This weekend at the movies, we’ve got Jordan Peele‘s sophomore scare-fest (Us, starring Lupita Nyong’o and Winston Duke), a middle-aged romance (Gloria Bell, starring Julianne Moore and John Turturro), and a 20th anniversary revival (Cruel Intentions, starring Sarah Michelle Gellar and Ryan Phillippe). What are the critics saying?
Remember when Jordan Peele was just one half of the comedy duo that made fun of football players’ names, geeked out about “Liam Neesons,” and participated in the 1987 Jazz Fit Championships? That all changed, of course, with 2017’s Get Out, when he revealed he had a knack for working behind the camera as well. This week, audiences will be treated to the highly anticipated follow-up to that film, Us, and it looks like they will not be disappointed. The film follows a young family who embark on a seaside vacation to Santa Cruz, only to be confronted by bad omens and, eventually, evil doppelgängers of themselves. Who are they, where did they come from, and what do they want? Critics say Us is an ambitious, inventive horror film that isn’t just suitably terrifying but also thoughtful in ways that aren’t immediately apparent. The performances are top-notch, and the film deftly combines thrills with subtle social commentary and even a few laughs to ease the tension. In other words, Jordan Peele has delivered another winner and further established himself as one of the most exciting young talents to watch.
Before Chilean writer-director Sebastián Lelio won the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar for A Fantastic Woman last year, he came to prominence with a slice-of-life drama called Gloria in 2013. That film, which starred Paulina García as a lonely, free-spirited woman who discovers romance as she navigates through middle age, earned almost universal acclaim, so it would be natural to approach Lelio’s own English-language remake of it with some skepticism. Thankfully, critics say Gloria Bell, which recasts García’s role with Julianne Moore and co-stars John Turturro as her would-be lover, carries a poignant charm all its own. The kudos have come largely in the form of praise for Moore’s vulnerable, magentic performance in the lead role, and for Lelio’s measured treatment of a story that could have easily devolved into melodrama. Even for those who have seen the original, Gloria Bell is an engaging and quietly affecting showcase for a confident director and a powerhouse actor.
Back in 1999, teen movies were all the rage; see American Pie, Election, The Virgin Suicides, and Varsity Blues, just to name a few. One particular subset of the genre, modernized adaptations of classic literature, was especially successful, bringing us hits like 10 Things I Hate About You and She’s All That, and this week, one of them gets a re-release to celebrate its 20th anniversary. Cruel Intentions cast the glittery quartet of Sarah Michelle Gellar, Reese Witherspoon, Ryan Phillippe, and Selma Blair in a contemporary, high school-set version of Pierre Choderlos de Laclos’s steamy novel Dangerous Liaisons, and it went on to earn over $75 million worldwide. The film, which centers on a pair of stepsiblings who engage in a competitive game of predatory seduction, has drawn something of a cult following over the years, so if you’re a fan, now’s your chance to catch it on the big screen again.
Also Opening This Week In Limited Release