Boo! OK, it’s a little early — but another Halloween (Original-Cin: B+) opens this week. This time it’s a good one, what reviewer Jim Slotek calls an artfully effective homage to the John Carpenter's 1978 slasher classic, the font of countless sequels and imitators. Gifted director David Gordon Green is behind the lens and Jamie Lee Curtis returns as Laurie Strode, who's not ready to let bygones be bygones: “I’ve prayed every day for him to escape… so I can kill him," she says. John Carpenter signals his approval by helping update his own famously unsettling score for the film.
For a more contemporary high-concept thriller, check out The Guilty (Original-Cin Rating: A-), the debut thriller from Swedish director, Gustav Möller, where the onscreen action takes place in one room where a Cophenhagen cop (Jakob Cedergren) is taxed with saving an apparently kidnapped woman, over the phone. Reviewer Kim Hughes admired the deft execution, in which the viewer is compelled draw pictures in her head to understand the conversation and ambient background noises
Beautiful Boy (Original-Cin Rating: B+), a drama, based on two autobiographical books by journalist David Sheff and his son, Nic Sheff, about a family coping with their teen-aged son's meth addiction. Steve Carell plays a middle-class journalist and Timothée Chalamet his college-age son with a dark secret life. Karen Gordon says the performances transcend filmmaker Felix Van Groeningen's sometimes flat direction, especially from Oscar-winner, Chalamet, who proves once again he's "outrageously talented".
In other real life horrors, there's American politics. The Oath (Original-Cin Rating: C+) is the directorial-writing debut of comedian Ike Barinholtz (MADtv, The Mindy Project). He stars in what reviewer Jim Slotek says is a grimly plausible, if eventually off-the-rails, satiric scenario, in which the unnamed demagogue-in-chief demands a loyalty oath: Accept, you get a tax break; refuse and you get visited by a "patriotic" volunteer organization. Against the background of political unrest, protagonist Chris (Barinholtz) and his wife (Tiffany Haddish) hold a Thanksgiving dinner for his mostly Red State family, with more to fight about than who gets the drumstick.
Also this week, Jim Slotek talks with environmentalists Brock Cahill and Julie Andersen, who joined the crew of the late Canadian filmmaker, Rob Stewart, after seeing his breakthrough 2006 film Sharkwater. They talk about his legacy, swimming with sharks, and Stewart's urgent posthumous documentary, Sharkwater Extinction.
Otherwise, Liam Lacey has a review of director Michael Del Monte's trans bodybuilding doc, Transformer (Original-Cin Rating: B+) and interview with its candid star, Janae Kroc. And Liam has a roundup of some of the rich offerings at the imagineNative Film + Media Arts Festival, which runs until Sunday, spotlighting indigenous cultures around the world.