Tuesday, October 4, 2016

New release roundup for September '16 and links

Well, you didn't think I stopped watching new movies last month, did you? I would've loved to have devoted entire posts to these films, but instead I'll give you the Reader's Digest version:

- Southside With You. Who woulda thought someone would make a movie about how the President and First Lady met? Or that it'd be this good? Rookie writer-director Richard Tanne forged this screenplay from all the bits of information publicly known about how Barack Obama and Michelle Robinson met, in Chicago in 1989. He gets two terrific performances out of Tika Sumpter and newcomer Parker Sawyers. The result is a smart and warm romantic drama that makes you forget who these two young people will eventually become.

Kubo and the Two Strings. In an industry that continues to equate animated film with middle-of-the-road, celebrity-voiced, CGI pablum that teaches the same old lessons over and over again (and I may have more to say about this soon), this movie was a welcome change of pace. Amazing things are being done at LAIKA Entertainment out of Portland, and Kubo is the latest example. More than the stop-motion animation, which is incredible, this movie had a little bit of an edge; a story with character-based humor and not cutesy jokes; a measured pace that didn't need cinematographic acrobatics and rapid-fire editing; and an engaging story where the celebrity voice actors... acted! LAIKA, you have my attention. Keep up the good work.

Sully. By now, I think, we've come to expect Tom Hanks to excel in a role like this, so while saying he was great may not be original or creative, it's no less true. He just was! Cpt. Sullenberger's miraculous airplane landing on the Hudson River and subsequent board hearing made for a thin movie, but I'd still say it was worth seeing to see how Clint Eastwood recreates the event. I admit, I was trying to pick out where he used CGI and where he didn't, and maybe that threw me out of the movie. Still, it's not like we don't know the ending. Maybe that's the problem with many of these "ripped from the headlines" movies: trying to inject a feeling of suspense into tales everyone knows. I dunno. Regardless, this was good.

- Hell or High Water. Bonnie and Clyde meets Margin Call in this tale of West Texas bank robbers in the post-Bernie Madoff era. Never heard of Brit director David Mackenzie before, but he and screenwriter Taylor Sheridan put together a rock solid crime movie with memorable characters. There's a pervasive feeling of betrayal towards an economy, with the banks as its representatives, that failed the people in this story, and not just the bank robbing brothers. Even the minor characters are shaped by this attitude, which makes for some pleasantly surprising moments. Jeff Bridges does his best Sam Elliot impression as the Texas Ranger on the hunt for Chris Pine and Ben Foster, both of whom are also very good. Great soundtrack as well. Saw this at the Cinemart in Forest Hills and got to test-drive their new luxury recliner seats. They're just like the ones AMC uses, only without AMC prices!

And I've even got some links for ya:

Raquel reviews a doc that tries to uncover who made the first film.

Fritzi reimagines Star Trek as a silent film.

Danny has seen about 8000 movies and ain't done by a long shot.

Did you ever wonder what the deal was between Norma Desmond and her monkey?

On screen masking and why it's important for movie theaters.

Awhile back, I wrote about a documentary in the works about cargo biking. Now, at last, there's a trailer.

Courtesy of my pal Michael Neno, here's a look at a Star Trek convention program from 1976.

Thanks once again for joining me for my Star Trek month. Numbers-wise, I did okay. I hit my minimum pageview goal for the month (barely). I had thought so many consecutive posts might have an effect on the pageview counts of individual posts, but that doesn't appear to be the case. When I began WSW, I remember thinking I had to provide content as often as possible no matter what, but there was no way I could sustain that pace. Props to those who can. 

My monthly series on Star Trek today will continue to the end of the year, and then that'll be it - at least, until the next time I get a hankering to write about one of the movies or something. And of course, I'll talk about the premiere of Discovery in 2017 (though now it won't be until May).

I need a break, so I'm gonna take one. See you in a week.


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