November 2014 Movie Preview

E: Now we’re talking.  November rockets out of the gate with spectacular looking adventures, and looks just as strong the whole month through.

M: Seriously, not a lot of movies this month overall, but the percentage of good ones is higher than an average month.

E: We don’t need there to be dozens when the ones they put out look this appealing.

M: Exactly, quality over quantity.

E: Let the holiday movie season begin!

M: And a quick reminder, the titles of the movies are links to trailers, so you can check out whichever ones pique your interest.

November 7th

Big Hero 6

E: My kids and Mr. E and I are all crazy for this anime meets Disney comic book tale.

M: So, I get the excitement of Disney seeming to embrace anime, but I really don’t get what this specific movie is about. All I can tell from the 4 or 5 different ads I’ve seen is that there’s a kid and a big balloon dude, and that the movie might have a sense of humor. No indication of a plot, that I can find. Why are you, Mr E, and the nephew and nieces crazy for it?

E: Well, okay.  The robot seems to be a medical robot, a sort of take-home nurse who’s comforting and hugs you a lot as well as monitoring your ailments.  I’m not sure.

M: It also seems to be a robot mostly devoid of robotics…

E: Well, they’re calling him a robot.  A robotic balloon?  And there’s a super cook villain with nano robots, and the big puffy balloon robot, Baymax, fight him, with help of the kids’ friends who all make themselves heroic armor.  I don’t know, that just seems fun.

M: Hmm, haven’t picked up anything about the villain in anything I’ve seen. I have seen the armor, though.

E: What, really?  The guy with the kabuki mask!  Right here.

M: Sorry, I wasn’t clear. I have seen him, but have no clue about who he is, what he wants or what he’s threatening or anything that makes him a villain, other than looking a little bit evil-ish.

E: Bahhh. I don’t feel like I need to know more; I like the feel of it, the reviews have been very good, and it shares a production team with both the underrated Wreck It Ralph and a little dynamo called Frozen.  Plus, have you seen the bit where Baymax is stroking a cat, cradling it and calling “hairy baby”?  That’s just funny.  Give it up.

M: Yes, it is. It does look like it could be fun, my issue is more that I can’t tell what it’s about. I hope it’s good, though.

E: The genius kid and inflated robot protect San Fransokyo from a super villain.  What more do you need to know?  Baymax’s shoe size?

Interstellar

M: Now this is one of two movies this weekend that I am legit crazy for. I can’t say enough how much I enjoy Christopher Nolan’s work. He’s one of the few directors that I want to see everything they make. Put on top of it space travel, the search to find a new home for a dying earth (hello Star Blazers!) and a great cast (a staple of Nolan’s films all the way back to Memento), and I’m in.

E: Star Blazers!  I mean come on!  What’s better than that?

M: For you and me, and other nostalgic children of the 70’s and 80’s, almost nothing. Throw in his well crafted trailer with little bits of info and lots of perfectly droning music (yes, that sounds weird), and I’m in hook line and sinker.

E: Yeah, it looks amazing.  Although I’m not sure why you seem perfectly satisfied with the scant amount of information this trailer puts out, when you’re so confused by Big Hero 6.

M: Because I… nope, not worth it. Keep going.

E: It looks like something you absolutely have to see on the big screen.

M: Totally. I’ve already heard people talking about making sure to pay the extra to see it in IMax. Most of the time there’s little difference, but in this case it might be necessary.

E: Will the intrepid heroes make it back so that McConnaughey can see his kids again?  Will they save humanity? It’s got fan buzz, it’s got Oscar buzz, it’s Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Matthew McConnaughey, Matt Damon, Michael Caine, it’s got everything.

M: Speaking of “everything”…

The Theory of Everything

E: I get giddy when I see the previews of this.  Eddie Redmayne stars as graduate student Stephen Hawking, struck down by ALS, with Felicity Jones as his devoted future wife.

M: Yes, this is my other movie I can’t wait to see!

E: That makes three for me!  I can’t even remember the last time that happened.

M: I know, right? Hollywood is so careful with their release schedule. No one wants to put two things up against each other in the same weekend. Now we have three, and yet Ouija is currently the #1 movie in the country.

E: Well, that’s because last weekend was Halloween.

M: Lame excuse.

