Alan Partridge (2014)

AlanPartridgePosterStarring: Steve Coogan, Colm Meaney, Felicity Montagu, Tim Key, Simon Greenall, Sean Pertwee, Anna Maxwell Martin, Darren Boyd, Nigel Lindsay, Simon Delaney, Monica Dolan, Paul Blackwell, Phil Cornwell.

Director: Declan Lowney
Rating: R (for language, brief violence, and nudity.)
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Release Date: April 4, 2014

Baby Cow Films, Baby Cow Productions, and Magnolia Pictures.

Written by. Steve Coogan, Armando Iannucci, Peter Baynham, Neil Gibbons and Rob Gibbons; based on characters created by Steve Coogan, Armando Iannucci, Patrick Marber, and Peter Baynham.

OUR REVIEW:

Steve Coogan has been around for a couple of decades now, but it was only recently that he became something of a known commodity here in the United States. Landing two Oscar nominations in 2013 for his co-writing and co-producing of Best Picture nominee Philomena, Coogan also starred alongside fellow Oscar nominee Judi Dench and presented a more serious side to his comedic talents. For those who have seen Coogan’s work prior to Philomena, most would agree that he is an extremely talented writer and actor, acerbic and wry with his view of the world.

Coogan’s latest film, Alan Partridge, arrives stateside and furthers along the story of a fictitious British presenter audiences here will likely have no idea about. Partridge is a radio and television personality Coogan first unveiled in the early 1990s for a British comedy series known as On The Hour. A bumbling sports journalist in that series, Partridge has become an alter-ego for Coogan, prominently a part of British comedy for two decades. After radio serials and two television series, Coogan has brought Partridge to the big screen and the film is a dry, off-color, fast-paced, absurd delight. Think a British Ron Burgundy of sorts; without the Action 4 News Team and offering a character Will Ferrell likely drew inspiration from as he invented his superstar news anchor personality.

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Tasting Menu (2014)

TastingMenuPosterStarring: Jan Cornet, Claudia Bassols, Vicenta N’Dongo, Fionnula Flanagan, Andrew Tarbet, Stephen Rea, Togo Igawa, Akihiko Serikawa, Marta Torne, Timothy Gibbs, Andres Herrera, Ivan Morales.

Director: Roger Gual
Rating: PG-13 (for brief strong language.)
Running Time: 87 Minutes
Release Date: April 18, 2014

Subotica Entertainment, Eurimages, ICAA, Patronat de Turisme Girona-Costa Brava, TV3, Zentropa and Magnolia Pictures.

Written by. Javier Calvo, Silvia Gonzalez Laa, and Roger Gual.

OUR REVIEW:

A film that can either be described as being overcooked or undercooked, depending on how you view things, Tasting Menu is a bungled mess of a romantic comedy. Shabbily constructed, with lots and lots of storylines dancing around this robust ensemble of international actors from several countries, Roger Gaul‘s third film never knows what it wants to say, where to place its focus, or why it even exists.

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Transcendence (2014)

TranscendencePosterStarring: Johnny Depp, Rebecca Hall, Paul Bettany, Morgan Freeman, Cillian Murphy, Kate Mara, Cole Hauser, Clifton Collins, Jr., Lukas Haas, Xander Berkeley, Wallace Langham.

Director: Wally Pfister
Rating: PG-13 (for sci-fi action and violence, some bloody images, brief strong language and sensuality)
Running Time: 119 Minutes
Release Date: April 18, 2014

Alcon Entertainment, DMG Entertainment, Straight Up Films, and Warner Bros.

Written by: Jack Paglen.

OUR REVIEW:

After portraying a wide range of quirky, odd, and rather strange characters, Johnny Depp returns to the big screen in Transcendence, playing your standard, everyday, run-of-the-mill scientist who has crafted an Artificial Intelligence program that functions like a sentient being. With perfectly mussed up hair, a calm demeanor and a committed relationship to his partner in research and life, Evelyn (Rebecca Hall), this is the most realistic character Depp has played in quite some time. Sure, he has something of a God complex and has become the buzz of the world with the creation of PINN, an artificial intelligence mainframe that replicates the brain functions of the human experience, but Dr. Will Caster is just a man, standing in front of a girl, and a world, asking her, and them, to love him. We can all relate to that, right?

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Bears (2014)

BearsPosterStarring: John C. Reilly (Narrator).

Director: Alistair Fothergill and Keith Scholey
Rating: G
Running Time: 77 Minutes
Release Date: April 18, 2014

Disneynature.

