The Grinch Review

Illumination Delivers Another Perfectly Acceptable if not Necessarily Exceptional Animated Diversion in this Re-Telling of the Dr. Suess Classic.

Bohemian Rhapsody Review

This Queen biopic Fails to Transcend the Genre the Way its Subjects Transcended the Music Scene, but at Least the Music is Good.

Overlord Review

Overlord Combines the Terror of War with the Terror of a Zombie Apocalypse and Accomplishes Exactly what it Means To.

The Nutcraker and the Four Realms Review

An All-Star Cast Attempts to Usher The Nutcracker Story to a New Generation Via Disney Blockbuster, but Unfortunately the Results Fall Short of the Ambition.

A Star is Born Review

Bradley Cooper Writes, Directs, Sings, and Stars in this Fourth Incarnation of this Story Alongside Lady Gaga to Rapturous Results.

First Trailer for TAKEN 3

I was not a fan of Taken 2 after it essentially felt like a film of leftovers rather than a justifiable premise for a second installment. That talks even surfaced for a third film after critics and audiences alike freely expressed their disdain for the money-grubbing sequel was surprising but here we are two years later and we have the first trailer for that threequel appropriately titled, TAK3N. If you're already laughing you may not want to hit the jump to take a look at the actual trailer as it is clear Luc Besson and his team of writers have sunk to desperate levels in order to come up with another chapter in the Brian Mills story. The problem is, no matter what he does, Liam Neeson automatically brings credibility to it and dammit if I wasn't eventually sucked into the scenario at hand here due to how intimidatingly badass Neeson is able to come off in the trailer. The third film will also feature the credible Forest Whitaker as a law enforcement agent who is after Mills after he is framed for murder, so there might be a chance of some redemption here. Still, before I get ahead of myself we have to take into consideration the fact that Taken 2 director Oliver Megaton (Colombiana, Transporter 3) is back behind the camera leading me to have to hope this isn't as completely forgettable as the second film, but might, at the very least, contain some of the excitement and thrills that made the original such a surprise. Leland Orser, Famke Janssen and Maggie Grace return with Dougray Scott and Jon Gries rounding out the cast. Tak3n moves from the October release of part two back to the early year release date of the original as we will get what Neeson says is the final chapter on January 9, 2015.

On DVD & Blu-Ray: September 30, 2014

First Trailer for Paul Thomas Anderson's INHERENT VICE

It seemed as if we would never get a trailer for the latest Paul Thomas Anderson contraption, Inherent Vice, but now that we have it seems its over two month away release date will take forever to get here. I had no idea what to expect from this adaptation of the Thomas Pynchon novel and knew little about it other than the summary of said book. Given that, I was beyond anxious to dive into the trailer and upon first glance this couldn't be a better mix of everything I hoped it would be considering the style in the stills we'd seen up to this point and an unexpected comic tone that seems in line with Anderson's natural instincts. I love the look of the trailer (Anderson re-teams with cinematographer Robert Elswit after The Master) and I assume he is again shooting on 65 mm film using the Panavision System 65 camera. It gave The Master such sweeping, epic scope and even on your computer screen you can see the depth of some of the shots here. Besides the excitement that comes along with a first glimpse at footage from a new PTA film there is also the brilliant cast he has in place here that is on full display. Joaquin Phoenix re-teams with the director for his second go- around, but this time as drug-fueled detective Larry "Doc" Sportello. The remainder of the cast features Josh Brolin (getting a nice bit in the trailer), Owen Wilson, Katherine Waterston, Reese Witherspoon, Benicio Del Toro, Martin Short, Jena Malone and Joanna Newsom. Inherent Vice opens in limited release on December 12th before going wide on January 9, 2015.

