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Some Movies to See This Weekend, January 30, 2015

Friday, January 30, 2015 Rob Samuelson

2015 is starting to emerge from the chasm of less-than-good as the calendar straddles January and February. For one thing, this week brings four new releases that are mostly available wherever you go, so that's a good thing from a variety standpoint. But more importantly, there's some stuff with possible thematic and cinematic meat to it reaching screens. Let's take a look at what's on tap for us at the movies this weekend.

Black or White
Director: Mike Binder
Writer: Mike Binder
Starring: Kevin Costner, Octavia Spencer, Gillian Jacobs

I'm not going to say this one excites me. I cringe every time I see something about it, in fact. Part of that is Kevin Costner's presence, because he's a guy who has always been the cinematic equivalent of a yawn. If you were to take milquetoast to trial, exhibit A would be Costner, with a couple exceptions here and there. But generally speaking, the movie looks like the worst kind of a fuzzy good time when everyone learns to accept each other because your skin color doesn't matter, punctuated by easy culture clash jokes based exclusively on the differences of skin color of the characters. You catch my drift. Octavia Spencer is great, though, so her choice of starring in this movie must be based on something worthwhile in the script or in the filmmakers. There's always hope!

Black Sea
Director: Kevin Macdonald
Writer: Dennis Kelly
Starring: Jude Law, Scoot McNairy, Ben Mendelsohn

This updates the “men on a mission” genre to take place on a submarine searching for sunken Nazi gold. Guys turn on each other, backs are stabbed, and the stress tears everyone apart, especially Jude Law, now firmly in his cool-looking tough middle-aged guy phase. There's a real claustrophobia to the trailer, and if director Macdonald can keep ratcheting up the tension, this could be a great early year thriller.

Project Almanac
Director: Dean Israelite
Writers: Andrew Deutschman, Jason Pagan
Starring: Jonny Weston, Sofia Black-D'Elia, Sam Lerner, Allen Evangelista

This is an update on Primer for the mainstream and young people. These teenagers band together once they discover one of their father's blueprints for a time machine. They start with the typical “What would I do if I could time travel?” question like winning the lottery by already knowing the winning numbers and stuff like that. But, this being a story, things can't stay rosy forever and conflict arises. Friends start being erased, ripple effects start ruining the world, and attempt after attempt to fix things only makes them worse. I'm curious to see how the movie resolves it all, with slick Final Destination-as-a-science-fiction-movie pizazz.

The Loft
Director: Erik Van Looy
Writers: Bart De Pauw, Wesley Strick
Starring: Karl Urban, James Marsden, Wentworth Miller

Another thriller about men, although this time they might be framed for doing some heinous stuff within the confines of their somewhat less heinous – though still plenty icky – secret loft of debauchery. Their wives and girlfriends don't know a thing about this place and they make it a Las Vegas-type resort for themselves before someone ends up dead and things start going to hell. Who knows where it goes from there, but with Judge Dredd (Urban) and Cyclops (Marsden) meeting in the same movie, maybe some crazy comic book action will ensue.

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