6 Trailers For 6 Films That 6 People Might Watch in 2015!


So, I should start out by explaining that this is not the latest entry in my soon-to-be-revived series, Lisa Marie’s Favorite Grindhouse and Exploitation Film Trailers.  Instead, these are 6 trailers for 6 films that you will have a chance to see in 2015!

Seriously, it’s always good to start a new year with something to look forward to, right?

1) 71

This one look intense, no?  Jack O’Connell plays a British soldier who, during the British occupation of Northern Ireland, finds himself lost behind enemy lines in Belfast.  Jack O’Connell is a rising star and the film won best director at the British Independent Film Awards.

2) Veronika Decides to Die

This was actually filmed in 2008, premiered in Brazil in 2009, played in Germany in 2010, and, seven years later, it’s finally getting a U.S. release.  It’ll premiere in theaters and on VOD on January 20th and then, in March, it’ll be released on DVD.  That would seem to indicate that First Look International, the film’s distributor, doesn’t have much faith in it.  But you know what?  Some of the best films ever made were distributed by people who had no faith.  This could be a challenging, edgy film.  Or it could be crap.

We’ll find out!

3) A Little Chaos

This historical drama stars Kate Winslet and it was directed by Alan Rickman!  The trailer looks gorgeous.  I majored in art history so I have to admit that I will always have a weakness for films like this.

4) Woman in Gold

Will Ryan Reynolds ever star in another good film?  That’s a question that I often find myself pondering.  Reynolds is the type of talented actor who deserves more than co-starring in R.I.P.D. and showing up in a cameo in A Million Ways to Die In The West (BLEH!).

While Woman in Gold does not look to be the type of film that’s going to help re-establish Reynolds as being a rising star, it does look like a film that will give him a chance to remind people that he actually can act.  Undoubtedly, it’ll help that he will be co-starring with Helen Mirren.  Woman in Gold is scheduled to be released on April 3rd.

5) Wild Card

It’s not January unless Jason Statham is killing someone.  2015’s Jason Statham film will be Wild Card.  It’ll be released on January 30th.

6) Blackhat

And finally, we have Blackhat.  It’s scheduled to be released on January 16th.  It’s directed by Michael Mann and stars the official sexiest man alive, Chris Hemsworth.  Apparently, Hemsworth will be helping to capture whoever it was who hacked Sony.

What do you think, Trailer Kitty?

Driving Trailer Kitty

Advertisements

Let’s Say Goodbye to 2014 with Leonardo DiCaprio in The Aviator


Well, 2014 is nearly over.

Soon, it will be 2015.

Soon, the present will become the future.

2014 will not go down in history as one of humanity’s finest moments.  Considering all that’s happened over the past year, it’s hard for me to be surprised by the fact that several of my favorite films of the year were films that I would normally describe as being entertaining escapism.

In 2014, we needed to be entertained.  We needed to escape.

Will 2015 be any better?  What will be the way of the future?  It’s a question that Leonardo DiCaprio asked at the end of Martin Scorsese’s 2004 film The Aviator and it’s a question that we’re still asking today.

Two Late Holiday Reviews: Santa Claws and Happy Christmas


So, Christmas is over and, at this point, you’re probably sick of hearing about Christmas movies.  However, before we say goodbye to 2014 and welcome the new year, I wanted to take this opportunity to tell you about two new holiday films that I saw this month.

Santa Claws

Directed by Glenn Miller and produced by the wonderful people at the Asylum, Santa Claws tells the story of what happens when Santa Claus comes into contact with three adorable kittens.  Unfortunately, it would appear that Santa is highly allergic to cats and he ends up sneezing so much that he falls off the roof of a house.  Of course, this means that it’s up to the three kittens to climb into Santa’s sleigh and deliver the rest of the gifts.  Fortunately, Santa’s sleigh is equipped with a GPS system and two talking reindeer.

Did I mention that the kittens can talk too?

Because they so totally can!

Okay, okay — this is the type of low-budget, straight-to-DVD family film that critics are always snarky about.  But you know what?  I’m a cat person and I think kittens are the cutest things in the world.  And when they’re capable of talking, it’s even better!  Whatever flaws the movie may have had (and it had more than a few), the kittens were cute and really, that’s all that matters.

Add to that, Santa Claws was full of Asylum in-jokes.  For instance, one creepy, Santa-obsessed character also happens to love (and own) Sharknado.  When the kittens pulls up the list of who has been naughty and who has been nice, one of the names at the top of list is that of frequent Asylum actor (and star of A House Is Not A Home) Gerald Webb.

