Film
Rocco and His Brothers.
Rocco and His Brothers.

At the Movies

by / Aug. 30, 2017 1pm EST

OPENING THIS WEEK

AMERICAN ASSASSIN— First in a projected series of films based on the best-selling books by Vince Flynn about Mitch Rapp (Dylan O’Brien), a young CIA recruit recruited for a black-ops counterterrorism program after the death of his finance in a terrorist attack. With Michael Keaton, Taylor Kitsch, Sanaa Lathan, and David Suchet. Directed by Michael Cuesta (Kill the Messenger). AMC Maple Ridge, Dipson Flix, Regal Elmwood, Regal Niagara Falls, Regal Quaker, Regal Transit, Regal Walden Galleria, Transit Drive-In (Fri-Sun only)

COLUMBUS—Starring John Cho, Haley Lu Richardson, Parker Posey, Rory Culkin, and Michelle Forbes. Directed by Kogonada. Reviewed this issue. Dipson Eastern Hills

VICEROY’S HOUSE—Hugh Bonneville as Lord Mountbatten, the final viceroy of India, tasked with separating it from the British empire after 300 years. With Gillian Anderson, Michael Gambon, Manish Dayal, Simon Callow, and Om Puri. Directed by Gurinder Chadha (Bend It Like Beckham). Dipson Eastern Hills.

THE WOMEN’S BALCONY—In this box office hit from Israel, tensions flare when an Orthodox community whose synagogue has been damaged is temporarily taken in by an ultra-orthodox rabbi with a dismissive view of women. Starring Avraham Aviv Alush, Yafit Asulin, and Orna Banai. Directed by Emil Ben-Shimon. North Park

 

 ALTERNATIVE CINEMA

THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH—A double feature with both versions of the story Alfred Hitchcock filmed in 1934 and 1956, about an ordinary couple on vacation in Europe who accidentally learn of a plot to assassinate a foreign diplomat. The 1956 version, with James Stewart and Doris Day (endlessly bleating “Que Sera, Sera”) shows first, but the 1934 original, starring Leslie Banks, Edna Best, and Peter Lorre is more effective; you can see it at 9:15pm. Fri, Sat 7pm. Tue 7:30pm (1956 version only). Screening Room

ROCCO AND HIS BROTHERS (Italy, 1959)—Luchino Visconti’s visually ravishing, operatically intense epic about five young men and their mother who relocate from the impoverished southern region of Italy to the north, where they hope to find work. Starring Alain Delon, Renato Salvatori, Annie Girardot, Katina Paxinou, and Claudia Cardinale. Presented by the Buffalo Film Seminars. Tue 7pm. Dipson Amherst

 

 CONTINUING

ANNABELLE: CREATIONA killer doll is at the center of this new horror movie from the makers of The Conjuring. Starring Stephanie Sigman, Miranda Otto, Lulu Wilson and Anthony LaPaglia. Directed by David F. Sandberg (Lights Out). AMC Maple Ridge, Regal Elmwood, Regal Niagara Falls, Regal Quaker, Regal Transit, Regal Walden Galleria, Transit Drive-In (Fri-Sun only)

ATOMIC BLONDE is a terrible title for a serviceable spy tale that could have used more plot and less action, though there’s an extended fight scene in the last half hour that is as impressively staged to look like it’s happening in real time as anything in Birdman. Set in Berlin just before the Berlin Wall came down, it stars Charlize Theron as a British agent sent to retrieve a sensitive dossier. Her contact is an agent gone rogue (James McAvoy), who, coupled with a frame device that can’t help but remind you of The Usual Suspects, cues you not to take anything in the story at face value. Stuntman turned director David Leitch did uncredited work on John Wick, and once again shows that his skills don’t include squeezing any emotions out of his star players. With Eddie Marsan, John Goodman, and Toby Jones. —M. Faust Dipson McKinley, Regal Transit

THE BIG SICK—Believe the hype for this gentle, good-natured culture clash rom-com produced by Judd Apatow. Stand-up comic Kumail Nanjiani (TV’s Silicon Valley), whose family moved to the US from Pakistan when he was a child, and North Carolina-born Emily Gordon wrote the script based on their own relationship. Their romance is impeded first by her reticence to be distracted from her studies, then by his inability to stand up to his parents who are trying to set him up in an arranged marriage, and then by an illness that would be hard to believe if it weren’t a true story. Holly Hunter and Ray Romano nearly steal the film as her parents, who first meet Kumail in the waiting room of the hospital where their daughter is in a coma. Directed by Michael Showalter (Hello, My Name Is Doris). —MF  Dipson Eastern Hills

