So many movies, so little time. Every week brings a new crop of them, opening in multiplexes and arthouse theaters across the nation, and arriving in increasingly high volumes on streaming platforms like Netflix. How’s a voracious moviegoer to keep up? That’s where The A.V. Club comes in. The first week of every month, we’ll be previewing all the major movies coming to theaters (or laptops or gaming systems or Rokus) near you, helping narrow down these upcoming releases by making educated guesses on whether they’re worth your time and money.
In that hallowed rite of passage for movie teens, three high school girls make a pact to lose their virginity on prom night. Unfortunately, their best-get-laid plans go awry when their respective parents—Leslie Mann, Ike Barinholtz, and John Cena—embark on a secret mission to stop them in this R-rated not-coming-of-age comedy from producers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg.
Will it be worth your time? Though it sounds like your typical middlebrow raunch, Blockers distinguishes itself not only by its cast or its Apatovian imprint but by its director, Pitch Perfect writer Kay Cannon, who brings a rare female perspective to what is typically a dick-driven genre. The film has an unexpectedly progressive bent (call it Woke American Pie), which is to say that it’s surprisingly sensitive and mature for a film where John Cena butt-chugs a beer. Also, pretty funny.
Office star John Krasinski pivots to high-concept horror with his third turn behind the camera, a literally hushed creature feature about a family trying to survive in a strange post-apocalyptic America overrun by toothy, lightning-quick monsters. The nigh-irresistible hook: These beasts are hyper-sensitive to even the slightest sound. Stay silent, stay alive.
Will it be worth your time? Borrowing more than a couple moves from M. Night Shyamalan’s Signs, A Quiet Place is a broadly fun and rousing chiller, thanks to a central conceit which, during certain scenes, allows you to hear an entire theater mutter, “Oh shiiiiiiit” under its breath simultaneously. And the film’s gimmick doubles as an interesting acting exercise, allowing Krasinski and the rest of his small cast—including real-life spouse Emily Blunt and Wonderstruck’s Millicent Simmonds—to try out their best Jim Halpert silent reactions.
Following, like many youngest siblings do, in the footsteps of his older brothers, the late Ted Kennedy finally gets a movie of his own. With no assassination to dramatize, Chappaquiddick narrows its focus to one dark chapter from his political career: a car accident on Chappaquiddick Island, Massachusetts, in the summer of 1969, which resulted in the drowning of 28-year-old campaign specialist Mary Jo Kopechne and effectively derailed Kennedy’s plan to run for president in 1972. The film takes place over just a few days, with Jason Clarke as the tortured politician with the famous family name, Bruce Dern as his demanding dynasty patriarch Joe Kennedy, and Kate Mara as the woman whose death becomes just another Washington scandal to be damage controlled.
Will it be worth your time? Directed by John Curran (The Painted Veil, Stone) in the style of an off-brand David Fincher procedural, Chappaquiddick juggles some provocative (and potentially subversive) ideas about America’s most famous political dynasty. But its restraint and unsteady grasp of its own narrative result in a whole that is less than the sum of its parts.
Another entry in the “based on a true story” inspirational school-sports genre, The Miracle Season gets an assist from a screenplay by Friday Night Lights writer David Aaron Cohen and supporting turns from clockwork-reliable actors like Helen Hunt and William Hurt. High school girls’ volleyball champs West High try to regroup after the death of their star player Caroline “Line” Found with the help of a tough-love coach (Hunt) and Caroline’s grieving best friend Kelly (Erin Moriarty), who steps up to rally the team in honor of their departed teammate.
Will it be worth your time? Hunt is re-teaming with her Soul Surfer director Sean McNamara, which suggests this will be a straightforwardly saccharine and conventional affair. Still, for those who harbor a particular fondness for the subgenre of feel-good sports weepies, A Miracle Season will likely scratch that itch.
