For fans of everything from the truly buzz-worthy (Terry Gilliam) to that found footage trope yet again (Casey La Scala), this warm-up to the end of the year awards has you covered.
Blake Rayne, Ray Liotta, Ashley Judd, Seth Green, Joe Pantoliano
Sold as a faith-based film that reimagines Elvis Presley’s life as if his stillborn twin brother lived, this cinematic insanity reminds the viewer why Mystery Science Theater 3000 is still relevant in 2014. Troll 2 may be considered the Best Worst Movie of all time, but this Room-like reject is bereft of anything other than cult camp kitsch value. A co-production of a pro-Israel organization and overflowing with “Jesus Saves” shout-outs, this confused collection of biopic clichés tries to match its mythology move for move. Instead, it creates a slice of cine-madness that has to be seen, and experienced, to be believed.
God Help the Girl
Emily Browning, Olly Alexander, Hannah Murray, Pierre Boulanger
God Help the Girl
Belle and Sebastian frontman Stuart Murdoch has had the idea for this quirky coming-of-age tale in his head for over ten years. While on tour, he came up with the idea of creating a song cycle about the growing pains of a music obsessed young girl. He created a concept album for the project, with hopes he could one day bring it to the big screen. Well, here it is, and it’s twee and terrific, both incredibly insightful and a bit shaggy around the edges. While Murdoch’s inexperience as a total filmmaker shows (he directed and wrote the screenplay) the film is still fun.
Eva Longoria, Michael Peña, Ed Harris, Amy Madigan
In a series of interconnecting stories, an illegal crossing the border into Texas is accused of killing the wife of a local sheriff. His pregnant bride, desperate to help him, allows a man named Coyote to help her into America, only to suffer under his sadistic hand. Like a combination of Crash and the work of Alejandro González Iñárritu, this first film from Michael Berry has critics complimenting the work of actors Ed Harris, Eva Longoria, and Michael Pena.
Sophie Curtis, Kelly Reilly, Graham Phillips, Linus Roache, Sarah Sutherland, Stephanie March, Perrey Reeves
“A young girl discovers that her elite Manhattan preparatory school harbors a dark secret…” What? Like everyone’s a neckbiter ala Vampire Academy? That the institution is run by a cover of Eastern European witches? That no one cares about such YA nonsense? Turns out, it’s the second suggestion, in direct copycat correlation to Dario Argento’s brilliant horror film from nearly 40 years ago, Suspiria. Certainly, just like Suzanne Collins and Battle Royale, based on the book author Jane Mendelsohn surely ‘never’ heard of the Italian Master of Suspense’s defining film. No matter, as this movie has no chance of being as good.
The Longest Week
Olivia Wilde, Jason Bateman, Billy Crudup
The Longest Week
This year is about to become the Year of Excessive Jason Bateman. After the return of Arrested Development to streaming TV, his directorial debut Bad Words, and the upcoming Horrible Bosses 2, the cult actor still has three more films up his cinematic sleeve, this being the first out of the gate. He plays an spoiled jerk who lives off his parents. As in most movies of this time, he falls in love just as he is dispossessed and out of work. Some are comparing it to Wes Anderson and other twee indie dramedy makers. All we need to hear is the acronym “RomCom” to know what to expect.
Casey La Scala
Johnny Pacar, Shaun Sipos, Bryan Dechart, Alexa PenaVega, Italia Ricci
It’s found footage time once again, as a group of young adults attending a wedding come face-to-face with The Rapture, and decide to film their call to Judgment. Yes, it’s another faith-based film (damn you God’s Not Dead and Heaven in for Real) trying to glom onto the by now DOA cinematic gimmick ala The Blair Witch Project. Casey La Scala, behind the scenes suit on such films as Donnie Darko, Welcome to Collinwood, and What a Girl Wants, steps into the director’s chair to try and make this mangled material work, but thanks to its combination of the Apocalypse and the approach, it doesn’t.
Carla Juri, Christoph Letkowski, Marlen Kruse, Meret Becker
A woman with what can best be described as questionable personal hygiene (and an unusual and eccentric attitude/obsession towards same) is involved in a personal grooming “accident” and ends up in the hospital. There, she tries to reunite her divorced parents while macking with a male nurse. Featuring a star making performance from newcomer Carla Juri and a premise guaranteed to get conservative critics in a froth, the trailers tend to make this look like a graduated gross out comedy. Early reviews suggest something more salacious, scatological, and surprisingly heartfelt. Still, not for the faint of… heart?