Film Friday (12/19): This Week's New Movies & Trailers

  • Publish Date: December 19, 2014
  • Comments: ↓ 1 user comment

This is the final Film Friday of 2014. Look for weekly updates to resume in January.

Opening this weekend

Expands nationwide. Potential Oscar nominee Reese Witherspoon stars as a recovering addict who, following a divorce, and without any prior experience, attempts a solo 1,000-mile hike of the Pacific Crest Trail on a whim. This true story is adapted from Cheryl Strayed's memoir by Nick Hornby (High Fidelity) and is directed by Jean-Marc Vallée (Dallas Buyers Club).
Nationwide releases
. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies PG-13 FANTASY/ACTION-ADVENTURE Trailers
Opened Wednesday. Peter Jackson's final (?) visit to Middle-earth picks up where The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug ended—with Smaug on the loose—but for Bilbo (Martin Freeman) and the other citizens of Middle Earth, the troubles are just beginning.
. Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb PG COMEDY/FANTASY Trailers
The third Night at the Museum entry sends Ben Stiller’s Larry Daley to London on a quest to revitalize the magic of the life-giving tablet. Also returning are Robin Williams, Owen Wilson, and Steve Coogan, while newcomers include Dan Stevens, Rebel Wilson, and Ben Kingsley.
. Annie PG MUSICAL/FAMILY Trailers
[PICTURED] Jay Z and Will Smith produce and Will Gluck (Easy A) directs this third film adaptation of the hit Broadway musical, which now takes place in the present day rather than the Great Depression. Quvenzhané Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild) stars alongside Jamie Foxx, Cameron Diaz, Rose Byrne, and Bobby Cannavale.
Notable limited releases
. Mr. Turner R DRAMA Trailers
Director Mike Leigh's films almost always earn praise from reviewers, but this biopic about British landscape painter J.M.W. Turner has critics more excited than ever. A few Oscar nominations are not out of the question, with star Timothy Spall also in contention.
. Winter Sleep NR FOREIGN/DRAMA Trailers
Though it failed to make the just-announced Oscar foreign-language film shortlist, this Turkish drama about the divide between the haves and have nots in Anatolia from director Nuri Bilge Ceylan is not without its share of honors—most notably, winning this year's Palme d'Or as the top film of the Cannes Film Festival.
Additional limited releases (in alphabetical order)
. Goodbye to All That NR COMEDY/DRAMA iTunes Amazon
. If You Don't, I Will NR FOREIGN/COMEDY  
. Inside the Mind of Leonardo NR DOCUMENTARY  
. Life of an Actress: The Musical NR MUSICAL  
. Sagrada: The Mystery of Creation NR DOCUMENTARY  
. Song of the Sea PG ANIMATION/FAMILY  

All movies now in theaters... | Recent DVD/Blu-ray releases... | Recent streaming releases...

New trailers and updates for upcoming films

The first look at Terrence Malick's Knight of Cups

When Terrence Malick followed The Tree of Life with the poorly received (for him) To the Wonder, some speculated that Malick had lost his mojo (or that it was all Ben Affleck’s fault). Whatever the case, 2015 will bring at least one new Malick project to the big screen. Knight of Cups, his long-awaited, Hollywood-set project, will premiere at the Berlin Film Festival, and the first trailer hit the internet this week. The film stars Christian Bale as a man seemingly seduced and destroyed by Hollywood. Also featured in some are Cate Blanchett, Natalie Portman, Brian Dennehy, Antonio Banderas, Freida Pinto, Wes Bentley, Isabel Lucas, Terese Palmer, Imogen Poots, Armin Mueller-Stahl, and the voice of Ben Kingsley. A release date has not been set, but the trailer, featuring the standard voiceover and swooping camera of recent Malick efforts (Emmanuel Lubezki returns as cinematographer), has already inspired the internet to mash up Christian Bale’s latest “Knight” trailer with another certain franchise with “Knight” in the title.

