Michael Stone, husband, father and respected author of “How May I Help You Help Them?” is a man crippled by the mundanity of his life. On a business trip to Cincinnati, where he’s scheduled to speak at a convention of customer service professionals, he checks into the Fregoli Hotel. There, he’s amazed to discover a possible escape from his desperation in the form of an unassuming Akron baked goods sales rep, Lisa, who may or may not be the love of his life. A beautifully tender and absurdly humorous dreamscape, from the brilliant minds of Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson, this stop-motion animation wonder is a darkly comedic and surreal stop-motion journey of a man’s long night of the soul.
Vitals: Director: Duke Johnson, Charlie Kaufman. Stars: Voices of Jennifer Jason Leigh, David Thewlis, Tom Noonan.
2015, CC, MPAA rating: R, 90 min., Comedy-Fantasy, Box office gross: $2.648 million, Paramount.
The Brothers Grimsby
Dimwitted English football hooligan Nobby (Sacha Baron Cohen) has everything a man from Grimsby could want, including 11 children and the most gorgeous girlfriend in the northeast of England (Rebel Wilson). There’s only one thing missing: his little brother, Sebastian (Mark Strong), who Nobby has spent 28 years searching for after they were separated as kids. Nobby sets off to reunite with Sebastian, unaware that not only is his brother MI6’s deadliest assassin, but he’s just uncovered plans for an imminent global terrorist attack. On the run and wrongfully accused, Sebastian realizes that if he is going to save the world, he will need the help of its biggest idiot.
Vitals: Director: Louis Leterrier. Stars: Sacha Baron Cohen, Mark Strong, Rebel Wilson, Isla Fisher, Penelope Cruz, Ian McShane, Scott Adkins, Gabourey Sidibe.
2016, CC, MPAA rating: R, 83 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $6.864 million, Sony.
Extras: “The Making of The Brothers Grimsby,” “Line-O-Rama: Hilarious Outtakes.” Blu-ray adds “The Elephant in the Room” featurette, blooper reel, deleted & extended scenes.
Eddie the Eagle
Inspired by true events, “Eddie the Eagle” is the story of Michael “Eddie” Edwards (Taron Egerton), an unlikely but courageous British underdog ski-jumper who never stopped believing in himself — even as an entire nation was counting him out. With the help of a rebellious and charismatic coach (Hugh Jackman), Eddie takes on the establishment and wins the hearts of sports fans around the world by making an improbable and historic showing at the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics.
Vitals: Director: Dexter Fletcher. Stars: Hugh Jackman, Taron Egerton, Christopher Walken, Edvin Endre.
2016, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 106 min., Family Bio-Drama, Box office gross: $15.685 million, Fox.
Extras: “Let the Games Begin: Soaring With Eddie the Eagle” documentary: “All or Nothing: The Hero’s Heart,” “An Unlikely Friendship: Eddie & Peary,” “Attitude is Altitude: Filming the Ski Jumps”; still gallery.
Eye in the Sky
Helen Mirren stars as Colonel Katherine Powell, a UK-based military officer in command of a top secret drone operation to capture terrorists in Kenya. Through remote surveillance and on-the-ground intel, Powell discovers the targets are planning a suicide bombing, and the mission escalates from “capture” to “kill.” But as American pilot Steve Watts (Aaron Paul) is about to engage, a 9-year old girl enters the kill zone, triggering an international dispute reaching the highest levels of the U.S. and British governments over the moral, political, and personal implications of modern warfare.
Vitals: Director: Gavin Hood. Stars: Helen Mirren, Aaron Paul, Iain Glen, Alan Rickman, Barkhad Abdi, Phoebe Fox.
2016, CC, MPAA rating: R, 102 min., Thriller/Drama, Box office gross: $11.098 million, Universal.
Extras: “Perspective” featurette in which Helen Mirren, director Gavin Hood and producer Colin Firth explain how the film serves as a mechanism for discussion on the moral conflict surrounding drone warfare; “Morals” featurette in which Mirren, Hood, and producer Colin Firth discuss the moral and ethical questions raised in the film.
