Friday, May 29, 2015

Point Break (2015) and Cop Car Trailer

Earlier this week I posted a trailer for the new Keanu Reeves thriller, Knock Knock. And as it turns out, Reeves is having one of his earlier career classics being remade. Inspired by the 1991 crime thriller of the same name, Point Break hits theaters this Christmas Day with a large cast of unknowns. Aussie actor Luke Bracey (G.I. Joe: Retaliation) stars as an FBI agent Johnny Utah with a knack for extreme sports. And after a rare breed of high octane criminals devastate the financial markets with a string of mind-blowing heists, Utah must infiltrate their group and put an end to their antics. The stunts and action sequences look pretty insane, which makes me wonder why Point Break is holding off until Christmas rather than cashing in on the summer crowd.

Kicking off its festival run as a member of this year's Sundance class, Jon Watts' newest thriller looks pretty intense. Cop Car stars Kevin Bacon as a dirty cop whose squad car is stolen by a thrifty pair of ten year olds who find themselves involved in a much bigger predicament. Early reviews out of Sundance were heavily positive and you'll want to keep an eye out for Cop Car when it makes its way to theaters this August.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

Film: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

Starring: Thomas Mann (Project X), Olivia Cooke (Bates Motel) and RJ Cyler

Director: Alfonso Gomez-Rejon

U.S. Release: June 12th, 2015 (Limited - Rated PG-13)

Genre: Drama

Runtime: 104 minutes

Most years I have to wait until at least the fall and sometimes even into late-December, when the heavyweight Oscar contenders begin to unveil themselves across movie theaters nationwide, in order to find that special film that astonishes me on all fronts. Well, Christmas came early last night as I had the privilege of catching this year's superb Sundance Grand Jury and Audience prize winner, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. Recent winners of Park City's most prestigious award, namely Whiplash and Beasts of the Southern Wild, ultimately found a large level of Oscar success. But although my instincts tell me that this year's indie gem won't have the same sustaining power as those previous awards season contenders, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is still far and away the most superior of the bunch.

Based on Jesse Andrews' novel of the same name Thomas Mann stars as Greg, a self-loathing high school senior who spends his days staying under the radar and making films with his lifelong "co-worker", Earl (RJ Cyler). But when Greg reluctantly befriends a cancer-stricken classmate named Rachel (Olivia Cooke) at his mom's demanding request, their relationship slowly pulls Greg out from under his shell. And as Rachel's medical condition begins to worsen, Greg and Earl struggle to make a momentous cinematic masterpiece on her behalf.

Beautifully infusing elements of cynicism, sarcasm, fear, tenderness and compassion, novelist turned screenwriter, Jesse Andrews, delivers a screenplay for the ages. Never before has a coming-of-age film felt so earnest and forthright. Andrews creates dialogue that's unapologetically honest and occasionally awkward at all the right times. And through his words, budding stars Thomas Mann and Olivia Cooke give the type of spectacular performances that re-direct a career. Selecting lesser known, but equally talented, leads was a brilliant choice by director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon. These fresh faces give Me and Earl and the Dying Girl a clean slate and the pair of dynamic stars provide such a rare and unique voice to their characters. Furthermore, enough can't be stated about the supporting turns as well, which happen to come from newbie RJ Cyler, Nick Offerman and Jon Bernthal. Of the bunch, Cyler is given the largest platform to work with and his natural comedic abilities are wonderfully counter-balanced by a soulful handling of the film's more dramatic moments.

For such an impressive script and cast, matching these bright spots with the stylish eye and vision of filmmaker Alfonso Gomez-Rejon only elevated the film to even greater heights. Alfonso incorporated many rare shots in his repertoire that added an enormous level of distinction to the film. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl amazes on nearly every level and displays a special blend of both humor and tenderness which is simply perfected through Rejon's keen eye.

Throughout the brisk 104 minute affair, the film takes its audience on an unforgettable journey boasting a wide array of emotions. There were laughs and there were tears, but most importantly there was an indestructible connection between each and every moviegoer and all of the characters we fell in love with onscreen. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is a magnificent piece of cinema that warrants a viewing from just about film lover out there, so make sure you keep your eyes peeled when the feature hit theaters this June.