THE DARK TOWER—Stephen King’s enormous fantasy saga, totaling 4,250 pages and 1.335 million words over eight books (thanks, Wikipedia), has long been considered unfilmable, a charge this piffle of a movie tends to prove. Actually a sequel to the books incorporating parts of them, it centers on a Manhattan boy whose troubled dreams contain images that lead him into an alternate world where a “gunslinger” (Idris Elba) stalks a demonic fellow (Matthew McConaughey) who wants to—oh, I’m not going to try to lay it all out. At barely more than 90 minutes, it never attains the kind of gravitas that a tent pole film like this needs: It’s supposed to lay the basis for sequels in both film and TV, but it’s hard to see it gaining much of a fan base. Starring Katheryn Winnick, Matthew McConaughey, Idris Elba, and Jackie Earle Haley. Directed by Nikolaj Arcel (A Royal Affair). MF Four Seasons, Regal Quaker, Regal Transit

DUNKIRK—You wouldn’t expect a typical war movie from Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight, Inception), and he hasn’t provided one with his depiction of the famous campaign to rescue more than 400,000 British and Allied soldiers from their entrapment by German forces on the French coast in May and June of 1940.  The most extraordinary part of the story was the participation of British civilians, who piloted 900 ragtag boats across the channel to pick up the trapped soldiers. Cutting among three stories, Nolan captures immediacy and intimacy in a hellish, if beautiful setting. If you don’t like war movies, this one may be an exception for you. Starring Fionn Whitehead, Tom Glynn-Carney, Jack Lowden, Kenneth Branagh, Cillian Murphy, Mark Rylance, and Tom Hardy. —George Sax Regal Elmwood, Regal Niagara Falls, Regal Quaker, Regal Transit

THE EMOJI MOVIE—No, seriously, I wouldn’t make up something like this. Featuring Patrick Stewart as the voice of Poop. Honest to god, I’m not making this up. Directed by Tony Leondis (Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has a Glitch). Regal Niagara Falls, Regal Quaker, Regal Transit

THE GLASS CASTLEThe trailers for this adaptation of Jeannette Walls’s best-selling memoir, about growing up in a dysfunctional family with parents who couldn’t adequately care for their children, seem to be trying to make it look like another Captain Fantastic. But Rex Walls (Woody Harrelson, adroitly cast) is a wholly different kind of character, a smart guy with a drinking problem and an inability to hold a job. Frustratingly short on important details of how the family survived once the children took charge of their lives, the film holds your attention but is generally a disappointing follow-up from Destin Daniel Cretton, after his striking 2013 debut Short Term 12. With Brie Larson, Naomi Watts, and Ella Anderson. —MF Hamburg Palace, Regal Niagara Falls, Regal Quaker, Regal Transit

THE HITMAN’S BODYGUARD—In what sounds an awful lot like the plot of the classic Midnight Run, Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson play a bodyguard for hire and a captured assassin on the run across Europe. In classic buddy movie tradition, this is fueled by the chemistry between the two leads, and Reynolds and Jackson are sufficiently disparate to spark interest. But director Patrick Hughes (The Expendables 3) puts all his trust in the big action set pieces, which consume the final (and dullest) half-hour of the movie. With Gary Oldman, Salma Hayek, Elodie Yung, and Richard E. Grant in a fun cameo as a coke-addled businessman. —MF AMC Maple Ridge, Regal Elmwood, Regal Walden Galleria, Dipson Flix, Regal Niagara Falls, Regal Quaker, Regal Transit, Transit Drive-In (Fri-Sun only)

THE HOUSE—As if Hollywood’s summer fixation on comic books and children’s movies wasn’t complete enough, of late the industry seems incapable of producing a decent comedy for adults. Snatched and Rough Night were bad enough, but this vehicle for Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler plays like it was written by a 14-year-old, or someone who assumed that all he had to do was give the stars a situation (suburbanites open a casino in order to pay for their daughter’s college tuition) and they could improvise their way through it. Andrew Jay Cohen presumably graduated to the director’s chair on the basis of having written Neighbors and Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, but he shows a shocking lack of talent for the job: the result is implausible, incoherent, and hugely unfunny. With Jason Mantzoukas, Andrea Savage, Nick Kroll, and Jeremy Renner. —MF  Dipson McKinley ENDS THURS

IT—It isn’t often that a major studio takes a chance on a big budget, R-rated horror film with such successful results as this adaptation of the Stephen King novel about kids stalked by a shape-changing creature that most often takes the form of a murderous clown. The characters are vintage King, believable and recognizable from daily life. The filmmakers have learned from what worked in the best King film adaptations, and the rapid-fire dialogue is smart and funny. Overall, it’s among the best adaptations of the King’s work. Starring Jaeden Lieberherm, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis, and Bill Skarsgård as Pennywise. Directed by Andy Muschietti (Mama). —Greg Lamberson. AMC Maple Ridge, Dipson Flix, Regal Elmwood, Regal Niagara Falls, Regal Quaker, Regal Transit, Regal Walden Galleria, Transit Drive-In (Fri-Sun only)