TUSK Review

There is instinctively something cool and edgy about a movie like Tusk. It is not that the final film is guaranteed to possess those anticipated qualities, but the prospect of the components coming together with the specific style and tone in which it has been composed allow it to exude an effortless cool factor. A factor that attracts people to become interested in it based purely on the feeling of wanting to be "in" on the conversation. There is somewhat of an exclusivity to the material because it is understood from the outset to be slightly off-kilter and a project only a certain kind of crowd or film fan will "get". With those kinds of expectations in check I walked into the latest horror/comedy mash-up from writer/director Kevin Smith (Clerks, Red State) with cautious optimism. I was excited for the material, it seemed more akin to Smith's talents of writing talkative, funny characters while meshing ridiculously with the horror genre he tried his hand at with his previous feature. While Red State was more a scary movie in the vein of gross-out violence than actual scares it had more style and directorial competency than almost anything Smith had done in the past. In Tusk, he leverages the genre he's experimenting in with the one he knows best and to that effect, he is on to something more interesting here. For the first fifty or so minutes of the film I was hooked as the beguiling premise was still allowed a shade of mystery, an air of tension as we waited to see what exactly our antagonist, Howard Howe (Michael Parks looking strangely like Bryan Cranston), planned to do with the main character of this story. It is when Smith is faced with the challenge of delivering on what the premise, trailer and spectacular poster promises that he fumbles toward the finish line. He goes weird, but not strange enough. It is gruesome, but not as detailed or disgusting as it easily could have been (especially given certain set-ups). It could be chocked up to the idea that Smith was trying to be more subtle with his allusions, but as Justin Long's Wallace Bryton likes to brag, his viewers like him real and raunchy and so he tries to be real raunchy. Smith has written by that rule his entire career and I doubt he would stop now considering he is as much in his element here as ever before.

THE EQUALIZER Review

It seems that just last week I was talking about the lengths in which Liam Neeson takes to prove his badassness, how he uses his credibility as an actor to up the quality of what would otherwise be B-movie action thrillers and how he sometimes uses his new reputation to his advantage (such as luring folks into A Walk Among the Tombstones which is more noir than pulp). In the wake of such power it seems he's started a trend. I discussed this when Kevin Costner (so desperately seeming) tried to replicate this kind of success earlier this year with 3 Days To Kill, while folks such as Tom Cruise and Guy Pearce have completed a version of these excursions in hopes of carving out their own character with a particular set of skills. All of this is to say that Denzel Washington didn't necessarily need a character of his own (much less one that he resurrected from an 80's television show) but it wouldn't hurt to try and so he did and so we have the feature film version of The Equalizer. On that note, this is a movie made in a manner that is extremely content with itself; from the marketing (those horribly plain posters) to the over-used slow motion and standard score (seriously, this soundtrack is pretty awful) and it clearly feels very little need to be more than this because it has Mr. Washington at the center of it and his presence alone garners it all the dignity and solemnity it needs to be taken more seriously than it actually is. Having said all of that, I rather enjoyed myself in the slow paced, but precise thriller that allows Washington to develop a more singular character than he has since maybe Frank Lucas. That isn't to dismiss the work he has done in between (he certainly deserved his nomination for Flight), but we all watch a Denzel Washington movie to see Denzel Washington and while he still plays that card to good effect here he also isn't the typically charismatic, well-rounded human being we are accustomed to seeing him portray. He is a man supposedly cut off from emotion or sentimentality, but who can't help but feel if he has the power to do something right, he should do it. No, The Equalizer isn't a great film, but like so many Liam Neeson and Tom Cruise features it does what it's supposed to do and it does it well enough that we'll take the sequel with open arms when it comes around.

