September Movie Releases

Hello everybody!

Another month has gone by and we’re on to another packed month full of great films. September seems like it’s going to be great by the end of the month. In with a few surprises. Let’s take a look at what’s coming out this month.

 

2nd

Limited Release: Yoga Hosers

Kevin Smith directs – and also stars – this odd comedy horror fantasy film that follows two teenage yoga enthusiasts, one played by his own daughter Harley Quinn Smith and Johnny Depp’s daughter Lily-Rose Depp, who team up with a legendary man-hunter to battle with an ancient evil presence that threatens their major party plans. The film has already opened on the film festival circuit to let’s call it a mixed reaction. The film also stars Johnny Depp, Austin Butler, Tyler Posey, Haley Joel Osment, Justin Long, Genesis Rodriguez, Adam Brody, Jason Mewes, and Natasha Lyonne

 

The Light Between Oceans (Walt Disney Motion Pictures/Dreamworks SKG/Touchstone Pictures/Amblin Entertainment/Reliance Entertainment/Participant Media)

A lighthouse keeper (Michael Fassbender) and his wife (Alicia Vikander) living off the coast of Western Australia raise a baby they rescue from an adrift rowboat. They start to raise it as their own until a woman (Rachel Weisz) comes around claiming she’s lost her baby. With a cast like this, and what sounds like a compelling story, I can’t imagine this film being bad at all.

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Morgan (Thriller – 20th Century Fox/Scott Free Productions)

Directed by Luke Scott – the son of director Ridley Scott – a corporate risk-management consultant (Kate Mara) has to decide and determine whether or not to terminate an artificial being’s (Anya Taylor-Joy) life that was made in a laboratory environment. This film came out of nowhere for me, but the film looks pretty damn good. The teaser trailer that came out automatically hooked me and with a great cast, this jumped to my anticipated films of the year. The film also stars Toby Jones, Michelle Yeoh, Body Holbrook, Sam Spruell, Jonathan Aris, Rose Leslie, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Paul Giamatti.

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9th

The Wild Life (Lionsgate/StudioCanal/nWave Pictures/uFilm)

An outgoing parrot named Tuesday, who dreams of seeing the outside world, and his friends enjoy their time on their exotic island until a violent storm brings Robinson Crusoe. Seeing him as a way off, they try to help get off, but not without trouble. The film is originally a French animated film that is being dubbed in English. Personally, the film doesn’t look very appealing to me.

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When the Bough Breaks (Drama – Sony Pictures/Screen Gems/Unique Features)

A surrogate mom for a couple becomes dangerously obsessed with the soon-to-be father. Regina Hall, Theo Rossi, Morris Chestnut, and Glenn Morshower star. The film isn’t really targeted toward me, but the film doesn’t look that great to me honest.

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The Disappointments Room (Drama Thriller – Relativity Media/Demarest Films/Media Talent Group)

Written by Wentworth Miller and directed by D.J. Caruso (Disturbia, Eagle Eye, xXx: Return of Xander Cage), the film follows a mother (Kate Beckinsale) and her young son (Lucas Till) release unimaginable horrors from the attic of their rural dream home. This film has sat on the shelves for a while, and will finally come out. It does look creepy, but the film will have to do some heavy marketing to get on people’s radar since it just moved to this date right before the beginning of the month. The Disappointments Room also stars Michaela Conlin, Michael Landes, Duncan Joiner and Gerald McRaney.

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Sully (Biography Drama – Warner Bros./Village Roadshow Pictures/RatPac Entertainment/Malpaso Productions/Flashlight Films)

The film tells the true story of American pilot Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, who heroically landed an aircraft full of passengers on the Hudson River. But the story is much more than just him landing the plan. Sully look pretty impressive after that trailer, especially the plan going into the river. The film is directed by Clint Eastwood and stars Tom Hanks as Sully himself and Aaron Eckhart as his co-pilot. The film also stars Laura Linney, Anna Gunn, Autumn Reeser, Sam Huntington, and Holt McCallany.

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16th

Limited Release: The Good Neighbor

A pair of high school kids try to trick a neighbor into thinking a house is haunted, but their intended victim turns out to be far more dangerous than they imagined. The film stars James Cann, Logan Miller, Keir Gilchrist, Laura Innes, Edwin Hodge, Anne Dudek, Bailey Nobel, Lili Reinhart, and Mindy Sterling.

 

Hillsong: Let Hope Rise (Pure Flix Entertainment/Grace Hill Media/MediaWeaver Entertainment/Cantinas Entertainment)

The film is a documentary following the Australia-based worship band Hillsong. The film will follow their humble beginning and rise to an international church.

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Bridget Jones’s Baby (Romantic Comedy – Universal Pictures/Working Title Films)

The adventures continue for British publishing executive Bridget Jones (Renee Zellweger) as she enters her 40s, and yeah, she has a baby. Colin Firth returns as Mark Darcy and Sally Philips returns as Shazza, and the film will also stars Jim Broadbent, Gemma Jones, and Patrick Dempsey. I don’t know if anyone was screaming for another Bridget Jones movie, but here it is.

