Coming Attractions Week of September 20

Buckle up kids…there are a plethora of films coming to a theatre new you this week…

The Maze Runner (2014) Poster

The Maze Runner (2014)

Certificate PG-13 113 min   –   Action | Mystery | Sci-Fi | Thriller

Metascore: 60/100 (4 reviews)
Thomas is deposited in a community of boys after his memory is erased, soon learning they’re all trapped in a maze that will require him to join forces with fellow “runners” for a shot at escape.
Director:

Wes Ball

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THE BUZZ: This is the YA adaptation we’re rooting for, mainly because it seems more aligned with The Hunger Games than the other youth-bait movies that have come and gone over the past couple years. (And if you’re over the age of 40, it smacks a bit of Logan’s Run and other genre films.) It’s also a rare case of shifting release-date hijinks that actually increased our interest in the movie, mainly because Fox has steadily built its marketing campaign and hasn’t overloaded us with clips and featurettes. Since I haven’t read the novel, my hope is that the story keeps my interest once the initial secrets and structure of this world are revealed.

This Is Where I Leave You (2014) Poster

This Is Where I Leave You (2014)

Certificate R 103 min   –   Comedy

Metascore: 48/100 (10 reviews)
When their father passes away, four grown siblings are forced to return to their childhood home and live under the same roof together for a week, along with their over-sharing mother and an assortment of spouses, exes and might-have-beens.
Director:

Shawn Levy

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THE BUZZ: Typically family-friendly director Shawn Levy ventures into R-rated territory for the first time; he’s also following up The Internship, one of the biggest Hollywood misfires in recent history. The comedic tone here seems off – nothing in the trailer connects aside from the warm fuzzies between Tina Fey and Jason Bateman as siblings, and there’s no real acknowledgment that the Altman family has come home for a shiva, the Jewish tradition of mourning a loved one’s passing. Perhaps it’s a mismatch between the material (“Banshee”‘s Jonathan Tropper adapted his own novel) and its director, since you should be able to point a camera at this cast and let them roll.

A Walk Among the Tombstones (2014) Poster

A Walk Among the Tombstones (2014)

Certificate R 113 min   –   Action | Crime | Mystery | Thriller

Metascore: 54/100 (6 reviews)
Private investigator Matthew Scudder is hired by a drug kingpin to find out who kidnapped and murdered his wife.
Director:

Scott Frank

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THE BUZZ: Liam Neeson’s action-hero reign takes its darkest turn yet in this revenge drama from director Scott Frank, who has been busy on the screenplay front but hasn’t helmed a feature film since The Lookout (which I totally need to watch again because it was rather good). This story seems like a good test of the Neeson brand and it thematically it seems like a warm up for the season’s other black-hued releases: Gone GirlNightcrawlerKill the Messenger …

The Guest (2014) Poster

The Guest (2014)

Certificate R 99 min   –   Thriller

Metascore: 75/100 (12 reviews)
A soldier introduces himself to the Peterson family, claiming to be a friend of their son who died in action. After the young man is welcomed into their home, a series of accidental deaths seem to be connected to his presence.
Director:

Adam Wingard

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THE BUZZ: The stalker thriller is so in this season and who better than “Downton Abbey” vet Dan Stevens to get an opportunity to put his soapy past behind him? Although really this movie looks like a different kind of melodrama more than anything, which is the main reason I want to see it. Buffed out and predatory now that he’s forever loosed from Lady Mary, I can see why Sheila Kelley and Maika Monroe’s mother-and-daughter characters are unable to resist Stevens’s dark magnetism.

Tusk (2014) Poster

Tusk (2014)

Certificate R 102 min   –   Horror

Metascore: 59/100 (9 reviews)
When podcaster Wallace Bryton goes missing in the backwoods of Manitoba while interviewing a mysterious seafarer named Howard Howe, his best friend Teddy and girlfriend Allison team with an ex-cop to look for him.
Director:

Kevin Smith

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THE BUZZ: If audiences respond the same way critics and festival-goers have, Kevin Smith might discover that he’s no longer allergic to good reviews since his latest project, his first foray into the body-horror genre, has played incredibly well initially. The movie premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, and I imagine this means Smith’s proposed Canadian trilogy of films will start to get more attention than any of us would have expected six months ago. And Justin Long might experience a fresh look from casting directors since his performance is as essential to the movie as Michael Parks’. It would be funny if he were to narrate a nature documentary.

The Zero Theorem (2013) Poster

The Zero Theorem (2013) – [Limited]

Certificate R 107 min   –   Drama | Fantasy | Sci-Fi

Metascore: 53/100 (16 reviews)
A computer hacker whose goal is to discover the reason for human existence continually finds his work interrupted thanks to the Management; namely, they send a teenager and lusty love interest to distract him.
Director:

Terry Gilliam

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THE BUZZ: The “fool me once” proverb can apply to Terry Gilliam’s film career over the last decade, but I’ll excuse myself for taking in this sumptuous cast and premise. It’s enough to assert that at least critics are divided by Gilliam’s latest – a return to the sci-fi genre that tends to suit him best.