THE TWO FACES OF JANUARY Review

There is nothing particularly groundbreaking about The Two Faces of January, but that doesn't make it a pointless experience. In fact, it is rather refreshing in the sense that it knows what it is and takes pride in accomplishing what it sets out to do fairly well. It is a film set in the early 1960's that doesn't overly glorify the day and age it takes place, but rather insists on the time period for the aura though the tone of the film feels closer to that of a 40's drama/romance. Everything we see unfold here is standard within that type of film and within the genre we know we are nestling into, yet the inherent excitement that comes with the engaging premise consistently manages to entertain. It is when watching a movie such as this that one begins to take into consideration how well a film works within the restrictions of its classification and judge its success on that and not simply on what statement it might be trying to make. In talking specifically about The Two Faces of January we are taken into a world of yesteryear where the politics weren't politics, but agendas disguised by adventure and if you don't know any better that's all you have to take it as. Though I'm sure Patricia Highsmith's 1964 novel from which this is adapted has a level of deeper meaning akin to the time in which she wrote it as well as alluding to possible themes someone such as myself, raised in the modern world with little reference to older lifestyles, will not pick up on I was still able to have a fun time watching things unfold. This is a thriller in the most stylish sense of the word and despite the fact that by the time the conclusion comes around we will feel it was all vaguely familiar one can still appreciate it for what it brought to the table while it was on. Like I said, this isn't necessarily anything new or refreshing in any sense, but it is comforting in that it is reliable and is constructed beautifully with top notch performances from some of today's more serious-minded actors elevating the material to even more efficient enjoyment.      

First Trailer for Michael Mann's BLACKHAT

It has been five years since director Michael Mann has made a film and in that time he has transitioned from telling tales of old school crime to cybercrime. It is somewhat difficult to pull off this kind of story while keeping things tense as you can only do so much to enhance the menace of someone typing hysterically behind a keyboard, but Mann has the experience in crime dramas and so we trust he has an interesting take. Though the previously referred to Public Enemies wasn't the highlight of his career and 2006's Miami Vice wasn't necessarily all it was expected (or even meant) to be, my introduction to Mann was 2004's Collateral which is one of my favorite films of the last decade and thus why I have so much excitement each time he prepares a new project. I'd of course seen Last of the Mohicans and would go on after Collateral to finally absorb Heat (though I still need to see The Insider), but the Tom Cruise vehicle is the one that really made me sit up and take note of who was driving the vision. I loved the grainy visuals of LA night life and the story simply unfolded with such genuine tautness it was impossible to ignore how it pulled you in. I really hope Mann has returned to this type of story and execution with his latest though January release date is a bit worrisome. Still, despite the fact the trailer looking pretty plain there is always a certain degree of credibility that comes with Mann's films. Chris Hemsworth leads a cast that also includes Viola Davis, John Ortiz, William Mapother, Tang Wei, and Wang Leehom. Blackhat opens January 16, 2015.

THE GOOD LIE Review

The Good Lie is a perfectly good movie. It has simple aspirations and intentions and within these goals it does what it sets out to do with perfectly reasonable results. There isn't an over-complication of themes or a conflict of interest in the characters and filmmakers objectives, but more this is a film that feels as if it has one mission and that is to tell a story of great risk and sacrifice leaving how it makes you feel up to you. This is strangely unique to a story that looks and feels like the one The Good Lie is telling though because typically we are manipulated into feeling a certain way for the victims of such circumstances and led to a foregone conclusion from the opening scene. There is certainly an expectation that one would come away from the film feeling largely sympathetic for the lost children of Sudan, but the film also understands that this is largely a case of bad luck-being born into an unfortunate time in an unfortunate corner of the world. The film doesn't make a case that we, as individuals or as a country, should be doing more to help the situations of those less fortunate than us in poorer nations, but if anything reminds us to be thankful for the opportunities offered to us by the place and time in history we were born. As much as I appreciate the film traveling the lesser of two roads and approaching its inherently uplifting story with a straightforward mentality that doesn't necessarily make the proceedings all that compelling. Like I said, this is inherently uplifting and there is no escaping that fact and so as the film glides from one setting to the next we are left knowing that everything will turn out more promising than it began, yet it is told in such a conventional, almost safe fashion in terms of filmmaking techniques, dialogue, even overcoming certain obstacles that we never feel the tension or emotion that should come to light in some of the situations that arise. This is all to say that The Good Lie could (almost easily) have been a better, more affecting film than the product we have here, but in terms of what it was meant to do and what it ultimately does it sits squarely in the middle between excellent and horrible.