E: It’s not going to be number one anymore, though!

M: Woo hoo! Back to this, though. Seeing the trailer not only made me excited to see the movie, it made me realize how little I know about one of the greatest minds of all time. I mean, I didn’t know that Hawking was ever able to walk, that he was British, or that he woo’d his wife by describing the scientific powers of Tide detergent. Ok, the last one’s not a biggie, but it’s a fun moment in the trailer.

E: Oh, I agree.  I didn’t know any of those things either; I was particularly surprised by his Britishness given that, as the trailer acknowledges, his voice software has an American accent.

M: I always thought, and still do, that his voice just sounded like a computer, not an American computer, but that’s beside the point. Seriously, though, this movie looks so good. I didn’t know Redmayne before seeing Les Mis last year, but his performance in that, especially the “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables” song, blew me away. I can’t wait to see him as Hawking!

E: The lamentably absent C and I have been fans of tiny adorable Felicity Jones since she started in the excellent miniseries version of C’s favorite Jane Austen novel, Northanger Abbey. She and Redmayne (who I first saw as the titular “my” in  My Weekend With Marilyn opposite Oscar nominated Marilyn Michelle Williams) may not be household names, but this movie might change all that.  We’re talking Oscar buzz is the biggest way.

M: As another plus, David “Professor Lupin” Thewlis is in it!

E: Also, for everyone who took the ALS ice bucket challenge this summer without knowing much about the disease itself, here’s an excellent opportunity to find out why – or perhaps who – you were dumping ice water on yourself for.

M: Technically he has Motor Neuron Disease, which is a related to ALS, though not exactly the same thing. But still, spirit of the law and all. So, dump some ice water on yourself then head to the theater!

Elsa and Fred

E: Shirley MacLaine and Christopher Plummer find love late in life.

M: Who plays Anna?

E:  Ha.  He’s so funny.

M: Argh! Why isn’t C here to laugh at my jokes?

The Better Angels

E: Acclaimed director Terence Malick’s gorgeously shot black and white vision of Abraham Lincoln’s childhood.  It’s stunning to look at, and looks at a fascinating but less well known period: young Abe living in the backwoods, fighting for learning and grieving family tragedies.

M: I remember learning a bit about Lincoln’s boyhood (beyond the “grew up in a log cabin” bit), but have forgotten most of it. Interesting.

E: I also remember reading about it as a child – log cabin, dying mother, buying books to educate himself – but I’m very happy to learn more. The cast is good enough – Brit Marling, Wes Bentley, Diane Kruger, Jason Clarke (soon to be seen as John Connor in the latest Terminator movie) but with Malick, it’s all about the visuals and the dreamy tone.

Open Windows

E: Well, here’s a super creep premise.  Elijah Wood is a superfan who wins a date with an actress, only to have her welch on it.  Her manager sets Wood’s Nick up with webcam view of the star – and then appears to take her prisoner, setting up some sort of insane game where Nick has to rescue her, thus somehow justifying (or sanctifying) his gross voyeurism. Not. Cool.

M: Yeah, um, ugh.  Wood has made some downright odd choices since LOTR.

E: Odd is one word for it.  Bad would be another.

M: I was trying to be nice.

Jessabelle

E: Go figure.  A horror movie opening to terrible reviews!

M: Never!

E: A woman – Sarah Snook – returns to her family’s home in Louisiana because she’s been in an awful car accident.

M: I bet she gets a lot of rest and comfort, huh?

E: Yes.  That’s exactly what happens.

M: Nailed it.

Merry Friggin Christmas

E: Why bother to include this lame looking comedy when there’s so much amazing stuff populating this weekend?  Because of costar Robin Williams, of course.

M: *sniff*

E: Ditto.  Joel McHale stars as a son who doesn’t want to spend the holidays with his crazy dad (Williams); absurdly contrived wackiness ensues when he is of course forced to do so.  Lauren Graham plays his wife, and an almost unrecognizable Candice Bergen his mother.

M: McHale and Williams could be brilliant together, but the trailer kind of falls apart mid way through. Overall, this is just making me sad. Let’s move on.

November 14th

Foxcatcher

E: Remember the name of this movie for the 2015 Oscars, when Steve Carrell – yes, that Steve Carrell – makes his bid for best actor in this true crime wrestling drama.

