Film Shorts

OPENING

Boo 2! A Madea Halloween (PG-13) Tyler Perry stars in his second comedy for the holiday, as Madea and her friends face all manner of evil spirits. Also with Patrice Lovely, Cassi Davis, Brock O’Hurn, Lexy Panterra, Diamond White, and Inanna Sarkis. (Opens Friday)

Breathe (PG-13) Andrew Garfield stars in this biography of Robin Cavendish, the rich adventurer who was struck by polio and devoted his life to helping other patients. Also with Claire Foy, Tom Hollander, Hugh Bonneville, Ed Speelers, Roger Ashton-Griffiths, Ben Lloyd-Hughes, and Camilla Rutherford. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

Chavela (NR) Catherine Gund and Daresha Kyl’s documentary profile of Isabela “Chavela” Vargas, the openly gay ranchera singer who blazed trails for LGBT people in Mexico. 

The Florida Project (R) The latest film by Sean Baker (Tangerine) stars Brooklynn Prince as a 6-year-old girl experiencing an upheaval in her life at a cheap motel outside Disney World. Also with Willem Dafoe, Bria Vinaite, Valeria Cotto, Christopher Rivera, Macon Blair, and Caleb Landry Jones. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

The Fortress (NR) This Korean epic stars Park Hae-il as a 17th-century king forced by a Chinese invasion to retreat to a mountain fortress. Also with Lee Byung-hun, Kim Yun-seok, Go Soo, Jo Woo-jin, and Park Hee-soon. (Opens Friday at AMC Grapevine Mills)

Geostorm (PG-13) Gerard Butler stars in this science-fiction thriller as a scientist trying to save the Earth from being destroyed by weather-controlling satellites. Also with Abbie Cornish, Jim Sturgess, Mare Winningham, Talitha Bateman, Richard Schiff, Alexandra Maria Lara, Eugenio Derbez, Daniel Wu, Amr Waked, Adepero Oduye, Ed Harris, and Andy Garcia. (Opens Friday)

Golmaal Again (NR) The fourth film in this Indian comedy franchise stars Ajay Devgn as a man who inherits a haunted house in his old neighborhood. Also with Parineeti Chopra, Arshad Warsi, Tusshar Kapoor, Shreyas Talpade, Kunal Kemu, Prakash Raj, and Tabu. (Opens Friday at AMC Grapevine Mills)

Goodbye Christopher Robin (PG) Domhnall Gleeson stars in this biography of author A.A. Milne and his creation of Winnie the Pooh. Also with Margot Robbie, Alex Lawther, Will Tilston, Stephen Campbell Moore, and Kelly Macdonald. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

Human Flow (PG-13) Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei directs this documentary about the global flow of refugees. (Opens Friday in Dallas) 

Killing Gunther (R) Taran Killam writes, directs, and stars in this comedy about a group of contract killers who band together to try to kill the world’s best hit man (Arnold Schwarzenegger). Also with Cobie Smulders, Hannah Simone, Allison Tolman, Aaron Yoo, and Bobby Moynihan. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House (PG-13) “No one can stop … an FBI investigation, not even the FBI!” Those are good words to hear right now, but this movie’s deluxe cast loses to the dull filmmaking of Peter Landesman. Liam Neeson stars as the bureau’s second-in-command who feels Nixon’s White House threatening the FBI’s autonomy and becomes the Watergate source known as “Deep Throat” to Bob Woodward (Julian Morris). Neeson does well by Felt’s rectitude, but Landesman’s writing lacks punch and he somehow fails to get much of anything out of a star-studded cast. The sidebar on Felt’s investigation of the Weather Underground and the possible involvement of his estranged daughter (Maika Monroe) is an unwelcome distraction. Like Landesman’s previous film Concussion, this is mostly gray and self-important. Also with Diane Lane, Marton Csokas, Tony Goldwyn, Ike Barinholtz, Josh Lucas, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Brian d’Arcy James, Michael C. Hall, Tom Sizemore, Eddie Marsan, Bruce Greenwood, Noah Wyle, and Kate Walsh. (Opens Friday)

Never Here (R) Mireille Enos stars in this thriller as a photographer who comes to suspect that someone is watching her. Also with Goran Visnjic, Vincent Piazza, Nina Arianda, Ana Nogueira, and the late Sam Shepard. (Opens Friday at AMC Grapevine Mills)

