Monthly Movie Preview: October 2014

It’s October already!  That means Christmas decorations are on the shelf before Halloween has come, and that movies will be a good mix of horror, indie and Oscar-worthy.  Check out what we had to say about this month’s movie releases:

October 1 – Nas: Life is illmatic

Starring: Nasir Jones

Twenty years ago, a relatively unknown rapper from Queensbridge released one of the most historic Hip-Hop albums in history. Labeled one of the quintessential albums in the genre, it cemented Nasir Jones’ legacy after just one album. Illmatic is heralded as bringing harsh, honest poetry to the industry that was beginning to become just a little too convoluted and chances are that you have definitely heard at least one of the songs on the album if you know very little about Hip-Hop. This documentary focuses on the making of the album, featuring commentary from some of the best authorities on Hip-Hop in New York in the 90’s and even a lot of collaborators from Illmatic. Nas kicked off his Life is Illmatic tour earlier this year, and this movie is set to premiere with a very limited release, so check here for cities and theaters that will be playing it.

 

October 3 – Gone Girl

Starring: Ben Affleck, Neil Patrick Harris, Rosamund Park, Tyler Perry

Based on the bestselling novel of the same name by Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl looks downright creepy.  Gone Girl comes off as a classic suspenseful murder mystery, but the preview does a wonderful job of making the audience realize that this story is not so simple.  Starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike as Nick and Amy Dunne, Amy disappears, and is assumed dead.  Media scrutiny leads to Nick becoming the prime suspect in the case.  The book and the movie (let’s hope the movie) do a great job of leading the audience to not be so sure of either party.  Not only am I expecting the plot to be rife with edge-of-your-seat-iness, I trust that Director David Fincher has lead the entire feel of the film in the right direction.  He is the director of some little known films like Fight Club, Seven, The Social Network, and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo just to name a few.  In addition, the screenplay was written by the author of the book, so it it will be hard for anyone to break out their hipster glasses and say, “Well, in the book…”  I am excited to see the film, but I think it may make me terrified of the Bat-ffleck.  – Adrian

October 3 – Harmontown

Starring: Dan Harmon, Jeff Davis

#Sixseasonsandamovie? More like #FourSeasonsAFiredCreatorAndAWholeLotOfTimeToKill. Let’s see if that one catches on. Dan Harmon created one of the best sitcoms we’ve had the pleasure of watching; Community has been an inspiration to all of the social misfits in the world, letting them know that there is a place for them to fit in, be loved, and thrive. However, after an explosion at Chevy Chase left the show without its creator, Harmon had to come up with some way to spend his time. Enter, Harmontown, a weekly podcast where discussions of all type take place – from personal anecdotes to random social issues. The podcast became some type of therapy for Harmon, who was taking his separation from NBC and Community quite harshly. The tone of the documentary is sad, yet uplifting, and I will not be surprised if I never watch Community the same after watching Harmontown. – Sherif

 

October 10 – Dracula Untold

Starring: Luke Evans, Dominic Gordon, Sarah Gadon, Art Parkinson, Charles Dance

Did you know that Dracula was actually a nice guy? Yeah, turns out that Vlad the Impaler was just some poor sap that went to extraordinary lengths to save his people, and ends up losing his soul instead. As overdone as vampire movies have been the past couple decades, this sort of Dracula: Year Zero concept intrigued me. Even though I’m far more interested in the Impaler part than the Vlad, this could still be a reasonably good movie. Origin story aside, look for this to be everything you’ve already seen in a vampire flick before. Do yourself a favor and, unless you have a thing for Dracula, save your money to see one of the other viable horror options this Halloween. – Sherif

 

October 10 – The Judge

Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Vera Farmiga, Leighton Meester, Dax Sheppard, Billy Bob Thornton, Robert Duvall

Honestly, if Robert Downey Jr. weren’t in The Judge, I don’t know if I’d be sold.  I could be, but it’s hard to say. The plot seems solid, but if not done right, it could be a wreck.  Robert Downey Jr. and Robert Duvall star as father and son, Hank and Joe Palmer.  Hank has come home for his mother’s funeral to find that his father, a Judge in their small town in Indiana, is being charged with murder.  Hank must reconnect with his father and represent him in the case.  I am slightly worried that this film won’t have some revelation at the end about fathers and sons, but I am also really hoping I cry like a baby when it turns out that there is a revelation. – Adrian

October 10 – Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Starring: Steve Carrell, Jennifer Garner, Donald Glover, Ed Oxenbould

I’ll admit, remember this book from my childhood on Reading Rainbow, I expected this film to be a slap-sticky mess.  Turns out, I was wrong.  Granted, I haven’t seen the movie, but the preview made me laugh out loud.  And I was at the library when I watched it, so I got stared at, but I didn’t care.  It was worth the laughs.  The book was originally a children’s book published in 1972, but the new Disney film is an updated version of the story of Alexander, who is the type of boy that if it can go wrong, it will.  Judging from the trailer, I think this movie will be perfect for the middle school demographic.  Alexander and his family are relatable without being too grown up, like so much media for that demographic are.  Plus, Donald Glover is in it, so now I have to go see it. – Adrian

