Hi there! I’m still in New York, collecting some absolutely stellar episodes of Someone Else’s Movie — seriously, last night’s was a blast and this afternoon’s looks to be equally entertaining — but it’s Friday, there are movies opening, and you need my help right now. Let’s dive in, shall we?
The Beatles: Eight Days a Week: Ron Howard turns hundreds of hours of Fab Four footage into a celebration of the band at its peak; Susan approaches it from the perspective of Howard’s target audience, and mostly like what she sees.
The Birth of a Nation: Nate Parker’s robust, righteous telling of the Nat Turner story has some undeniably powerful moments — but it’s just as undeniably a self-mythologizing hagiography. Even before the troubling news of his past rape charge surfaced, watching this movie was a really uncomfortable experience. The guy lights his abs.
Denial: Rachel Weisz and Timothy Spall square off in this very theatrical retelling of David Irving’s libel suit against Deborah Lipstadt. Rad — who somehow had time to file a bunch of reviews while working on this week’s fantastic cover story about the gender gap in Canadian cinema — isn’t taking the bait.
Doomed! The Untold Story of Roger Corman’s The Fantastic Four: Did you know that, before those hokey but not wholly awful Tim Story movies, there was an even hokier attempt to bring Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s super-team to the screen? This movie does, and it’ll tell you all about it, at length, like a guy at a bar who doesn’t realize he’s repeating himself on every single anecdote.
The Girl on the Train: Tate Taylor takes Paula Hawkin’s very English bestseller and somehow turns it into a plodding, laughable American thriller — and this despite a truly committed performance from Emily Blunt, who deserves so much better than this. My review will be up later today, but … well, that’s really all there is to it.
Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life: I know literally nothing about this movie, beyond the fact that it is opening today.
Off the Rails: Adam Irving’s documentary follows New York resident Darius McCollum, who claims that his compulsion to impersonate officials of the New York City transit system is a result of his Asperger’s syndrome. And Irving is a little too sympathetic to his subject, which grows more grating over the course of the picture.
The Stairs: Full disclosure: I know Hugh Gibson socially. But that doesn’t mean I’m not wowed by his powerful look at harm-reduction workers in Toronto’s Regent Park, whose efforts to help drug users and sex workers be safer and healthier are informed by their own experiences. Go see this. It’s important.
Two Lovers and a Bear: Tatiana Maslany and Dane DeHaan are the lovers in Kim Nguyen’s magic-realist fable; Gordon Pinsent, apparently, is the voice of the bear. Rad appreciates what Nguyen is up to, but doesn’t connect to it.
There you go! That’s the weekend. Enjoy the long weekend, Canada, and I’ll see you on Tuesday with a really, really, really great new episode of Someone Else’s Movie. Like, really great. You’ll see.