FilmMovies to watch this spring: Chappie, White God, Tomorrowland
Spring is almost here and it's time to look ahead to all the cultural happenings coming up once winter has thawed. These are the movies we're looking forward to most.
The season starts with a bang and ends with a whimper, but there are plenty of promising flicks to look forward to. We've put together a guide to what will be hitting a theater near you in the coming months and highlighted our most anticipated weekly releases.
Neil Blomkamp, director of District 9, returns to his homeland of South Africa for another sci-fi parable. In the future world of the film, robot police patrol the streets of a violent dystopian world. The status quo is interrupted when one of the robots is stolen and reprogrammed. That robot is Chappie, the first of his kind to have feelings and thoughts of his own. Of course, this new thing frightens the powers that be and explosions and chases ensue. Die Antwoord play themselves. Also starring: Hugh Jackman, Sigourney Weaver, and Sharlto Copley.
Also hitting theaters on this day: Merchants of Doubt, The Life and Mind of Mark DeFriest, Unfinished Business, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Kidnapping Mr. Heineken, Faults, Bad Asses on the Bayou, A Year in Champagne, These Final Hours
Seymour: An Introduction is Ethan Hawke's first documentary feature. It's a simple profile of Seymour Bernstein, a renowned concert pianist who gave up his career as a performer at the height of his fame in order to teach. Bernstein has become sort of a guru, with a zen-like approach to life and this doc conveys why his services are so in-demand. Hawke was going through a bit of a creative crisis at the time of making the film, and Bernstein's holistic life lessons helped him get out of a rut.
Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter is dark quirky comedy about a young woman obsessed with a dark quirky comedy. Kumiko believes that the fictional Coen Brothers film, Fargo, is a map to real buried treasure. She travels to the small Minnesota town where the Coen's film is set in order to find the satchel of money that was lost by the characters. Critical word on the film is almost uniformly positive, so it should be something to keep an eye out for.
Also hitting theaters
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Nothing on this weekend is particularly exciting so The Gunman is recommended by default. The plot revolves around a special forces agent racing across Europe trying to clear his name and reconnect with a former romantic interest. From the director of Taken, which was a serviceable action flick that benefited from having the great Liam Neeson as its lead. With The Gunman, you get Sean Penn, Javier Bardem and Idris Elba.
Just watch the trailer because whatever we say is going to sound ridiculous. White God is a sort of a prison break movie about a dog who organizes a rebellion in a world where dogs are hunted down and locked up. It's very serious about this premise and plays it straight. Critics love it, Time Out says the dog is the Al Pacino of dog actors and it won the Un Certain Regard prize at the Cannes Film Festival. A highly anticipated, weird film.
Noah Baumbach reteams with Ben Stiller, his leading man in Greenberg. Stiller and Naomi Watts play a middle-aged couple who are at a crossroads in life. They don't have any children and most of their friends have disappeared into their own families. They meet a younger couple that helps them re-spark their lives. It's your basic Baumbach premise and it'll surely have plenty of dark, intellectual humor as well as characters that you're not sure that you should like. Baumbach always manages to pull off stories that seem a bit clichéd and one-note at first, so there's no reason to believe he won't do it again.
Legendary German filmmaker, Wim Wenders, directs a documentary about the legendary photographer, Sebastião Salgado. For more than forty years, Salgado had traveled the world and documented huge cultural moments. These days, he focuses on capturing natural landscapes in a monumental, globe-spanning project. Wenders combines bio-pic background with Salgado's current day travels with Salgado. Considering some of Wenders' best films are road movies, this seems right up his alley.
Ryan Gosling's directorial debut got murdered by critics when it premiered at Cannes, so this might be terrible. Most reviews of Lost River said that is was highly derivative of David Lynch and Nicholas Winding Refn like that was a bad thing. We still think it could be cool and with Benoît Debie (one of the best cinematographers in the world) handling the camera, it will at least look great.
In Ex Machina, a young programmer is sent to a research facility to perform tests on the world's first truly convincing artificial intelligence. This is Alex Garland's first time as director. Considering that he's written many solid screenplays (28 Days Later, Judge Dredd), this has the potential to be some good, original sci-fi.
Unfriended takes the found footage approach of the Paranormal Activity series into the world of Skype chat. The movie is seen through a simulated screen recording after the main character, Blaire, is contacted online by a friend who has been dead for a year, a friend that had committed suicide after someone posted a humilating video of her online. The rest of the film revolves around Blaire and her group of friends trying to get to the bottom of the girl's reappearance in cyberspace; mysterious deaths ensue. Early reactions have been positive and the premise is original, so this could be one of those rare horror films that actually surprise you.
Beyond The Brick: A Lego Brickumentary explores the global culture surrounding Lego toys. Honestly, it's unclear whether this is worth seeing but it falls on a seriously lackluster weekend.
The Avengers is the third highest grossing movie of all time, so you probably saw it. This is the sequel. All of the Marvel superheroes come together to fight Ultron, a piece of robot technology that Iron Man built which has gone horribly awry. Avengers: Age of Ultron is just the latest part of the ever-expanding Marvel Universe and it looks great; the only disappointment is that the Guardians of the Galaxy crew won't be joining in.
This biopic follows Yves St. Laurent, the French fashion designer through his most transformative years. Critics have been split and no one is particularly effusive about it. But no one particularly hates it which would lead us to believe that if you like the subject matter, there will probably be something to enjoy in the film.
George Miller returns to the franchise that started his career with the first new Mad Max film in 20 years. Like the previous films, it's one long chase/action sequence and the trailer makes it look very promising. This is our most anticipated movie of the season.
Not much is known about Tomorrowland, but it has some great talent. This is the vague synopsis supplied by the studio: "Bound by a shared destiny, a teen bursting with scientific curiosity and a former boy-genius inventor embark on a mission to unearth the secrets of a place somewhere in time and space that exists in their collective memory." George Clooney stars. Brad Bird, the man behind The Incredibles as well as the surprisingly great Mission Impossible 4, directs.
After three straight weeks of blockbuster mayhem, the season ends with a fizzle. Cameron Crowe (Jerry Maguire, Almost Famous) directs this rom-com about a military contractor who's deployed to Hawaii to supervise the launch of a satellite defense system. While he's there he falls in love with Emma Stone. Crowe is a fairly formulaic guy and his last few films have been pretty bad. This gets the highlight for the weekend just because it might better than the generic action movie starring The Rock.
Also hitting theaters
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