Movies in Theaters Friday, March 21, 2014: Divergent, Muppets Most Wanted, Nymphomaniac: Volume I, and More
The deeper into March we get, the better the movies (or the more anticipated the movies) get. Although I haven’t personally seen any of the movies coming out this coming weekend, that doesn’t mean I won’t be taking advantage of the star-studded agenda.
First on the list is Divergent, which could be the next biggest YA franchise. Some prognosticators are even calling it a bigger version of The Hunger Games. Time will tell. What I do know, though, is that Neil Burger (Limitless) directs Shailene Woodley, Theo James (CBS’s Golden Boy), and Kate Winslet.
The second big release is Muppets Most Wanted. This wide release is the sequel to the very (very, very) good Muppets movie from 2011. James Bobin returns to direct Muppets Most Wanted with Tina Fey, Ricky Gervais, and Ty Burrell (ABC’s Modern Family) starring.
The final wide release belongs to God’s Not Dead. To be honest, I don’t know a lot about this film. The Christian drama is directed by Harold Cronk (What If…) with Shane Harper (Disney Channel’s Good Luck Charlie) and Kevin Sorbo (Soul Surfer) starring.
In limited theaters, the biggest splash will come with Nymphomaniac: Volume I. Lars von Trier’s (Melancholia) raunchy film seems pretty divisive at this point. What do you expect, though? It has von Trier’s name and is primarily about sex addiction. For those that don’t know, it stars Charlotte Gainsbourg (Melancholia), Shia LaBeouf, Willem Dafoe, and Uma Thurman. Volume 2 will come out on April 18th.
I also wanted to mention Rob the Mob, which is a crime drama starring Michael Pitt (HBO’s Boardwalk Empire), Andy Garcia (Oceans Eleven), and Ray Romano.
The rest of the limited theaters include 50 to 1, A Birder’s Guide to Everything, Anita, Blood Ties, Cheap Thrills, Falcon Song, The French Minister, It Felt Like Love, Jodorowsky’s Dune, John Doe: Vigilante, Just a Sigh, Maladies, and McCanick.
DIVERGENT is a thrilling action-adventure film set in a world where people are divided into distinct factions based on human virtues. Tris Prior (Shailene Woodley) is warned she is Divergent and will never fit into any one group. When she discovers a conspiracy by a faction leader (Kate Winslet)to destroy all Divergents, Tris must learn to trust in the mysterious Four (Theo James) and together they must find out what makes being Divergent so dangerous before it’s too late. Based on the best-selling book series by Veronica Roth.
Present-day college freshman and devout Christian, Josh Wheaton (Shane Harper), finds his faith challenged on his first day of Philosophy class by the dogmatic and argumentative Professor Radisson (Kevin Sorbo). Radisson begins class by informing students that they will need to disavow, in writing, the existence of God on that first day, or face a failing grade. As other students in the class begin scribbling the words “God Is Dead” on pieces of paper as instructed, Josh find himself at a crossroads, having to choose between his faith and his future. Josh offers a nervous refusal, provoking an irate reaction from his smug professor. Radisson assigns him a daunting task: if Josh will not admit that “God Is Dead,” he must prove God’s existence by presenting well-researched, intellectual arguments and evidence over the course of the semester, and engage Radisson in a head-to-head debate in front of the class. If Josh fails to convince his classmates of God’s existence, he will fail the course and hinder his lofty academic goals. With almost no one in his corner, Josh wonders if he can really fight for what he believes. Can he actually prove the existence of God? Wouldn’t it just be easier just to write “God Is Dead” and put the whole incident behind him? GOD’S NOT DEAD weaves together multiple stories of faith, doubt and disbelief, culminating in a dramatic call to action. The film will educate, entertain, and inspire moviegoers to explore what they really believe about God, igniting important conversations and life-changing decisions.
While on a grand world tour, The Muppets find themselves wrapped into an European jewel-heist caper headed by a Kermit the Frog look-alike and his dastardly sidekick.
A misfit group of New Mexico cowboys find themselves on the journey of a lifetime when their crooked-footed racehorse qualifies for the Kentucky Derby. Based on the inspiring true story of Mine That Bird, the cowboys face a series of mishaps on their way to Churchill Downs, becoming the ultimate underdogs in a final showdown with the world’s racing elite.
