By Steve Greene | Indiewire August 15, 2014 at 9:16AM
Here are the films opening theatrically in the U.S. the week of Friday, August 15th. (Synopses provided by distributor unless listed otherwise.)
Let's Be Cops
Director: Luke Greenfield
Cast: Jake Johnson, Damon Wayans Jr., James D'Arcy, Nina Dobrev, Andy Garcia, Angela Kerecz, Rob Riggle, Keegan Michael Key, Jonathan Lajoie, Anna Colwell
Synopsis: "Two friends impersonate police officers using rented uniforms, but they run into trouble when they mess with a dangerous Russian mobster."
Theatrical Release: Wide
Abuse of Weakness
Director: Catherine Breillat
Cast: Isabelle Huppert, Kool Shen, Christophe Sermet, Daphné Baiwir, Laurence Ursino
Synopsis: "In 2004, at the age of 56, Catherine Breillat suffered a serious stroke. Her left side was initially paralyzed and after five months in the hospital she worked like a demon to walk again. Not long after, she prepared a screenplay of her novel Bad Love and decided to cast the notorious “swindler of the stars,” Christophe Rocancourt, fresh from a jail term for fraud. Over the next several months, Rocancourt took advantage of Breillat’s condition and stood by her side as she wrote him checks amounting to €650,000. She later took him to court, won her case, and chronicled the experience in a book that she has now adapted into a uniquely haunting film, which features a bold, tough performance by Isabelle Huppert as the Breillat figure and French/Portuguese rapper Kool Shen as the con man." [Film Society of Lincoln Center]
Criticwire Grade Average: B+ (18 reviews)
Theatrical Release: New York (opens in various cities throughout August and September, including Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago and Miami)
Director: Vincent Grashaw
Cast: P.J. Boudousqué, James C. Burns, Chris Petrovski, Octavius J. Johnson, Nicholas Bateman, Stephanie Simbari, Mackenzie Sidwell Graff
Synopsis: "A teenage boy is sent to a juvenile reform facility in the wilderness. As we learn about the tragic events that sent him there, his struggle becomes one for survival with the inmates, counselors, and the retired war colonel in charge."
Criticwire Grade Average: B (6 reviews)
Theatrical Release: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, New Orleans, Phoenix and San Diego (opens in Portland and Toronto on August 22nd)
Director: Todd Miller
Synopsis: "On August 12, 1990, in the badlands of South Dakota, paleontologist Peter Larson and his team from the Black Hills Institute unearthed the largest, most complete Tyrannosaurus rex ever found. It was the find of a lifetime—the world’s greatest dinosaur discovery. They named their dinosaur Sue. Two years later, when the FBI and the National Guard showed up, battle lines were drawn over ownership of Sue. The U.S. government, world-class museums, Native American tribes, and competing paleontologists became the Goliath to Larson’s David as he and his team fought to keep their dinosaur and wrestled with intimidation tactics that threatened their freedom as well." [Sundance Film Festival]
Criticwire Grade Average: B (9 reviews)
Theatrical Release: Various (including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Seattle and Washington, DC)
The Expendables 3
Director: Patrick Hughes
Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Terry Crews, Randy Couture, Antonio Banderas, Jet Li, Wesley Snipes, Dolph Lundgren, Mel Gibson, Harrison Ford, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Kellan Lutz, Kelsey Grammer, Robert Davi, Ronda Rousey
Synopsis: "Barney (Stallone), Christmas (Statham) and the rest of the team comes face-to-face with Conrad Stonebanks (Gibson), who years ago co-founded The Expendables with Barney. Stonebanks subsequently became a ruthless arms trader and someone who Barney was forced to kill... or so he thought. Stonebanks, who eluded death once before, now is making it his mission to end The Expendables -- but Barney has other plans. Barney decides that he has to fight old blood with new blood, and brings in a new era of Expendables team members, recruiting individuals who are younger, faster and more tech-savvy. The latest mission becomes a clash of classic old-school style versus high-tech expertise in the Expendables' most personal battle yet."
Criticwire Grade Average: C (7 reviews)
Theatrical Release: Wide
Director: Kate Connor & Michael Worth
Cast: Eric Stoltz, Kate Connor, Lyndsy Fonseca, Andy Hirsch, Camryn Manheim, Seymour Cassel, Brendan Fehr
Synopsis: "Unable to serve in World War II because of a heart condition, a barber moves his family adjacent to a Wisconsin army base and prisoner-of-war camp to provide his services. But even in rural America -- far from the frontline -- the war finds victims."
