Nick’s Picks 02/20/13
Richard LaGravenese is back in the directors chair helming the supernatural love story Beautiful Creatures, the first novel from the best-selling series of the same name by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. The film opens up with its teen star, Ethan Wate (Alden Ehrenreich) suffering from the same recurring dream. A young woman is waiting for him on a Civil War battlefield. As he desperately attempts to reach her, he is killed via a lightning bold crack ala Groundhog Day…over and over again.
The danger of this strange dream world, however, is preferable to Ethan’s waking existence in Gatlin, South Carolina, a small, conservative Southern town that hasn’t caught up to the 21st century, where nothing ever changes and nothing ever happens. Trapped at home with a father who has completely withdrawn since the sudden death of Ethan’s mother, Ethan yearns for a life he can only read about in books.
But Ethan’s mundane world is shaken up with the arrival of Lena Duchannes (Alice Englert), the beautiful and enigmatic niece of Macon Ravenwood (Jeremy Irons), the reclusive owner of gothic Ravenwood Manor. Ethan finds himself immediately drawn to Lena, even though destruction seems to inexplicably follow her and it becomes apparent that she is a Caster, with powers beyond her control. The town, led by conservative Mrs. Lincoln (Emma Thompson), wants her banished. Even Gatlin’s all-knowing librarian, Amma (Viola Davis), is afraid history may repeat itself—a history of family secrets and a curse that looms for Lena as she approaches her 16th birthday. It is that time when a Caster is chosen by the forces of either the Light or the Dark. But Lena’s fate may already be sealed by the curse that draws both her and Ethan into a tangled web of spells and peril from which there may be no escape.
Upon first glance, Beautiful Creatures seems quite similar to a number of the tweener film series that have hit the big screen, most notably that of the Twilight genre. Yes, there are similarities, but one could come to expect that with a film focusing on young requited love. The direction of the film and pacing was sufficient, but what stood out more than anything was the chemistry of the cast. With the leads being such young performers (Ehrenreich & Englert), it makes perfect sense to throw the brilliant Jeremy Irons into the fray, The story is interesting and should make the perfect date movie.
Starring: Alden Ehrenreich, Alice Englert & Jeremy Irons
Director: Richard LaGravenese
Now Showing: in Local Theaters
MPAA Rating: PG-13
‘More Than Human’ Wraps Principal Photography on Episodes 1-5
Carlos M. Tovar and his team at FanboyFilmmaker.com have just wrapped principal photography on Episodes 1-5 of their latest web series, ‘More Than Human,’ an action/drama web series starring newcomers Alexandra Mauro, Xavier Price, Sadie Brook, Scott Chase and Rowland Sauls. The series features a group of 5 unlikely friends who drink a stolen serum that endows them with super-powers. Their use of the serum and their new abilities bring them into conflict with mysterious beings from an alternate dimension and a government scientist desperate to save his teenage daughter’s life.
“More Than Human strikes a chord with teens, and captures the imagination from the start,” said Tovar, “It is an ongoing narrative, with new characters constantly being added to create a rich story world and ongoing mythology that will appeal to fans of past television shows like ‘Heroes,’ or ‘Lost.’ In fact, it could very accurately be referred to as ‘Heroes’ for the teen set.” “And our young cast is exceptionally talented,“ continued Tovar, “we held an exhaustive casting search throughout Texas and ended up with some future stars as the leads. They hold their own against actors who are twice their age and much more experienced. One fun part of steering the series has been watching this group of strangers bond into a real group of friends, mimicking the events of the show. None of the leads knew each other until we began rehearsals and held a team-building boot camp to help them become a cohesive group. Now, watching them together on-screen, you can see a true, organic bond.”
“More Than Human” is an original short form series created & produced by Tovar, Co-Produced by Sandifer and Stephen Wolfe. Ray Khan, Joe Grisaffi and Tricia Mauro are on-board as Associate Producers. Jeffery Fountain is the series Director of Photography, under a joint partnership with ShootOnRED.com. Editing is being handled by Johnny DeJesus, fresh off his Slamdance Film Festival premiere of ‘Ghost Team One.’ Tovar also handled writing and directing duties for the series, with experience stemming from his work on several New Media projects, including ‘The Therapist,’ ’25 and Married,’ ‘FORE!’ and ‘Placeholders.’ The first 5 episodes of ‘More Than Human’ were filmed over weekends and holidays, due to the school schedule of the teenage leads and the availability of locations. “This was a huge accomplishment, wrapping the first 5 episodes of Season One,” said Tovar, “and it has positioned us well as we begin preparing to film Episodes 6-10 of Season One in early Summer of 2013.”