Sideways meets Stand by Me in this endearing story of friendship, family and a place in bird watching’s history books. On the eve of his widower father’s second wedding, fifteen-year-old David Portnoy spots what may just be the extinct Labrador duck. Now he and the two other stalwart members of the local Young Birders Society, joined by their headstrong photographer classmate Ellen, take off on a rollicking, interstate road trip in search of a rare bird and elusive answers to teenage questions large and small.
With marvelous supporting performances by Ben Kingsley and James LeGros, A Birder’s Guide to Everything is an alternately poignant and funny window into the thoughtful world of birding and the inner peace that can be discovered during a walk in the woods. Rob Meyer delivers a sparkling feature film debut with a coming-of-age tale to warm the hearts of anyone who grew up with a nerdy passion. It becomes a tenderhearted look at the moments and relationships that change even the most intensely focused lives. (Tribeca Film Festival)
Birder’s won second place in the Audience Award at the Tribeca Film Festival and received fellowships and grants from the Columbus/Vague Prize at NYU, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Sundance Institute, and the Tribeca Film Institute. To date, it has been an official selection of the Tribeca, Aspen, Woodstock, Austin, and Williamstown Film Fesitvals.
The story of the former beauty queen and singer, Anita Bryant, who later in life gained notoriety by campaigning in the 1970s to repeal laws that prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
Two brothers, on either side of the law, face off over organized crime in Brooklyn during the 1970s.
Cheap Thrills follows Craig (Pat Healy, Compliance), a struggling family man who loses his low-wage job and is threatened with eviction. In an effort to delay facing the music at home, he heads to a local bar and encounters an old friend (Ethan Embry, Empire Records). The two friends are roped into a round of drinks by a charismatic and obscenely wealthy stranger (David Koechner, Anchorman 2) along with his mysterious wife (Sara Paxton, The Inkeepers). The couple engages the two friends in a series of innocent dares in exchange for money over the course of the evening, with each challenge upping the ante in both reward and boundaries. It seems like easy and much needed money, but the couple’s twisted sense of humor pushes just how far Craig and his friend are willing to go for money and cheap thrills.
Falcon Song is a 1980’s style contemporary western in which a guitar-playing drifter helps a rancher’s granddaughter find her true calling. The film explores themes of land conservation and soul searching beneath a whimsical, quirky world full of colorful characters and magical realism. Starring Gabriel Sunday (Archie’s Final Project), Rainey Qualley (Miss Golden Globe 2012), Martin Kove (Karate Kid, Rambo II), and James Storm (Dark Shadows).
The film was shot over 18 days at locations across the American west, including five cities in Montana. The filmmakers utilized classic production techniques to create a story world and style reminiscent of a more innocent era in dream-factory cinema.
Alexandre Taillard de Vorms is tall and impressive, a man with style, attractive to women. He also happens to be the Minister of Foreign Affairs for the land of enlightenment: France. With his silver mane and tanned, athletic body, he stalks the world stage, from the floor of the United Nations in New York to the powder keg of Oubanga. There, he calls on the powerful and invokes the mighty to bring peace, to calm the trigger-happy, and to cement his aura of Nobel Peace Prize winner-in-waiting. Alexandre Taillard de Vorms is a force to be reckoned with, waging his own war backed up by the holy trinity of diplomatic concepts: legitimacy, lucidity and efficacy. He takes on American neo-cons, corrupt Russians and money-grabbing Chinese. Perhaps the world doesn’t deserve France’s magnanimousness, but his art would be wasted if just restricted to home turf. Enter the young Arthur Vlaminck, graduate of the elite National School of Administration, who is hired as head of “language” at the foreign ministry. In other words, he is to write the minister’s speeches. But he also has to learn to deal with the sensibilities of the boss and his entourage, and find his way between the private secretary and the special advisers who stalk the corridors of the Quai d’Orsay – the ministry’s home – where stress, ambition and dirty dealing are the daily currency. But just as he thinks he can influence the fate of the world, everything seems threatened by the inertia of the technocrats.
In this unflinchingly honest and refreshingly unsentimental coming-of-age story, 14-year-old Lila (Gina Piersanti, in a remarkable debut) spends a languid South Brooklyn summer playing third wheel to her promiscuous friend Chiara and Chiara’s boyfriend Patrick. Eager for her own sexual awakening, Lila gamely decides to pursue the older, thuggish Sammy, rumored to sleep with anyone. But as Lila’s overt advances unmask her inexperience and quiet desperation, she’s quickly pushed into frightening and unwelcome new territory.