Theatrical Release: Los Angeles (expands in late August and September)
Director: Scott Schirmer
Cast: Gavin Brown, Ethan Philbeck, Phyllis Munro, Louie Lawless, Alex Kogin, Andy Alphonse, Kitsie Duncan, Kate Braun, Edward Jackson, Adrian Cox-Thurmond, Brigid Macaulay, Shane Beasley, Christopher Hunt, Austin Rawlins
Synopsis: "Marty is the ideal fifth grader. He gets good grades, listens to his teachers, and doesn't start trouble in class. But a darkness is beginning to fall over Marty's life. The kids at school won't stop picking on him, his parents just don't seem to understand him, and now Marty must grapple with a terrible secret that threatens to destroy life as he knows it -- his big brother is a serial killer! Brotherly love is put to the ultimate test in this emotional coming-of-age story that descends into full-blown horror."
Theatrical Release: Los Angeles (opens in New York on August 18th)
Director: Lenny Abrahamson
Cast: Michael Fassbender, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Domhnall Gleeson, Scoot McNairy, Carla Azar, François Civil
Synopsis: "A comedy about a young wannabe musician (Domhnall Gleeson) who discovers he has bitten off more than he can chew when he joins an eccentric pop band led by the mysterious and enigmatic Frank (Michael Fassbender)."
Criticwire Grade Average: B+ (16 reviews)
Theatrical Release: New York, Toronto and Vancouver (expands to various cities nationwide through November)
Director: Phillip Noyce
Cast: Alexander Skarsgård, Taylor Swift, Meryl Streep, Katie Holmes, Jeff Bridges, Emma Tremblay
Synopsis: "In a seemingly perfect community, without war, pain, suffering, differences or choice, a young boy is chosen to learn from an elderly man about the true pain and pleasure of the 'real' world."
Theatrical Release: Wide
I Am Happiness on Earth
Director: Julián Hernández
Cast: Hugo Catalán, Gabino Rodríguez, Andrea Portal, Emilio von Sternerfels
Synopsis: "Emiliano looks at his life with the eyes of a film director, mixing the objective reality with the processes of the artistic creation. The story he is filming flounders with his daily life, until his world is trapped in the lens of his camera. Confused, always alone and in front of a screen, now become a transfigured reality, but at the same time a measurable, controllable and manipulable one, he listens in loop to a song: one of those songs you sing or repeat as a prayer and forcing you to remember, believe and convince yourself."
Theatrical Release: New York and Los Angeles
It Was You Charlie
Director: Emmanuel Shirinian
Cast: Michael D. Cohen, Emma Fleury, Aaron Abrams, Alon Nashman, Anna Hopkins, Phyllis Ellis, Mike Wilmot, Theresa Tova, Tony Rosato
Synopsis: "A once accomplished sculptor, a former college art teacher, but now a lonely graveyard shift doorman, Abner Roth is sadly a mere shadow of his former self. Having lost the love of his life and haunted by the death of a woman in a terrible car accident a year ago, he is desolate and suicidal but amuingly so. Step in Zoe, a free spirited taxi driver with a large hart and persuasive disposition. Zoe's energy and outlook help Abner look at life anew and try to reconcile his conflicted past."
Theatrical Release: Toronto
Director: Howard Goldberg
Cast: Elias Koteas, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Virginia Madsen, Jane Seymour, Mike Vogel
Synopsis: "Jake Klein, 50, sets out to make a movie. He hires an actor to play himself and throws a big party. His idea is to shoot the heck out of it and see what he gets. But, everything spins out of control as different, unexpected people show up. Old loves are there. New loves are there. His dead father, his mother when she was young, his kids, his ex-wife. Even his younger selves, Jake at 40, Jake at 30 and Jake at 17, are there, too! And every one of them has tons of advice on how to fix his screwed up life. Jake’s head reels as he staggers through what’s either a mystical experience, a nervous breakdown... or both!"
Theatrical Release: Various (including New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Orlando and Seattle)
Director: Philippe Garrel
Cast: Louis Garrel, Anna Mouglalis, Emanuela Ponzano, Arthur Igual, Rebecca Convenant
Synopsis: "The film opens with a man leaving his wife and daughter and, in a series of brief conversations, observed gestures, chance encounters and impulsive acts, tells the story of the relationships that flounder and thrive in the wake of this decision. Louis Garrel, the director's son and frequent star, plays the husband who moves into a garret apartment with his fellow actor girlfriend (Anne Mouglalis) as they struggle with fidelity and the temptation to give up their art for an easier life."
Criticwire Grade Average: B+ (7 reviews)
Theatrical Release: New York (opens in Los Angeles on August 22nd)
Life After Beth
Director: Jeff Baena
Cast: Aubrey Plaza, Dane DeHaan, John C. Reilly, Molly Shannon, Cheryl Hines, Paul Reiser, Alia Shawkat, Anna Kendrick, Matthew Gray Gubler
Synopsis: "Zach is devastated by the unexpected death of his girlfriend, Beth. When she mysteriously returns, he gets a second chance at love. Soon his whole world turns upside down..."