The Duke of Burgundy

A film that will surely land on a number of top ten lists next year is The Duke of Burgundy, director Peter Strickland’s follow-up to Berberian Sound Studio. The film charts the relationship of Cynthia (Sidse Babett Knudsen, star of the hit Danish TV series Borgen) and Evelyn (Chiara D'Anna), lesbian lovers locked in a daily, ritualistic S&M cycle that’s beginning to strain. Excellent reviews from this year’s Toronto International Film Festival mark this as one to look for when it comes to select theaters beginning January 23, 2015.

A teaser for Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter

David and Nathan Zellner follow 2012’s Kid-Thing with this story of a Japanese “office lady” (Rinko Kikuchi of Pacific Rim and Babel) who becomes so obsessed with finding the briefcase of money buried in the snow by Steve Buscemi in Fargo (the movie) that she flies to Minnesota to search for it. Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter won the U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Musical Score at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, where it also earned very good reviews. See it in select theaters beginning March 13, 2015.

A first look at True Story

True Story, the directorial debut of Rupert Goold, is indeed based on a true story: a memoir by Michael Finkel, a New York Times reporter whose identity was stolen by an accused killer, Christian Longo. In his memoir, True Story: Murder, Memoir, Mea Culpa, Finkel (played in the film by Jonah Hill) recounts his bizarre relationship with Longo (James Franco). Written by Goold and David Kajganich and with a supporting cast that includes Felicity Jones, Ethan Suplee, and Gretchen Mol, True Story will premiere at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival before coming to theaters on April 10th.

It Follows, and it kills

Last week, we featured a teaser for It Follows in our Short Takes section, but this week we have the first official trailer for director David Robert Mitchell’s (The Myth of the American Sleepover) well-received horror film that tells the story of Jay (Maika Monroe), who, after her first sexual encounter, learns that something will follow her until she passes it on to someone else. What it is, nobody knows, but Jay and her friends try to find a way to escape it. Don’t avoid It Follows when it comes to theaters sometime in March 2015.

A second look through the scope of American Sniper

While early reviews haven’t been as good as some might have hoped, Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper has still landed on the year-end top ten lists of a handful of critics, and even mixed reviews have been impressed with the film’s action set pieces. This adaptation of Chris Kyle’s autobiography stars Bradley Cooper as Kyle, a Navy SEAL sniper who recorded the most kills of any U.S. military sniper in history. Also starring are Sienna Miller as Kyle’s wife, and Taya Renae, Jake McDorman, Luke Grimes, Navid Negahan, and Keir O'Donnell in supporting roles. American Sniper opens in select cities December 25th before it expands nationwide on January 16, 2015.

A harrowing night in ’71

It has been quite a year for Jack O’Connell. He made a strong impression in Starred Up, and he plays Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie’s upcoming biopic, Unbroken. Next up is '71, which finds him starring as a British soldier who is abandoned by his unit following a riot on the streets of Belfast. Yann Demange’s film, written by Gregory Burke, follows his struggle to survive the night. With very good reviews from its release in the U.K., ’71 heads to North American theaters on February 27th.

Jason Statham is a Wild Card

The team behind the 2011 remake of The Mechanic, director Simon West and star Jason Statham, are at it again with this remake of the 1986 Burt Reynolds vehicle Heat. The script, from two-time Academy Award-winning writer William Goldman (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, All the President’s Men), follows Nick Wild (Statham), a Las Vegas bodyguard with lethal skills and a gambling problem, as he gets mixed up with a mob boss. Michael Angarano, Milo Ventimiglia, Dominik García-Lorido, Anne Heche, Sofia Vergara, Max Casella, Jason Alexander, Hope Davis, and Stanley Tucci also star. Wild Card hits theaters on January 30th.

A second trip to The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Richard Gere, David Strathairn, and Tamsin Greig join Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Ronald Pickup, Diana Hardcastle, and Celia Imrie in this sequel to the surprise 2012 hit The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. The story picks up with Sonny (Dev Patel) trying to expand his business as he plans his wedding to Sunaina (Tina Desai). The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, written by Ol Parker and directed by John Madden, comes to theaters on March 6, 2015.

