Features

Movies Not to Miss: November 2014

Writer: Casey Lee


Which of these are you going to watch?


As the real start of the Fall season, November is the month when we would usually start seeing the serious releases that would be contending for the Oscars. However, if you have been shifting uncomfortably in your film snob armchair, then you will just have to shift a little longer because this month's releases are a little lacking in that department.

Nevertheless, for casual moviegoers or anyone with a wider range of palette, there is even more reason to be going to the cinemas this November, regardless of your age or preference for serious drama, high flying action (there's going to be a lot of those), major sequels of old and new franchises, and a couple of Malaysian fares to enjoy. Not to mention a couple more animations for family fun.

So strap yourself for another fun-filled month. Here's our recommendation of movies not to miss for this November!

Paradise In Service


Pao is a conscript for the Kuomintang, who is stationed at the island of Kinman as the tensions between the Kuomintang and the People's Liberation Army come to its closing head. Disqualified from the ruthless training for an elite reconnaissance unit, Pao is transferred to man Unit 831; the island's sanctioned brothel, where he is faced with new battles of love, the longing for home and secrets.

Returning for his fourth feature since "Love", actor-turned-director Doze Niu's makes his next China-Taiwan collaboration that got into some controversy when he allowed his Chinese cinematographer to shoot at a restricted military zone, breaking military treaties between the island-nation and its mainland counterpart that serves as the historical backdrop for this Civil War period piece. Although "Congo" award-winning star Ethan Juan returns for his third work with Doze, it is the sterling performance by Chinese actor Chen Jian Bin which earned him a nomination at the upcoming 51st Golden Horse that needs to be seen, alongside actresses Ivy Chen and newcomer Regina Wan, who are also nominated for the Golden Horse. Granted, due to its setting of a brothel that won't be looked too kindly by our censors, but it is a rare threat to be able to judge for ourselves if it deserves its golden nominations before the award ceremony itself.

General Release Date: 6 November

John Wick


When home invaders mistakenly robbed an ex-hitman and kill his pet dog, John Wick reloads his guns and makes a comeback that sets the underworld on fire when John Wick goes on a rampage for revenge.

After two disappointing runs for "47 Ronin" and "Man of Tai Chi", the days of Keanu Reeves as an action star has been put to question if he would ever return to the glory days of "The Matrix". Well, if you have already seen the dazzling trailer of "John Wick", then you know where you are going to find that answer (or already have). "John Wick" is the directing debut for stuntmen David Leitch and Chad Stahelski, and fans of the Gun-fu genre have probably never been this excited since 2002's "Equilibrium".

General Release Date: 6 November

Exists


When Brian, Matt and his friends plan for a wild party at their uncle's cabin in the Texan woods, they didn't expect to encounter the legendary Sasquatch, who is determined to not let them leave any evidence of its existence alive.

If you have grown bored of the obscene amounts of found-footage films these recent months, then you ought to give your last chance to "Exists". Winning an audience award at the 2014 SXSW, "Exists" has been lauded as the arrival of that fateful follow-up by "The Blair Witch Project" co-director Eduardo Sánchez that comes close to his genre changing work that also single-handedly created a format of its own. While there's plenty of other horrors still creeping in this November (including the horrible looking "Bugs"), it's about time that the grandfather of the found-footage format show how it's done.

General Release Date: 6 November

Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno & Rurouni Kenshin: The Legend Ends


As Himura Kenshin tries to settle into the peaceful life with Kaoru and her dojo, the rise of the Meiji government brings with it old enemies like Shishio Makoto, who wants to raze the new era to the ground.

It's been two years since the live-action adaptation of Nobuhiro Watsuki's manga hit our screens, and now the wait is finally over with not one, but two sequels to greet us. Sparked by the fiery Kyoto arc of the manga series, we are looking forward to more of the faithful and fantastic adaptation by director Keishi Ohtomo, together with returning stars, Takeru Sato as the reversed edge swordsman, and the lovely Emi Takei as Kaoru. With the new host of the iconic and tragic characters from the arc that are bound to recreate epic moments in the series, fans of its anime and manga should be lining up to to see the conclusion of this trilogy on the 6th and 20th of November.

General Release Date: 6 November & 20 November

Interstellar


As Earth becomes a dying planet, an engineer must wrestle with himself whether to die together with his children or seize the opportunity to find new hope for humanity, with an expedition that is planned to find a new habitable planet through a discovered wormhole, as they will have to brave through the unimaginable dangers on the other side of the galaxy.

While "The Dark Knight Rises" was just two years ago, there hasn't been a truly Nolan movie since "Inception" in 2010. Developed with Jonathan Nolan even before "The Dark Knight", "Interstellar" is carefully based on actual scientific theories on wormholes and black holes by theoretical physicist Kip Thorne, and the unproven theories of relativity by Albert Einstein, which serves as the premise of the possibility of another universe out there. Although longtime cinematographer Wally Pfister is absent from this, we would still trust Nolan (as any Nolanite would say) to be able to expand our final frontiers of time and space through his spectacular and detailed vision of technical filmmaking. Adding on with strong leads in Oscar winners Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway, supported by Jessica Chastain, Michael Caine, Casey Affleck, Topher Grace, David Oyelowo and Matt Damon, with Hans Zimmer bound to compose a mesmerising score, it makes it all the more reason why we need to watch this in IMAX. Repeatedly.

General Release Date: 6 November

Horns


Adapted from the novel by Joe Hill, Ig Perrish is accused of murdering his girlfriend when she is found dead. While the courts preside on Ig's case, he finds himself growing horns on his forehead that somehow also gives him supernatural powers to compel others to reveal their darkest secrets.

