A Force to be Reckoned With
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Stars: John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher
Director: J.J. Abrams
A long time ago (three years, to be exact) in a galaxy far, far away (Los Angeles), a movie trilogy was announced. This month, the first title from the Star Wars sequel series will finally hit theaters worldwide. Set 30 years after “Return of the Jedi,” “The Force Awakens” will feature a group of unlikely heroes caught in the middle of the conflict between remnants of the Empire and the Rebel Alliance. These new heroes will also cross paths with some old faces, from Luke Skywalker and Han Solo to C3PO and R2D2—which is all the reason you need to catch this flick on opening day.
From the Brink of Death
Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Will Poulter
Director: Alejandro G. Iñárritu
Do you like survivor stories of people lost in the wilderness and staying alive against all odds? Well, then you might want to look up the story of Hugh Glass—a frontiersman in 19th century America who was mauled by a bear, and basically crawled back to civilization for six agonizing weeks after he was left for dead by his companions. “The Revenant” is a retelling of this epic story—and the second movie based on Hugh Glass’ life—with some added bits of drama added to emphasize the “roaring rampage of revenge” part, highlighted by truly emotional performances by Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy and the rest of the cast.
Misery Loves Company
The Hateful Eight
Stars: Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh
Director: Quentin Tarantino
A bounty hunter bringing a prisoner to justice encounters another, more infamous fugitive tracker and a lawman. This
motley quartet then joins another four strangers as they seek shelter from a coming blizzard. Obviously, this is a recipe for disaster, as well as for the perfect Western movie full of betrayal, deception and tense stand-offs.
The development of “The Hateful Eight” was similarly disrupted by a bit of betrayal (the script was leaked online) and stand-offs (there are boycotts threatened due to Quentin Tarantino’s political views). Still, this one definitely sits
high on our must-watch list for the remainder of 2015.
Fish and Ships
In the Heart of the Sea
Stars: Chris Hemsworth, Benjamin Walker, Cillian Murphy
Director Ron Howard
Humans have always been fascinated, and fearful, of whales, as seen in the classic novel “Moby-Dick.” “In the Heart of the Sea” is a retelling, not of Herman Melville’s epic, but of the actual events that inspired the book. So, Chris Hemsworth, Cillian Murphy and others are playing historical characters who were shipwrecked after an encounter with an enraged whale. The story goes on to portray the gut-wrenching decisions the crew had to take in order to stay alive. This movie is definitely not for the faint of heart, but it is also a powerful story about how we face our darkest hours.
The Mad King
Stars: Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Jack Reynor
Director: Justin Kurzel
Adapting the works of William Shakespeare for a modern audience can be tricky, especially genuine poetic tragedies like “The Tragedy of Macbeth.” But Justin Kurzel’s “Macbeth” has so far garnered critical praise exactly for sticking to its original source material. Still, the classic story of ambition, treachery and the spiraling descent into madness rode a lot on the performances of Michael Fassbender as the eponymous king and Marion Cotillard as Lady Macbeth who pulled the strings—and they certainly delivered. “Macbeth” might be a bit too somber for the holiday season, but it’s Scan definitely worth watching on the big screen.
Age is but a Number
Stars: Michael Caine, Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz
Director: Paolo Sorrentino
What does it mean to grow old? What can we do when the glory of our youth fades away and promises of the past come
back to haunt us? “Youth” by legendary Italian director Paolo Sorrentino grapples with these questions through the adventures of a retired composer (played by Michael Caine) and an aging filmmaker (Harvey Keitel) as they struggle with their aging memories and their final chances to create one final moment of glory before they fade quietly into
the night. It’s not all doom and gloom, though, as “Youth” comes with a healthy dose of thoughtful humor and incredible shots as one can expect from Sorrentino.