The Eagle’s Weekly Movie Preview
They’ll be nearly 130 films opening between now and the end of the year. These weekly previews don’t cover all of them – instead, I’ll cut the fat and just talk about the flick that stand the best chance of NOT stinking up the multiplex with the best chance of not stinking up the multiplex. Of course, I’m almost sure that that nothing will make more money – and be more fun to watch – than Stars Wars: The Last Jedi. But until that one comes out, here’s what’s worth your weekly movie money!
As a weekly movie-goer, I’ve decided to cut the list up into sections, and post a week-by-week preview of what’s out, what’s hot and what’s…well…not so hot.
— Oscar-Worthy Movies: — So far, I’ve seen “Three Billboards,” “Rebel in the Rye” (a biopic of J.D. Salinger which is just great!), “Lady Bird,” “All the Money In the World,” “Florida Project,” and “The Post” -…all are worthy Oscar contenders! And if the Oscar People want to stay relevant, the just gotta recognize “Star Wars: The Last Jedi”! It’s what WE all love! So, c’mon Academy. Remember that it’s US, the American People, who are buying all these movie tickets!
Out This Weekend (Jan. 19th, 2018):
‘The Commuter‘ – Stars Liam Neeson and Vera Farmiga. In this action-packed thriller, Neeson plays an insurance salesman, Michael, on his daily commute home, which quickly becomes anything but routine. After being contacted by a mysterious stranger, Michael is forced to uncover the identity of a hidden passenger on his train before the last stop. As he works against the clock to solve the puzzle, he realizes a deadly plan is unfolding and is unwittingly caught up in a criminal conspiracy. One that carries life and death stakes, for himself and his fellow passengers. You could call this “GUY and A…Girl On A Train”.
‘12 Strong‘ – 12 Strong is set in the harrowing days following 9/11 when a U.S. Special Forces team, led by their new Captain, Mitch Nelson (Hemsworth), is chosen to be the first U.S. troops sent into Afghanistan for an extremely dangerous mission. There, in the rugged mountains, they must convince Northern Alliance General Dostum (Negahban) to join forces with them to fight their common adversary: the Taliban and their Al Qaeda allies. In addition to overcoming mutual distrust and a vast cultural divide, the Americans—accustomed to state-of-the-art warfare—must adopt the rudimentary tactics of the Afghani horse soldiers. But despite their uneasy bond, the new allies face overwhelming odds: outnumbered and outgunned by a ruthless enemy that does not take prisoners.
‘The Post‘ – Meryl Streep and Tom hanks? In a movie directed by Steven Speilberg? How much Oscar Potential can we cram into one movie?! And this one’s got it: Oscar Potential. I saw it on Monday night (the 15th) and it’s fantastic. Of course the performances are fantastic. And it’s a story that everyone should know, especially as it relates to the Vietnam War. We’re looking back at the publishing of The Pentagon Papers, and NOBODY should allow that story to be forgotten.
But there’s First Amendment undercurrents in ‘The Post’ that are very relevant to today. “The Press exists to protect the Governed, not to serve the Governing” — Also, the film showed how hard women have worked to find their place in this world, especially as business and industry leaders. That’s another thread that runs thru the film. Streep is, of course, at her Oscar winning best.
(Back In Theaters)
If you’re like me, and you believe Frances McDormand can do anything, here’s more proof. Irish playwright-turned-filmmaker Martin McDonagh wrote the lead role expressly for the Oscar-winning actress, who plays Mildred Hayes, the mother of a murdered teen daughter who takes action against the lazy police in her hometown. How, you ask? By using three billboards to advertise the local law-enforcement officers’ incompetence. Think “Investigation Discovery” meets Death Wish”. Expect fireworks!
In Theaters Now:
‘The Florida Project‘
Quick! This great Indie film is (thankfully) playing at the Westgate Cinema, and it won’t be there long. Willem Dafoe is at this Dafoe-ist Best, and young Brooklyn Prince is just incredible. This one takes a bit to get going…Director Sean Baker spends some time letting us get to nkow these residents of a run-down motel, and shows us what makes them tick before the drama begins to play out. I foud myself standing with a group of compelte stranger outside the theater afterward, talking about what an amazing movie this is! Go see it immediately.
