Movie Beat – 11.02.12

Another week, another batch of new releases for you to dig into. Quite a selection to choose from, and for the first time in a while, there are multiple good options. Let’s dive on in!

The Bay – Remember a few years ago when a mass of dead fish washed ashore? Or when a thousand blackbirds suddenly dropped out of the sky? What happened there? Hard to say, but plenty of people had theories, most of them conspiracy theories, and it looks like those people got together and made a movie. It’s another found footage film, which most of us are getting pretty fed up with, it involves a parasite that eats you from the inside out, which is becoming trite, and refers constantly to the CDC, which was an acronym that didn’t exist in popular vernacular until a year ago. It does sport an Academy Award Winning director, Barry Levinson, who might be trying to branch out since Men in Black III. Lionsgate is giving the film a limited release on Friday, but it’s also available via iTunes download and On Demand.

The Details – Jeff and Nealy Lang (Tobey Maquire and Elizabeth Banks) have been married for ten years, and live the idyllic suburban life. Everything is going so well, until raccoons ransack their yard. This outside force finds the cracks in their marriage and it all goes to hell. This is a film about the prisons that we create around us, and our self-destructive nature. But that might be giving it too much credit, it might be just a bunch of people sleeping around on each other. Co-staring Laura Linney, Ray Liotta, and Kerry Washington, directed by Jacob Aaron Estes, and released in select cities from The Weinstein Company on Friday, but already available On Demand.

Flight – If you have to fly anywhere in the next week or two, save this movie until you return home safe and sound. Denzel Washington plays Whip Whitaker, a commercial airline pilot that is just so damn good at his job. The aircraft malfunctions, and hurdles toward the Earth and certain doom. Luckily, Captain Whitaker is calm, cool, and collected and pulls the thing out and saves the day. But that’s only the beginning. Whit has a problem with drink and drugs, and this could bring his life to a grinding halt. Smack dab in the middle of all the attention that his heroics have garnered him, Whit has to confront his own demons. Supporting performances from Don Cheadle and Jon Goodman (who is in everything these days and great in all of them) and directed by Robert Zemeckis. Paramount releases the film wide on Friday and will no doubt garner a lot of attention come award season.

Jack and Diane – Just a little ditty about two lesbian kids, growing up, best they can. Juno Temple and Riley Keough play two teenagers who fall in love and seem to have all the usual forces against them. What teenager doesn’t feel that way? But with this one, there might be something a little different, something a little unusual. Sometimes it’s illuminating to revisit moments in our lives, sometimes it’s just plain annoying. Featuring new music from Kylie Minogue, and direction from Bradley Rust Gray. Out in limited release from Magnolia Pictures this Friday, but available already via On Demand.

A Late Quartet – Peter (Christopher Walken) has Parkinson’s Disease. That means that he can no longer play with his long-standing quartet and wishes to perform his final concert. The other members of the quartet are Daniel (Mark Ivanir), Juliette (Catherine Keener) and Robert (Philip Seymour Hoffman), and they are all having their own problems, more of a romantic nature. Here the music doesn’t simple color the emotions, it explains and illuminates them. Plus, how many chances do you get to have Christopher Walken talk about the beauty of Beethoven and not in an ironic manner? From director Yaron Zilberman and released in select cities from Entertainment One this Friday.

A Liar’s Autobiography – The Untrue Story of Monty Python’s Graham Chapman – If you are a hardcore Monty Python fan, then this might be a film for you. If you are not a fan, then this is not the place to start, and I suggest you go and watch Monty Python and the Quest for the Holy Grail instead. Python was a British sketch group of six chaps that have gone on to great success and luxurious careers. Graham Chapman died in 1989, and has since been identified as “The Dead One”. This film directed by Bill Jones and Jeff Simpson, is a composite of several different animation styles and based on some facts and some stories of Chapman’s life. Presented in lewd and crude 3-D, A Liar’s Autobiography delves deep into the psyche of The Dead One and comes up with a series of explanations, revelations, and naughty behavior. Limited release from EpixHD starts Friday.

The Man With the Iron Fists – Wu Tang clan ain’t nothing to f*ck with! RZA is back and this time he directs his first motion picture, who’s surprised that it’s a Kung Fu Flick? Seven clans, seven styles, seven mystical powers, seven stylish weapons, all adding up to one impressive body count and an awful lot of good-looking’ whores. Featuring an international cast (Russell Crowe, Lucy Liu, Byron Mann, Cung Le, Rick Yune) a new song from The Black Keys and RZA, and script by RZA and Eli Roth. Fun, energetic, vibrant, and loud, what else would you expect from a title like that? Out wide this week from Universal.

North Sea Texas – This week’s Flemish selection is from writer/director Bavo Defurne and tells the tale of Pim (Jelle Florizoone), a boy who is struggling with his homosexuality as he grows from a young boy to a teenager. Pim is infatuated with his best friend, Gino (Mathias Vergels), who runs off with a girl, leaving Pim all alone. Then one day, Gino comes back. If you’ve never seen a Flemish film, then it’s time. They are not only beautiful to look at, but they come at a story in a very different manner than other Western films. Limited releases start Friday in NY and LA and expand from there.

This Must Be the Place – Sean Penn plays Cheyenne, an aging rock star that still dresses Goth, and is trying to hunt down the Nazi Criminal that tortured his father. Sounds so serious, but it’s a comedy, and thank God for that. Cheyenne and his father weren’t the closest of people, and this act of completing his father’s life long obsession is what Cheyenne can do to help set right a few of the wrongs in his life. Penn gives an excellent performance, supported by Francis McDormand, directed by Paolo Sorrentino, and music by David Byrne. Wide release from The Weinstein Company starts Friday.

Wreck-it Ralph – Just because I play the bad guy, doesn’t mean that I am. Right? Ralph is a bad guy in an arcade game, and he’s fed up being the bad guy, but can he change who he is? Of course he can, or so he hopes as he leaves his game to go find another one where he is the hero. From Walt Disney Pictures, comes the story of our own nature and accepting who we are. Vocal talents from John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jane Lynch, and Jack McBrayer. Directed by first timer, Rich Moore and written by Jennifer Lee and Phil Johnston. Out wide in both 3-D and 2-D this Friday. My review can be found here.