THE MAZE RUNNER Review

Young adult literary adaptations have become as much a genre to themselves as the super hero or comic book movie. They exist in a vacuum where many of the same rules apply to the different worlds being brought to life. As of late, and meaning after the breakthrough of Harry Potter, the solidification of Twilight and the confirmation of not simply being a fad by The Hunger Games, we have received several female-led, dystopian-set tales of rebellion and individualism that employ fantastical creatures and environments to communicate their bigger themes to the youth of today. In all honesty, I've enjoyed a great deal of them for either their tone (Beautiful Creatures) or extent of creativity (Divergent) while others have been downright terrible (Mortal Instruments). While it may be easy to spot a YA adaptation from a mile away these days it doesn't mean the trend is fading, in fact it is the opposite, for if anything it feels these types of titles are just ramping-up in the way that studios have finally found solid ground on which to build these series hopefuls. It is in the same vein that it took Marvel nearly a decade to establish their own cinematic universe after the X-Men hit the screen for the first time, but now that wehave a type of blueprint things are moving much faster. No matter the eventual box office return, the feature adaptation of a popular teen-lit series can't presently be labeled as a bad idea and thus we have been brought The Maze Runner. Based on a series of four books (which, if successful, will eventually mean five movies) by James Dashner this is the first real departure for the genre since becoming an institution that deviates from the formula of female lead in a failing, dystopian societal structure. Instead, what we are given is a very stripped down, human survival story with plenty of mystery surrounding the circumstances to keep audiences intrigued as our host of characters slowly peel back layers of the secrets within twisting both our expectations and hopes while consistently keeping us engaged in its proceedings. It is as much an accomplishment as any non-branded, non-sequel movie to hit theaters these days and become a hit as it is for the first installment of a YA adaptation to stand completely on its own while still setting itself up for more stories and if The Maze Runner has a single great strength, that is it.

A WALK AMONG THE TOMBSTONES Review

At this point it's a matter of just how much of a badass Liam Neeson can be. As I said in my review for this years Neeson opener, Non-Stop, the guy has more than solidified himself as everyone's favorite action star by doing what Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger wish they could at his age and reaping the box office returns they desire. Why these aged action stars can't catch a break is probably because everyone saw them in their prime, knew what they were at the peak of their careers and lives and find it somewhat disheartening and sad, the reality of time. We never saw Neeson as a young action hero though, it took time for him to transcend the realms of serious and prestigious works to lighten up a little and deliver consistently in the B-movie genre, but that is likely a discussion for another time and another piece. Today, we talk about Neeson's latest turn as the man on the other end of the phone in A Walk Among the Tombstones. I had a strange idea of this film from the time the first trailer premiered and had yet to rectify that by the time it came time to sit down and enjoy the film. Knowing very little to nothing about the plot or types of characters involved I imagined it as a western (c'mon, that's a great title for a western) and from the few stills I'd seen hoped Neeson might be playing the scorned Sheriff who has to show the townspeople he still has what it takes or the outlaw with a moral compass that put him in a sticky predicament where he had to choose between his code and his life. That is neither here nor there though as what the film actually plays out to be is a detective story from the perspective of a retired police officer and now private detective that was once unable to resist the temptation of the drink and is now unable to resist a case where women have become the price paid for their husbands sins. It is a nasty little movie, one that doesn't break any molds or provide any new insight into the genre of film in which it resides, but it does what it is intended to do well enough while going on for fifteen minutes too long and resulting in a much less profound conclusion than it could have had it simply let the audience draw their own conclusions.

