Category Archives: Openings

What happens in Chicago….ends up here every Friday.

Opening in Las Vegas, July 20, 2018

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Another dull week. Spend time with your family.

We already have estimates in and the surprise winner was The Equalizer 2 (49). I haven’t seen the first Equalizer and have no plans to, so this will remain unseen by me. Denzel Washington seems to be still a reliable fox office force.

Another sequel, even less likely to be seen by me, is Mamma Mia!…Again (60), which is kind of a threatening title. A movie mostly for older women, it brings on Cher to play Meryl Streep’s mother (Meryl wisely declined to participate) when she is only three years older. I won’t see this even though it features Lily James, one of the most beautiful women in film today.

And yet another sequel, Unfriended: Dark Web (53), is another in a series of horror movies in the digital age. I think I have the original on my Netflix queue, so who knows, I may see this one day when I’m in a nursing home.

 

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Opening in Las Vegas, July 13, 2018

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A weak weekend. Time to catch up on reading.

Skyscraper (52), which as James pointed out, is about as generic a title you can get, is another cliche-ridden Dwayne Johnson action flick. Question: will it make more than San Andreas (which at least had Alexandra Daddario in a bikini).

For the little ones in Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation (54). When I was teaching I put on one of these films for my students but I didn’t pay much attention. I probably would have liked them when I was at that age, because I loved monsters (still do, but now I prefer them scary).

Finally, a film I will probably catch on DVD, Sorry to Bother You (80). It seems to be a film about someone in a call center, which I know something about, and getting along while being black in a white world. It’s directed by the greatly-named Boots Riley, and also stars Danny Glover (!)

 

Opening in Las Vegas, July 6, 2018

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The big opening is Ant-Man and the Wasp (70), which looks like decent fun. I’ve always liked Paul Rudd–I hope he plays me in my life story. A ton of money looms, as Marvel continues the streak. In other Marvel news, the great Steve Ditko, who took part in creating Spider-Man and Doctor Strange, died this week at 90.

The First Purge (54) is not really the first purge, at least it’s not the first movie. It’s following the old, “we’ve run out of sequel ideas, so let’s do a prequel.” I saw The Purge, but I can’t remember if I saw the second one. I’ll skip this, although I love Marisa Tomei, almost as much as George Costanza.

A documentary about Whitney Houston, simple titled Whitney (75), is in a lot of theaters for a documentary. I was never a fan of hers, and her life story doesn’t interest me. Getting good reviews, though.

In limited release (one theater) is Boundaries (49), a lame family comedy road trip film, starring Vera Farmiga (why isn’t she a bigger star?) being put upon by her rascal father, Christopher Plummer. The definition of middle-brow entertainment.  Pass.

Opening in Las Vegas, May 25, 2018

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The 800-pound gorilla in the room this weekend is Solo (63), directed by Ron Howard. It’s a Star Wars prequel, the adventures of a young Han Solo. It’s getting okay reviews, despite Howard’s participation. His output since A Beautiful Mind is suspect. Does anyone else confuse Alden Ehrenreich and Ansel Elgort?

The only other film debuting here this weekend is a documentary about the pontiff: Pope Francis, A Man of His Word (63). Francis is the nonbeliever’s favorite pope, but I doubt I’ll ever seen this. Ninety or so minutes about a pope, no matter how forward thinking, is too much for me.

Opening in Las Vegas, May 19, 2018

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The big opening this weekend is Deadpool 2 (66). The film is critic-proof, but some are pointing out that it is more of the same from the first film, and the meta-stuff is getting tedious. Of course I’ll see it.

Counter-programming this weekend, Book Club (53) is for the ladies. Four women read Fifty Shades of Grey, hilarity ensues. I suppose we should be grateful that this demographic is being considered, even if it is a mediocre movie.

For the kids there’s Show Dogs (35), and even though Alan Cumming stars I won’t get anywhere near this. One reviewer probably puts it best: “Show Dogs is really bad, even for a talking-dog movie.”

