The Weekend Warrior 10/21/16: Jack Reacher, Ouija: Origin of Evil, Boo! A Madea Halloween, Keeping Up with the Joneses

– by Edward Douglas

Welcome back to the Weekend Warrior, your weekly look at the new movies hitting theaters this weekend, as well as other cool events and things to check out.   

THIS PAST WEEKEND:

Ben Affleck’s action-thriller The Accountant and Kevin Hart’s latest concert film Kevin Hart: What Now? opened against each other with the former in far more theaters, although it probably would have won the weekend anyway, as it opened with $24.7 million to $11.8 million for the Kevin Hart film. Basically, the first did better than I predicted and the second didn’t do as well. Open Road’s Max Steel movie bombed pretty badly, not even getting into the Top 10 with just $2.2 million in 2,034 theaters or $1,073 per theater, about half what I predicted.


Another ridiculously busy weekend with three sequels (kind of) and an original comedy that just doesn’t seem like it stands a chance against them. 

JACK REACHER: NEVER GO BACK (Paramount)

Cast: Tom Cruise, Cobie Smulders, Aldis Hodge, Danika Yarosh, Patrick Heusinger, Holt McCallany, Robert Knepper
Director: Edward Zwick (The Last Samurai, Legends of the Fall, Glory, Blood Diamond, Defiance, Love and Other Drugs, Pawn Sacrifice)
Genre:   Action, Thriller
Rated PG-13
Plot:
Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise) ignores the title of his own movie and he GOES BACK!!!! To his military past, that is, travelling to Washington to meet up his Military Police successor, Major Susan Turner (Cobie Smulders), who he finds has been imprisoned for treason after a mission in Afghanistan goes wrong. Trying to solve her case, he frees her from prison and the two of them go on the run from the military police and a team of killers, along with a teen girl (Danika Yarosh) who may be related to Reacher.
Theater Count (est.): 3,500

Considering how poorly October is seen as a month to release high profile movies, it’s kind of strange that this October is going to end with movies starring two of the biggest box office stars of the last few decades (three, if you include Ben Affleck and four, if you include Tyler Perry).  In fact, Tom Cruise hasn’t had a movie open in October since 1986’s The Color of Money with Paul Newman and directed by Martin Scorsese, which itself was a sequel to Newman’s 1961 film The Hustler. A few years earlier, an even less known, younger Cruise starred in All The Right Movies, just months after his earliest hit, Risky Business.

Obviously, a lot has changed in those thirty years with Cruise becoming one of the biggest and most reliable box office stars with a lifetime domestic gross of $3.5 billion (and probably twice that much internationally). Sure, he’s had a lot of ups and downs in his career, but he’s always bounced back. Even a box office disappointment like 2014’s Edge of Tomorrow with Emily Blunt still grossed $100 million!

The original Jack Reacher, based on Lee Child’s popular literary hero, opened over the holidays four years ago and did decently with $80 million grossed in North America (and another $138 million internationally), a moderate hit by Cruise’s standards, but still successful enough for Cruise to want to do more as the character. That movie was also fairly well received with audiences with an A- CinemaScore and a respectable 7/10 on IMDB, and critics didn’t hate it either going by its 62% Fresh on RottenTomatoes.

While the original Jack Reacher director Christopher McQuarrie moved with Cruise over to his Mission: Impossible franchise, he’s reteamed with another director from his past, Edward Zwick, who helmed his 2003 movie The Last Samurai to be a substantial hit. At one point, Zwick was the go-to filmmaker for historical drama, directing films like Glory, Legends of the Fall and Courage Under Fire, and he won an Oscar for producing Shakespeare in Love. Things have since slowed down for the filmmaker, and his last movie, Pawn Sacrifice, which came out last year, didn’t fare very well.

While most of Cruise’s movies don’t generally need a lot of starpower beyond himself, he’s scored the talented Cobie Smulders in a key role, who was part of the cast of the popular “How I Met Your Mother” for years before moving onto films like Marvel’s The Avengers and others.

