This week has something for everyone: New work from documentary legends, a major-studio remake, a new stop-motion classic and a must-see indie. Also, War Dogs … though at least that one led to a pretty good conversation with Jonah Hill.
Ben-Hur: The cinematic chestnut gets a 21st century upgrade from noted Russian maniac Timur Bekmambetov (yay!) and noted Christian panderers Mark Burnett and Roma Downey (hmmm). Rad was not converted.
Edge of Winter: Rob Connolly’s feature debut offers a simple conceit and strong performances from Joel Kinnaman and Tom Holland, who are better known these days as Rick Flag from Suicide Squad and the new Spider-Man. They’re pretty interesting as civilians, too.
Hell or High Water: Glenn raves about David Mackenzie’s latest, which resituates a classic outlaw story in modern-day Texas. Me, I’ll take any excuse to watch Jeff Bridges play a lawman. (Except for R.I.P.D. I’m not an idiot.)
Kubo and the Two Strings: The latest project from Laika is up to their high standards: It’s gorgeous to look at, it’s thoughtfully constructed and a little more grown-up than you might expect. And damn, but Charlize Theron is a great voice actor.
Miss Sharon Jones!: Barbara Kopple’s latest is a miracle of timing, capturing its subject just as her long-in-coming stardom is threatened by a cancer diagnosis. And what happens next is just as gripping.
Standing Tall: Emmanuelle Bercot’s drama opened Cannes last year but subsequently went missing from the fest circuit; it’s finally reached Canadian screens, with Susan’s qualified endorsement.
Truman: I’ve never been a big fan of Cesc Gay’s films — they always strike me as just a little too manipulative — but Jose says this one, about old friends reunited by one’s illness, is great.
Unlocking the Cage: D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus profile animal-rights lawyer Steven Wise, and become awfully invested in his cause. You will too, I expect.
War Dogs: Todd Phillips tackles the ethical clusterfuck that was miitary procurement under Bush-Cheney with a movie that really wants to be The Big Short and The Wolf of Wall Street, but isn’t. Bradley Cooper’s solid, though.
And that is everything, at least for now. Next week: More!