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Snowden (Biography Drama Thriller – Open Road Films/Onda Entertainment/KrautPack Entertainment/Sacha Inc.)

Directed by Oliver Stone, Snowden is about the former CIA employee Edward Snowden (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who leaked thousands of classified documents. The trailer makes it seem like the film will focus on Snowden before he leaked everything a bit, and then jump to what maybe happens after. The film has a very talented cast, and was supposed to be released late last year before it was pushed back to this year. Snowden also stars Shailene Woodley, Scott Eastwood, Nicolas Cage, Timothy Olyphant, Zachary Quinto, Rhys Ifans, Tom Wilkinson and Melissa Leo.

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Blair Witch (Horror – Lionsgate)

You want to talk about films that came out of nowhere, Blair Witch is the definition of that. Originally called The Woods, it was recently revealed that the film was really a sequel, yes a sequel, to the Blair Witch films. Directed by Adam Wingard (You’re Next, The Guest) the film follows Blane, as he takes a group of friends into the woods, after he discovers a video of what could be his missing sister. The problem they find is that they have gone into the same woods that belong to the legendary Blair Witch. I always already looking forward to The Woods because of Wingard, but now that it is a Blair Witch film, my excitement went down just a little, but it’s still Wingard so I’m going to watch this.

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23rd

Limited Release: Queen of Katwe

Based on the book by Tim Crothers, a young girl from Uganda trains to become a world chess champion. I’ve only seen the trailer once, but I felt like I’ve already seen the film. Nonetheless, it looks like an impressive story and the film will find the right people. The cast includes Lupita Nyong’o, David Oyelowo, and introduces Madina Nalwanga playing the main character.

 

Limited Release: Beauty and the Beast

Directed by visionary filmmaker Christophe Gans (Crying Freeman, Brotherhood of the Wolf, Silent Hill), the film is, well, Beauty and the Beast in French. The film looks great and has two great leads in Lea Seydoux as Belle and Vincent Cassel as the Beast/Prince. Of course, people are looking forward to the Disney live-action version next year, but this could hold you over.

 

Limited Release: The Dressmaker 

Based on the novel by Rosalie Ham, a glamorous woman named Myrtle ‘Tilly’ Dunnage (Kate Winslet), returns to her small town in rural Australia. With her sewing machine and haute couture style, she transforms the women and exacts sweet revenge on those who did her wrong. The film also stars Liam Hemsworth, Sarah Snook, Judy Davis and Hugh Weaving.

 

Storks (Animation – Warner Bros. Animation)

Storks have moved on from delivering babies to packages. But when an order for a baby appears, the best delivery stork must scramble to fix the error by delivering the baby. Voice cast includes Andy Samberg, Jennifer Aniston, Ty Burrell, Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele, Danny Trejo and Kelsey Grammer. It seems like 2016 is the year of talking animals and Storks will continue the fashion.

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The Magnificent Seven (Western – Sony Pictures/Village Roadshow Pictures/MGM)

Based on the classic Western that was really a remake of Akira Kurosawa’s classic Seven Samurai, The Magnificent Seven follows seven gun men in the west come together to help a village against a gang coming through. The film already carries some heavy hitters in director Antoine Fuqua and stars Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Peter Sarsgaard, Matt Bomer, Haley Bennett, Vincent D’Onofrio, Byung-hun Lee, and Ethan Hawke. This looks pretty great to be honest. Even with the cast, I was a little hesitant, but the trailers have completely won me over.

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30th

Limited Release: American Honey (Drama Comedy)

A teenage girl (Sasha Lane) with nothing to lose joins a traveling magazine sales crew, and gets caught up in a whirlwind of hard partying, law bending and young love as she criss-crosses the Midwest with a band of misfits. The film won some awards in the film festivals it played in, and has gotten some pretty high praise. The film also stars Shia LaBeouf and Riley Keough.

 

Masterminds (Action Comedy – Relativity Media/Michaels-Goldwyn)

A night guard (Zach Galifianakis) at an armored car company in the Southern U.S organizes one of the biggest bank heists in American history, problem is others on his trail, and they want the money too. The film doesn’t really look too bad – and I’m not the biggest Galifianakis fan – and again like Before I Wake trailers were put out before Relativity Media pull every movie they had off the release schedule because they filed for bankruptcy. Masterminds also stars Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Owen Wilson, Jason Sudeikis, Leslie Jones, Jon Daly, and Ken Marino.

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Deepwater Horizon (Action Drama – Lionsgate/Participant Media/Di Bonaventura Pictures)

Directed by Peter Berg, Deepwater Horizon is based on the true story of the offshore drilling rig Deepwater Horizon which exploded during April 2010 and created the worst oil spill in U.S. History. I’m sure this might still be a touchy subject with some, and people will probably say why the trailer calls the people onboard “heroes,” since they “caused it” or at least a part of it. But Deepwater Horizon still looks pretty descent. The film has a great cast of Mark Wahlberg, Dylan O’Brien, Kurt Russell, Kate Hudson, Gina Rodriguez, J.D. Evermore, and John Malkovich.