As has been mentioned a few times in this column, 2016’s “sequelitis” has taken out a lot of stronger sequels to more popular films, so it will be interesting to see if Cruise’s attempt at doing more with the Jack Reacher character will defy the odds and possibly do as well or better than the original movie.


OUIJA: ORIGIN OF EVIL (Universal)

Cast: Elizabeth Reaser, Annalise Basso, Henry Thomas, Lulu Wilson
Director: Mike Flanagan (Oculus, Hush, Before I Wake)
Genre:  Horror
Rated PG-13
Plot:
In 1967, Alice Zander (Elizabeth Reaser) is a single mother of two girls who holds séances to make ends meet. When she brings home the hottest new trend, a Ouija board, to incorporate into her act, her younger daughter (Lulu Wilson) starts being able to communicate with the dead… and those spirits aren’t happy to have been awoken either.
Theater Count (est.): 3,100

With Halloween just a little over a week away, it’s about time someone rolls out a horror movie to take advantage of it.  When Hasbro, the makers of the Ouija board game (of sorts), teamed with Jason Blum and Platinum Dunes, two production powerhouses, to make a lower budget movie based on it, that original Ouija movie opened this same weekend in 2014 to make $19.9 million opening weekend and almost $51 million total. Since that movie was made for just $5 million, using the same model that had worked in previous years for Blum, it made sense to make a prequel. But in this case, Ouija: Origin of Evil is a prequel to tell the…um… origin… of the Ouija board. (Here I thought it was just made in the same factory as Monopoly and other board games, but apparently not.)

The producer of the film have wisely snagged filmmaker Mike Flanagan to make this prequel, being that Flanagan is well-respected among the horror community for his films Oculus and Hush. Flanagan’s previous film Before I Wake got caught up in the bankruptcy of Relativity Media and has been delayed indefinitely until they work things out. Flanagan has put together an interesting cast that includes indie regular Elizabeth Reaser and Henry Thomas, best known for playing Elliott in Steven Spielberg’s E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. Neither will have people lining up at theaters, but like so many horror films, it’s not so much about the cast as it is about the premise and the Ouija one has already proven itself.

On the other hand, 2016’s sequelitis, as mentioned above, has been in full effect for most of the summer with very few sequels doing as well as their predecessors, and one has to assume that will continue with this one. Horror sequels are notoriously questionable ventures anyway, because for every Saw and Paranormal Activity that becomes a franchise, and even horror sequels to the likes of Insidious or The Conjuring, there’s something like Sinister 2, which opened with $7.5 million less than the previous movie three years earlier. Granted, the original Sinister opened in mid-October to get a pre-Halloween bump, while its sequel opened in late August.

One assumes that since the original Ouija wasn’t received that well among audiences with its “C” CinemaScore and a dreadful 4.4/10 on IMDB, moviegoers aren’t looking forward to another movie, and probably won’t care as much that it has a more prestigious horror filmmaker, but it still should do okay among younger moviegoers looking for pre-Halloween scares. Chances are that older males will go for Jack Reacher anyway, but that still leaves a litany of younger men and women, including the teens who will be able to see this with its PG-13 rating.

Interview with Mike Flanagan

Interview with Elizabeth Reaser


TYLER PERRY’S BOO! A MADEA HALLOWEEN (Lionsgate)

Cast: Tyler Perry, Bella Thorne, Cassie Davis, Andre Hall, Yousef Erakat, Diamond White, Brock O’Hurn, Jimmy Tatro, JC Caylen, Kian Lawley, Mike Tornabene
Director: Tyler Perry (Madea Goes to Jail, Madea’s Family Reunion and many more)
Genre: “Comedy”
Rated PG-13
Plot:
Tyler Perry’s Madea ruins Halloween for the poor moviegoers who have been enjoying the two and a half years without a movie with “Tyler Perry” in its title.                                                                                      
Theater Count (est.): 2,150

There was a time when Tyler Perry would release two movies a year, a time which will be forever remembered by the Weekend Warrior as “the worst time to be writing about movies ever,” maybe because I literally have had to find something to write about 16 (!) of Tyler Perry’s movies, usually without seeing any of them. To date, I’ve seen maybe five of Perry’s movies and I still have no idea what his fans see in them. To say that I’m “cynical” about everything Perry does would be an understatement.