A Little Chaos

Alan Rickman directs and takes a secondary role as King Louis XIV in this tale of Madame Sabine De Barra (Kate Winslet), the female landscape designer who helped complete the construction of the grand gardens at Versailles. Matthias Schoenaerts plays the man who hires her, the famous architect André Le Nôtre, and the supporting cast includes Stanley Tucci and Jennifer Ehle. A Little Chaos earned mixed reviews when it premiered at TIFF this year. Look for it in theaters beginning March 27th.

The Loft

Five friends don’t remain friends for long after the dead body of an unknown woman shows up in their loft, a penthouse they keep so they can carry out extramarital affairs and avoid questionable credit card charges. So one bad idea turns out to be an even worse idea than they could ever imagine. Starring Karl Urban, James Marsden, Wentworth Miller, Eric Stonestreet, Matthias Schoenaerts, Isabel Lucas, Rachael Taylor, and Rhona Mitra and directed by Erik Van Looy (The Memory of a Killer), The Loft hits theaters on January 23rd.

Short takes

Taylor Lautner stars in Tracers, the parkour movie you can’t wait to see when it comes out on VOD January 22nd and in theaters March 19th.

Coming to VOD and select theaters on January 30th is the alien invasion “documentary” Alien Outpost.

Will Gluck’s Annie has taken a pretty good beating from critics, but one joke in the film that has gone over well is the fake movie premiere for MoonQuake Lake starring Ashton Kutcher, Mila Kunis, and Rihanna. Here’s the trailer, directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller. Visit the website to hear the title song by Sia and Beck.

News and notes

  • The F.B.I. has confirmed that North Korea organized the cyberattack that resulted in Sony Pictures canceling the December 25th release of The Interview. Sony does not yet have any plans for releasing the film in any format.
  • Morgan Freeman, Bill Nighy, and Ken Watanabe are in the running to play the The Ancient One opposite Benedict Cumberbatch in Doctor Strange. - Latino Review
  • Tom Hanks will star in writer-director James Ponsoldt's (The Spectacular Now) adaptation of Dave Eggers’ novel, The Circle, a thriller about online identity. - Deadline
  • David Oyelowo will star with Lupita Nyong’o in Americanah, based on Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s novel about a pair of Nigerian immigrants who struggle in different countries as their relationship endures. - Variety
  • J.K. Simmons has joined Tom Hiddleston in the cast of Jordan Vogt-Roberts’ Kong: Skull Island. - Deadline
  • Lucy Boynton, Gabriella Wilde (Endless Love), Jenna Thiam, Kaya Scodelario (The Maze Runner), and Alexandra Dowling (The Musketeers) will test for the female lead in the fifth Pirates of the Caribbean movie. - Variety
  • The shortlist to replace Roberto Orci as director on Star Trek 3 includes frontrunner Rupert Wyatt, Justin Lin, Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game), and Daniel Espinosa (Safe House). - Deadline
  • Latino Review reports that Viola Davis has been cast as Amanda Waller in David Ayer's Suicide Squad, joining Jared Leto as the Joker, Will Smith as Deadshot, Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn, Tom Hardy as Rick Flag, Jai Courtney as Boomerang, and Cara Delevingne as Enchantress.
  • Tessa Thompson (Dear White People) has joined Michael B. Jordan and Sylvester Stallone in Ryan Coogler’s Creed. - Deadline
  • Anthony Mackie will play a football player trying to grant a dying 14-year-old’s wish in Dear White People director Justin Simien’s next film, Make a Wish. - Deadline
  • Robert Rodriguez will direct a live action version of Frank Frazetta and Ralph Bakshi’s 1983 animated film, Fire and Ice. - Deadline
  • Saving Private Ryan, Rosemary’s Baby, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Rio Bravo, and The Big Lebowski are among the 25 films named to the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress this year.

Comments (1)

  • LamontRaymond  

    True Story looks like it'll either be mildly amusing or terrible....

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