New In Theaters
**** Brad's Status (Pictured Above)
Something of a companion piece to Ben Stiller's underrated 2013 film The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, this meditation on middle-age angst finds Stiller playing a dad taking his son (Austin Abrams) on a college interview trip to Harvard. Along the way, Stiller's hero ruminates on the soundtrack, despairing over how his life as a failed newspaperman and the founder of a modest non-profit measures up to the successes of his old college buddies: a TV news talking head (Michael Sheen), a jet-setting businessman (Luke Wilson), a dot-com billionaire (Jemaine Clement) and an LA style setter (played by writer-director White). Of course by the fade-out Brad has learned the tried-and-true lesson, and as Dorothy learned in the Wizard of Oz "If I ever want to go looking for my heart's desire again, i won't look any further than my own back yard." Still, it's a moral worth renewing every once in awhile, this time in the company of a truly enchanting cast including, as Brad's wife, the ever-underused Jenna Fischer, who could be her generation's comic answer to Beverly D'Angelo, if Hollywood would only let her.
Something is clearly wrong with the remote house occupied by Javier Bardem and Jennifer Lawrence: The walls bleed, as do the floors, and the place makes ungodly noises. But the real problem here is writer/director Darren Aronofsky's ambition to infuse his dark tale with Biblical allusions reaching from Genesis to Revelation, yet somehow forget to provide a meaningful context. (FULL REVIEW)
***** The Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
The crowning achievement of Universal's '30s horror cycle is James Whale's pulse-pounding, heartbreaking tale of the Monster, resurrected from his seeming demise in the 1931 original. Through pounds of makeup, Boris Karloff radiates loneliness, confusion, and ultimately a longing for companionship. The Monster's encounter with a blind hermit, lampooned decades later by Mel Brooks in one of the funniest scenes ever filmed, remains a moment of pure cinematic melancholy. This special "SteelBox" edition, available only at BestBuy, may be a marketing gimmick, but if you've only seen Karloff and his bride (Elsa Lanchester) go at it in retrospective clips, you're in for a revelation.
*** All Saints
John Corbett (My Big Fat Greek Wedding) stars as a salesman-turned-pastor who's assigned a struggling rural church with instructions to shut it down. But as local immigrant workers start to attend services, he hatches a plan to save it. Along the way he faces a dilemma all too familiar to the faithful: How do you know when you're being driven by faith, and not simply by ego? Fun to see old pro Barry Corbin (Northern Exposure) as a crusty local.
** Atomic Blonde
Charlize Theron becomes the lastest Oscar-winning star to go the action hero route; too bad she's kicking up her heels in this hyper-caffienated spy yarn. She plays an agent seeking a top-secret spy list in Cold War Berlin. There's ice everywhere — in the river, in the drinks, even in Theron's bath tub — all of which help explain why this film has no beating heart. (FULL REVIEW)
**** Baby Driver
You've seen it all before, but writer/director Edgar Wright's high-octane story of a getaway driver (Ansel Egord) trying to break with his crime boss (Kevin Spacey) while wooding a comely waitress (Lily James) wheels into the fast lane and never hits the brakes (FULL REVIEW)
The Dark Tower
Stephen King's brooding fantasy about a gunslinger (Idris Elba) who roams a dying alien landscape makes its long-awaited big screen debut.
Director Kathryn Bigelow's excruciating account of police brutality during the 1967 Detroit riots is so ferocious in its storytelling many will be compelled to turn away. And that may be the film's weakness: In an age when cops are again under scrutiny for abusive behavior, this 50-year-old story is as relevant as ever.
In his excruciatingly intimate telling of one of World War II's most soul-stirring episodes, writer/director Christopher Nolan follows three separate narratives — those of a young solder running for his life (Fionn Whitehead), an RAF pilot running low on fuel (Tom Hardy), and a civilian pleasure boat skipper (Mark Rylance) sailing across the English Channel to help rescue 400,000 Allied soldiers from the German Army. Defiantly unsentimental yet staggeringly inspiring, Dunkirk is destined to be counted among the greatest war films. (FULL REVIEW)
*** A Ghost Story
That's Oscar winner Casey Affleck beneath the sheet in this moody, languorous tale of a recently deceased fellow watching his widow (Rooney Mara) recover from her grief. A cool idea gets hardcore arthouse treatment from writer/director David Lowery (Shaun of the Dead) (FULL REVIEW)
*** The Hitman's Bodyguard
For this action/buddy flick about a security expert (Ryan Reynolds) escorting a notorious hitman (Samuel L. Jackson) across Europe while dodging assassins at every turn, director Patrick Hughes seems to have stood his stars in front of the camera and simply said, "Guys, just be yourselves!" Freed of the requirement to actually act, the pair engage in foul-mouthed banter and trigger-happy mayhem, all leading up to a supernova climax.
