Archive for the 'New This Week' Category

The Snowman
Melted on Arrival

In 2011, Swedish director Tomas Alfredson adapted John le Carre’s espionage novel Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy for the big screen and the result was a meticulously detailed, terrifically plotted drama that earned Gary Oldman his long-overdue first Oscar nomination. Flash-forward to 2017 and the director is finally delivering his follow-up, an adaptation of Jo Nesbo’s popular thriller The Snowman. But unfortunately, the director has seemingly lost his way with this one. Instead of meticulous details and suspenseful plotting, we get a mess of a movie that can’t get out of its own way as it fails to deliver on anything it promised.

Professor Marston and the Wonder Women
Wonder Woman’s Other Origin Story

It is definitely the year of Wonder Woman. The character’s standalone action film was a monster hit earlier this year and she is about to play a major role in the Justice League film. But in between those two tent-pole films comes the release of Professor Marston and the Wonder Women, a smaller scale film that tells the unexpected story that inspired the character’s creation in the first place.

The Mountain Between Us
A Story of Survival and Love

The new survival film The Mountain Between Us is an actor’s movie. Sure, it has action, suspense, and a love story, but whether the movie will succeed or not really depends on the actors as there are only two of them for the majority of the movie. So it is a good thing that the two actors are really good ones in Idris Elba and Kate Winslet. In fact, it is due to their performances and chemistry that the movie works despite its rather by-the-numbers survival storyline.

Battle of the Sexes
Serving up a Fight for Equal Rights

Battle of the Sexes, the new film from Little Miss Sunshine directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, is to 2017 what Hidden Figures was to 2016. The movie tackles the subject of equality by seamlessly transporting us to a time when conditions were much worse than they are today, showing us at the same time how far we have come and how far we still need to go. Whereas Hidden Figures focused on racial equality along with women’s rights, Battle of the Sexes focuses not only on women’s rights, but those of the LBGTQ community. And it does so in an incredibly entertaining fashion.

The Only Living Boy in New York
Woody Allen Light

Director Marc Webb had a big hit with his first feature, 2009’s (500) Days of Summer, and like most young directors these days who have a big hit right out of the gate, he was offered the keys to a blockbuster franchise. But the Amazing Spider-Man films felt more like studio projects than they did a vision of their director and so it is nice that in 2017, Webb returns to smaller projects with not one, but two new films. The first was the charming, heartstring-puller Gifted, released earlier this year and the second is The Only Living Boy in New York, a Woody Allen-esque, New York City-based drama.

Wind River
A Snowy Mystery

Coming off back-to-back critical successes as a screenwriter with Sicario and Hell or High Water, Taylor Sheridan has earned the opportunity to direct that he gets with Wind River. The film is not Sheridan’s first directorial effort—that would be 2011’s low-budget horror flick Vile—but it his first with a halfway decent budget and a couple of prominent actors in the lead roles (two Avengers, no less). The resulting film, like Hell or High Water, is a compelling story about a part of the American landscape that has been all but forgotten by those outside of it.

The Dark Tower
Not the Epic You’re Looking For

For decades, the novels and short stories of author Stephen King have been adapted into dozens of movies, miniseries, and television shows, but the one saga that his fans have perhaps most been clamoring for is a big budget adaptation of King’s The Dark Tower series. Considered by many to be the author’s magnum opus, it is an epic eight-book fantasy series that tells its own story, while also bringing in many of King’s other properties into one giant shared universe. The film project has started and stalled multiple times over the years, but finally director Nikolaj Arcel is bringing The Dark Tower to the big screen.

Atomic Blonde
Spray Painted, Neon Action

Action movies—particularly the R-rated ones—have been going through something of a transition recently. While the past decade was dominated by the shaky camera work and rapid editing popularized by the Jason Bourne movies, movies like 2011’s The Raid: Redemption and 2014’s John Wick have returned action movies to a time when the camera followed the action, rather than took part in it. While looking back, these films have also moved the genre forward by adding a definite, almost balletic style to the action and a smoothness to the images presented on screen. The latest example to hit theaters is Atomic Blonde, starring Charlize Theron, shortly after she completely stole Mad Max: Fury Road from its title character.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
A Whole New World

In a box-office world dominated by sequels, reboots, and cinematic universes, it is refreshing to get a movie that strives to be something completely new, at least from a visual standpoint. Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is just that, as director Luc Besson returns to the sci-fi fantasy genre he previously succeeded in with 1997’s The Fifth Element. Unlike that movie, though, the ambitions of the story cannot quite match the ambitions of the visuals in Valerian, but the visuals alone are certainly worth checking out.

A Time Puzzle of a War Drama

Director Christopher Nolan has made some bulky movies in his career, with the last two—Interstellar and The Dark Knight Rises—clocking in at closer to three hours than two hours. So it was a bit of a surprise to find out that his new World War II drama Dunkirk had a runtime of only 106 minutes. That runtime makes Dunkirk the second shortest of all Nolan’s features, longer only than his debut Following, which clocked in at a brief 96 minutes. The movie also has a PG-13 rating, a rarity among recent war films. But Nolan’s purpose with Dunkirk is not to tell a bloated drama graphically depicting the horrors of war, but rather to tell the true-life heroic story of survival in the time needed to tell the story. For the most part, Nolan succeeds with Dunkirk, but time factors into the film more than just its runtime.

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