Devil’s Pass – Fifty years ago, nine people froze to death while hiking in the Ural Mountains. Now, a group of idiotic twenty-somethings is going to recreate that hike just to prove that man can conquer the elements. Or because they have nothing better to do. At first things go well, it always does, then something happens, and things don’t go so well. They always do. Someone tries to kill them, first by avalanche, then by gun, but once they find a long abandoned bunker with some sort of zombie-demon inhabitants, they are doomed for sure. Happens to me all the time. Holly Gross, Luke Albright, Gemma Atkinson, Matt Stokoe, Ryan Hawley, and Richard Reid star, Vikram Weet writes, Renny Harlin directs and IFC Films puts this into limited release.
Drinking Buddies – Luke (Jake Johnson) and Kate (Olivia Wilde) are two co-workers at a microbrew and they have a few problems: 1) They drink more than they should 2) They like each other a lot, but can’t bring themselves to ever admit it 3) They both have significant others. Sounds like a recipe for disaster, but in writer/director Joe Swanberg’s hands, it’s more like a recipe for non-action and dullness. Co-starring Anna Kendrick, Ron Livingston, Jason Sudeikis, and Kristin Davis. Not since the 2013 Lakers has a collection of this much talent been so disappointing. Out in limited release from Magnolia Pictures and everywhere via VOD.
The Grandmaster – Bruce Lee was the greatest martial artist of our time, popularizing and transforming the medium. But there was another who was even better. Ip Man (Tony Leung), one of China’s greatest folk heroes, was the man who educated the young Lee at Wing Chung. In his native land he wasn’t just a teacher, he was a solider who fought against a changing China. Long time collaborators Leung and writer/director Wong Kar-Wai team up once again for a visual spectacle. Co-starring Chen Chang, Hye-kyo Song, Zhao Benshan, and Zhang Ziyi as the daughter of Ip Man’s rival. Fight choreography by the legendary Yuen Woo-Ping. I misspoke when I called this a spectacle, this is a four course feast. In limited release from The Weinstein Company.
The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones – Nothing gives away a wannabe franchise quite like the colon. Like the other franchises out there, this one deals with another pretty white girl who can bridge two worlds, one human and one not so human. Clary (Lily Collins) is the girl who descends from a long lineage of shadow hunters and is needed to help defeat the evil and bring balance to the universe. It’s all about balance, and you’ve seen this one a couple dozen times before. Collins leads a cast of improbably good-looking young actors: Kevin Durand, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Robert Maillet, Lena Headey, and Godfrey Gao. Cassandra Clare, I. Marlene King, and Jessica Postigo Paquette adapt Clare’s best-selling novel, Harald Zwart directs, and Sony Pictures gives this one a wide release.
Paradise: Faith – Earlier this year, Paradise: Love began the trilogy, and now Faith is here to inject some religious fundamentals. Maria (Maria Hofstätter) devotes her free time to Jesus, doing what she can to bring the Good Word to others. She goes around town with a statue of the Virgin Mary, is kind and understanding, and seems like she is doing a pretty good job helping people out. Then her handicapped husband (Nabil Saleh) comes home, and she doesn’t care much for him. The reason, because he is a Muslim. Maria goes from fearing that he won’t be saved, to hoping that God just punishes him justly. Religion can be funky that way. Ulrich Seidl and Veronika Franz wrote the script, Seidl directed it, and Strand Releasing gives this a minimal rollout.
Scenic Route – Mitchell (Josh Duhamel) has the perfect life and Carter (Dan Fogler) does not. They are on a road trip together when their truck breaks down in the middle of the desert. When a passerby stops to help, Carter reveals that he intentionally broke the pick-up so that they could spend some time together. Sounds like a reasonable excuse. Mitchell isn’t a fan of the plan, and he really isn’t a fan when Carter starts to really dig into him. It’s a shame that they don’t celebrate Festivus, the Airing of Grievances is a yearly tradition. Yes, things get out of hand, and yes, they go mad, and yes, violence ensues. Makes me wonder if they are trying to say something about the male condition. Written by Kyle Killen and directed by Michael & Kevin Goetz. In a limited theatrical run with VOD available everywhere from Vertical Entertainment.
Short Term 12 – Grace (the up-and-coming Brie Larson) works at a place for at-risk teens, committing her life to helping those who have slipped through the cracks. Her co-worker, Mason (John Gallagher Jr.) is trying to promote his position to full-fledged boyfriend, but Grace has had some troubles in her past that keep her from connecting with others. If only she could take a dose of her own medicine, it might do her some good. Kaitlyn Dever, Kevin Hernandez, Rami Malek, and Melora Walters co-star, and writer/director Destin Daniel Cretton adapts his own short film by the same name into a full length feature. Out in limited release from Cinedigm.
Thérèse – Based on François Mauriac’s 1927 novel about French provincial life, Thérèse Desqueyroux (Audrey Tautou) didn’t marry for love, she married Bernard (Gilles Lellouche) out of convenience. At first, everything is hunky dory because his French Estate and wealth keeps everything humming along quite nicely. But Bernard grows more and more tiresome with each day and Thérèse’s friend Anne (Anaïs Demoustier) falls madly in love with a good-looking Portuguese Man. Thérèse sees something that has been missing from her life, time to go and get it. Co-starring Catherine Arditi, Isabelle Sadoyan, and Francis Perrin. Written by Francois Mauriac, Georges Franju, and Claude Miller with Franju and Miller directing. Out in limited release from MPI Pictures.
Una Noche – Havana, Cuba is the place where you can find just about anything, if you know the right people. It’s a city trapped in the 1950s, alive with music, people, drink, and good times. It is also ridden with crime, oppression, and poverty. Raul (Daniel Arrechaga) has been charged with a crime and needs to flee, Miami-and freedom-are mere 90 miles away. His friend, Elio (Javier Nunez Florian) will help him, but he has problems of his own, including a sister that wants to tag along. Their journey will take place over one very treacherous night, here’s to hoping that they can get out. Co-starring Anailin de la Rua de la Torre, Dariel Arrechaga, and Anais Abreu. Written and directed by first timer, Lucy Mulloy. Out in limited release from IFC Films.
The World’s End – Five friends have reunited for one night of epic drinking. The Mount Everest of their youth was the Golden Mile, a stretch of twelve pubs (twelve pubs, twelve steps?) across the sleepy town of New Haven. Twenty years later, they are older, they are wiser, they are seasoned drinkers, and this time, they are going to conquer the Golden Mile. But something is a bit off. Apparently the entire population of New Haven has been replaced by robots. You can never go home again. Time to sober up and save the world! Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine, and Eddie Marsan are the gents in search of The World’s End, Edgar Wright directs the boozy madness, and Focus Features sends this one out in limited release. Bring ice cream!