I have a three-day weekend, so I may see two movies this weekend, as that is how many good movies (hopefully) are opening this week, which makes for a relative goldmine.
Arrival (82) is yet another “the aliens are here” movie, but reviews indicate it’s very thoughtful, with a good performance by Amy Adams, and the director, Denis Villenueve, is no Michael Bay. Bilge Ebiri: “for most of its running time, Arrival is entrancing, intimate, and moving — a sci-fi movie that looks not up at the stars but rather deep within.”
The other movie that I want to see is getting almost impossible good reviews, and is a likely Best Picture Oscar nominee. That’s Moonlight (99), based on an unproduced play by Tarell Alvin McCraney (I saw a trilogy of his plays, usually set in backwater Louisiana, when I lived in Princeton) that covers the life of a gay black man through three stages in his life. Brian Tallerico: “Moonlight is a film that is both lyrical and deeply grounded in its character work, a balancing act that’s breathtaking to behold. It is one of those rare pieces of filmmaking that stays completely focused on its characters while also feeling like it’s dealing with universal themes about identity, sexuality, family, and, most of all, masculinity.”
I feel funny writing about films that have all black casts that are clearly geared toward the black community. I mean, are films that have all white casts geared toward whites only? I suppose not, but Almost Christmas (53) will probably be attended by overwhelmingly black audiences. It doesn’t help that it’s getting mediocre reviews. It is a step forward that these films are being made by other directors than Tyler Perry. David Lewis: “Almost Christmas would have been less clunky if it had focused more on the family’s loss of its matriarch, and allowed the comic elements to naturally arise as the characters struggle with the new family dynamic. Instead, we get too many slapstick set pieces and extraneous subplots that bog down the proceedings.”
Not screened for critics is the horror film Shut In (tbd), which inexplicably stars Naomi Watts. One critic has published a review, and I doubt it’s an outlier. Bill Zwecker: “This is a disappointing waste of good acting talent, coupled with a very pedantic and not very intriguing story from first-time screenwriter Christina Hodson.”