What should I see this weekend?, 11/4-11/6

ScreenerBlog

A trio of new wide releases--Doctor Strange, Trolls and Hacksaw Ridge--fall into the middling category of this weekend's review roundup, while specialty films take the crown.

(SR)=Specialty Release

The Good

The Ivory Game (SR): “The eye-opening film from directors Richard Ladkani and Kief Davidson exposes the threat to African elephants from poachers who want to sell the ivory to dealers in China. The doc benefits from an engaging cast of characters and from striking photography of Tanzania, Zambia and Kenya.”

Rainbow Time (SR): “A provocative but weirdly sensitive and endearing dramedy.”

Off the Rails (SR): “An offbeat, somewhat sad look at compulsive behavior and the government's overreaction to it.”

Don’t Call Me Son (SR): “An energetic and enlightening look at tangled family ties.”

Peter and the Farm (SR): “Tony Stone's penetrating documentary portrait of a complicated personality, inseparable from his environment.”

The Blah

Doctor Strange: “Stunning visuals go a long way towards enlivening this largely unexceptional superhero origin story.”

Hacksaw Ridge: “Conscientious objector becomes a hero during a World War II battle on Okinawa. Massively mounted, meticulously researched war movie that ultimately has little to say.”

Trolls: “Trolls is more likely to appeal to the youngest of kids than their parents; it’s not DreamWorks Animation’s most innovative use of the form. There’s a glimmer of hope in that third act, but good luck staying interested until then.”

Loving (SR): “Obviously, Nichols made a quite valid choice to tell the Lovings’ story strictly from their viewpoint, and to depict Richard and Mildred (both now deceased) as exactly the kind of plainspoken folk they appear to have been. Their love for each other was/is supposedly the motivating factor here, but most movie audiences need a little zing in our love stories; we like to see lovers who make frequent eye contact and who sometimes act as if they truly love each other.”

The Pickle Recipe (SR): “Pungent humor leavens the schmaltz.”

Trash Fire (SR): “With two low-budget cult films among his credits, Richard Bates, Jr. shifts a bit closer to the mainstream with Trash Fire, a relatively reserved horror-comedy that delves into darkly dysfunctional family secrets.”

Dog Eat Dog (SR): “Dog Eat Dog never truly gels as a thriller, but its quirks and its performances ensure that it's not dull.”

Keep in Touch (SR): “Ryan Patrick Bachand’s breakthrough performance does a lot to show off the potential in Sam Kretchmar’s debut, but even that gets marred in ideas that don’t quite connect or gel.”

The Charnel House (SR): “The Charnel House doesn't break any conspicuously new ground, but the setting is distinctive and writers Emanuel Isler and Chad Israel make good use of the idea that the building's pervasive tech is also a portal to the kind of otherworldly things that used to have to content themselves with rapping on tables and smashing china, at least when their characters aren't babbling about doppelgangers and divided souls.”

The Ugly

My Dead Boyfriend (SR): “There’s a place for low-budget (very low-budget) quirky, zany comedies, though they require a lightness of touch and appealing characters—regrettably in short supply in Anthony Edwards’ My Dead Boyfriend, which is all the more disappointing since the premise is amusing.”

All Governments Lie: Truth, Deception, and the Spirit of I.F. Stone (SR): “…[T]akes a valid critique of the deadening effect corporate-government synergy can have on mainstream media’s ability to truly afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted and undercuts it with poor logic and simplistic argument.”