**** Logan Lucky (Pictured Above)
Director Steven Soderberg may have a new Ocean's 11 franchise on his hands — albeit one that mixes the ingredients of a classic heist flick with a Cohen Brothers movie. For this breezy heist movie set at a NASCAR race track, he's assembled a dream cast including Channing Tatum, Adam Driver, Riley Keough, Katie Holmes and, best of all, 007 star Daniel Craig as a good-old-boy safecracker named Joe Bang.
Sally Hawkins and Ethan Hawke are quietly brilliant in this ingeniously understated true-life story of Maud Lewis, a Canadian artist whose lifelong arthritis couldn't cripple her genius.
The heartbreaking story of an orthodox Jewish father (Menashe Lustig) in Brooklyn trying to balance his faith with his desire to raise his son is virtually all in Yiddish, yet you don't even need the subtitles to be utterly absorbed. Director Joshua Z. Weinstein's film provides an often perplexing look at a little-seen sliver of American society.
*** The Only Living Boy in New York
There are echoes of The Graduate and Woody Allen's films in the funny, pointed tale of an aimless young New Yorker (Callum Turner) who falls into an affair with the mistress (Kate Beckinsale) of his father (Pierce Brosnan). Never sinking into sudsy melodrama, the film benefits greatly from the grumbly presence of Jeff Bridges as the kid's mysterious upstairs neighbor. (FULL REVIEW)
**** Spider-Man: Homecoming
Tom Holland is nerdily perfect as the new big-screen Spidey, but the most fun this time around is courtesy of onetime Batman Michael Keaton as his nemesis, The Vulture (which can't help but remind us all of Keaton's Oscar-nominated turn as Birdman)
*** Tulip Fever
If you think the markets are volatile these days, imagine 17th Century Amsterdam where, for reasons economists study to this day, the sale of a single tulip bulb could set you up for life. Against this backdrop a wealthy and rather cold-hearted businessman (Christoph Waltz) commissions a handsome young artist (Dane DeHaan) to paint his beautiful young wife (Alicia Vikander). Well,you know how that goes — soon the two youngsters are planning to run off together with money they hope to earn in the crazed tulip bulb market. Judi Dench pops up as a worldly nun. Tom Stoppard wrote the script from Deborah Moggach's best-selling novel.
*** Viceroy's House (Pictured Above)
There's historic sweep and intimate human drama in Indian director Gurinder Chada's telling of the 1947 handover of India from the British Empire. Hugh Bonneville (Downton Abbey) stars as Lord Mountbatten, the man in charge of the transfer, and he brings a regal sort of humanity to the role. In Chada's telling, Montbatten and his wife (Gillian Anderson) are deeply disturbed by the looming conflict between Muslim and Hindu, and appalled by the slapdash way in which a partition of the nation is being applied ("You Broke It, You Own It" didn't start with Iraq). The upstairs geopolitical story is layered over a Romeo-and-Juliet downstairs romance between Mountbatten's Hindu butler (Manish Dayal) and a palace translator (Huma Qureshi), a drama that illuminates the social conflict that would savage life on the subcontinent for decades to come. As in virtually all movies made in India, the churning streets and explosions of color cannot help but make the country itself the film's central character.
**** Wind River
Screenwriter Taylor Sheridan (Hell or High Water) has fashioned a new genre: The Modern Western. Instead of rustling cattle, the bad guys get high and commit grotesque crimes until a determined lawman tracks them down. Here it's Jeremy Renner, usually a tracker of animal predators, on the trail of the human predator who killed a local girl.
**** Whose Streets?
Raw as the emotions it illuminates, this documentary about the aftermath of Ferguson never once considers exploring the motivations of police and court officials whose actions sparked days of violence. Nor does it attempt to frame Ferguson's riots within a larger cultural malaise. A direct descendant of Latin America's subversive Third Cinema of the 1960s, this guerrilla project is a portrait of visceral anguish; a community's cinematic scream.
**** Wonder Woman
Director Patty Jenkins' vision of the ultimate female superhero is an enthralling tale of timeless empowerment. Mixing Greek mythology with World War I history, the film packs surprises with its punches.