Tracks (2013) Poster

Tracks (2013) – [Limited]

Certificate PG-13 112 min   –   Adventure | Biography | Drama

Metascore: 80/100 (12 reviews)
A young woman goes on a 1,700 mile trek across the deserts of West Australia with her four camels and faithful dog.
Director:

John Curran

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THE BUZZ: Like Reese Witherspoon in Wild, Mia Wasikowska also takes a walkabout this year, though Tracks is some 30 years in the making – people have been chasing the rights to Robyn Davidson’s story since 1977 when she completed her journey. This picture is traveling under the radar in comparison with Reese’s Oscar bait, though the idea of her and Adam Driver being directed by John Curran The Painted Veil) could resonate just as intensely on a smaller scale.

20,000 Days on Earth (2014) Poster

20,000 Days on Earth (2014) – [Limited]

97 min   –   Documentary | Drama | Music

Metascore: 84/100 (8 reviews)
Writer and musician Nick Cave marks his 20,000th day on the planet Earth.
Directors:

Iain Forsyth | Jane Pollard

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THE BUZZ: The greatest character that Nick Cave could create is “himself,” and he has few rivals for this kind of cinematic indulgence, where we get to watch an idealized version of a day in the man’s life. Musically, if you’re looking to make inroads to Cave’s catalog, it can be rather daunting. I suggest From Her to EternityAbattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus, or Let Love In.

Keep on Keepin' On (2014) Poster

Keep on Keepin’ On (2014) – [Limited]

Certificate R 84 min   –   Documentary

A documentary that follows jazz legend Clark Terry over four years to document the mentorship between Terry and 23-year-old blind piano prodigy Justin Kauflin as the young man prepares to compete in an elite, international competition.
Director:

Alan Hicks

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THE BUZZ: Music-themed projects have won the Best Documentary Oscar two years running (Searching for Sugar Man20 Feet from Stardom). After watching this highly affecting trailer and noting the film’s number of festival wins, I wouldn’t be surprised if first-time director Alan Hicks finds himself in the running come awards time.

Hector and the Search for Happiness (2014) Poster

Hector and the Search for Happiness (2014) – [Limited]

Certificate R 114 min   –   Adventure | Comedy | Drama

Metascore: 22/100 (7 reviews)
A psychiatrist searches the globe to find the secret of happiness.
Director:

Peter Chelsom

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THE BUZZKill Me Three Times, a thriller that serves as a departure from the kind of characters Simon Pegg usually portrays, is getting more attention on the festival circuit than his latest theatrical release – another reminder of how tricky it can be for some performers to diversify their appeal. Hector’s search is giving me Walter Mitty remake vibes with its life-crisis-cum-global-adventure tone, and with Peter Chelsom in the director’s chair (Town & CountrySerendipity,Shall We Dance) you can set a course for comfortable predictability.

Pump (2014) Poster

Pump (2014) – [Limited]

Certificate PG 88 min   –   Documentary

A documentary that tells the story of America’s addiction to oil, from its corporate conspiracy beginnings to its current monopoly today, and explains clearly and simply how we can end it – and finally win choice at the pump.
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THE BUZZ: This latest from environmentally minded documentarian Joshua Tickell is on this list because it appears to have more in mind than tossing up stats and reinforcing your panic. Tickell seems determined to show the cracks in the oil-company monopoly and how the individual can help alter the way Americans get from point A to point B.

Stop the Pounding Heart (2013) Poster

Stop the Pounding Heart (2013) – [Limited]

98 min   –   Drama

Metascore: 72/100 (4 reviews)
Sara, a girl being home-schooled on a goat farm alongside her 11 siblings, finds her devout values challenged after she meets Colby, an amateur bull rider.
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THE BUZZ: I have a fondness for films in which a director works with a non-professional cast; in this case, Italian filmmaker Roberto Minervini returns to Texas for his third story set in that fabled state. If you need a linear narrative, you may want to steer clear of this one – the (remarkably strong) reviews all point to Minervini’s skillful rendering of everyday small-town American life.

Swim Little Fish Swim (2013) Poster

Swim Little Fish Swim (2013) – [NYC]

95 min   –   Comedy | Drama | Music

When a bubbly young artist moves into a couple’s tiny Chinatown apartment, their already fragile balance is upset even further.
Directors:

Ruben Amar | Lola Bessis

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THE BUZZ: This festival-approved, music-fueled comedy seems to take place in a throwback version of New York where a couple can raise a child on one salary, but otherwise its narrative seems frustratingly on trend, what with its manchild dad thrown off axis by a younger woman while his wife endures the behavior. But reviews suggest the movie is a potent alternative to the schmaltz of the Begin Again fantasy with an outsider perspective on the troubles of married life, financial responsibility, and artistic dedication.

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