In limited release is Disobedience (74), a drama about the love that dare not speak its name, at least in an Orthodox Jewish community. Offers the tantalizing prospect of a love scenes between Rachel Weisz and Rachel McAdams. Directed by Sebastien Leilo, who just won an Oscar for directing A Fantastic Woman.

Opening in Las Vegas, May 11, 2018

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Not much this weekend, as the Avengers will again rule the weekend. Next week Deadpool will take over. But until then:

I think Melissa McCarthy is very talented. But her movies seem to be all of a kind–slapstick comedies that don’t appeal to me at all. I haven’t seen any of them, and I’m not going to start with Life of the Party (45), which seems like a female version of the Rodney Dangerfield film, Back to School (which was terrific).

The only other major release this weekend is Breaking In (42), starring Gabrielle Union as a women trying to rescue her children. Directed by James McTeigue, who made the underrated V for Vendetta. Pass.

Opening here in Vegas in limited released (one theater) is RBG (72), about Supreme Court Justice and folk hero Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The movie is getting fairly good reviews, but they point out that the movie is not exactly even-handed, and leans toward hagiography, so this one is not for the Fox News crowd. I’d like to see it.

Opening in Las Vegas, May 4, 2018

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I guess the most prestigious film opening this weekend is Tully (77), the third team-up of Jason Reitman and Diablo Cody (following Juno and Young Adult). It’s getting solid reviews and Charlize Theron may be a candidate for an Oscar nomination. The trailer makes it seem like an updated version of Mary Poppins, but I’ll probably see this.

The new film likely to get the highest box office this weekend (still well below Avengers: Infinity War) is Overboard (45), a remake of an old Goldie Hawn/Kurt Russell film. I didn’t see that and I won’t see this. What’s next, a remake of Captain Ron or Wildcats?

Bad Samaritan (45) is about a burglar getting involved with a serial killer. Probably will never see this.

Opening in Las Vegas, March 30, 2018

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The big opening this Easter weekend is Steven Spielberg’s foray into the world of video game fanboys with Ready Player One (64). I saw this today and will have a review up over the weekend.

Tyler Perry keeps busy making films primarily for the black community. It remains to be seen if he can break through to the mainstream, without wearing a dress. His latest is Tyler Perry’s Acrimony (tbd), which based on the trailer seems something like Fatal Attraction. I suppose putting your name in the title of your films is a marketing decision, but it also seems the move of an egomaniac. I’ve never seen a Tyler Perry film, and I doubt I’ll start now.

We have another faith-based film this weekend, God’s Not Dead: A Light in the Darkness (31), and another one getting panned. Shouldn’t this be called God Is Still Not Dead?

In limited release is The Death of Stalin (88), from Armando Iannucci, who gave us the gleefully scabrous In the Loop and created Veep. It’s about the maneuvering of Soviet ministers after the title event. I can’t wait to see it.

Also in limited release is Flower (45), with Zoey Deutsch as a girl trying to get the goods on a pedophile. It seems like another in a long line of teenage-girls as vicious personalities. I’m interested, but given the lackluster reviews will probably wait for home video.

Opening in Las Vegas, March 23, 2018

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The likely box-office champ, and the first to knock Black Panther off the top spot after six weeks, is Pacific Rim: Uprising (44). I saw the first one and thought it was meh, so I have no interest in this one. I suppose it will find its niche.

Of more interest to me is Unsane (63), the second feature (plus one TV movie) that Stephen Soderberg has put out since his “retirement.” It is the second, after Side Effects, that deals with someone being involuntary committed to a mental hospital. Perhaps this is Soderbergh’s greatest fear, like Poe was afraid of being buried alive. Anyhoo, this was shot on an iPhone. I might see this if I get bored.

