Skip to main content

February 2017

Books on Screen

February 2017

We’re only a little over a month into 2017, and already the world feels topsy-turvy. I mean, it’s February and there’s NO NEW NICHOLAS SPARKS MOVIE. What’s next, no superheroes in July? I can't live like this!

In case you were worried you’d have to readjust your entire paradigm, fear not! This month’s crop of entertainment hits a few of the usual marks. Fifty Shades Darker --- the sequel to 2015’s, uh, hit E L James adaptation --- comes out mid-month, just in time to get your pre-Valentine’s Day dose of sadomasochism. And those of you waiting to get slapped with some bad press about feuding co-stars may be disappointed; it seems Jamie Dornan behaved himself, at least this time around. For a more subdued love story, check out Tulip Fever, an Alicia Vikander period piece that will finally see the light of day (er, theater) after production wrapped way back in 2014. The story and aesthetic of this movie give me major Girl with a Pearl Earring vibes, and I mean that as a compliment.

There’s a strong showing for Black History Month, too, with I Am Not Your Negro --- based on James Baldwin’s unfinished manuscript for REMEMBER THIS HOUSE --- dominating early movie buzz. The powerful documentary hits screens in early February, and is sure to be a challenging, enlightening experience for theatergoers. Watch it in tandem with BET’s “Madiba,” a six-part miniseries starring Laurence Fishburne about the life of politician and revolutionary Nelson Mandela. HBO will be serving up its own drama on the side, with the highly anticipated “Big Little Lies” --- adapted from Liane Moriarty’s bestselling book --- bringing an all-star, female-led cast to the small screen.

Temps outside may be low, but Books on Screen are just heating up! May your month be as delightful as Winona’s SAGs face and as blessed as Beyoncé’s womb.


--- Written and compiled by Emily Hoenig


In Theaters:

I Am Not Your Negro
Cast: [voice of] Samuel L. Jackson
Director: Raoul Peck
Distributor: Magnolia Pictures
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Release Date: February 3rd
Based On: REMEMBER THIS HOUSE, unfinished manuscript by James Baldwin

In 1979, James Baldwin wrote a letter to his literary agent describing his next project, REMEMBER THIS HOUSE. The book was to be a revolutionary, personal account of the lives and successive assassinations of three of his close friends: Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. At the time of Baldwin's death in 1987, he left behind only 30 completed pages of his manuscript. Now, in his incendiary new documentary, master filmmaker Raoul Peck envisions the book James Baldwin never finished. The result is a radical, up-to-the-minute examination of race in America, using Baldwin's original words and flood of rich archival material. I Am Not Your Negro is a journey into black history that connects the past of the Civil Rights movement to the present of #BlackLivesMatter. It is a film that questions black representation in Hollywood and beyond. And, ultimately, by confronting the deeper connections between the lives and assassination of these three leaders, Baldwin and Peck have produced a work that challenges the very definition of what America stands for.


Cast: Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz, Aimee Teegarden, Alex Roe, Bonnie Morgan, Johnny Galecki, Vincent D’Onofrio
Director: F. Javier Gutiérrez
Distributor: Paramount Pictures
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Release Date: February 3rd
Based On: RING by Kôji Suzuki

A new chapter in the beloved Ring horror franchise. A young woman becomes worried about her boyfriend when he explores a dark subculture surrounding a mysterious videotape said to kill the watcher seven days after he has viewed it. She sacrifices herself to save her boyfriend and in doing so makes a horrifying discovery: there is a "movie within the movie" that no one has ever seen before...


Fifty Shades Darker
Cast: Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan, Rita Ora, Luke Grimes, Marcia Gay Harden, Bella Heathcote, Kim Basinger
Director: James Foley
Distributor: Universal Studios
MPAA Rating: R
Release Date: February 10th

Anastasia has broken off her relationship with the troubled Christian to pursue a new career in a Seattle publishing house. When a wounded Chistian Grey tries to entice a cautious Ana back into his life, she demands a new arrangement before she will give him another chance. As the two begin to build trust and find stability, shadowy figures from Christian’s past start to circle the couple, determined to destroy their hopes for a future together.


The Dark Tower
Cast: Idris Elba, Matthew McConaughey, Katheryn Winnick, Claudia Kim, Abbey Lee, Jackie Earle Haley
Director: Nikolaj Arcel
Distributor: Columbia Pictures
MPAA Rating: NR
Release Date: February 17th
Based On: THE GUNSLINGER by Stephen King

The Gunslinger, Roland Deschain, roams an Old West-like landscape where "the world has moved on" in pursuit of the man in black. Also searching for the fabled Dark Tower, in the hopes that reaching it will preserve his dying world.


