What should I see this weekend?, 1/20-1/22

ScreenerBlog

More good movies than bad dominate the box office this weekend. Small favors!

(SR)=Specialty Release

The Good

20th Century Women: “Annette Bening is nothing short of superb as the 20th-century woman, and mother, who keeps her head, and her sense of humor, while trying very hard to understand and cope with the strange new world her son will soon inherit.”

Split: “M. Night Shyamalan’s thrilling and satisfying return to form showcases an entertaining, multi-faceted role for James McAvoy.”

The Sunshine Makers (SR): “Providing further evidence, not that any was needed, that truth is stranger—and oftentimes a lot more fun—than fiction, Cosmo Feilding-Mellen's documentary shines a spotlight on the two men who were probably the most responsible for sparking the ’60s-era LSD craze. Described as a ‘real-life “Breaking Bad” for the psychedelic set,’ The Sunshine Makers is an entertaining look at the days in which the phrase ‘Turn on, tune in, drop out’ were words to live by.”

They Call Us Monsters (SR): “A haunting and provocative doc.”

Paris 05:59: Théo & Hugo (SR): "Heterosexual viewers might need a warning regarding the unbridled, homoerotic and lengthy opening of what is ultimately a very fine film with something to say to everyone."

Starless Dreams (SR): “Simple filmmaking grabs the heart.”

Leonard Cohen: Bird on a Wire (SR): “Leonard Cohen: Bird on a Wire presents the low-key yet iconoclastic ‘folk singer’ in excellent form, and with an access to an essentially private person that doesn’t feel exploitative or invasive. Those who want to ‘get to know’ Cohen better would do well to attend this rough but thankfully rediscovered gem.”

Strike a Pose (SR): “Those terrific dancers who Vogued their way to brief stardom backing up Madonna are front and center in a warm and absorbing doc about their troupe and what went down post-Madge.”

The Red Turtle (SR): “A simplistic if beautifully rendered tale of island abandon.”

Staying Vertical (SR): “Cinema provocateur Alain Guiraudie returns to the French countryside for a well-observed though unsettling drama brimming with lust, danger and (to put it mildly) offbeat sexual tension.”

My Father Die (SR): “A psychologically scarred man’s battle to rise above his family’s legacy of brutality drives this violent and sneakily moving story of toxic ties that bind.”

The Resurrection of Gavin Stone (SR): "This genial religious-themed dramedy is refreshingly lacking in preachiness."

Antarctica: Ice and Sky (SR): “The granddad of climate-change science gets his moment in the spotlight.”

The Blah

xXx: Return of Xander Cage: “Vin Diesel and his slacker daredevils battle agents who want to take over the world in a loud, pushy adventure just good enough for fans of the series.”

Saving Banksy (SR): “Documentary about an art collector's rescue of a famous piece of graffiti art, and his efforts to give it to a museum, examines issues of art and commerce. Problematically, the collector is also one of the executive producers, so bias may be an issue.”

Detour (SR): “Writer-director Christopher Smith’s crude slab of pulp fiction has a few nifty twists—and a painfully retrograde attitude towards its female characters.”

Trespass Against Us (SR): “A stylistically competent narrative debut that sadly buries its humanism underneath a whimsical surface and generates more apathy than empathy for the small-time criminals at its center.”

The Ugly

Doobious Sources (SR): “Moronic lowbrow stoner humor and two of the most annoying characters ever put onscreen make this a grueling experience.”

Bakery in Brooklyn (SR): “It’s almost guaranteed that this overbaked, underwhelming confection will give you cinematic indigestion.”