M: You teased this last month, when we were briefly talking both Oscars and Carrell. However, you’ve confused me. Is it a true story of someone wrestling with committing/committed crime, or is it a true story about a crime that involves wrestling? If the latter, is it Olympic style wrestling, or the fake WWE kind? Inquiring minds want to know.

E: It is the latter – a true story about a philanthropist/billionaire John Du Pont who establishes an Olympic wrestling training camp on his estate, and then murders one of the people he recruited for it.  Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo play gifted brothers — one to wrestle, one to coach — who Du Pont drags into his circle of lies and deception.  Or maybe just weirdness.

M: Before seeing the trailer I would have scoffed at Tatum and Ruffalo playing brothers. It looks completely believable, though.

E: Have you seen that fake nose Carrell’s wearing?  Weirdness.

M: As far as fake noses go, it’s a good one.

E: Yes – it changes him from the affable guy we know into someone totally different.

M: As far as movies go, incredibly tense and creepy.

Rosewater

E: Another drama based on a true story, this one of a journalist imprisoned in the Middle East who has his appearances on The Daily Show used against him in his mock-trial.

M: So it’s not just people in this country that don’t realize that The Daily Show is fake news? Interesting.

E: Nope.  (Although, really, it’s not so much fake news as news with a political and comedic spin.)

M: Pot-ay-to, pot-ah-to.

E: Not really.  It’s actual news, just presented with a lot of snark.

M: You say that because you agree with the heavy slant that comes with that snark. Let’s move on though.

E: Oh, and it’s also directed by Jon Stewart, who as you can imagine had a strong connection to the material. Anyway, I expect this’ll be good.

Dumb and Dumber To

E: Are there really people clamoring for another addition to this series?

M: Oh, I hope not. Pretty sure the Farrelly brothers are desperate at this point, and needed a pay day, which this certainly will be whether it’s any good or not.

E: You think so?  If they got paid to make it and aren’t depending on a cut, anyway…

M: Oh, it’ll make money. And if you’re doubting me, I’ll have to bring back up a certain group of heroes in half-shells. Anyway, as to whether or not this is going to be good, I lean toward “not”. I’ve seen nothing in the promos that makes me want to see this. In fact, the one with Jim Carrey eating a hot dog makes me want to gag.

E: I can’t decide if they get points for the terrible spelling joke or not.

M: I think they do. Most movie titles, especially sequel titles, are so, well, dumb. They assume that audiences are morons. This one at least makes fun of that, and is consistent with the spirit of the first movie.

E: Er, does that mean you liked the first movie?

M: Actually, yes. Me and most of the people who saw it, which was everyone.

The Homesman

E: Oscar winners Hilary Swank and Tommy Lee Jones lead an impressive, all star cast in this Western quest.  Swank happens upon Jones strung up in the wilderness; she saves his life, in return for his help taking three mentally ill women to an asylum, 5 weeks travel through Badlands full of outlaws, Indians and natural disasters.

M: It’s a dour, bleak looking film, but his response to the 5 week trip of “that’s more than I bargained for” almost made me laugh out loud.

E: The supporting cast includes Hailee Steinfeld, John Lithgow, Grace Gummer, Miranda Otto, James Spader, Tim Blake Nelson, William Fitchner and Meryl Streep.  So, you know, no big deal.

M: Small potatoes. Which, tangentially, was the name of one of the best episodes of The X Files. Again, wishing C was here to enjoy my references…

Beyond the Lights

E: Hey, I have an idea.  Let’s introduce Gugu Mbatha-Raw again.

M: To quote The Muppets Take Manhattan, nobody’s ever tried that!

E: This time, she plays a sometimes suicidal pop diva saved — or so the trailer intimates — by love.  Minnie Driver costars as her momager.

M: Ummm… “momager?”

E: You know, overbearing stage manager mother.

M: Okay, I didn’t know that. But that raises a different question. Minnie Driver’s playing the mother of someone who’s 13 years younger than her? And, honestly, it doesn’t even look like that large a gap. We’re okay with this? And using the term “momager?”

E: No, we’re not okay with this, but it’s sadly par for the course.  The movie doesn’t look particularly impressive, but a similar age difference didn’t sink Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

M: Last Crusade was different, Ford looked younger than he was and Connery looked older. And they both were much older than Mbatha-Raw and Driver are now. But still…

E: I do like that it explores the relationship between two women.