FREE DVD GIVEAWAY
We are doing a Free DVD Giveaway! If you are interested in a chance at winning a free copy of For Ellen, 4 Assassins, Seeds of Destruction, The Factory, Argo, Top Gear: Season Two or Alex Cross, it is really easy! All you have to do is send me an email at HoustonMovieGuy@gmail.com. The subject line of the email should read DVD GIVEAWAY. In the body of the email, be sure to put your name, full mailing address and which DVD or Blu-ray you would like. Winners will be selected by random drawing. Best of luck!
FOR ELLEN – New Video
Aspiring rock star Joby Taylor (Paul Dano) has wanted nothing more than to make it, having flirted with fame but never crossed over into true success. In the midst of a low period in his life, he agrees to sign divorce papers with his estranged wife (Margarita Levieva) in order to see money from the sale of their home, only to discover that by signing the papers he will forfeit all custody of his six-year-old daughter, Ellen (newcomer Shaylena Mandigo). With a good-natured lawyer (Jon Heder) unable to make headway in reversing the decision, and a girlfriend (Jena Malone) who represents an era of his life from which he might be ready to graduate, Joby negotiates a visit with his daughter to explore whether he is able to walk away from his child, and whether it might be too late for reconciliation.
4 ASSASSINS – Inception
The Four Assassins (aka “Marco Polo”, 1975) is that rare Hong Kong kung fu film which features a westerner in a pivotal, heroic role. Set at the time of Italian explorer Marco Polo s historic expedition to China ,during the reign of Monogol ruler Kublai Khan, it stars American actor Richard Harrison as Polo. Taking considerable liberties with the historic record, the film has Polo turning up as an Imperial Inspector assigned to root out Chinese rebles in the south, but eventually being won over to their cause. As such, it relies on the formula commonly used in kung fu films to depict a much later period of conflict, that of Qingera Manchu conquerors vs. Ming loyalists.
ON THE WATERFRONT – Criterion
Marlon Brando’s famous “I coulda been a contenda” speech is such a warhorse by now that a lot of people probably feel they’ve seen this picture already, even if they haven’t. And many of those who have seen it may have forgotten how flat-out thrilling it is. For all its great dramatic and cinematic qualities, and its fiery social criticism, Elia Kazan’s On the Waterfront is also one of the most gripping melodramas of political corruption and individual heroism ever made in the United States, a five-star gut-grabber. Shot on location around the docks of Hoboken, New Jersey, in the mid-1950s, it tells the fact-based story of a longshoreman (Brando’s Terry Malloy) who is blackballed and savagely beaten for informing against the mobsters who have taken over his union and sold it out to the bosses. (Karl Malden has a more conventional stalwart-hero role, as an idealistic priest who nurtures Terry’s pangs of conscience.) Lee J. Cobb, who created the role of Willy Loman in Death of Salesman under Kazan’s direction on Broadway, makes a formidable foe as a greedy union leader.
SEEDS OF DESTRUCTION – Anchor Bay
When a fringe scientist releases a prehistoric seed, it unleashes a horrific root system that rips through Nevada like an earthquake and devastates everything in its path. Now a hard-nosed government agent (Adrian Pasdar), a desperate plant expert (Stefanie von Pfetten) and a pair of young environmentalists must find a way to stop its destructive growth. The military cannot kill it. Shattered chunks regenerate to thousands of feet tall. But is this biblical green behemoth headed for an even more catastrophic life source? James Morrison and Jesse Moss co-star in this SyFy Original eco-shocker.
THE FACTORY – Warner
Detective Mike Fletcher, a rugged and obsessive police officer, and his partner Kelsey Walker, are on the trail of a serial killer who prowls the streets targeting young streetwalkers. When his teenage daughter disappears, Fletcher discovers that the killer has kidnapped her after mistaking her for a prostitute. Fletcher’s obsession goes into overdrive when he drops all professional restraint to get the killer and save his daughter.
ARGO – Warner
Based on real events the dramatic thriller “Argo” chronicles the life-or-death covert operation to rescue six Americans which unfolded behind the scenes of the Iran hostage crisis focusing on the little-known role that the CIA and Hollywood played-information that was not declassified until many years after the event. On November 4 1979 as the Iranian revolution reaches its boiling point militants storm the U.S. Embassy in Tehran taking 52 Americans hostage. But in the midst of the chaos six Americans manage to slip away and find refuge in the home of Canadian Ambassador Ken Taylor. Knowing it is only a matter of time before the six are found out and likely killed the Canadian and American governments ask the CIA to intervene. The CIA turns to their top “exfiltration” specialist Tony Mendez to come up with a plan to get the six Americans safely out of the country. A plan so incredible it could only happen in the movies
TOP GEAR: Season Two – BBC
Top Gear USA is back for a second season with more super-cars speed extreme stunts and showcases than ever before! In this second season of high-adrenaline action entertainment Top Gear delves deeper into the colorful history of the automobile and showcases an offbeat celebration of the art of driving featuring super-cars extreme stunts and challenges car reviews and celebrity interviews as well as the eccentric adventures of its hosts with Top Gear’s customary wit and humor. Hosted by comedian and car buff Adam Ferrara champion rally and drift racer Tanner Foust and racing analyst Rutledge Wood Top Gear an automotive entertainment extravaganza.
