"Wonder Wheel": Woody Allen's new film is set in 1950s Coney Island and explores the world of a carousel operator (Jim Belushi) and his aggrieved wife (Kate Winslet) as told by a young lifeguard (Justin Timberlake).
Note: The original version of this post said that the new "Ferdinand" movie was a Disney production. It is not. The management regrets the error.
And then it was Jedi time. Looking ahead to Friday's movie openings, we anticipate the latest "Star Wars" offering.
"Star Wars: The Last Jedi": Rey (Daisy Ridley) joins Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) as the Resistance takes on the First Order. Hmmm, where have we heard the kind of plot before? Rebels? Empire?
"Ferdinand": Based on the 1936 children's story about a bull that would rather smell flowers than fight, Blue Sky Studios ("Rio," "Ice Age") and Fox adapt the book into a complete feature film. It's kiddie time.
I'll update further when the local theaters finalize their respective schedules.
A couple of additions have been made to the list of Friday's movie openings, which are listed below, including a second run of the Idris Elba-Kate Winslet film "The Mountain Between Us."
The other opening is:
"Thelma": The latest by Norwegian filmmaker Joachim Trier, which will play at AMC River Park Square, "Thelma" tells the story of a young woman whose passion brings about mysterious supernatural occurrences. Call it "Carrie Revisited."
Comedy in a couple of different forms will be on tap beginning Friday, at least according to the national movie-release schedule. The two scheduled openings are:
"The Disaster Artist": James Franco directed, and stars in, this adaptation of the book "The Disaster Artist," which details the making of one of the worst films ever made, Tommy Wiseau's "The Room." You are tearing me apart, Lisa! (Note: The film opened in limited release last Friday and is now going wider, to 800 theaters.)
"Just Getting Started": Morgan Freeman and Tommy Lee Jones stars as mismatched partners (one a former mob lawyer, the other an ex-FBI agent) who have to work together to foil a mob hit. Maybe they'll make an offer we can't refuse.
I'll update when the local bookings become finalized.
One of the films that a number of area movie have been asking about, "Three Billboard Outside Ebbing, Missouri," is the only new film opening locally on Friday. The whole of Friday's scheduled lineup is as follows:
I've already mentioned that the Magic Lantern will open the Catholic-themed film "Novitiate." AMC River Park Square will both open a newly remastered, 20th-anniversary run of James Cameron's "Titanic" and, likely for Academy Award nomination purposes, bring "Marshall" back for a second-run showing.
I'll update if and when more information becomes available.
Continuing its practice of seeking out films you're not likely to see anywhere else, the Magic Lantern Theater will open the Catholic-minded movie "Novitiate" on Friday.
Capturing an 88 percent positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes (73 percent among regular viewers, the film is described this way: "Led by a gripping performance from Melissa Leo, 'Novitiate' grapples uncompromisingly — and ultimately compellingly — with questions of faith and feminism."
Here are some critical comments:
Colin Covert, Minneapolis Star Tribune: ""Novitiate" is challenging, uncomfortable, violent, simple in its message about transformative mind control imposed on youth, superbly acted and technically flawless"
Andrea Gronvall, Chicago Reader: "Writer-director Maggie Betts balances the naturalistic exchanges of her sympathetic young cast with bravura set pieces for the seasoned actors."
Christy Lemire, RogerEbert.com: " 'Novitiate' finds room for all these viewpoints; appreciating the dedication it takes to live such a life while also questioning its suppression of individuality, emotion. This willingness to embrace such complexity is a bit of a miracle in itself."
I'll update the overall list of Friday's openings when it becomes final.
It's not likely to last, because it seldom does, but for the moment the movie "Lady Bird" has a 100 percent "fresh" rating on the critics' site Rotten Tomatoes.
One. Hundred. Percent.
Critics are a contentious group. Some have been accused of rating a movie down just to avoid going along with the crowd, though that may be an unfair assessment. In any event, only 33 of the top 100 movies of all time have a 100 percent rating. Even "The Wizard of Oz" has just a 99 percent Tomato-meter rating.
So, the high score a triumph for actor-turned-writer/director Greta Gerwig, whose film has hit the top mark with ratings from 150 some critics. Here are a few of the more sterling comments:
Ann Hornaday, Washington Post: " 'Lady Bird' is a triumph of style, sensibility and spirit. The girl at its center may not be a heavyweight, but her movie is epic."
Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times: "As warm as it is smart — and it is very smart — 'Lady Bird' marks actor/screenwriter Greta Gerwig's superb debut as a solo director and yet another astonishing performance by star Saoirse Ronan."
Tomris Laffly, Time Out: "A sweet, deeply personal portrayal of female adolescence that's more attuned to the bonds between best girlfriends than casual flings with boys, writer-director Greta Gerwig's beautiful 'Lady Bird' flutters with the attractively loose rhythms of youth."