Only the Brave (PG-13) Miles Teller, Josh Brolin, and Jeff Bridges star in this drama about the Granite Mountain Hotshots, the Arizona wildfire-fighting unit that gave their lives in the 2013 Yarnell Hill Fire. Also with Andie MacDowell, James Badge Dale, Geoff Stults, Alex Russell, and Jennifer Connelly. (Opens Friday)

Same Kind of Different As Me (PG-13) This long-delayed adaptation of Ron Hall and Denver Moore’s memoir stars Greg Kinnear as the art dealer who must befriend a homeless man (Djimon Hounsou) to save his marriage. Also with Renée Zellweger, Dana Gourrier, Lara Grice, Olivia Holt, and Jon Voight. (Opens Friday)

Secret Superstar (NR) This Indian film stars Zaira Wasim as a teenage girl who yearns to pursue a music career over the objections of her strict Muslim family. Also with Meher Vij, Raj Arjun, Manuj Sharma, Kabir Shaikh, and Aamir Khan. (Opens Friday at AMC Grapevine Mills)

The Snowman (R) This adaptation of Jo Nesbø’s murder mystery novel stars Michael Fassbender as a Norwegian homicide detective trying to stop a snowman-building serial killer. Also with Rebecca Ferguson, Chloë Sevigny, Charlotte Gainsbourg, James D’Arcy, Toby Jones, David Dencik, Val Kilmer, and J.K. Simmons. (Opens Friday)

Take Every Wave: The Life of Laird Hamilton (NR) Rory Kennedy’s documentary profile of the legendary big-wave surfer. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

NOW PLAYING

American Assassin (R) Dylan O’Brien continues to bore me to tears in this thriller about an American tourist who turns himself into a vigilante and gets scooped up by the CIA after his fiancée is murdered by Arab terrorists while they’re on vacation. We keep getting told that our hero is dangerously reckless and making his spy missions about himself, and yet nothing bad ever happens to him as a result. O’Brien is out-acted by just about everyone on the screen, including Michael Keaton as his sadistic instructor, Shiva Negar as the beautiful Iranian spy who works with him, and Taylor Kitsch as the rogue American who’s the alpha villain. This movie has an antihero and doesn’t seem to know it, and add that it’s not-so-casually racist into the bargain. Also with Sanaa Lathan, Charlotte Vega, Shahid Ahmed, Scott Adkins, Navid Negahban, and David Suchet.

American Made (R) The latest Tom Cruise movie is slickly entertaining without ever quite feeling like there’s anything at stake. He portrays Barry Seal, the real-life Louisiana pilot who started running guns for the CIA and drugs for Pablo Escobar while working as an informant for the DEA in the 1980s. Director Doug Liman (Edge of Tomorrow, Mr. and Mrs. Smith) does all this up with his customary verve and energy, and Cruise is far better cast as a shifty antihero than as an action hero at this point. This thing could have used better performances from the supporting cast, but it won’t make you feel like it wasted your time. Also with Sarah Wright, Domhnall Gleeson, Jesse Plemons, Caleb Landry Jones, Lola Kirke, Jayma Mays, Alejandro Edda, Mauricio Mejia, Robert Farrior, Benito Martinez, and Mickey Sumner. 

Battle of the Sexes (PG-13) The greatest tennis movie ever, this would have been better if Hillary Clinton had won the presidency, but then, you could say the same for a lot of things. The directing team of Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris (Little Miss Sunshine) are behind this rollicking account of the 1973 tennis match between Billie Jean King (Emma Stone) and Bobby Riggs (Steve Carell), also taking in King’s fight for equal pay on the tennis circuit and her struggle with her sexuality at the same time she was in the public eye. Simon Beaufoy’s script picks up all sorts of juicy ancillary details along the way, and the thing is anchored by Stone, who does a dead convincing impression of King’s game face but is also marvelously alert to the women’s champ’s need to hide her sexuality. If this movie is the first step in weaponizing Emma Stone, we should all look out. Also with Andrea Riseborough, Sarah Silverman, Natalie Morales, Jessica McNamee, Bill Pullman, Austin Stowell, Fred Armisen, Martha MacIsaac, Mickey Sumner, Eric Christian Olsen, Alan Cumming, and Elisabeth Shue.

