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New Releases and Upcoming Movies

New & Upcoming Movie Releases

The Vatican Tapes
Release: July 24th
Rated: PG-13
Cast: Kathleen Robertson, Djimon Hounsou, Dougray Scott 
Genre: Horror | Thriller
Synopsis: A priest and two Vatican exorcists must do battle with an ancient satanic force to save the soul of a young woman.
Paper Towns
Release: July 24th
Rated: TBD
Cast: Cara Delevingne, Nat Wolff, Halston Sage
Genre: Drama | Mystery | Romance 
Synopsis: A young man and his friends embark upon the road trip of their lives to find the missing girl next door.
Release: July 24th
Rated: PG-13
Cast: Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Michelle Monaghan
Genre: Action | Comedy
Synopsis: When aliens misinterpret video feeds of classic arcade games as a declaration of war, they attack the Earth in the form of the video games.
Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation
Release: July 31st
Rated: PG-13
Cast: Tom Cruise, Rebecca Ferguson, Jeremy Renner
Genre: Action | Adventure | Thriller
Synopsis: Ethan and team take on their most impossible mission yet, eradicating the Syndicate - an International rogue organization as highly skilled as they are, committed to destroying the IMF.
Ricki and the Flash
Release: August 7th
Rated: TBD
Cast: Sebastian Stan, Meryl Streep, Ben Platt
Genre: Comedy | Drama | Music
Synopsis: A musician who gave up everything for her dream of rock-and-roll stardom returns home, looking to make things right with her family.
Fantastic Four
Release: August 7th
Rated: TBD
Cast: Miles Teller, Kate Mara, Michael B. Jordan
Genre: Action | Adventure | Sci-Fi
Synopsis: Four young outsiders teleport to an alternate and dangerous universe which alters their physical form in shocking ways. The four must learn to harness their new abilities and work together to save Earth from a former friend turned enemy.
The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
Release: August 14th
Rated: PG-13
Cast: Alicia Vikander, Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer
Genre: Action | Adventure | Comedy
Synopsis: In the early 1960s, CIA agent Napoleon Solo and KGB operative Illya Kuryakin participate in a joint mission against a mysterious criminal organization, which is working to proliferate nuclear weapons.
Straight Outta Compton
Release: August 14th
Rated: R
Cast: O'Shea Jackson Jr., Corey Hawkins, Jason Mitchell
Genre: Biography | Drama | Music
Synopsis: The group NWA emerges from the streets of Compton, California in the mid-1980s and revolutionizes pop culture with their music and tales about life in the hood.
Release: August 19th
Rated: TBD
Cast: Kristen Wiig, Owen Wilson, Zach Galifianakis
Genre: Action | Comedy | Crime
Synopsis: A night guard at an armored car company in the Southern U.S. organizes one of the biggest bank heists in American history.
American Ultra
Release: August 21st
Rated: R
Cast: Kristen Stewart, Jesse Eisenberg, Walton Goggins
Genre: Comedy Synopsis: A stoner - who is in fact a government agent - is marked as a liability and targeted for extermination. But he's too well-trained and too high for them to handle.
Sinister 2
Release: August 21st
Rated: R
Cast: Shannyn Sossamon, James Ransone, Nicholas King
Genre: Horror
Synopsis: A young mother and her twin sons move into a rural house that's marked for death.
Hitman: Agent 47
Release: August 21st
Rated: R
Cast: Zachary Quinto, Rupert Friend, Ciarán Hinds
Genre: Action | Crime | Thriller
Synopsis: An assassin teams up with a woman to help her find her father and uncover the mysteries of her ancestry.
We Are Your Friends
Release: August 28th
Rated: R
Cast: Vanessa Lengies, Zac Efron, Emily Ratajkowski, Jon Bernthal
Genre: Drama | Music | Romance
Synopsis: An aspiring DJ looks to make it in the electronic music scene.
Release: August 28th
Rated: TBD
Cast: Emma Watson, Ethan Hawke, Aaron Ashmore, David Thewlis
Genre: Thriller
Synopsis: A father is accused of a crime he has no memory of committing.
