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.
While mid-November usually means we’re in the thick of the Oscar bait films, this week marks an intermission of sorts. With no notable prestige pictures or major releases (save for one), we’re left with a week of mainly wild cards. But don’t get caught up in the lack of marquee releases set to debut this week, as this could be a considerably strong week for movies, especially in the category of independent films. This week can also help to serve as a brief respite for all those who are tired of all the awards season hoopla that consume most movie talk during this time of the year (but don’t get too comfortable, as next week we’re right back on the horse). So let’s get to it, because honestly, I think we’d all enjoy a break from awards chatter for a bit…
#5 – Pelo Malo (New York)
This foreign film, set in the crime-ridden slums that surround Caracas, Venezuela, tells an intimate story about a boy, Junior, who wants to have his hair straightened for the school yearbook pictures so that he can resemble a pop singer. This conflicts with his mother Marta’s homophobic views, and she responds by trying to teach the boy some harsh lessons about the world. The story is simple and the conflict seems small, but set against an urban, slum-ridden backdrop, the film could lead to some very profound and gripping observations about life in the underclass, and dealing with a child’s eccentricities in an environment as harsh as Caracas’ poorer areas. Directed by Mariana Rondon, the trailer excels in showing us a world we seldom see or try to understand.
#4 – The King and The Mockingbird (Limited)
With an interesting behind-the-scenes backstory that includes lengthy legal disputes, and a three decade-long affair to finally release the picture in its native France, The King and The Mockingbird finally makes its American debut in theaters (due to prior rights issues) now. A restoration of what has been described as a classic of animation – which few in the U.S. have seen – this film could prove to be a new, rewarding experience for those of us just hearing about it for the first time. Based off a story from Hans Christian Andersen (the man who created the original stories for The Little Mermaid and The Emperor’s New Clothes), it tells the story of a chimney sweep and a shepherdess seeking refuge from a tyrannical king. The classic animation is a welcome sight for those us who yearn to see more charming hand-drawn work in today’s computer-dominated environment, and the trailer gives us a colorful, vibrant, and rich world filled with zany set pieces and oddball characters.
#3 – The Mule (Limited)
Movies like Animal Kingdom (2010), The Snowtown Murders (2011), and Chopper (2000) are definitive proof that the Aussies know how to make a proper crime film, and in years like this one – where American films have not had a strong output of crime pictures – perhaps it’s best if we look to our friends down under for some inspiration. Directed by Angus Sampson and Tony Mahony and starring Hugo Weaving (The Matrix), The Mule is based off a true story and set in the 80s, where a drug mule gets detained by the Australian feds and is forced to wait out in a hotel room until he, well…excretes the drugs hidden within him. Of course, the man decides to defy nature, forcing cops and criminals alike to wait eagerly for what has to be the most anticipated defecation in film history. The trailer sums up all the criminal absurdity rather brilliantly and entertainingly.
#2 – The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1
The third installment in the massively successful Hunger Games franchise sees Katniss Everdeen in District 13 after successfully destroying the games, where she meets President Coin (Julianne Moore) and joins the rebellion, all while trying to save Peeta from the Capitol. With an array of star-studded names, a mix of old and new faces, and Catching Fire director Francis Lawrence returning, fans of the franchise are eager with anticipation for the latest adaptation of the Hunger Games saga, and with good reason. This may be arguably the biggest current franchise (outside of Marvel and Star Wars), and for many people it has replaced the void that J.K. Rowling’s beloved Harry Potter left in the young adult crowd (and which Twilight was never truly able to do, despite its box office success).
#1 – A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (Limited)
What is this movie that dares defy Katniss? Well, it’s Ana Lily Amirpour’s A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, and if any movie were to beat out Mockingjay for the top spot, it’d be an Iranian Western Horror Romance film, naturally. Carrying with it a solid, strong buzz of support from the festival circuit, Amirpour’s Iranian horror film is unique in every imaginable way. Telling the story of a lonely vampire stalking the haunted and unaware townspeople of the desolate Iranian town of Bad City, this film has been praised everywhere it has been screened, and most people tend to agree that it is a tremendously satisfying and original mix of genres. And for those curious, the trailer does not disappoint in highlighting Amirpour’s imaginative and idiosyncratic vision. If it’s playing nearby, you should make it a point to go and check out this vampire gem.
The rest of this weekend’s releases include:
Reach Me (Limited)
VHS: Viral (Limited)
Happy Valley (Limited)
The Sleepwalker (Limited)
Food Chains (Limited)
Late Phases (Limited)
Two-Bit Waltz (Limited)
Monk With A Camera (Limited)
Little Hope Was Arson (Limited)
Hard Sun (Limited)