A moving and profound look at marriage and the secrets we keep. There is just one week until Kate Mercer’s (Charlotte Rampling) 45th wedding anniversary and the planning for the party is going well. But then a letter arrives for her husband (Tom Courtenay): The body of his first love has been discovered, frozen and preserved in the icy glaciers of the Swiss Alps. By the time the party is upon them, five days later, there may not be a marriage left to celebrate. The film won a Silver Bear for Best Actress (Charlotte Rampling) and Best Actor (Tom Courtenay) at the Berlin International Film Festival.
Vitals: Director: Andrew Haigh. Stars: Charlotte Rampling, Tom Courtenay, Dolly Wells, David Sibley, Geraldine James, Hannah Chalmers.
2015, CC, MPAA rating: R, 95 min., Drama, Box office gross: $4.220 million, IFC Films.
Set in Hollywood Golden Age, this very funny comedy/satire follows a single day in the life of Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin), head of production and all-around problem solver for Hollywood studio Capitol Pictures. When Baird Whitlock (George Clooney), the world’s biggest star, is kidnapped in the middle of production on the studio’s latest swords-and-sandals epic, Eddie has to recover his leading man while simultaneously appeasing cowboy star Hobie Doyle (Alden Ehrenreich), disgruntled director Laurence Laurentz (Ralph Fiennes), swimming sensation DeeAnna Moran (Scarlett Johansson) and song-and-dance superstar Burt Gurney (Channing Tatum), all while horse-trading information to keep his talents’ names out of the gossip columns written by a pair of rival siblings, Thora and Thessaly Thacker (Tilda Swinton). There’s plenty of references to 1950s Hollywood, in particular post-WWII MGM: Josh Brolin’s character, Eddie Mannix, is based on real-life studio “fixer” Eddie Mannix. Channing Tatum is a stand-in for MGM star Gene Kelly, Scarlett Johansson definitely is a clone of swimmer and MGM star Esther Williams, and Tilda Swinton is a perfect Hedda Hopper, a nasty Hollywood “journalist” who ruled the gossip columns for decades. A couple of sites have taken it upon themselves to annotate the characters in “Hail Caesar!” Check out an annotated “Hail Caesar!” trailer here, a post at Slate, and more comparisons at Den of Geek!.
Vitals: Director: Joel and Ethan Coen. Stars: George Clooney, Channing Tatum, Scarlett Johansson, Jonah Hill, Josh Brolin, Tilda Swinton, Ralph Fiennes, Alden Ehrenreich, Frances McDormand.
2016, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 106 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $30.080 million, Universal.
Extras: “Directing Hollywood” behind-the-scenes featurette with the Coen Brothers and the all-star cast; “The Stars Align” featurette with the A-list talent — George Clooney, Channing Tatum, Scarlett Johansson, Jonah Hill, Josh Brolin, Tilda Swinton, Ralph Fiennes, Alden Ehrenreich, and Frances McDormand — join the Coens to talk about the project, the secrets of the unique and zany characters they play and how the Hollywood of “Hail, Caesar!” differs from the Hollywood they know; “An Era of Glamour” with the film’s production designer, costume designer and other key design professionals; “Magic of a Bygone Era”: The film features two classic-in-the-making musical numbers: an aquatic spectacle featuring Scarlett Johansson and a rousing tap dance from Channing Tatum. The cast and crew explain the process of bringing these scenes to life, from costumes to choreography and everything in between.
Hello, My Name is Doris
An embarrassingly bad romantic comedy about an older woman (Sally Field) who, after a lifetime of being overlooked and ignored, finds her world turned upside down by a handsome new co-worker and a self-help seminar that inspires her to take a chance on love. The only good thing about this drab fiasco: the much overlooked talents of Tyne Daly, who co-stars as Field’s best friend.
Vitals: Director: Michael Showalter. Stars: Sally Field, Max Greenfield, Tyne Daly, Natasha Lyonne, Stephen Root, Elizabeth Reaser.
2016, CC, MPAA rating: R, 95 min., Romantic Comedy Drama, Box office gross: $12.777 million, Sony.
Extras: Alternate opening, deleted & extended scenes, filmmaker commentary.