No Escape
Release: September 2nd
Rated: TBD
Cast: Lake Bell, Pierce Brosnan, Owen Wilson
Genre: Action | Thriller
Synopsis: In their new overseas home, an American family soon finds themselves caught in the middle of a coup, and they frantically look for a safe escape in an environment where foreigners are being immediately executed.
A Walk in the Woods
Release: September 2nd
Rated: TBD
Cast: Nick Offerman, Kristen Schaal, Mary Steenburgen
Genre: Adventure | Comedy | Drama
Synopsis: After spending two decades in England, Bill Bryson returns to the U.S., where he decides the best way to connect with his homeland is to hike the Appalachian Trail with one of his oldest friends.
The Transporter Refueled
Release: September 4th
Rated: PG-13
Cast: Ed Skrein, Ray Stevenson, Gabriella Wright
Genre: Action | Crime | Thriller
Synopsis: A reboot of the story of transporter Frank Martin.
Black Mass
Release: September 18th
Rated: R
Cast: Johnny Depp, Benedict Cumberbatch, Dakota Johnson
Genre: Biography | Crime | Drama
Synopsis: The true story of Whitey Bulger, the brother of a state senator and the most infamous violent criminal in the history of South Boston, who became an FBI informant to take down a Mafia family invading his turf.
Release: September 25th
Rated: PG-13
Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Keira Knightley, Robin Wright
Genre: Adventure | Drama | Thriller
Synopsis: A climbing expedition on Mt. Everest is devastated by a severe snow storm.
The Intern
Release: September 25th
Rated: PG-13
Cast: Nat Wolff, Anne Hathaway, Robert De Niro
Genre: Comedy
Synopsis: 70-year-old widower Ben Whittaker has discovered that retirement isn't all it's cracked up to be. Seizing an opportunity to get back in the game, he becomes a senior intern at an online fashion site, founded and run by Jules Ostin.
The Martian
Release: October 2nd
Rated: TBD
Cast: Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig
Genre: Action | Adventure | Sci-Fi
Synopsis: During a manned mission to Mars, Astronaut Mark Watney is presumed dead after a fierce storm and left behind by his crew. But Watney has survived and finds himself stranded and alone on the hostile planet. With only meager supplies, he must draw upon his ingenuity, wit and spirit to subsist and find a way to signal to Earth that he is alive.
The Walk
Release: October 9th
Rated: PG
Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ben Kingsley, Ben Schwartz
Genre: Adventure | Biography | Drama
Synopsis: The story of French high-wire artist Philippe Petit's attempt to cross the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in 1974.
Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse
Release: October 30th
Rated: TBD
Cast: Halston Sage, Tye Sheridan, Patrick Schwarzenegger
Genre: Comedy, Horror
Synopsis: Three scouts, on the eve of their last camp-out, discover the true meaning of friendship when they attempt to save their town from a zombie outbreak.
The Good Dinosaur
Release: November 25th
Rated: TBD
Cast: Raymond Ochoa, Jeffrey Wright, Steve Zahn 
Genre: Animation | Adventure | Comedy
Synopsis: An epic journey into the world of dinosaurs where an Apatosaurus named Arlo makes an unlikely human friend.

