By Kristen Lopez | The Playlist March 3, 2014 at 4:46PM
Synopsis: A foreign exchange student (Felicity Jones) upturns the life of her host family, particularly the father (Guy Pearce) with whom she shares a mutual love of music.
What You Need to Know: Back in 2011, director Drake Doremus and actress Jones burst onto the scene in the realistic romance “Like Crazy.” Since then, Jones’ star has risen, with a lead role in the Oscar-nominated (for Costuming) “The Invisible Woman,” but she isn’t turning her back on the director who helped her ascend. “Breathe In” is a blistering tale of emotion, as evidenced by the “B+” review written by Rodrigo Perez at last year’s Sundance. He likened the movie to “Like Crazy’s” “darker cousin” and it’s evident in the few clips which have made their way online. Doremus himself is aware of the darkness within his new movie, remarking in an interview that he wanted something “more restrained, something darker.” Those who loved “Like Crazy” will probably either love or hate “Breathe In” by comparison, whereas those who hated Doremus and Jones’ earlier effort might want to take a journey into a darker world. Either way, this isn’t one to miss.
Release Date: March 28th in limited release
Synopsis: The legendary Biblical tale of the man (Russell Crowe) commissioned by God to build an ark before the arrival of a great flood.
What You Need to Know: The biblical epic remains a niche category for movie audiences. While Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” was a success back in 2004, for every one of those there are a slew of “Nativity Story” types to go around. These movies remain confined to a particular market and receive smaller showings and reduced advertising, as evidenced by last week’s “Son of God.” “Noah” hopes to bridge the gap by appealing to fans of big-budget blockbusters alongside religious followers yearning to see the story of Noah told in the flesh. The film already received its fair share of controversy leading up to release. Back in October it was reported that director Darren Aronofsky (“Black Swan”) was battling with Paramount over “worrisome” test screenings. Thankfully, those fears appear to be allayed, as Aronofsky shot down reports of failed test screenings, maintaining that his director’s cut is what audiences will see. The movie is just in time for Easter, so regardless, “Noah” should do decently.
Release Date: March 28th
Synopsis: An elite DEA task force rips off a cartel only to be mysteriously dispatched one by one by someone who knows what they did.
What You Need to Know: Director David Ayer knows about cops, writing the screenplays for “S.WA.T.,” “Dark Blue,” “Training Day,” and “End of Watch” (which he also directed). The trailer for “Sabotage” certainly feels like a David Ayer movie, complete with gritty handheld camera and a heavy dose of machismo. This could be because Ayer is repeating himself, but after “End of Watch,” Ayer appears to have found his niche. The trailer is wildly entertaining and the red-band clips indicate this is certainly earning its R-rating. One also shouldn’t discount Arnold Schwarzenegger's presence as he slowly acclimates back into the action waters after his gubernatorial hiatus. Last year’s “Escape Plan” paired Schwarzenegger with Sylvester Stallone to the tune of $25 million in the US (although not enough for it to overcome its $50 million budget). The question then is whether the tepid response to “Escape Plan” can be overcome through Schwarzenegger’s name alone? Or will the addition of Ayer as director help this rise higher than a standard Schwarzenegger picture? Either way, action junkies don’t have much to work with this month, so “Sabotage” should be worth their time.
Release Date: March 28th
“Hide Your Smiling Faces”
Synopsis: Two adolescent brothers must grapple with mortality and move on after a personal tragedy.
What You Need to Know: “Hide Your Smiling Faces” had a slow buildup to a home-video release, but after winning the National Society of Film Critics award for best film still awaiting U.S. distribution, it was quickly snapped up by Tribeca Films. And it couldn’t be any better, especially after the praise Rodrigo Perez heaped on it during its Tribeca run. The movie secured an “A” review with Perez declaring the film an “engrossing debut film.” The performances by young Nathan Varnson and Ryan Jones are also “exceptional lead performances” and will hopefully continue to garner the movie more attention as it rolls out to wider audiences.
Release Date: March 28th, March 25th on VOD
“The Raid 2: Berandal”
Synopsis: Just hours after the end of the first ‘Raid,’ Rama goes undercover with the thugs of Jakarta and plans to bring down the syndicate and uncover the corruption within his police force.
What You Need to Know: Director Gareth Evans had films under his belt (2009’s “Merantau”), but everything changed after “The Raid,” 2012’s highly beloved Indonesian action film that changed not only everything for the filmmaker, but arguably changed the game for action cinema to come. 101 minutes of pure action adrenaline, “The Raid,” wowed action fans with long takes, extreme precision and amazing technical choreography. “The Raid 2: Berandal” promises much the same only this time, it’s 2.5 hours and unlike criticisms of the first movie, this one apparently has a story. James Rocchi saw the film during the Sundance Film Festival, giving it a “B+” review and writing that the sequel “makes most American action films look like the over-edited stunt-doubled CGI-laden child’s play that they are.” Question still remain about the lack of character and plotting in Evans’ films, but when it comes to pure orchestrated action, he is arguably the most exciting new director there is in the genre right now.
Release Date: March 28 in limited release.