The movie has an 89 percent rating among non-critics, too, so it's not just a critical darling. Regular movie fans like it, too.
And the adjustment to the movie schedule is: Yes, Christmas is on the list, as is Greta Gerwig's most recent, critical darling of an arthouse movie. In addition to the films listed below, the week's movies include:
"The Man Who Invented Christmas": Ever imagine how Charles Dickens dreamed up "A Christmas Carol"? This film provides a plausible answer. God bless us, every one.
"Lady Bird": Saoirse Ronan stars as an independent-minded, high-school senior who lurches toward adulthood in this comedy written and directed by Greta Gerwig. Take that, Noah Baumbach.
Still reeling from the lukewarm box-office reaction to "Justice League," not much is scheduled for the national movie-release schedule this week. In addition to the possible holiday-themed "The Man Who Invented Christmas," the two mainstream expected openings are:
"Coco": Based on the Mexican holiday Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead), this Disney-Pixar film follows the exploits of a boy who investigates his family's anti-music bias by entering the realm between death and life to talk to a long-dead musician. Que siniestra!
"Roman J. Israel, Esq.": Denzel Washington plays a struggling attorney who steals from the mob and then must face the consequences. Yeah, that always turns out well.
Another week, another superhero offering — this time from DC Comics — as "Justice League" leads Friday's movie openings. The week's scheduled national movie-release schedule is as follows:
"Justice League": Batman (Ben Affleck) leads a diverse team of characters with super powers, from Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) to Aquaman (Jason Momoa), against the obligatory great threat.
"Wonder": A boy (Jason Tremblay) whose facial features have been altered due to a medical condition, and various surgeries to correct the situation, enters public school for the first time — in fifth grade. As if that grade wasn't tough enough.
"The Star": The story of the first Christmas is told through the story of a donkey and his animal friends. Note: Ving Rhames plays Theddeus the Dog.
The film was directed by Yorgos Lanthimos from a script he co-wrote. Lanthimos, who was born in Greece, is noted for exploring — hmmmmm — unusual themes in his films. The only one I've seen is his 2015 offering "The Lobster," in which he cast Farrell as a man whose desire is to become what the film's title implies. Really.
As Lanthimos declared in an interview with the UK Independent, "“Me, personally, what I want is to allow people to be engaged actively in watching the film,” he says. “I like to construct films in a way that makes you feel a bit uncomfortable, [but so you’ll still] be able to enjoy them, be intrigued [and] start to think about the meaning of things – and hopefully by the end of it, you’ll have some strong desire to keep thinking about them.”
Note his use of the term "a bit uncomfortable." You've been warned.
A pair of Hollywood specials — one a sequel to a family comedy, the other a remake of a mystery chestnut — should on on tap Friday, if the national movie release schedule is in anyway accurate. The films are:
"Daddy's Home 2": Taking up where its 2015 predecessor left off, the characters played by Will Ferrel and Mark Wahlberg must endure a Christmas with their respective fathers — played by John Lithgow and, yes, Mel Gibson. Pair it with "Bad Moms Christmas" for a family themed two-fer.
"Murder on the Orient Express": Another version of the 1934 Agathie Christie novel about the Belgian detective Hercule Poirot investigating a murder on the famous train line. If you're familiar with the story, the only mystery will involve how Kenneth Branagh manages not to disturb his character's outlandish mustache.
It seems the Magic Lantern is opening nothing new this week. As always, I'll update this post when the local listings are finalized.
It's Halloween week, which means that Tuesday night will feature costumed creatures haunting the streets in search of … well, treats.
Later, though, a whole new slate of films will open — even if only a couple of films are listed as opening wide on the national release schedule. Those films are:
"A Bad Moms Christmas": A sequel to last year's "Bad Moms," this comedy was initially listed as opening last week. It's now listed as opening on Wednesday. But why not Tuesday? What's scarier than mothers acting badly?
"Thor: Ragnarok": Another in this series, which began in 2011. This time our Asgardian thunder god has to fight his buddy Hulk and then find a way to save his homeland from utter destruction. Best part: Loki returns.
As usual, I'll update when the local listings are finalized.
And it turns out there's one more movie opening next week. It's a Halloween horror special titled "Keep Watching," which will open on Tuesday, just about the time the last of the kids will be coming by and collecting garbage bags full of … well, you know.
"Keep Watching": Some mysterious force imprisons a family in its own home, forcing each member to play a game whose rules only gradually become clear.
I'd include some critical comments, but the movie wasn't released for review. That's seldom a good sign. According to the website bloody disgusting.com., the movie was originally slated to open Dec. 2, 2016, under the title "Home Invasion" but was held back.
The advance notice says the film will screen at 10 p.m. only. Proceed at your own risk. And don't say you haven't been warned.