‘Insidious: The Last Key‘ (Jan. 5th)
This is the the Millennial Horror-Date movie that you probably think it is. Brilliant parapsychologist Elise Rainier receives a disturbing phone call from a man who claims that his house is haunted. Even more disturbing is the address — 413 Apple Tree Lane in Five Keys, N.M. — the home where Elise grew up as a child. (cue Ominous Tones) Accompanied by her two investigative partners, Rainier travels to Five Keys to confront and destroy her greatest fear — the demon that she accidentally set free years earlier.
‘Molly’s Game‘ (Jan. 5th)
This has the potential to be really good. It’s the true story of Molly Bloom, a beautiful, young, Olympic-class skier who ran the world’s most exclusive high-stakes poker game for a decade before being arrested in the middle of the night by 17 FBI agents wielding automatic weapons. Her players included Hollywood royalty, sports stars, business titans and finally, unknown to her, the Russian mob. Her only ally was her criminal defense lawyer Charlie Jaffey, who learned there was much more to Molly than the tabloids led people to believe. This one will have you on the edge of your seat (not that there’s anything WRONG with that).
‘The Greatest Showman‘ (New Year’s Wknd)
Hugh Jackman – who was outstanding earlier this year as Wolverine in Logan – tackles his most ambitious role to date as P.T. Barnum, the 19th-century entertainment giant who founded a circus and felt he cheated audiences if he didn’t leave them with their jaws dropping. Costarring Michelle Williams as Barnum’s wife and Zac Efron as his business partner, this three-ring biopic has all the bells and whistles. Director Michael Gracey’s film is also an original musical, complete with La La Land Oscar-winners Benj Pasek and Justin Paul creating songs with the right-now sound of today. A gamble? You bet. Anything else would be an insult to the showman who lived to astonish.
‘Phantom Thread‘ (New Year’s Wknd)
Trivia: How many actors have won more than 3 ‘Best Actor’ Oscars? Answer: None. But we may see the first person to win four Oscars as Best Actor coming up this year! Many industry pundits are betting Daniel Day-Lewis can do it as a designer on the 1950’s London fashion scene in Paul Thomas Anderson’s latest. It’s been filming in secret, and an air of mystery is the usual MO for filmmaker Anderson, who directed Day-Lewis to Oscar No. 2 for 2007’s There Will Be Blood. (No. 1 was for My Left Foot; No. 3 for Lincoln.) Recently, the 60-year-old actor announced his this would be his last project before retiring (say it isn’t so), which would make this the last hurrah for an artist known for staying in character – whether he’s onscreen or off – during productions. And for those who think a quartet of Oscars is too much, name one actor you think deserves it more?
‘All the Money in the World‘ (New Year’s Wknd)
Remember when super-Wealthy Tycoon J. Paul Getty refused to pay the ransom demanded by the kidnappers of his teen grandson? This is the movie. Christopher Plummer is Getty sr. and you’ll love to hate him in this! It was subsequently left to the boy’s mother (Michelle Williams) and an ex-CIA agent (Mark Wahlberg) to work out a deal. This looks like a good one! Gripping. Riveting. And all those over-used movie poster adjectives. You want an amazing cast? How ’bout Michelle Williams, Mark Wahlberg, Christopher Plummer as J. Paul Getty.h.
‘Father Figures‘ (New Year’s Wknd)
Finally hitting local theaters. If you told me the premise of this movie, I’d probably pass. “But wait!” he said, “There’s more to it!” In this one, fraternal twin brothers, Kyle and Peter Reynolds (Owen Wilson and Ed Helms) have learned that their father did not die when they were young as they had previously believed, and their eccentric mother, Helen Baxter (Glenn Close) had slept with many rich, famous and powerful men in the 1970’s. When they go on a road trip to find out who their real father is, they find out more family secrets and more about their mother than they probably ever wanted to know, as well as encountering a mysterious hitchhiker and other misadventures while they also go on a journey of self-discovery about their family, themselves and each other. Glenn Close is the main reason to see this flick. It’s funny and it moves rather quickly.
(*Note To Ed Helms – Take a year off before we get sick of seeing you. Dude! Seriously.)
** Also, Amarillo is lagging behind the rest of the country as far as getting Oscar-worthy movies like “All the Money In the World,” “I, Tonya” “Shape of Water,” “Disaster Artist” and few others. However, it looks like a few of those may make it to the Hollywood Cinemark Amarillo over Christmas Weekend.
‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi‘ (Dec. 15th)
It’s FINALLY here! I bought my tickets 3 weeks ago. Remember Rey handing Luke Skywalker his lost lightsaber at the end of 2015’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens? Want to find out what happens next? Duh! That alone would make The Last Jedi unbeatable for crowdpleasing fun and box office glory. But there’s also tremendous curiosity to see how indie director Ryan Johnson (Looper) does at the control of a behemoth; how reformed Stormtrooper Finn (John Boyega) will show his heroism on the casino metropolis of Canto Bright; how the franchise will say goodbye to Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia Organa (sniff, sniff); and how to interpret what the hell Luke meant when he said, “It’s time for the Jedi to end.” Call me crazy…but I’m gona go out on a limb and say that THIS flick is gonna be the #1 at the box office this weekend.
‘I, Tonya‘ (Dec. 8th)
This might actually be great! Margot Robbie takes on Tonya Harding, the ice queen of the ice rink who broke records, became an Olympian and later became mired in a scandal involving her bodyguard, her rival Nancy Kerrigan and a tabloid-ready tale of assault. Director Craig Gillespie (Lars and the Real Girl) salts this biopic on the athlete with a pinch of camp and true-crime salaciousness, but never loses sight of his subject’s long, hard road to her early victories and later infamy. Robbie and Sebastian Stan make for a good Harding and Jeff Gillooly, respectively, but it’s Allison Janney’s fearsome mother LaVona Golden who’ll drop audience jaws.
‘The Shape of Water‘ (Dec. 8th)
*I was WRONG! There’s much more to this than a horror/thriller by Guillermo del Torro! I was fooled by advance press, and took a wild guess. But this one has depth and is actually a multi-faceted movie that Movie People will love! I’m admitting that I made a mistake on my original review. Go! Enjoy! Get the popcorn, even.
‘The Disaster Artist‘ (Dec. 1st)
Amarillo probably won’t get this film. At least, not right away. If the public response is decent, we may get it as an ‘Indie’ at the Westgate Cinema. Basically, the plot goes something like this (no spoilers here) – Tommy Wiseau is a Polish-American actor/filmmaker who won his place in Midnight Movie with Golden Raspberry-Winning “The Room” in 2003. But, like…nobody SETS OUT to make a stinker, right? And James Franco directs and stars in this flick that will remind us of Ed Wood. Franco is responsible for some bombs of his own, right? Remember “Why Him”? Don’t make me start a list here.
‘Wonder Wheel‘ (Dec. 1st)
Dear Woody: Too soon.
And that’s too bad, because I understand “Wonder Wheel” might be one of Woody’s best. And I’m a fan. But this just is…er…a ‘Bad Climate’ for a new Woody Allen movie. Maybe should’ve slipped this one in with all the Summer Schlock, when we’re all starved for something with some substance.
‘Mudbound‘ (Nov. 17th)
(Netflix) This tale of racial disparity, set in the Mississippi Delta before during, and after World War II, will go right to your Feeler Bone. Take a pocketful of tissues. The story focuses on the interaction between a white couple, the McAllans (Carey Mulligan and Jason Clarke), and a family of black sharecroppers led by Mary J. Blige and Rob Morgan. Director Dee Rees is a true artist behind the camera, especially the way she handles the PTSD that afflicts soldiers on both sides of the race line. This is the kind of movie that is the REASON we go see movies! And I suppose, since it’s Netflix, it will be competing for an Emmy instead of an Oscar. That’s a shame, because this is the sort of film that Oscar loves! American filmmaking at its best.
‘Justice League‘ (Nov. 17th)
Wonder Woman is even more amazing when you know that Gal Gadot was VERY pregnant while filming her parts for “Justice League” – they used a ‘Green Belly’ and CGI’d her obvious pregnancy out. Look for much less Internal Angst from Batman, plus expanded roles for Flash (Ezra Miller) and Aquaman (Jason Momoa). Director Zack Snyder gets it. We didn’t really care for The Caped Crusader as a goth, dark figure…so he’s eased up on that. I’m looking forward to this one!
‘Lady Bird‘ (Nov. 10th)
Could it be that the Breakthrough Director of 2017 is…NOT a dude? You betcha! Her name is Greta Gerwig. Greta is out with this post-card beautiful story of a Sacramento high school senior named Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson who wants to go to college in New York. Even thought Gerwig is from Northern California, she gets the details right, from sharply funny dialogue and not-a-false–note direction to knockout performances from Laurie Metcalf and Tracy Letts as Lady Bird’s parents, as well as Lucas Hedges and Timothée Chalamet as the complicated boys in her life. Gerwig is writer & director here. It’s a dream of a debut.
(Johnny Black for “1009TheEagle.com”)
Additional info: RollingStone.com