First Trailer for Tim Burton's BIG EYES

It has been seven years since Tim Burton directed Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street and though that film very much fits in with the directors typical niche it was the last film by Burton I remember really relishing the experience of. Since, he has made the obligatory feeling Alice in Wonderland, the even more obligatory Dark Shadows (which, still, isn't as bad as it was made out to be in my opinion) as well as the feature-length version of Frankenweenie which I found to be, in a word: underwhelming. Burton has been making films well over thirty years now and so we expect a certain amount of pedigree, of class and innovation to his productions yet more than anything he has tread the same waters over and over again lately. With his Oscar-season release this year though it seems the pigeon-holed filmmaker has the opportunity to break away from the stigmas and styles that have plagued his most recent works into being unenthusiastic "Tim Burton Productions". Not only has he recruited Academy favorites Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz to portray real-life figures Margaret and Walter Keane, but almost more importantly he has taken on a very human story, not one of fantastical flights of science fiction or horror, but a grounded, adult drama that centers on the betrayal and delusion that came into the lives of these painters when their own signature style attracted fame. Hey! Maybe Burton felt a certain spiritual connection with these artists and will be telling his own story here as well. Serious introspection? All the more reason to be excited. Big Eyes also stars Krysten Ritter, Terrence Stamp, Jason Schwartzman, Danny Huston and opens on December 25th.

THE ZERO THEOREM Review

It is difficult to deduce an opinion from something which you feel you didn't really experience in the way it was intended to be. I watched Terry Gilliam's latest fantastical daydream on my laptop after renting it from Amazon, but the impact wasn't nearly as thrilling given the themes and ideas it seems the director intended to touch on. As with many a Gilliam film, the visuals are key here and the environment is overpowering to the transparent dialogue that changes up speaking patterns and use of words to seem different or original, but evoke little meaning in their change. Throughout the entire film our lead character, Qohen Leth (Christoph Waltz), refers to himself in plurals and though this is meant to suggest some type of existential meaning where he is all and all are him, we aren't ever really given clear reasoning as to why this guy is such an oddball besides the fact he lives in a similarly crazy-seeming world. It is this kind of mentality, this type of "off the beaten path" style for the sake of being different that is more irritating than innovative and if anything it seems Gilliam is splashing together little bits of his filmography to create something as outlandish as ever, but the issue is that none of it sticks. I enjoy a good conversation about the point of life, where we come from, faith, God, science, family, humanity and all of that stuff (good stuff that serious conversation and insight can produce) but screenwriter Pat Rushin, in his feature debut, has given Gilliam nothing particularly insightful or revelatory to work with other than asking the question of why one might want to prove that everything is for nothing? What would be the point Qohen asks? There is no thoughtful response though, there is no epiphany that comes forth to his apparently genius mind, but rather we are left with an age old John Lennon sentiment that doesn't so much invigorate us about our psychological state of being, but more comforts our human condition in flowery ways because the film is written with such flowery language.

First Trailer for A MOST VIOLENT YEAR

I listed J.C. Chandor's follow-up to All Is Lost as my tenth most anticipated release for what is essentially the Oscar season of 2014. Though it is highly unlikely that I will actually get to see the film before the end of this year I am still very much looking forward to it and what it might do with its Award chances. Featuring not only what looks to be an electric performance from Oscar Isaac, but also one of the many great, in a wave of performances this fall, turns from Jessica Chastain. Chastain simply has an electricity about her and a passion that oozes into her craft and if this short clip of a trailer gives us anything it is the level of passion both she and Isaac have brought to their characters here. Chandor has written an original screenplay centered around an American immigrant (Isaac) and his wife (Chastain) who are trying to expand their business in New York in 1981 as violence and corruption threaten to destroy all they've built. It should also be mentioned that statistically, 1981 is one of New York's most violent years in the history of the city. The trailer doesn't give away much as it takes us more through the escalating structure and the intensity that it will carry rather than giving away any major plot points or flashy scenes. Personally, I like it this way and the trailer serves its purpose in only getting me more interested and anxious to see a film that I was already excited for based on its credentials alone. After Margin Call and All is Lost, Chandor seems poised to really make his mark with this third feature. A Most Violent Year also stars David Oyelowo, Albert Brooks, Alessandro Nivola and opens in NY and LA on December 31st.