We may be dismayed that we won't get to see "Gone Girl" in Malaysia, so we will have to make do with Alexandre Aja's adaptation of "Horns". This also gives us an opportunity to see the further maturing of Daniel Radcliffe as an actor who is slowly shedding his Harry Potter days, role by role, and the praise that has been given to him here may be the most compelling we've seen him to date.

General Release Date: 13 November

The Drop


When two gunmen rob a bar that is used as a drop point for dirty money to be laundered, bartender Bob Saginowski and owner Cousin Marv are ordered by their Chechen client to recover the money or else. Threading along the webs of the Brooklyn underworld, Bob and Marv finds its dangerous workings and the price of just being on its periphery.

Written and adapted by Dennis Lehane, who is the author behind adapted thrillers such as "Mystic River", "Gone Baby Gone" and "Shutter Island", if "The Drop" did not have a strong directorial voice in Michaël R. Roskam as Lehane's previously adapted works, "The Drop" is not going to be a slouch in the story department. Even more so, with leads played by Tom Hardy and the late James Gandolfini, who makes his last film appearance here. This is certainly not to be missed if we haven't already miss Gandolfini's performance.

General Release Date: 13 November

Big Hero 6


Left with a nursing robot by his late brother, Hiro Hamada tries to overcome his brother's death when a criminal threatens the city of San Fransokyo with his nano-technology. To stop this villain, Hiro will have to assemble a team of heroes to stop him.

If you are worried that you won't be seeing Disney in this packed year of wonderful animation (and we have one more later on this list), then you have nothing to fear with "Big Hero 6". Based on a Marvel property with a younger set of heroes, we can certainly expect more than just superheroics with heartwarming moments that Disney is getting so good at melting us with since "Frozen". Don't say we didn't warn you to bring just one sheet of tissue.

General Release Date: 13 November

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1


After the end of the last Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen is now prepared to lead the rebellion against the Capitol and save Peeta, but President Snow is also prepared to burn everything and make Katniss pay the ultimate price for her rebellion.

We've seen "Divergent" and "The Maze Runner", but we know that young adult readers have waited all year long for the annual event to see another installment of "The Hunger Games", now reaching the peak of its climax. Returning with a tour-de-force is "Catching Fire" director Francis Lawrence, followed by Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Elizabeth Banks, Donald Sutherland, and Sam Clafin, with new players like Julianne Moore making an appearance in an important role. This will also be the last movie that Philip Seymour Hoffman appears in full before his death.

General Release Date: 20 November

Lelaki Harapan Dunia


While moving an abandoned house in the jungle, the men of the village are alarmed when one of them claims to have seen an Orang Minyak. As they devise plans to protect their women in the village, various events throw them into hilarious misunderstandings.

If more Malaysians have seen director Liew Seng Tat's "Flower in the Pocket", then they would understand why we are so excited for his second feature "Lelaki Harapan Dunia" seven years later. Already given much pedigree for being selected for the Festival del Film Locarno and the Toronto Film Festival, we would like to see how this talented filmmaker from the indie digital movement has matured with his all-star Malay cast.

General Release Date: 27 November

Dumb And Dumber To


After more than 20 years since their last road trip, Lloyd Christmas and Harry Dunne are on their latest adventure; to find Harry's long lost daughter...and Harry's new love?

November is not a month without laughs and we would be at a remiss if we did not mention "Horrible Bosses 2" being release on the same week as this for the frustrated employee. But if we had to choose between the Sean Anders directed sequel or the crazy as it sounds sequel by the Farrelly Brothers, our nostalgia for the classic "Dumb and Dumber" would make that choice. So that's triple stamp, no erasies, touch blue make it true! La! La! La! La! La! La!

General Release Date: 27 November

The Penguins Of Madagascar


As an efficient crew of spies, Skipper, Kowalski, Rico and Private are forced to join with the North Wind; a special task force of arctic animals dedicated to helping animals that can't help themselves, to stop an evil scientist and his plans to takeover the world.

As much as we loved the main animals from the "Madagascar" series, we bet some of you had always wanted to see more of the penguin crew that filled in the gaps when Alex and mates are off to their wildly adventures. If the not completely related TV series was enough for you, then we certainly hope that this spin-off from the main series proper would be the chance for the "Penguins of Madagascar" to have their own series, as they deserve.

General Release Date: 27 November

Rise Of The Legend


An origin story of kung fu master Wong Fei Hung when the legend was once a young martial artist who strive to clean the streets of gangsters that will lead him to a face off with a feared gang lord.

When the martial arts genre has seen a glut of movies based around Ip Man in recent years, reviving an icon like Wong Fei Hung suddenly sounds like a refreshing idea. While there are plenty of uncertainties if "Rise of the Legend" can match up with the heydays of Jet Li's "Once Upon a Time in China" series, if you looking for a solidly choreographed martial arts sequences, the trailer seems to deliver on it. Besides, having Sammo Hung (or Angelababy, for that matter) onscreen in this reboot wouldn't hurt.

General Release Date: 27 November

In Between Floors


After an accidental first meeting that leaves a bad impression, two differently educated Malaysian Chinese find themselves stuck on an elevator, as they get to understand each other while waiting for help from a God-like security guard

Aside from being made on a micro-budget with a makeshift elevator, what makes us want to support "In Between Floors" is because it is the feature debut of director Bernice Low, who we would better remember for her "Kopitiam" TV series. Roping in recognised local actors like Alvin Wong and Dawn Cheong (most recently from "Cuak"), we expect a uniquely Malaysian story that Malaysian Chinese viewers will be able to relate to as they explore the gaps between a 'Banana' and a 'proper' Chinese. Don't worry, bananas, it's in English.

General Release Date: 27 November

Cinema Online, 31 October 2014


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