Tempo prediction: 5 stars
In the 1820s, a frontiersman, Hugh Glass, sets out on a path of vengeance against those who left him for dead after a bear mauling.
Gossip: Shot chronologically on an 80-day schedule that takes place over a total principal-photography-time-period of 9 months. This unusually long production time is due to the cold weather conditions, the remoteness of the locations and director Alejandro González Iñárritu‘s and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki‘s aesthetic to shoot only with natural light for maximum realism. Only a few shooting hours are available every day and have to be carefully planned in advance.
Directed by: Alejandro González Iñárritu
Fathers and Daughters
Tempo prediction: 4 Stars
A Pulitzer-winning writer grapples with being a widower and father after a mental breakdown, while 27 years later his grown daughter struggles to forge connections of her own.
Gossip: The screenplay for this film was featured in the 2012 Blacklist; a list of the “most liked” unmade scripts of the year.
Directed by: Gabriele Muccino
13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi
Genre: Action, Drama, Thriller
Tempo prediction: 4 1/2 stars
The true story of an American Ambassador is killed during an attack at a U.S. compound in Libya as a security team struggles to make sense out of the chaos.
Gossip: This is the actual account of three former special forces members contracted to protect a US government facility in Benghazi, Libya. The attacks lasted over 13 hours and led to the death of US Ambassador Chris Stevens, information officer Sean Smith and two other contractors.
Directed by: Michael Bay
Cast: John Krasinski, Max Martini, Pablo Schreiber
The Hateful Eight
Tempo prediction: 4 1/2 stars
In post-Civil War Wyoming, bounty hunters try to find shelter during a blizzard but get involved in a plot of betrayal and deception. Will they survive?
Gossip: This film plot’s heavily references many important historic realities that occurred in the years following the Civil War; including tension and rivalry between Union and Confederate veterans, the attitude over abolishing slavery and granting blacks equal rights. It also touches on the economic struggles of the southern states and the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.
Directed by: Quentin Tarantino
Cast: Channing Tatum, Samuel L. Jackson, Jennifer Jason Leigh
by Aleece Smith
Life is about knowing how to take a hit
Ashby is a coming-of-age story about a boy in a generic suburbia. However that may sound to you, writer/director Tony McNamara has delivered a story that feels more accurate than most other films of that genre. His characters are the key to that authenticity. While each of them have quirks, no one among the main characters becomes a caricature. The title role is played by Mickey Rourke who is a straight-talking older guy with some kind of mysterious, messed-up past. We find out more about his story when the likable neighbor kid, Ed (played by Nat Wolff), injects himself into the older man’s life. Ed isn’t the typical obvious movie teenager- he’s angsty, but not too angsty; he’s a coward, but not in the transparent; and he’s self-conscious in the way of teens in movie portrayals. Ed’s character is rounded out by interactions with his mom, June (Sarah Silverman), whose dating life gives us a backdrop against which to measure Ed’s progress in the coming-of-age timeline.
With Ashby, the emotional investment is light and the dialogue remains in the realm of fun-to-listen-to throughout the movie. If January temps are too chilly to tempt you outdoors, bundle up and head to see Ashby.
The Stanford Prison Experiment: On Blu-ray:
In the early 1970s, a psychology professor at Stanford University led a study on the psychological effects of being a prisoner or prison guard in a simulated prison block on the Stanford campus. He paid students to be either prisoners or guards. The results were so dramatic that the study did not last for even half of its scheduled duration.
Even though many of the actors bear an uncanny resemblance to the study’s participants, it doesn’t seem like Kyle Patrick Alvarez’s dramatic reenactment of the study captures the full horror of what happened during that week in August. But that’s okay; just a shadow of how easily we can slip into the complacence and depravity that runs rampant in the world is disturbing enough.
Get ready for some semi-heavy introspection. This film raises so many questions. Like, whose rules are you following and why? Who’s stirring the pot? What does your freedom look like? Under what circumstances are you willing to compromise your freedom? How much of your freedom are you willing to compromise? What defines you? How strongly do you think you hold to your convictions? And most importantly, how do you know any of that?