***UPDATE: Austenland has been moved to next Friday, 9/20***
Friday the 13th is almost here with a film that seems worthy of that eerie release date – Insidious: Chapter Two. James Wan’s 2010 first chapter remains one of the best recent mainstream horror films and holds up to repeat viewings. Now in the wake of his excellent The Conjuring, the director offers a second helping of spooks before unleashing his sure-to-be-interesting take on the Fast & Furious series.
When last we left the Lambert family, father Josh (Patrick Wilson) had rescued fellow spirit walker son Dalton (Ty Simpkins) from demonic clutches, only to seemingly be inhabited by the old woman ghost from his own childhood in The Further. Picking up where the first film left off, the family delves into the past to understand their tie to the spirit world. In the process, Wan will also hopefully explain how paranormal expert Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye) is apparently still alive after being strangled to death at the end of Insidious. Mysteries galore…
Winner of this week’s Grammar Award is David Lowery’s Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, in which Bob Muldoon (Casey Affleck) escapes from prison to reunite with his wife Ruth (Rooney Mara) and daughter Sylvie, who was born while he was behind bars. Ben Foster plays the local sheriff who’s become close to Ruth during Bob’s incarceration, while Keith Carradine and my man Nate Parker (Arbitrage; Red Hook Summer) also appear in supporting roles. The imagery recalls Malick, the story Cold Mountain (at least somewhat), and the Texas accents from the three New England-born leads…well, we’ll just have to see. Critical response has been enthusiastic, but the film has some company on the indie front this week.
The first challenger is In A World… from writer/director Lake Bell, who also stars as Carol, a vocal coach with aspirations of being a star in the movie trailer voice-over industry. Her biggest competition? Her father Sam (Fred Melamed, a.k.a Sy Ableman from A Serious Man), the industry’s reigning king and the man behind the titular epic start to many a film’s preview. Funny folk Rob Corddry, Demetri Martin, and the ubiquitous Nick Offerman also star in this winner of Sundance’s Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award (“For its laugh out loud comedic moments, its memorably drawn characters and its shrewd social commentary”). Sounds like a winner. *slaps self*
Primarily known as a character actor, James Cromwell (who even played second fiddle to the Jim Henson Creature Shop creations in Babe) takes the lead in Still Mine. He plays 89-year-old New Brunswicker Craig Morrison, whose independent efforts to build a more suitable home for his alzheimer’s patient wife Irene (Geneviève Bujold) faces opposition from a government inspector (Jonathan Potts). Michael McGowan (Saint Ralph) writes and directs this latest bit of what my colleague Ken Hanke likes to call “geezer catnip.”
Following a brief non-action tangent with his Aung San Suu Kyi biopic The Lady (which was actually pretty good), Luc Besson returns to gunplay and explosions in The Family. The film centers on the Manzonis (Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer, Glee‘s Dianna Agron, and The Wrestler‘s John D’Leo), a mafioso foursome relocated to Normandy under Witness Protection. (Tommy Lee Jones plays their U.S. government contact.) Fitting in to their new French surroundings proves difficult, however, as the clan find themselves reverting to old habits. Martin Scorsese as executive producer appears to be the film’s key selling point…which I find troubling.
Fleeing the Scene
Elysium didn’t break even stateside (overseas, it did fine), but still hung around town for a healthy month, as did fellow August 9 debuter Planes. Also hanging around longer than I predicted was 20 Feet From Stardom, which more than earned its keep at the Fine Arts Theatre.
For a film about the world’s most popular band, One Direction: This Is Us had a fairly uninspired run. It’s peacing out and so are those nasty pills The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones and You’re Next.
The thoroughly pleasant Love Is All You Need is the week’s best new offering. Many critics would give that distinction to Star Trek Into Darkness, which is a fine film but too intent on reliving moments from earlier Star Trek features.
Other choices include Alex Gibney’s overlong but informative (especially with all the recent Chelsea Manning news) documentary We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks and Peeples, in which Craig Robinson’s comedic gifts are wasted in the service of “don’t wet your pants” kids songs.
On Netflix Instant
Despite its Magnolia distribution, Terrence Malick’s To The Wonder never played locally. Now it may be streamed on devices of all sizes along with the iPhone-shot King Kelly and Aftershock, co-written by Hostel‘s Eli Roth.
As for the other 2013 releases freshly available, please notice the Surgeon General’s Warnings affixed to Parker and Safe Haven, but for a good laugh, watch the final 10 minutes of the latter Nicholas Sparks disaster.
And for the kiddies, Disney offers up not just The Emperor’s New Groove and its sequel, Kronk’s New Groove, but the. entire. Lilo. &. Stitch. saga. You heard right! That means the 2002 original, Stitch! The Movie, Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has A Glitch, and Leroy & Stitch are now just a click away! Cue the Kool & the Gang!