Stars: 4 stars out of 4

Grade: A

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Rapid Reviews: Pitch Perfect 2 and Poltergeist (2015)

In 2012 the Barden Bellas took audiences by storm with their unique a capella skills. And this year, the collection of harmonizing misfits return to keep their brand and tradition in tact with Pitch Perfect 2. Some changes have been made, though. Funny-woman and co-star Elizabeth Banks takes the reins as director in her major motion picture debut and there are some new interesting Bellas added to the mix.

After a trio of collegiate national championships, the Barden Bellas are the country's most recognized a capella group. That is, until a wardrobe malfunction at an event hosting the president of the U.S. turns the group into a hated and mocked laughing-stock that results in their banishment from competitive singing. The only way the Bellas can resurrect their sisterhood is by becoming the first American group to win the world championship.

As someone who initially felt that Pitch Perfect was an over-hyped and overrated comedy, it slowly became a guilty pleasure for me. I enjoyed the original less for its storylines and more for the vocal mastery that is actually quite impressive. Its sequel takes a hit all across the board. Pitch Perfect 2's subplots are forced, its jokes are weaker and the song arrangements are almost, but not nearly, as effective as its predecessor. Thankfully, though, fantastic cameos are given by Snoop Lion and NFL sack-master, Clay Mathews III, that assist in keeping Pitch Perfect 2 tolerable as the minutes pile on and filmmaker Elizabeth Banks prides herself with far too much screen time.

Stars: 2 stars out of 4

Grade: C+

Thanks to a barren amount of originality floating throughout Tinseltown, remakes have become a necessity in the film industry, especially with the horror genre. Gil Kenan reworks Steven Spielberg's original story idea as director of this year's reboot, Poltergeist.

After their father (Sam Rockwell) loses his job, the Bowens reluctantly relocate to a new suburban home. But once strange occurrences around the house begin to escalate to frightening heights, the family realizes that they're being terrorized by angry spirits who have kidnapped their youngest daughter, Madison (Kennedi Clements). They must enlist the help of a paranormal expert and band together to save Maddy.

Times have changed and, nowadays, a PG-13 rating for a horror movie is a huge red flag. So as expected, Poltergeist runs low on terrifying scares and delivers some of the most unforgivable dialogue I've seen in a long time. As an outspoken fan of the versatile Sam Rockwell, even his most dedicated talents can't keep this chintzy remake from disaster. A brutal screenplay from David Lindsay-Abaire and a large collection of awful supporting performances plague this harshly lacking scary movie. Do yourself a favor a huge favor and take a pass on Poltergeist.

Stars: 1 star out of 4

Grade: D

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Knock Knock and The Gallows Trailers

It's horror, horror everywhere as new trailers for scary movies seem to be popping up all over the internet. A pair of new previews debuted this week and the first comes from horror mastermind, Eli Roth, director of Cabin Fever and Hostel. Roth's latest film and Sundance selection, Knock Knock, features Keanu Reeves as a happily married father who offers to help two beautiful young women who knock at his door in search of a phone during a rain storm. However, this duo of femme fatales use seduction to lead him into a twisted game with deadly consequences. Early word from fanboys is that this taboo thriller is a must-see, so any lover of scary movies should keep an eye out for Knock Knock later this year.

I think we can all agree that the found-footage style of filmmaking has grown extremely tiresome, but that first-hand general consensus hasn't filtered into the horror genre just yet. In July we're given The Gallows, a first-hand horror account from the directing duo of Travis Cluff and Chris Lofing, Two decades to the day after a prop malfunction takes the life of a student during a high school play, a new wave of teenagers sneak onto the stage in an attempt to carry out the show themselves. Clearly, things go terribly wrong in this contemporary horror flick. If the preview below catches your interest, you can check out The Gallows later this summer.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Rapid Reviews: Mad Max: Fury Road and Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck

Over 35 years after George Miller branded the iconic post-apocalyptic universe of Max Rockatansky, he returns in 2015 with the highly anticipated prequel of sorts, Mad Max: Fury Road. While I'm admittedly far from a die-hard fan of the franchise and by no means an expert on Miller's long thriving tale, I can guarantee that this latest adventure delivers the same type of thrills and aura as the original.

Move over Mel Gibson while Tom Hardy takes the reins as Max Rockatansky, a rebel consumed by survival and disgraced by what the world has become. As Max finds himself imprisoned by a group of sand dwellers, he crosses paths with another rebel named Furiosa (Charlize Theron) who struggles to escape and return to the civilization where she was born.

