pick of the week
Genre: Shakespearean Comedy
Director: Joss Whedon
Starring: Amy Acker, Alexis Denisof, Nathan Fillion, Clark Gregg, Reed Diamond, Fran Kranz, Jillian MorgeseThe Story: Shakespeare's comedy of battling lovers, dastardly plots and bungling policemen gets a modern treatment — in everything but language. The Lowdown: A mostly delightful film from Joss Whedon that not only captures Shakespeare's play, but perhaps shines some new light on it. In the teeth of the blockbuster summer, it's almost a little miracle.
Director: Richard Linklater (Bernie)
Starring: Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy, Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick, Jennifer Prior, Charlotte Prior, Walter LassallyThe Story: A look in on a day in the lives of the characters from Before Sunrise and Before Sunset nine years after we last saw them. The Lowdown: A beautiful — almost sublime — film about a relationship we've been following since 1995. Moving, authentic and a must-see.
Genre: Comedy Drama
Director: Noah Baumbach (The Squid and the Whale)
Starring: Greta Gerwig, Mickey Sumner, Michael Esper, Adam Driver, Charlotte D'AmboiseThe Story: The life and times of a 27-year-old dancer as she navigates an uncharted course through New York, life and relationships. The Lowdown: A sparkling, sweet, sad, funny film that might restore your faith in indie film — all built around a winning performance from Greta Gerwig (who also co-wrote the film).
Genre: Science Fiction
Director: J.J. Abrams (Star Trek)
Starring: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Benedict Cumberbatch, Karl Urban, Simon PeggThe Story: Kirk and the rest of the Enterprise crew of the are sent on a mission to deal with a terrorist out to destroy Starfleet. The Lowdown: The plotting gets clunky and the action could be handled more effectively, but the characters — improved from the first film — keep this Star Trek entry mostly worth watching.
Director: Baz Luhrmann (Moulin Rouge!)
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan, Tobey Maguire, Joel Edgerton, Elizabeth Debicki, Isla FisherThe Story: Film version of the F. Scott Fitzgerald novel. The Lowdown: A big, daring, audacious interpretation of the novel that brings it to life in ways you probably never dreamed possible. It's every inch a Baz Luhrmann film, so that will probably tell you a lot. You may not like it, but I'm calling it a must-see. Truly visionary filmmaking is so rare.
Director: Jeff Nichols (Take Shelter)
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Tye Sheridan, Jacob Lofland, Reese Witherspoon, Sarah Paulson, Ray McKinnon, Sam ShepardThe Story: Two boys in a small Southern river town help a fugitive fix up a boat for his getaway with the woman he came back for. The Lowdown: An altogether exceptional film about Southern life as seen through the eyes of two boys on what seems to them a romantic adventure. Highly recommended.
Genre: Sci-Fi Horror Comedy
Director: Joe Cornish
Starring: Nick Frost, Jodie Whittaker, John Boyega, Luke Treadaway, Alex Esmail, Paige MeadeThe Story: A teenage gang in a London public-housing building team up with a nurse they recently mugged to fight off an alien invasion. The Lowdown: An absolutely perfect film of its kind -- tense, suspenseful, exciting, very funny -- and with an undercurrent of something more.
Genre: Fact-Based Comedy-Drama
Director: Randall Miller (Marilyn Hotchkiss Ballroom Dancing & Charm School)
Starring: Chris Pine, Alan Rickman, Bill Pullman, Rachael Taylor, Freddy Rodríguez, Dennis FarinaThe Story: A Brit wine snob with a failing shop in Paris arranges a blind wine-tasting competition between French and California wines -- with an all-French panel of experts. The Lowdown: Based on fact and drowned in TV-movie level dramatic embellishments, this little indie offering has one thing going for it -- Alan Rickman -- and he may be enough.
Director: Cristian Mungiu
Starring: Anamaria Marinca, Laura Vasiliu, Vlad Ivanov, Alexandru PotoceanThe Story: Set in 1987 Romania, a college girl helps her roommate get an illegal abortion. The Lowdown: Bleak, damning social commentary about a repressive society, with compelling drama in the relationship of its two leads.
Director: Paulo Morelli
Starring: Douglas Silva, Darlan Cunha, Jonathan Haagensen, Rodrigo dos Santos, Camila MonteiroThe Story: Two young men living in the slums of Rio find themselves at odds with warring factions of drug lords. The Lowdown: A frequently intense and powerful drama of friendship and becoming an adult under the worst possible circumstances.
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