It’s Joaquin Phoenix as you’ve never seen him before: as a hulking slab of pure homicidal menace. In this hallucinatory adaptation of a novel by Bored To Death creator Jonathan Ames, Phoenix bulks and beards up to play a PTSD-afflicted war veteran who’s redirected his violent skill set to mercenary work, including tracking down missing persons. But his latest job, involving a kidnapped girl and a sex-trafficking ring, puts him deep into a dangerous conspiracy—and when your head is a jumbled mess of bad memories, it’s easy to get in over it.
Will it be worth your time? Even if it didn’t provide the spooky thrill of seeing Phoenix, one of our greatest living actors, twist his body into a weapon (his character’s actual weapon, by the way, is often a hammer), You Were Never Really Here would still be worth experiencing for its kaleidoscopic style. Rearranging time and space as radically as she did in her last movie, We Need To Talk About Kevin, the great Scottish filmmaker Lynne Ramsay offers a brutal and nightmarishly expressionistic take on neo-noir. The addition of a sinister new score by Radiohead guitarist and regular Paul Thomas Anderson composer Jonny Greenwood clinches this as one of the must-sees of the season.
The first American-set drama from British writer-director Andrew Haigh (Weekend) chronicles the bond that develops between a quiet, scrawny teenage boy (Charlie Plummer from All The Money In The World) and the aging racehorse he looks after for a summer job. Sweet as that may sound, we’re talking about the new movie from the guy who made 45 Years. Things get difficult.
Will it be worth your time? Like Haigh’s other films, Lean On Pete is sensitively observed and beautifully acted. (Steve Buscemi is especially good as the horse’s grizzled owner.) It’s also a tough, unsentimental work, applying the stark simplicity of Italian neorealism to an unvarnished American backdrop. In other words, it’s closer to Bicycle Thieves than The Black Stallion. Take that as enticement or warning.
After killing a white settler in self-defense, an Aborginal stockman (Hamilton Morris) flees into the inhospitable Australian bush of the early 1920s, an angry posse in hot pursuit. The latest from director Warwick Thornton (Samson & Deliah) belongs to a proud tradition of eccentric Aussie Westerns, finding in the Outback some of the same lawlessness, danger, and racism that defined the Old West of American legend and cinema. Look for Sam Neill as the country preacher whose faith is shaken by his hateful colonial neighbors.
Will it be worth your time? Those expecting rollicking cowboy action will be disappointed—Sweet Country is deliberately paced and low on gunslinging. But there’s a rich outrage and melancholy running through Thornton’s portrait of injustice in the Northern Territory, and the filmmaker augments his drama with striking stylistic touches, like little fast-forward glimpses of events to come, which gives the movie a pointed fatalism—the sad sense that history may already be written for these characters.
Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead, the writer-director team who took viewers to Italy in 2015’s unclassifiable Spring, explores terrain a little closer to home in The Endless. This heady sci-fi road trip revolves around brothers who return to the isolated cult compound in rural California where they grew up in order to find closure. After being confronted with some undeniably weird phenomena bending the laws of physics, however, the brothers are forced to confront the idea that maybe the UFO doomsday cult they’ve spent their entire adult lives trying to escape may have been on to something.
Will it be worth your time? Although The Endless builds on characters and themes first established in Benson and Moorhead’s 2012 film Resolution, you don’t have to be familiar with their previous work to appreciate it. Fans of cerebral genre fare like Coherence and Primer, take note.
The peripatetic American avant-garde filmmaker Ben Russell (A Spell To Ward Off Darkness) trains his Super 16mm camera on one the world’s oldest industries, mining, in this transportive two-part documentary. The first half was shot deep in the bowels of an industrial copper mine in Serbia; the second, around an illegal gold-panning operation in Suriname. Working in hypnotic long takes with his longtime Steadicam operator, Chris Fawcett, Russell brings an ethnographer’s eye to the subject, finding timeless human qualities and timely economic concerns in this age-old profession.
Will it be worth your time? A 143-minute documentary without a narrative line, Good Luck demands a good chunk of the viewer’s attention. But though the Suriname-set section is at times repetitive, the first part of the film represents some of Russell’s most tremendous, must-see filmmaking, not only in its poetic sense for the darkness and isolation of the mine, but in its inspired use of the limitations of the film format.
