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Opening in Orlando: The Dark Tower, Detroit and more 


The Dark Tower Most movies have a simple agenda behind them, which is to be good and make money. Sometimes just the latter. But The Dark Tower has a whole passel of other objectives set out for it, including: function as both an adaptation of and a sequel to Stephen King's popular literary series; inaugurate a shared cinematic universe that's intended to incorporate characters and elements from other King properties; lay the groundwork for not just a sequel film but also a tie-in TV series; and, oh yeah, accomplish all of this at a time when most of the King-related oxygen in the entertainment media is being sucked up by the looming It. Any time you see a bar being set that high, you know the job is going to a black guy; enter Idris Elba, who gets to play the Gunslinger character tasked with protecting reality from King uber-villain Walter O'dim, aka Randall Flagg (Matthew McConaughey). Reality, schmeality – with all of the impossible expectations that have been assigned to it, I'll be impressed if this picture can protect the dollar theater from the Emojis. (PG-13)

Detroit Having used their Zero Dark Thirty to advance the Rumsfeldian party line that torture works, filmmaker Kathryn Bigelow and her minister of information – I'm sorry, her screenwriter – Mark Boal turn their highly specific notions of justice to the American race riots of the late 1960s. Detroit 1967 is the setting as heavy-handed police tactics lead to tragedy in and around a sleazy hotel. Initial critical reaction has cast the film as dramatically effective, though some have questioned if it's too simplistic in portraying white police as mustache-twirling villains. Hey, maybe we should just be happy that the brutality isn't on the part of the alleged heroes this time. Element to watch out for: John Boyega's supporting role as a security guard may finally reveal if he can do anything with a weapon, since he quit the stormtroopers before we could find out if he shared their inability to hit the broad side of a barn. (R)

Kidnap Back in the late '70s, a cinephile whose name I couldn't possibly recall went on public radio to talk about a study he had conducted of films that had been made but never released. His major finding? A surprising number of them starred Donald Sutherland. Sometimes it seems Halle Berry holds the modern-day equivalent of that distinction, because she appears in so many films no one actually sees. Thus far, her only picture to be denied a stateside showing of any kind was 2012's Dark Tide – but as I write this, we still have a few days to go to find out if Kidnap will make two. A revenge thriller that has Berry going all Liam Neeson on the people who abducted her son, it was completed a full two and a half years ago but kept getting its release postponed thanks to complicating factors – like the collapse of Relativity Media and the fact that it probably stinks. Nonetheless, it's the first offering from brand-new distributor Aviron Pictures, which is swearing it will arrive in theaters this Friday, Aug. 4. Meanwhile, Donald Sutherland has three films coming out before the end of this year, he swears to God. (R)

Landline I knew the '90s revival was in full swing when I realized I couldn't go to the Ruby Tuesday near UCF on a Sunday without hearing an uninterrupted medley of that decade's purportedly greatest hits. And you know what I noticed? Way too much acoustic guitar. Lotta people getting in touch with roots that weren't actually their own. It's like, I like sex and candy too, but I also enjoy alternating current. Anyway, the '90s are the setting for Landline, the latest teaming of filmmaker Gillian Robespierre and star Jenny Slate. This one has Slate as an engaged young woman who bonds with her teenage sister over their mutual suspicion that their father is having an extramarital affair. That shared concern spurs a new understanding between the women, as they fumble toward a consensus about life's various joys and disappointments. Speaking of disappointment, did you know Ruby Tuesday doesn't give you biscuits anymore? Maybe I do want to go back to the '90s, because that shit would never have flown back then. (R)

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