PICK OF THE WEEK“BlacKkKlansman” Spike Lee’s best film in almost two decades, this crime dramedy features some of his most inspired directing. Armed with a pair of captivating performances from Adam Driver and John David Washington, Lee crafts something that’s just aces. He very well might end up in the thick of the Oscar race too. Clayton raved about it in his review here on the site, stating the following:
Headlined by a rapturous performance by John David Washington, and a crackling script full of laughs and deeply moving moments, “BlackKklansman” sizzles every moment on the screen.“BlacKkKlmansman” is one of 2018’s best. It’s angry, hilarious, and tragic, often at the same time. No one but Lee could have pulled it off. This is a must own! Special Features: Featurettes Total Box Office: $48,271,960 Major Awards: Won the Grand Prize of the Jury for Spike Lee at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival
RECOMMENDED MOVIE(S)“Incredibles 2” Pixar has done it again. The animation giant has delivered another terrific sequel. Following up “The Incredibles” was always going to be difficult. Somehow, the powers that be came close to not only matching it but exceeding it. If this is now a full-fledged franchise, we’re very lucky. Clayton was very fond of it as well, writing the following here in his review:
With a rich and dynamic evolution of the characters, Brad Bird’s story pushes the family forward on their journey of self-discovery.“Incredibles 2” probably shouldn’t have been this good. The fact that it stands tall with the first one is something truly worth celebrating. Grab it and display them both in your collection proudly. Special Features: Deleted Scenes, Featurettes, and more Total Box Office: $607,940,568 (and counting) Major Awards: None yet
VINTAGE VIEWINGIn honor of this week’s release of “The Front Runner,” the pick today is going to be another timely work from Jason Reitman. It’s “Up in the Air,” arguably his best outing to date. It’s also George Clooney‘s finest hour, while Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick shine as well. Simply put, it’s a masterpiece. Roger Ebert hit on how timely it was in his four-star rave review:
Up in the Air takes the trust people once had in their jobs and pulls out the rug. It is a film for this time.As a reminder, we interviewed Reitman (here) as well as co-writers Matt Bai and Jay Carson (here). Give those a read and check out their work this week!
OTHER FILMS BEING RELEASEDHere’s a look at what else is hitting shelves today, besides “BlacKkKlansman” and “Incredibles 2”: “American Dresser” This road trip tale is charming but admittedly slight, wasting much of its cast. What it really has going for it is a small supporting turn by Bruce Dern. His one scene isn’t essential to the plot, but it features him absolutely stealing the show. The Hollywood Reporter was disappointed in the final product, writing the following:
Despite a fine cast featuring numerous screen veterans, this is a cliché-ridden effort that quickly runs out of gas.If you see it, see it for Dern. Box Office: $3,895 “Bel Canto” A drama directed by Paul Weitz and starring Julianne Moore opposite Ken Watanabe, there’s a strong pedigree here. Unfortunately, it ended up being in the service of a middling story. There’s nothing worse than being bland, and that’s what this seems to be. The Wrap was rather let down:
The film’s failure to modulate its tone, its intensity and its messaging makes it a dreary, one-note production. Worse yet, it’s flat.Alas. Sounds like a disappointment. Box Office: $80,134 “The Cakemaker” An Israeli food-centric drama, this slipped below the radar for most earlier this year. Foreign cinema does have to try harder in order to attract an audience. That’s just the way it is. Luckily, this one had enough charm to reward those who actually found it in theaters. Our positive review here on the site had this to say:
Rather than experimenting with a tantalizing new cinematic recipe, “The Cakemaker” is more like comfort food. It’s a warm, empathetic and satisfying story.Something else to consider this week! Box Office: $872,425 (and counting) “Christopher Robin” Disney went full on for nostalgia here with this family fantasy. Looking at the title character all grown up, reuniting with his childhood toy friends, it’s looking to get you right in the feels. Some were bowled over, while others were left cold. Yours truly fell into the latter category, while Clayton was charmed. His positive yet restrained review here on the site had this to say:
“Christopher Robin” is not perfect, far from it in fact. But the film is solid and competently made. Moments feel disappointingly scripted but are overall entertaining.This really should have been better. Box Office: $98,871,049 (and counting) “Destination Wedding” Putting Keanu Reeves opposite Winona Ryder in a romantic comedy? That has a ton of potential. Sadly, little of that was apparently brought into the movie itself. Reeves and Ryder do what they can, but it’s in vein. Rolling Stone dismissed it as such in their review:
Keanu Reeves and Winona Ryder are natural charmers, challenged here to bury any trace of their star shine. Mission accomplished.A waste of two interesting actors. Box Office: N/A “Loving Pablo” The pairing of Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz never ceases to be a compelling one to watch. If only they would end up in better films. This drug kingpin tale got some of their worst reviews together. Apparently, it’s cliche-riddled and tries to pretend that it isn’t. Oh boy. Time Out shrugged it off as such:
As if the figure of the king of drug trafficking wasn’t a stereotype canonized by thrillers addicted to the dirty business, ‘Loving Pablo’ looks us right in the eyes and tells us it has just invented chicken soup..Pass. Box Office: $22,017 “Papillon” This remake of the well-regarded film of the same name failed to live up to expectations. In fact, it never found a reason for its existence, which is a shame. The cast is a step-down, but with 2018 production values, something of note could have been crafted. Or…not. The Hollywood Reporter dismissed it with this take:
There’s no real voice in the storytelling, nothing distinctive about the imagery, if it’s not a doubling up on the violence and gore, and the result doesn’t remotely resonate in the same way.Sounds like an easy one to ignore. Box Office: $2,335,896 Special Criterion Collection Section “A Story from Chikamatsu” For our only new Criterion release this week, we have a Japanese title from the mid-1950’s to discuss. Considered to be one of the best by filmmaker Kenji Mizoguchi, it may be a blind spot for many cinephiles. If so, now could be a great time to catch up with it. Mizoguchi doesn’t get the same play as some other Japanese directors. As such, perhaps consider him this week? The Collection has this to say in their promotional sales pitch:
One of a string of late-career masterworks made by Kenji Mizoguchi in the first half of the 1950s, A Story from Chikamatsu (a.k.a. The Crucified Lovers) is an exquisitely moving tale of forbidden love struggling to survive in the face of persecution.Those of you who are curious should give it a shot! ALSO OF NOTE “Superman: The Movie” Every so often, a re-release of something is worth briefly mentioning. Today, we have just that. It’s for “Superman: The Movie” and the occasion of it hitting 4K Ultra HD Blu-Ray. An obvious classic, this truly made you believe that a man could fly! You must know that this is a brilliant adventure by now, so take the opportunity to revisit it in 4K. You’ll be glad that you did. It’s just a joy to watch. Up up and away… Special Features: Audio Commentary and more!