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Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (Fantasy Adventure – 20th Century Fox/Tim Burton Productions/Chernin Entertainment/St. Petersberg Clearwater Film Commission)

Based on the novel of the same name by Ransom Riggs, the film follows Jacob (Asa Butterfield) who follows clues that take him to a mysterious land, where he discovers the ruins of Miss Peregrine’s School for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores the building, he discovers that its former occupants were far more than peculiar; they possessed incredible powers. And they may still be alive. I haven’t read the book, but honestly, I’m not the biggest Tim Burton fan anymore. However, this looks pretty good. The cast also includes Eva Green as Miss Peregrine, Samuel L. Jackson, Allison Janney, Ella Purnell, Kim Dickens, Rupert Everett, Chris O’Dowd, Terence Stamp and Judi Dench.

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So, what are you looking forward to?

‘Maze Runner: The Scorch Trails’ Review

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Director: Wes Ball

Writer(s): T.S. Nowlin

Cast: Dylan O’Brien, Ki Hong Lee, Kaya Scodelario, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Dexter Darden, Alexander Flores, Jacob Lofland, Rosa Salazar, Giancarlo Esposito, Aidan Gillen, Barry Pepper, Alan Tudyk, Katherine McNamara, Nathalie Emmanuel, Lili Taylor, and Patricia Clarkson

Synopsis: After having escaped the Maze, the Gladers now face a new set of challenges on the open roads of a desolate landscape filled with unimaginable obstacles.

 

*Reviewer Note:  This will be a spoiler free review.*

 

I have to admit, when I went to go watch The Maze Runner, I wasn’t expecting much, but I was pleasantly surprised by how enjoyable it was and how much I liked it. So when the sequel was coming out, I was looking forward to watching it. Maze Runner: The Scorch Trails keeps up the action set-pieces, but takes a tumble that it takes a while to come back from. Besides that, it should go without saying, but Maze Runner: The Scorch Trails doesn’t play pick-up, so you should brush up on your history or remind yourself what happened in the last one before watching this.

 

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trails starts off pretty much where The Maze Runner left off. The Gladers, Thomas (O’Brien), Minho (Hong Lee), Newt (Brodie-Sangster), Frypan (Darden), Winston (Flores), and Teresa (Scodelario) are bought to a new facility by an unnamed group that is lead by Janson (Gillen). Janson promises them they are safe from W.C.K.D – the company that put them in the Maze – and tells them he can get them to a safe place, along with other survivors. However, Thomas doesn’t fully trust Janson and his suspicion is heighten even more by Aris (Lofland), who has had his own suspicion since he arrived at the facility too. Thomas eventually uncovers the truth and leads his friends and Aris out of the facility and into barren landscape that Janson and others call “The Scorch.”

 

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Once out, Thomas, Aris and the Gladers run into different obstacles along the way to their destination, meeting a resistance group. They run into “Cranks,” people that have been infected by a virus that turns them into mindless killing monsters, they run into Jorge (Esposito) and Brenda (Salazar) who have their own group and share a common interest with Thomas and the Gladers in finding the resistance, but for a different reason, and finally the group is being chased by Janson and W.C.K.D.

 

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One of the big things with the sequel is that it takes us out of the Maze, so now director Wes Ball has time to build up the world that we are now a part of and that was written by author the novel’s being adapted, James Dashner. The world outside the Maze is pretty big. There isn’t much signs of life and everything has been taken over by sand. There are zones that seem to have people there to try to live some sort of their old life. Thomas and Brenda eventually end up at one that is run by Alan Tudyk’s character. That particular scene is one of the biggest missteps of the movie though, and actually crashes the film to a stand-still. It took me a while to get back into the movie after the scene because it felt a bit out of place and, dare I say, unnecessary.

 

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The cast is hit-and-miss. Dylan O’Brien’s Thomas takes on more a leader role here and you can clearly see he’s struggling with that, but embraces it because we find out a little more about Thomas’ past. Kaya Scodelario’s Teresa, who was the only female character in the last film, has a big plot point, but it takes a while for it to really flourish. Ki Hong Lee’s Minho has a bigger supporting role here, but gets lost in the shuffle along with returning characters Newt and Frypan – although they have their moments too – because of the new characters. Jacob Lofland’s Aris starts off as a strong character, but once the movie starts moving forward, he gets pushed to the wayside. However, his character could have a bigger role in the final installment along with other characters that I’ll get to in a second.

 

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Leading the charge for new characters is definitely Giancarlo Esposito’s Jorge and Rosa Salazar’s Brenda. They bring some freshness into the film and they will do whatever they have to survive, and are a welcomed addition to the series. Aidan Gillen’s Janson does a serviceable job of playing a deceitful character as only he can. Lili Taylor and Barry Pepper pop in as Mary and Vince, leaders of the resistance group, but their character aren’t introduced until the last act of the film, so their characters don’t feel as big as they should be or intended to be. Nathalie Emmanuel and Katherine McNamara also appear as resistance fighters Harriet and Sonya, but like Aris, their characters could have bigger roles in the sequel. Finally Patricia Clarkson has a “bigger” role here than she did in the first film.