Blade Runner 2049 (R) Visually, a triumph. In other respects, a letdown. Denis Villeneuve helms this sequel to the 1982 science-fiction cult classic, in which a replicant (Ryan Gosling) hunting down his own kind who don’t obey orders is commanded to track down an unknown person who’s linked to Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford). Villeneuve reproduces the squalid, overcrowded, rain-soaked aesthetic from Ridley Scott’s old film while expand on it, showing the ruins of Las Vegas with 100-foot statues of naked women posing seductively in the desert. Unfortunately, the film falls flat attempting to expanding upon the original’s philosophical questions about being human, and portions of the film stop dead for exposition, while the relationship between the new blade runner and his hologram companion (Ana de Armas) never carries its emotional weight. Ideally, this movie should be projected on the back wall of a trendy nightclub, with the sound on mute. Also with Jared Leto, Robin Wright, Sylvia Hoeks, Mackenzie Davis, Dave Bautista, Wood Harris, Carla Juri, Hiam Abbass, Barkhad Abdi, Edward James Olmos, and Sean Young.

Flatliners (PG-13) The 1990 supernatural thriller was trashy and maudlin, but this remake makes it look like a deathless masterwork, especially the last third. Ellen Page stars as a medical student who ropes some fellow students into subjecting themselves to near-death experiences so that they can report back from the afterlife. They come back from death as adrenaline junkies when they’re not hallucinating the worst memories from their childhood. This thing is mostly just dull until the hallucinations start killing them one by one. That’s when this medical thriller turns as preachy and sentimental as the worst religious films. Also with Diego Luna, Nina Dobrev, Kiersey Clemons, James Norton, and Kiefer Sutherland. 

The Foreigner (R) Though this is set in the U.K., it plays more like a Hong Kong thriller. Jackie Chan stars as a half-Vietnamese businessman in London whose teenage daughter (Katie Leung) is killed in a terrorist bombing and targets a Northern Ireland deputy minister (Pierce Brosnan) with IRA ties. Chan looks old and slow by design here, and the movie shows his character relying more on tactics and technical expertise than straight-up fighting skills as he makes bombs, sets wilderness traps, and demonstrates other talents that were clearly wasted running a Chinese restaurant. Director Martin Campbell (Casino Royale) does reasonably well sorting through the different subplots here and making this watchable. Also with Charlie Murphy, Rory Fleck Byrne, Orla Brady, Rufus Jones, Dermot Crowley, Ray Fearon, Niall McNamee, Lia Williams, and Michael McElhatton. 

Happy Death Day (PG-13) Awfully clever. This comic horror film stars Jessica Rothe as a college student who gets caught in a time loop and is forced to repeatedly relive the day of her murder, which also happens to be her birthday, until she figures out her killer’s identity. Applying the Groundhog Day conceit to a slasher flick is a stroke of conceptual genius, allowing the protagonist to be the slutty first victim and the brave final girl at the same time. The tiny Rothe (La La Land) seizes the opportunity to be funny and show emotional depth, things that slasher movie heroines never get to do. A few dead ends in the plot nag at you, but this is still the best horror flick of the season. Also with Israel Broussard, Ruby Modine, Charles Aitken, Laura Clifton, Rob Mello, Rachel Matthews, Blaine Kern III, Phi Vu, and Jason Bayle. 

It (R) A horror movie that’s everything you’d want, except scary. Based on Stephen King’s novel, this movie is about a group of kids in Maine (where else?) in the 1980s who band together against the scary clown (Bill Skarsgård) who has been murdering kids in their small town for decades. Argentinian director Andrés Muschietti (Mama) pulls off some sequences with great flair and gets some terrific performances from Jaeden Lieberher as the ringleader with a speech impediment and Sophia Lillis as the lone girl in the group. He also elicits commendable cinematography by Chung Chung-hoon and music by Benjamin Wallfisch, and the comic relief here is actually funny. Still, the clown’s antics don’t crawl under your skin like they should, and the whole affair lapses into regrettable sentimentality near the end. If you can’t wait for Season 2 of Stranger Things, this will tide you over nicely. Also with Wyatt Oleff, Jeremy Rae Taylor, Chosen Jacobs, Jack Dylan Grazer, and Finn Wolfhard. 

