(WOMENSENEWS)–February’s fine movie viewing kicks in with a real treat from Marjane Satrapi, the graphic artist auteur of "Persepolis" and "Chicken With Plums."
In her latest release, "The Voices," opening Feb. 6, the Iranian-born Satrapi applies her stunning cinematic sensibility and wit to Michael R. Perry‘s "blacklisted" script, and delivers a horror film that’s bloody funny. It’s not an easily-dismissed spoof, but an uncanny and ironically perceptive perspective on the deformed psyche of a serial killer. Jerry (Ryan Reynolds) looks like any harmless, pet-loving guy who lives next door, but, as it turns out, his behavior is guided by good and evil voices emanating from his dog and cat, respectively. Besting the droll pet performances are the brilliantly heady characterizations of his female friends (Gemma Arterton and Anna Kendrick) and pill-pushing court-appointed psychiatrist (Jacki Weaver). This thoroughly entertaining riff on the horror genre is a must-see, and I can’t wait to see it again.
More Feb. 6 Openers
"Jupiter Ascending," another film worth watching this month, is a femme-centric cinematic spectacle of the cutting-edge kind. This much anticipated next sci-fi iteration comes from Lana Wachowski and Andy Wachowski, the acclaimed team of genre-bending siblings responsible for "The Matrix" franchise and "The Cloud Atlas." This movie follows Jupiter (Mila Kunis), a cosmically preordained save-the-world heroine who must rise above the desolation of hard times to fulfill her destiny. She’s aided in her iconic struggle by Django (Channing Tatum), an extreme example of genetically-engineered machismo. Okay, even if you find the plot and premise somewhat hokey, or as difficult to follow as this run-on sentence attempting to describe them, the Wachowskis’ spectacular works are always worth watching.
"Ballet 422," an elevating documentary directed by Jody Lee Lipes, takes you behind the scenes at the New York City Ballet to follow the creative process of young Justin Peck who, at age 26, has become the elite corps’ youngest choreographer. He’s been commissioned to devise a new ballet for a soon approaching premiere date. Using her remarkable access and impressive artistic sensitivity, Lipes delivers a beautifully crafted chronicle of the evolution of a beautifully crafted ballet. Scenes that underscore the collaboration between Peck and ballerinas Tiler Peck and Sterling Hyltin are particularly engaging. Another must-see.
Preceding Valentine’s celebrations by one day, this Friday the 13th presents two relationship-centric openers, both adaptations for the screen.
"Fifty Shades of Grey," adapted by Kelly Marcel from E.L. James’ phenomenally popular novels, fits the day’s intersection of romance and torment. Dakota Johnson and Jaimie Dornan star as the hot and heavy twisted central characters in a story that’s already known to millions of fans who are eager to see how it plays out on screen. No spoilers here. Whether you’re into "Grey" or not, the film is a must-see if you’re keen on keeping up with popular culture.
"The Last Five Years," the cinematic expression of the eponymous off-Broadway musical hit, chronicles a love relationship through song. The woman (Anna Kendrick in her second February opener) sings about the affair in retrospect, with each song looking backwards over events that shaped the relationship, while the man (Jeremy Jordan) sings his story forwards. It’s an intriguing conceit, and the film’s shining performances make it work.
Valentine’s Day proper sees the release of "GirlHouse," a slasher film that puts the knife to nubile young women who’ve put themselves on display on a semi-pornographic peeping-Tom website. The film’s scope ranges from exploitive to offensive. Don’t go.
"McFarland, USA," directed by Niki Caro and based on a truth-based story by Bettina Gilois, is about a group of underprivileged central California boys who transcend their crushing personal challenges to become a championship cross-country running team, under the guidance of Coach Jim White (Kevin Costner). The truth-based story attests to the positive power of family relationships, team spirit, enduring determination and all those good things that contribute to the realization of the American dream. You can easily wind up rooting for this film.
"The DUFF," based on Kody Keplinger‘s novel, delves into the fat-girl-at-school syndrome and demolishes it. Mae Whitman stars as Biance, The DUFF (Designated Ugly Fat Friend). After discovering the meaning of her nickname, she sets out to systematically tear down the stereotypical and cruel mindset that prevails among the most popular kids at school. The performances are genuine enough, but the script’s ploys are a bit too predictable in this comedic take on what is undoubtedly an important, painful struggle for self-esteem.
"Gloria" is an unauthorized biopic about Mexican pop/rock icon Gloria Trevi (Sofia Espinosa), who left impoverished family circumstances in Monterrey, Mexico, at age 12 to move to Mexico City to pursue her dream of becoming a super star. Talent, energy, persistence and controversial style got her to the top of the charts, but she and her manager (Marco Perez) were eventually accused of and arrested on charges of the corruption of minors. Whether driven by dramatic license or truth-based, the narrative is a solid and a sordid expose of a woman artist’s struggle for success.
Stay tuned for Feb. 27 openers.
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