Troop Zero

Release Date:  2/1/19; Sundance Film Festival
Genre:  Family
Rating:  NR
Director:  Bert & Bertie
Studio(s):   Amazon Studios, Big Indie Pictures, Escape Artists
Running Time:  94 mins.
Cast:  Viola Davis, Allison Janney, McKenna Grace, Mike Epps

Story:  Nine-year-old oddball Christmas Flint (Mckenna Grace) is obsessed with space and making contact with the aliens of the universe. When she finds out the prize at the 1977 Birdie Jamboree is getting her voice on NASA’s Golden Record, Christmas forms her own misfit Birdie troop. Nothing can prepare them for the painfully perfect world of the legit Birdies. But, led by their reluctant yet fearless troop mama (Viola Davis) and Christmas’s dad (Jim Gaffigan), they find glory in the most unexpected circumstances—much to the despair of the ever-judgmental school principal, Miss Massey (Allison Janney).  Source:  Sundance.org.

Relive

a/k/a Only You

Release Date:  1/27/19; Sundance Film Festival
Genre:  Horror
Rating:  NR
Director:  Jacob Estes
Studio(s):   Blumhouse Productions
Running Time:  107 mins.
Cast:  David Oyelowo, Storm Reid, Mykelti Williamson, Alfred Molina, Brian Tyree Henry.

Story:   Los Angeles detective Jack Radcliff fields a distressed phone call from his niece Ashley and rushes to the rescue—only to find the girl and her parents dead in an apparent murder-suicide. Then, just as the police department declares the killings an open-and-shut case, Jack gets another call from Ashley. With the cell-phone connection acting as a link between the past and the present, Jack urges Ashley to collect clues that will help him to solve her murder and change her fate.

Part supernatural thriller, part time-warped police procedural, Relive is the newest release from Blumhouse Productions, the innovative horror hit makers behind Jordan Peele’s Get Out. Writer-director Jacob Estes infuses this heady hybrid with the chills of an old-fashioned ghost story and the paranoia of a conspiracy thriller. David Oyelowo gives a nervy performance as the haunted hero, and Storm Reid, star of last year’s A Wrinkle in Time, is remarkable as the spectral teen detective.  Source:  Sundance.org.

Selah And The Spades


Release Date:  1/27/19; Sundance Film Festival
Genre:  Drama
Rating:  NR
Director:  Tayarisha Poe
Studio(s):   Cinereach, Secret Engine
Running Time:  89 mins.

Cast:  Lovie Simone, Celeste O’Connor, Jharrel Jerome, Gina Torres, Jesse Williams.

Story:   In the closed world of an elite Pennsylvania boarding school, the student body is run by five factions. Seventeen-year-old Selah Summers runs the most dominant group, the Spades, with unshakable poise, as they cater to the most classic of vices and supply students with coveted, illegal alcohol and pills. Tensions between the factions escalate, and when Selah’s best friend/right hand Maxxi becomes distracted by a new love, Selah takes on a protégée, enamored sophomore Paloma, to whom she imparts her wisdom on ruling the school. But with graduation looming and Paloma proving an impressively quick study, Selah’s fears turn sinister as she grapples with losing the control by which she defines herself.  Source:  Sundance.org.

Sweetheart

Release Date:  1/28/19; Sundance Film Festival
Genre:   Horror/Thriller
Rating:  NR
Director:  J.D. Dillard
Studio(s):   Blumhouse Productions
Running Time:  82 mins.

Cast Kiersey Clemons, Emory Cohen, Hanna Mangan Lawrence, Andrew Crawford.

Story:   Washing ashore onto a desolate island, Jen (Kiersey Clemons) has already survived a harrowing ordeal. Stranded and alone, she searches for shelter. Finding only the scattered remains of a long-abandoned campground and weary from her terrible journey, she collapses in hope of a peaceful rest. But night is when it’s most dangerous here. That’s when the creature comes.  And when it slithers out of the water, it must feed.  Source:  Sundance.org.

Native Son

Release Date:  1/24/19; Sundance Film Festival
Genre:  Drama
Rating:  NR
Director:  Rashid Johnson
Studio(s):   Bow and Arrow Entertainment, A24
Running Time:  Unknown

Cast:  Ashton Sanders, Margaret Qualley, Nick Robinson, KiKi Layne, Bill Camp, Sanaa Lathan.

Story:  Bigger “Big” Thomas, a young African American man, lives with his mother and siblings in Chicago. Half-heartedly involved with a girlfriend, he sports green hair and a punk jacket, smokes weed, and carries a pistol—but rebuffs his buddy’s “easy-money” scheme to knock off a corner store. Full of self-determination, Big accepts a job as the chauffeur for wealthy businessman Will Dalton’s family. Moving into their mansion, he begins driving Dalton’s vehemently progressive daughter, Mary. But his involvement in an accidental death places Big on a collision course with the powerful social forces pitted against him.  A thoroughly contemporary reworking of Richard Wright’s 1940 novel, Native Son asserts the story’s persistent relevance by bringing its interrogation of fear, violence, race, and circumstance into a critical modern context. Source:  Sundance.org.

Luce

Release Date:  1/27/19; Sundance Film Festival
Genre:  Drama
Rating:  NR
Director:   Julius Onah
Studio(s):   Dream Factory Group, Altona Filmhaus
Running Time:  Unknown
Cast:  Octavia Spencer, Kelvin Harrison, Jr., Tim Roth, Naomi Watts, Norbert Leo Butz

Story:   It’s been ten years since Amy and Peter Edgar (Naomi Watts and Tim Roth) adopted their son from war-torn Eritrea, and they thought the worst was behind them. Luce Edgar (Kelvin Harrison, Jr.) has become an all-star student beloved by his community in Arlington, Virginia. His African American teacher, Harriet Wilson (Octavia Spencer), believes he is a symbol of black excellence that sets a positive example for his peers. But when he is assigned to write an essay in the voice of a historical twentieth-century figure, Luce turns in a paper that makes an alarming statement about political violence. Worried about how this assignment reflects upon her star pupil, Harriet searches his locker and finds something that confirms her worst fears.  Source:  Sundance.org.

The Last Black Man in San Francisco

Release Date:  1/26/19; Sundance Film Festival
Genre:   Drama
Rating:  NR
Director:  Joe Talbot
Studio(s):   A24, Longshot Features, Plan B Entertainment
Running Time:  120 mins.
Cast:  Jimmie Fails, Jonathan Majors, Rob Morgan, Tichina Arnold, Danny Glover, Mike Epps, Finn Wittrock.

Story:   Jimmie Fails has one hope in life: to reclaim the majestic Victorian house his grandfather built. Every week, Jimmie and his only friend, Montgomery, make a pilgrimage across San Francisco to Jimmie’s dream home and imagine what life would be like if this neighborhood had never changed. When they realize the house’s current owners have moved out, Jimmie decides to recreate the home his family once had. As he struggles to reconnect with his family and reconstruct the community he longs for, Jimmie’s domestic aspirations blind him to reality.  Source:  Sundance.org.