Kingsman: The Golden Circle (R) Harry Hart (Colin Firth) is back from the dead, which seems to encapsulate everything that’s wrong with this sequel. Taron Egerton returns as the British secret agent who must team up with his American colleagues after a drug lord (Julianne Moore) kills most of his fellow Kingsmen. Director Matthew Vaughn has lost none of his flair for an action sequence, Egerton holds the center effortlessly, and Moore is a delight playing the supervillain as a demure Betty Crocker housewife with a 1950s fetish and legitimate points about the War on Drugs. Yet these too often get lost amid the movie’s myriad plotlines. This overstuffed, overlong affair shamefully wastes Jeff Bridges and Channing Tatum as American agents. The parts where Eggsy tries to get the amnesiac Harry to remember his old self are the weakest, and the movie would have been better off letting Harry stay dead. Also with Mark Strong, Halle Berry, Hanna Alström, Pedro Pascal, Edward Holcroft, Emily Watson, Bruce Greenwood, Sophie Cookson, Poppy Delevingne, Michael Gambon, and Elton John. 

Leap! (PG) This wildly misconceived animated film is supposed to take place in 19th-century France, but the characters wisecrack like contemporary American kids. Elle Fanning is the voice of an orphaned girl from Brittany who escapes from her orphanage with a friend (voiced by Nat Wolff), and they make their way to Paris, where she cottons on at a prestigious ballet school and fulfills her dream of becoming a dancer. This film was originally done in French, and maybe it was better in that language, but the American dub is so lame that you won’t be curious to find out. Additional voices by Kate McKinnon, Carly Rae Jepsen, Maddie Ziegler, and Mel Brooks. 

The Lego Ninjago Movie (PG) The series finally stretches itself too thin with this entry about a high-school reject (voiced by Dave Franco) who is secretly a ninja along with his fellow rejects, fighting to take down an evil overlord (voiced by Justin Theroux) who just happens to be his estranged dad. The movie does manage to make the hero’s daddy issues funny, and there’s an inspired bit where the weapon of mass destruction turns out to be a flesh-and-blood cat that knocks over the Lego skyscrapers. However, you may be lost if you aren’t already familiar with the Ninjago mythology, and even if you are familiar, the visual and verbal wit of the previous two films is largely missing here. Pump the brakes on this series before we get to The Lego Architecture Movie. Additional voices by Jackie Chan, Olivia Munn, Fred Armisen, Kumail Nanjiani, Michael Peña, Abbi Jacobson, Zach Woods, Ali Wong, Randall Park, Charlyne Yi, and Constance Wu. 

Marshall (PG-13) The best legal thriller this year stars Chadwick Boseman as Thurgood Marshall in a story taken from the future Supreme Court justice’s early career, when he defended a black chauffeur (Sterling K. Brown) against a rape charge by his employer (Kate Hudson). Of all the square biopics that he’s headlined, this one is the best showcase for Boseman. Even though the story robs him of the chance for florid courtroom theatrics, the star projects his subject’s quiet, relentless determination nevertheless. The direction by Reginald Hudlin (House Party) is old-fashioned but mostly solid, and Boseman is supported by nice turns from Josh Gad as a white lawyer whose internal crusader for racial justice is awakened and Dan Stevens as an entitled prosecutor. Also with James Cromwell, Keesha Sharp, Roger Guenveur Smith, John Magaro, Ahna O’Reilly, and Jussie Smollett.

mother! (R) Ranks higher on the WTF meter than any of Darren Aronofsky’s other films, and that’s saying a mouthful. Jennifer Lawrence stars as a nameless woman married to a famous writer (Javier Bardem) and living in their secluded mansion until some mysterious houseguests (Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer) show up and start the process of her life unraveling into a nightmare. On one level, this is a parable about the tragic costs of living with an artist who loves his own creative genius more than he can ever love anyone else, but the movie’s Biblical parallels also make it into an obscene and horrifying parody of the stories of the creation of man and Jesus. Lawrence is too imprecise here to give this the tragic import that it’s looking for, but Aronofsky’s craftsmanship makes this an effective haunted house film. The late sequences with the writer’s fans mobbing the house are as convincing a depiction of hell as anything. Also with Domhnall Gleeson, Brian Gleeson, Stephen McHattie, Jovan Adepo, and Kristen Wiig.

The Mountain Between Us (PG-13) This thriller stars Idris Elba and Kate Winslet as two passengers forced to rely on each other when their small plane crashes high in the Rocky Mountains during the winter. Also with Beau Bridges and Dermot Mulroney. 

