What should I see this weekend?, 12/9-12/11

ScreenerBlog

Get into the holiday spirit with Office Christmas Party and these other new releases recommended by your friendly neighborhood FJI reviewers.

(SR)=Specialty Release

The Good

Office Christmas Party: “A cornucopia of comedians, this business-world farce sports great individual bits and two beautifully meshed performances by T.J. Miller and Jennifer Aniston. Before descending into excess, it's an amusing-enough showcase for some of the best comics around.”

Harry Benson: Shoot First (SR): "If ever there was a photographer’s photographer, it is Harry Benson, and this doc does full justice to him and his mind-boggling longevity and body of work."

Sugar Mountain (SR): “After four previous features since 2010, director Richard Gray may finally have his breakthrough film with this extraordinary crime thriller set on a sun-dappled Alaskan coast.”

I Am Not Your Negro (SR): “Intelligent but sometimes discursive documentary about African-American author James Baldwin.”

My Annoying Brother (SR): "Call it cornball for the way this ostensible black comedy morphs into a family tearjerker, but I defy you not to be moved by its literal bromance."

The Brand New Testament (SR): “A religiously incorrect but irresistibly funny work of the imagination.”

Beyond the Gates (SR): “Supernatural shenanigans and amateur sleuthing add up to mild-mannered entertainment in Jackson Stewart’s affectionately quirky directorial debut.”

Accidental Courtesy: Daryl Davis, Race & America (SR): “A provocative look at ‘the conversation’ about race in America.”

Burn Country (SR): “An offbeat mystery whose protagonist's war-zone past is just part of the picture.”

The Blah

Sword Master 3D (SR): "Heavy going at first, the movie's plot and characters are hard to follow. Once the real story emerges, Sword Master 3D settles into an impressive display of action choreography."

Kill Ratio (SR): “There's plenty of action in this low-budget thriller about a military coup and the one man who can derail it, but without a Van Damme-level star, the movie's natural home is VOD and other nontheatrical platforms.”

Slash (SR): “Writer-director [Clay]… miss[es] most opportunities for humor and arousal in this sincere but flat picture. Real-world fanfic enthusiasts may appreciate the attention, but most could probably hatch a more involving tale in the time it takes to scratch ‘Kirk + Spock 4 Evr’ into a wooden bench.”

Sad Vacation: The Last Days of Sid and Nancy (SR): “A decent look into the tumultuous rock relationship that led to murder, but not particularly essential except to Sex Pistols completists.”

Abattoir (SR): “This supernatural mystery wrapped around a rethinking of haunted-house clichés loses steam as the formulaic plot overshadows the freshness of its premise.”

Befikre (SR): "This is a very modern film by Indian standards. By Western ones, it's no news and much too predictable, though it has its charming and entertaining moments and some energizing dance numbers."

The Ugly

All We Had (SR): “Katie Holmes makes her directorial debut with this soapy mess—and should probably stick to her day job.”

Lost and Beautiful (SR): “Strains for a poeticism that it never achieves…. [L]ives up to only the first part of its title.”