 

Another problem that I had with The Scorch Trails is like the first film, it suffers a bit from leaving things a bit too open for a sequel. It’s not as bad as the first film, but it is clearly there and bothered me just a tad. Thankfully, The Scorch Trails is a bigger and ambitious film that has great moments of action and drama scattered throughout and avoids most clichés and tropes of the genre (well, for the most part).

 

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All in all, Maze Runner: The Scorch Trails is more ambitious, fun, and slightly better than the first film, but still suffers from being the middle film in a trilogy (they thankfully won’t be splitting the third book into two movies) and leaves more things open than it should.

 

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trails

3.5 out of 5

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‘Everest’ Review

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Director: Baltasar Kormakur

Writer(s): William Nicholson and Simon Beaufoy

Cast: Jason Clarke, Josh Brolin, John Hawkes, Michael Kelly, Keira Knightley, Emily Watson, Elizabeth Debicki, Naoko Mori, Martin Henderson, Ingvar Eggert Sigurosson, Thomas M. Wright, Robin Wright, Sam Worthington, and Jake Gyllenhaal

Synopsis: A climbing expedition on Mt. Everest is devastated by a severe snow storm.

 

 

*Reviewer Note:  This will be a spoiler free review (despite it being based on a true story)*

 

 

Based on a real life event in the late 90s and several books, including one by someone that has climbed Mt. Everest and was at the event that the film is depicting, Everest is not your typical disaster movie. In fact, this is more a freak of nature film. I don’t remember the event happening when it did – I was young at the time and didn’t pay too much attention to the news anyway – but I found out about it later on. It really is one of those stories that is primed for a big screen treatment.

 

Everest follows famed Mt. Everest climber and now guide, Rob Hall (Clarke) as he and his company Adventure Consultants is ready to take another group of climbers up to the peak of Everest. The group consists of John Krakauer (Kelly), a journalist writing a feature about the expedition, Beck Weathers (Brolin), a Texan pathologist who is eager to climb Everest, Yasuko Namba (Mori), an experience climber who has already reached six of the seven highest peaks in the world, and Doug Hansen (Hawkes) a mail man who has failed to make the summit a year before and is eager to finally reach his goal and make the peak. The thing is, at the same time, there are other groups including Mountain Madness, which is lead by a free-spirited Scott Fischer (Gyllenhaal).

 

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Hall and Fischer eventually agree to have their groups climb the mountain together despite their clash of cultures. Once they climb the mountain Hall’s base camp leader Helen Wilton (Watson), a doctor, Caroline Mackenzie (Debicki), and another expert climber and Hall’s friend Guy Cotter (Worthington) notice a storm brewing that is moving in quickly and will hit them hard.

 

I’m not going to lie, Everest is hard to watch. Not in the sense that it’s a bad film, but in the sense that it’s a heavy film to take in and experience. Like I mentioned earlier, it’s a freak of nature kind of film in where anything that could go wrong, seemed to go wrong or at least be in the way of going wrong. And then the storm hits. The storm looks terrifying and the way that director Baltasar Kormakur films the storm and the mountain, it does look a bit like you’re with the climbers as they go higher and higher and as they try to make their way down the mountain.

 

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While it feels like Kormakur is trying to make the mountain feel like its own character, since the mountain is so massive and everything is pretty much covered in the storm, the geography is hard to figure out. Characters will name off parts of the mountain and while we may have seen those parts previously, everything almost feels like the same location.

 

As for the real cast, they fare better for the most part. Jason Clarke’s Rob Hall is equal parts control freak and motivator, which is the exact man you want leading and putting your trust in him to the highest and most dangerous peak on the planet. Josh Brolin handles himself as Beck as he appears to be the least experienced climber of the group, while John Hawkes’ Doug, or Dougie, is there to prove himself to everyone including himself as his drive is what makes his character one of the most sympathetic characters of the film. Jake Gyllenhaal doesn’t get a ton of screen time, but it looks like he’s having fun playing the role.

 

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Emily Watson and Keira Knightley are the only real actress, of the four in the film, that get to do anything substantial. Although most of their moments come from talking on the phone or walkie-talkies, but the scenes are powerful enough to overlook that issue. This goes into another problem in that when everyone has their masks on, you can’t really tell who anyone really is, until they start to talk, and even then it is still pretty hard to tell with the high wind and snow blowing around everywhere.

 

All in all, Everest has its problems, but at the end of the day the cast, performances and gut-wrenching scenes make the film worthwhile.