What happens when horror specialist Brad Anderson (Session 9, The Machinist) directs a political thriller script by A-list writer Tony Gilroy (Michael Clayton, the Bourne films, Rogue One)? Set in Lebanon in the early 1980s, Beirut stars Jon Hamm as a former American diplomat who is asked to negotiate the release of a hostage with the help of a CIA agent (Rosamund Pike, in her second terrorism-thriller role of the season, after last month’s 7 Days In Entebbe ).
Will it be worth your time? Since the end of Mad Men, Hamm has struggled to translate his small-screen acclaim into big-screen starring roles worthy of his talents. But until Ben Affleck formally vacates the role of Batman, a decent thriller will have to do. Anderson’s last feature, Stonehearst Asylum, was an inspired but under-seen take-off of Edgar Allan Poe’s classic short story “The System Of Doctor Tarr And Professor Fether,” and reviews from this year’s Sundance have characterized Beirut as an entertaining, well-made throwback.
Need proof that The Rock has become one of the world’s most bankable movie stars? Look no further than the marketing campaign for ’80s-arcade-game adaptation Rampage, which has played up Dwayne Johnson’s supernova, He-Man charm more than the film’s supposed hook: three giant, mutated animals running amok through the big city. Of course, Johnson’s superhuman physique is one of the better special effects money can buy. And does anyone really think it was affection for the Jumanji brand—or, you know, CGI wildlife—that pushed Welcome To The Jungle past the $400-million mark in the U.S. alone?
Will it be worth your time? The game was a brainless, repetitive button masher, and with San Andreas director Brad Peyton at the helm, there’s no real reason to think that the movie will do great wonders with Rampage’s goofy kaiju-game premise. But does it really need to? The Rock playing a primatologist who has to fend off attacks from a flying wolf sounds pretty close to a foolproof recipe for fun. At least you won’t have to keep pumping quarters into it to see monsters smash buildings for a couple of hours.
We dare you to try and stifle a laugh during the baldly ridiculous trailer for Blumhouse’s Truth Or Dare, from a production company that genuinely believes it should get top billing in the very title of its latest feature. (And here we thought posters that touted a “From the producers of...” credit were a little presumptuous.) After a group of high-school friends (including Pretty Little Liars’ Lucy Hale and Teen Wolf’s Tyler Posey) are invited out for a seemingly harmless game of truth or dare, they learn that a supernatural force is in control of the game—and if they fail to play by the rules, the punishment can be deadly.
Will it be worth your time? At best, this could be an enjoyable goof along the lines of a Final Destination film, where the fun lies in watching the rules of the film’s narrative logic get tested with splatter-ific results. At worst, it could be exactly what it looks like: a hacky horror flick whose laughs are mostly unintentional.
It’s surprising that it took almost 40 years for someone to make a movie about what might be the most famous match in the history of tennis: the 1980 Wimbledon Men’s Singles final, which pitted Sweden’s unflappable, almost robotically talented champion Björn Borg against the hotshot, hotheaded New York upstart John McEnroe. Borg Vs. McEnroe, which opened last year’s Toronto International Film Festival, builds a melodramatic sports drama out of their rivalry, with the unknown-in-the-States Sverrir Gudnason as Borg and the very-known-in-the-States Shia LeBeouf as McEnroe.
Will it be worth your time? Maybe there’s a reason it took so long for them to make a movie out of this showdown. Structured around one single match, Borg Vs. McEnroe often feels like it’s killing time before the big climax, and the film can’t find a way to make the players’ deceptively polar psychologies interesting, nor to make tennis itself particularly cinematic. Still, it’s hard to argue with the casting; at last, LeBeouf is playing a character every bit as loutish and unlikable as he is.
Celebrated Argentine filmmaker Lucrecia Martel (The Headless Woman) spent almost a decade trying to finance and shoot this ambitious 18th-century period piece, based on countryman Antonio Di Benedetto’s revered 1956 novel. Perhaps the protracted gestation period is apropos, as Zama—funded by 16 production companies worldwide—is all about purgatorial setback, concerning as it does an ineffectual Spanish functionary (Daniel Giménez Cacho) desperate to be transferred away from the South American outpost where he’s been indefinitely stationed.
