On The Book of Life And The Rest Of This Weekend's Special And Wide Releases.

Art and Craft.
Director: Sam Cullman, Jennifer Grausman, Mark Becker.
Playing At: Angelika Film Center (Dallas and Plano).

Oscar-nominee Sam Cullman (If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front) is back with a new documentary and wants you to see it. Kind of like what all directors want you to do when they make a film. Art and Craft is about Mark Landis, an American painter best known for stealing other's work and donating those pieces to various spots around the U.S. This doc focuses on what's been going on inside his bat-shit crazy mind and his 30-year big con.

The Best of Me.
Director: Michael Hoffman.
Writers: J. Mills Goodloe, Will Fetters, Michael Hoffman (screenplay); Nicholas Sparks (novel).
Cast: James Marsden, Michelle Monaghan, Luke Bracey.
Playing At: Wide.

A film based off a novel by Nicholas Sparks means two of two things: 1.) If you want to get laid, take your date to see it, and 2.) if you want to cry your eyes out, go see it yourself. This one’s about high school sweethearts who reunite after some long-ass time spent away from their home town, which they both happen to visit at the same time. So serendipitous! Stars James Marsden (X-Men) and Michelle Monaghan (Source Code).

The Book of Life.
Director: Jorge R. Gutierrez.
Writers: Jorge R. Gutierrez, Douglas Langdale.
Cast: Diego Luna, Zoe Saldana, Channing Tatum.
Playing At: Wide.

The Book of Life is a real success story, regardless of of much money it pulls in box-office wise. Debatable? I know, but hear me out. This is a film that director Jorge R. Gutierrez has been dreaming about making since he was a child. In fact, these stores are from his childhood. Better yet, he also managed to get the great Guillermo del Toro (Hellboy, Pan's Labyrinth and the highly underrated Blade II) on board as a producer. In turn, the thing just looks beautiful. Absolutely stunning. Also cool: All post-production work was done at Dallas' own Reel FX studio, so you should probably see this just to help support them. Who knows what this could help bring to that place's future if it performs well?

Fury.
Director: David Ayer.
Writer: David Ayer.
Cast: Brad Pitt, Shia LaBeouf, Michael Peña, Jon Bernthal, Logan Lerman.
Playing At: Wide Release.

Tanks blowing shit up and Brad Pitt once again killing Nazi's? How else can this movie sell you? My review, perhaps? Look for that tomorrow.

The Golden Era.
Director: Ann Hui.
Writer: Qiang Li.
Cast: Wei Tang, Shaofeng Feng, Zhiwen Wang.
Playing At: Cinemark Legacy.

Biopics aren't solely a Hollywood obsession. They make those suckers out in Hong Kong, too. Hence this foreign-language offering about Chinese writer Xiao Hong's short, influential life.

Mall: A Day To Kill.
Director: Joseph Hahn.
Writer: Sam Bisbee, Vincent D'Onofrio, Joe Vinciguerra (screenplay); Eric Bogosian (novel).
Cast: James Frecheville, Cameron Monaghan, Ron Yuan.
Playing At: TBD.

What caught my eye about Linkin Park DJ Joseph Hahn's first feature, Mall, was not that it stars James Frecheville, who really killed it in David Michod’s thrilling bloodfest, Animal Kingdom, but that this was co-written by Vincent D'Onofrio — y'know, the guy who played Thor in Adventures in Babysitting and then went on to gain back his Full Metal Jacket weight for the absurdly long-running TV show, Law & Order: Criminal Intent. Fittingly, the rest of the dudes from Linkin Park pitch in to provide the soundtrack.

St. Vincent.
Director: Theodore Melfi.
Writers: Theodore Melfi.
Cast: Bill Murray, Melissa McCarthy, Naomi Watts.
Playing At: Angelika Film Center (Dallas) and Cinemark West Plano.

I really liked St. Vincent a lot. It made me laugh and cry — two feelings I enjoy experiencing when watching a movie. It's over-the-top Bill Murray being over-the-top Bill Murray, and writer/director Theodore Melfi shows that Melissa McCarthy has range and can be a lot more than just loud and obnoxious. Our very own Kip Mooney reviewed the film and has slightly different feelings than mine about the film as a whole. You can read that here.

Young Ones.
Director: Jake Paltrow.
Writer: Jake Paltrow.
Cast: Nicholas Hoult, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Michael Shannon, Elle Fanning.
Playing At: Texas Theatre..

I've said everything I can about this atrocious film. Read that here.

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.
Director: Frank Capra.
Writer: Sidney Buchman.
Cast: James Stewart, Jean Arthur, Claude Rains.
Playing At: Texas Theatre.

There are a lot of classics I still haven't seen and Frank Capra's Mr. Smith Goes to Washington is one of them. Then I guess I should tear ass to the Texas Theatre, which is screening this classic as a part of its Class of ’39 film series.

A Nightmare on Elm Street.
Director: Wes Craven.
Writer: Wes Craven.
Cast: Heather Langenkamp, Johnny Depp, Robert Englund.
Playing At: Angelika Film Center.

The most recent film that Wes Craven's directed was the very awful and upsetting fourth installment in the once-great Scream series, Scre4m. I think, once a veteran director goes retro by putting the number of the film in the title, shit just goes down hill from there. But Craven will almost always get a pass from me and the horror community. After all, he's created some of the best horror films of all time — not to mention one of the greatest villains, Fred Krueger, a character who's still getting sequels and reboots. It's a damn shame that the face behind the prosthetic scars and red-and-green-striped sweater, actor Robert Englund, has hung up the iconic finger-clawed glove for good.

Ed Wood.
Director: Tim Burton.
Writer: Rudolph Grey (novel); Scott Alexander, Larry Karaszewski (screenplay).
Cast: Johnny Depp, Martin Landau, Sarah Jessica Parker.
Playing At: Alamo Drafthouse.

Before lo-fi, do-it-yourself, guerrilla filmmaking was cool (done most admirably by Roger Corman), there was Ed Wood, doing it just for the love of the game. This is the guy who made a handful of ultra low-budget science fiction and horror films, among a few other genre titles. The one you probably have heard of is Plan 9 from Outer Space. Here, he's given the biopic treatment from Tim Burton, the only guy weird enough to properly pull it off. And he's played by the only character actor who could ever pull him off, too, the ever-eccentric Johnny Depp.

Gremlins.
Director: Joe Dante.
Writer: Chris Columbus.
Cast: Phoebe Cates, Zach Galligan, Hoyt Axton, Polly Holliday, Frances Lee McCain, Frank Welker, Howie Mandel.
Playing At: Inwood Theatre.

Before Fight Club came along, it was the rules of owning a gremlin that often got thrown around. In case you've forgotten: They were never to get exposed to sunlight, never to get wet and, most important, never fed after midnight. Widely thought of as one of the best films of 1984, Gremlins is not only the film the band Mogwai took its name from, but its violent sequences even caused the MPAA to alter its ratings system. — Cory Graves

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