This year's fest features in incredibly diverse lineup of films that deserve attention for reasons other than just their (often faint) themes of sexual identity/gender roles. The fest starts off on Friday, Oct. 9, with the dazzling historical "what if" Eisenstein in Guanajuato by legendary British director Peter Greenaway (The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover). It ends on Sunday, Oct. 18, with the award-winning comedy Fourth Man Out, in which a beer- and sports-loving dudebro comes out to his confused pals. In between we get horror flicks (Der Samurai), documentaries (Tab Hunter Confidential), thrillers (Death in Buenos Aires), comedies (Portrait of a Serial Monogamist), dramas (Stuff) and dramedies (Nasty Baby). Go to swglff.com for a complete schedule. (Opens Friday 10/9)
Steadily evolving Mumblecore king Joe Swanberg (LOL, Hannah Takes the Stairs, Drinking Buddies) writes and directs this drama/comedy/mystery about a young, LA couple (Jake Johnson from "New Girl" and Rosemarie DeWitt from Cinderella Man) who escape parenthood for the weekend by housesitting at their well-to-do friends' house. There, the discovery of a bone and a gun sends the couple off on parallel adventures. Orlando Bloom, Mike Birbiglia, Sam Elliot, Judith Light, Brie Larson and Anna Kendrick costar. 84 minutes Unrated. (Opens Tuesday 10/13)
British writer Alex Garland (The Beach, 28 Days Later..., Dredd) tries his hand at directing with this sci-fi tale about a young programmer selected to participate in a breakthrough experiment in artificial intelligence by evaluation the "human qualities" of a female robot. Like all female robots in movies, she turns out to be both sexy and dangerous. We've seen this sort of high-tech Frankenstein story before, but Garland's script is highly literate and his direction thrilling. 108 minutes R. (Opens Thursday 4/23)
Nobel Peace Prize-winning Pakistani teen Malala Yousofzai, who was nearly killed by the Taliban for speaking out on behalf of girls' education, is profiled in this inspiring documentary. FULL REVIEW:Documentary exalts, humanizes teenage activist by Devin D. O’Leary (10/8/2015). 87 minutes PG-13. (Opens Thursday 10/8)
Century Rio Fri-Thu 11:20am, 2:00, 4:40, 7:20, 10:00 High Ridge Fri-Sun 12:50, 3:35, 7:15, 9:55; Mon-Thu 12:50, 3:45, 7:15
Peter Jackson wraps up his monumental (perhaps a little too much so) adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit. Here we finally get to the closing action sequence, a war that pits five armies and a dragon against one another in a battle for the fate of Middle-earth. And since that's not nearly enough, this version's got 36 more minutes of furious hobbit action. 180 minutes PG-13. (Opens Tuesday 10/13)
Monty Python's ridiculously funny 1975 spoof on the King Arthur legend returns to theaters. This version has the best lines subtitled, karaoke style, so the audience can quote along with the film. 91 minutes PG. (Opens Sunday 10/11)
Hollywood takes another uninspired stab at revamping J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan story. This one plays out as a "prequel," explaining how a 12-year-old orphan named Peter (Levi Miller) wound up in Neverland battling evil pirate Blackbeard (Hugh Jackman) alongside an adventurous young Hook (Garrett Hedlund). Joe Wright (Atonement, Pride & Prejudice) directs heavily tampered-with fantasy. 111 minutes PG. (Opens Thursday 10/8)
Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays real-life daredevil Philippe Petit, who in 1974 talked a group of friends into helping realize his life's dream--breaking into the World Trade Center and performing an illegal high-wire walk between the towers. Based on the 2008 documentary Man on Wire. 123 minutes PG. (Opens Thursday 10/8)
Johnny Depp finally puts his penchant for dressing up in odd costumes and playing with makeup to some serious purpose in this hard-hitting biopic about notorious South Boston mobster Whitey Bulger. Depp is striking and scary, but he's surrounded by other great actors as well: Joel Edgerton as a conflicted FBI agent, Benedict Cumberbatch as a state senator. It's not the greatest Mob movie ever made--it may not even be as good as Depp's Donnie Brasco--but it's a bracing return-to-form for Depp. 122 minutes R.
Jason Clarke, Josh Brolin, John Hawkes, Robin Wright and Emily Watson star in this high-altitude drama "inspried by the incredible true events surrounding a trecherous attempt to reach the summit of the world's highest mountain." In a nutshell, eight climbers died when they were caught in a blizzard back in 1996. Four other people died that year, making it the deadliest year atop Everest on record. Until 2014 when 18 people died. The moral: Never climb Mt. Everest. 121 minutes PG-13.
