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.
October has come and gone, and with it some quality films. Some of them were awards hopefuls, while others were just good forms of escapist entertainment for people seeking them out. The month of November should promise more of the same, with one notable difference: the horror film. Post-Halloween marks a sudden and drastic drop off in horror films until (usually) January. With the creeps and the scares of October passing, audiences tend to look towards more familiar holiday-centric themes of family and love. Studios knowingly identify this, and take the practical approach of shelving their horror films until post-Christmas, when it once again becomes okay to scare the hell out of people. So this week, we honor the movies that scare us, before they fade away into the background for the more cheerful films that will come to line the theaters.
#5 – Before I Go To Sleep
Let’s not mince words here, there’s only one word to explain why this movie is on the list: default. Sure, the Memento-esque plot about an amnesiac woman who must remember and piece together every detail about her life including who may have tried to kill her, seems appealing, but the trailer doesn’t convey that. A cast of Nicole Kidman, Colin Firth, and Mark Strong is solid, but these are still talented actors who are prone to working on questionable projects (side note: Nicole Kidman is an actress who has surprisingly gone under the radar after appearing in mostly forgettable films for about the past decade. Where other actors/actresses have gotten flack, she has gone unnoticed and seldom criticized. Seriously, look at her body of work post-2003). The director, Rowan Joffe, has one previous movie to his credit (Brighton Rock) and may be better known for penning 28 Weeks Later. And going back to that trailer, it really does look all so…unremarkably bland (down to the cringe-worthy dramatically filmed black and white flashback footage like something out of a television police procedural). So again, this is far from a ringing endorsement. It really just managed to make the list by not being all the other movies it beat. But let’s not end it on that. Here’s something: Nicole Kidman, Colin Firth, and Mark Strong have established enough good will through their careers for this to be worth a gamble on.
#4 – The Great Invisible (Limited)
For those of us who don’t fall in line with the Michael Moore ideology of documentary filmmaking (the documentarian recently told his fellow filmmakers to make documentaries more entertaining), there are movies like The Great Invisible to prove that, sometimes, content alone should suffice. That isn’t to say that the film won’t be entertaining – indeed, perhaps it will. But does it really need to be? Delving into the 2010 BP oil spill, the worst in our nation’s history, the documentary is going to be engaging based on the information alone. It’s also sure to have many of its viewers enraged and riled up at the bureaucratic and bottom-line ethics of many of those responsible for the tragic oil spill. Perhaps it isn’t going to have the charm and wit of a Michael Moore film (which we all enjoy), but not every documentary needs to. And for those of us who don’t need to get angry over all the world’s injustices through the clever, affable theatrics of a Morgan Spurlock or Michael Moore, there are films like The Great Invisible, which can succeed in pissing us off by simply stating the facts and reminding us about the tragedies that come with cost-cutting and lack of oversight.
#3 – Goodbye to Language (New York)
Sometimes it’s easy to forget that Jean-Luc Godard still makes movies. Films like Breathless, Band of Outsiders, Alphaville, Masculin Feminin, and Contempt seem much older than they really are, perhaps because so much has happened since then. The techniques that Godard and other French New Wave filmmakers explored during their time have managed to influence some of the biggest directors in Hollywood, including Scorsese and Tarantino. It’s also easy to forget that today’s common techniques like non-continuity editing were once bold, extreme explorations for the industry. We have Godard to thank for much of that, and if you want to be reminded of the filmmaker’s disregard for form and his pursuit of spontaneity, Goodbye to Language is a good place to start. With an enigmatic and non-decipherable trailer, Goodbye to Language isn’t guaranteed to please, but it’s certain to be something you’ve never seen before, and that’s vintage Godard.
#2 – Horns (Limited)
Since horror releases during this time of the year are a storied institution, it only seems natural to honor Horns. A campy, stylistic genre film starring Daniel Radcliffe, Horns tells the story of a young man who sprouts horns immediately following the mysterious death of his girlfriend, incurring the wrath and judgement of his fellow townspeople. Some people may have seen this movie earlier this month and know it by a different name (Gone Girl), but rest assured that movie didn’t have horns, or snakes, or Harry Potter. Horns is directed by Alexandre Aja, the established horror director of films like High Tension and The Hills Have Eyes remake. It also stars Juno Temple, and may be the only worthwhile horror movie to watch this weekend.
#1 – Nightcrawler
Although not exactly horror, Nightcrawler is, in many ways, the perfect film to watch this weekend. It features an utterly disturbing, creepily ambitious Jake Gyllenhaal as Lou Bloom, an aspiring videographer who finds himself recording (and manipulating) gruesome and disturbing footage in order to heighten and sensationalize the news stories that accompany his recordings. Described as a crime thriller, Nightcrawler‘s content still makes it as terrifying a romp as you’re going to get this time of the year, and it’s sure to have audiences squeamish and turning the other way. But there’s appeal even beyond the morbid content. It’s said to deliver Gyllenhaal’s finest performance to date, as well as a return-to-form performance for the once-vanished Rene Russo, and a delightfully wicked script and direction from filmmaker Dan Gilroy (brother of Tony Gilroy). In what could be an American Psycho for our decade, Nightcrawler should be the sought after film of the Halloween weekend.
The rest of this weekend’s releases: