sleeps around. What starts as a sexual awakening quickly takes Lila into a dangerous and gritty world, one where she is completely vulnerable. One that she might not enjoy. This stunning debut from writer/director Eliza Hittman also stars Ronen Rubinstein, Nick Rosen, Giovanna Salimeni, Jesse Cordasco and Case Prime. Out in limited release from Variance Films.
Jodorowsky’s Dune – The history of the movies is littered with projects that might have changed the course of cinema. Orson Welles’s Don Quixote, Stanley Kubrick’s Napoleon, Henri-Georges Clouzot’s Inferno and Alejandro Jodorowsky’s Dune. Based on Frank Herbert’s novel, Jodorowskys assembled an eclectic and impressive cast of creators and actors for this project: Orson Welles, Mick Jagger, David Carradine, Salvador Dalí, Pink Floyd, H.R. Geiger and Jean Giraud to name a few. But then, the money dropped out. Everyone moved on to other projects, other movies, and took the abandoned ideas with them. Those ideas proved to be extremely effective in other projects, David Lynch ended up directing Dune and Jodorowsky continues to inspire, entertain and shock. Directed by Frank Pavich and in limited release from Sony Pictures Classic.
The Missing Picture – Documentarian Rithy Panh is searching for a missing picture, a picture taken between 1975 and 1979 of a devastated and worn down Cambodia. Panh decides that such a pictures does not and could not exist, and decides to recreate it from memory. Panh uses carved wooden figurines and small dioramas juxtaposed against propagandist footage. Randal Douc narrates the life and memories of Panh’s family who suffered under Pol Pot. At times utterly mesmerizing, this horrific recount of a history both personal and universal manages to transcend the murk in which it was born from. Cinema to provide an escape, a way to deal with the haunting memories that no doubt plague Panh’s dreams. If movies are public dreams and dreams are private movies, then Panh allows the world to peek in on his most private and awful moments. Why? For the same reason Claude Lanzmann documented the living history of Holocaust Survivors in Shoah, “Because we must.” It was nominated for an Oscar for Best Documentary, but lost to 20 Feet from Stardom. In limited release from Strand Releasing.
Muppets Most Wanted – Resurrecting The Muppets’ careers proved to be successful and quite lucrative. They took the show abroad and played the biggest stages in all of Europe. Maybe it’s not easy, but they certainly are rolling in the green. But when it comes to The Muppets, troubles (and total anarchy) are never out of a frog’s reach. Constantine is the world’s most dangerous frog, and bears a striking resemblance to one particular show runner. When Constantine frames Kermit and takes his place, things get wacky. What else would one expect from The Muppets? The gangs all here and they’re joined by a bevy of Hollywood heavy-hitters, including: Tina Fey, Ricky Gervais, Ty Burrell, Ray Liotta, Christoph Waltz and many, many more. Written by James Bobin and Nicholas Stoller with Bobin directing as well. In wide release from Walt Disney Pictures.
Nymphomaniac: Volume 1 – Is she a nymphomaniac, someone helplessly addicted to sexual interactions, or does she just demand more experience out of life? More colors from the sunset, more smells from the bakery, more explosions from her orgasm? Joe (Charlotte Gainsbourg) has been chasing her sexual dragon down some very dark paths and it has led her to a chance encounter with Seligman (Stellan Skarsgård). Danish filmmaker Lars Von Trier doesn’t make conventional movies, he makes confrontations, and Nymphomaniac doesn’t break from that tradition. It embraces it. Supporting performances from Stacy Martin, Shia LaBeouf, Christian Slater and Uma Thurman. Out in a limited theatrical run from Magnolia Pictures, but also available in the privacy of your own home via On Demand. Volume II soon to follow.
Rob the Mob – Some people just need a little more to get over the hump, to get ahead and to get on with their lives. Two of them, Tommy (Michael Pitt) and Rosie (Nina Arianda) are going to do something foolish to get over that hump, they are going to rob some people. Not just any people, but the Mob. Bad idea. Things go their way when they happen to grab a wallet with a family tree in it, the family tree of the mob. The Feds are interested, the Mob is interested and the New York Post is interested. Based on true events, this fun Bonnie & Clyde update co-stars Andy Garcia, Ray Romano, Griffin Dunne and Michael Rispoli. Written by Jonathan Fernandez and directed by Raymond De Felitta. Out in limited release from Millennium Entertainment.