The Girl With All the Gifts
Cast: Sennia Nanua, Gemma Arterton, Glenn Close, Paddy Considine, Dominique Tipper
Director: Colm McCarthy
Distributor: Warner Bros.
MPAA Rating: R
Release Date: February 24th

The near future humanity has been all but destroyed by a mutated fungal disease that eradicates free will and turns its victims into flesh-eating "hungries." Only a small group of children seem immune to its effects. At an army base in rural England, this group of unique children are being studied, subjected to cruel experiments by biologist Dr. Caldwell. The children attend school lessons daily, guarded by the ever watchful Sergeant Parks. But one little girl, Melanie, stands out from the rest. She excels in the classroom, is inquisitive, imaginative and loves her favourite teacher Miss Justineau. When the base falls, Melanie escapes along with Miss Justineau, Sergeant Parks and Dr. Caldwell. Against the backdrop of a blighted Britain, Melanie must discover what she is and ultimately decide both her own future and that of the human race.


Tulip Fever
Cast: Alicia Vikander, Dane DeHaan, Christoph Waltz, Cara Delevingne, Holliday Grainger, Kevin McKidd, Jack O’Connell
Director: Justin Chadwick
Distributor: The Weinstein Company
MPAA Rating: NR
Release Date: February 24th
Based On: TULIP FEVER by Deborah Moggach

Set in 17th century Amsterdam, Tulip Fever follows a married woman who begins a passionate affair with an artist hired to paint her portrait. The lovers gamble on the booming market for tulip bulbs as a way to raise money to run away together.



On TV:

Madiba” (Limited Series)
Laurence Fishburne, Orlando Jones, David Harewood, Terry Pheto, Kajal Bagwandeen
Network: BET
Airdates: Premieres February 1st; Wednesdays at 8pm ET

Named after Madiba, the Thembu clan to which Nelson Mandela belonged, the project tells the story of a younger Nelson Mandela during the early-60s as he deals with the political unrest engulfing South Africa. Shot exclusively in South Africa and on Robben Island, Madiba details the early years of Mandela’s personal journey, and reveals the behind-the-scenes strategizing and bold organizing tactics he and his collaborators used to bring attention to their movement both domestically and internationally.


Big Little Lies” (Limited Series)
Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Shailene Woodley, Zoë Kravitz, Laura Dern, Alexander Skarsgård, Adam Scott
Network: HBO
Airdate: Premieres February 19th; Sundays at 9pm ET
Based On: BIG LITTLE LIES by Liane Moriarty

In the tranquil seaside town of Monterey, California, nothing is quite as it seems. Doting moms, successful husbands, adorable children, beautiful homes: What lies will be told to keep their perfect worlds from unraveling? Told through the eyes of three mothers --- Madeline, Celeste and Jane --- “Big Little Lies” paints a picture of a town fueled by rumors and divided into the haves and have-nots, exposing the conflicts, secrets and betrayals that compromise relationships between husbands and wives, parents and children, and friends and neighbors.


When We Rise” (Limited Series)
Guy Pearce, Mary-Louise Parker, Rachel Griffiths, Ivory Aquino, Carrie Preston, Michael K. Williams
Network: ABC
Airdate: Premieres February 27th
Based On: WHEN WE RISE: My Life in the Movement by Cleve Jones

"When We Rise” chronicles the real-life personal and political struggles, setbacks and triumphs of a diverse family of LGBT men and women who helped pioneer one of the last legs of the U.S. Civil Rights movement from its turbulent infancy in the 20th century to the once unfathomable successes of today.


Emerald City
Cast: Adria Arjona, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Ana Ularu, Gerran Howell, Vincent D’Onofrio, Joely Richardson, Florence Kasumba, Mido Hamada
Network: NBC
Airdate: Fridays at 9pm ET
Based On: Land of Oz series by L. Frank Baum

Swept up into the eye of a tornado, 20-year-old Dorothy Gale is transported to another world --- a mystical land where an all-powerful ruler governs over one kingdom, has outlawed magic and faces not only the wrath of a growing cauldron of witches but a looming disaster brought on by a mythical force. Epic, romantic and fantastical, "Emerald City" is an empowering tale of a young woman finding her true strength and identity even as she battles to bring a divided world together.


