November kicks off with an Oscar-baity drama about AIDS (but with a heterosexual protagonist), a big sci-fi film, and yet another time travel movie starring Rachel McAdams.
The box office champ this weekend will likely be Ender’s Game (50). Some controversy erupted because of the novelist, Orson Scott Card, making homophobic statements, but it doesn’t seem to be hurting the film any. Though it’s based on a novel from 1985, why does it seem to be derivative of other works? Iganity Vishnevetsky: “Though it can’t overcome the source material’s problematic themes — namely, Card’s intentionalist morality, which prizes a character’s ideals over their actions — or its all-too-convenient characterizations, the film manages a sustained sense of momentum and tone that is rare for a contemporary, big-budget movie.”
The Oscar bait this weekend is Dallas Buyers Club (84), with Matthew McConaughey earning raves as an HIV-afflicted man trying to beat the medical establishment. Interesting commentary comparing this film to 12 Years a Slave (which opens wide this weekend)–so many films before this one about the black struggles in America were told from the white perspective. Now we have a film about AIDS, which in the U.S. has been primarily a disease that has ravaged the gay community, with a straight protagonist. Glenn Kenny: “If Dallas Buyers Club falls somewhat short in the categories of historical chronicle, emotional wallop, and information delivery, its conscientious attempts to portray a group of people in trouble in a troubled time delivers mini-epiphanies in a series of small doses. And that isn’t nothing.”
What is it with Rachel McAdams and time travel? About Time (56) is the third such film she has been in, after The Time Traveler’s Wife and Midnight in Paris. And in all three she doesn’t get to travel in time! A. O. Scott: “You may wish, when it’s over, that you could borrow Tim’s skill, reclaim the two hours and buy a ticket for something else. (You have a lot of good choices at the moment.) Not that it really makes a difference. By the time you get home from the multiplex, it will be as if the whole thing never happened.”
Also in wide release is Last Vegas (48), which stars four Oscar winners but looks dreadful. Scott: “If you crossed “The Hangover” with “The Bucket List,” you might wind up with something like “Last Vegas.” For all I know, that may have been the exact pitch that brought a green light to this almost defiantly pointless film, competently directed by Jon Turteltaub. A mild geezer comedy full of jokes that might have sounded tired at a “Dean Martin Celebrity Roast,” the movie has no reason for existence and nothing much to recommend it.”
Then there’s Diana (36), a biopic of the Princess starring Naomi Watts; Big Sur (48), based on the novel by Jack Kerouac; The Broken Circle Breakdown (72), about bluegrass musicians–from Belgium; Free Birds (38), an animated film about turkeys; and my favorite title this week, The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology (72), a documentary about perverts and ideology, I guess.