Will it be worth your time? Depends on your taste for stories that deliberately go nowhere. Zama perversely commits to the arbitrary nature of its title character’s predicament, reveling in the inertia and lack of incident. That said, those who can get on Martel’s wavelength will discover a wealth of Kafkaesque comedy in the perhaps deserved torture delivered upon a colonialist bureaucrat. It’s dry in a pretty funny way.
It wasn’t that long ago that the name of Bruno Dumont (Humanité) was synonymous with arthouse miserablism. But after trying his hand at self-parody in Li’l Quinquin and the Monty Python-meets-Dreyer Slack Bay, he’s taken another left turn with this completely baffling-looking medieval pop musical about the early years of Joan Of Arc, scored by French breakcore and metal musician Gautier Serre, a.k.a. Igorrr. As the trailer proudly proclaims, the dance choreography is by Philippe Decouflé, best known for his work on the conceptually confusing ’80s MTV staples “True Faith” and “She Drives Me Crazy.” No, we don’t know how this thing exists either.
Will it be worth your time? While we’re not impressed by what we’ve heard of the music, few directors in recent years have managed to subvert expectations about their work more successfully (or giddily) than the rigorous Dumont. But speaking of self-parody…
Alicia Vikander and James McAvoy star in this adaptation of the same-titled novel by J. M. Ledgard, directed by the once-revered Wim Wenders (Wings Of Desire, Paris, Texas, etc). He’s a British intelligence agent, she’s an undersea explorer, they’re in love, yada yada yada. Though Submergence is by most accounts the most conventional drama Wenders has made in some time, expect a lot of tortured symbolism and listless, dazed pacing.
Will it be worth your time? Wenders, who is decades removed from his heyday as a film trendsetter, hasn’t made a great narrative film in decades. The last few have been simply embarrassing, including the soporific Every Thing Will Be Fine and the execrable (and still undistributed) The Beautiful Days Of Aranjuez, which remains one of the worst films we’ve seen at a major film festival. It’s possible that no major director has experienced a steeper late-career artistic decline. While there’s still time for Wenders to make a comeback, we’ve long since stopped holding our breaths.
After a nearly fatal horseback-riding accident puts a metal plate in his head, a young Lakota cowboy struggles to adjust to a life outside the rodeo circuit. Playing a fictionalized version of himself, newcomer Brady Jandreau leads a non-professional cast (including his real-life family and friends) in this sophomore feature from writer-director Chloé Zhao; her under-the-radar debut, Songs My Brothers Taught Me, similarly dealt with life on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.
Will it be worth your time? The Rider earned positive reviews when it debuted in Director’s Fortnight at last year’s Cannes Film Festival, drawing praise for Zhao’s quasi-documentary directing style.
A Netflix exclusive adapted from an episode of This American Life—wait, please, keep reading—Come Sunday tells the true story of the Oklahoma-based televangelist Carlton Pearson (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a protégé of the powerful Oral Roberts (Martin Sheen) who lost his congregation and stardom after preaching that hell didn’t exist. The supporting cast includes Lakeith Stanfield, Jason Segel, and Danny Glover.
Will it be worth your time? Joshua Marston, a prolific TV director better known for foreign-language projects like Maria Full Of Grace and The Forgiveness Of Blood, seems like an odd choice for the material, despite his penchant for stories that depict conflicts between new realities and old values. Though Ejiofor’s performance was warmly received when Come Sunday premiered at Sundance earlier this year, the film itself drew mixed reviews.
While American film struggles to figure out how to deal with the subject of Trump, France is way ahead on movies about its own right-wing resurgence. Like Laurent Cantet’s the-nationalist-amongst-us thriller The Workshop, Lucas Belvaux’s This Is Our Land actually premiered last year. Rosetta’s Émilie Dequenne stars as an apolitical, hardworking single-mom nurse who becomes a pawn of the “Patriotic Bloc,” a (very) thinly fictionalized version of France’s National Front. Catherine Jacob co-stars as the film’s version of Marine Le Pen.