This fascinating documentary explores the genesis of one of cinema’s greatest epics that never was: cult filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky’s (EL TOPO) adaptation of Frank Herbert’s sci-fi classic Dune, whose cast would have included such icons as Salvador Dali, Orson Welles and Mick Jagger. In 1975, following the runaway success of his art-house freak-outs EL TOPO and HOLY MOUNTAIN, Alejandro Jodorowsky secured the rights to Frank Herbert’s Dune – and began work on what was gearing up to be a cinematic game-changer, a sci-fi epic unlike anything the world had ever seen.
Jodorowsky enlisted an elite group of artistic mercenaries, including French comic book artist Moebius, who illustrated the storyboards; screenwriter Dan O’Bannon (DARK STAR, ALIEN); artist H.R. Giger (ALIEN); and sci-fi paperback illustrator Chris Foss. For the cast, he lined up icons ranging from Salvador Dali and Mick Jagger to Orson Welles, and even his own son, who was put through two years of gruelling martial arts training to prepare for his role. Unfortunately, the film was never made.
Director Frank Pavich tackles one of cinema’s most enthralling “what could have been” stories, weaving interviews with the charismatic Jodorowsky, his collaborators, and supporters (including DRIVE director Nicolas Winding Refn), together with animation to bring Moebius’ storyboards to life. Even though the project exists only in the imaginations of its creators, and as the hundreds of illustrations they left behind, Pavich’s documentary chooses not to dwell on failure, but rather celebrates the ways in which the creative dreams of Dune planted seeds for many other iconic films that came after it, from STAR WARS to ALIEN to countless more. This is an inspirational story about the power of the creative spirit, one that establishes Jodorowsky as a master of cinema and a true visionary of our time.
Some call him a hero. Some call him a villain. He’s “John Doe: Vigilante” – an ordinary man who decides to take the law into his own hands. Frustrated with a failing legal system that continues to allow violent criminals to go free, John Doe begins exacting justice the only way he knows how – by killing one criminal at a time. Soon he becomes a media sensation and inspires a group of copycat vigilantes, but who is the real John Doe – a pillar of justice or a cold-blooded murderer? You decide.
Alix and Doug were not supposed to meet, but they did. Alix was on a train bound for Paris where she was going to audition for a film, having just left Calais where she had performed in an Ibsen play. Doug, a literature professor, had left England for Paris, where he was to attend the funeral of a dear friend. They were not supposed to meet and yet they did. They did because Alix, whose relationship with her husband was at a crossroads, fancied this handsome serious-looking gentleman on the Paris-bound train. They did because Doug, although not in the mood for love, quickly fell for her. They were not supposed to meet but their brief encounter would prove to be overwhelming.
A daring new film from internationally acclaimed multimedia artist Carter, MALADIES charts the struggles of an unstable former soap opera star (James Franco) in 1960’s New York as he tries to restart his floundering creative career. Hoping to find clarity and new purpose as a writer, he holes up with his eccentric sister (Fallon Goodson) at the seaside home of their best friend (Catherine Keener). But as he disappears further into his own mind, reality begins to slip through his grasp. Featuring an award-winning ensemble, including David Strathairn and Alan Cumming, MALADIES is a heartfelt but defiantly unconventional exploration of the creative mind.
Set over the course of one day, a narcotics detective hunts for a seemingly harmless young criminal who knows a truth about the cop’s past.
NYMPHOMANIAC is the wild and poetic story of a woman’s erotic journey from birth to the age of 50 as told by the main character, the self-diagnosed nymphomaniac, Joe. On a cold winter’s evening the old, charming bachelor, Seligman, finds Joe beaten up in an alleyway. He brings her home to his flat where he tends to her wounds while asking her about her life. He listens intently as Joe over the next 8 chapters recounts the lushly branched-out and multi faceted story of her life, rich in associations and interjecting incidents.
A love story from the director of City Island, Rob the Mob is a daring true crime story that centers on a modern-day Bonnie and Clyde played by Michael Pitt (Boardwalk Empire) & Nina Arianda (winner of 2012 Tony Awards for her performance in “Venus in Fur”).
The powerful cast includes Andy Garcia, Ray Romano and Burt young among many.
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