By Andrew Nogay
Assistant Web Content Manager
Each week when movies are released, some are released wide, meaning they play in basically every theater, and a few are released limited, meaning they only play in specialty theaters or are on Video on Demand. This week, the only two wide releases are Hardcore Henry and The Boss, an action film and a comedy. There are four limited releases this week as well, and those include two melodramas, an action comedy and a thriller. My personal pick of this week would be that limited-release thriller, The Invitation, but I’m sure all the films will hit certain people certain ways.
One of the most buzzed about releases of this early year is Hardcore Henry, whose most notable aspect is how the entire film is from the point of view of the main character. The director, Ilya Naishuller, made a short a few years ago in the same style that garnered mass attention, and Hardcore Henry is his first feature. The two most notable actors in this film would be Tim Roth and Sharlto Copley, and the fact that most of the cast are relatively unknown will probably play well into the POV realist style of the film. Even if the story isn’t great, this movie looks like an experience. It looks like a movie version of a first-person shooter video game, something that looks exciting and original.
Melissa McCarthy is a bona fide comedy A-lister, and Kristen Bell is almost always delightful, so just off the bat The Boss has a lot going for it. It also has Kristen Schaal, that guy from Tucker and Dale vs. Evil, and Tyrion Lannister among its cast, making The Boss stacked with familiar faces. It is directed by Ben Falcone, McCarthy’s husband. They collaborated before with Tammy, which was rather uneven. There are funny gags in the trailer for The Boss, and it has talent behind it, but early reviews haven’t been super positive. I give this one solid shrug out of 10.
Jake Gyllenhaal teams up with the director of Dallas Buyers Club in a movie that has a thing I hate in films, and a thing I love. I hate it when movies have a plot that revolves around a giant coincidence. It just so happens that Jake Gyllenhaal, a very attractive human being, sends letters to a vending machine company about his deceased wife which come to the attention of Naomi Watts, a very attractive human being. Realistically, the letters would be read by a fat guy named Jim who doesn’t care at all. However, the touch of Gyllenhaal not being able to deal with his wife’s death because it doesn’t affect him is good. Grief on film is emotional; the lack of grief reveals more about the character than raw emotions. Either way, I think the winner of this movie is Naomi Watts’ kid. What kid wouldn’t want Jake Gyllenhaal to be their weird, emotionally crippled new step-dad?
I saw this movie at last year’s Fantastic Fest, and it hits hard. This is the only movie being released this week that I can guarantee quality for. The setup is easy to grasp; a man, played by Logan Marshall-Green, goes to a dinner party hosted by his ex-wife. All of their old friends are there, he brings a new girlfriend and his ex-wife has a new partner too. However, his ex-wife and her new husband may or may not have joined a cult, as they are part of an organization that helps people deal with emotional devastation in strange ways. There is a ton of paranoia and suspense, and the film remains entertaining between these anxious moments. There are many layers to this film and it is executed well.
Louder Than Bombs
This is director Joachim Trier’s first English film, and also played at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival. It has a few things going for it: first off, it is named after an album by The Smiths; secondly, Jesse Eisenberg looks weird, and he is an actor who doesn’t delve into his weird side nearly enough; lastly, just from the trailer there are some absolutely beautiful shots. This reminds me of Six Feet Under, in that it’s an existential melodrama based around the death of a parent. It looks like an emotionally tolling film, but Jesse Eisenberg and Gabriel Byrne are both good enough actors to carry that. But it would be a missed opportunity if “Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now” isn’t played.
Mr. Right brings up a dilemma we’ve all been in: meeting a great partner, then finding out that kill people for a living. I hate when that happens. To be honest though, I’d push it under the rug if I found out Sam Rockwell was a hitman. He seems like a cool guy. Anna Kendrick is also cool, though hopefully, her character is more than just “love-struck girl in her 20’s,” but I’m not super optimistic about that. Tim Roth, James Ransone and RZA play supporting characters, which is a major plus. The director’s most notable film before this is a Nicholas Cage film called Rage, which is…something. It was also written by Max Landis, who I like much more as a person than as a screenwriter. I give this movie two solid shrugs out of 10.