Your Weekend Film Roundup: What to See (and Skip) in the Theatres.

By Original-Cin staff

Melissa McCarthy is nearly always too good for the forgettable comedies she stars in. But our reviewer Kim Hughes says she finds a platform to match  her gifts in Can You Ever Forgive Me? (Original-Cin Grade: A).

Richard E. Grant and Melissa McCarthy in Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Richard E. Grant and Melissa McCarthy in Can You Ever Forgive Me?

It’s a female-driven dramedy based on the 2008 memoir Lee Israel, co-adapted by writer-director Nicole Holofcener and directed by Marielle Heller (The Diary of a Teenage Girl). 

McCarthy, co-starring with Richard E. Grant as her flamboyant accomplice, plays Israel, a Scotch-fueled misanthrope and celebrity biographer. Down on her literary luck in the early ‘90s, she finds a new career as a forger of letters by the likes of Dorothy Parker and Noel Coward. Reviewer Hughes declares the film’s New York setting “wintry in soul and in look,” but adds that it’s “a superbly entertaining film by any metric.”

Could Jonah Hill’s Mid90s be the male answer to Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird? Probably not, though the Superbad star is getting a lot of attention for his gritty coming-of-age skateboarding drama, Mid90s (Original-Grade B).  Reviewer Liam Lacey calls it an honorable debut, steeped in a self-consciously brutal indie esthetic, somewhat undermined by a corny Afterschool Special ending.

We have an opera double-bill this week: Julianne Moore stars in Bel Canto (Original-Cin Grade: B minus) as a famed singer (voiced by Renée Fleming) with Ken Watanabe as a Japanese businessman, the two of whom get caught up in a South American hostage-taking.

Adapted from a 2001 Ann Patchett novel and directed by Paul Weitz, the story is based on the 1996 attack by guerillas on the Japanese ambassador’s residence in Peru. Reviewer Kim Hughes, says the drama devolves into a “weird romance-cum-social critique” that doesn’t earn its common-cause-of-humanity message.

In the adulatory documentary Maria by Callas (Original-Cin Grade: B) we get up close to the charismatic La Divina through diaries, home movies and television clips, for a patchy biography that reviewer Liam Lacey says leaves you wanting more.

Trading in high Cs for high seas, we have the military thriller, Hunter Killer, starring Gerard Butler as an American submarine captain, under orders of a very stable woman president, who is tasked with investigating a sunken U.S. sub and helping rescue the peacenik kidnapped president of Russia. Shot in 2016 before the Trump election, says reviewer Liam Lacey, the movie feels less like a nail-biter than quaint escapism.

Jim Slotek reviews Rowan Atkinson’s Bond-spoofing comedy, Johnny English Strikes Again (Original-Cin Grade: D) and really wishes Johnny English would quit already.

Finally, we have a preview of TIFF’s Ingmar Bergman retrospective (running until Dec. 23) in which Liam Lacey makes the case that Bergman should be rebranded as a comic book superhero.

Have a great weekend!