OPENING THIS WEEK:
Before I Fall The pitch: It's Groundhog Day meets The Lovely Bones. For kids! The popular teen novel comes to the big screen, as a dead girl has to relive the last day of her life over and over again until she rectifies all the harm she's caused. Now, we all see the fatal flaw here, right? If unresolved mistakes were all that was keeping you from the cold and infinite void, you'd just keep fucking up left and right in order to stay alive forever. Then again, we already have a word for that. It's called "adulthood." (PG-13)
Logan Pre-release scuttlebutt on the latest Wolverine outing has been phenomenally strong, with some pundits declaring it will be the first superhero film to be nominated for Best Picture. To which fanboys who have been around the Comic-Con block more than once have a ready answer: Hahahahahaha! Ain't no way those middlebrow snobs at the Academy are ever going to admit that a comic-book flick was one of the best pictures of the year. Especially one that came out a full nine months before voting even started. (Hell, even the Screen Actors Guild would only nominate Captain America: Civil War for stunts. And it didn't even win!) But get ready for a long year of foolish hopes, because every element of Logan seems tailor-made to elevate its material to the stature of a prestige picture. Director James Mangold says he wanted to bypass commercial bombast in favor of classic Western-style lamentation. For his narrative, he's built upon Mark Millar's "Old Man Logan" storyline, peering just far enough into the future to find Wolvie caring for an ailing Professor X along the U.S.-Mexico border in a world that has moved on from mutants. Adding to the aura of cultural significance, the film has been advertised as star Hugh Jackman's final performance in the title role, giving reviewers license to use colorful lingo like "swan song" and "benediction." One complicating detail: Jackman has recently begun hinting that he might actually be open to pal Ryan Reynolds' proposal of a Deadpool/Wolverine crossover film. Yeah, those boys at AMPAS are going to love that. (R)
The Shack One of the more popular Christian novels of recent times comes to the screen (and not just because nobody could get the rights to The Art of the Deal). Spiritual renewal is in the cards when a father grieving the abduction and murder of his young daughter encounters a modern-day incarnation of the Holy Trinity. The book's hefty sales didn't stop it from receiving criticism from certain fundamentalist theologians, who took issue with its deviations from Christian canon, in some cases even calling it blasphemous. Maybe what bothered them was the depiction of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost as a multicultural bunch. Why, Jesus is even portrayed as – get this – a Middle Eastern carpenter! (How do they get away with this stuff?) And in the movie, our Lord and savior is portrayed by Aviv Alush, an honest-to-goodness Jew boy from Israel. Right, like Kirk Cameron wasn't available or something? (PG-13)
Table 19 The Duplass brothers came up with the story for this comedy about an ousted bridesmaid who is exiled to a reception table for undesirable wedding guests. Directorial and scriptwriting duties went to Jeffrey Blitz, who helmed the great spelling bee documentary Spellbound and some classic episodes of The Office. Yeah, I'll happily sit with this bunch of reprobates. Especially if we get a nice sachet to take home. (PG-13)
Punching Henry Eight years ago, Punching the Clown saw musician/standup comedian Henry Philips being tempted out of his life of failure by the prospect of a lucrative recording contract. In this late-arriving sequel, he's still a hapless loser; but this time, his ticket out of obscurity might be his own TV series. Coming in 2025: Henry gets a podcast! (NR)
VooDoo Low-budget horror about a young woman who travels to Los Angeles, only to find herself dragged into hell. (I know: redundant!) Variety wonders why even the scenes set in Hades are shot as first-person found footage. I dunno, maybe Joe Stalin has figured out how to use an iPhone? (NR)
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