THE CAPTIVE Review

Atom Egoyan must have either been really inspired or really upset with how director Denis Villeneuve's Prisoners turned out last year as he has, in that year, produced a familiar feeling film that not only steeps certain motivations of its counterpart in its DNA, but takes elements of that film altogether and reconstructs them in a way that almost says this is what Egoyan would have done had he been given Aaron Guzikowski's screenplay. Of course, Egoyan could have been working on this script with David Fraser long before Prisoners arrived in theaters and thus made him all the more unenthusiastic given the social status of his film would always be on a certain back-burner given the timing of its culmination. Ryan Reynolds gets the Hugh Jackman role (hold your comments) though his character doesn't have as much of a narrative drive and Rosario Dawson takes the Jake Gyllenhaal job without the nervous ticks or personal issues that re-enforce the investment in the job. Instead, these are all more middle of the road character executions set in the middle of extreme circumstances that are dealt with way too cooly. This and the fact Villeneuve's film is expertly shot and beautifully eery outweigh what The Captive strives to be, yet there is still a certain amount of unavoidable emotional involvement when it comes to content such as this. Beyond the obvious mystery elements (which are conveyed more through narrative order than withholding information here) The Captive is very much a film about repercussions and realizations than it is abduction or child abuse in this digital day and age. The film, right out of the gate, with its creepy antagonist in a thinned-out Kevin Durand would have you believe this is going to be all about the hunt for this monster and the intelligence with which he outsmarts his adversaries, but the overall impression the film gives is not one of a battle between good and evil, but the battles going on within ones self and the fight to either push certain qualities out or attempting to find ways to go on while constantly dealing with these emotions.

THE DROP Review

When one approaches a film with a certain set of expectations based on the individual components and what it could potentially add up to as a whole it gives way to a certain direction we think the film will go. From the outside looking in The Drop starring Tom Hardy and James Gandolfini in his final screen role sold itself as a Brooklyn-based crime drama that centers around a robbery gone wrong and the investigation around the robbery that brings a certain drop-point system to its knees. While all of this is still very much a part of the film, it isn't the centerpiece, as an audience we aren't drawn into the plot as in the series of events that make up the story, but instead become more interested in how these specific characters will decide the course of the story rather than the tropes typically employed in this genre. To be fair, it is a deliberately slow-paced affair that sets the tone of not only the critical environment in which the movie takes place, but the attitude of our main character and how it lines up with the aforementioned plot elements that combine to bring home more than we bargained for in the third act. As the film goes on and we wonder why the tension never reaches breaking points with the police involvement or why more things, shocking things aren't happening we are getting a portrait painted for us and we don't even realize it until director Michaël R. Roskam wants us to. There are core questions people have to ask themselves when put in a predicament such as Bob Saginowski (Hardy) is here. What is his overall goal in life? What is standing in his way? What might he lose if he doesn't achieve his goal? They are questions that Dennis Lehane no doubt asked himself as well when he penned both the screenplay and his short story the film is based on. These questions though, ones that typically provide a kind of structure for where a story needs to go, while still in place, are allowed to become side-tracked and thus result in a film where it doesn't feel we are dipping in on a very specific moment in time in the life of the characters, but that this is simply another set of struggles, another set of detractors and minor set-backs in a neighborhood where everyone is fighting to make a living and maybe one day, achieve their ideal goals.

Official Trailer for THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY - PART 1

At long last, the full-length trailer for the first installment of director Francis Lawrence’s conclusion to the Hunger Games franchise has been released. Lionsgate has been playing this entire series close to the chest after the first film became somewhat of a phenomenon simply because it knows what it has on its hands. At this point, people are going to show up to this no matter if they've seen a trailer or not and so we get glimpses of what is to come, but not a marketing onslaught that wears us out before the final product arrives (take note, Sony). Having read all three of Suzanne Collins' books on which these films are based I found "Mockingjay" to be the least satisfying which has always made me weary of the film adaptation yet Lawrence took "Catching Fire" (my favorite reading experience of the series) and made it a much better film that the initial installment giving me hope for what he might do with the conclusion of this story. It was inevitable that the studio would split the final book into two features (despite the book length being about the same as the first two) and with this first real look at footage from the first half of the finale it looks like Lawrence has taken the themes of what this world of districts represents and has turned the emotional repercussions up to eleven. The book did take some interesting avenues with the characters though and naturally I look forward to seeing those play out on the big screen. It also looks like Gale will finally get his due after being heavily sidelined in the first two films, only building to a more emotional ending than we might be ready to handle. here's hoping it actually gets to us that much, signaling some real depth in blockbuster filmmaking. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 stars Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson,  Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Julianne Moore, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Elizabeth Banks, Jena Malone, Sam Claflin, Jeffrey Wright, Stanley Tucci, Natalie Dormer, Donald Sutherland and opens in theaters on November 21st.

