If not the first movie to expose the true inner workings of organized crime—in contrast to Coppola’s seminal, romanticized The Godfather—GoodFellas is arguably the most influential, and the most enduring. It is also one of Martin Scorsese’s most popular films, a near-perfect intersection of source material and cinematic execution. Nicholas Pileggi’s book Wiseguy: Life in a Mafia Family recounted bona-fide gangster Henry Hill’s rise from two-bit mob gopher to prolific felon, as well as his ultimate downfall, and the many escapades in between. Adapted with ample violence and profanity, GoodFellas (renamed to avoid confusion with contemporary TV series Wiseguy) is also incredibly funny, often darkly so, for a more deeply entertaining tale.
Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) is a swell, resourceful dad… and pilot… and engineer… and farmer. In short, he’s the perfect candidate for a dangerous mission to other worlds to help save mankind. The future that he and his family inhabit is bleak, cynical, and full of toxins that are rapidly making life on Earth unsustainable. The only glimmer of hope requires Coop to leave behind everyone and everything he knows to lead a crew across time and space in search of a new home. Back on Earth, our brightest minds are struggling to do their part, and these home and away teams will intersect in a most unexpected way.
Genius teen Hiro Hamada has already lost his parents, but when tragedy strikes again, he uses his scientific know-how to turn mild-mannered, inflatable nurse-bot Baymax into a karate-kicking, armor-plated crime-fighter. But is Hiro out for justice...or vengeance? Either way, the duo can’t win this fight without help, and so they join forces with a group of friends to form their own high-tech super-squad, finding plenty of excitement along the way, as well as some important lessons about what it means to be a hero. Inspired by a relatively obscure Marvel Comic, the Oscar-winning Big Hero 6 is an epic origin saga full of heart and humor.
Here’s a truth-pill for all of you single folk out there: Sometimes marriage can really suck. Don’t take my word for it, though; instead, spend some time with the Dunnes, Nick and Amy (Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike). After a nigh-fairytale meeting and courtship, their seemingly idyllic life together develops cracks. The deterioration is expedited over the years by family troubles that lead to money troubles, and contempt and infidelity follow. For Amy, marriage is a daily humiliation. For Nick, it’s a trap, one from which he yearns to escape.
Doing its part to make sure you never have to be without object-based audio, Dolby is dropping its newest format, Dolby Atmos Mobile. Like Dolby Atmos for the home and for the cinema, this portable version aims to render a more detailed, more lifelike soundfield from specially mixed/encoded software. Unlike the previous versions, Dolby Atmos Mobile does not require a specially wired theater, or newfangled or additional loudspeakers. Instead, it’s designed to work with any headphones. The technology relies on Head-Related Transfer Functions, taking advantage of the fixed positions of the stereo drivers left and right as they expand the soundtrack’s spatial information. For this reason, a wired or Bluetooth speaker cannot reproduce the Atmos Mobile effect.
Exploring the adventures of a lesser-known team from the Marvel Universe, Guardians of the Galaxy was something of a surprise hit. The plot is well worn, almost clichéd, as a group of disparate beings learn to work together, and we can spot the few twists light-years away. Perhaps the filmmakers are acknowledging all that has come before but have chosen to enliven this tale by infusing a vast quantity of smart-ass humor. And that decision pays off remarkably well, yielding one of the most entertaining space operas since Star Wars.
Surely Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig are two of the more interesting people working in Hollywood right now. With his diverse mile-long résumé and her Oscar nomination (for co-writing Bridesmaids) and indie cred, plus their shared Saturday Night Live pedigree, we never know quite what we’ll get next from them. The Skeleton Twins is not their first big-screen pairing, but it’s their most significant, as they play same-age sibs Maggie and Milo, estranged for the past 10 years and now suddenly reunited as they grapple with their own issues.
Sin City: You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. In A Dame to Kill For, the second big-screen adaptation of the works of writer/artist/director Frank Miller, we find that stripper Nancy (Jessica Alba) has been driven cuckoo-bananas by the events surrounding the death of her hero and one true love a few years ago. She now finds herself shadowed by the ghost of Bruce Willis (where have I seen that before?)
After the apparent suicide of a key player at a major investment firm, up-and-coming financier Jane Porter (Sarah Butler, 2010’s remake of I Spit on Your Grave) is racked by grief but also struck by the strange behavior of her bosses. They seem to be increasingly interested in some recent high-level investments, but also in who might know about them. Were more sinister forces at work? And if so, will she be the next employee to meet a sudden end? Tensions mount with the after-hours arrival of the company crisis manager (D.B. Sweeney, looking like Chris Cooper), whose friendly interrogation grows more insistent. The building is locked down for the night with almost no one else inside; Sarah finds herself on the run for her life but is soon trapped inside the elevator, and a twisty game of cat-and-mouse ensues.
Has the iconic villainess of Sleeping Beauty gotten a bum rap all these years? In this grand live-action reimagining of the classic tale, we learn of the longstanding hatred between a human kingdom and a nearby realm of magical beings. Maleficent, the most powerful fairy and their de facto leader, begins life full of wonder, but after she is bitterly betrayed by the only human she ever cared for, she becomes the angry, formidable opponent we thought we knew.