Perry first gained a fanbase through his stage plays, particularly those that featured his cross-dressing Granny character “Madea,” and he successfully transitioned his theater success into an empire of films and television. Madea made her first big screen appearance in 2005’s Tyler Perry’s Diary of a Mad Black Woman, which Perry didn’t direct but it opened with $21.9 million in just 1,483 theaters on its way to $50 million.  Taking over the directing and putting “Madea” in the title helped Perry’s next film, Madea’s Family Reunion, released a year later, do even bigger business.

Since then, Perry has directed 14 other movies, four of them featuring Madea, and they’ve grossed $743.5 million in North America alone. Granted, there’s been a notable regression from the most successful of these movies (2009’s Madea Goes to Jail, which grossed $90 million) to the biggest bomb, which was 2014’s Tyler Perry’s Single Moms Club that grossed just $16 million, less than most of Perry’s movies did opening weekend.

So we look at that and wonder, “Why bother coming back?” If Perry’s movies were already starting to lose their audience two years ago, why would bringing Madea back for a seasonal comedy reverse things? Right there is your answer, because the last seasonal Madea movie, A Madea Christmas, did make more in the $50 million range of earlier films on presumably a similar $20 million budget, so Perry and Lionsgate are trying to repeat that success by going with the exact same formula.

It might actually work by releasing the movie so close to Halloween, because we’ve seen other horror spoofs like Marlon Wayan’s A Haunted House do decently even with its January release (its sequel didn’t do as well), but you have to wonder whether moviegoers will see this as a sequel and whether this year’s debilitating “sequelitis” might hurt this one as well. (It also doesn’t help this opening a week after Kevin Hart: What Now? which is targeting the exact same audience.)

As has often been the case with Tyler Perry’s previous films, Lionsgate won’t be screening this in advance for critics, knowing full well that few of them have anything nice to say about Perry’s brand of “comedy.” Fortunately, his fans don’t care and the movie could do well even if it ends up with 0% Fresh on RottenTomatoes, which it just might do.


KEEPING UP WITH THE JONESES (20th Century Fox)

Cast: Zach Galifianakis, Jon Hamm, Isla Fisher, Gal Gadot
Director: Greg Mottola   (Superbad, Paul, Adventureland)
Genre:  Comedy
Rated PG-13
Plot:
Jeff and Karen Gaffney (Zack Galifianakis, Isla Fisher) are facing their humdrum suburban lack of a sex life after sending their kids off to camp, until new next door neighbors Tim and Natalie Jones (Jon Hamm, Gal Gadot) move in and their lives are reinvigorated, especially when they realize that their new neighbors might be spies.
Theater Count (est.): 3,000

While normally, a new comedy from Superbad director Greg Mottola would be a welcome treat, it’s hard to be thrilled about a movie that came from out of nowhere with very little promotion like this one did.

It’s the second comedy of the season starring The Hangover’s breakout star Zach Galifianakis after last month’s bomb Masterminds. This one teams him with Isla Fisher (from Wedding Crashers), “Mad Men” star Jon Hamm and Wonder Woman herself, Gal Gadot.  If that sounds like a mixed bag of talent, then you’d be right and there’s nothing to say that any of them can get people into theaters, especially because the premise itself looks pretty dumb.

