The Lobster

LobsterColin Farrell plays a single man who, in a dystopian near future, is taken to a hotel where he is obliged to find a romantic partner in 45 days or be transformed into a beast and sent off into the woods. (R – 118 minutes)

“The Lobster” is bizarre beyond words. On the outside, its strangeness may be a bit daunting. But once you crack its shell and sink your teeth into its hilariously eccentric meat you will be hooked, unable to turn away from the freaky fairy tale unfolding before your eyes. You are bound to be at least a bit disturbed by writer/director Yorgos Lanthimos’s new dramedy but you are also likely to laugh out loud a lot at the outlandish occurrences and dry dialogue delivery. It is also thoroughly thought-provoking, posing intellectually and emotionally challenging questions about romantic conformity.

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Manhattan Night

Mahattan NightAdrien Brody plays a New York City tabloid writer with an appetite for scandal who is drawn into a very nasty case of sexual obsession and blackmail – one that threatens his job, his marriage and his life. Yvonne Strahovski also stars. (R – 113 minutes)

“Manhattan Night” is an old-fashioned noir that may please people who have been longing for a new slow-burning, atmospheric private eye flick but bore most everyone else. Writer/director Brian DeCubellis skillfully adapts Colin Harrison’s novel in an authentic way that evokes cinema’s golden era. Unfortunately, the story is lackluster, absent of significant surprises or the thrills required to keep viewers interested and engaged. Eventually, the only thing that prevents one from completely giving up on the movie before the no-longer-alluring mystery is solved is star Adrien Brody’s veritable performance. No other living actor could more credibly portray this character.

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The Trust

TrustNicolas Cage and Elijah Wood play police officers who follow a trail that leads directly to a custom bank-style vault built into the back room freezer of a small grocery store. They put a plan into motion to rob the vault and split whatever they find inside. But by the time they figure out what the vault contains, it is already too late to turn back. (R – 93 minutes)

Directors Alex and Benjamin Brewer must have known that all you have to do to make a great movie is put actors Nicolas Cage and Elijah Wood in a room together and give them some meaty characters to chew on. That is essentially the formula for “The Trust,” a new thriller in which the two stars portray corrupt cops who attempt to pull off the perfect heist. Cage is crazy good as someone with no conscience whatsoever while Wood is an ideal foil as he struggles with the morality – and potentially dangerous consequences – of their actions.

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SundownDevon Werkheiser and Sean Marquette play high school seniors who sneak off to Puerto Vallarta during spring break while their parents are out of town, hoping to party with a high school crush (Sara Paxton). Once there, they meet a mysterious local beauty (Camilla Belle) who they believe steals a priceless family heirloom that then falls into the hands of a dangerous gangster. (R – 103 minutes)

“Sundown” has great energy, strong passion and – best of all – big laughs. The new action-packed romantic comedy is tremendously fun from beginning to end as it takes viewers on vacation to a beautiful-yet-chaotic Puerto Vallarta. Each insane situation leads to an even wackier one in rapid succession, resulting in enormous entertainment value. However, it is the film’s heart that sets it apart as well as its love of music as it features special appearances from the several of the world’s top DJs including Steve Aoki, Paul Oakenfold, Chris Lake and Adrian Lux.

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Search Party

Search PartyThomas Middleditch plays a man who travels to Mexico in an effort to win back his girlfriend after his friends (Adam Pally and T.J. Miller) ruin his wedding. However, when he is carjacked and left naked, said friends set out in search of him but get side-tracked several times along the way. (R – 93 minutes)

Look no further – the year’s funniest comedy so far has arrived. “Search Party” is a nonstop, pedal-on-the-gas and balls-to-the-wall laugh riot. Some may write the film off as a steaming pile of nonsense but others will appreciate its insane silliness. Viewers are taken on a ridiculously wild ride to Mexico that comes complete with plenty of side-splitting pit-stops along the way to a hilariously harebrained final act. Its uniquely outrageous (and often offensive) sense of humor is certainly not for everybody but those with a flexible funny-bone will love every minute of the absurd debauchery.

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Money Monster

Money MonsterGeorge Clooney plays a bombastic TV personality whose popular financial network show has made him the money wiz of Wall Street. But after he hawks a high tech stock that mysteriously crashes, an irate investor (Jack O’Connell) takes him, his crew and his ace producer (Julia Roberts) hostage live on air. They must then find a way to keep themselves alive while simultaneously uncovering the truth behind a tangle of big money lies. (R – 90 minutes)

“Money Monster” has a stellar cast and a potentially captivating real-time gimmick but, unfortunately, it spends so much time spinning its wheels and spouting out nonsense that all of its positive attributes fall by the wayside. The new hostage thriller is uncommonly verbose, leaving viewers feeling dumbfounded as the story’s specifics fly straight over their heads. Moreover, it completely misses a prime opportunity to make hard-hitting social commentary. Some slightly comedic moments are also ill-suited for such a seriously plotted motion picture. But at least its actors give great performances – especially Jack O’Connell.

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I Am Wrath

I Am WrathJohn Travolta plays a former Black Ops agent who witnessed his wife’s death at the hands of a street gang. When corrupt cops let the prime suspect walk, he takes the law into his own hands. Joined by a former comrade-in-arms (Christopher Meloni), he uncovers a conspiracy that leads to the upper ranks of government. (NR – 92 minutes)

As far as revenge thrillers go, “I Am Wrath” is a far cry from “Taken” but it certainly still entertains nonetheless. Star John Travolta gives a believable and commanding performance in the film, which is at its best when it is dripping with raw emotion or shifting itself into hi-octane action mode. However, there exists a tonal imbalance with an occasional attempt at humor that was perhaps intended to diffuse tension but instead undermines the story’s intensity. Co-star Christopher Meloni is initially tied to these comedic moments and his character is therefore at first unwelcome before eventually revealing himself to have been indispensable.

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