M: Of course you do.

November 21st

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1

E: And now we get to the really ugly part of the series.  Okay, that’s part 2.  But still.

M: Or at least the frustrating part. There are parts of Mockingjay that I enjoyed. Parts of it that I found to be good story telling. Not a lot of parts of it, unfortunately, but most of them are in the first half of the story. So I’m torn about seeing this one. I won’t be torn about Part 2, though.

E: I’m not going to be rushing out to see it like I did the first two installments, certainly, but I do hope to catch it in the theater.

M: Likewise.

E: It’s a pretty theater-heavy few months for me, though, so I guess we’ll see.  I’m certainly interested in seeing how they’ve crafted together the late lamented PSH’s role, and what expanded screen time means for the brilliant Julianne Moore’s dangerous President Coin.

M: Ugh, Coin. Her character was worse than useless. But I digress. The movie looks to be of similarly hig quality as the first two, so it will likely be good. If you haven’t read the books you might be at an advantage this time.

The Imitation Game

E: Benedict Cumberbatch plays another of Britain’s greatest brains – Alan Turing, working to defeat the German Enigma code machine in WW2 code breaking bastion Bletchley Park.

M: This is another that looks REALLY good. Turing is the anti-social genius, Kiera Knightley as the accompanying genius who has a better grip on social niceties. An un-trusting and impatient military, and an insanely brutal challenge. November’s got some serious punch to it!

E: Heck yeah it does!  The newly-engaged Cumberbatch adds Oscar buzz to the bounteous list of credits that are making his 2014 pretty stellar.

M: But not interstellar. Bah dum dum!

November 26th

Penguins of Madagascar

M: Speaking of November and serious punch… and slap and kick. Bah dum dum.

E: Nicely done, M.  Nicely done.

M: Seriously, though, with this coming out, and the new Minions trailer being released, I am loving the “adorably funny side characters in animated movies get their own film” trend. Woo hoo!

E: Yeah, this could be a blast to take the kids to over the Thanksgiving holiday — if you can fight your way through the crowds, anyway, which I expect will be quite formidable.

M: The penguins sense of humor is my sense of humor to a tee, so I’m willing to take up that fight.

Horrible Bosses 2

M: People have told me that the first one was good. I just can’t pull myself to watch it, and the sequel looks even worse.

E: Same here.  Sorry.  If this is your thing, you don’t need us to talk it up.  Moving on…

Escobar: Paradise Lost

E: Josh Hutchinson plays an American who moves to Colombia in the early ’80s to open a surf shop, and falls for a local girl who runs a charity.  Awesome, right?

M: Totally, seems like the life. I’m sure it stays idyllic.

E: Except her work turns out to be funded by her uncle, notorious drug lord Pablo Escobar, played here by Benicio Del Toro.  He is Robin Hood, the girl enthuses, giving all his cocaine money to the poor.  I’m sure that’ll all work out well.

M: Yeah, the guns and murder that follow are totally Robin Hood-ish. Or maybe some other ‘hood.

E: I have to say, I was strongly reminded of The Last King of Scotland.

M: I can see that. Also, big month for Hutcherson.

November 28th

The Babadook

E: Actually creepy looking horror movie about an imaginary friend that turns out to be not only real but sadly also rather malevolent.

M: Wait, you’re telling me there’s a horror movie where something that’s supposed to be innocent turns out to be malevolent? NO WAY!

E: I know it comes as a shock, M.  I’ll be here with smelling salts if you need them.

Antarctica: A Year On Ice

E: Finish off the month with a really neat looking documentary about the people who make their home at the international science station on this icy continent, and of course the rugged beauty of the land itself.  It looks pretty spectacular, I gotta say.

M: So, I’m not usually the documentary enthusiast, but I have a soft spot for exploration, both geographical and scientific. And that ties us back to the start of the review, and Interstellar, so we end by coming full circle.

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One comment on “November 2014 Movie Preview

  1. […] but also the NYFCC best actor as well. Best actor is wide open this year (major contenders include November‘s Eddie Redmayne, Michael Keaton and Benedict Cumberbatch as well as a few fellows […]

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