This weekend at the movies, we’ve got the return of an iconic franchise (Halloween, starring Jamie Lee Curtis and Judy Greer), a coming-of-age drama with a twist (The Hate U Give, starring Amandla Stenberg and Regina Hall), and Robert Redford‘s swan song (The Old Man and the Gun, co-starring Sissy Spacek and Casey Affleck). What are the critics saying?
John Carpenter couldn’t have known that the modest slasher film he released in 1978, starring the mostly unknown daughter of Tony Curtis, would become a defining genre achievement that would spawn a decades-long franchise. Yet here we are, 40 years later, hitting the reset button and returning to the series’ origins. In this week’s Halloween, Jamie Lee Curtis and Nick Castle return to reprise their roles as Laurie Strode and the original Michael Myers, ready to face off again in a direct sequel to the first film that ignores the mythology established across all the previous sequels. Directed by David Gordon Green (Pineapple Express) and co-written by Danny McBride and Jeff Fradley, the film has pleasantly surprised the critics, who call it an effective — and unexpectedly funny — thriller that should satisfy both franchise fans and newcomers alike.
Some of the most exciting cinema in recent years has come from filmmakers who approach movies as media instruments to enact social change, and the Certified Fresh The Hate U Give is no exception. Amandla Stenberg (a grown up Rue from The Hunger Games) stars as Starr Carter, a black 16-year-old girl straddling two worlds: the poor neighborhood she lives in and the rich white prep school she attends. The precarious balancing act is shattered when Starr witnesses her childhood friend gunned down by police, and she finds herself drawn more and more to activism as she finds her voice and stands up for justice. And this balancing act is coded directly into the movie itself, presenting rage with optimism and hope tempered by desperation — something critics say director George Tillman Jr. pulls of with full conviction, alongside Stenberg’s breakthrough performance.
Hollywood has long held a fascination for career criminals, especially clever ones, so it’s a little surprising no one thought to adapt the story of Forrest Tucker, a real-life repeat prison escapee who, even at the ripe old age of 79, was arrested for robbing four banks on his own. This week, we get that film, and it stars Robert Redford in what’s being reported as his final role. The film itself focuses on Tucker’s escape from California’s San Quentin Prison at 70 years old and the subsequent string of heists he pulled, and critics are calling it a pleasant ride full of beautiful performances, not least by its retiring star. It remains to be seen if Robert Redford will keep his word about stepping down, but if he does, The Old Man and the Gun serves as a fitting sendoff.
The Conners offers the comforts of its source show, but more focus on the family’s ever-evolving dynamics adds a welcome layer of working-class empathy without losing any of the laughs.
The Man with No Fear returns to top form with a third season that begins tediously slow but gradually generates comic book thrills, immeasurably helped by the welcome return of Vincent D’Onofrio‘s menacing Kingpin.
Toni Collette creates comedy between the sheets in this unlikely sex-drama from acclaimed playwright Nick Payne for the BBC.
Also Opening This Week In Limited Release