Your weekend preview: What to see (and what to skip) in the theatres this week

Christmas, or maybe St. Patrick’s Day, is arriving early for film lovers.

The film of the week is Martin Scorsese’s three-and-a-half-hour gangster epic The Irishman  (Rating: A). It brings together Al Pacino, as Jimmy Hoffa, Joe Pesci as crime boss, Russell Bufalino, and Robert De Niro as the titular Frank Sheeran, a union organizer and mob enforcer whose haunted memoir serves as the spine of the story.  Reviewer Liam Lacey says to catch this grandly-immersive film in the theatres before it goes to Netflix if you can, watch De Niro and the rest of the cast do some of their best acting in years.

De Niro: Funny, that doesn’t sound Irish.

De Niro: Funny, that doesn’t sound Irish.

Jim Slotek wonders whether we really need a sequel to the Stanley Kubrick classic, The Shining, especially one involving characters with super-powers? Doctor Sleep  (C plus). In The Shining, a lot was left to the imagination; the new movie, starring Ewan McGregor as a grown-up Danny, does too much explaining.

For Remembrance Day, we have Roland Emmerich’s war drama, Midway  (B minus) which follows the 1942 three-day battle near the Midway atoll in June, 1942 which was a turning point in the Pacific war. Woody Harrelson, Dennis Quaid, Jake Weber and Aaron Eckhart star in a solid, if conventional war flick. 

Come for the stilted family drama, stay for the scenery says Liam Lacey of Frankie (C-plus). Ira Sachs’ drama stars Isabelle Huppert as a famous French actress, along with a multi-national cast including Marisa Tomei and Brendan Gleason, set near the  historic Portuguese town of Sintra.

Author Margaret Atwood, at 80 is enjoying a peak moment of fame and influence with two TV series and Booker Prize win. She’s the never-at-a-loss-for-words subject of the celebratory documentary, Margaret Atwood: A Word After A Word After A Word Is Power (B plus). 

Word up for the weekend!

Midway: Minus monsters and aliens, Roland Emmerich puts the boom in naval battle

By Jim Slotek

Read More

Your weekend roundup: What to see (and what to skip) in the theatres this weekend

Not every  screen this week features the Avengers zipping about on a treasure hunt through space and time. Some are showing movies about real things, like Seth Rogen and Satanists, UglyDolls and literary frauds, Dennis Quaid as an angry white middle-aged guy and Dame Judi Dench in spy mode.

Seth Rogen’s new rom-com Long Shot  (Rating: A) sees Rogen as a rumpled reporter-turned-speechwriter for a presidential candidate (Charlize Theron) who’s his boyhood crush. Reviewer Kim Hughes calls it a whirlwind, globe-trotting, comedy that skewers celebrities and politicians, including Justin “Sunny Ways” Trudeau.

Will Dame Judi Dench pay for the espionage she committed in her youth? Is Red Joan a disappointment?

Will Dame Judi Dench pay for the espionage she committed in her youth? Is Red Joan a disappointment?

Also topical is Penny Lane’s disturbingly entertaining documentary Hail Satan?  (B-plus) in which a team of outrageous culture jammers called The Satanic Temple, encourage after-school Satanic clubs and statues of Baphomet on public squares to counter-balance the conservative right’s exploitation of Christianity.

What’s an UglyDoll? A toy brand, it turns out, and now an animated movie, UglyDolls  (C-plus) with Kelly Clarkson as Moxy, who leaves the accepting bliss of Uglyville for the totalitarian world of Perfection. Our reviewer Karen Gordon describes the characters as looking like “soft goofy lumps” and, along with the predictable messages about self-acceptance, finds unexpected parallels to Game of Thrones.

There’s a lesson about profiting from not accepting yourself, in JT LeRoy  (C-plus), a dramatization of the literary fraud of the early 2000s, in which writer Laura Abbot (Laura Dern) passed off her sister-in-law (Kristen Stewart) as an androgynous teen-aged boy author with a sordid past named JT Leroy. The actors are predictably good, says Liam Lacey, but the story is only hair-and-sunglasses deep.

You may recall that Dame Judi Dench, in the role of James Bond’s boss, M, died for England in Skyfall. But she’s on the other side in Red Joan  (C) a reality-based tale of an elderly woman who was arrested for the misdeeds of her youth as a Soviet mole in the English nuclear program Sophie Cookson plays the young Joan). Jim Slotek reviews this “improbably dull” tale of a woman torn between her Stalinist seducer and sensible Englishman, where atom bombs are somehow secondary to the yearnings of the heart.

If you think just staying at home is a safe option, think again. In The Intruder (C) Dennis Quaid plays a guy who sells his house to a bland young couple and then, in a case of psychotic seller’s remorse., won’t leave them alone. It’s always a challenge, says reviewer Jim Slotek, to sustain suspense when the audience is way ahead of every character onscreen.

Finally, in our 22nd podcast, the OC team talks about Avengers after the End Game, fear of a Disney cinematic planet and the rise of “spoiler alert” mania. 

Have a great weekend.