The movie might have benefitted from being one of the few comedies in release not targeted towards African-Americas à la the new Tyler Perry and last week’s Kevin Hart movies, but there just doesn’t seem like anything about the movie or its premise that might be of interest to anyone who even knows the movie exists. On top of that, reviews for the movie are probably not going to be very good, and even opening in 3,000 or more theaters, it’s hard to imagine this movie will have much of an impact on a busy weekend with plenty of stronger offerings. 


I’M NOT ASHAMED (Pure Flix Entertainment)

Cast: Masey McLain, Ben Davies, Cameron McKendry
Director: Brian Baugh (To Save a Life)
Genre:  Drama
Rated PG-13
Plot:
This faith-based drama is based on the journal entries of Rachel Joy Scott, the first student killed during the Columbine high school shoots of 1999.
Theater Count (est.): 500

But I am ashamed, because I know nothing about this movie except that it’s the latest religious film being released by Pure Flix, who have released semi-successful Christian dramas like the recent God’s Not Dead 2 and last year’s Woodlawn. At this point, it’s still hard to determine how much of the film’s Christian target audience might be interested in a movie about Columbine, but it’s not getting nearly as wide a release as some of those others, so it will probably end up with less than $2 million this weekend and around $5 to 6 million total.


BOX OFFICE PREDICTIONS:

While two of the new movies are in direct competition with movies opening last week, at least Ouija: Origin of Evil should benefit slightly from it being the only horror film opening nationally a week before Halloween. That said, Tom Cruise’s star power and fanbase should help give Jack Reacher: Never Go Back an advantage to win the weekend with Ouija and Tyler Perry’s Moo! A Madea Halloween (more comedy, than horror) to fall in behind it.

(NOTE: Check back on Thursday night for any updates to these predictions due to changing theater counts, etc.) 

Updated 10.20.16

1. Jack Reacher: Never Go Back (Paramount) - $22.0 million N/A (down .5 million)

2. Ouija: Origin of Evil (Universal) - $17 million N/A (down .5 million)

3. Boo! A Madea Halloween (Lionsgate)  - $15.5 million N/A (up .2 million)

4. The Accountant (Warner Bros.) - $12 million -52%

5. Keeping Up with the Joneses (20th Century Fox) - $7.4 million N/A

6. The Girl on the Train (Universal) - $6.5 million -47%

7. Kevin Hart: What Now? (Universal) -   $5.5 million -53%

8. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (Fox) - $5 million -44% (down .1 million)

9. Deepwater Horizon (Lionsgate) - $3.5 million -45% (down .2 million)

10. Storks (Warner Bros.) - $3.4 million -40% (down .3 million)

 LAST YEAR:

The second to last weekend of October last year continued the disappointing box office from prior weeks as Ridley Scott and Matt Damon’s The Martian (Universal) leapt back into the top spot with just $15.7 million and four new movies in wide release bombed… some quite spectacularly. Before we can get to those new movies, we first have to get past Sony’s Goosebumps in second place with $15.5 million and Steven Spielberg’s Bridge of Spies (DreamWorks) with $11.4 million in third. Vin Diesel’s The Last Witch Hunter (Lionsgate) fared the best of the new movies but still bombed with just $10.8 million in 3,082 theaters. The fifth in the series, Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension (Paramount) did even worse, opening in sixth place with $8 million, but in half as many theaters. And then there were two movies opening in more than 2,000 theaters, which didn’t even get into the Top 10.  Bill Murray’s Rock the Kasbah (Open Road) bombed with $1.5 million in 2,012 theaters or $731 per theater and the unfortunate movie based on Jem and the Holograms (Universal) did even worse (!!!!) with $1.4 million in 2,413 theaters or $570 per theater. In other words, don’t expect sequels to any of these new movies anytime soon.


THIS WEEK’S PICKS:

WE ARE X (Drafthouse Films)

Cast: Yoshiki, Toshi, Hide,
Director: Stephen Kijack (Cinemania, Stones in Exile, Backstreet Boys: Show ‘Em What You’re Made Of)
Genre: Documentary, Music
Rated R
Plot:
A spotlight on Japan’s mega-popular rock band, X Japan, as they make their way to their first big U.S. concert at Madison Square Garden in New York.  