The Magicians
Cast: Jason Ralph, Stella Maeve, Olivia Taylor Dudley, Hale Appleman, Arjun Gupta, Summer Bishil
Network: Syfy
Airdate: Wednesdays at 9pm ET
Based On: THE MAGICIANS by Lev Grossman

Magic is dying. With our characters transported to the magical kingdom of Fillory - and named Kings and Queens of the land to boot --- can they save magic? Oh, and there's still the Beast to deal with, don't forget. Meanwhile, Julia is on a no-holds-barred revenge quest against the evil God that attacked her.


The Flash
Cast: Grant Gustin, Candice Patton, Rick Cosnett, Danielle Panabaker, Carlos Valdes, Tom Cavanagh, Jessie L. Martin
Network: The CW
Airdate: Tuesdays at 8pm ET
Based On: THE FLASH: DC Comics character created by Robert Kanigher, John Broome and Carmine Infantino

Barry is living his dream life --- his parents are alive, he’s asked Iris West on a date and he can finally be a normal guy as Central City has another speedster, Kid Flash, running around saving the city. When Barry starts forgetting parts of his old life, the Reverse Flash taunts his nemesis and tells him that there will be serious repercussions for Barry and the ones he loves if he continues to live in this alternate universe. In addition to losing his memories, his powers will also start to fade. When disaster strikes, Barry must decide if he wants to continue to live in this world as Barry Allen or return to his universe as The Flash.”


Cast: Stephen Amell, Emily Bett Rickards, David Ramsey, Willa Holland, Paul Blackthorne, John Barrowman, Echo Kellum
Network: The CW
Airdate:Wednesdays at 8pm ET
Based On: DC Comics character Green Arrow created by Mort Weisinger and George Papp

Oliver’s new recruits for Team Arrow are Curtis, Wild Dog and Evelyn Sharp. Unfortunately, the Green Arrow’s training methods prove to be too much for some of them to handle. Meanwhile, in the flashbacks, Oliver’s initiation into the Bratva continues.




Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk
Cast: Joe Alwyn, Steve Martin, Garrett Hedlund, Kristen Stewart, Vin Diesel and Chris Tucker
Director: Ang Lee
MPAA Rating: R
DVD Release Date: February 7th

Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk is told from the point of view of 19-year-old private Billy Lynn, who, along with his fellow soldiers in Bravo Squad, has been hailed as a hero and brought home for a victory tour after a harrowing Iraq battle. Through flashbacks, culminating at the spectacular halftime show of the Thanksgiving Day football game, the film reveals what really happened to the squad - contrasting the realities of the Iraq conflict with America's celebration back home.


American Pastoral
Cast: Ewan McGregor, Jennifer Connelly, Dakota Fanning, Molly Parker, Uzo Aduba
Director: Ewan McGregor 
MPAA Rating: R
DVD Release Date: February 7th
Based on: AMERICAN PASTORAL by Philip Roth

American Pastoral follows Seymour "Swede" Levov, a legendary high school athlete, who grows up to marry a former beauty queen and inherits his father's business. Swede's seemingly perfect life shatters when his daughter rebels by becoming a revolutionary and committing a deadly act of political terrorism during the Vietnam War.


Cast: Isabelle Huppert, Laurent Lafitte, Anne Consigny, Charles Berling, Virginie Efira
Director: Paul Verhoeven
MPAA Rating: NR
DVD Release Date: February 21st
Based On: OH by Philippe Dijan

Michèle seems indestructible. Head of a successful video game company, she brings the same ruthless attitude to her love life as to business. Being attacked in her home by an unknown assailant changes Michèle's life forever. When she resolutely tracks the man down, they are both drawn into a curious and thrilling game --- a game that may, at any moment, spiral out of control.


Doctor Strange
Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Tilda Swinton, Rachel McAdams, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Mads Mikkelsen
Director: Scott Derrickson
MPAA Rating: PG-13
DVD Release Date: February 28th
Based On: Marvel’s Dr. Strange comics by Steve Ditko

Doctor Strange tells the story of world-famous neurosurgeon Dr. Stephen Strange, whose life changes forever after a horrific car accident robs him of the use of his hands. When traditional medicine fails him, he is forced to look for healing, and hope, in an unlikely place --- a mysterious enclave known as Kamar-Taj. He quickly learns that this is not just a center for healing but also the front line of a battle against unseen dark forces bent on destroying our reality. Before long Strange --- armed with newly acquired magical powers --- is forced to choose whether to return to his life of fortune and status or leave it all behind to defend the world as the most powerful sorcerer in existence.