Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Opening This Week - December 21-25




December 21


Assassin's Creed

Directed by: Justin Kurzel
Runtime: 1hr, 55mins
Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Sci-FI

Well I hate to admit it, but it's not looking good for Assassin's Creed. For a long time gamers have wanted good movie adaptations of game franchises. Warcraft let us down earlier in the year so all eyes are now on Assassin's Creed. And from the outside looking in, things were looking up. There's a great cast here, and a director who impressed with an adaptation of Macbeth that was visually striking from start to finish. This all goes without mentioning the sizable budget for the film. However, so far critics are not impressed. It's currently at 19% on Rotten Tomatoes. I'll still have to see it for myself to find out whether it's a case of critics not being into video game movies, or this one simply falling flat on its face like so many others.



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Dangal (Limited)

Directed by: Nitesh Tiwari
Runtime: 2hrs, 41mins
Biography, Drama, Sports

Dangal ('Wrestling') tells the story of Mahavir Singh (Aamir Khan), an ex-wrestler whose lack of financial support cost him his dream of winning gold. Now, he helps train his daughters to pursue the gold he wasn't able to win at the Commonwealth Games.


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Julietta (Limited)

Directed by: Pedro Almodóvar
Runtime: 1hr, 39mins
Drama, Romance

The latest from Pedro Almodóvar has received mixed reviews, but he's such an acclaimed director that most cinephiles will try to see it anyway. It follows a middle-aged woman dealing with the loss of her husband. On top of that the recent arrival of her long estranged daughter force her to reflect on her life.



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Passengers

Directed by: Morten Tyldum
Runtime: 1hr, 56mins
Drama, Romance, Sci- Fi

Evidently this is a film that's been in and out of development hell, as they say, for nearly a decade. At one point it was going to be the feature directorial debut of Irish director Brian Kirk (a veteran director on the small screen), and it was set to star Keanu Reeves and Emily Blunt as the leads. It was even going to have a relatively low budget of $35 million. Instead, Sony bought the rights to the film, named Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game) director, and cast likable stars Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence. Oh, and the budget ended up being $110 million. While I like the stars here and the Sci-Fi genre enough to see the film, the reception from critics has been cold so far. It currently has a 31% on Rotten Tomatoes.



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Patriots Day (Limited)

Directed by: Peter Berg
Runtime: 2hrs, 13mins
Drama, Thriller

Peter Berg's film about Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis and the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing and its aftermath has been well received by critics so far. Films based on true events that get good reviews and a limited release about this time of year tend to earn favor come awards season. Considering how poorly critics have taken to some of the other films on this week's release list, Patriots Day may just find success. That is if and when it expands its limited release and the crowds for Rogue One start to die down.



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Sing

Directed by: Christophe Lourdelet, Garth Jennings
Runtime: 1hr, 48mins
Animation, Comedy, Family, Music

At the risk of sounding like a complete curmudgeon, I've never liked reality shows. Especially when they're singing reality shows. I tend to avoid them as much as possible. And my tolerance for cartoon animals dancing and singing to radio pop music is at an all time low. This is a film that celebrates both of those things. I can barely stand the trailers. I don't envy the parents as curmudgeonly as myself who end up having to sit through this with their kids. For everyone else, you might find something to enjoy. It has a solid Rotten Tomatoes score if that helps.



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The Autopsy of Jane Doe (Limited)

Directed by: André Øvredal
Runtime: 1hr, 39mins
Horror

Underutilized actors Brian Cox and Emile Hirsch play father and son coroners who receive a mysterious homicide victim with no apparent cause of death. As they attempt to identify the "Jane Doe," they discover increasingly bizarre clues that hold the key to her terrifying secrets.



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December 23


A Monster Calls (Limited)

Directed by: J.A. Bayona
Runtime: 1hr, 48mins
Drama, Fantasy

In a year that has already seen two big budget family friendly fantasy escapism films about kids interacting with giant monsters, J.A. Bayona (The Orphanage, The Impossible) may just have saved the best for last. It certainly looks to be the most affecting of the three (Pete's Dragon and The BGF are the other two). That's no small feat considering he's up against master filmmaker Steven Spielberg and editor turned indie darling David Lowery.



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I, Daniel Blake (Limited)

Directed by: Ken Loach
Runtime: 1hr, 40mins
Drama

Daniel Blake, after suffering a heart attack, looks to the State for welfare, but instead finds friendship with a struggling single mother and her two kids.



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Silence (Limited)

Directed by: Martin Scorsese
Runtime: 2hrs, 41mins
Historical Drama

Scorsese's latest, an adaptation of Shūsaku Endō's novel of the same name, is a passion project that's been in and out of development since 1990. It takes place in the 17th century and follows two Portuguese Catholic priests (Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver) as they travel through violence and persecution in Japan in order to find their mentor (Liam Neeson).



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Why Him?

Directed by: John Hamburg
Runtime: 1hr, 51mins
Comedy

So this is every fathers fear right? Your daughter falling for James Franco? Or a James Franco type? I suppose that makes the casting here about as perfect as it could be. Cranston is an actor capable of playing the fatherly type. However, it's not hard to tell just by the trailer that this is the sort of broad comedy that can only hope to achieve guilty pleasure status. The knocks from early reviews are that it's a formulaic film that carries on at least a half hour too long. It would seem even talents like Bryan Cranston and James Franco can't sustain this scenario for nearly two hours.



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December 25


Fences (Nationwide Expansion)

Directed by: Denzel Washington
Runtime: 2hrs, 18mins
Drama

I watch the trailer for Fences and can't help but try to guess which of the scenes will be played before Oscar wins for Denzel Washington and Viola Davis. They are two powerhouse actors that manage to make a family drama feel very tense with raw emotions. It's only the third directorial effort for Washington. He's lucky to always have a talent like himself to be one of the leads in his films.


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Live By Night (Limited)

Directed by: Ben Affleck
Runtime: 2hrs, 8mins
Crime, Drama

Ben Affleck has proven himself a capable actor, writer and director, and he's doing all three for his latest film. Based on Dennis Lehane's 2012 novel of the same name, Live By Night follows Joe Coughlin (Affleck) as he climbs that ladder of organized crime during the prohibition era. I appreciate the occasional gangster film, but my real interest is to see more of Affleck the writer/director. I'm curious to see how this serves as a precursor to his upcoming Batman film, a film he's listed as writer and director for.



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Toni Erdmann (Limited)

Directed by: Maren Ade
Runtime: 2hrs, 42mins
Comedy, Drama

The consensus is that Toni Erdmann is a genuinely funny, moving and ambitious film about an aging man trying to reconnect with his daughter. The problem is that his timing is pretty poor, due to her work on an important project at work. Not to be deterred, he jokes, pranks and otherwise annoys his daughter in order to get her attention. It's a choice that may or may not have the intended affect.



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