 

Everest

4 out of 5

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‘Black Mass’ Review

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Director: Scott Cooper

Writer(s): Mark Mallouk and Jez Butterworth

Cast: Johnny Depp, Joel Edgerton, Benedict Cumberbatch, Dakota Johnson, Jesse Plemons, Rory Cochrane, David Harbour, Julianne Nicholson, Kevin Bacon, Adam Scott, Peter Sarsgaard, and Corey Stoll

Synopsis: The true story of Whitey Bulger, the brother of a state senator and the most infamous violent criminal in the history of South Boston, who became an FBI informant to take down a Mafia family invading his turf.

 

 

*Reviewer Note:  This will be a spoiler free review.*

*Reviewer Note 2: I fell behind on my movie watching, so some anticipate some more reviews this week*

 

Black Mass is based on the book “Black Mass: The True Story of an Unholy Alliance Between the FBI and the Irish Mob” written by Dick Lehr and Gerard O’Neill, and based on the true life of arguably one of the most notorious gangsters ever, James “Whitey” Bulger. Whether or not all the events in the film happen or not – two of the real life people that rolled with Bulger say some stuff was not true – the film is a brooding, dark, gritty and tremendously acted film.

 

The film stars in 1975 as we get an idea of who James, or Jimmy, “Whitey” Bulger (Depp) is to the people surrounded by him. The film is introduced by Kevin Weeks (Plemons) as he’s being integrated and says that Bulger was a small time guy and suddenly he became one of the biggest names in South Boston or Southie as they called it. From there we’re introduced to John Connolly (Edgerton), who has returned to Boston and has joined the FBI. His first ambitious move, reunite with his childhood friend Bulger and convince him to join forces to take down the Mafia running North Boston. Bulger seeing this as an opportunity to take down the competition agrees and here is what beings his reign as the kingpin of Boston.

 

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The film isn’t just about Bulger, the film is also about John Connolly. The two get the same amount of screen time and Connolly gets his hands a bit dirty in his own way as much as Bulger. Connolly thinks Bulger is the FBI’s saving grace against the Mafia in Boston and it clouds his judgment from time to time, and it makes him – arguably – as corrupt as Bulger. All of it, done well by the great and always reliable Joel Edgerton.

 

Here is where I run into a problem with Black Mass. The film itself is just okay, but it is elevated thanks to the performances of the impressive and huge cast. Depp and Edgerton at the forefront and the supporting cast play their parts well. Depp is back to true form here. This is the kind of films I like Depp in, where he show his true potential and great acting prowess. Forget the wacky roles that he’s been playing for years now, it is when he plays a serious and real character that you remember how great he is, and playing Bulger is one of those roles. He’s terrifying and intimidating when he has to be, that includes scenes with Dakota Johnson’s Lindsey Cyr and Julianne Nicholson’s Marianne Connolly, the wife of John Connolly. As good as he is as Bulger, he can also be rather charming when he has to be, which is rather odd to see after all the scenes that involve him being a terrible person.

 

Edgerton, on the other hand, has his fair share of great moments with and without Depp, but his character at times is so blinded by the myth that is Bulger that he becomes a bit distracted of his real duties as an FBI agent. He also becomes a bit cocky that he managed to get one of the most wanted criminals the bureau ever wanted to work for them instead of taking him down.

 

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The supporting cast all plays their parts on point and all have their moments to shine, considering how big the film is. Jesse Plemons’ Kevin Weeks and Rory Cochrane’s Steve Flemmi provide framing devices for the most part, but also Bulger’s most loyal allies that will follow him to the end, as does W. Earl Brown as John Martorano. David Harbour’s John Morris plays the more conflicted FBI agent when it comes to working with Bulger and has one of the best and most tension filled scenes that involves a recipe. Kevin Bacon pops in as head of the FBI section in Boston as Charles McGuire as does the surprise cast member of Adam Scott as Robert Fitzpatrick.

 

Unfortunately, some cast members don’t fare that well as others. Dakota Johnson, Julianne Nicholson and Juno Temple are the only real female characters in the film, but it feels like they don’t much as characters. Johnson and Nicholson have more substance to their roles but Johnson disappears after the first half hour of the film and her scenes with Depp are the best at getting some dimension from Depp’s Bulger, and you miss it afterwards. Corey Stoll appears at the end as new District Attorney Fred Wyshak and Peter Sarsgaard’s Brian Halloran is a bit all over the place and although his character calls for it, I could have seen anyone else playing that role. Finally, Benedict Cumberbatch, who plays U.S Senator Billy Bulger has literally about ten minutes – if that – of screen time and has only one real good scene with Edgerton near the beginning of the film. His brotherly connection to Jimmy Bulger isn’t even touched on too much, and they only have a couple scenes together. It’s kind of a shame really.

 

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So despite the great cast and performances, Black Mass doesn’t really do much in getting us more in the head of Bulger. It does early on with the scenes with Johnson’s Cyr but that’s about it. We don’t get more into his head at all and it probably tries to make up for it by giving those conflicted moral scenes to Edgerton’s Connolly, but great acting only takes you so far.

