Welcome to the Weekend Release Roundup, where we highlight what we think are the most interesting movies to hit theaters this weekend.
Going to the movies isn’t cheap, so we’re here to help you sort through your choices.
With the meaty month of November looming, we’ve begun to trim the fat from the blah September lineup of films – most of which have been gradually cycled out of theaters – for the more promising October bunch. After a few solid weeks of scouring the cinemaverse for worthy theatre-going films, a lot of us are now playing catch-up with the current wave of quality pictures that have bombarded movie screens across the country. This week may or may not make that task more challenging, as many of the movies being released raise considerable questions, and have a chance of going either way in the “worth it/not worth it” discussion. An intriguing week that can either add to our mad-dash of theatre hopping, or allow us to calmly go back and watch what we hadn’t been able to before.
#5 – Laggies (New York, L.A., Seattle)
Lynn Shelton, alum of the mumblecore movement (which spawned the careers of Mark and Jay Duplass, Joe Swanberg and Greta Gerwig) directed this film about a 28 year-old woman (Keira Knightley) finding it hard to transition into adulthood after her longtime boyfriend proposes, causing her to skip town and befriend a 16 year-old (Chloe Grace Moretz), whose house she crashes at while trying to get her life in order. Sam Rockwell co-stars as the girl’s defeated father. The draw comes not from the trailer, which looks rather unremarkable, but from the cast and director. Knightley, Moretz, and the criminally underrated Rockwell make for a pretty good trio of talent, worthy of elevating any film out of mediocrity and into something better. And then there’s also Shelton, a promising female (yes, it’s important to point it out) director who’s done notable work with Humpday and Your Sister’s Sister. The talent gives us a rooting interest, even if the uninspired trailer and plot don’t.
#4 – The Heart Machine (New York)
The Heart Machine may be better defined by all the things we don’t know about it. We know little about its director, Zachary Wigon, who has no prior feature credits to his name. We know little about its two leads, John Gallagher Jr. (HBO’s The Newsroom) and Kate Lyn Sheil (Netflix’s House of Cards), who are both better known by their faces than their names. And we know just enough about the plot (which we won’t discuss because it’s better to watch the trailer). All of which is why it makes the list. Serving as a counterpoint to Laggies, The Heart Machine‘s trailer is enough to warrant our curiosity, even with all the surrounding unknown names. It also received pretty darned good (albeit limited) reviews. And as the trailer proves, the mystery is part of the appeal.
#3 – John Wick
The most high-profile movie on this list (since we have not included the seemingly dull and tiresome Ouija), is rather fortunate to even be this high. It features a trailer devoid of any meaningful plot but chock full of cornball dialogue, an actor without any meaningful work in almost a decade (A Scanner Darkly is tragically overlooked), and a duo of directors (David Leitch, Chad Stehelski) only known previously for their stunt work. But, if you’re a sucker for critical praise, the reviews so far have been surprisingly (to say the least) good. The film is getting almost unanimous praise for being a well choreographed action-romp that gives Keanu his action hero mantle back. And if you’re looking for a respite from all the serious awards fare coming up, John Wick is your guy. Wick tells the story of…who are we kidding? Just watch the action-laden trailer.
#2 – Citizenfour (Limited)
Even among the most serious film buffs, it’s hard to convince people to go out to a theater to watch a documentary. Most people don’t care, and the ones who do are willing to wait to view it at home. There just isn’t a sense of immediacy with docs that makes a movie-goer think, “I need to see this NOW.” However, sometimes a documentary comes along that counters that. Enter Citizenfour. Extremely topical, Citizenfour is essential viewing for anybody who wants to better understand our current climate and where our place in history might ultimately reside in the topic of personal privacy and civil liberty. But enough with the heavy thematics – Citizenfour appears to simply be an engaging real-life thriller. The documentary chronicles the correspondence between director Laura Poitras and somebody known as “citizen four”, the latter of which was eager to blow the whistle on the surveillance practices of the NSA and CIA. That person is now famously, or infamously, known to be Edward Snowden, and his information leak has come to define how many view the current state of U.S. intelligence. A worthy viewing for anybody interested in this weighty subject matter.
#1 – Force Majeure (Limited)
In a week full of unknowns, it only seemed fitting to award the top spot to Force Majeure, a little-known about Swedish film that impressed audiences enough at the Cannes Film Festival to win the Grand Jury Prize in Un Certain Regard. Foce Majeure is written and directed by Ruben Östlund, a name that will fail to ring a bell with even the most serious film enthusiasts. It is described as a drama/comedy. So what’s the particular appeal? The synopsis, of course. Force Majeure tells the story of a family ski-trip to the French Alps, where everything seems to be going pleasantly until the threat of an avalanche greets the family as they have lunch at a mountainside restaurant. The family survives the ordeal unscathed, but with serious questions after the patriarch, in the face of the imminent danger, decides to flee the table and run for his life, while his wife is left to shield her children alone. This action forces the couple to re-evaluate their whole marriage, and raises uneasy and troublesome questions for both as their ski getaway goes fantastically wrong.
The rest of this weekend’s releases:
1,000 Times Goodnight (Limited)
Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me (Limited)
Life of Riley (Limited)
Low Down (New York, L.A.)
Revenge of the Green Dragons (Limited)
Stonehearst Asylum (Limited)
White Bird in a Blizzard (Limited)