Well, here we are in the middle of January and a dozen movies are opening. American Sniper will probably steamroll everything this weekend, controversy or no controversy, but it’s nice to have variety. (I mean, it’s not like Mortdecai is going to open to $50 million, is it?)
The Boy Next Door: “Okay, so what if we redo Fear, only Marky Mark comes after the mom instead? And J-Lo is the mom?” I have not seen this film.
Cake: “Okay, so what if we redo Rabbit Hole, only there’s just Nicole Kidman and Jennifer Aniston is Nicole Kidman?” Really, that’s pretty much it.
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night: Ana Lily Amirpour’s remarkable first feature is just so great, you guys. See it in a theatre.
The Humbling: Al Pacino and Barry Levinson tackle Philip Roth, with the help of Greta Gerwig. Susan is skeptical.
Leviathan: I loved Andrey Zvyagintsev’s epic Russian domestic-drama-cum-social-allegory at TIFF, though I readily admit “epic Russian domestic-drama-cum-social-allegory” is a bit of a tough sell. But great art doesn’t always have vampires in it, you know?
Mortdecai: In which David Koepp and his Secret Window star Johnny Depp reunite for an unimaginable disaster that should be buried in a deep, deep well and covered with salt.
Song One: “Okay, so what if we redo Once with Anne Hathaway and a Michael Pitt lookalike and get Jenny Lewis to write the songs?” Well, the Jenny Lewis part sure sounds great.
Still Alice: Julianne Moore’s terrific performance as a woman struggling to hold on to herself in the throes of early-onset Alzheimer’s will probably win her an Oscar. (Susan certainly thinks so.) But the movie around her is exactly what you think it’s going to be.
Strange Magic: “Okay, so what if we redo A Midsummer Night’s Dream as a CG adventure with fairies and elves and monsters with some seriously disturbing character design? And it’s a jukebox musical? Guys? Guys?”
The 50-Year Argument: Martin Scorsese and David Tedeschi run down the history of the New York Review of Books as the literary giant marks a half-century of cultural influence.
Tru Love: Susan found this mid-life romance, co-written and -directed by co-star Shauna MacDonald, a little on the contrived side. But she recommends it on the strength of its performances — not just MacDonald’s, but Kate Trotter’s and Christine Horne’s too — which seems entirely reasonable to me.
Why Don’t You Play in Hell?: Sion Sono approaches cinema like a supercollider, smashing ideas, genres and tones together to see what comes out the other side. His 2013 TIFF hit takes a very, very long time to reach its payoff — but holy crap, what a payoff.
And there we are! Enjoy your weekend! Please don’t see Mortdecai.