Will it be worth your time? The most interesting work by Belvaux (Rapt, The Trilogy) tends to play with genre conventions; advance word suggests that the heavy-handed plotting of this more straightforward topical drama doesn’t play to his strengths.
Hollywood really does warp people. What other explanation is there for Amy Schumer, who was being celebrated for the incisive feminist commentary on her Comedy Central show not five years back, agreeing to star in a movie where the overarching conceit is that Schumer—an average-sized, average-looking white woman—is so terminally unattractive that it’s hilarious when she hits her head during an exercise class and becomes convinced she’s actually hot? But hey, at least she’s not wearing a fat suit like Gwyneth Paltrow in Shallow Hal.
Will it be worth your time? Basically, the only hope for this movie is if Schumer somehow manages to subvert the trope in a way that just isn’t evident in I Feel Pretty’s marketing materials. And if we have to sit through 75 minutes of “fatty’s wearing a bikini” jokes first, the benefit of 15 minutes of body-positive platitudes will be negligible at best.
The sequel that fans demanded, then largely forgot about, for 17 years finally arrives as the Broken Lizard comedy team reconvenes behind its first and most successful property for another round of bad-cop shenanigans. Picking up more or less where 2001’s Super Troopers left off, part two finds the wacky, mustachioed highway patrolmen skirting an international incident when they’re assigned to cover a newly disputed area on the Canadian border. Rob Lowe joins the loosely sketched fun as a floppy-haired former hockey player-turned-Quebecois mayor who says stuff like “Great Tim Hortons ghost!” He’s Canadian!
Will it be worth your time? If you’re one of the many who made this sequel one of the most successful crowdfunding campaigns of all time, there’s probably little that could dissuade you—not even a trailer that’s just 90 percent jokes about how Canadians talk weird, use the metric system, or fuck moose. For everyone else, well… sorry [said in funny Canadian accent].
Boasting one of the weirder assemblages of voice casts in recent memory, including Jim Gaffigan, Zendaya, and Carl Reiner—oh, to be a CGI fly on that wall!—this computer-animated comedy concerns a cynical, swinging-bachelor gander (Gaffigan) who’s coerced into helping two rambunctious ducklings migrate.
Will it be worth your time? Director Chris Jenkins co-wrote Surf’s Up, which put a relatively fresh spin on the “random celebrity menagerie” genre through its mockumentary format. Duck Duck Goose doesn’t have that, unfortunately, but it does have a scene where the Gaffigan-goose gets his bill stuck in a pig’s ass.
What ever happened to the old Jean Luc-Godard, that puckish French New Wave stalwart who made stylish, impossibly hip instant classics like Breathless and Contempt? That’s the question that drives this comic biopic from writer-director Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist), who returns to the moment in the late ’60s when Godard, at the height of his popularity, denounced his “bourgeois” success and reinvented himself as a cranky revolutionary, alienating his peers, his admirers, and his young actress wife, Anne Wiazemsky (Nymphomaniac’s Stacy Martin). Louis Garrel, an icon of French cinema in his own right, slips on horn-rimmed glasses and adopts an exaggerated lisp to play the master director during his “Dylan goes electric” period.
Will it be worth your time? “Stupid” is how the real Godard characterized the idea of exploring this particular chapter of his career and love life. But the premise isn’t really the problem with Godard Mon Amour, and neither is the deeply unflattering depiction of its subject. No, the issue here is that rather than taking Godard’s artistic sea change seriously, Hazanavicius has made a jokey Woody Allen-by-way-of-Wikipedia cartoon, characterized by ultra-obvious references to Godard’s favorite techniques. And though it’s based on Wiazemsky’s memoir, she’s reduced to a waif observer, sighing from the sidelines of her own story.