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The Nightmare
Horror movies are a passion of mine.  Documentaries are a passion of mine.  However, in all my years of watching both, I don't think I've ever come across a horror-documentary.  There have been disturbing documentaries like Grizzly Man, The Cove, and The Act of Killing.  And, of course, we all know how many horror movies have been made to feel like documentaries.  But there is something very unique about a film that is 100% true accounts documenting the lives of subjects that was made for the sole purpose of scaring the s**t out of you.  That's The Nightmare and it succeeds big time.  The night after I watched this, I laid in bed staring at the ceiling unable to fall asleep...or perhaps it was unwilling to fall asleep. The Nightmare is about eight people from around the world who have no connection with each other but all suffer from the sleep paralysis.  That is a disorder that makes a person's brain misfire when they sleep and they are unable to move, unable to speak, unable to wake up and, worse of all, get subjected to the most horrific hallucinations you can imagine that feel entirely real to them while they're experiencing them.  It has no cure.  It has very little knowledge about it.  And accounts of what a sleep paralysis sufferer sees is not only what horror films have pulled influence from for decades but might also be where we get the concept of demons and what they look like. Director Rodney Ascher is a mad genius.  He enjoys making films that are dark and about mental disorders.  His previous documentary was called Room 237 and is also an absolutely excellent film.  In that, the subjects are never shown and only offer voice over.  Each of them are allowed to spill every nutty conspiracy theory and valid observation they have about Stanley Kubrik's version of The Shining.  I know that sounds monotonous but it's a rabbit hole of insanity that starts to make sense after a while.  You think it's a movie about The Shining but it's actually a wonderful documentary about obsession and how that can make a person insane.  Ascher has also directed several short horror films that are fictional but what's the most interesting is that prior to horror, both real and fake, he was respected as a comedy director of several shorts.  All of his passions come to a creative head in The Nightmare, which has just a pinch of humor in it to break the tension. Besides the terrifying true stories that these people share about their nightly battles, there are the surreal recreations Ascher makes.  The narrative continues but the visuals bounce back and forth from interview with the subject to creepy and graphic recreations of what they're saying.  It's effective but at times it feels like a film version of any paranormal TV show like Unsolved Mysteries, Haunted America or stuff like that.  Sure, the recreations are scarier than what you'd see on TV but they're almost unnecessary.  The stories that the people are telling is enough to make your hairs stand on end and icy chills cover your skin.  The actors in the recreations are better quality than cable shows but it's still not enough to shake that feeling that there's gonna be a commercial break at any second. Saying that something is scary is even more subjective than saying something is funny.  What scares me may not scare you.  The Nightmare is one of the first films that I'm pretty confident saying is universally scary.  Granted, it all depends on when and where you see it.  It's available on iTunes at the same time as in limited theaters.  I watched it on iTunes and sat in my house alone at night, which is perfect for making something creepy.  I recommend that approach but I'd imagine that even if you make it all the way through and don't think it's scary at all; later that night you'll run through some of what you saw and heard and rethink that.
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Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation
Spy movies have never really done much for me.  Never got into James Bond.  Never even saw the Bourne films.  Mission: Impossible is a spy franchise that has been around as feature films since 1996.  I remember seeing the first one with my friends in high school and we loved it.  It's hard to believe that almost 20 years later, they're still making them and they're only getting better.  Mission: Impossible-Rogue Nation wasn't a film I was looking forward to seeing but it was one of the most exciting movies of the summer. One thing that amazing about the Mission franchise is that every installment has been made by a different director.  Normally that's a sign of a franchise in trouble but not in this case.  On top of that, every single film has been made by directors that are masters.  Brian De Palma (Scarface, Carrie) did the first one.  John Woo (Face/Off, The Killer) made the second.  JJ Abrams (Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Super 8) did the third.  Brad Bird (The Incredibles, Ratatouille) did Ghost Protocol.  Which brings us to the director of Rogue Nation.  His name is Christopher McQuarrie and he's not so much a major name.  He's done a lot of writing (like The Usual Suspects) but this is only his third movie he's directed and the other two aren't very good.  I don't know if it's because Cruise is a good luck charm but you can't tell that McQuarrie is an unremarkable filmmaker for a second because this is the best in the series. It was a trending story when it came out that Tom Cruise does a stunt in Rogue Nation where he's hanging on the side of a plane as it takes off and then flies around.  It wasn't CGI.  It wasn't a stunt man.  It wasn't even a tiny plane that flew slowly a few hundred feet over the ground.  Cruise is on the side of a plane that is going full speed and flying over the earth.  