As advertised Mad Max: Fury Road is literally a two-hour, high-octane chase scene that delivers on action and intensity. But although the fast-paced sequences grow tiresome as the minutes accumulate, a gratifying finale and excellent performances from Hardy and, to a larger degree, Charlize Theron help make this blockbuster franchise reboot worth the watch.

Stars: 2 and a half stars out of 4

Grade: B-

As I mentioned before when I did a rapid review for the Scientology documentary, Going Clear, HBO has become a major player on the festival market. Leaving the landmark Sundance Film Festival with the rights to both Going Clear and the new Kurt Cobain documentary, Montage of Heck, they've cemented their position as a distributor of upper-echelon films.

Dissecting the birth, death and everything in between of grunge music pioneer, Kurt Cobain, through the use of home videos, live interviews and interpretive animation sequences, Montage of Heck paints a devastating portrait of  drug addiction. While the heroin epidemic sweeps across our nation and filters into suburban homes at an alarming rate, this documentary is suitably timed and severely eye-opening.

Cobain became an overnight megastar after the release of Nirvana's iconic grunge album, Nevermind, changed the face of rock music in 1991. Cobain undesirably became the voice and face of a generation as he sadly withered away by relentless addiction with his lifetime partner, Courtney Love. Montage of Heck is a depressing but necessary examination of Cobain's struggles with heroin even after the life-changing birth of his daughter, Frances Bean Cobain.

Stars: 2 and a half stars out of 4

Grade: B-

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Pan and The Intern Trailers

While the recent crop of trailers has been rather disappointing, a new Joe Wright preview just dropped a few hours ago. Wright, who's best known for a wide array of films such as Atonement and Hanna, will be releasing his visionary take on the tale of Neverland with the October release, Pan. Levi Miller stars as Peter Pan in this origin story which pits the young boy and Tiger Lily (Rooney Mara) against a villainous pirate named Blackbeard (Hugh Jackman). If you're wondering what's the deal with the iconic character, Captain Hook, well it appears that Pan will help develop an early understanding of Hook before he become the nemesis to Peter that we all know.

It was nice to see Anne Hathaway follow up her Oscar win with last year's strong role in Christopher Nolan's Interstellar. However, we all know that Hathaway has a soft spot for the comedy genre where she got an early start in films like The Princess Diaries and The Devil Wears Prada. This September she'll take center stage alongside another Academy Award winner, Robert Deniro, in The Intern. Deniro plays a 70 year-old widower named Ben who decides that retirement isn't for him and takes on a senior intern position at an online fashion website headed by Jules Ostin (Hathaway). From the writer of The Father of the Bride and the writer/director of It's Complicated, perhaps The Intern will be a valuable source of wholesome laughs.

Monday, May 18, 2015

The Best Films from Cameron Crowe

*** After a week away from the real world basking in the Bermuda sun on a nice and relaxing vacation, I'm back at it with my Movie List of the Month showcase. 

Despite having won an Academy Award for his brilliant screenplay for the 2000 music drama classic, Almost Famous, writer and director Cameron Crowe has never been held in the same esteem as many legends of Hollywood. That isn't to say, however, that Crowe hasn't made his own impact on the history and future of cinema. His style is unique and even peculiar at times, yet Crowe has always managed to tell heartfelt and honest stories. With the filmmaker's newest comedy-drama, Aloha, arriving in theaters later this month (and it's one I can't wait to feast my eyes on), I've devoted May's Movie List of the Month to the best films involving a fine talent and under-appreciated storyteller, Cameron Crowe (here's April's List).

Honorable Mention: Singles and We Bought a Zoo

#5. Vanilla Sky (2001)

After the overwhelming success of Cameron Crowe's beloved romance set to an NFL football backdrop in 1996's Jerry Maguire, he was pretty much given free rein to do as he pleased. A handful of years later Crowe re-teamed with Tom Cruise in a more odd and daring mystery-drama, Vanilla Sky. It must have been difficult to convince Cruise to wear a blank white mask over his handsome face, but the megastar pushed his ego aside and branded an intriguing and clever story of an incarcerated business tycoon charged with murder. Vanilla Sky isn't by any stretch an overly exceptional film, yet it's an iconic example of Crowe's singular style to superb storytelling.