A skeptical professor investigating tales of the supernatural forms the wraparound structure for this low-key chiller, a throwback to classic British horror anthologies of the Amicus Productions school. Co-written by character actor Andy Nyman and longtime The League Of Gentlemen member Jeremy Dyson, Ghost Stories brings a dry, offbeat wit to its terror tales, which include the stories of a night watchman pursued by spirits at a rundown mental hospital; a young man pursued by demons on a late-night drive; and finally, Martin Freeman as a wealthy banker tortured by visions of his unborn child the night his wife goes into labor.
Will it be worth your time? Like most horror anthologies, Ghost Stories may be better in parts than as a whole. Still, for genre lovers nostalgic for the dusty skeletons and moaning specters of classic British horror movies, Ghost Stories more than delivers on its title.
The Devil And Father Amorth is a throwback for director William Friedkin on a number of levels: Not only is it a return to the demonic subject matter of one of his most famous films, The Exorcist, it’s also a return to the documentary format where he cut his chops early in his career. Friedkin’s journey begins at the infamous “Exorcist steps” in Washington, D.C., and takes him all the way to Rome, where he accompanies 91-year-old, Vatican-trained exorcist Father Gabriele Amorth on a disturbing house call.
Will it be worth your time? Narrated in the first person and only 68 minutes long, the film has the tawdry feel of a tabloid TV special purporting to show the morbidly curious and easily fooled a “real exorcism, never before caught on camera!” But fans of Friedkin might find a rare appearance in front of the camera from the 82-year-old director charming nonetheless.
The summer movie season arrives a little early this year, what with Marvel pushing forward by one weekend the release date of its most jam-packed crossover event yet. Infinity War rallies the studio’s entire shared-universe roster of superheroes—not just The Avengers, but also Black Panther, Doctor Strange, Spider-Man, and the Guardians Of The Galaxy—to take on MacGuffin-hunting world conqueror Thanos (Josh Brolin, under some combination of prosthetics and digital enhancements). Like all 18 of the other movies released under the MCU umbrella, this will surely be a world conqueror itself. The only question is if it can come close to matching the earnings of this winter’s Black Panther, which just passed the first Avengers to become the highest-grossing superhero movie ever in the United States. Quick, there’s still time to add more Shuri!
Will it be worth your time? Even at two-and-a-half hours, Infinity War may struggle to keep its massive gallery of characters in equilibrium. Thankfully, the film reassembles not just The Avengers, but also the writing and directing teams behind the last two Captain America movies, both of which handled their multitasking duties—and their sprawling casts—with relative grace. Ultimately, after the house-style-bending fun of Black Panther, another on-model superhero melee could look boringly familiar. On the other hand, just imagine the collisions of personalities. Like Shuri and Drax! Or Shuri and the Hulk! Or Shuri and Doctor Strange’s sentient cape!
Phase One of Adam Sandler’s Netflix-conscripted oeuvre draws to a muted close with this relatively small-scale family comedy, which finds Sandler—in a feat of transformative, Christian Bale-like method acting—both tucking in his shirt and staying inside a house for this Father Of The Bride update. Sandler’s loving, mumbling, middle-class dad struggles to plan his daughter’s wedding on a tight budget and host two families under his leaky roof, all while Chris Rock’s slick, wealthy father of the groom keeps trying to show him up.
Will it be worth your time? Interestingly, The Week Of marks the directing debut of longtime Sandler collaborator (and very funny man) Robert Smigel, which at least lends some curiosity factor to what is an otherwise rote premise and pairing. Its nearly three-minute trailer, however, seems to cover the entire movie—minus the part where the mild-mannered Sandler inevitably starts screaming—so you could probably just save yourself the trouble.
One of four movies set to come out this year from schlocky director Deon Taylor, Traffik follows a journalist (Paula Patton) and her boyfriend (Omar Epps) as they set out for a romantic weekend getaway that goes wildly off-the-rails. Bikers and sex traffickers are involved, but judging by the previews, this is less about trafficking and more a post-Get Out take on The Hills Have Eyes, built around the uncomfortable nature of being the only person of color in a rural area.
