Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Opening This Weekend - October 23

Here's what you can see in theaters this weekend:

Steve Jobs

After being teased for weeks by an aggressive ad campaign and limited releases, "Steve Jobs" is finally getting its wide release this week. If you like keeping in the conversation when awards season rolls around this one should be on your list of films to see. It should also be on your list if you'd like to get the bad taste out of your mouth from the Ashton Kutcher Jobs biopic that flopped pretty hard. Personally I have little interest in a Jobs biopic, but a collaboration between Danny Boyle, Aaron Sorkin, and Michael Fassbender is something to see nevertheless. It helps that it's getting mostly positive word of mouth from critics as well.


Rock The Kasbah

As a fan of Bill Murray I'm excited to see most of his films even if the trope of the aging, down on his luck curmudgeon whose life is reinvigorated after making a connection with someone significantly younger is starting to make Murray feel typecast. I also tend to enjoy travel films, although this one doesn't particularly look like a pleasant travel experience. The trailer makes me worry that Murray's noisy outgoing personality contrasting with the more reserved local culture will be used as a repetitive comedic trope for much of the film. Yet it does have a big, likable cast which features Zooey Deschanel, Bruce Willis, Kate Hudson, Scott Caan and Danny McBride. Barry Levinson's filmography is a mixed bag, but writer Mitch Glazer certainly seems to have fun writing for Bill Murray (Scrooged,"This film, and the upcoming A Very Murray Christmas).


The Last Witch Hunter

Here's another big budget B movie hoping to become a franchise. Yet it looks like a handful of other dark, CGI filled action/sci-fi films, including, to an extent, Vin Diesel's own Riddick series. Is it I,Frankenstein? or Priest? or Dracula: Untold? Nope, just another one that looks very similar. How much longer till these all blur together and no one cares anymore?


Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension

If you're a fan of this franchise, get ready to say goodbye, if you can see it. It's only set to be released on 1,400 screens. The final chapter will be a somewhat limited release due to blowback for their decision to violate the 90-day VOD window. Despite the controversy, I think it is a smart decision to give it a VOD release as soon as possible considering that horror flicks like this see their best returns over one weekend. Perhaps this can be a case for change that will allow faster VOD releases of bigger budget films seeing wide release.



This is a film that's coming out at a time where many Hollywood actresses are becoming activists in various causes, most notably gender discrimination and unequal pay. As such it's a very timely release and certainly has a cast that can deliver, even if Meryl Streep's part is much smaller than the ad campaign would suggest. Nevertheless it's getting positive initial reviews that acknowledge strong performances from Carey Mulligan and Helena Bonham Carter in particular. Considering the subject matter, and those performances it seems like a no-brainer for some Award nominations when the time comes.


Jem and the Holograms

As someone not familiar with the line of toys or the 80's animated TV show this film is based on, I'm having a hard time nailing down the tone of this film just based on the trailer. Worse yet, the advertising has been nonexistent. Unless I'm just way off (which would not be the first time, especially when considering films for the tweens) there can't be a large market for this film. Nevertheless Universal has seen fit to release it during a fairly jam packed weekend of releases that are vying for viewers in an already fairly crowded box office of more sure crowd pleasers.


I Smile Back

Comedian Sarah Silverman takes on a dramatic role as a drug addicted housewife in I smile back. It's advertised as a transformative performance for her, but critical reception is very mixed. Reviews either praise the film for her performance or simply don't buy it at all. Yet I am typically interested in seeing these comical actors breaking from their roots to broaden their horizons. It worked wonders for both Bill Murray and Jim Carrey. Only time will tell how it'll turn out for Silverman.


Burnt (Limited release: NYC, LA)

Burnt is a film for the generation that obsesses over food network and shows like Iron Chef. If Jon Favreau's Chef was the fun, easy-going comedy film for foodies, then Burnt is the gritty, dramatic character study film for foodies.


Nasty Baby

This film looks like a bizarre tale of three friends desperate to conceive a child together. To no surprise, reviews are extremely mixed so far. The obvious problem being the tonal shift from indie comedy to dark violent drama in its final act, which can fairly clearly be seen in the trailer.



Difret is Zeresenay Berhane Mehari's Ethiopian drama about a lawyer defending a 14 year old girl who shot the man who had abducted her in order to marry her (one of the nation's oldest traditions). Angelina Jolie served as Executive Producer on this film based on a true story. It has garnered attention from festival goers interested in stories that deal with social justice issues. Yet it's poor initial reviews don't seem to be helping it any.


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