There have been some great music docs this year, some that I’ve already featured in this column and a couple more to go, but it’s a rare thing when a movie hips me to a band that I’ve never heard of before.  That was the case with Anvil: The Story of Anvil a couple years back, but in that case, they were a rather obscure band, who only achieved some level of fame due to the movie.  In the case of X Japan, who is featured in this new doc by Stephen Kijack, they are a hugely popular band the world over, having sold 30 million records to date. And yet, they’re still virtually unknown in the States except for a diehard fanbase.  It’s for them that a show was booked at Madison Square Garden a few years back, and that show is the centerpiece for a movie that covers the band’s convoluted history, revolving around drummer and musical prodigy Yoshiki.

At a first glance of the band’s heavily made-up spikey-haired look, you immediately think of a band like Mötley Crüe, but their high-speed metal music is more like Megadeth. If you consider that the band’s audience are primarily young girls and women, you can only imagine the fervor surrounding them in Japan, where they’re as big as the Beatles were back in their day.

But Kijack’s film doesn’t just show the band in concert, rather spending a lot of time with the band’s musical visionary Yoshiki, talking about his experiences as a sickly child, growing up to be a man who is constantly needing booster shots to keep him going before and after concerts. It also gets into how he formed the band as a teenager with singer Toshi and how that bond has helped keep the band together until a break-up in the ‘90s when Toshi was brainwashed by a cult into leaving.

Maybe what makes the film even more singular in its direction is how it handles Yoshiki’s fatalistic look on life after losing his father and a number of bandmates to suicide, making the enigmatic drummer an even more fascinating film subject.

Beyond that, the band’s music is quite amazing as it shifts between piano-driven ballads and thrashing super-fast metal, which makes you think the band will have even more American fans after they watch this movie.

We Are X opens in Los Angeles at the Landmark Nuart Theater on October 21 with director Stephen Kijack and Yoshiki at select screenings. It will then open in other theaters next Friday, October 28. You can find out where it’s playing on the Official Site.


IN A VALLEY OF VIOLENCE (Focus World)

Cast: Ethan Hawke, Taissa Farmiga, James Ransone, Karen Gillan, John Travolta
Writer/Director: Ti West (The Innkeepers, The House of the Devil, The Sacrament, Trigger Man)
Genre: 
Western
Rated R
Plot:
 A drifter named Paul (Ethan Hawke) is going to Mexico with his dog Abbie when he comes across the town of Denton where he falls afoul of Gilly (James Ransone), the troublemaking son of the town’s Marshal (John Travolta), but when Gilly and his men attack Paul outside town, Paul returns to the town with vengeance on his mind. 

Man, I love a good Western, and seeing indie horror master Ti West (House of the Devil) taking on the genre has been a huge thrill, having seen this one a number of times in a bunch of different settings. For this Western, West has taken a lot of the beloved archetypes of the genre and given them a twist, not in the way that might detract or lessen from the experience for long-time Western fans, but just to show that one can take a fairly simple premise and make quite an unforgettable experience from it.

It’s a great showcase for the talented Mr. Ethan Hawke for sure, but there are just so many interesting characters around his lone drifter that he meets in the small classic Western town of Denton, before he falls foul of the son of the town’s leader. For the quiet performance given by Hawke, the amazing performance by James Ransone as the film’s main villain Gilly is one that really makes the film quite special.

Gilly is quite a character, showing off for his henchmen and girlfriend (an equally nutty performance by Karen Gillan from Doctor Who and Oculus), but unable to deliver when he calls Hawke’s character out and gets felled with one punch. That hurts his pride so much that he follows Hawke out of town with his men to get revenge.  What Gilly does is fairly despicable and inexcusable, which gives you that much more reason for Hawke’s character to seek his own revenge.