First Trailer for SERENA

It has been a long time coming and the end still isn't quite in sight stateside. Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence teamed up almost a year before making their critically acclaimed Silver Linings Playbook for a Susanne Bier period drama, Serena, that has yet to find a release date. It was reported a few weeks ago that the film would get an October 24th UK release, but nothing has been announced as far as when those of us in the U.S. will have an opportunity to see it. Still, as it is in fact opening somewhere means publicity is necessary and thus the first trailer and first look at any footage of the film has premiered. I first heard of the film on the heels of Lawrence winning her Oscar and Cooper getting his nomination and thought it might be an opportunity for the duo to once again deliver what might be award-worthy performances, but with the delay and tone of this trailer the film has come to feel like something forever relegated to the back burner of Silver Linings and American Hustle. That isn't to say the film necessarily looks bad, just more forgettable than one might expect. Regardless of how it turns out though (and I still believe it has a real shot at quality) the film will no doubt look beautiful as Bier (whose films I haven't seen before) has captured the countryside of the the 1920's with stunning browns and yellows that seep into the naturalism of the environment. Serena also stars Toby Jones, Rhys Ifans, Sam Reid, and Sean Harris. Hit the jump to check out both the first trailer and poster.

WHAT ELSE I'M WATCHING #2

It's been longer than I anticipated between entries in this series and due to that much has happened and much entertainment has been consumed, some of which I have already forgotten the details of, others that I've started and haven't finished, but more than anything most of it has been outside the realm of feature films. I would like to say I've been proactively searching out new movie experiences and taking them in, but the truth is things have been crazy and outside of the new releases I've seen and reviewed I haven't watched much at home besides the television shows I'm currently hooked on. That currently includes How I Met Your Mother and finishing up the summer season of the guilty pleasure that is Pretty Little Liars (don't judge me). I also recently started Revenge as I've heard nothing but good things about the first season and as the third was just recently added to Netflix I thought I might look into it. The first four episodes grabbed me and I look forward to digging in further once I have a little more room on the schedule. I imagine HIMYM's final season will be making its way to the streaming service soon though, so that will be priority number one. As I haven't seen as much as I would like to fill out this article a lot of it will be a list of things I'd like to get to in order to touch on in the next installment. So, here we go...

New Trailer for HORRIBLE BOSSES 2

I was pretty taken in the dead of summer 2011 when Horrible Bosses showed up and gave us an original comedy that delivered moreso than the comedy sequel we'd been waiting on that year, The Hangover Part II. There was just something about the ensemble cast, the films carefree tone and slapstick roots that meshed brilliantly with the chemistry the three leads were able to pull together. In short, it became one of those comedies I could watch over and over again once it hit home video. In the days of short attention spans and legacies that never last though, if one wants to remain relevant they must continue to deliver and so this year, when we've already had both a successful original comedy (Neighbors) and a successful sequel to a comedy (22 Jump Street) it feels we're a bit spoiled by the fact we get another high profile comedy sequel, but unfortunately it also feels (at least on first impression) totally unnecessary. Don't get me wrong, like The Hangover trilogy, I wouldn't mind watching another one of these movies simply as an excuse to hang out with the leads, but the first film was such a solid single entry it seemed making a follow-up with the same characters having just as wild an experience would do nothing but devalue the memory of the first film. As is typically the case though, this new trailer for the film makes our boys look qualified for a comeback as kidnappers rather than murderers in pretty funny fashion. Horrible Bosses 2 stars Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, Charlie Day, Jennifer Aniston, Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Chris Pine, Kevin Spacey and opens November 26th. Check out both the new trailer and poster after the jump.