 

All in all, Black Mass is filled with by great performances led by Johnny Depp and Joel Edgerton. The film is a bit grim and hard to watch in some scenes, but the slow burn to the film may turn off some viewers anyway. Black Mass isn’t the perfect film or tale of Bulger’s legacy, but it worth the watch.

 

Black Mass

4 out of 5

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‘The Visit’ Review

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Director: M. Night Shyamalan

Writer(s): M. Night Shyamalan

Cast: Olivia DeJonge, Ed Oxenbould, Deanne Dunagan, Peter McRobbie, and Kathryn Hahn

Synopsis: A single mother finds that things in her family’s life go very wrong after her two young children visit their grandparents.

*Reviewer Note:  This will be a spoiler free review.*

Director M. Night Shyamalan’s name is now a name that you associate with, well, crappy movies. After his great start with films like The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, and Signs, his stock dropped a bit after The Village (although I enjoyed it). However, when it was announced that Shyamalan would go back to a smaller budget and the first trailer was released, some were hoping that “twist-ending” director would return to his former form. So, does The Visit bring Shyamalan back to his old form? Or should you make an excuse not to make the trip?

The not-really-found-footage film follows Becca (DeJonge) and her younger brother Tyler (Oxenbould) as they get ready to spend the week with their estranged grandparents in Nana (Dunagan) and Pop Pop (McRobbie) in order to give their mother (Hahn) time with her new boyfriend. Becca also sees this as an opportunity to make a documentary about the strained relationship between her grandparents and her mother. Everything seems fine on the first day, but as the week goes on Becca and Tyler start to notice their grandparents acting weird. Becca and Tyler eventually use their cameras to discover what is really going on.

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Like I mentioned earlier, the film is passed off as a found footage film, and while the events are being “filmed” by Becca and Tyler, the actual movie has the events being played like a documentary. Becca is a making the movie for her family and trying to recover whatever she can from the strained relationship between her mother, her grandparents and even themselves. Arguably, this is the best part of the film. The drama of the strained family is what grounds the film and makes the film better. Dare I say, the film, probably, could have worked better as a drama with a mixture of the film’s other aspects.

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The family also feels real, which is what makes The Visit more watchable. The back-and-forth between DeJonge and Oxenbould doesn’t feel forced and with their own characteristics and attitudes you get to know them and feel for them, especially when things pick up. Tyler can rap about anything you give him, but also has a thing about germs. While Becca is the more mature and rational as she tells Tyler that their grandparents are just old when they begin to act weird. But, she’s trying to make her documentary as well, so she’ll probably get on some people’s nerves, I know she did for me, but thankfully it was only a few scenes.

I don’t want to get too much into McRobbie’s and Dunagan’s Pop Pop and Nana because it’s a bit in spoiler territory. However, their performances are rather eerie, a bit terrifying, and downright odd. Of course, as the film picks up you’re trying to figure out is going on with them, and I’ll give it to Shyamalan, the twist is something I didn’t suspect. He does try to throw you off and throws a crap load of red-herrings at you. Some will like the twist and some will probably not, I was rather on the fence about it. For the most part, it works more effectively at the moment because it’s jarring and at the point in the film you are invested in the characters, especially Becca and Tyler. However, once you’re out of the film, it is a bit creepy and, but a bit lackluster compared to the other twists in Shyamalan’s films.

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The big thing that split me, and I’m sure others as well, is the tone. The Visit is labeled as a comedy horror. While the film was advertised as a horror film, there is little horror in it. Yeah, we’ll get the eventually pop-up scare here and there, but this is really more of a thriller than anything else. When it comes to the comedy part, some of it is cringe-worthy at best. I did laugh genuinely at some of the jokes, but overall the “comedy” falls a bit flat, which doesn’t help and makes the film’s tone indecisive and watching it a bit jarring because one second you’re a bit unnerved and the next you’re laughing or smirking. It does hurt The Visit overall.

All in all, The Visit feels like Shyamalan is coming back to his old form, but still has a bit to shake off. While you’re probably expecting a straightforward horror film, you’re instead given a thriller with comedy bits that don’t always work. However, the best part of The Visit is definitely the dynamic and heart of the family and it’s two young stars in Olivia DeJonge and Ed Oxenbould.

The Visit

3 out of 5

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September Movie Releases

Hello everybody!

Another month has gone by and we’re on to another packed month full of great films. September seems like it’s going to be great by the end of the month, and may even have some early Academy Award nominees. I know, too early to think of that, but you know what? When you look at these films, you’ll be saying the same thing too. Let’s take a look at what’s coming out this month.

 

 

2nd

A Walk in the Woods

Ken Kwapis (The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Episodes of The Office) directs this film that follows Billy Bryson (Robert Redford), who returns to the U.S after living in England for two decades. As a way to “reconnect” again with his homeland, he decides to hike the Appalachian Trail with his oldest friend (Nick Nolte). I hadn’t heard of this until the trailer dropped, and honestly it looks alright. I don’t know if I’ll end up watching it, but I’m sure it will find its audience. The film also stars Emma Thompson, Kristen Schaal, Nick Offerman, and Mary Steenburgen.