Ultimately, Santa Claws is cute fun for cat lovers.  Watch it on a double bill with the Grumpy Cat Christmas movie.

Happy Christmas

And, after you watch Santa Claws, you can watch a film that basically takes place in an entirely different universe.  Happy Christmas was this year’s film from director Joe Swanberg.  Swanberg, of course, is one of the major figures in the mumblecore movement, making films that feature improvised dialogue and which treat the mundane realities of life with the same reverence that most mainstream films reserve for chase scenes and CGI explosions. Swanberg’s previous film, Drinking Buddies, was one of the best of 2013.

Happy Christmas never works as well as Drinking Buddies but fans of both Swanberg and the mumblecore movement will probably enjoy it.  Anna Kendrick plays Jenny, an irresponsible woman who might be an alcoholic.  When she breaks up with her boyfriend, Jenny ends up moving in with her older brother Jeff (played by Joe Swanberg, himself).  The rest of the film follows Jenny as she goes to parties with and embarrasses her friend Carson (Lena Dunham), dates an amiable pot dealer named Kevin (Mark Webber), and bonds with Jeff’s wife, Kelly (Melanie Lynesky).

Kelly is a novelist who has been suffering from writer’s block.  With the help of Jenny and Carson, she starts to work on what Jenny refers to as being a “trashy, sexy mom novel.”  Probably the best scene in the film features Jenny, Carson, and Kelly just sitting around and debating the best euphemisms to use while writing a sex scene.

(As well, I think that any writer can relate to Kelly’s situation here.  Who hasn’t been tempted to just sell out and just write something that’s totally commercial and goes against every idealistic dream you’ve ever had about being a serious writer?)

Many viewers will probably dismiss Happy Christmas as being a film where nothing really happens but I think they’re being shortsighted.  There’s a lot going on in Happy Christmas — you just have to be willing to look underneath the surface.  Though Happy Christmas rejects the melodramatic conventions that we’ve come to expect from most movies, that doesn’t mean that the film itself is plotless.  By the end of this rather short film, neither Kelly or Jenny is the same person that she was at the start of the film.  They’ve both changed for the better but — much as in real life — that change isn’t always obvious.  But the change is there, waiting to be discovered by those perceptive enough to notice.

Finally, it’s interesting to see both Anna Kendrick and Melanie Lynesky playing against type here.  Kendrick especially seems to be having a lot of fun, finally getting to play a character who doesn’t always do the right thing.

And so, next Christmas, watch Happy Christmas when you want to think and watch Santa Claws when you need an excuse to go, “Awwwwww!”

 

Trailer: The Boy Next Door


So, January is coming up and as a film lover, you already know what that means.  Along with at least one movie featuring Liam Neeson killing people, we’re all going to get a slew of really bad films that the studios and stars are hoping no one will notice.

That said, sometimes a January film can prove to be good, trashy fun.  That’s certainly what I’m hoping will be the case with The Boy Next Door.  I have to admit that I was not even aware that there was an upcoming movie called The Boy Next Door until earlier tonight.  My sister Megan and I spent four hours watching Lifetime and, every 15 minutes or so, they showed a commercial for The Boy Next Door.

As for the movie itself, it would appear to have a few things to recommend it.  First off, the great Kristin Chenoweth appears to be playing Jennifer Lopez’s undoubtedly sassy best friend.  Secondly, it looks like there will be at least a few minutes of soft-focus, saxophone-themed sex and that’s always a good sign for those of us who like our January films to be just a little bit over-the-top and ludicrous.  Finally, the entire trailer reminded me of the trailer for another trashy film that I happen to have really enjoyed, The House At The End of the Street.*

On the negative side — well, it’s coming out in January.  You know what else came out in January?  Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones.  Consider that.

Anyway, here’s the trailer for The Boy Next Door!

—–

* a.k.a. The Cleavage At The End of The Street, as my friend Evelyn renamed it.

Scenes I Love: Penny Dreadful


Episode 102

2014 has been a very good year in the realm of great television. We have the perennial stand-outs like Breaking Bad, Mad Men, Game of Thrones, Justified and The Americans. Some shows that have been brought down a peg or two in seasons past made a resurgence in quality and consistency with The Walking Dead and Sons of Anarchy.

Yet, it is with the new kid on the block that I pick my latest “Scenes I Love” and probably the most memorable scene on TV all year. The scene I speak of is the “seance” scene of the second episode of Showtime’s gothic horror series Penny Dreadful. This scene wasn’t even the big reveal in the episode but it ultimately set the tone for what’s to come for the rest of the series’ inaugural season.