October 10 – Automata

Starring: Antonio Banderas, Birgitte Hjort Sørensen, Melanie Griffith, Dylan McDermott

“Automata,” which translates from Greek to mean “self-acting,” is the study of self-operating virtual machines to help in logical understanding of input and output process, without or with intermediate stage(s) of computation (thanks, Wikipedia). If you need that it layman’s terms, it means that this is going to be one kick-ass, intelligent film that changes the way we think about AI. One part A.I., two parts I, RobotAutomata follows robotics insurance agent Jacq Vaucan, who is investigating a robot who is making modifications to itself. Through his investigation, he discovers a lot more than he bargained for. The concept behind the movie is brilliant, offering a much more cognitive approach than the fear used in I, Robots or Terminator. And with the “2045 Initiative” coming to light, the outcome of this movie is a much more realistic possibility than it would have been when Skynet first went live. – Sherif

October 10 – Kill the Messenger

Starring: Jeremy Renner, Berry Pepper, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Michael K Williams, Rosemarie DeWitt, Ray Liotta

Conspiracy theories are great! There’s probably only one thing better than a good conspiracy – one that’s actually true! Kill The Messenger is about one of the most renowned conspiracy theories turned factual – the US government’s involvement of introducing cocaine into America for weapons fundraising for the Contras army in Nicaragua. Told from the perspective of the journalist who blew the story open, Gary Webb (played by Renner), this movie will take audiences deeper into the events that led to this watershed fiasco. Previews lead me to believe that this movie will be engaging and educational without being too preachy. In contemporary America, sentiment toward government is seldom cast in a positive light. Any political themed film I’ve seen in the last five years or so has had to be dashed with bits of salt. The events in Kill The Messenger are recent and will likely be very eye-opening to those who are generally unfamiliar with this shady piece of American history. All good traits a good movie should have. If you’re looking for a little more intellectual stimulation without fear of growing too bored, then I’d add Kill The Messenger to you must-see-list for this month. It’s on mine! – Taylor

October 10 – Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead

Starring: Martin Starr, Amrita Acharia, Vegar Hoel

Dead Snow 2, the second installment of the Norwegian zombie series, sets a new standard in utter malarkey. It’s like if Shaun of the Dead were directed by Wes Anderson. The entire trailer looked like a giant slugfest between humans and Nazi zombies, and the fighting is ridiculous to the point of hilarity. Don’t try for a second to understand the plot or why anything happens, just laugh at the stupidity of it all. Martin Starr, which some of you may remember as Bill Haverchuck from Freaks and Geeks, is a surprisingly good choice as leading man in this movie. Red Dead 2 doesn’t need to explain anything to me, because if it is as funny and action-packed as the trailer, this will be one of October’s best movies. – Sherif

October 10 – Kite

Starring: Samuel L Jackson, India Eisley, Callan McAuliffe

It doesn’t take much for me to get excited about seeing a movie. I love the medium so much that whether it’s sci-fi, comedy, or even a chick-flick I typically find a yearning to watch it. There is one exception. Anime-turned-live action. In all my life I’ve only ever seen one live action anime based film that I enjoyed. Watching 10 minutes of Dragonball: Evolution made me want to punch all the babies in the whole-wide world. In the face. Hence, it should come as no surprise when I say that Kite will not make my viewing list. The film is about a girl on a mission to track down her father’s mob-boss-killer and a bunch of his goonies. Like I mentioned earlier, this film is based on the Anime of the same name. Don’t excited anime fans. This series lasted all of two episodes and is half (literally) hentai; I learned from Google… not personal experience. I hate being a pessimist, so I’ll try to end this on a good note. The movie looks like it will contain some decent fight scenes. The preview hints at some pretty solid cinematography which will certainly help. And it’s got the one thing every C-grade movie needs to bump it up to that potential B-grade: Samuel L. Snakes on a Plane Jackson!! If you like Sam as much as me, then this movie will likely stay on your radar – even if shamefully so. In short, don’t get your hopes up, but maybe give it a shot. – Taylor

October 17 – Fury

Starring: Brad Pitt, Shia LaBeouf, Michael Peña, Jon Bernthal

I’m sold.  ‘Nuff said.  Ok, maybe I have more to say.  I am always a sucker for World War II movies. And then there is Brad Pitt.  And yeah, he’s hot (still), but there are two things about Brad (yeah, we are on a first name basis): he doesn’t pick bad movies and I loved it when he was killing “Nat-zees” in Inglorious Basterds.  Also starring Jon Bernthal aka Shane from The Walking Dead and Shia LaBeouf (LeBoof), the film centers around a group of five army men who are sent behind enemy lines in a tank named Fury.  I am sure that getting attached to any character is inevitable but a mistake because it is a war-time movie, and most likely they will die.  Knowing the end doesn’t spoil it for me, though, because I’m hoping that Brad tries to distract the enemy with his Italian accent. – Adrian

October 17 – Birdman

Starring: Michael Keaton, Zach Galifianakis, Edward Norton, Emma Stone, Naomi Watts

