Birders: The Central Park Effect – What a charming little documentary about birds in Central Park. New York City is a giant metropolis of concrete, glass, steel, and asphalt. Imagine a bird soaring over skyscrapers, roads, apartment buildings, and smack dab in the middle of this, a giant swath of green, Central Park. Birds come here to congregate, rest, feed, live, and the birders can’t get enough. How these birds co-exist with thirty-eight million visitors of Central Park is remarkable. Just watch that goose calmly strut its stuff, completely indifferent to anyone else. Written and directed by Jeffrey Kimball and staring a lovely collection of oddballs. Out in limited release from Music Box Films.
Broken City – Russell Crowe plays Mayor Hostetler of New York City, a city that he claims was broken when he inherited the position. Looks like the only thing broken are the people running it. Hostetler is as corrupt as they come, but he needs someone to do his bidding, a patsy to take the fall when necessary. He chooses NYPD Billy Taggart (Mark Wahlberg) to be that man, but Taggart starts to figure out what his role really entails and pushes back. All of this revolves around Hostetler’s wife, Cathleen (Catherine Zeta-Jones) and her promiscuous ways. Don’t expect excellence, just look for a good time. Allen Hughes directs a script by Brian Tucker and 20th Century Fox brings the movie to wide release.
Greenwich Village: Music That Defined a Generation – For all the music lovers out there comes a documentary that focuses on Greenwich Village in the late 1950s and the 1960s. There, a group of musicians defied the government, the draft, and conventionalism. They wrote folk songs, protest songs, and some of them ended up being pop hits on the radio. They stood for something and their resonance still is heard. This doc puts together archival footage along with an awful lot of talking heads from the people who were there, the musicians, and those whose lives were changed by the music. In the end, “Nothing matters but the music!” Limited release from Kino Lorber so try to keep an eye out for it.
Here and There – Pedro (Pedro De los Santos) returns to his mountain village of Guerrero, Mexico after years and years of hard work in the US. Now that he has a little money, he is going to try and put the band, The Copa Kings, back together, but his family needs a fair amount of attention. Even though he made some money working in the US, he needs more. It’s never enough and life is tough. Pedro starts work nearby and meets a teenager who is dreaming of going north of the border for work. This is a slice of Mexican life that normally doesn’t make it to American screens. Written and directed by Antonio Méndez Esparza with performances from Teresa Ramírez Aguirre, Lorena Guadalupe Pantaleón Vázquez, Heidi Laura Solano Espinoza, Néstor Tepetate Medina, and Carolina Prado Ángel. Out in limited release from Torch Films, you can find the release schedule here.
Hors Satan – A nameless drifter appears in town and connects himself to a series of women, and bears witness to their lives. A mother with a sick child, a teenager living in a hopelessly abusive situation, a hitchhiker, and the drifter helps those whom he encounters. He forms a special bond with the teenager and what occurs might be a salvation, or it might be damnation. Bruno Dumont writes and directs this Christian parable set in modern day France. Starring David Dewaele, Alexandra Lemâtre, Christophe Bon, Juliette Bacquet, Aurore Broutin, Sonia Barthélémy, and Dominique Caffier. Out in limited release from New Yorker Films.
The Last Stand – After tanking the Californian economy, Arnold Schwarzenegger returns to his first starring role since 2003. Schwarzenegger plays Sheriff Owens, at one time a member of the LAPD, but now has decided to let his life dwindle down in the small border town of Sommerton Junction, which just happens to be directly in the way of an escaped drug kingpin who has a special outfitted car with an awful lot of firepower. Machismo and heavy firepower, this might make a fine doubleheader with Jack Reacher. Supporting performances from Luis Guzman, Forest Whittaker, and Johnny Knoxville. Directed by Kim Jee-Woon and in wide release from Lionsgate.
LUV – At some point, everyone has to grow up and go from being a boy to a man, a girl to a woman. More often than not, this coming of age moment is forced upon us. LUV takes a look at that moment from the boy’s point of view. The boy is Woody (Michael Rainey Jr.) and he ditches school to spend the day with Uncle Vincent (Common), whom he idolizes. What does Uncle Vincent do? Well, that’s something a little south of conventional. Woody learns the harsh truths in this gritty look at our world. Written and directed by Sheldon Candis with performances from Charles S. Dutton, Danny Glover, and Meagan Goode. Out in limited release from Indomina Media.
Mama – Two sisters, abandoned, feral, alone have been living in cabin out in the middle of nowhere for five years. How is that possible? They are groomed for living in society, and are taken in by their Uncle and his girlfriend. That’s when the ‘s’ really hits the fan. Maybe these girls weren’t all alone for five years, maybe something supernatural is protecting them, and maybe that something now feels a tad threatened now that there are all these new faces. Maybe this will scare the pants off of you. The ubiquitous Jessica Chastain stars with Megan Charpentier and Isabella Nelisse as the girls. Directed by Andres Muschietti and out in wide release from Universal Pictures.
Officer Down – Didn’t get enough of the crooked police force in Broken City? How about a crooked cop and police chief? Detective Callahan (Stephen Dorff) used to be a crooked cop, but then he was shot in a drug bust gone wrong, saved by a stranger, and is now trying to clean up his life. His past haunts him, and after a couple attacks on some strip clubs, Callahan goes rouge to ensure that his past stays his past and the truth won’t out. Detective Callahan? Rouge cop? Sounds vaguely familiar… James Woods, David Boreanaz, and Soulja Boy act alongside Dorff. Brian A. Miller directs and Anchor Bay releases this in limited theaters today, and on DVDs everywhere January 22.