Another faith-based film, Paul, Apostle of Christ (48) opens this week. Jim Caviezel, who played Jesus in The Passion of the Christ, plays Luke. How many  Biblical characters will he end up playing? Not for me.

For the kiddies is Sherlock Gnomes (40), and while this looks torturous for adults, I’m on board with anything that might get kids interested in reading Sherlock Holmes. Fun fact: I’ve read all of Conan Doyle’s Holmes stories, but I am missing one of his novels: The Valley of Fear. Seems like I could take care of the easily, doesn’t it? As I have no children, I will never see this.

Finally is Midnight Sun (36), a disease of the week movie (girl can’t go in the sun) which only interests me because it stars Bella Thorne, who is very easy on the eyes. I may see this someday when I want to see every movie she’s ever made (I have even seen the Netflix film You Get Me, but not The Babysitter (not yet).

 

Opening in Las Vegas, March 16, 2018

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The big new opening this week is a reboot of Tomb Raider (46), with Alicia Vikander taking up the role previously played by Angelina Jolie. I believe I saw both of Jolie’s Tomb Raider films, but I remember almost nothing about them. It seems that may be a problem with the new one, too, but Vikander is an appealing performer. I’m just not sure she’s an action star. I’ll see this on home video.

Love, Simon (73) is a mainstream teen comedy about a gay kid, something of a historical occasion. Will straight teens go see it? Estimates show it getting 12 million for the weekend, so it seems the answer is sort of. I’ll probably wait for home video.

A suprise hit may be I Can Only Imagine (27), a faith-based film about a Christian musician. It remains to be seen when one of these Christian-themeed films will actually be any good. Not for me, I’m afraid.

When I first saw the trailer for 7 Days in Entebbe (49), I thought, “Hasn’t his film already been made?” Indeed, including TV movies, this is the fourth cinematic look at the Israeli raid on Entebbe, Uganda. I don’t know what gave anyone the idea we needed another one. I doubt I’ll ever see this.

Finally, the movie I plan on seeing this weekend is A Fantastic Woman (87), the Oscar-winner for Best Foreign Language film. It centers around a transgender woman, which means it is pushing the zeitgeist, but hopefully it also a good film. I’ll let you all know.

Opening in Las Vegas, March 9, 2018

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The big opening this weekend is A Wrinkle in Time (52), based on the popular children’s novel (I read it some fifty years ago, but can only remember that the dog’s name was Fortinbras).  It is so important, but not well received by critics. Maybe if they it weren’t so important. I’ll probably catch up with this on home video.

The Strangers: Prey at Night (48), is a masked-murderer film set in a trailer park–those can be scary. Will probably do great business and then sink like a stone. I’ll never see it. Stars Christina Hendricks. Question: what Mad Men star will end up being the break out film star (if any). Jon Hamm doesn’t seem interested.

Gringo (44) has a good cast, including David Oyelowo, Charlize Theron, Thandie Newton, and Paris Jackson, but has the old “regular guy gets caught up in crime caper” plot. Maybe I’ll see this on VOD, but certainly not in a theater.

What a pitch: it’s bank robbery, during a hurricane! (not availabe for screening, but of three reviews on MetaCritic none are above a 50). It’s The Hurricane Heist! One of the reviews says it’s utter excrement from start to finish. Directed by Rob Cohen. Question for those who know: why did Cohen only get to direct the first Fast and Furious film? I’ll never see this.

The best reviewed film this week is Thoroughbreds (76), which a blurb on the poster reads, “Heathers meets American Psycho,” but reading the summary, sounds more like Heavenly Creatures. Stars Anya Taylor-Joy (The Witch), and Olivia Cooke (Me, Earl, and the Dying Girl). I may see this today.

 

Opening in Las Vegas, March 2, 2018

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Red Sparrow (54), starring Jennifer Lawrence as a Russian ballerina turned deadly spy, is getting very mixed reviews. It is supposed to be very violent and apparently JLaw gets naked, which is making the most news. I will likely see this in a theater.

