16 movies to catch over the next two months
The Goldfinch (Wide): That doorstop your aunt loved gets its inevitable prestige film adaptation in The Goldfinch, Brooklyn director John Crowley’s rendering of Donna Tartt’s 2013 novel of the same name. Ansel Elgort (Baby Driver) stars as Theodore Decker, a young man whose childhood set his path into the world of art forgery. Nicole Kidman, Luke Wilson, Sarah Paulson, and Jeffrey Wright take major supporting roles.
Hustlers (Wide): Lorene Scafaria (The Meddler) writes and directs this true story based on the 2015 New York Magazine article by Jessica Pressler about a crew of sex workers (Jennifer Lopez, Crazy Rich Asians’ Constance Wu, Keke Palmer, Riverdale’s Lili Reinhart) who carry out a scheme to get over on their wealthy clients in the wake of the economic fallout of the recession. Julia Stiles, Cardi B, and Lizzo also star.
Ad Astra (Wide): Writer-Director James Gray (The Immigrant, The Lost City of Z) delivers a ruminative star vehicle for Brad Pitt. He stars as an astronaut sent to find his missing father (Tommy Lee Jones) on the outer edge of the solar system, whose experiments have raised questions about the nature of human existence and threatened mankind’s survival. Also stars Ruth Negga, Liv Tyler, Natasha Lyonne, and Donald Sutherland.
First Love (Limited): Uber-prolific Japanese director Takashi Miike goes newly accessible with this madcap romantic pulp fiction about a boxer and a call girl who get caught up in a drug-smuggling scheme over one night in Tokyo.
Joker (Wide): Joaquin Phoenix attempts to single-handedly elevate the comic book film in this critically-acclaimed character study and origin story reformulating Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver and The King of Comedy. Set in 1981 Gotham City, Todd Phillips’ film (co-written by The Fighter’s Scott Silver) follows Arthur Fleck (Phoenix), a depressed, middle-aged stand-up comedian who’s found his aspirations in life continually deferred, as he comes into the orbit of a talk show host (Robert DeNiro) and the billionaire philanthropist Thomas Wayne (Brett Cullen). Zazie Beetz (Atlanta) stars as a single mother with whom he has a relationship, while Marc Maron (GLOW) plays his agent.
Pain and Glory (Limited): Pedro Almodóvar takes on a reflective, semi-autobiographical mode in this universally-acclaimed film relaying a series of reencounters –– in both flashback and present time –– experienced by a film director (Antonio Banderas, who took home the Best Actor award at Cannes) in the wake of his career’s decline. Penélope Cruz, Leonardo Sbaraglia, Kiti Mánver, and Cecilia Roth round out the cast.
Gemini Man (Wide): Director Ang Lee (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) returns to action filmmaking and furthers his exploration of hyper-real, 120fps technology with this story of an aging assassin (Will Smith) pitted against a younger clone of himself, who is trying to both defeat him and keep him from going down the same path he did. Also starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Clive Owen, and Benedict Wong.\
Parasite (Limited): Bong Joon-Ho’s comedy thriller became the first Korean film to win the Palme D’Or. A box office smash in its native South Korea and the recipient of many rapturous reviews, the Snowpiercer director’s story of families from different class backgrounds who develop a symbiotic relationship has drawn comparisons to Us and Shoplifters — and is said to be better than both.
Zombieland: Double Tap (Wide): Yes, it really has been ten years since Zombieland. The gang’s all here (Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin) and the undeath-induced apocalypse is still going on. Evolved zombies and new survivors (Rosario Dawson, Thomas Middleditch, Luke Wilson, Zoey Deutch) enter the mix as makeshift-family dysfunction abounds. Bill Murray appears again, this time with Dan Aykroyd for good measure.
The Lighthouse (Limited): Robert ‘best horror director of his generation’ Eggers (The Witch) returns with this black-and-white tale of two lighthouse keepers (Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe, both sporting appropriately grizzled facial hair) losing their minds in solitude while being encroached on by more sinister presences.
Jojo Rabbit (Limited): Also known as the last legitimately risky movie Disney will ever release, this carefully toned satire from Taika Waititi follows a ten year old Hitler youth whose worldview is completely upended upon discovering his mother (Scarlett Johansson) is housing a Jewish girl (Leave No Trace’s Thomasin McKenzie) in their attic. His identity profoundly challenged, he turns to his sophomorically interpreted imaginary friend Hitler, played by Waititi, to try to understand things. Sam Rockwell, Rebel Wilson, Alfie Allen and Stephen Merchant also play Nazis, to varyingly less comedic effect.
The Laundromat (Netflix): Steven Soderbergh reunites with his The Informant! writer Scott Z. Burns to bring a similarly ironic take to the Panama Papers scandal. It follows the middle-class woman (Meryl Streep) who had a document-assisted hand in exposing the lawyers (Gary Oldman and Antonio Banderas) who gleefully helped millions of millionaires exploit the global financial system. Adapted from Jake Bernstein’s Secrecy World, the film also stars Jeffrey Wright, Robert Patrick, David Schwimmer, and Sharon Stone.
Motherless Brooklyn (Wide): Edward Norton wrote, directed, and produced this adaptation of Jonathan Lethem’s novel of the same name, opting to push the setting back to the 1950s. He stars as Lionel Essrog, a private detective with Touretts syndrome trying to understand the events surrounding the death of his mentor (Bruce Willis). As he investigates a complex web of power, murder, blackmail, and corruption, everything seems to lead to Moses Randolph (a thinly fictionalized Robert Moses –– the ‘master builder’ of New York City who built racism into its infrastructure –– played by Alec Baldwin). Also in the cast are Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Willem Dafoe, Michael K. Williams, and Bobby Cannavale.
Terminator: Dark Fate (Wide): From Paramount Pictures comes the third Terminator reboot-sequel in ten years. But hey, James Cameron is involved this time, with Deadpool’s Tim Miller on board to direct. Linda Hamilton, Edward Furlong and Arnold Schwarzenegger are back too for this direct sequel to Judgement Day. Set 27 years later, they must protect a new set of protagonists from an advanced Terminator prototype, played by Gabriel Luna.
Harriet (Limited): Harriet Tubman finally gets the prestige biopic treatment, courtesy of Eve’s Bayou director Kasi Lemmons. It stars Cynthia Erivo (Bad Times at the El Royale, Widows) as the eponymous escaped slave, abolitionist, and political activist. Janelle Monáe, Joe Alwyn, and Leslie Odom Jr. co-star.
Charlie’s Angels (Wide): From Director Elizabeth Banks and Sony Pictures comes a sweet, studio-polished, ‘why do I feel so guilty about this’ reboot of the reboot of the original ABC show. Kristen Stewart (at maximum swoon-worthiness) leads Naomi Scott (Aladdin) and Ella Balinska as the Angels, while Elizabeth Banks, Dijimon Hounsou, and Patrick Stewart all play ‘Bosleys’ (I, too, have no idea what that means). International spy-jinks to a soundtrack curated by Ariana Grande ensue. Sam Claflin (swoon) and Noah Centineo (double swoon) are also present.