What should I see this weekend?, 12/2-12/4

ScreenerBlog

Kick off the last month of the year (about time 2016 was over) with these choices from our FJI reviewers.

(SR)=Specialty Release

The Good

Jackie: “Natalie Portman excels in this uncanny portrait of Jacqueline Kennedy’s anguish and dignity following the murder of her husband.”

Goodnight Brooklyn – The Story of Death by Audio (SR): “A must-see doc for fans of New York noise bands, but maybe a little too precious for anyone who never made it out to the Williamsburg venue Death By Audio.”

Things to Come (SR): “Isabelle Huppert astonishes yet again as a teacher of philosophy who has to reinvent her life just when most people would be thinking of retiring in this steely, beautiful, intellectually hungry story from Mia Hansen-Løve.”

Best and Most Beautiful Things (SR): “The best film about being blind this critic has ever seen, particularly fortuitous in its ‘star,’ a quirky, heart-melting gamine you will never forget.”

Two Trains Runnin’ (SR): “Fascinating documentary examines the convergence of blues music and civil rights during the Freedom Summer of 1964.”

Bobby Sands: 66 Days (SR): “This documentary about IRA martyr Bobby Sands’ 1981 hunger strike is both tragic aria and political-history essay.”

Old Stone (SR): “Defying its somewhat generic-sounding title, Johnny Ma's gripping criminal thriller Old Stone deploys powerful performances and eerie imagery to convey the moral breakdown of an upstanding taxi driver and the society from which he emerges—one in which people could actually buy insurance to cover themselves from being sued by people they help on the street.”

The Duelist (SR): “Although the plot of The Duelist is original, Russian writer-director Alexey Mizgirev’s enjoyable period drama feels like an adaptation of some lost Russian epic novel of the 19th century by, say, a contemporary of Ivan Turgenev or Mikhail Lermontov.”

Videofilia (and Other Viral Symptoms) (SR): “[C]ompared to other thrillers that treat webcams as a structural gimmick or visualize social media in ways that look corny even by the time credits roll, Videophilia casts a singular spell.”

The Eyes of My Mother (SR): “Isolated and scarred by terrible memories, a young woman descends into a nightmare of violence in this stylish black-and-white movie aimed at the (admittedly small) art/horror market.”

Bodyguards: Secret Lives from the Watchtower (SR): “Despite its juvenile, portentous title, and its framing sometimes tackily smacking of the dreaded ‘TMZ,’ this study of the big boys who protect the big stars offers surprising insight.”

The Blah

I Am Bolt (SR): “This energetic documentary takes an adoring look at Olympic sprinting champion Usain Bolt, ‘the world’s fastest man,’ and his hardcore fans around the world will absolutely adore it. The merely curious, however, may be put off—if not actually bored—by the film’s singleminded focus.”

Sky on Fire (SR): “Deadly battle over a secret cancer cure pits competing interests against a corrupt scientist. Good action helps an otherwise old-fashioned action thriller from Hong Kong veteran Ringo Lam.”

Man Down (SR): “A strong central performance struggles to emerge from an apocalyptic montage.”

Pet (SR): “A shy loner kidnaps and imprisons a pretty girl in this ambitious psychological thriller that's unlikely to attract mainstream audiences but should play well with horror buffs.”

SiREN (SR): “A modern-day take on mythological sirens who lured men to their deaths with their irresistible song, this horror tale doesn't quite live up to its premise but delivers some lurid shocks.”

Sins of Our Youth (SR): “Four middle-class teens accidentally kill a younger boy and subsequently do all the wrong things in this cautionary drama about gun violence.”

Pocket Listing (SR): “Ponderous, low-budget “satirical thriller” set in the shark-infested waters of L.A. real estate wastes a serviceable story along with the talents of Rob Lowe and a few other good actors.”

The Ugly

Incarnate: "Despite [Aaron Eckhart] giving it his all in this B-movie horror film, yet another in a never-ending series of demonic-possession-themed, Exorcist knockoffs, Incarnate, much like its central character at key moments, barely seems to have a pulse."

Anonymous (SR): “Anonymous is riddled with shortcomings, but none is greater than its inability to provide a single reason to care about the plight of its protagonist.”

Run the Tide (SR): “Run away from Run the Tide, a family drama of siblings dealing with the imminent release of their imprisoned mom, capsized by confusing family ties, muddled motivations and incoherent chronology.”