FRANK Review

At the beginning of Lenny Abrahamson's self-proclaimed quirky indie Frank there is a series of scenes in which Jon (Domhnall Gleeson) attempts to come up with an idea for an original song. He stands, making observations, trying to put melody to descriptive words that paint a picture of what he is saying and deeper than this he is trying to find some type of depth, some kind of weight to what he is experiencing that might translate and be appreciated in song. The thing is, Jon isn't very good at capturing what his ambition tells him he is capable of. This is not only depressing and a slap in the face for anyone too self-conscious to believe they would actually ever make a good entertainer who really only wants to create music, but it is also a promising start to a film that offered insight into the mind of someone who creates what we all find catchy. Music, no matter the genre, is universally loved and related to-hell, it is looked to in order to heal scars, to uplift souls and to affirm our belief that there is something worth living for or that there is hope for the human race indeed. Music is a way of expressing what can't be felt through words alone by putting sound behind them that emphasizes the emotions intended. It seemed from the get-go that Frank would indeed cover the gamut of human emotion and investment involved in creating a collection of songs that represent something of meaning to those behind them and become significant to those who hear them and connect them with their lives. Instead, what the film turns out to be is a strange critique of the quest for fame and how that quest is flawed when recognition is the only goal rather than the simple satisfaction of creating art and basking in it. It is acceptability vs. eccentricity in Abrahamson's film and it is an interesting debate for sure, but ultimately you question our surrogates entire purpose for even continuing on this journey after realizing not only that Frank and his band mates are going nowhere fast, but also that they don't take him seriously. The following statement sounds shallow and close-minded yet I believe it can be rightly justified given the subject of critique here, but if there doesn't seem reason for our main character to take this journey-why should we?

On DVD & Blu-Ray: September 2, 2014

IF I STAY Review

There is something to be said about films that I probably shouldn't have any interest in, but really enjoy nestling down with anyway. They are films that aren't necessarily bad; that I don't enjoy watching in a guilty pleasure capacity seeing as "guilty pleasures" are not typically held in high regard. Instead, these films I sometimes latch onto aren't necessarily labeled with negative connotations, but more accurately are labeled more for a specific crowd or demographic that I wouldn't necessarily fall into. R.J. Cutler's If I Stay is a perfect example of the type of film I'm talking about in that I am in no way the target audience for this young-adult novel inspired flick for teenage girls, but regardless I was still able to take away a fair amount of appreciation for what is being attempted here. There is, in short, a certain depth to the story and the way it is framed that clearly comes from Gayle Forman's novel of the same name. It is reaching for something more, something ambitious in the vein of its philosophical thought and the relation of our existence to the point in life our protagonist exists at in this story. Would she ultimately make a different final decision were she at a different point in her life and under different circumstances? Probably, yeah. She may also make the same decision, but would of course be swayed by different factors and the endless possibilities of this scenario that have been dialed down into this specific being at this specific time in her life is fascinating for doing so. You can imagine an endless amount of possibilities when coming to terms with the idea that we have the power to make such a critical choice and coming to terms with that power is enough to intrigue us to be interested in the path that leads Mia (Chloë Grace Moretz) to make the decision she does. I imagine Forman chose the age of her protagonist in that the heightened situation of life and death and the decision to stay or go is mirrored by the general transitional period in life that Mia exists thus creating a similar disposition in both the main story and the one that sets-up the flashbacks through which the majority of the story is told. Don't get me wrong, If I Stay isn't necessarily a breathtaking experience or one that is as emotionally affecting as it thinks it is, but besides running on fumes for a good portion of the second act the film has more to offer than I would have ever anticipated.