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Movies Not to Miss: February 2015


Date Posted: 02 February 2015


Which of these are you going to watch?

February is the customary month when we would normally recommend the influx of Chinese New Year themed movies coming into Malaysia (usually from Hong Kong). But for this year, we would like to make an exception for the abundant sprouting of local Chinese New Year movies, and not one of them has a high pitched security guard.

Even if you are not celebrating Chinese New Year or planning to watch any of these celebratory movies, there are still plenty of movies to catch, even more so if you are planning to catch up on the Best Picture nominees before Oscar night. At this rate, you would probably need to bring a tent to spend nights at your nearest cinema.

So if you rather spend your collected ang pows at your nearest ticket counter than the Mahjong table, you can't go wrong with any of these movies that you will not want to miss for February 2015!

Boyhood

A snapshot of a six year-old boy growing up in Texas, as he lives with his divorced parents, falls in love, finds his passion and sees the future ahead of him before he goes to college.

Richard Linklater's "Boyhood" may not sound much different than any generic coming-of-age story, but what differentiates it from most of its contemporaries is that audiences will see its young star Ellar Coltrane literally growing up onscreen when he was six years old until he is 18. Linklater actually shot each scene with Coltrane and his supporting cast once a year for 12 years. His dedication to the film as a cinematic feat in itself has not gone unnoticed since it premiered at last year's Sundance, and it has already secured plenty accolades to be a frontrunner for the Best Picture at the Oscars. If you have already watched "Birdman" from last month, this should be the next thing on your watch list, as the race heats up.

General Release Date: 2 February

Still Alice

Dr Alice Howard is a successful linguistics professor and a happily married mother of two children with a loving husband. When Alice is diagnosed with the early onsets of Alzheimer's, her family is strained to cope with her, as she has to come to her own terms with the disease.

Julianne Moore has been doing good work in 2014. While her role in David Cronenberg's "Maps to the Stars" showcases her acting in one of the most messed-up roles we have seen her, it was her decaying state in "Still Alice" that shows her acting prowess is long overdue for an Academy after four nominations.

General Release Date: 5 February

Whiplash

A young drummer enrolls into one of the best music schools in the country, where he is put under the tutelage of a scrutinising and perfectionist jazz maestro, who will go to extreme lengths to bring the best out of his students.

Remade into a feature-length from his own short of the same name, Damien Chazelle's "Whiplash" was the big winner of last year's Sundance (alongside "Boyhood") where it came away with the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award. What became more surprising though is that it has managed to maintain its momentum throughout the entirety of 2014 and even becoming the second film to have an Oscar Best Picture nomination to come out of Sundance. That's most likely because of the powerful performance from J.K. Simmons, who is most assured to repeat his Golden Globe win at the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.

General Release Date: 5 February

Jupiter Ascending

Jupiter Jones who works as a domestic cleaner is brought to realise that she has a greater destiny, when a genetically modified soldier descends on Earth to find her. When she learns that she carries a genetic heritage that makes an heir entitled to greater power in the universe, her rivals hatched a plot to end her.

Long delayed almost to the year, this expanded space adventure is the next epic from the Wachowski Siblings since the mixed offering of "Cloud Atlas" in 2012. While Milas Kunis and Channing Tatum do look pretty together, it is nothing compared to the visual imaginations that have been put together by the Wachowskis. Let's just hope that extra year of waiting for the special effects was worth it.

General Release Date: 5 February

Unbroken

The real-life story of Louis Zamperini, who started out as a restless delinquent to become an Olympic athlete. During World War II, Zamperini joined the US air force and was captured as a prisoner of war. Zamperini have faced trials from his youth to surviving nature's harshest punishments and the tortures of the Japanese army. While most men would have given up on hope, Zamperini's unbreakable will carries him on.

After making her directorial debut with "In the Land of Blood and Honey", Angelina Jolie makes her second outing centered on an inspirational figure that sadly passed away before the wide release of his life's story. While Jolie hasn't attained the level of making "Unbroken" a Best Picture contender or herself earning her stripes as a Best Director nominee, but it would be a remiss to dismiss this inspirational story, when it still has nominated shots by cinematographer Roger Deakins.

General Release Date: 5 February

The Imitation Game

"The Imitation Game" tells the life of British mathematician Alan Turing, who was enlisted by the army to devise a machine that could break the Nazi's Enigma code during World War II.

Britain has honoured two of its geniuses in 2014. While "The Theory of Everything" has put Eddie Redmayne's performance on the forefront to win the Best Actor (especially after the SAG awards), it is "The Imitation Game" that has the story with more dramatic impact and controversy. This Best Picture nominee not just tells the story of how Turing manages to break the Enigma code that was pivotal in winning the war, but also deals with the persecution against Turing of being a suspected spy and a homosexual. So it won't be a war movie with the sweetest of victories.

General Release Date: 5 February

Eh Janam Tumhare Lekhe

Based on the true story of Bhagat Puran Singh, who founded the The All India Pingalwara Charitable Society; providing for the sick, the poor, and the forsaken by society.

If there are too many real-life stories about men who have to overcome insurmountable odds for you, then this Punjabi biopic may have some spiritual food for the soul. We ought to learn a few things about compassion and kindness from the role model guru played by Pavan Malhotra, and maybe the world would not look so bleak.