The only other major release this week is a remake of Death Wish (31). Whether now is the time to have a movie about gun violence is questionable, but it should be remembered that the original film was against vigilantism. Director Eli Roth is certainly not subtle, so I doubt this film has anything to say on the subject. The Times calls it an “imbecilic misfire.” I will probably never see this.

Opening in Las Vegas, February 9, 2018

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I’m going to add a little something to my Openings. I will indicate whether I will see it in a: theater, home video (streaming or DVD rental) or will never see it.

This week’s box office winner was Fifty Shades Freed (32), the third in the trilogy based on the mommy-porn novels by E.L. James. I saw the first one and liked it more than I thought I would, basically because it seemed to get the S/M stuff right. As a movie, though, it was terrible. I plan on seeing the second one soon and will eventually see this at home, if only for puerile interests.

Peter Rabbit (52) opened above expectations. When I saw the trailer I thought it looked funny, but reviews have been unkind. It goes to show that parents will take their kids to see anything. I will never see this.

Coming in third was The 15:17 to Paris  (45), Clint Eastwood’s picture about the young American men who stopped a terrorist attack on a train in France. The men are played by themselves, which sounds good but not anyone can act. I will probably see this at home.

Opening in one theater this weekend is the 2017 holdover, Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool (65). This film fascinates me because it seemed to have absolutely no marketing. Annette Bening stars as Gloria Grahame, an actress who won an Oscar and had all sorts of drama in her life. Since Bening is in the category of “due for an Oscar,” if this film had been more visible she might have gotten a nomination. I guess Sony Pictures Classics wasn’t interested. I will see this in a theater.

Opening in Las Vegas, January 26

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Not much this week. One holdover from 2018 is Hostiles (65), a Western starring Christian Bale. I will probably see this, as I am a sucker for Westerns, and am glad they keep getting made, even though very few become hits. I’m especially interested in this one, since it is about American Indians, another favorite topic of mine.

Maze Runner: The Death Cure (51) is the third film in the series, based on a YA book series. I have seen none of them, so I’m not likely to start with this one.

Streaming on Netflix is A Futile and Stupid Gesture, (54) the story of Doug Kenny, the founder of National Lampoon. I will probably see this, as I was a National Lampoon reader and this is aimed squarely at my generation, who still worships the original cast of SNL and Animal House. Not getting great reviews, though.

 

Opening in Las Vegas, January 19, 2018

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Here in Vegas we’re getting a mixture of Oscar bait and the usual January flotsam and jetsam, which are actually well-reviewed.

I’ve already seen Phantom Thread (90) and loved it except for the ending. It’s on the bubble for a Best Picture nomination, but surely Daniel Day-Lewis and costume designer Mark Bridges will get noms. Though it’s not perfect, any film by P.T. Anderson is worthy of seeing.

Also a Best Picture contender is Call Me By Your Name (93), a gay-themed drama that has earned fabulous reviews and a string of precursor nominations for its star, Timothy Chalamet. It’s kind of amazing to think that inside of fifty years, from Boys in the Band to now, that gay themes in cinema have totally been accepted. Brokeback Mountain was a hit, and Moonlight won Best Picture last year. Some progress can’t be stopped, no matter how hard some people try.

Now for the January releases, of course there is a Nicolas Cage movie. He’s in Mom and Dad (63), which is getting higher reviews than most Cage movies of the last decade. It’s about parents turning on their children and killing them.

A 9/11 drama, 12 Strong (55) is about a special forces mission immediately after the attack. One great selling point is that it stars Michael Shannon, one of our most interesting actors.

Den of Thieves (56) looks like a cut-rate Heat, but for those who like crime movies this will probably scratch the itch. Especially looks ideal for home-viewing.

Mary and the Witch’s Flower (75) is not from Studio Ghibli but certainly looks like it. Getting very good reviews, so for those who savor animation looks like something to check out.