Documentary.

OUR REVIEW:

The seventh release in Disneynature’s ongoing series of nature documentaries, Bears arrives in theaters, coinciding with Earth Day and turning the spotlight on an Alaskan bear family navigating through one year of life. A mother and two bear cubs grow and bond before our eyes and with John C. Reilly providing a whimsical, if at times pandering narration, Bears feels like a throwback to an era where animals could not “talk” like they can now through the use of CGI, and were simply allowed to be seen and viewed as they are.

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On My Way (2014)

elle_sen_va_ver2Starring: Catherine Deneuve, Nemo Schiffman, Gerard Garouste, Camille, Claude Gensac, Paul Hamy, Mylene Demongeot, Hafsia Herzi.

Director: Emmanuelle Bercot
Rating: Unrated (equivalent to an R for language and nudity.)
Running Time: 116 Minutes
Release Date: March 14, 2014

Fidelite Films, Rhone-Alpes Cinema, Wild Bunch, Soficinema 9, Palatine Etoile 10, OCS, and Cohen Media Group.

Written by. Emmanuelle Bercot and Jerome Tonnerre.

OUR REVIEW:

There is a moment in On My Way where French acting icon Catherine Deneuve sits impatiently at a kitchen table while an elderly man with unfortunate swelling in his hands and fingers attempts to roll her a cigarette. He takes forever, trying to get it right, and she goads him along by informing him that she will smoke it as soon as it is ready. In another scene, Deneuve, also looking for cigarettes, hops onto a road and attempts to flag people down by flashing the international sign for smoking – two fingers parsed to the lips. It does not work. Elsewhere, she wakes up in a strange bed, realizing that she has just had a one-night stand with a much younger man. That didn’t work out so well either. Deneuve’s Bettie is on a journey in Emmanuelle Bercot‘s latest film and she is looking for much more than cigarettes or casual sex. Recently jilted, she sets out to find herself, and in a roundabout way, have we not all been there?

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Interior. Leather Bar. (2014)

InteriorPosterStarring: Val Lauren, James Franco, Travis Mathews, Christian Patrick, Brendan Gregory, Brad Roberge, Collin Chavez, A.J. Goodrich.

Director: James Franco, Travis Mathews
Rating: Unrated (equivalent to an NC-17 for explicit sexual content.)
Running Time: 57 Minutes
Release Date: January 3, 2014

RabbitBandini Productions and Strand Releasing.

Written by. Travis Mathews.

OUR REVIEW:

One of the things film critics hate to admit is when they simply do not “get it.” I have heard critics talk all the way around films that simply befuddled them and leave them with more questions than answers, only to be too proud to throw up their hands. I mention this because with the quantity of movies we watch in this line of work, we are understandably expected to comprehend, explain, and distill down every film to its message, its intent, its symbolism, etc.

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Draft Day (2014)

DraftDayPosterStarring: Kevin Costner, Jennifer Garner, Denis Leary, Chadwick Boseman, Frank Langella, Tom Welling, Terry Crews, Griffin Newman, Ellen Burstyn, Josh Pence, Patrick St. Esprit, Rosanna Arquette, Sam Elliott, Chi McBride, W. Earl Brown, Kevin Dunn, Sean Combs, Wallace Langham, Arian Foster.

Director: Ivan Reitman
Rating: PG-13 (for brief strong language and sexual references.)
Running Time: 110 Minutes
Release Date: April 11, 2014

OddLot Entertainment, Montecito Picture Company, Lionsgate, and Summit Entertainment.

Written by. Scott Rothman and Rajiv Joseph.

OUR REVIEW:

As Kevin Costner continues to attempt his comeback, film number three on his 2014 calendar is Draft Day, a rambling wreck of a sports-romance-comedy-drama mashup that never commits to what it wants to be and devolves into a flat, bloated, boring exercise in emotional futility. Costner’s performance is not the problem here, a sleepwalking Ivan Reitman deserves a fair share of the blame, along with the dreadfully empty-headed script by Scott Rothman and Rajiv Joseph.

God bless Costner though. He is gamely trying to carry this story of a desperate NFL General Manager trying to navigate through a lifetime of decisions for his football team on his ample shoulders. And make no mistake, a working Kevin Costner makes the movies a better place to be, but with this serving as his third misfire of the year, might we suggest the Oscar winner find someone new to bring him screenplays to consider?