Criticwire Grade Average: B- (14 reviews)
Theatrical Release: New York and Los Angeles
Mr. X: A Vision of Leos Carax
Director: Tessa Louise-Salomé
Synopsis: "Mysterious. Brilliant. Uncontrollable. Many words like these have been used to describe French filmmaker Leos Carax in both rapturous and negative ways. One thing that everyone agrees upon is that Mr. Carax went from fantastic success as a young, poetic filmmaker to having a reputation as a controversial, mad genius who struggled to get a single film made—and then created Holy Motors, one of the most-loved films of the last 10 years. Obsessed with romantic, but destructive, characters, Carax has made breathtaking films with his strong visual style to back up his mythic status." [Sundance Film Festival]
Criticwire Grade Average: B+ (5 reviews)
Theatrical Release: New York
Director: Mikkel Brænne Sandemose
Cast: Pål Sverre Valheim Hagen, Nicolai Cleve Broch, Bjørn Sundquist, Sofia Helin, Maria Annette Tanderød Berglyd, Julian Podolski, Jens Hultén
Synopsis: "Archaeologist Sigurd Svendsen discovers that the Oseberg ship hides a secret from the Viking Age. Along with his two children put Sigurd out on a quest to find the truth. The mystery leads them into "No Man's Land" between Norway and Russia where no man traveling in modern times. Old runes take on new meaning when the secret they uncover is more frightening than anyone could have imagined."
Theatrical Release: Limited (opens in Santa Fe on August 22nd)
Director: Jesse Thomas Cook
Cast: Jason David Brown, Molly Dunsworth, Robert Maillet, Tim Burd, Julian Richings, Stephen McHattie, Nicole G. Leier
Synopsis: "Jack is a sewage worker who's determined to uncover the cause of the town's water contamination crisis. But when he becomes trapped underground in a septic tank without food or water he undergoes a hideous and repulsive transformation. In order to escape the tank, he must team up with a docile Giant and confront a murdering madman."
Theatrical Release: Los Angeles and Austin
The Trip to Italy
Director: Michael Winterbottom
Cast: Steve Coogan, Rob Brydon, Rosie Fellner
Synopsis: "Michael Winterbottom’s largely improvised 2010 film, The Trip, took comedians Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon—or semifictionalized versions thereof—on a restaurant tour around northern England. In this witty and incisive follow-up, Winterbottom reunites the pair for a new culinary road trip, retracing the steps of the Romantic poets’ grand tour of Italy and indulging in some sparkling banter and impersonation-offs. Rewhetting our palates from the earlier film, the characters enjoy mouthwatering meals in gorgeous settings from Liguria to Capri while riffing on subjects as varied as Batman’s vocal register, the artistic merits of “Jagged Little Pill,” and, of course, the virtue of sequels." [Sundance Film Festival]
Criticwire Grade Average: B+ (14 reviews)
Theatrical Release: New York and Los Angeles (expands to more cities nationwide on August 22nd)
We Are Mari Pepa
Director: Samuel Kishi
Cast: Alejandro Gallardo, Arnold Ramírez, Rafael Andrade Muñoz, Moisés Galindo, Jaime Miranda, Petra Iñiguez
Synopsis: "The story of Alex, a 16 year old teenager living with his grandma.He has various plans for the summer: writing a new song with his rock band, finding a job and having his first sexual experience. He also becomes aware that his grandma is increasingly dependent on him. As summer draws on, Alex realizes that things are going to change forever and that he will have to grow up and learn to say goodbye."
Criticwire Grade Average: B (3 reviews)
Theatrical Release: New York (also available via Fandor)
Weaving the Past: Journey of Discovery
Director: Walter Dominguez
Synopsis: "Filmmaker Walter Dominguez finds himself at a crossroads in his life, wondering how to find a new path and regain his sense of purpose. A mysterious photograph connected to his late beloved Mexican-born grandfather Emilio, a kindly and saintly minister who influenced Walter’s life, leads Walter to embark on a quest to unearth answers to enigmas and mysteries surrounding Emilio’s early life. But what Walter discovers is a dark side of his grandfather’s life that he had no inkling existed, and it turns his perceptions about his grandfather upside down. He learns Emilio was an anarchist revolutionary, befriended and mentored by a famous Mexican revolutionary named Praxedis G. Guerrero. And that Emilio and Praxedis together were involved in conspiratorial, even violent activities based from the United States against the dictator of Mexico, Porfirio Díaz, activities that helped precipitate the cataclysmic ten year Mexican Revolution."
Theatrical Release: Los Angeles
A Will for the Woods
Director: Amy Browne, Jeremy Kaplan, Tony Hale, Brian Wilson
Synopsis: "A man pursues his dying wish while battling lymphoma, joining pioneers of the green burial movement in conserving habitat and revolutionizing the funeral industry."
Theatrical Release: New York
Missed last week? Here are all the releases from the weekend of August 8th.