General Release Date: 6 February

My Papa Rich

A poor widower who cannot prepare for the upcoming reunion dinner is given a chance to experience the life of a millionaire for one month during the Chinese New Year.

2015 must be going to be a busy year for Ryon Lee. February will see two movies from him being released, one of which we are looking forward as one of our anticipated local movies with its ensemble cast in "Dream Boyz". But since we are going into the Chinese New Year mood, we would also like to recommend his other movie that goes in line with the theme. "My Papa Rich" does look like it has the makings of a screwball comedy, but we think it carries a subtler message about the over-emphasis of wealth over family on the day when it is all about coming back together for a happy meal.

General Release Date: 19 February

Dragon Blade

A commander from the Han Dynasty and a Roman general are framed for wrongs that they did not commit. They both stumble into each other while escaping from their respective kingdoms before embarking on a journey together.

February is not without its high budget Asian action fares with "Snow Girl and the Dark Crystal", starring Li Bingbing. But if you prefer something in the middle then perhaps you would like to see east meets west in "Dragon Blade", starring Jackie Chan, John Cusack and Adrien Brody.

General Release Date: 19 February

Kingsman: The Secret Service

A veteran agent takes in and trains an outcast teenager who has the potential to serve as a Kingsman; a secret organisation of spies that serves and protects the crown.

While not much can be said about the comic-book franchises that he has left into the hands of other directors, but Matthew Vaugh's directing track record has indicated that he knows what makes a good comic-book adaptation. His latest touch is on the Mark Millar comic book about English spies, starring Taron Egwith, Colin Firth and Samuel L. Jackson. From early reviews, this is one to watch and it would be a decent appetizer before "Specter" arrives.

General Release Date: 19 February

Sunti @ Facebook

After being jilted by the playboy Ashiq as a fling, the girl commits suicide shortly after. Soon, murders begin to occur in the dorm that Ashiq and his friends are staying, and his Facebook receives an incessant friend request from a mysterious account.

Hauntings in the cyberspace are going to be a new premise in horror movies (see the upcoming "Unfriended"), even though "Sunti @ Facebook" had completed shooting in 2012. This return to the horror genre by Malaysian director James Lee means that this won't be just a run-of-the-mill horror, even if it is made in Indonesia.

General Release Date: 26 February

King of Mahjong

Ah Fatt was a talented Mahjong player but has retired from the professional scene. Now a miserable Yong Taufu seller, his rival, Ah Sun, challenges Fatt to join the World Series Championship against the 10 year champion. When Ah Sun kidnaps Fatt's amnesiac wife, Fatt is forced back to the Mahjoing table to not only win the prize, but also his wife.

Gambling movie fans may be looking forward to the high stakes in the sequel of "Vegas and Macau" that is also coming out this month, but we prefer the ensemble that is brought together by director Adrian Teh, who we have not seen since "The Wedding Diary 2". Bringing in familiar faces from Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan and Hong Kong, led by Chapman To, this mashup of a gambling movie with the Chinese New Year happy ensemble is like a two-for-one deal!

General Release Date: 26 February

Focus

When veteran conman Nicky Spurgeon feels that his relationship to his young and attractive portege; Jess Barett, is getting too close, he decides to end their connection. Years later, Nicky and Jess bump into each other again when they are both attempting to frisk the same billionaire. Has the apprentice learned to overcome her master or will Nicky lose his focus?

It's good to finally see Will Smith back in a leading role (we are forgetting that "After Earth" happened) and we think he still has what it takes to pull off such a dapper one (since "Hitch"?). Meanwhile, we haven't forgotten about Margot Robbie (who could after "The Wolf of Wall Street"?) and maybe playing as someone with a little more brain inside that bombshell would take her away from that typecast. If the script from the co-directors of "Crazy, Stupid, Love" can hold up.

General Release Date: 26 February

Kungfu Taboo

During World War II, a stranger with a scroll is saved from assassins by the disciples of the "House of Hundred Martial Arts". Decades later, that good deed does not go unpunished when a new challenger comes to claim the scroll at the doorsteps of the "House of Hundred Martial Arts".

Another local ensemble movie that forms a decent ensemble cast with faces from Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia. But instead of the fast fingers on the jade tiles, it is the lightning fists that lands on clenched jaws. Even though the cast have mostly done comedic work, but the action scenes we've seen in the trailer actually looks quite decent since the effort we've seen in "The Collector". Playing on the subject of 'pantang's or taboos and with such a lovable cast, we don't mind going to see "Kungfu Taboo" if we are looking for a little lighthearted action.

General Release Date: 26 February

ATM

Three unemployed youngsters manage to steal an ATM machine, but the robbery gets botched when the machine falls into the premise of an old folks' home. Now forced to disguise themselves as handymen volunteering to do repair work at the nursing home, the trio tries to locate the ATM machine, while the old folks living there are suspicious of their intentions.

While Chinese New Year movies are about having fun and greeting each other with prosperity, once in a while we need something a little heavier to remember of its values. Sure, the setup of "ATM" may sound like the extended guilt trip from a Petronas ad, but at least it reminds us about the things that are more valuable than money and dreams. Besides, having a veteran cast just makes this cat-and-mouse game between the young and old a little more exciting than it sounds.

General Release Date: 26 February

Writer: Casey Lee




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