What’s great about West’s version of a Western is that no one really acts like they have in any other Western you might have seen, and it’s not meant to be taken nearly as seriously as even something like the recent Magnificent Seven remake (which itself had some funny moments).

Oh, and it’s impossible to write about this movie and not mention the adorable and talented pooch that Hawke’s character has been teamed with as Jumpy the dog often steals the movie, and actually has a large part to play in the film’s plot.

Although In a Valley of Violence will be available on VOD this Friday, I can’t stress enough how great it is seeing this movie in a theater with an audience, because it just plays so well that way, especially the movie’s funnier parts, so look out for the movie to play in a theater hopefully near you. You can find a full list of theaters here.

Interview with Ti West and James Ransone

Also playing on the Discovery Channel this coming Saturday is Morgan Spurlock’s horrifying doc Rats, which looks at the fight against the rodent population in various cities.  You’ll never watch Willard the same way again.


MICHAEL MOORE IN TRUMPLAND

Cast: Michael Moore
Director:  Michael Moore (Fahrenheit 9/11, Roger and Me, Sicko, Where to Invade Next, Bowling for Columbine and more)
Genre:  Documentary, Politics
Plot: Michael Moore performs a one-man show in Wilmington, Ohio to celebrate the Democratic Presidential nominee, Hilary Clinton.

Because this was such a late addition—literally announced yesterday—I wasn’t able to write as much as I’d like, because I literally knew nothing about this movie. It’s not the anti-Trump movie that I thought Moore might make after Fahrenheit 9/11 lambasted then-President George W. Bush, but instead it’s a taping of a one-man show he performed in Wilmington, Ohio, the heart of Trump country (but actually in Clinton County) where he was hoping to change some minds.

Moore instead uses his time on stage to talk about why Hilary Clinton would be a great President, considering himself an unlikely supporter, having never voted for Hilary in the past. (Moore was a Bernie Sanders supporter up until the primaries.)  He does this in a lot of interesting and funny ways, even talking about his own history with Hilary Clinton and his very first meeting of her at the White House, to learn she was a big fan of his.

I personally was a little surprised that Moore wasn’t a Hilary supporter, because one of the big takeaways from his last doc, Where to Invade Next, was when he goes to Iceland and shows how women took over the country’s economic matters after its financial crisis, showing what great things women could do when put in power. I walked out of that movie thinking that the movie created a perfectly reasonable reason to vote for Hilary, but apparently, Moore still wasn’t convinced himself.

So 12 days ago, he performed this show and within 12 days, he had a finished, edited movie in theaters that he’s going to work on getting into more places over the next three weeks. Will it make a difference? Who knows… because in some ways, he will still be preaching to the converted i.e. his normal liberal fanbase.  But he has a good point by being worried that some liberals (mainly Bernie bros) might still not be excited enough to vote for Hilary to show up at the polls at all, which would give Trump a victory. Like many, Moore is as worried about a President Trump as any other sane and reasonable person.

More than anything, Moore offers some valid reasons why Clinton is more than ready to be our 45th President with lots of evidence, such as a speech she gave at the age of 22 in roughly 1960 when women were still fighting for their rights.  There’s also a lot of funnier moments including a look at what the world might be like with President Trump and a fake ad Trump might make. In general, it’s still a funny and entertaining movie, but one with such an important message.

So yeah, I don’t  usually like using this column for political reasons, but if for some reason you’re undecided or thinking of voting for a third party candidate or just don’t feel like going out to vote for anyone, then you should at least try to catch Moore’s new movie.  It will play in New York at the IFC Center and Encino at the Laemmle, but it’s going to be adding more theaters over the 24 to 48 hours and will probably be available On Demand as well. This is what you call a stealth release.

Also playing on the Discovery Channel this coming Saturday is Morgan Spurlock’s horrifying doc Rats, which looks at the fight against the rodent population in various cities.  You’ll never watch Willard the same way again.