It’s been decades since Riggan Thomson donned a superhero’s cape and cowl, and perhaps the separation anxiety has gotten to his head. Perfectly cast is Michael Keaton, who was once a superhero himself in the Tim Burton Batman duo-logy. Birdman tells the tale of his comeback, which comes in the form of a Broadway play. He begins hallucinating that parts of his Birdman persona is real, and it becomes quickly apparent that there is something disturbingly wrong in his head – good for us, bad for him. The cast of Birdman is top-tier, with Emma Stone topping my list of anticipated actors. The trailer makes Birdman look like Batman had a hard acid trip, and that’s all I need to know to justify paying to see it. – Sherif

October 17 – Dear White People

Starring: Tyler James Williams, Tessa Thompson, Teyonah Parris, Dennis Haysbert

Tyler James Williams, former star of Everybody Hates Chris, stars alongside a group of young, black talent in this film centered around four Ivy League students’ reactions to a black-themed party that the white students on campus held. The film wastes no time attacking the subtle racism and unroots multiple accounts of that are seated just below the surface, and although it can be a stretch at times (Gremlins), it’s great seeing a collective of intelligent black kids challenge popular thought like this. This film won’t solve Ferguson, and it won’t undo the years of damage Lil Wayne has done. However, if it helps make young black people stop taking things at face value and gets the unassuming white people of the world to understand what it’s like to be marginalized, then we can chalk this movie up to a win. – Sherif

October 17 – The Book of Life

Starring: Zoe Saldana, Diego Luna, Channing Tatum, Christina Applegate, Ice Cube, Ron Perlman, Cheech Marin, Gabriel Iglesias

The Book of Life is bound to be the cutest animated feature out this fall.  The fantastical story follows Manolo, a man who is in love with Maria, but must compete for her love.  I would like to think this is more of Maria’s story.  She is practically a princess, but not your typical girl; she strong, smart, sassy.  Unlike most girls in animated flicks, she is not a woman in need of a man, but a woman that a man needs.  The other bonus of The Book of Life is that it focuses on Mexican culture, something that is very rare in ANY American movie, much less an animated film.  I have a feeling that Maria will be the girl that many little girls will look up to, because for once, she looks like them.  I am very excited to see this film and how well it does. – Adrian

October 24 – John Wick

Starring: Keanu Reeves, Bridget Moynahan, Williem Dafoe, Alfie Allen

Keanu Reeves is back, this time with crappy Boondock Saints-inspired tattoos and a thirst for vengeance. John Wick, former hitman, is forced to come out of retirement when Theon Greyjoy flexes his muscle on the wrong person, killing Wick’s dog and stealing his car. If this sounds like a tired concept, that is because it most certainly is. Keanu Reeves’ last major motion film, 47 Ronin, was a critical failure, and it doesn’t seem like there’s much room for him in Hollywood when there are so many other actors out there with talent. This could be where things turn around, though, as the action here looks on par with [insert Jason Statham movie here]. With all the great movies coming out this month, I will be hard-pressed to find a justification for seeing this one, but I’m curious to see if it does well. – Sherif

 

October 24 – St. Vincent

Starring: Bill Murray, Melissa McCarthy, Naomi Watts, Chris O’Dowd

St. Vincent looks like About a Boy, but funny.  Bill Murray, comedic god, stars as St. Vincent de Van Nuys, an adult with a lot of adult problems.  He ends up helping his neighbor by watching her child.  St. Vincent introduces the 12 year-old into his seedy world, but learns a few lessons along the way.  St. Vincent‘s preview made me laugh out loud.  I expect this one to be an indie hit; afterall, Bill Murray knows indie. – Adrian

October 31 – Horns

Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Juno Temple, Heather Graham

As much as I’d like this to be named Harry Potter and the Half-Blood King, Horns will do nicely. Daniel Radcliffe plays Ignatius Perrish, a young man who is cast out by society after his girlfriend’s mysterious death. What makes this an instant sell for me is that it is based off the 2012 book of the same name, written by Joe Hill – writer of comic book Locke & Key and son of the legendary Stephen King (hence the Half-Blood King joke). Ig’s transformation into a horned devil is quite breath-taking, and some of the early screenshots around the web confirm that this movie will be TERRIFYING. Almost as terrifying as Daniel Radcliffe’s American accent (although LaBoof originally got the role, so I’ll count my blessings now). Seriously though, if you’re looking for a good horror movie to see on Halloween, look no further than Horns. – Sherif

October 31 – Nightcrawler

Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Anne McDaniels

At first, I thought Nightcrawler would be about the teleporting X-Man.  So when I heard it wasn’t, I was disappointed.  But then I saw the trailer, and I am waiting with bated breath for October 31st.  The description says that this film is about a driven journalist.  I have to disagree.  This is about a man who suffers from obsession.  Jake Gyllenhaal looks frightening.  It is clear for me that Nightcrawler is his comeback.  I don’t know if it was the music or the terrifying pace of the trailer, but I am sure Nightcrawler will be one of my favorite films of the year. – Adrian

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