#4. Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982)

Although he's somehow manages to avoid the spotlight, Cameron Crowe is responsible for having his hand in many classic films. One of which is the must-see teen comedy, Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Following a laughable and diverse group of southern California high school students at the turn of the decade, Crowe wrote the screenplay for the film which was actually adapted from his own 1981 book of the same name (so we can add accomplished novelist to his long list of credentials as well). Not only is Fast Times a hysterical portrait of growing up, it also stands as the film that sparked the well-regarded career of two-time Oscar winner Sean Penn. 

#3. Say Anything (1989)

One of the spectacular 80s classics that sometimes gets lost in the shuffle is Say Anything. While the quintessential romantic comedy will always be remembered for its iconic scene where recent high school graduate Lloyd Dobler (played by John Cusack) thrusts his stereo high into the air blasting Peter Gabriel outside the object of  his affection's window, Say Anything is a soulfully told love story that Crowe both wrote and directed with delicate tenderness. And, once again, we find another film mightily influenced by the vision of Cameron Crowe that will forever stand the test of time.

#2. Almost Famous (2000)

One of Cameron Crowe's major contributions to American art in his endearing ability to capture the essence of our youthful teenage years. But none of his coming-of-age stories have been able to surpass the phenomenal work of his timeless masterpiece, Almost Famous. Unforgettable in every way imaginable, Crowe transports us to the 1970s where we follow a 15 year-old teen named William Miller who's hired by Rolling Stone Magazine to write and cover the rock band Stillwater on their U.S. tour. Crowe uses this music induced classic to teach us lessons about love, life and rock and roll. But not only is Almost Famous a fantastic film, it's a much-needed reminder of the brilliance we lost in the unfortunate passing of the great Philip Seymour Hoffman. 

#1. Jerry Maguire (1996)

I have a ton of respect for Cameron Crowe and love many of the works highlighted on this list, but none could dethrone the major Oscar player, Jerry Maguire. Crowe effectively uses the backdrop of professional football and the cutthroat nature of sports agencies to deliver one of the most magnificent love stories ever told. Tom Cruise gives a towering performance in the title role, but it was supporting star Cuba Gooding Jr who walked out of the Academy Awards show a winner. After Jerry Maguire (Cruise) gets fired following a plea for reform in the sports agency industry, he finds a new lease on life with his loyal co-worker (Renee Zellweger) and lone client (Gooding Jr.) that he's hesitant to embrace. Crowe has always been amazing at bringing such powerful characters to life and there is no shortage of them here. Jerry Maguire is just one of the many fine films influenced by the visionary and storyteller, Cameron Crowe. Hopefully Aloha will join this long list of exceptional work. 

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Vacation and Ted 2 Red Band Trailers

Remakes and reboots have become the norm, and usually unsuccessful, but that hasn't stopped me from getting excited over the new Vacation red band trailer. The Griswold's return and this time Rusty (The Hangover's Ed Helms) is all grown up with a family of his own. And in traditional Griswold fashion, he decides to embark on a road trip of forced family fun to his favorite childhood destination, Walley World. Christina Applegate, Leslie Mann and Chris Hemsworth co-star in this potentially hilarious comedy reboot arriving this July.

Seth MacFarlane's raunchy 2010 comedy, Ted, was an enormous box office success. Therefore, it's no surprise to see Mark Wahlberg and our favorite foul-mouthed teddy bear go at it again with Ted 2. In this follow-up feature a recently married Ted wants to have a child but he's forced to prove he's a living person in a court of law in order to qualify to be a parent. Amanda Seyfried and Liam Neeson co-star in Ted 2, which reaches theaters this June.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

The D Train

Film: The D Train

Starring: Jack Black (Bernie) and James Marsden (The Best of Me)

Directors: Andrew Mogel and Jarrad Paul

U.S. Release: May 8th, 2015 (Rated R)

Genre: Comedy

Runtime: 97 minutes

Critiquing films can often be a formidable challenge. Sometimes movies leave little or no overwhelming feelings of joy, sadness, or any other traceable emotion. But with the newest Jack Black comedy from the pair of first-time directors and Yes Man writers, Andrew Mogel and Jarrad Paul, I walked out of the theater with plenty of opinions to get off my chest.