Will it be worth your time? Nope. Taylor’s last movie, Meet The Blacks, played on similar anxieties in a Purge-like setting, but did it for broad laughs. (George Lopez played the president.) Traffik seems to strip all humor out of the equation, turning it into a pretty grisly thriller. Meet The Blacks did not exactly suggest there was a taut genre craftsman lurking within Taylor, but who knows?
One of the world’s greatest filmmakers, Claire Denis, joins forces with one of the world’s greatest actors, Juliette Binoche, for this quirky character study about a divorced Parisian artist passing through a series of relationships, searching for Mr. Right. Her suitors include actor-director Xavier Beauvois, Denis regular Alex Descas, and Cyrano De Bergerac himself, Gérard Depardieu.
Will it be worth your time? Denis, the French director of such masterpieces as Beau Travail and 35 Shots Of Rum, has spent her entire career leapfrogging from one kind of movie to another, unafraid to apply her singular touch to whatever new genre catches her fancy. But Let The Sunshine In, a kind of peculiar riff on the romantic comedy, doesn’t play to her strengths; there’s probably more dialogue in it than all of her other movies combined, and little of the rapturous sensuality and pure visual storytelling that usually characterizes her work. Perhaps it’s best to think of the film as an interesting curiosity—a palate cleanser before her forthcoming foray into science fiction, High Life.
From Danish director Per Fly, Backstabbing For Beginners traces the saga of an apple-cheeked U.N. diplomat (Divergent’s Theo James) as he slowly uncovers a vast web of corruption in U.N. aid programs. It’s based on a diplomat’s actual memoirs, giving a hint of realism to scenes of seamy back-alley deals, envelopes stuffed full of cash, and guys in suits smarmily threatening each other. Also present and accounted for is Ben Kingsley, who shuffles pretty easily between prestige and paycheck roles these days.
Will it be worth your time? It seems like a competently made conspiracy thriller, if that’s a thing you like.
The tight-knit and tight-lipped world of Orthodox Jewish communities is the subject of Disobedience, adapted from Naomi Alderman’s award-winning novel. When her rabbi father dies, Ronit (Rachel Weisz) returns to the conservative religious neighborhood that exiled her years before. Once there, old emotions bubble to the surface, especially once she learns that her former lover, Esti (Rachel McAdams), is now married to her cousin Dovid (Alessandro Nivola)—who also happens to be her father’s chosen successor as rabbi.
Will it be worth your time? Director Sebastián Lelio is on an arthouse hot streak, fresh off winning the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar for A Fantastic Woman and crafting marvelous character studies like 2014’s Gloria. Disobedience’s exploration of muted desires in a hermetically sealed environment should be well worth your time.
Miguel Arteta (Chuck & Buck, Youth In Revolt) directed this romantic comedy about a twentysomething (Alia Shawkat, who also co-wrote) who embarks on 24-hour relationship experiment after hooking up with a musician (Laia Costa). The cast of indie regulars includes Kumail Nanjiani, Lindsay Burdge, Mark and Jay Duplass (as, apparently, themselves), Hong Chau, and Shawkat’s fellow Arrested Development alum Mae Whitman.
Will it be worth your time? Arteta is still best known for his work with actor-screenwriter Mike White (on Chuck & Buck, The Good Girl, and Beatriz At Dinner), and we’re interested to see what will come of his collaboration with Shawkat, an always-welcome presence who makes her writing debut with this film. But that doesn’t change the fact that the trailer makes Duck Butter look like an indie generated via Markov chain.
Mustang writer-director Deniz Gamze Ergüven makes her English-language debut with this overheated-looking, gauzily over-diffused drama set against the backdrop of the 1992 Los Angeles riots. Halle Berry stars as a foster mother raising eight kids on her own; in a role that appears be more Joe Bang than James Bond, Daniel Craig plays her irascible next-door neighbor.
Will it be worth your time? On the one hand, we’re intrigued to see Ergüven tackle such an ambitious project to follow up her accomplished first feature. On the other, we can’t remember the last time we saw a good movie that starred Halle Berry. Whether the result is an unlikely success or a tonal mess, we’re sure it’ll be interesting.