It must be spring break because there are a ton of new films this weekend. They include Divergent (review | trailer), Muppets Most Wanted (review), 50 to 1, Anita, Birder’s Guide to Everything, Blood Ties (Clive Owen), Cheap Thrills, God’s Not Dead, It Felt Like Love, John Doe: Vigilante, Nymphomaniac: Part One, and Rob the Mob. I saw Muppets Most Wanted and Divergent, and enjoyed them both. The new Muppets movie will appeal to the whole family, while Divergent will appeal mainly to fans of the book. Continue reading for a summary of the new films for this week.
Movies for March 21, 2014
In a future world where people are divided into distinct factions based on their personalities, Tris Prior is warned she is Divergent and will never fit into any one group. When she discovers a conspiracy to destroy all Divergents, she must find out what makes being Divergent so dangerous before it’s too late.
Disney’s “Muppets Most Wanted” takes the entire Muppets gang on a global tour, selling out grand theaters in some of Europe’s most exciting destinations, including Berlin, Madrid, Dublin and London. But mayhem follows the Muppets overseas, as they find themselves unwittingly entangled in an international crime caper headed by Constantine — the World’s Number One Criminal and a dead ringer for Kermit the Frog — and his dastardly sidekick Dominic, aka Number Two, portrayed by Ricky Gervais. The film stars Tina Fey as Nadya, a feisty prison guard, and Ty Burrell as Interpol agent Jean Pierre Napoleon.
50 to 1 is based on the inspiring true story of long shot racehorse Mine That Bird’s journey and triumph at the 2009 Kentucky Derby. The film follows the humorous adventures of a small, crooked-footed horse and his cowboy owners and trainer, who take to the highway in an unlikely bid to win America’s premier horse race, the Kentucky Derby. Misfits in the regal world of Kentucky blue bloods, these charming rascals face multiple mishaps and obstacles along the way to the winner’s circle. 50 to 1 stars Skeet Ulrich, Christian Kane, William Devane, Madelyn Deutch, Todd Lowe and three-time Kentucky Derby winning jockey Calvin Borel.
An entire country watched transfixed as a poised, beautiful African-American woman in a blue dress sat before a Senate committee of 14 white men and with a clear, unwavering voice recounted the repeated acts of sexual harassment she had endured while working with U.S. Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas. That October day in 1991 Anita Hill, a bookish law professor from Oklahoma, was thrust onto the world stage and instantly became a celebrated, hated, venerated, and divisive figure.
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.
New York, 1974. Fifty-year-old Chris (Clive Owen) has just been released on good behavior after several years in prison following a gangland murder. Reluctantly waiting for him outside the gates is his younger brother, Frank (Billy Crudup), a cop with a bright future. Chris and Frank have always been different, and their father, Leon (James Caan), who raised them alone, seems to favor Chris despite all his troubles. Yet blood ties are the ones that bind, and Frank, hoping that his brother has changed, is willing to give him a chance – he shares his home, finds him a job, and helps him reconnect with his children and his ex-wife, Monica (Marion Cotillard). But Chris’ inevitable descent back into a life of crime proves to be the last in a long line of betrayals, and after his brother’s latest transgressions, Frank banishes him from his life. But it’s already too late, as the brothers’ destiny is bound together, forever.
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.
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.
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.
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?
NYMPHOMANIAC: VOLUME I is the story of Joe (Charlotte Gainsbourg), a self-diagnosed nymphomaniac who is discovered badly beaten in an alley by an older bachelor, Seligman (Stellan Skarsgård), who takes her into his home. As he tends to her wounds, she recounts the erotic story of her adolescence and young-adulthood (portrayed in flashback by newcomer Stacy Martin). VOLUME I also stars Shia LaBeouf, Christian Slater, Uma Thurman, Sophie Kennedy Clark, Connie Nielsen and Udo Kier.
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.