Writer-director Eli Roth (Cabin Fever, Hostel) pays tribute to the extreme horror cannibal craze of the late '70s/early '80s (The Mountain of the Cannibal God, Eaten Alive, Cannibal Holocaust, Cannibal Ferrox). Here, a group of student activists travels to the Amazon to save the rain forest. Its not long, though, before their plane crashes in the jungle causing them to run afoul of some primitive man-eaters. 100 minutes R.
Genndy Tartakovsky ("Dexter's Laboratory," "Samurai Jack") returns to helm this cartoon sequel in which Dracula (voiced by Adam Sandler) tries to bring out the monster in his half-human. half-vampire grandson in order to keep his daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez) from leaving his now famous hotel. 89 minutes PG.
Robert De Niro is a bored retiree who gets an internship at an up-and-coming online retailer run by young go-getter Anne Hathaway. Writer-director Nancy Meyers (What Women Want, Something's Got to Give) has put together a genial crowd-pleaser, but the script never asks much heavy lifting of its characters, providing them with easy laughs and simple solutions whenever the spectre of actual drama rears its ugly head. FULL REVIEW:Nancy Meyers’ genial workplace comedy does the job it was hired to do by Devin D. O’Leary (9/24/2015). 121 minutes PG-13.
Matt Damon is an astronaut who gets left for dead on Mars after a manned mission goes horribly awry. Stuck on the red planet with only minimal supplies and his scientific mind, our hero must figure out a way to survive based on ingenuity, wit and spirit. Ridley Scott (Alien) directs. It's based, of course, on the best-selling book by Andy Weir. 141 minutes PG-13.
When will futuristic dystopian leaders learn? Never mess with teenagers; they'll bring you down every time. (See for reference: the Divergent series, the Hunger Games series, et al.). Despite its strict adherence to the tropes of the genre, the second installment of the Maze Runner series makes for some exciting post-apocalyptic entertainment. It's mostly a bunch of personality-deficient kids running from evil adults and the occasional zombie horde, but the pace is breathless and the production design is impeccably bleak. This one plays mighty fast and loose with James Dashner's original novels (which don't make a whole lot of sense anyway), so it's hard to tell how hardcore YA lit fans will react. But the mediocre script and gripping action is probably enough to carry audiences into a third film. 131 minutes PG-13.
Former Spider-Man Tobey Maguire takes on the role of infamous (and eventually quite nutty) chess prodigy Bobby Fischer. The bulk of this dramatic biopic takes place during the Cold War when Fischer battled Russian champ Boris Spassky (Liev Schreiber), providing the world with a distinctly black-and-white metaphor for East-West relations. 114 minutes PG-13.
Century 14 Downtown Fri 1:25, 4:15, 7:05, 9:55; Sat 1:25, 4:15; Sun 7:05, 9:55; Mon-Wed 1:25, 4:15, 7:05; Thu 1:25, 4:15 High Ridge Fri-Sun 12:45, 3:15, 7:35, 10:20; Mon-Thu 12:45, 3:15, 7:35
A successful lobbyist (Sanaa Lathan, The Best Man) meets a charming IT expert (Michael Ealy, Think Like a Man) who appears to fit the title description. After the two jump into bed for some sexual satisfaction, however, he turns violent, jealous and vengeful. Basically, this bad romance thriller is a Lifetime network movie in the theater. 100 minutes PG-13.
Emily Blunt stars as an idealistic FBI agent enlisted into a shadowy mission by a mysterious CIA agent (Josh Brolin) and his tight-lipped "advisor" (Benicio Del Toro). Ostensibly, the group is trying to stop the drug trade along the US/Mexico border. But as the operation grows more violent and secretive, our heroine begins to wonder what side of the fence she's really on. Director Denis Villeneuve (Incendies, Prisoners) directs this lightless thriller with all the grisly tension of Se7en. FULL REVIEW:Blunt, brutal drug war drama finds cops and robbers (but not good guys and bad guys) along the US-Mexico border by Devin D. O’Leary (10/1/2015). 121 minutes R.
Writer-director M Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense, The Village, Lady in the Water, The Happening) dials back the preposterous plot twists for this simple, low-budget, "found footage" shocker. A pair of tweens (Olivia DeJonge and Ed Oxenbould) are shipped off to the rural farm of the grandparents they've never met. Unfortunately, Nana (Deanna Dunagan) and Pop Pop (Peter McRobbie) seem a little ... weird. This winking, modern riff on "Hansel & Gretel" is a fun, PG-13 horror-comedy that works far better than expected. FULL REVIEW:What’s the twist in M. Night Shyamalan’s new “old people are scary” thriller? ... That it’s a decent film. by Devin D. O’Leary (9/10/2015). 94 minutes PG-13.
