On Jem and the Holograms, And The Rest Of The Weekend’s New Film Releases.
Jem and the Holograms.
Director: Jon M. Chu.
Writer: Ryan Landels.
Cast: Aubrey Peeples, Stefanie Scott, Aurora Perrineau, Hayley Kiyoko.
Playing At: Wide.
We've basically hit peak '80s nostalgia here. Though if you're going to slap the name of a popular cartoon just to tell a basic “band gets famous and lead singer alienates her friends in the process” story, and omit the truly bizarre plotlines about stealing hologram technology, what's the point? At least Jon M. Chu (whose resume includes both G.I. Joe: Retaliation and a Justin Bieber concert doc) might stage some interesting performance scenes. But this truly looks like it could be the worst movie of the year.
The Last Witch Hunter.
Director: Breck Eisner.
Writers: Cory Goodman, Matt Sazama, Burk Sharpless.
Cast: Vin Diesel, Rose Leslie, Elijah Wood, Michael Caine.
Playing At: Wide.
I have no idea what Michael Caine is doing in a PG-13 movie about an immortal warrior (Vin Diesel) who has to go back into the “dream world” to fight something “beyond good, beyond evil.” None of this makes any sense. Hopefully, they lean into that. If not, this could be a real slog.
Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension.
Director: Gregory Plotkin.
Writers: Jason Pagan, Andrew Deutschman, Adam Robitel, Gavin Heffernan.
Cast: Chris J. Murray, Birty Shaw, Ivy George, Chloe Csengery.
Playing At: Wide.
As in all horror franchises, you must have a groundbreaking original film, a surprisingly good sequel or two, then wear out your welcome by releasing a new movie every year until people are sick of you. Now with the sixth film in this franchise, The Ghost Dimension makes the truly baffling decision to “show you the activity.” This whole franchise was built on the spookiness you didn't see. And now we're just going to toss that aside so we can see what these ghosts actually look like? Please.
Rock the Kasbah.
Director: Barry Levinson.
Writer: Mitch Glazer.
Cast: Bill Murray, Leem Lubany, Zooey Deschanel, Bruce Willis.
Playing At: Wide.
Bill Murray could play “down-on-his-luck” in his sleep. This time he's a washed up talent scout, who loses his leading lady (Zooey Deschanel) during a USO tour in Afghanistan. Searching for a replacement, he discovers Salima (Leem Lubany), a local who can seriously bring down the house. Can he put aside his selfishness to nurture a genuine talent living in a war-torn country? Bill Murray's characters never seem to actually learn anything, but it will be a delight to see him try.
Labyrinth of Lies.
Director: Giulio Ricciarelli.
Writers: Giulio Ricciarelli, Elisabeth Bartel.
Cast: Alexander Fehling, Andre Szymanski, Friederike Becht, Johannes Krisch.
Playing At: Angelika Dallas, Angelika Plano.
Yet another Holocaust movie. In this one Johann Radmann, an idealistic young German lawyer is shocked to discover hardly any concentration camp commanders were ever brought to trial for their crimes during World War II. The film tells the story of his dogged pursuit to hold evil men accountable, even in the face of the “good ol' boy system” that kept them from facing any sort of punishment. Germany holds this movie in such high regard they submitted it for consideration for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
The Forbidden Room.
Directors: Guy Maddin, Evan Johnson.
Writers: Guy Maddin, Evan Johnson, Robert Kotyk.
Cast: Udo Kier, Caroline Dhavernas, Maria de Medeiros, Charlotte Rampling.
Playing At: Texas Theatre.
Guy Maddin, already one of the oddest directors in the world, cranks the weirdness up to 11. He and co-director Evan Johnson tell a series of loosely connected stories, but also incorporate recreations of actual lost films from decades past. Maddin's style certainly isn't for everyone, but if you're on his wavelength, you'll be in for an offbeat treat.
Director and Writer: S. Craig Zahler.
Cast: Kurt Russell, Patrick Wilson, Matthew Fox, Lili Simmons and Richard Jenkins.
Playing at: Angelika Dallas.
Kurt Russell's a cinch in Westerns, and that's certainly true of Bone Tomahawk, a new film about a group of four frontiersmen who embark on a journey into the unknown to confront a band of native, cannibalistic savages who've abducted some of their fellow townsfolk. Mildly racist premise aside — we're really depicting Native Americans as cannibals now after everything else we've done? — the film's a pretty stunning and compelling debut from first-time filmmaker S. Craig Zahler. Or so says our own Javier Fuentes, at least.
Director: Alfred Hitchcock.
Writer: John Michael Hayes.
Cast: James Stewart, Grace Kelly, Thelma Ritter, Raymond Burr.
Playing At: Angelika Dallas.
Showing: Thursday, October 29.
The list of movies better than Rear Window is very short indeed. It's my favorite of Hitchcock's many great thrillers, with new layers that I unwrap each time I watch it. Jimmy Stewart and Grace Kelly are at the top of their games, but if you've never seen this one before, you'll be blown away by Thelma Ritter as Stewart's sassy masseuse. The Angelika's long-running Hitchcocktober series moves outside this year, though the screening is free. So really, you have no excuse.