On The Choice And The Rest Of The Weekend’s New Film Releases.

The Choice.
Director: Ross Katz.
Writer: Bryan Sipe.
Cast: Benjamin Walker, Teresa Palmer, Alexandra Daddario, Tom Welling.
Playing At: Wide.
You either love or hate the works of Nicholas Sparks, who has written such dreadful Southern romances as The Notebook, The Lucky One and Dear John. I’m firmly in the latter camp, although some of his works can occasionally be tolerable, I admit. This one has a few marks against it, starting with Benjamin Walker, who doesn’t possess the charisma of a Channing Tatum or a Zac Efron. And Teresa Palmer is hardly as radiant as Julianne Hough or Amanda Seyfried. This is C-list material, and these are hardly the actors to elevate it. But, hey, if you're just looking to watch pretty people make out as the sun sets off the coast, this is your movie.

Hail, Caesar!
Directors: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen.
Writer: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen.
Cast: Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Channing Tatum, Scarlett Johansson.
Playing At: Wide.
Now we're talking. Like the movies of Quentin Tarantino, I'm completely on board with anything the Coen Brothers can cook up. This one's set in 1950s Hollywood, with Clooney playing the dim leading man who's kidnapped by a cult and Josh Brolin playing the studio head who enlists his stars (Channing Tatum and Scarlett Johansson) to help find his missing celeb before word gets out to the gossip columns. For a longer take, check out our own Javier Fuentes' review. He loved it.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.
Director: Burr Steers.
Writer: Burr Steers.
Cast: Lily James, Lena Headey, Douglas Booth, Sam Riley.
Playing At: Wide.
Seth Grahame-Smith's literary remix of Jane Austen's classic was a sly bit of publishing parody, mostly because it played off its grotesque murders in a deadpan way. This film adaptation, which has passed through more directors than you can shake a pointy stick at, seems to ditch all the humor in the name of being badass. It's the same problem that sunk Timur Bekmambetov’s adaptation of the same author’s Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.
Our own Angela Jones didn't love it, and I can't blame her. Nothing wrong with keeping your horror fun, Hollywood.

2016 Oscar Nominated Short Films – Live Action and Animation.
Directors: Various.
Writers: Various.
Cast: Various.
Playing At: The Magnolia, Angelika Plano.
Thanks to the tiny distributor Shorts HD, it's now easier than ever to see all the shorts nominated for the Academy Award each year. Both animated and live-action films will be presented in separate showcases. While typically ignored in a lot of coverage, some of the best filmmaking of the year exists in these little films that run anywhere from three minutes to half an hour in length.

The Lady in the Van.
Director: Nicholas Hytner.
Writer: Alan Bennett.
Cast: Maggie Smith, Alex Jennings, Jim Broadbent, Roger Allam.
Playing At: Angelika Dallas, Angelika Plano.
Maggie Smith is up to her usual elegant but classy tricks in this British hit. She plays the titular woman, who parks her van in a playwright's yard and then refuses to leave. It's a cheeky comedy but you're probably going to be expected to learn something about life from people you would typically ignore if you saw them on the street.

Regression.
Director: Alejandro Amenabar.
Writer: Alejandro Amenabar.
Cast: Ethan Hawke, Emma Watson, David Thewlis, Dale Dickey.
Playing At: Studio Movie Grill Spring Valley.
A man confesses to raping his own daughter. It's a horrific crime, but there's even more horrors lurking underneath the surface in this thriller. Satanic cults? Check. People willing to murder cops to hide their dark secrets? That's here too. It might not all make sense, but it's certain to leave you unsettled.

Repertory Pick of the Week.

Triumph of the Will.
Director: Leni Riefenstahl.
Playing At: Texas Theatre.
Showing: Saturday, February 6.
Time for some education. Triumph of the Will is one of the most influential — and terrifying — movies in history. Adolf Hitler commissioned this piece of propaganda to document the 1935 Nazi Party Congress. Riefenstahl went beyond any conventions of the time, using aerial photography and shooting and re-shooting scenes for maximum dramatic effect. But, of course, it's also in promoting the ideology of arguably the worst person to ever live. Still, it's important as a piece of history, and its influence can still be felt today (see: General Hux's speech from Star Wars: The Force Awakens).

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