As promised (threatened?), I’m back with another week of film previews. Ready for Jan 13, 2017?
Let’s bitch it out…
Last week we saw a relatively slight three wide releases. This week Hollywood opens the floodgates and unleashes 5 (!) wide releases and one expansion of note, though the quality of said product differs greatly. Read on.
Patriots Day (Wide)
- Cast: Mark Wahlberg (Calvin Klein commercials), Kevin Bacon (Tremors), John Goodman (Roseanne), J.K. Simmons (everything), Michelle Monaghan (TV’s The Path)
- Official synopsis: In the aftermath of an unspeakable act of terror, Police Sergeant Tommy Saunders (Wahlberg) joins courageous survivors, first responders and investigators in a race against the clock to hunt down the bombers before they strike again. Weaving together the stories of Special Agent Richard Deslauriers (Bacon), Police Commissioner Ed Davis (Goodman), Sergeant Jeffrey Pugliese (Simmons) and nurse Carol Saunders (Monaghan) this visceral and unflinching chronicle captures the suspense of one of the most sophisticated manhunts in law enforcement history and the strength of the people of Boston.
- Good for fans of: Patriotic BS, man’s men movies, disaster porn
- Is it worth your time? Ummm…tricky question. If you enjoyed Deepwater Horizon (same actor/director combo), American Sniper and/or World Trade Center, then you’re probably the target audience for this flick. If, however, you’re less enthused about historical tragedies or films that feature agony in slow motion, then maybe this isn’t for you.
- Cast: Jamie Foxx (Valentine’s Day), Michelle Monaghan (umm…Patriot’s Day), Gabrielle Union (Bring It On)
- Official synopsis: Sleepless stars Foxx as undercover Las Vegas police officer Vincent Downs, who is caught in a high stakes web of corrupt cops and the mob-controlled casino underground. When a heist goes wrong, a crew of homicidal gangsters kidnaps Downs’ teenage son. In one sleepless night he will have to rescue his son, evade an internal affairs investigation and bring the kidnappers to justice.
- Good for fans of: Cops who have to take the law into their own hands
- Is it worth your time: January is still a bit of a dumping ground and this has all of the hallmarks of a generic action flick (the trailer screams “Taken meets John Wick!”). Patriots Day is a better bet if you’re looking for something high octane that won’t dilute your IQ, so unless you’re a big Jamie Foxx fan, this is probably a safe bet for a rental down the line.
Live By Night (Wide)
- Cast: Ben Affleck (Reindeer Games), Chris Cooper (Breach), Elle Fanning (TV’s Dirty Sexy Money), Zoe Saldana (Center Stage)
- Official synopsis: Live by Night is set in the roaring 1920s when Prohibition hasn’t stopped the flow of booze in an underground network of gangster-run speakeasies. The opportunity to gain power and money is there for any man with enough ambition and nerve and Joe Coughlin (Affleck), the son of the Boston Police Superintendent, long ago turned his back on his strict upbringing for the spoils of being an outlaw. But even among criminals there are rules and Joe breaks a big one: crossing a powerful mob boss by stealing his money and his moll. The fiery affair ends in tragedy, setting Joe on a path of revenge, ambition, romance and betrayal that propels him out of Boston and up the ladder of Tampa’s steamy rum-running underworld.
- Good for fans of: Suspenders and hats, Dennis Lehane
- Is it worth your time? Potentially. This is apparently Affleck’s latest attempt at an Oscar run, though judging by the reviews he’s a long way away from The Town or Argo. The closest recent comparison may be Gangster Squad, another film that seemed like it might have pedigree, but ultimately didn’t have the juice.
The Bye Bye Man (Wide)
- Cast: Douglas Smith (TV’s Big Love), Carrie-Anne Moss (TV’s Central Park West) with Doug Jones (Hellboy) as the Bye Bye Man
- Official synopsis: The Bye Bye Man is a chilling horror-thriller that exposes the evil behind the most unspeakable acts committed by man. When three college friends stumble upon the horrific origins of the Bye Bye Man, they discover that there is only one way to avoid his curse: don’t think it, don’t say it. But once the Bye Bye Man gets inside your head, he takes control. Is there a way to survive his possession?
- Good for fans of: Urban legends and cheap cat scares
- Is it worth your time? Probably not. January horror films are notoriously bad and this one looks pretty rancid, despite some decent (adult) cast members and an okay-ish premise.
Monster Trucks (Wide)
- Cast: Lucas Till (X-Men: First Class), Jane Levy (Evil Dead)
- Official synopsis: Looking for any way to get away from the life and town he was born into, Tripp (Till), a high school senior, builds a Monster Truck from bits and pieces of scrapped cars. After an accident at a nearby oil-drilling site displaces a strange and subterranean creature with a taste and a talent for speed, Tripp may have just found the key to getting out of town and a most unlikely friend.
- Good for fans of: Sadism
- Is it worth your time? Ha ha. You’re joking right? I mean, look at that trailer! Noooo, this is garbage juice, people. Even if you think it might be a decent family film…you can do better. Run away. Run away as fast as you can.
20th Century Women (Expansion)
- Cast: Annette Bening (Mars Attacks!), Greta Gerwig (Frances Ha), Elle Fanning (sister of Dakota), Lucas Jade Zumann (Sinister 2)
- Official synopsis: In 1979 Santa Barbara, Calif., Dorothea Fields (Bening) is a determined single mother in her mid-50s who is raising her adolescent son, Jamie (Zumann), at a moment brimming with cultural change and rebellion. Dorothea enlists the help of two younger women — Abbie (Gerwig), a free-spirited punk artist living as a boarder in the Fields’ home and Julie (Fanning), a savvy and provocative teenage neighbor — to help with Jamie’s upbringing.
- Good for fans of: Strong female characters, flared jeans
- Is it worth your time? Absolutely. Not only is Annette Bening a shoo-in to receive an Oscar nomination for her role, but this is the follow-up effort from director Mike Mills, whose Beginners was revelatory back in 2011.
Annnnd that’s it for Jan 13! Next week we’re back with a split personality M. Night film and Vin Diesel dons a Russian fur coat for The Return of Xander Cage.