The scene focuses on Eva Green’s character, Vanessa Ives, as she attends and participates in a seance held by Madame Kali in the home of renowned Egyptologist Ferdinand Lyle. It’s a powerful performance from Eva Green who has become an actor with a penchant for pulling off bravura performances in the small and big screen.

Green’s Ives has several more performances such as these during the rest of the season, but they all didn’t come with that first shock and awe this scene gave the episode and the series. It’s actually a shame that Green’s work on Penny Dreadful hasn’t garnered as much, if any, year end accolades. Her work as Vanessa Ives was that good.

Film Review: Locke (dir by Steven Knight)


 

When Locke first premiered in American theaters earlier this year, I have to admit that I didn’t pay much attention to it.  On the one hand, I was intrigued by the fact that the entire film was apparently just Tom Hardy driving around in a car and taking hands-free phone calls from people. Tom Hardy, after all, is one of my favorite actors and I’ve always felt that he deserves to be known for a lot more than just being the bad guy in The Dark Knight Rises.  At the same time, a lot of the reviews made it sound as if Locke was a thriller in the style of Getaway or Need For Speed and I’ve reached the point where I’m only interested in car chases if they involve Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum.

So, I didn’t really pay much attention to Locke and I didn’t think that I would regret my decision to not see the film.  However, a few months later, the Los Angeles Film Critics named Tom Hardy as their choice for best actor of the year for his performance in Locke.  And then, so did the Toronto Film Critics.  In Houston, Indiana, San Diego, Detroit, and St. Louis, Tom Hardy’s performance was acknowledged as being worthy of consideration.

And I thought to myself, “Well, I guess I better see Locke…”  And, earlier today, I finally got a chance to do just that.

My first two immediate reactions:

1) All of those critics who made Locke sound like the Getaway owe me (and probably a lot of other people) an apology.  Locke may have been advertised as being a thriller but it’s actually a very moody character study.  Despite the fact that he has a name that feels appropriate for an action movie, Ivan Locke is not a criminal, a cop, or a superspy.  Instead, he’s a rather ordinary man whose perfectly structured life falls apart over the course of one very long drive.  And, though Locke does spend the entire film driving his car and staring out at the road while either taking phone calls or delivering a bitter monologue to the estranged father that he imagines is sitting in the back seat, there’s not a single car chase to be found in Locke.  This is not an action film.  The only thing chasing Locke are his regrets, his obligations, and one mistake that he’s determined to “make right.”

2) Tom Hardy is a great actor.  He is literally the only character to appear on screen and it’s up to him to carry the entire film.  He manages to do just that, giving a performance that will probably be imitated in acting classes around the world for at least the next ten years or so.  Depending on who is calling him on the phone, Locke can be charming, forceful, caring, narcissistic, and even a little bit desperate.  However, he’s always in control.  It’s only when Locke is off the phone and he’s alone with his thoughts and his imaginary father that Locke allows his anger to come through.  It’s been said that the key to great acting is to be found in the eyes and Hardy’s eyes are on fire all through Locke.  It’s really a great performance.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t necessarily mean that Locke is a great film.  It’s a good film.  Hardy gives too masterful of a performance for the film to be anything other than good.  But at the same time, Locke ultimately feels like an experiment that doesn’t quite work.  You can admire the film’s attempt to tell a compelling story without leaving the confines of Locke’s car and still admit that the film doesn’t quite pull it off.

But, that said, Locke is worth seeing for Tom Hardy’s performance.  Tom Hardy probably won’t receive his first Oscar nomination for Locke but his performance is brilliant nonetheless.

tom hardy

 

 

Things I dug in 2014 off the top of my head


godzilla by hipp

Legendary Picture’s Godzilla tops my list. The kid in me that loved Shōwa and Heisei films enjoyed it.  The redesign was interesting and the origin story was satisfying.  Looking forward to a sequel and a possible crossover with the Pacific Rim franchise!

winter soldier by hipp

Captain America: The Winter Soldier was more enjoyable than the original in my humble opinion. The action sequences and gadgets satisfied this geek.  It was a near perfect adaptation of the original comic story arc. My only complaint is Arnim Zola didn’t have a vessel befitting his genius.

gotg by hipp

Guardians of the Galaxy was perfect! The characters felt real and had a spark. There was a nice balance of comedy, action, cast chemistry, Easter Eggs and science fiction.  Part of me wants to see more Redneck Space Pirates in films/television thanks to Rooker’s performance.

Art by the talented Dan Hipp