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4th

The Transporter Refueled

A reboot of The Transporter series that sees new transporter Frank Martin (Ed Skrein) gets caught up in a mix up when a job he pulls for femme-fatale, Anna (Loan Chabanol), ends up involving the Russian kingpin. Frank’s not the only one caught in the middle, his father (Ray Stevenson) gets kidnapped and Frank, along with Anna and her group, go on a mission to take everyone down. I wasn’t completely sold on rebooting The Transporter series – although The Transporter 3 was terrible – but the trailers have sold me on the idea and the film looks to being its own thing and not rehashing scenes and ideas from the past films.

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11th

90 Minutes in Heaven

Based on the book by Don Piper, 90 Minutes in Heaven follows a man involved in a horrific car crash is pronounced dead, only to come back to life an hour and half later, claiming to have seen Heaven. The film is following the string of faith-based films to come out around the same time every year, and the films always find an audience so good for them for keeping their audiences happy. However, I’ll be missing out on this one. The film stars Hayden Christensen and Kate Bosworth.

 

The Perfect Guy

After a breakup, Leah (Sanaa Lathan) jumps into a new relationship with a charming stranger (Michael Ealy). When her ex-boyfriend (Morris Chestnut) resurfaces in her life she has to decide to go back with him or stay with her new boyfriend, who isn’t all he seems to be. Honestly, I feel like we’ve seen this movie every year now. Girl breaks up and falls for another guy and the guy turns out to be unstable. And I’m not saying this because I’m not interested in watching the movie – also because it’s not marketed toward me – but it does feel like it is just a rehash of what we’ve seen before. And I’m only basing this off the trailers of everything.

 

The Visit

Written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan, the film follows two children (Ed Oxenbould and Olivia DeJonge) whose mother (Kathryn Hahn) sends them to their grandparents (Peter McRobbie and Deanna Dunagan) place to they can spend time with their grandchildren. Once there, the kids start to witness strange behavior from their grandparents. Okay listen, I’m probably going to end up watching the movie, only because it’s the only thing that comes out this weekend, but I’m not looking forward to it. In my mind, Shyamalan isn’t a director I look forward to seeing anymore. If The Visit ends up being good, then so be it, but M. Night’s track record isn’t all that great recently.

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18th

*Sicario and Everest get limited releases this week with an expansion next week. So check out next week’s releases for my thoughts about the film*

Limited Release: Pawn Sacrifice

Edward Zwick (Glory, The Last Samurai, Blood Diamond) directs his biopic about American chess champion Bobby Fischer (Tobey Maguire) as he prepares for a big match-up against Russian chess champion Boris Spassky (Liev Schreiber). The film looks like it could be good and looks like it’s going to focus on Fischer’s real life mental problems happening before the match. Also starring is Lily Rabe, Robin Weigert, Sophie Nelisse, and Peter Sarsgaard.

 

Captive

Based on a real event, a single mother, Ashley Smith (Kate Mara) struggling with a drug addiction is randomly taken hostage in her own apartment by a man, Brian Nichols (David Oyelowo), on the run from the law for breaking out of jail and murdering the judge assigned to his case. The event took place in 2005 in Atlanta. I didn’t hear about this film, until I started looking up what was coming out this month, and I have to say, this cast looks pretty great. Mara and Oyelowo are joined by Michael Kenneth Williams and Mimi Rogers. Hopefully, this one turns out to be good and not just one that is swept under the rug. Although I recently saw the trailer, and it didn’t do much for me personally.

 

Black Mass

Scott Cooper (Crazy Heart, Out of the Furnace) directs this film based on the life of one of the most infamous crime bosses in Boston during his day, Whitey Bulger. The film looks highly impressive and has an amazing cast lead by Johnny Depp playing Bulger, Benedict Cumberbatch playing Bill Bulger his state senator brother and Joel Edgerton as John Connolly, his old friend and FBI agent. The film follows Whitey Bulger making a deal with the FBI to be an informant to take down a Mafia family invading his turf. Seriously, the film looks great and this is one of those early Academy Award nominees I was talking about. The rest of the cast includes Dakota Johnson, Juno Temple, Corey Stoll, Jesse Plemons, Adam Scott, Peter Sarsgaard, David Harbour and Kevin Bacon.

 

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trails

The first Maze Runner film really surprised me. With the expectation of the ending that was simply building up the sequel, Wes Ball created a pretty great world and set of characters from the novel written by James Dashner. This time around the Gladers, having escaped from the Maze, they find themselves facing a new challenge in a desolated landscape with new obstacles and people. The second trailer really sold me on this and it looks like the world is only going to get bigger and I, surprisingly, can’t wait to see what they do this time around. Dylan O’Brien, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Ki Hong Lee, Kaya Scodelario, Dexter Darden, Alexander Flores, and Patricia Clarkson are set to return and set to be joined by Aidan Gillen, Giancarlo Esposito, Rosa Salazar, Nathalie Emmanuel, Katherine McNamara, Barry Pepper, and Lili Taylor.