It's a stunt that is so amazingly spectacular it takes your breath away and made the audience in my theater burst into applause at the scene's conclusion.  That scene is at the very beginning of the movie; like, before the opening credits.  How ballsy is that?!  You take the scene everyone is talking about and show it right away.  What's even more impressive than all that is that it's not even the most exciting sequence in the film. Rogue Nation is a reminder that doing practical stunts will always be better than CGI...always!  Some of the action scenes are so breathtaking, I had trouble watching them.  Not only are they all super fun but they're done so well.  The colors, the photography, the scenery, everything in all of them is stellar.  McQuarrie nails it not only as the film's director but writer as well!  The script is complex and filled with peril but still manages to have the perfect amount of humor at the right places.  Cruise is at his best as well and reminds us why he's the top shelf star in the first place.  Besides great performances from the returning cast of Jeremy Renner (The Avengers, American Hustle), Ving Rhames (Pulp Fiction, Dawn of the Dead) and Simon Pegg (Shaun of the Dead, Star Trek) there's the addition of Rebecca Ferguson (Hercules) and Sean Harris (Prometheus, '71).  Ferguson is sexy and dangerous.  Harris is a creepy presence despite having a serpentine voice that makes him hard to understand. I don't know if it's because Mission Impossible is a franchise from 20 years ago.  I don't know if it's because it's based on a TV show from the '60s.  I don't know if it's because it stars Tom Cruise and he is a superstar who isn't as popular as he used to be.  Something about the franchise feels a little stale.  I don't know many people that get excited for it and it's not something that is guarenteed to rocket it to the #1 at the box office.  However, Rogue Nation is a thrilling and fun film that shined brighter than all the other action movies of the summer.  Not too shabby for clunky, 20-year-old vehicle.
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It's cliche at this point to say that Judd Apatow movies run too long.  It's actually becoming a joke unto themselves.  "Hey, I'm going to see the new Apatow movie."  "Oh yeah?  Well, hopefully you took a nap before because it's a long one."  Listen, no doubt the man has his place in modern American comedy.  He's the reason for so many of the A-list comic actors that we have today.  But really, he's only directed two really funny films.  The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up are both arguably hilarious.  But Funny People and This is 40 are both massive disapointments.  Trainwreck was supposed to be his sign of hope.  He handed the reigns of writing over to Amy Schumer entirely.  It was a risky move and, sadly, it did not pan out. Schumer is funny.  Her Comedy Central show Inside Amy Schumer is not only hilarious but doing important work addressing important issues, mostly around the treatment of women, and still managing to do it in a funny way.  Because of that success, I can understand why Apatow would put so many eggs in her basket.  I would expect a funny, smart, edgy, feminist romantic comedy from Schumer and what she ended up writing was a funny-ish, dumb, edgy, cliche romantic comedy.  Not only is it unoriginal, it's exactly what we've seen hundreds of times.  All that Schumer did was take every single element you'd see in every romantic comedy and simply swapped the sexes of the two leads.  She couldn't have even made it from a woman's perspective because the woman in the film, played by Schumer, has all the cliche characteristics of the male lead in every romantic comedy. Apatow is no help either.  He leans so heavily on improv that lines make no sense and scenes go on too long.  It's like he's being allowed to do whatever he wants without a single Hollywood producer saying "Hey, maybe you should end the scene five minutes earlier and cut out that whole segment that is 15 minutes long and a complete distraction from the story."  And trust me, I don't like Hollywood creeps mucking with directors' films but in the case of Apatow, somebody has to do it since he doesn't have the "enough-is-enough" gene in his body.  The other thing that he goes to again is casting wacky non-actors to catch us off guard.  Wrestler John Cena and basketball star LeBron James both have big roles in the film.  Sure, they both do great with what they have but it doesn't make any sense for the story and it's distracting. The one thing that Trainwreck has going for it is a great performance from Colin Quinn (SNL, Grown-Ups).  The comic does a decent performance as Schumer's ailing father who's suffering from M.S.  Even though his storyline is completely unneeded for the plot, it is touching and certain scenes show that Schumer really has a wide range of acting ability.  Bill Hader also stars as the role that is typically played by a woman and everything about his performance makes that abundantly clear.  Hader is one of the funniest people to come out of SNL and kills it in almost everything he's in.  Why you would waste that talent on a part that doesn't do anything funny in the entire movie, that's longer than two hours, is beyond me. Don't get me wrong, Trainwreck has some scenes that are very funny.  The scenes in-between, however, are irritating, unfunny, paint-by-number and dull.  The movie is far from an actual trainwreck but it's also far from an actual success.  Considering this is his fifth feature film and it's continuing the trend of dissapointment, I have to say that I'm no longer looking forward to Apatow projects.  He seems like a good, ernest guy who cares deeply for comedy and social causes but it might appear that his best is behind him.  I hope I'm wrong about that but I'm not holding much hope for his future.