Black takes center stage as Dan Landsman, a friendless suburbanite and self-proclaimed chairman of his high school reunion committee. When the expected turnout for their 20th reunion reaches a pathetic low point, Dan catches an old classmate named Oliver Lawless (James Marsden) on a national tv ad and decides to do whatever it takes to get him to attend. He spins a web of lies and goes to unspeakable lengths with disastrous consequences just to prove that he's cool enough to land Oliver Lawless.

Without sugar-coating anything, The D Train is a reprehensible comedy that should be avoided at all cost. It's a muddled and over-extended 97 minutes of pure awkwardness. Mogel and Paul team as both writers and directors in this unforgivable examination of a human's longing for acceptance. Their goal seems somewhat clear, through the film's jumbled story and deplorable twists and turns. However, their message could have been concocted in a much simpler and more gratifying way. But instead, The D Train buries itself in unnecessary situations - for the lone purpose of "shock value", I'm sure - resulting in a completely uncomfortable and unpleasing experience.

Despite its horrific plot and minimal amount of laughs, The D Train shines in one singular spot. Jack Black has truly molded himself into a worthy performer. Over the years the comedic actor has honed his dramatic skills and the by-product is something to be lauded. Jeffrey Tambor and Kathryn Hahn also give effective supporting turns, but each of these performances are ultimately squandered by the film's inability to tell a funny and cohesive story.

With all of the mega-titles finding a release this month, you'd be ill-advised to spend your time and money on The D Train. With almost no redeeming qualities and a short supply of humor, this inadequately labeled comedy has very little to offer. Stay clear and look elsewhere.

Stars: 1 half star out of 4

Grade: D

Monday, May 4, 2015

DVD Outlook: May 2015

Last month I described how April offered a weak crop of net DVD and Blu-Ray selections. Unfortunately, May isn't all that promising either. Thankfully, though, this month does include a major Oscar contender and box office success that headlines an otherwise disappointing list of titles.

American Sniper - 3 stars out of 4 - (Read my full review here)

Clint Eastwood's heavy war-time drama, American Sniper, was one of the final releases of 2014's cinematic year. Bradley Cooper gives a towering Oscar-nominated performance as Chris Kyle, America's deadliest sniper who must balance the pressures of war with Post-Traumatic-Stress-Disorder and his family life at home. Eastwood paints a valiant, yet controversial, portrait of the modern day battlefield and the toll it takes on our brave young men and women who serve this country. With a steady stream of action and drama blended together quite effectively, Cooper and company transform American Sniper into one of Eastwood's finest films in years. (May 19th)

Hot Tub Time Machine 2 - 2 and a half stars out of 4 - (Read my rapid review here)

It's with great reservation that I toss my support into the Hot Tub Time Machine 2 ring. I'm hesitant because it's an over-the-top sequel that must be viewed as a winning continuation of the hilarious 2010 original. If you haven't seen the first installment and know the R-rated humor you should expect, then I'd refrain from going in blind with this raunchy and outrageous follow-up. Rob Corddry, Craig Robinson and Clark Duke return with their new wing man, Adam Scott, to venture back into the past to stop an unknown shooter from killing Lou (Corddry). Unfortunately, though, these dimwits end up shooting themselves into the future and screwing with the space-time continuum. The jokes are fresh but just as classless as the first film, so fans of the franchise needn't worry. Hot Tub Time Machine 2 is worth a viewing if you're seeking thoughtless R-rated humor and you're aware of the source material. (May 19th)

Love, Rosie - 2 and a half stars out of 4 - (Read my brief overview here)

One of the more charming romantic comedies at last year's Philadelphia Film Festival was Christian Ditter's, Love, Rosie. This delightful British tale follows two young best friends and star-crossed lovers, Rosie and Alex, who somehow manage to mess up every chance they get at having a true relationship together. Despite the film's irking near-misses and contrived circumstances that somehow backtrack the leading pair's attempts at taking the next step, Ditter's winning rom-com survives thanks to excellent leading work from Lily Collins. Her beauty and charisma are majestic and help make Love, Rosie a worthwhile experience for any couple. (May 5th)

Honorable Mention: Also finding a release this month are a pair of Oscar selections, Best Picture Nominee Selma (5/5) and Julianne Moore's Academy Award winning role from Still Alice (5/12). The cash-printing franchise origin film, 50 Shades of Grey (5/8), also reaches DVD and Blu-Ray this May. One of the most raved about comedy-horrors on the film festival circuit, What We Do in the Shadows (5/19), starring Flight of the Concord's Jemaine Clement writes, directs and stars in this modern vampire story. Finally, Anna Kendrick fans who want to prepare themselves for Pitch Perfect 2 this month can pregame with her latest musical drama, The Last 5 Years (5/5).