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25th

Limited Release: Stonewall

Roland Emmerich directs this film that revolves around the 1969 Stonewall Riots, the violent clash that kicked off the gay rights movement in New York City. The film will be seen through the eyes of Danny (Jeremy Irvine) who flees to New York, leaving his sister (Joey King), after he’s kicked out of his hom by his parents due to his sexuality. When he finds the Stonewall Inn, he meets Trevor (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) before catching the eye of Ed Murphy (Ron Perlman), manger of the Stonewall Inn. Eventually the police and the patrons of the Inn get into it, which leads to one of the most violent and dangerous movements ever. The film is a depiction of a famous event that lead that had major implication in the LGBTQ community. So much so that the community is already trying to boycott the movie because the lead in the movie is white and comes from middle America and is focusing on more white characters and actors when the real riots had people of color involved and were even the leading force of the riots. I don’t mind people getting passionate and even legit angry about this important event in their history is getting disrespected. The film also stars Jonny Beauchamp, Caleb Landry Jones, and Matt Craven.

 

Expansion Release: Sicario

This movie looks great, plain and simple. Directed by Denis Villeneuve (Prisoners) it tells the story of an idealistic FBI agent (Emily Blunt) who is enlisted by government task force to aid in the escalating war against drugs at the border area between the U.S. and Mexico. While there she encounters some questionable people like Alejandro (Benicio Del Toro) and Matt (Josh Brolin). The trailers make this film look great and filled with great tension and with a cast like this, and also include Jon Bernthal, Jeffrey Donovan, and Victor Garber, Sicario could be a hell of a film to watch.

 

Expansion Release: Everest

Baltasar Kormakur (2 Guns) directs Everest and it looks like it’s going to be one of those films, we should go watch. The film tells the story of a climbing expedition on Mt. Everest that is devastated by a severe snow storm. The film is said to be based on various book about a disaster on the mountain in 1996 including Jon Krakauer’s “Into Thin Air” and survivor of a Mt. Everest disaster Lou Kasischke’s book “After the Wind.” But more importantly, the cast looks great. Josh Brolin, Jake Gyllenhaal, Jason Clarke, Sam Worthington, Michael Kelly, Martin Henderson, John Hawkes, Keira Knightley, Robin Wright, Elizabeth Debicki and Emily Watson. Plus, the film looks like it’s going to make its atmosphere as much as part of the film as the cast.

 

The Intern

Nancy Meyers (The Parent Trap (98), What Women Want, The Holiday) directs and write The Intern which follows 70-year-old widower Ben Whittaker (Robert De Niro), who finds out that retirement isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. So he goes back to work as a senior intern at an online fashion site, founded and run by Jules Ostin (Anne Hathaway). I wasn’t really looking forward to this, but I ended up seeing the trailer and it actually looks pretty funny. De Niro and Hathaway seem to have great chemistry and it doesn’t look like De Niro is phoning it in. Nat Wolff, Adam Devine, Zack Pearlman and Rene Russo also star.

 

Before I Wake

Mike Flanagan (Oculus) directs this creepy looking thriller about a couple (Thomas Jane and Kate Bosworth) who adopt an orphaned boy (Jacob Tremblay) whose dreams – and nightmares – manifest physically as he sleeps. Watching the trailer, you do get the creepy vibe and Flanagan has proven he can bring that creep factor and mess around with a scene (in a good way) with Oculus. Hopefully the film turns out to be good. Before I Wake also stars Annabeth Gish and Dash Mihok.

 

The Green Inferno

Eli Roth returns to the director’s chair for his Cannibal Holocaust-inspired film, The Green Inferno. The film follows a group of student activists that travel to the Amazon to save the rain forest and soon discover that they are not alone and that no good deed goes unpunished. The film has been finished for a while and has even been seen at film festivals. The film was originally set for a release earlier this year (I believe), but was pushed back when that studio backed out, but thanks to Blumhouse Productions the film will be seen on the big screen. The film is said to be highly disturbing and unsettlingly and even has a trailer devoted to only showing audience reactions to the film. Those kind of trailer really have no effect on me and personally are kind of dumb, since sometimes those audience are watching the film for free. The film is getting mixed reviews, so let’s see what a wider audience thinks.

 

Hotel Transylvania 2

A sequel to the surprise hit, Hotel Transylvania 2 follows Dracula (voiced by Adam Sandler) and his friends trying to bring out the monster in his half human, half vampire grandson in order to keep Mavis (voiced by Selena Gomez) from leaving the hotel. I didn’t watch the first film, only because I wasn’t too interested in it too much, but when I finally heard good things, it was gone from theaters. Watching the trailer for the sequel though, I might go back and watch the original before I probably end up watching this. The film have the voice cast of Kevin James, Steve Buscemi, David Spade, Keegan-Michael Kay, Andy Samberg, Fran Drescher, Nick Offerman, Megan Mullally, Molly Shannon, Rob Riggle, and Mel Brooks.

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So, what are you looking forward to?