My Little Pony: The Movie (PG) The voice talent in the cast of this musical animated movie might lead you to believe that this might be good. Don’t be fooled, though, because this is every bit as slapdash and dumb as you’d expect a movie based on a beloved line of toys to be. When a fallen unicorn (voiced by Emily Blunt) invades the ponies’ homeland and takes it over for an overlord (voiced by Liev Schreiber), the kingdom’s remaining princess (voiced by Tara Strong) has to lead a small party to save the kingdom. If you’re new to the whole Pony universe, you’ll be hopelessly lost as to which pony is which. Even if you’re not, the songs by Daniel Ingram and Michael Vogel evaporate instantly from your mind while they’re being sung. For all the time that’s been put into this, it feels like a cynical cash-in, and not a terribly smart one at that. Additional voices by Ashleigh Ball, Andrea Libman, Tabitha St. Germain, Taye Diggs, Uzo Aduba, Kristin Chenoweth, Michael Peña, Zoe Saldana, and Sia.

Never Say Die (NR) This Chinese sports comedy is about a male MMA fighter (Allen Ai) and a female journalist (Ma Li) who switch bodies. Also with Chang Yuan, Shen Teng, Tian Yu, and Xue Haowen.

Professor Marston and the Wonder Women (R) An essential companion piece to Wonder Woman. Luke Evans stars in this biography of Wonder Woman creator William Moulton Marston, the Harvard-educated psychologist whose comic-book work was inspired by his theories and his S&M practices with his wife (Rebecca Hall) and a graduate student (Bella Heathcote), who all lived together in a ménage à trois situation. Writer-director Angela Robinson gives the women short shrift when it comes to their part in the comic book’s actual creation, but also places the emotional weight of the story on the romance between them, and the two actresses are very near their best here. This is a better S&M movie than those lame Fifty Shades films. Also with Connie Britton, Chris Conroy, JJ Feild, Maggie Castle, Alexa Havins, and Oliver Platt. 

Victoria and Abdul (PG-13) Stephen Frears’ drama details the real-life friendship between an elderly Queen Victoria (Judi Dench) and a young Indian clerk (Ali Fazal). Also with Tim Pigott-Smith, Eddie Izzard, Adeel Akhtar, Olivia Williams, Fenella Woolgar, and Michael Gambon. 

Wind River (R) Screenwriter and Fort Worth product Taylor Sheridan (Sicario, Hell or High Water) shows some promise in his directing debut. Jeremy Renner stars as a U.S. Fish & Wildlife ranger who finds a teenage girl’s frozen body on an Indian reservation and has to assist the FBI agent (Elizabeth Olsen) in charge of the murder case. Sheridan’s particularly strong on the script’s procedural elements, depicting the logistical challenges of investigating in such a remote and inhospitable place, and the performances are hard to fault. This movie could have been shorter, and the extended flashback placed just before the climax is a regrettably clumsy misstep. Still, this is a solid Western. Also with Gil Birmingham, Kelsey Asbille, Julia Jones, Teo Briones, Martin Sensmeier, Tantoo Cardinal, Apesanahkwat, and Graham Greene.

DALLAS EXCLUSIVES

American Satan (R) This supernatural thriller is about a rock band in L.A. who make a deal with a mysterious stranger (Malcolm McDowell) in exchange for success in music. Also with Booboo Stewart, Andy Biersack, Drake Richards, Tori Black, Mark Boone Junior, Bill Duke, and Denise Richards. 

Brawl in Cell Block 99 (NR) S. Craig Zahler (Bone Tomahawk) directs this thriller about a former boxer (Vince Vaughn) who winds up in prison after a drug deal goes bad. Also with Jennifer Carpenter, Tom Guiry, Marc Blucas, Fred Melamed, Clark Johnson, Udo Kier, and Don Johnson. 

Loving Vincent (PG-13) Animated entirely with oil paintings, this film takes the viewpoint of various characters who knew Vincent van Gogh in life. Voices by Saoirse Ronan, Chris O’Dowd, John Sessions, Helen McCrory, Eleanor Tomlinson, and Douglas Booth. 

M.F.A. (NR) This thriller stars Francesca Eastwood as an art student and rape victim who sets out to avenge herself on all the rapists walking free while incorporating their murders into an art project. Also with Clifton Collins Jr., Michael Welch, Andrew Caldwell, Leah McKendrick, Peter Vack, and David Sullivan.


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Source : https://www.fwweekly.com/2017/10/18/film-shorts-277/

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