“The Voices” (Feb 6)
The fourth film from director Marjane Satrapi (“Persepolis,” “Chicken with Plums”), stars Ryan Reynolds as Jerry Hickfang, a worker on the shipping line at a bath-and-toilet manufacturer in a small town. Jerry is a schizophrenic, and his manager dutifully reports his job performance to a court-ordered psychiatrist. Jerry has hallucinations and delusions; his dog Bosco and cat Mr. Whiskers speak to him (or at least he thinks they do), functioning as his super ego and id, respectively. As an illustrator whose first film was an animation of her own autobiographical graphic novel, Satrapi has an advanced understanding of color and composition. It’s a hilarious film about some pretty horrible things.
“Da Sweet Blood of Jesus” (Feb 13)
Spike Lee’s “Da Sweet Blood of Jesus” is a somewhat faithful remake of the under-seen 1973 blaxploitation horror classic “Ganja & Hess.” The film is a love story, of sorts, about human beings who are addicted to blood. After being stabbed with an ancient, cursed dagger, Dr. Hess Greene (Stephen Tyrone Williams) develops a blood lust. The original film used the inclusion of vampires as a metaphor for black assimilation and white cultural imperialism. This is the first of Lee’s movies to be funded through Kickstarter — and this is the first time we’ve seen him working outside of studio or distributor-imposed guidelines.
“The Last Five Years” (Feb 13)
Based on playwright Jason Robert Brown’s critically-acclaimed stage musical, “The Last Five Years” centers on the tumultuous relationship between a young man and woman who meet, marry, and eventually divorce. The story is told almost entirely through song, over a five year period. Starring Anna Kendrick as Cathy, a struggling young actress, the film kicks off when she finds love with Jamie (Jeremy Jordon). The pair are inseparable, but soon varying degrees of success in their professional careers creates a fissure between them. Jamie goes from struggling writer to phenomenon when his book hits the bestseller list, while Cathy’s acting dream stalls out in a series of unsuccessful auditions for off-Broadway roles. Using a unique storytelling device, Cathy’s perspective unfurls in reverse chronological order, while Jamie’s story is told from beginning to end. Eventually, they meet in the middle.
“Serena” (Feb 26)
America’s sweetheart Jennifer Lawrence stars in this period melodrama opposite Bradley Cooper. Based on the novel by Ron Rash, this Depression-era story centers on George and Serena, a couple who become partners in building a huge timber empire. But when Serena can’t get pregnant and George is presumed unfaithful, things turn sour. The chemistry between Cooper and Lawrence has always been hot, the landscape is lush (with Prague doubling nicely for North Carolina, where the story is set), and the 1930’s costumes are snazzy.
“Maps to the Stars” (Feb 27)
Based on the novel by Bruce Wagner (who also wrote the script) and stylishly directed by David Cronenberg, this darkly comic film follows the Weisses, a Hollywood family chasing celebrity and running from their pasts. Stafford (John Cusack) is a psychotherapist who has made his fortune with self-help books. His estranged daughter, Agatha (Mia Wasikowska), returns to Los Angeles after being released from a psychiatric hospital; disfigured by burns from long ago, she tells limo driver and aspiring actor Jerome (Robert Pattinson), that she’s there to visit her family. Instead, she gets a job as the PA for fading movie star Havana (Julianne Moore), whose dream of reprising her dead mother’s role from the 1960s is falling to pieces. “Maps to the Stars” explores the dark side of our celebrity-obsessed society.
“Accidental Love” (Feb 10)
Directed by David O. Russell, “Accidental Love” (formerly titled “Nailed”) follows a small town, uninsured waitress Alice (Jessica Biel) who accidentally gets shot in the head with a nail. Unable to afford the healthcare she needs to get her strange ailment fixed, and newly single after breaking up with fiancé Scott (James Marsden), she heads out to Washington DC. During her crusade fighting for the rights of the bizarrely injured, Alice takes up with a slimy congressman (Jake Gyllenhaal) who vows to help her, but who instead takes advantage of her position. Sparks fly between the two, raising the question: what is more important, pursuing love or fighting for what you stand for?
“The Rewrite” (Feb 13)
Hugh Grant is reteamed with his “Music and Lyrics” and “Two Weeks Notice” writer/director Marc Lawrence for his new romantic comedy “The Rewrite.” The movie follows Hugh Grant as Keith Michaels, a once successful screenwriter. With a Golden Globe Award and a beautiful wife, Keith was once on top of the world. Now, 15 years later, he’s divorced, broke, approaching fifty, and hasn’t had a successful film out in years. His agent convinces him to take a job teaching screenwriting at a university in a quiet town. Broke and lacking motivation, Keith agrees, in hopes of giving minimal attention to his duties and focusing on writing a new script. But his attitude begins to change when he meets Holly (Marisa Tomei), a single mom balancing two jobs and a full-time course load. The pair find themselves connected by their mutual need for a second chance.