KIDNAP—When single mom Halle Berry sees a dimly glimpsed figure hustling her son into a car, she jumps in her own to give chase. That simple premise covers the bulk of this surprisingly focused thriller, which only starts to lose plausibility toward the end when her adversaries have to become evil enough to provide a bloodthirsty finale (hence the “R” rating). Its only flaw is director Luis Prieto’s fixation on the face of his star, shown so often in tight closeups that you become distracted by her movie-starishness. Co-starring Sage Correa and Chris McGinn. Directed by Luis Prieto. —MF Four Seasons, Regal Quaker, Regal Walden Galleria

LEAP! From France, an animated film about a rural orphan who flees to Paris to pursue her ream of becoming a ballerina. Directed by Eric Summer and Éric Warin. AMC Maple Ridge, Regal Elmwood, Regal Niagara Falls, Regal Quaker, Regal Transit, Regal Walden Galleria

LOGAN LUCKY—Steven Soderbergh came out of retirement to helm this lightweight caper movie starring Channing Tatum and Adam Driver as brothers plotting to rob the box office at a NASCAR race in North Carolina. Not that anyone took that retirement very seriously (Soderbergh is only 54), but it’s hard to see what about this genial but slight material got his juices going. It plays like a lazy Southern knockoff of his Oceans movies, with vague plotting and characters that aren’t as strong as the actors were probably expecting. Still, it makes for a perfectly entertaining evening at the movies if you keep your expectations low. Co-starring Daniel Craig, Riley Keough, Hilary Swank, and Katie Holmes. —MF Regal Elmwood, Regal Quaker, Regal Transit

MENASHE—Yiddish-language drama about a widower in Brooklyn’s ultra-orthodox Jewish community fighting for custody of his son after the death of his wife. Starring Menashe Lustig, Yoel Falkowitz, and Ruben Niborski. Mixing actors with real Hasidim in the Brooklyn neighborhood where the film was made, director Joshua Z Weinstein explores without proselytizing. Some viewers may have trouble with the fact that Menashe doesn’t simply abandon this world that treats him with so little respect, but that’s precisely what makes the film so powerful. —MF Dipson Eastern Hills

PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALESSequel. Because Johnny Depp can apparently spend money faster than he can earn it. With Javier Bardem, Geoffrey Rush, Paul McCartney, and Anthony De La Torre, star of the upcoming local production Johnny Gruesome. Directed by Joachim Rønning Espen Sandberg (Kon-Tiki). Dipson McKinley ENDS THURS

WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES— Fifteen years after the events of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, in which “simian virus” wiped out most of mankind, the intelligent apes led by Caesar (Andy Serkis) live in secret, hunted by a Colonel Kurtz-like commander (Woody Harrelson) who sees himself as mankind’s savior. It’s hard to believe special effects can still dazzle an audience spoiled by technology that makes anything possible, but the motion-capture technology that turns human actors into chimpanzees delivers powerhouse entertainment with rare emotional resonance. This may be conclude the trilogy, but don’t expect this thrilling, emotionally satisfying, and meticulously crafted installment to be the end: Action-fantasy films this good can fuel a decade’s worth of spinoffs. Directed by Matt Reeves (Cloverfield). —Greg Lamberson Four Seasons, Dipson McKinley

WIND RIVER—For his mainstream directorial debut, Taylor Sheridan mines territory similar to his script for last year’s Hell or High Water: both are about crimes committed in territory where the residents’ lives are stressed and constrained by social and economic conditions. In this case it’s a Native American reservation, where federal agent Jeremy Renner investigates the murder of a young girl. The movie is saturated in mood—sorrow, fear and anger—but it doesn’t feel very well thought through: We too often get atmospherics rather than narrative or character, despite some fine actors. Co-starring Kelsey Asbille, Julia Jones, Apesanahkwat, Elizabeth Olsen, and Graham Greene. —GS Dipson Amherst, Dipson Flix, Regal Elmwood, Regal Niagara Falls, Regal Quaker, Regal Walden Galleria, Transit Drive-In (Fri-Sun only)

WONDER WOMAN—Patty Jenkins, who has been directing episodic TV since Monster, delivers a true crowd pleaser from the DC universe. The film traces the comic book heroine’s origin as an Amazon princess on Themyscira Island to her mission to slay Ares, the god of war, whom she believes is orchestrating World War I. Israeli-born actress Gal Gadot is perfectly cast as the feminist icon, and Chris Pine is charming as her love interest, American spy Steve Trevor. The first half of the film is true to the original comic, and may be the most romantic superhero adaptation since Richard Donner’s Superman. Diana is a relentless warrior, winningly embodying the phrase “Nevertheless, she persisted.” The film only goes awry in its last act, when Jenkins employs the same bleak color scheme as Snyder, and when a poorly cast actor assumes the role of Ares. Co-starring David Thewlis, Robin Wright, and Ewan Bremmer. —Greg Lamberson Dipson McKinley, Four Seasons, Regal Elmwood, Regal Quaker

 Links to theater websites for current showtimes: 

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