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Reel Life

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In theatres now.

The Paperboy

Plot: It all begins in the steamy rural backwater of Moat County, Florida, where things have been done the same way for decades, yet change is bubbling beneath the surface. Boyish Jack Jansen (Zac Efron), son of the local newspaper publisher, has just returned home after being kicked out of college, only to take the lowly job of paperboy. But that too changes when his idolized journalist brother Ward (Matthew McConaughey) comes to town from Miami on the trail of a story that could make his career. Bringing in tow his hotshot writing partner Yardley (David Oyelowo) and the alluring death-row groupie Charlotte Bless (Nicole Kidman), Ward plans to prove that an innocent man has been railroaded on his way to the electric chair. With Jack as their driver, the quartet arranges to meet Hillary Van Wetter (John Cusack), the seedy alligator hunter hastily convicted of killing the local sheriff, at the prison. But what erupts between them all is a tangled web of sexual tension, mixed motives and shadowy facts that will set off not only a search for the truth but a chain reaction of passion and violence. Observing it all is Jack’s only real confidante — the disregarded family maid Anita (Macy Gray) — who watches in dismay, as his innocence is turned inside out.

Director: Lee Daniels

Starring: Zac Efron, John Cusack, Nicole Kidman, Matthew McConaughey, and David Oyelowo

Butter

Plot: A tale of competition at its most cutthroat, ‘Butter’ surveys the raw ambition of Laura Pickler (Jennifer Garner), the wife of Bob Pickler (Ty Burrell), Iowa’s long-reigning champion butter carver. For 15 years, Laura has relished her high-profile role as the beautiful, loyal helpmate to her affable, artistically gifted husband. But when Bob is pressured to retire and allow someone else a chance at glory, an indignant Laura decides to enter the competition herself. She is first in line on sign-up day, only to see her odds of victory fall below 100% with the arrival of an unlikely yet formidable contender: 10-year-old Destiny (Yara Shahidi), the African-American foster child of local couple Julie and Ethan (Alicia Silverstone and Rob Corddry). And that’s not all. Bob’s would-be mistress, bad-girl stripper Brooke (Olivia Wilde) also declares her candidacy, as does his #1 fan, Carol-Ann (Kristen Schaal). Facing three opponents, mocked by her stepdaughter Kaitlen (Ashley Greene) and furious with her husband, Laura resolves to do whatever it takes to win. And if that means resorting to sabotage — and recruiting her dim-witted former boyfriend Boyd (Hugh Jackman) as a co-conspirator — then so be it.

Director: Jim Field Smith

Starring: Jennifer Garner, Olivia Wilde, Ashley Greene, Hugh Jackman, and Alicia Silverstone

Escape Fire: The Fight to Rescue American Healthcare

Plot: ‘Escape Fire: The Fight to Rescue American Healthcare’ tackles one of the most pressing issues of our time: how can we save our badly broken healthcare system? American healthcare costs are rising so rapidly that they could reach $4.2 trillion annually, roughly 20% of our gross domestic product, within ten years. We spend $300 billion a year on pharmaceutical drugs — almost as much as the rest of the world combined. We pay more, yet our health outcomes are worse. About 65 of healthcare spending go to preventable diseases that are the major causes of disability and death in our society. It’s not surprising that healthcare is at the top of many Americans’ concerns and at the center of an intense political debate in our nation’s Capitol. The current battle over cost and access, however, does not ultimately address the root of the problem: we have a disease-care system, not a healthcare system. The film examines the powerful forces maintaining the stats quo, a medical industry designed for quick fixes rather than prevention, for profit-driven care rather than patient-driven care. ‘Escape Fire’ also presents attainable solutions. After decades of resistance, a movement to bring innovative high-touch, low cost methods of prevention and healing into our high-tech costly system is finally gaining ground. Director/Producers Matthew Heineman and award-winning Susan Froemke interweave dramatic personal arcs of patients and physicians with the stories of leaders battling to transform healthcare at the highest levels of medicine, industry, government, and even the U.S. military. ‘Escape Fire’ is about finding a way out of our current crisis. It’s a primer on how to save the health of a nation.

Director: Susan Froemke, Matthew Heineman

Sinister

Plot: A true crime novelist (Ethan Hawke) struggling to find his next big story, moves his family into a house where the horrific murder of an entire family took place. But after finding a box of home videos in which other families are also brutally murdered, his investigation leads him to a supernatural entity that may be placing his own family in harm’s way.

Director: Scott Derrickson

Starring: Ethan Hawke, Vincent D’Onofrio, and James Ransone

Seven Psychopaths

Plot: Written and directed by Oscar-winner Martin McDonagh, the comedy ‘Seven Psychopaths’ follows a struggling screenwriter (Colin Farrell) who inadvertently becomes entangled in the Los Angeles criminal underworld after his oddball friends (Christopher Walken and Sam Rockwell) kidnap a gangster’s (Woody Harrelson) beloved Shih Tzu.

Director: Martin McDonagh

Starring: Woody Harrelson, Colin Farrell, and Christopher Walken

The Oranges

Plot: David and Paige Walling (Hugh Laurie, Catherine Keener) and Terry and Cathy Ostroff (Oliver Platt, Allison Janney) are best friends and neighbors living on Orange Drive in suburban New Jersey. Their comfortable existence goes awry when prodigal daughter Nina Ostroff (Leighton Meester), newly broken up with her fiancé Ethan (Sam Rosen), returns home for Thanksgiving after a five-year absence. Rather than developing an interest in the successful son of her neighbors, Toby Walling (Adam Brody), which would please both families, it’s her parents’ best friend David who captures Nina’s attention. When the connection between Nina and David becomes undeniable, everyone’s lives are thrown into upheaval, particularly Vanessa Walling’s (Alia Shawkat), Nina’s childhood best friend. It’s not long before the ramifications of the affair begin to work on all of the family members in unexpected and hilarious ways, leading everyone to reawaken to their lives, reassess what it means to be happy, and realize that sometimes what looks like a disaster turns out to be the thing we need.

Director: Julian Farino

Starring: Hugh Laurie, Leighton Meester, Catherine Keener, Oliver Platt, and Allison Janney