On Bridge of Spies, And The Rest Of This Weekend's New Film Releases.
Bridge of Spies.
Director: Steven Spielberg.
Writers: Matt Charman, Joel Coen, Ethan Coen.
Cast: Tom Hanks, Mark Rylance, Amy Ryan, Austin Stowell.
Playing At: Wide.
When you need a noble everyman, you get Tom Hanks. When you need someone to write dialogue for characters that speak in legalese and double talk, you get the Coen Brothers. When you need a director about a movie about righteous crusades, you get Steven Spielberg. And so Bridge of Spies did. And yet, even with all this talent, the movie is often dull. Hanks is great as usual as James Donovan, an attorney negotiating the swap of a Soviet spy (Mark Rylance) for a U.S. pilot (Austin Stowell). But the movie is never as exciting as Hanks and Spielberg's previous collaborations. As the multiplex becomes increasingly filled with explosions, though, it's nice to have a little breather.
Director: Guillermo del Toro.
Writers: Guillermo del Toro, Matthew Robbins.
Cast: Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain, Tom Hiddleston, Charlie Hunnam.
Playing At: Wide.
Guillermo del Toro is a director who's impossible to pigeonhole. Yes, he has his fascinations with ghosts and the history of Spain, but his films always transcend genres. Crimson Peak, though marketed as a horror movie, owes a lot more to Victorian literature than violent slasher flicks. But, as usual, it should be a brilliant mix of styles. Mia Wasikowska plays a young bride who moves into the haunted house her husband (Tom Hiddleston) shares with his sister (Jessica Chastain). Expect more tragedy than terror. For longer take, see Javier Fuentes' review here.
Director: Rob Letterman.
Writer: Darren Lemke.
Cast: Jack Black, Dylan Minnette, Odeya Rush, Ryan Lee.
Playing At: Wide.
While a movie adaptation of R.L. Stine's popular series of children's books feels about 20 years too late, there's always hope that they at least did it right. Jack Black plays a fantastical version of Stine himself, whose manuscripts can come to life, unleashing horrible monsters on the unsuspecting town. His daughter (Odeya Rush) and her friends (Dylan Minnette and Ryan Lee) team up to take down the Abominable Snowman (meh) and a sentient ventriloquist dummy (ermahgerd!), among other beasts.
Directors: Andrew Erwin, Jon Erwin.
Writers: Jon Erwin, Quinton Peeples.
Cast: Caleb Castille, C. Thomas Howell, Jon Voight, Sean Astin.
Playing At: Wide.
Combining the heavy-handed discussion of racism in Remember the Titans with the heavy-handed discussion of faith in Facing the Giants, Woodlawn is the true story of Tony Nathan (Caleb Castille), the all-star running back who led Woodlawn High School to success after Birmingham desegregated its schools in 1973. Expect rousing football action, combined with on-the-nose sermons from Sean Astin.
Director: Danny Boyle.
Writer: Aaron Sorkin.
Cast: Michael Fassbender, Jeff Daniels, Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen.
Playing At: Cinemark West Plano, AMC NorthPark. (Expands wide next week.)
Aaron Sorkin, the writer who inspires either dread or devotion, adapts Walter Isaacson's biography of the Apple co-founder. He throws most of the text out the window, re-imagining Jobs' life as a series of tense conversations. He condenses the hefty book into essentially three shorts, taking place backstage before the launch of the Macintosh in 1984, NeXT in 1988 and the iMac in 1998. If you're a fan of Sorkin like I am, there's simply nothing quite like watching great actors speaking his dialogue, historical accuracy be damned. The cast is magnificent, particularly Michael Fassbender, who looks nothing like Jobs but captures his debilitating perfectionism and knack for alienating those closest to him. For me, this is the best live-action movie of the year so far.
Tales of Halloween.
Cast: Booboo Stewart, Barry Bostwick, Greg Grunberg, Lisa Marie.
Playing At: Alamo Drafthouse.
In this horror anthology, nearly a dozen directors weave together 10 separate-but-connected stories about a series of spooky happenings in a small town. As with all horror anthology films — from Creepshow to Trick 'r' Treat — this one will be hit or miss, but if it strikes the right tone between splatter and slapstick, it should make for an enjoyable Halloween treat.
Beasts of No Nation.
Director: Cary Joji Fukunaga.
Writer: Cary Joji Fukunaga.
Cast: Abraham Attah, Idris Elba, Ama K. Abebrese, Kobina Amissah-Sam.
Playing At: The Magnolia.
Cary Joji Fukunaga's direction was often the best part of season one of True Detective. He brings that intensity to this adaptation of Uzodinma Iweala's brutal novel about child soldiers in Africa. Idris Elba is the big name as the leader of the rebels, but the praise has been heaped on newcomer Abraham Attah, who is sucked into the violence as a boy. In a first, the film is also available on Netflix right now.
Back to the Future, Part II.
Director: Robert Zemeckis.
Writer: Bob Gale.
Cast: Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson, Thomas F. Wilson.
Playing At: Texas Theatre.
Showing: Wednesday, October 21.
Well, as literally everyone on Facebook has been letting you know, the day is finally here: October 21, 2015, is indeed the day Marty McFly, his girlfriend Jennifer and his ol' pal Doc Brown travel to in order to stop Marty's son from ending up in prison. On that day, the Texas Theatre is offering two chances to catch the sequel on the big screen. There's an earlier showing at precisely 4:29 p.m. for purists. Then there's a showing at 7:30 for those of us who might have some games to bet on that day. Part II is nowhere near as good as the original, but it's still a lot of fun and this day's been 30 years in the making.