By Jack Rico
This is my second week writing my “This week in movies…” feature. It is a preview of the films coming out this week with their adjoining trailer and synopsis. I have to say, I’m discovering some interesting finds for you during my research. There are 11 movies being released this week and 7 of them are independent films with limited releases and/or available On Demand for home viewing. From the indie circuit, I must admit, the premises all sound worth watching, such as Drug War from Asian director Johnnie To. It’s the French Connection meets The Wire. Also The Time Being, a mystery surrounding a millionaire and an artist and Frankenstein’s Army, a movie that looks too fun to ignore. Come back this Thursday where I’ll have my reviews of what I have seen. In the meantime, I rank the films in descending order from least anticipated to my most anticipated watch.
11. ‘Drug War’ synopsis: (Limited/On Demand) Long considered the master of the Hong Kong crime thriller, Johnnie To’s first mainland production eschews “two guns at once” mayhem in favor of atmosphere and a tightly-wound plot punctuated with impeccably choreographed bursts of violence, making DRUG WAR an intricate puzzle box of a film that ignited a firestorm of controversy in its homeland… Manufacturing just fifty grams of meth in China will earn you a death sentence, and Timmy Choi (Louis Koo) has manufactured tons of it. After a violent lab accident, he’s in the custody of Captain Zhang (Sun Honglei), and now he has only one chance to avoid execution: turn informant and help Zhang’s undercover team take down the powerful cartel he’s been cooking for. But as the uneasy allies are forced to compress months of police work into just 72 sleepless hours, the increasingly desperate police are quickly stretched past their limits. As things spin wildly out of control, the line between duty and recklessness is blurred, and it becomes unclear whether the cop or the criminal truly has the upper hand.
10. ‘The Time Being’ synopsis: (Limited/On Demand) Daniel (Wes Bentley) is a struggling young artist whose ambitions have pushed his marriage to the brink. When a reclusive millionaire named Warner (Frank Langella) purchases one of his pieces, he hopes for additional commissions from a new benefactor. Instead, Werner offers him a series of increasingly bizarre surveillance assignments. As Daniel starts to unravel the secrets behind the requests, he must determine if Warner is out to further his career or ruin his life.
9. ‘Extracted’ synopsis: (Limited/On Demand) A scientist invents a technique to enter people’s memories deep within their subconscious when their mind is at its most vulnerable state. When he is tasked with entering a convicted criminal’s mind to see whether he committed murder, he is faced with his most dangerous and risky memory extraction ever.
8. ‘Frankenstein’s Army’ synopsis: (Limited/On Demand) In the waning days of World War II, a battalion of Russian soldiers find themselves lost in enemy territory. Stumbling upon a village decimated by an unseen terror, they discover that a mad scientist (Hellboy’s Karel Roden) conducts experiments to fuse flesh and steel, creating an unstoppable army of undead soldiers. Leaderless and faced with dissention amongst their dwindling ranks, they must find the courage to face down an altogether new menace – or die trying.
7. ‘Apartment 1303 3D’ synopsis: (Limited/On Demand) Having grown up under the controlling grip of her fame-hungry mother (Rebecca De Mornay), Janet Slate (Julianne Michelle) jumps at the opportunity to move into what looks to be a great high-rise apartment in downtown Detroit. Yet some deals are too good to be true as one night her boyfriend Mark (Corey Sevier) finds her in the middle of the street – having fallen from the balcony thirteen stories above. When her sister Lara (Mischa Barton) tries to investigate the mystery of what happened, she moves into the same apartment and encounters the odd neighbors in the building, including an eerie nine-year old girl who seems to somehow know the real reason for Janet’s fall. Lara soon realizes that her sister’s death might spell the same fate for her unless she can overcome the strange events that are terrorizing the inhabitants in Apartment 1303. Using innovative 3D shooting techniques, director Michael Taverna creates a tense supernatural thriller that is adapted from a novel by Kei Ôishi.
6. ‘Terraferma’ synopsis: (Limited/On Demand) Until actually confronted with having to make a life and death decision, who can know, with absolute certainty, how they will react? Set on and around a summer tourist island off the coast of Sicily, Terraferma tells the story of two struggling, yet disparate families, whose members become fatefully intertwined. A well intentioned, but illegal rescue of immigrant ‘boat people,’ forces the individuals of the indigenous family to chose between their economic survival and doing the morally correct thing with respect to the family they’ve saved at sea. In the process, both families are slowly torn apart as they come to grips with the harsh reality and consequences of their actions.
5. ‘The To Do List’ synopsis: Feeling pressured to become more sexually experienced before she goes to college, Brandy Clark makes a list of things to accomplish before hitting campus in the fall.
4. ‘Fruitvale Station’ synopsis: The true story of Oscar, a 22-year-old Bay Area resident, who crosses paths with friends, enemies, family, and strangers on the last day of 2008.
3. ‘Springsteen & I’ synopsis: (Limited/On Demand) With more than 120 million albums sold worldwide and numerous awards, including a staggering 20 Grammy Awards®, Bruce Springsteen’s music defines a generation. In celebration of 40 years of iconic music, NCM Fathom Events and Arts Alliance Media present “Springsteen and I” in select U.S. movie theaters on Monday, July 22 and Tuesday, July 30 at 7:30 p.m. local time. “Springsteen and I” will take audiences on an emotional journey through the personal insights and reflections of their fellow Springsteen fans. Directed by Baillie Walsh and produced by Ridley Scott Associates and Mr. Wolf, “Springsteen and I” incorporates the efforts of more than 2,000 fans around the world who submitted personal video clips to make the ultimate collective filmmaking experience about how Springsteen and his music became the soundtrack to so many lives.
2. ‘Blue Jasmine’ synopsis: A life crisis causes a woman to head to San Francisco, where she reconnects with her sister.
1. ‘The Wolverine’ synopsis: Summoned to Japan by an old acquaintance, Wolverine becomes embroiled in a conflict that forces him to confront his own demons.