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Oculus (2014)

OculusPosterStarring: Karen Gillan, Brenton Thwaites, Katee Sackhoff, Rory Cochrane, Annalise Basso, Garrett Ryan, James Lafferty, Miguel Sandoval, Kate Siegel, Courtney Bell.

Director: Mike Flanagan
Rating: R (for terror, violence, some disturbing images and brief language.)
Running Time: 105 Minutes
Release Date: April 11, 2014

Intrepid Pictures, Blumhouse Productions, WWE Studios, and Relativity Media.

Written by. Mike Flanagan and Jeff Howard (screenplay); based on the short film,”Oculus: Chapter 3 – The Man With The Plan”, written by Mike Flanagan and Jeff Seidman.

OUR REVIEW:

Expanding and adapting his own 2006 short film, director Mike Flanagan‘s Oculus is a twisty, bendy, cerebral horror film that attempts to earwig into your mind and run around for awhile. Marketed as something with cheap scares and hinting at graphic violence, Oculus is much different than what you may be anticipating. In the days since I have watched it, I must confess that I have softened my enthusiasm somewhat. But when it has you, and you exist with it, elements of the film work tremendously well.

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Rio 2 (2014)

Rio2PosterStarring the Voices of: Jesse Eisenberg, Anne Hathaway, Leslie Mann, Rodrigo Santoro, Bruno Mars, Jemaine Clement, Kristin Chenoweth, George Lopez, will.i.am, Jamie Foxx, Phillip Lawrence, Jake T. Austin, Tracy Morgan, Andy Garcia, Miguel Ferrer, Bebel Gilberto, Rita Moreno, Rachel Crow, Amandla Steinberg, Pierce Gagnon, Natalie Morales, Janelle Monae.

Director: Carlos Saldanha
Rating: G (read below however; should be rated PG)
Running Time: 101 Minutes
Release Date: April 11, 2014

20th Century Fox Animation, Blue Sky Productions and 20th Century Fox.

Written by. Yoni Brenner (screenplay); Don Rhymer and Carlos Saldanha (story); based on characters created by Carlos Saldanha.

OUR REVIEW:

Three years ago, the animated film Rio took audiences a bit by surprise. A powderkeg of culture and color, the story of two blue macaw birds being brought together in an effort to save the macaw population from extinction found a way to please the eyes and minds of youth and adults. The film received an Oscar nomination in the 2011 Best Original Song category (losing to The Muppets) and became a worldwide success, grossing nearly $485 million in its theatrical run. The story of Blu and Jewel, trying to find love in Rio de Janeiro, while vanquishing an evil cockatoo and some nefarious bird smugglers, simply connected with audiences. So, naturally, and with everyone back on board, reprising their roles from the first film, Rio 2 has arrived and the filmmakers have largely forgotten everything that made the first film such a delight.

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Rob The Mob (2014)

RobTheMobPosterStarring: Michael Pitt, Nina Arianda, Andy Garcia, Ray Romano, Burt Young, Griffin Dunne, Michael Rispoli, Aida Turturro, Frank Whaley, Cathy Moriarty, Luke Fava, Joseph R. Gannascoli, Aimee Mullins, Anthony Vincent.

Director: Raymond De Felitta
Rating: R (pervasive language, some sexual material and brief drug use.)
Running Time: 104 Minutes
Release Date: March 21, 2014

The Exchange and Millennium Entertainment.

Written by. Jonathan Fernandez.

OUR REVIEW:

In 2013, Michael Bay brought us Pain & Gain, the unbelievable story of three bodybuilders who kidnapped and tortured a millionaire businessman and saw their attempts at extortion snowball into a killing spree and descent into absolute madness and mayhem. Although the film was torturous to sit through in its own right, at the heart of the film rests a story that is absolutely one of the strangest and more baffling true-crime stories you will ever encounter.

And then we have the story of Tommy and Rosemarie Uva, whose co-dependent, drug-addled relationship took an interesting turn once the couple reunited after a botched flower shop robbery threw them both in prison. Once free and back with one another, the Uvas attempted to go straight. Not making ends meet, Tommy decided he needed to spike in a little robbery to his everyday routine. Inspired by the trial of notorious mob boss John Gotti and looking to re-open an old vendetta against a mob hit on his family’s floral business, Tommy acquired a mask and an Uzi submachine gun and robbed secret mafia social clubs, where no guns are allowed and a casual, stress-free time is supposed to be had by all the gangsters and mobsters in town. Rosemarie drove the getaway car and what was supposed to go down merely once, happened again and again.

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