Welcome to your weekly movie geek roundup of what’s new and worth your attention on the big screen and streaming at home. This installment is for the week of February 27, 2017. Let us know in the comments what you’re going to be watching!
Logan (March 3)
Hugh Jackman is retiring from the role of Wolverine after 17 years, but not before delivering one of his best performances in the best X-Men film to date. An aged Logan of the future struggles to maintain his failing health while attending to the more dire issues with an even more aged Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart). Their lives in the future seem relatively hopeless and slow, as nearly all mutants have been wiped out by genetics. But when Logan discovers the genetically created mutant Laura, he finds himself on another mission with plenty of bad guys to slash with his claws. And oh, how he slashes his way through a grizzly road of viciously violent encounters with a genetics research organization seeking to capture Laura. That is, if the organization can survive Laura’s brutal assaults as well.
Logan certainly earns its hard-R rating, with plenty horrific violence that would make any horror picture blush, but also with a more personal adult story. There’s no blue laser that shoots into the sky and no doomsday machine to smash. There’s also no throwaway dialogue of mugging and quipping, the movie instead presenting both Jackman and Stewart as men with a more colorful history and a unique chemistry. Everything in this movie feels intelligently crafted to be a bad-ass picture that mixes tones of Western, horror, and sci fi into the best damn Wolverine movie ever made. Easily the best superhero picture of the year, and it’s not even summer yet.
Get Out (Now Playing)
Playing like a savagely smart episode of The Twilight Zone, Get Out works just as well as a societal satire as it does a nail-biting thriller. Black photographer Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) isn’t exactly thrilled to be spending a weekend with the family of his white girlfriend, Rose (Allison Williams). She tells him ahead of time that her family isn’t racist and that they’ll be accepting of him, if not appearing lame with their ignorance about black people. He arrives at their estate to face the awkward conversations about how they admire his genes and proud boasts that they voted twice for Obama. They’re ignorant, but welcoming of Chris. Perhaps too welcoming.
Directed by Jordan Peele of Key and Peele fame, Get Out is a doozy of a picture that works on multiple levels. It addresses a snapshot of topical racial relations in which the most frightening of villains are not the blatant racists, but those that believe themselves to be highly progressive. It weaves an intense thriller atmosphere that gets under your skin with haunting visuals. And even when it turns into a full-on horror thrill ride by the third act, it’s still an intriguing and intense experience. It’s an absolute must-see of a picture for both the provoking of conversation and the almost guaranteed cult status.
Rock Dog (Now Playing)
This animated picture about a Tibetan Mastiff who wants to become a rock star is actually rather solid despite not being very memorable. Luke Wilson voices Bodi, a dog that would much rather strum a guitar than adopt his father’s Kung Fu Panda moves to defend a sheep village from wolves, taking off for the big city and seeking the teachings of rock legend Angus Scattergood (Eddie Izzard). Though initially shooed away by the hermit rock star, Bodi’s determination eventually convinces Angus to let him inside to secretly finish his delayed single.
Rock Dog has a few bursts of entertainment thanks to director Ash Brannon, who was previously co-director of Toy Story 2. Bodi is a generally likable character for remaining consistently optimistic, and Angus nearly steals the show as the passive-aggressive celebrity who must change his ways. I liked the supporting cast of J. K. Simmons as Bodi’s dad and Lewis Black as a wolf mob boss, even if their subplot about the fate of a village of sheep seems almost like it’s part of another movie. The humor rarely goes for the easy or low-brow, finding plenty of clever slapstick moments and hilarious dialogue. I even dug the songs for not being the usual selection pop music that animated movies tend to go for. Yet despite so much working, the movie never fully took off for me, as it needed a little something extra to really make it sing. Still, kids will find just enough amusement from the characters and visuals, while adults won’t be entirely bored with an original story that avoids the lowest-hanging fruit of these animated productions. Consider it a rainy-day animated pick.
I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore (Now Streaming)
Winner of this year’s Sundance Grand Jury Prize, Macon Blair’s twisted neo-noir tale is as funny as it is odd. Average girl Ruth (Melanie Lynskey) goes full Falling Down when her house is broken into and she wants revenge for being pushed too far by bad people. She seeks the help of her crazed neighbor, Tony (Elijah Wood)—a man who, I should mention, owns nunchucks and morning stars—to track down and punish the criminals that have wronged her. While the plot varies in tone from oddball comedy to violent societal commentary, the performances are absolutely the main reason to watch this little treasure of a film. Lynskey is brilliant as a woman pushed over the edge and sells the desperation of snapped character, while Wood is an absolute hoot as the gung-ho revenge planner. A great little film for those who want to unwind from the daily grind by watching a few fed-up individuals take a morning star to it.
Captain Fantastic (Now Streaming)
Recently nominated for an Academy Award for best actor (Viggo Mortensen), Captain Fantastic follows the offbeat adventures of Ben Cash (Mortensen), wife Leslie, and their six kids living in the Washington wilderness. When Leslie is hospitalized for an illness and dies, the Cash family is denied going to the funeral; determined to pay their last respects, the family ventures into the civilized world, where they must figure out everything from diners to marriage customs. All the while, Ben is constantly criticized for what he has done to his children as the extended family seeks to take them away from him. Oddly sweet and touching, Captain Fantastic certainly has that hipster vibe for the feral fish-out-of-water youth tone, but director Matt Ross does an admirable job earning the smiles and tears of the audience.
Chicago (1927 and 2002 Versions)
Roxy Hart gets away with murder, whether she’s silent or singing. Filmstruck has paired both movie versions of Beulah Annan’s true-crime story for one heck of a comparison. The 1927 silent film, drawing much inspiration from the original Maurine Dallas Watkins play, was exemplary of the pre–Hays Code era with plenty of sex and violence in a tale in which crime does pay. The 2002 version, drawing heavier inspiration from the Broadway musical adaptation, features the same story, but with a brighter cast and lavish musical numbers, which won it the Oscar for best picture. Both films tell the same story of Roxy, but with much different tones of scandal and sensationalism, making for a unique contrast of perspectives of the 1920s.
What will you be watching this week?