ALEX CROSS – Summit
Based on the character created by James Patterson and poularized by Morgan Freeman in KissThe Girls and Along Came a Spider, Tyler Perry takes over as Dr. Alex Cross, a homicide detective/psychologist with the Detroit Police Department. Cross meets his match in a serial killer (Matthew Fox). The two face off in a high-stakes game of cat and mouse, but when the mission gets personal, Cross is pushed to the edge of his moral and psychological limits in this taut and exciting action thriller.
GAME OF THRONES: Season Two – HBO
Based on the best-selling book series by George R.R. Martin, Game of Thrones is an epic drama set in the grounded fantasy continent of Westeros, where ambitious men and women of both honor and ill-repute live in a land where summers and winters can last years. Season 2 plays out against the backdrop of a fast-approaching winter – the season of the white raven. In King’s Landing, the coveted Iron Throne is occupied by cruel young Joffrey, counseled by his conniving mother Cersei and uncle Tyrion, who has been appointed Hand of the King. But the Lannister hold on the Throne is under assault on many fronts. There’s Robb Stark, son of the slain Lord of Winterfell, Ned Stark, who seeks autonomy in the North and has taken Cersei’s brother Jaime prisoner in battle; Daenerys Targaryen, who looks to shore up her depleted power in the east through three newborn dragons; Stannis Baratheon, eldest brother of the late King Robert, who rejects Joffrey’s legitimacy and aligns with a powerful priestess to raise a naval attack; and Stannis’ brother Renly, who has maintained his own claim since fleeing King’s Landing. In the meantime, a new leader is rising among the wildlings North of the Wall, adding new perils for Jon Snow and the order of the Night’s Watch. With tensions and treaties, animosity and alliances, Season 2 of Game of Thrones is a thrilling journey through a riveting, unforgettable fictional landscape.
BAGDAD CAFE – Shout
German writer-director Percy Adlon makes a remarkable American debut with his charming Bagdad Cafe starring Cch Pounder and Jack Palance. Injecting his bold and unique style into a sweet story about the common threads that connect disparate people, Adlon succeeds in creating a cinematic jewel that is both hilarious and touching. Drawn to a pair of lights in the barren American desert sky, a mysterious German woman, Jasmin, stumbles upon a dilapidated motel/diner in the middle of nowhere. Her unusual appearance and demeanor are at first suspicious to Brenda, the exasperated owner who has difficulty making ends meet. But when an unlikely magic sparks between the two women, this lonely desert outpost is transformed into a thrivingand popularoasis.
NORTH SEA TEXAS – Strand Releasing
Pim and his ex-beauty queen, single mother, Yvette, live in a small town on the Belgian coast. Trapped, geographically and emotionally, they both yearn for unattainable things. As a boy, Pim occupies his time drawing and fantasizing while keeping his emerging desires for his older neighbor friend, Gino, a secret. As a teenager, his infatuation for Gino grows, but his feelings are unrequited and Gino leaves home to move-in with his girlfriend. Meanwhile, Yvette spends her time drinking and entertaining unwanted suitors, longing to travel and see the world. When things at home take a turn for the worse, Pim finds comfort and solace in Gino s family who receive him with open arms and for the first time in his life he understands what it means to be loved.
MONSTERS INC – Disney
Intelligent, funny, adorable, and beautifully animated, Monsters, Inc. will delight fans of Shrek and Toy Story while drawing a new audience of curious, kid-friendly viewers. Billy Crystal and John Goodman make a fiercely funny comedic team as job partners and best friends, Mike and Sulley. The duo works at Monsters, Inc., a gigantic corporation that captures the screams of little children and turns them into energy. The only problem is, kids aren’t scared anymore. And because of this problem, Monsters, Inc. is in a jam. But when one little girl, Boo, follows Sully through her closet door and into the factory, she brings an even more dire issue to the fore: the monsters are actually terrified of children.
BATH SALT ZOMBIES – MVD
The bath salts epidemic facing the southern and mid-western US has been stifled by an unprecedented government crackdown. This has led to a tremendous amount of surplus stock hidden by black market dealers, and a migration of those dealers to the northeast. In New York City, potent strands have surfaced and have attracted the most devoted bath salt junkies. A young aspiring chemist has developed an even stronger batch… but something has gone horribly wrong. The new ultra potent bath salt batch has revealed a major side effect: It turns users into violent flesh seeking Zombies!
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