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Friday Night Movie Premiers 12-28-2013

Every Friday I hope to bring you the latest in movie premiers because who wants to get to the theatre only to find that you don’t know anything about what’s playing beyond the sun-bleached posters hanging outside? Not this guy, so here are the releases for 12/28/2012
Wide Release

Django Unchained (Rated R)– Written and Directed by Quentin Tarantino (True Romance, Pulp Fiction) stars Jamie Foxx (Ray, Collateral) as Django, a slave whose freedom is bought by Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz: Inglourious Bastards, Water for Elephants) in the hopes of training him to become a bounty hunter. Meanwhile, Django uses these hunting skills find his wife Broomhilda (Kerry Washington: Ray, Mr. and Mrs. Smith) and rescue her from the violent plantation owner, Calvin Candie (Leonardo Dicaprio: Inception, Shutter Island).

Currently sitting at an 88% for critical reviews on RottenTomatoes.com, this movie has already made plenty of waves with viewers due to its language and racial content but these are not taboos skimmed by Tarantino in the past so I am slightly confused by the sudden “concern.” Regardless, there is a lot of positive buzz around this movie from both critics and audiences alike.

Les Miserables (Rated PG-13)-Written by William Nicholson based on the book by Claude-Michel Schonberg and Alain Boubill and directed by Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech, The Damned United) is the story of Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman: X-men, Tree of Life), an ex-con in 19th century France who is being hunted by a tenacious policeman, Javert (Russell Crowe: A Beautiful Mind, Gladiator) after breaking his parole. Along the way he meets factory worker Fantine (Anne Hathaway: The Dark Night Rises, Princess Diaries) and agrees to care for her daughter Cosette (Amanda Seyfried: Mamma Mia!, Letters to Juliet).

Currently sitting at a 72% for critical reviews on Rottentomatoes.com, this movie seems to have a very talented and diverse cast. I am not going to lie and admit that when I first heard Anne Hathaway’s version of “I Dreamed a Dream” I got goosebumps. Just because a movie has great vocals doesn’t necessarily mean the acting and structure will be on point. I only hope that the world’s longest running musical translates well to the big screen.

Parental Guidance (Rated PG)-Written by Lisa Addario and Joe Syracuse and directed by Andy Fickman (The Game Plan, She’s the Man) is the paring of Artie and Diane (Billy Crystal: City Slickers, Monsters Inc. and Bette Midler: Hocus Pocus, For the Boys) as traditional grandparents who agree to watch their grandkids when their parents (Marisa Tomei: The Wrestler, My Cousin Vinny and Tom Everett Scott: Dead Man on Campus, American Werewolf in Paris) have to go away for work. When modern children run headfirst into their grandparents old-fashioned techniques for child rearing, hilarity ensues.

Currently sitting at a dismal 17% for critical reviews on Rottentomatoes.com, this movie shows a lot of promise in the lead characters. Billy Crystal is known for his comedic prowess while Bette Midler has been very consistent with her performances. The critics seem to dislike this movie due to its one-dimensional nature; old meets young, old doesn’t understand young, old try to act young, young are endeared to adorable old. This is certainly a common archetype but I will probably see this when it hits DVD.
Limited Release

West of Memphis (Rated R)-Directed by Amy Berg (Deliver Us from Evil) this documentary covers the incarceration of three teenagers from West Memphis Arkansas, the frought-filled investigation and trial, and the fight for the truth.

Currently sitting at a 96% for critical reviews on Rottentomatoes.com, this movie covers the same subjects as the better known documentary series “Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills.” The main difference between this documentary and the “Paradise Lost” series is level of notoriety of the backers of the film. While “Paradise Lost” was produced by relative unknowns, “West of Memphis” was produced by Peter Jackson (Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit) and Damien Echols (one of the subjects of the documentary). Unfortunately for me, this movie isn’t showing anywhere despite taking place in the state in which I live. If I find myself in New York or L.A. this weekend, I know what I’ll be doing.

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