OTHER LIMITED RELEASES:

Another ridiculous amount of limited releases this week and I’ve only had a chance to see a couple of these, so caveat emptor…

Ewan McGregor makes his directorial debut with his adaptation of Philip Roth’s novel American Pastoral (Lionsgate), in which he plays Seymour “Swede” Levov, a high school sports legend who marries a beauty queen (Jennifer Connelly) and tries to enjoy a quite domestic life in ‘60s New Jersey until his daughter Merry (Dakota Fanning) falls in with a tough group of activists, and “Swede” and his wife need to try to get her back. It will open in select cities this week and expand into more cities next weekend.

Barry (Medicine for Melancholy) Jenkins’ sophomore effort, Moonlight (A24), which has received acclaim at many film festivals this past month or two, tells the story of a young Florida youth named Chiron, during three key moments in his life, as played by Alex Hibbert, Ashton Sanders and Trevante Rhodes, specifically his relationship with another boy named Kevin, while dealing with the violence and drugs in the region.  Co-starring Naomie Harris as Chiron’s junkie mother and Mahershala Ali (“House of Cards”) as a drugdealer mentor, it opens in New York and L.A. Friday and will expand into more cities over the next month.   

Korean filmmaker Park Chan-wook returns with The Handmaiden (Amazon Studios/Magnolia), a period crime drama about a young Korean woman (Kim Tae-ri) sent to live in an estate with a Japanese girl (Kim Min-hee) and her creepy uncle Kouzuki (Cho Jin-woong), acting as the former’s handmaiden, so that her conman boss (Ha Jung-woo) can win the girl's heart then steal her money. It opens in New York and L.A. on Friday and in more theaters next week. You can find out if it’s playing near you at the Official Site.

Interview with Park Chan-wook                                                               

Rob Zombie’s latest, 31 (Lionsgate/Saban Films), follows five carnival workers who are kidnapped the night of Halloween and challenged to survive 12 hours against a number of psychotic killers.  Featuring many of Zombie’s ensemble of actors including wife Shari Moon Zombie, Jeff Daniel Phillips and Meg Foster (all from The Lords of Salem), it opens in select cities following its VOD run. (The trailer below may not be safe for work or those under 18.)

Gianfranco Rosi’s documentary Fire At Sea (Kino Lorber) takes a look at the island of Lampedusa in the Mediterranean where refugees from Africa often end up stranded on their attempts to travel to Europe on insufficient vessels from their dire conditions back home. Selected by Italy as its Oscar contender, Rosi’s film will also be shooting for a place in the doc category following its festival run. It will open in select cities Friday.

From the country that brought us horror fare The Ring and The Grudge comes the latest from filmmaker Kiyoshi Kurosawa, who brought us Pulse. Creepy (Kimstim Films) follows the investigation by a retired detective to find a serial killer who might be closer than he realizes. It will open on Friday at the Metrograph in New York City.

Opening in New York and L.A. Friday before its Discovery Channel premiere on October 30, the doc Before the Flood (Discovery Channel), put together by director Fisher Stevens with Leonardo DiCaprio, follows the path set by An Inconvenient Truth in trying to put a stop to endangered species, ecosystems and native communities across the world. DiCaprio interviews a number of subjects on the matter for a film that features a score and a new original song by Oscar-winning composers Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross.

Justin Kelly writes and directs King Cobra (IFC Midnight), a true crime drama set in the world of gay porn, starring Garrett Clayton as Sean, who hooks up with Christian Slater’s Stephen, founder of Cobra Video, who turns Sean into the porn star “Brent Corrigan.” When Stephen’s competitor Joe (James Franco) and his main star Harlow (Keegan Allen) try to steal Sean away from Cobra Video, it leads to a shocking murder. It will open at New York’s IFC Center and a few other places, as well as on VOD. (The trailer below may not be safe for work or those under 18.)