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When I went to the screening of Southpaw, I took my wife.  On the way home, the movie Rocky came up in conversation, as you could imagine.  My wife has seen Rocky once and she didn't really like it.  I know, I've already played out how that would look to our families as justification for divorce.  She enjoyed Southpaw more than I did and what was driving me crazy was that everything she liked about it was already done in Rocky but done better.  Sure, Rocky has become played out and material for endless parody but it is the greatest Boxing movie of all time and possibly the greatest sports movie of all time too.  So I have sympathy for anyone who tries to make a film about boxing because they're gonna cover a lot of the same ground that the greatest already did.  That'll make your film look weak, no matter how well you do it. Southpaw stars Jake Gyllenhaal as a world class professional boxer at the top of his career who gets kicked back down to the bottom after tragedy strikes his family.  It's basically Cinderella Man but a lot more raw, emotional and untrue.  Gyllenhaal puts in a performance that we've grown to expect from him now.  He has clearly proven himself to be a top shelf performer and someone who is long overdue for an Oscar (the fact that he wasn't even nominated last year for Nightcrawler is a goddamn crime).  Southpaw probably won't win anyone any awards but Gyllenhaal doesn't know that and turns in a gut-wrenching performance that feels as brutal and grievious as any one he's done so far in his career.  Not to mention the fact that dude beefed up an extra 25 lbs. of muscle and got pretty damn good at pretending to box like a boxer. Director Antoine Fuqua is one of the great action filmmakers working today.  Sure, he's paid the bills with some pretty terrible films but those are mostly the fault of shotty screenplays and hack actors.  But what Fuqua does so well is kick ass with action while never losing sight of drama.  Training Day is still one of my favorite movies and last year's The Equalizer was one of the most shockingly excellent films of 2014.  His directing in Southpaw is no different.  He puts us squarely in the ring and, with the help of superb sound editing, makes us feel like we're not just throwing fists but getting hit as well.  But that's easy compared to getting raw emotion out of your actors.  The pivotal scene in which tragedy strikes Gyllenhaal's character stays in the moment a minute too long and makes you feel like you're a helpless bystander that should look away but simply can't.   The rest of the cast turns in performances that are good but not great.  Rachel McAdams (Midnight in Paris, The Notebook), Forrest Whittaker (Panic Room, The Butler) and even 50 Cent are all decent enough to keep the film from getting too heavy resting on Gyllenhaal's shoulders.  But the supporting player who steals every scene she's in is young Oona Laurence.  She may not have many films to her resume but this New York-based 13-year-old already won a Tony Award and she might have thrown her hat in the ring for an Oscar nomination too.  She is absolutely heartbreaking as the daughter of Gyllenhaal and McAdams who turns in adult-sized emotion in every scene. The problem with Southpaw is that it's nothing new, like at all.  It's incredibly predictable and cliche at this point.  The other issue is that Fuqua brings us down so far and so hard with Gyllenhaal's fall from grace that it's excruciating to watch.  It feels like sadness is over half the movie.  I'm fine with that but if you're gonna bring me down that far, you have to bring me up even higher and over the same amount of time.  That's not what happens.  The scales are tipped in a way that's not favorable to the story.  There's so much time spent showing how far our hero falls that when his inevitable return to the top comes, it goes too quickly and feels rushed, therefore feeling unsatisfying.  Southpaw is fine and serves slightly more than what most expected from it.  More importantly to some, it could be the greatest boxing film you've ever seen...if you don't like Rocky...but if that's the case, you've got terrible taste in movies anyway.
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