From the writer-director of such Christian films as Facing the Giants, Fireproof and Courageous comes this drama about a "seemingly perfect" African-American family who try to fix their problems (hubby grapples with "temptation"--maybe from Ashley Madison?) with the help of an older, wiser, Bible-endorsing woman. Spoiler alert: All they need is prayer. 120 minutes PG.
The latest Marvel Cinematic Universe offering is smaller than its fellow superhero movies in a number of ways. Paul Rudd is fine and dandy as a cat burglar recruited by an aging scientist (Michael Douglas) to don a powerful shrinking suit and fight the bad guys. The size-changing special effects are a blast, but the film is neither fish nor fowl. There's not enough humor to make it a comedy, and too little action to compete with the big boys of summer. It's perfectly entertaining in moments, but this one needed a lot more style and spark to avoid the "generic Marvel movie" pit it occasionally stumbles into. FULL REVIEW:Marvel gets small for latest addition to its cinematic universe by Devin D. O’Leary (7/23/2015). 117 minutes PG-13.
Earth's mightiest mortals are back for a second go-around. Seems that Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) has built a super-powered robot named Ultron (voiced by James Spader) who wants to bring peace to humanity by wiping it out. Can Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, The Hulk, Black Widow, Hawkeye and newcomer The Vision stop this metallic madman before his plan comes to fruition? Probably, otherwise we don't get any more movies. Overstuffed? Sure. Exciting. Hell, yeah. 141 minutes PG-13.
Pixar mixes up another can't-miss instaclassic. This stunningly original, digitally animated toon takes us inside the mind of an 11-year-old girl and introduces us to the anthropomorphized feelings at work inside her head. Chief among them is Joy (perfect Amy Poehler), who's stuck working with a bunch of negative Nellies (Sadness, Anger, Fear and Disgust). But when Joy and Sadness get lost in the recesses of the young girl's mind, the film warps from an inventive workplace comedy to a wildly imaginative, Willy Wonka-esque fantasy. It seems silly to say that a film about emotions is emotional, but trust me when I say this film has all the feels! FULL REVIEW:Pixar’s emotional new fantasy has all the feels by Devin D. O’Leary (6/25/2015). 94 minutes PG.
For a series as star-packed in front of and behind the camera as these movies have been, the individual films sure are forgettable. As usual, this fifth installment features jaw-dropping stunt work ... and some kind of storyline in which IMF agent Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his team (Simon Pegg, Jeremy Renner, Ving Rhames) are tasked with stopping an international villain who's framed them for something-or-other. Tom Cruise buddy Christopher McQuarrie (Valkyrie, Jack Reacher, Edge of Tomorrow) writes and directs. FULL REVIEW:Cruise and Co. do the impossible: make the stiff spy series silly fun again by Devin D. O’Leary (8/6/2015). 131 minutes PG-13.
When space aliens misinterpret video game signals from Earth as a challenge to war, a group of former arcade nerds (Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Peter Dinklage, Josh Gad) are recruited by the government to fight off the likes of Donkey Kong, Pac-Man and Space Invaders. The story (based on a short film) is loaded with nostalgic potential ... all of which is squashed by bored-to-be-here Adam Sandler and his pals. 106 minutes PG-13.
Jonathan Demme (Something Wild, Silence of the Lambs) directs and Diablo Cody (Juno, Young Adult) writes this excuse for mother-and-daughter duo Meryl Streep and Mamie Gummer to share the screen. Streep plays a failed musician who gives up her over-the-hill stardom-chasing to return home (to Indiana) and make things right with her dysfunctional family. Streep makes for a surprisingly good wannabe rock star, but the domestic drama is overly familiar. 101 minutes PG-13.
From the makers of "Wallace & Gromit" comes this charm-filled claymation spin-off about a smart-alec (albeit silent) sheep who decides to take the day off and ends up searching the big city for his amnesia-prone farmer. There is much silliness, physical humor and sight gags to be had--all of it wonderful. 85 minutes PG.
Movie-loving demon with a goofy name Bughuul is back haunting another rural family in this sequel to the 2012 horror hit Sinister. Ethan Hawke is out. Shannyn Sossamon (A Knight's Tale) is in, doing parent duty. This unimaginative rehash is little more than a collection of jump-scares. 97 minutes R.
At least this reboot/sequel starts with a clever idea: Some 30 years after that fateful vacation to Wally World with his parents, now-grown-up Rusty Griswold (Ed Helms, taking over from Anthony Michael Hall) vows to recreate the journey with his wife (Christina Applegate) and kids. 99 minutes R.