This weekend at the movies, we’ve got scandalous evangelists (The Eyes of Tammy Faye, starring Jessica Chastain and Andrew Garfield), a divisive road trip (Cry Macho, starring Clint Eastwood and Eduardo Minett), a lockdown showdown (Copshop, starring Gerard Butler and Frank Grillo), and a captive storyteller (Nightbooks, starring Winslow Fegley and Krysten Ritter). What are the critics saying?
The Eyes of Tammy Faye (2021)
During the 1970s and 1980s, televangelist couple Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker rose to prominence through the religious broadcasting network and real estate empire they built, before it all came tumbling down in a mess of scandals and criminal fraud in 1989. The 2000 documentary The Eyes of Tammy Faye chronicled the couple’s rise and fall in poignant fashion, and this week’s The Eyes of Tammy Faye seeks to dramatize the whole affair. Andrew Garfield and Jessica Chastain don heavy make-up and advanced prosthetics to play Jim and Tammy Faye in Michael Showalter’s (The Big Sick) new adaptation, focusing in particular on the latter’s journey and, at times, faithfully recreating scenes from the original documentary. While critics remain a little disappointed that Showalter and Co. chose not to explore their eccentric characters in more detail, the story is a fascinating one at its core, and the performances — especially from Chastain — are impressive enough to warrant a watch.
Cry Macho (2021)
Clint Eastwood has had some fun in recent years poking holes in the tough-guy persona that characterized much of his early career, and he continues that trend in Cry Macho. Eastwood stars as Mike Milo, an aging former rodeo star who is tasked by an ex-boss to retrieve — read: kidnap — his estranged son from his abusive mother in Mexico City and escort him back to Texas. When Mike arrives, he learns there’s more to the story than he was led to believe, and he and young Rafo (Eduardo Minett) — along with Rafo’s fighting rooster Macho — set out on a road trip that will change both their lives. Set in the late 1970s and based on the 1975 novel of the same name by the late N. Richard Nash, who also penned the first version of the script, Cry Macho sees Eastwood reuniting with writer Nick Schenk, and the film appropriately feels like a cross between two of their former projects, namely Gran Torino and The Mule. Critics are split on the film, however; some say the writing and the acting feel a little uncharacteristically clumsy, especially in the early going, while others say if you’re willing to stick it out, the film improves in its second half. You won’t likely find anything particularly fresh or inventive about the story or the storytelling, but there are some quiet, thoughtful moments peppered throughout the film, and Eastwood proves he can still throw a punch at the ripe old age of 91. You can catch this one in theaters or on HBO Max.
You may think you’ve got Copshop all figured out just by seeing that it stars Gerard Butler and Frank Grillo — two tough guys whose filmographies are littered with cookie-cutter action flicks. Pair them with director Joe Carnahan (Narc, The Grey), though, and you may have a stylish, economically shot thriller on your hands. Grillo stars as con man Teddy Murretto, who thinks he’s outsmarted hitman Bob Viddick (Butler) by getting himself locked up in a small-town jail in Nevada. Unfortunately for Teddy, Viddick plays the same trick, and while the two quietly plot against each other in separate cells, another assassin (Toby Huss) arrives on the scene and throws everything into chaos. Critics say Copshop is a suitably old-fashioned action thriller that doesn’t reinvent the genre but does what it sets out to do pretty effectively, so if you’re looking for a cheeky, fast-paced showdown, you’re likely to have a pretty good time.
The director of 2019’s Brightburn might not seem like an ideal fit for a spooky children’s film on Netflix, but David Yarovesky seems to have hit just the right tone with Nightbooks. Produced by Sam Raimi, the movie stars Winslow Fegley as Alex, a young boy with a gift for writing scary stories and Krysten Ritter as Natacha, the witch who imprisons him and demands he tell her a new story every night. In other words, yes, it’s like Goosebumps meets Arabian Nights, with a pre-teen R.L. Stine as Scheherazade. As goofy as that may sound, critics so far mostly say it’s a mix that works, with a potent blend of heart and horror that should thrill younger viewers. Granted, it’s a tad early for spooky Halloween content, but it’s on Netflix, which means you can rewatch it with the kids as many times as you want.
Thumbnail image by Searchlight Pictures