In Courtney Hunt’s The Whole Truth (Lionsgate Premiere), Keanu Reeves plays defense attorney Richard Ramsay who takes on a case when the son of his widowed friend (Renee Zellwegger) is charged with murdering his father (Jim Belushi), working with a new colleague Janelle (Gugu Mbatha-Raw). Things aren’t what they seem… obviously. It opens in select cities and On Demand.

Oscar nominee Bakhad Abdirahman (Captain Phillips) stars in Musa Syeed’s narrative feature debut A Stray (IFP), playing a Somali refugee living in Minneapolis whose mother kicks him out, so he moves into a mosque but when he takes in a stray dog, he’s kicked back out into the streets. It will open at the IFP Media Center in New York as part of the IFP Screen Forward Screening Series.

Sasha Gordon’s subversive romantic comedy It Had To Be You (Samuel Goldwyn), which premiered at the Austin Film Festival last October, stars Cristin MIlioti as Sonia, a neurotic jingle writer who is surprised by her boyfriend Chris (Dan Soder) proposing to her and giving her an ultimatum to marry him. This will open in select cities and on VOD Friday.

Zoey Deutch, Nicholas Braun, Ashley Judd, Julia Garner and Demian Bichir are among the cast of Chris McCoy’s Good Kids (Vertical Entertainment), a story about four graduating high school students who decide to make up for their years following the rules by going wild over the summer. It will hit theaters and be on VOD Friday.

In Angad Aulukh’s Autumn Lights (Freestyle Releasing), an American photographer (Guy Kent) who discovers a crime scene in Iceland before getting entangle din the lives of a European couple (Marta Gastini & Sveinn Ólafur Gunnarsson).  It will open in select theaters including New York’s Cinema Village.

After premiering at the Tribeca Film Festival, Vincent Masciale’s Fear Inc. (Electric Entertainment) will get a limited release this weekend. It deals with a company that will help bring your greatest fears to life, setting up elaborate scenarios for their clients. Horror movie enthusiast Joe Foster (Lucas Neff) and his girlfriend Lindsey (Caitlin Stasey) are two curious customers after receiving the company’s business card, only to find out that… wait for it… things aren’t what they seem!!

Michelle Mitchell and Nick Louvel’s documentary The Uncondemned (Abramorama) looks at a group of activists and international lawyers who helped make rape a war crime when Rwandan women come forward to testify and get justice for what was done to them. It opens in New York Friday, and in L.A. and Washington DC on October 28 and in more cities after that. You can find out where here.

Bernardo Britto’s Jacqueline (Argentine) (Gunpowder/Sky) stars Wyatt Cecna from “The Daily Show” as a filmmaker, who receives frantic Emails and phone calls from a French woman named Jacqueline (Camille Rutherford), begging him to come to Argentina to document her political exile after being accused of leaking government secrets about a planned assassination. When he and his interns arrive, they realize that … you guessed it… things aren’t what they seem! 

There are also a couple film restoration reissues released this week including Juzo Itami’s “Ramen Western” Tampopo (Janus Films), which will open at New York’s Film Forum Friday with star Nobuko Miyamoto in attendance, while John McNaughton’s classic thriller Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (Dark Sky Films), starring Michael Rooker from Guardians of the Galaxy as the title character--a serial killer--will celebrate its 30th Anniversary in 20 cities on Friday. John McNaughton will be in New York on Friday at the Landmark Sunshine and in L.A. at the Laemmle NoHo on Friday, October 28. 

That’s it for this week, but join us again next Wednesday right here on LRM Online for a look at new movies opening on October 28, which at this point is just Tom Hanks return as Dan Brown’s Robert Langdon for Inferno (Sony). (American Pastoral is supposed to expand wider, but we’ll see if that really happens or not.)

(Text copyright Edward Douglas 2016. The Weekend Warrior logo designed by and copyright Tim Nardelli 2016.)

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