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Avengers: Age of Ultron

Film: Avengers: Age of Ultron

Starring: Robert Downey Jr. (The Judge) and Chris Evans (Snowpiercer)

Director: Joss Whedon (The Avengers)

U.S. Release: May 1st, 2015 (Rated PG-13)

Genre: Action

Runtime: 141 minutes

Yesterday, the calendar turned to May and the summer blockbuster season wasted no time getting started with the release of Avengers: Age of Ultron. After its 2012 origin film amassed the third largest worldwide box office total of all-time, all eyes were on Joss Whedon's enormously anticipated sequel. Unfortunately, though, this follow-up feature falls well short of the charm and frenetic thrills evident in the first installment.

The film opens with the Avengers doing what they do best, taking down a crime syndicate with remarkable ease. That is, until a pair of "enhanced" siblings (Godzilla's stars Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen) reveal their superhuman abilities, unmatched speed and deceptive mind-control. Eventually, Tony Stark retrieves what they're after from the mission and discovers its ability to produce highly advanced artificial intelligence. Without the approval from his team Stark creates Ultron, an experiment that goes terribly wrong. The evolved A.I. denounces his maker and joins forces with the enhanced siblings, Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, to destroy the Avengers.

Cluttered and unfocused, Age of Ultron falls apart in many different areas. Whedon and company effectively mastered the balance of a star-filled story in this film's predecessor. However, more isn't always better as Whedon struggles to keep things fluid with the addition of many, and I do mean many, new characters. Displaying an unnatural flow throughout the movie, things get even worse once the script takes a strange turn by diving deep into the personal stories of its characters. Where the original successfully glazes over each hero's backstory and jumps right into the action, Age of Ultron ventures further into their psyche thanks to the Scarlet Witch's mind tricks. With each of these developing drama-filled plot lines, the minutes continue to mount and the pacing becomes crippled.

In addition to an unnecessary change of course in the script and an overabundance of characters, Age of Ultron's action sequences are extremely drawn out and exceedingly unwarranted. If you thought 2013's Man of Steel was flooded with obnoxiously destructive scenes, just wait until you feast your eyes on this film. The damage is beyond catastrophic and it makes the Avengers feel less like heroes and more like ticking time-bombs. And finally, Age of Ultron does a huge disservice by completely mishandling its chief villain and title character. Forced into sharing screen time with each and every main character - and there are plenty of them - Ultron becomes an overlooked antagonist who never grows into the monstrous adversary this franchise deserves. Although his mishandling isn't as big of an abomination as Sir Ben Kingsley's the Mandarin in Iron Man 3, it's a lot closer than any of us would desire.

At its core, Age of Ultron attempts to stick to the same philosophy that's been working for all of the Marvel films, tons of comedy and action. But despite achieving a good deal of laughs, albeit at a less impressive clip than the original, the film suffers in far too many areas to sustain its winning formula. With grand expectations Joss Whedon seemingly got suckered into the "bigger is better" mindset. Perhaps, Age of Ultron would have benefited more from a slightly scaled-down approach.

Stars: 2 stars out of 4

Grade: C

Friday, May 1, 2015

Legend and Irrational Man Trailers

If you know me, then you know I'm a huge Tom Hardy fan. Last September he gave a tight-lipped, but magnificent, performance in the slow burner, The Drop. This September Hardy will join forces with Academy Award winning screenwriter, Brian Helgeland (L.A. Confidential), in the true story crime drama, Legend. In a dual-role, Hardy stars as identical twins Ronald and Reginald Kray who violently ran organized crime in London during the 1950s and 1960s. A teaser trailer has been dropped for Legend and, needless to say, I'm very intrigued.

Woody Allen has made a bit of a career resurgence over the last half-decade with adored Oscar-recognized films such as Midnight in Paris and Blue Jasmine. While the writer/director somehow manages to churn out one film a year, which leads to a fair share of clunkers as well, this year's Irrational Man delivers a promising cast. Joaquin Phoenix stars as a cynical philosophy professor who finds a new-found zest for life after he commits an existential act. Emma Stone and Parker Posey co-star in this late-July release.