Directed by: Peter Atencio Starring: Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele, Tiffany Haddish Rated: R for violence, language throughout, drug use and sexuality/nudity Fans of the TV show “Key & Peele” have real reason to celebrate: the comedy duo’s new film, “Keanu,” includes many of the things that made the show great. Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele successfully transition to the big screen and bring us an action movie with two hilariously regular dudes at the center of it. For added comedy and pathos, their motivation is a hyper-adorable, fluffy kitten. Rell (Peele) has just gone through a bad breakup. In his darkest hour, when life seems to have no meaning, a kitten appears on his doorstep. He names the little guy Keanu and adopts him – completely unaware that the cute ball of fluff is the escaped pet of a local drug dealer. When his place is broken into and Keanu goes missing, Rell strongarms his
“Deadpool” is one of those rare comic book adaptations that works for both the long-time fan and the newcomer. For those of us who’ve been longing for a feature film about the merc with the mouth, this is the movie we wanted. For folks who don’t even know who the heck Deadpool is, if you like black-as-sin comedy, gloriously over-the-top violence, and fourth-wall-breaking meta-commentary, this is the movie you want, too. There’s a reason this film broke all kinds of opening-weekend box office records.
Directed by: Gavin O’Connor Starring: Natalie Portman, Joel Edgerton, Noah Emmerich, Ewan McGregor Rated: Rated R for violence and some language. Also contains an off-screen rape. A lot of Westerns have underlying themes of vengeance, the necessity of working together to survive in a harsh environment, and the mysterious loner who saves the day. “Jane Got a Gun” brings us a Western about assumptions – about how assuming things can destroy you, and how moving beyond them can save your life. It’s also just a straightforward good, character-focused story. The action is saved up for the end, but most assuredly does not disappoint. Jane (Natalie Portman) is the core of the film, the focus of the story both in and out of flashbacks. When her fiance failed to return from the Civil War, she went West. When the film opens, she is married, has a young child, and also has a gang of bad folks
Written & Directed by: Quentin Tarantino Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Kurt Russell, Walton Goggins, Demian Bichir, Tim Roth Rated: R (for strong bloody violence, a scene of violent sexual content, language and some graphic nudity) Quentin Tarantino has settled into his groove and is polishing his craft. His latest production, “The Hateful Eight,” is very Tarantino. There’s plenty of graphic violence, humorous and profane dialog, and a general sense of over-the-top-ness. He seems to get a real charge out of having his actors use racial slurs which, while they are context-appropriate, is a bit grating. What “The Hateful Eight” does have in spades is thoughtful, unhurried cinematography, and carefully-paced sequences of dialog that are somehow just as intense and suspenseful as a prolonged action sequence would be. The story is set some years after the Civil War. Bounty hunter John Ruth (Kurt Russell) is trying to take his latest catch, Daisy Domergue
Directed by: Brian Helgeland Starring: Tom Hardy, Emily Browning, Christopher Eccleston, Rated: R for strong violence, language throughout, some sexual and drug material. The Kray twins were gangsters in London’s East End during the 50s and 60s. Between the various biopics based on their lives, the autobiographies they wrote separately and together, and the numerous books about their exploits, they are pretty well-known even outside of the UK. Tom Hardy plays both twins in “Legend,” the latest film version of their story. If you’re on the hunt for a gangster movie, it will hit the spot. Reggie and Ronnie Kray were both notoriously violent. Reggie also had a good head for business, but had to keep his brother under control – Ronnie was schizophrenic and not always willing to take his meds. The film opens with Reggie pulling strings to get Ronnie out of a psychiatric prison. We then follow them as they rise in
Marketing can make or break a movie, and “Crimson Peak,” Guillermo del Toro’s newest film, is in serious danger. The previews and pretty much every other bit of marketing make it out to be a horror movie, but it’s a classic Gothic romance. Like “Rebecca” and “Jane Eyre,” it brings us a heroine who is drawn by love into the web of a strange and horrifying mystery. People expecting a standard gory, violent modern horror flick are likely to be disappointed, but folks who adore creepy atmosphere, gorgeous and decaying upper-class dwellings, and Tom Hiddleston are in for a treat.
Directed by: Scott Cooper Starring: Johnny Depp, Joel Edgerton, Jesse Plemons, Rory Cochrane, David Harbour, Adam Scott Rated: R for brutal violence, language throughout, some sexual references and brief drug use. Organized crime has long fascinated both Hollywood and of the American public in general. It’s no surprise that one of the many books about it is now a movie: “Black Mass.” What may be a surprise to folks who’ve seen the posters and print ads is that the ensemble cast is led by Johnny Depp in impressive prosthetic makeup. He delivers an excellent performance, reminding us that he can do more than just act drunk and chew scenery. The movie is a solid true-crime tale, likely to please serious enthusiasts as well as those who like serious dramas about people’s bad actions leading to their inevitable fall. Depp plays Jimmy “Whitey” Bulger, once an inmate at Alcatraz, now the head of South Boston’s Irish-American
Directed by: Ken Kwapis Starring: Robert Redford, Nick Nolte, Emma Thompson, Mary Steenburgen Rated: R for language and some sexual references Bill Bryson is a travel writer, one whose books encompass everything from geology to history as they record his roaming in all sorts of places. “A Walk in the Woods” is a film adaptation of his book of the same title: the story of his hike of the Appalachian trail with one of his oldest friends. Like Bryson’s books, the film has a little bit of everything – a little philosophy, a little existentialism, a little comedy, a little romance, all mixed together just so, with some adventures thrown in for spice. It’s a fun film with a solid cast. As played by Nick Nolte, Stephen Katz is the kind of guy you tend to lose touch with, who has accomplished little but adding lots of notches to his bedpost over the last few
Directed by: Nima Nourizadeh Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Connie Britton, Topher Grace, Walton Goggins, John Leguizamo Rated: R for strong bloody violence, language throughout, drug use and some sexual content. There are some movies whose trailers don’t quite do them justice, and whose theater runs are all-too-short. “American Ultra” seems destined for that fate: It’s a cross between the Bourne movies and a stoner comedy. Our hero has all kinds of amazing combat skills whose origin he doesn’t remember, and people are trying to kill him – but he’s just some stoner who works at the Cash-and-Carry and is trying to figure out when to propose to his girlfriend. This is not a movie for everybody, but for the right audience, it’s just about perfect. Fans of Simon Pegg’s Cornetto Trilogy and other genre mashups will probably feel right at home here. The tone wavers between stoner comedy and black comedy, and once the
Directed by: George Miller Starring: Charlize Theron, Tom Hardy, Nicholas Hoult, Hugh Keays-Byron, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Riley Keough, Abbey Lee, Courtney Eaton, Zoe Kravitz Rated: R for intense sequences of violence throughout, and for disturbing images George Miller returns to his early work by bringing us a new Mad Max movie: “Mad Max: Fury Road.” It’s a loose sequel to the three films he made between 1979 and 1985 (he’s since helmed several children’s movies), now with Tom Hardy in the titular role instead of Mel Gibson. In many ways, “Fury Road” is what we expect from a Mad Max movie: wild and startling stunts and vehicles, with strangely-costumed characters battling in a huge, desert wasteland. It’s something of a bait-and-switch, though: the previews lead us to expect yet another testosterone-addled, scantily-clad-women-featuring, post-apocalyptic action movie, but that isn’t what we get. It’s definitely a post-apocalyptic action movie, and some of the women are scantily clad, but