The Weekend Warrior 3/17/17: Beauty And The Beast, The Belko Experiment

– 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.  And if you're into box office and how movies might do, come play some of the box office games at EZ1 Productions including their new Pick 5 game!

THIS PAST WEEKEND:

As expected, Legendary Pictures’ Kong: Skull Island won the weekend, and honestly, the Weekend Warrior’s original prediction of $61.6 million was pretty darn close to the movie’s opening weekend which ended up at $61 million. (Unfortunately, I chickened out on Thursday because my prediction was so much higher than all others and lowered it to $58 million, which was STILL closer to than every other prediction last weekend.) Also, as expected (at least by me), Hugh Jackman’s Logan took a 2nd weekend tumble as has been the case with most X-Men movies, dropping 57% to make $28 million and bring its ten-day total to $153 million.  Not much else to report other than Jordan Peele’s Get Out breaking the $100 million mark, another minimal drop similar to last week and making it the first directorial debut by an African-American writer/director to reach that mark. 


This week’s column is brought to you by the letter “B” and one of this week’s “B-movies” is going to do a lot better than the other. In fact, I’d imagine Disney’s Beauty and the Beast will do more on Thursday than The Belko Experiment will do its entire weekend, so let’s get into it.  (Oh, and also, March Madness starts this week, which is likely to hurt the latter more than the former.)

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (Walt Disney Pictures)

Cast: Emma Watson, Luke Evans, Josh Gad, Kevin Kline, Sir Ian McKellen, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Dan Stevens, Audra McDonald, Stanley Tucci, Ewan McGregor.
Director: Bill Condon (Dreamgirls, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Kinsey, The Fifth Estate, Mr. Holmes, Gods and Monsters)
Genre: Musical, Fantasy.
Rated PG
Plot:
The classic Disney animated musical based on the fairy tale about Beauty and the Beast is turned into a live action film with Emma Watson as Belle and Dan Stevens as the princely Beast.
Theater Count (est.): 4,210

I have a little confession to make, and that’s that I’ve never seen the original 1991 Disney animated film Beauty and the Beast. In fact, I watched very few animated films in the ‘90s, and I just haven’t cared enough to make an effort to do so. That’s a little bit of a problem, because after the success of Alice in Wonderland, Cinderella and last year’s The Jungle Book, Walt Disney Pictures have started to look towards their ‘90s animated films shepherded by Jeffrey Katzenberg to turn them into live action films with Beauty and the Beast being the first of a number of planned live action adaptations. (Mulan, Alladin and The Little Mermaid are three in the works.)

Directed by legendary animator Don Hahn, the original animated movie opened quietly over Thanksgiving weekend 1991 with just $9.2 million in less than 1,000 theaters (things were different 26 years ago than they are now), but it continued to build word of mouth over the holidays as it would become the first animated movie to be nominated for Best Picture and composer Alan Menken would be nominated for three of the film’s songs, winning two Oscars, one for song and one for score. The movie would go onto gross $145 million in its original domestic run, which isn’t much by today’s standards, but ten years later it would get an IMAX release that added another $25 million and ten years after that, Disney released a 3D version of the movie which grossed a whopping $47.6 million. (Now, think about that last bit. A movie that had been on DVD and home video for 20 years was rereleased theatrically and was able to make nearly a third of the film’s original release gross.)

The movie would also be adapted to a hit Broadway musical, so it was only a matter of time before Disney would bring the beloved classic back to theaters in a new format. It’s following the success of other efforts, like Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, which opened with $116 million (a previous March opening record) before grossing $334 million domestic, and Jon Favreau’s The Jungle Book, last year opening with $103.3 million and grossing $364 million total domestic. Those are pretty good benchmarks and probably better than 2015’s Cinderella, which opened with “just” $68 million and topped out at $201 million domestic.

Handling the directorial reigns is Bill Condon, best known as the writer of the Oscar-winning Chicago and director of the Oscar-nominated Dreamgirls, which certainly gives him good cred to direct a big movie musical. (At least Disney didn’t get Rob Marshall to direct it like he did Into the Woods a few years back.) Condon more famously directed the very bad last few chapters of The Twilight Saga, which didn’t ingratiate himself with critics, nor did his Julian Assange biopic, The Fifth Estate.

One major difference for this movie over The Jungle Book is that it stars Emma Watson, the actress who played Hermione Grainger in eight hit Harry Potter movies, which grossed $2.4 billion (!) in domestic box office alone, which is quite impressive. With that sort of popularity under your belt, one would think that putting Watson into the live action adaptation of a hugely popular and successful musical would be box office gold…Which is probably what Disney execs. were thinking, and they’re probably right! (It’s similar thought process as putting the once-successful Johnny Depp in the role of the Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland.)

Watson hasn’t had that much success in her roles since Harry Potter such as My Week with Marilyn (a really small part), and The Perks of Being a Wallflower (slightly larger) or The Bling Ring (lead role but it only made $5.8 million total). She also had a smaller role in Darren Aronofsky’s Noah, but honestly, few people have seen any of these movies and thought, “Emma Watson is so great, I’ll go see her in these movies!” Then again, there’s probably a much larger portion of the Venn Diagram between girls and women into Harry Potter and girls and women into Disney animated musicals and Beauty and the Beast specifically, because it’s such a popular favorite.

There are a lot of other well-respected actors in the cast including heart-throbs Dan Stevens as the Beast and Luke Evans as Gaston, Sir Ian McKellen (who starred in Condon’s early film Gods and Monsters, for which he got an Oscar nomination, and his most recent film Mr. Holmes), Emma Thompson, Ewan McGregor (also appearing in the sequel Trainspotting 2 Friday), Kevin Kline, and yes…that popular voice from Disney’s mega-hit Frozen, Josh Gad. It’s certainly an illustrious cast that should add to fans’ enjoyment of the movie. I have no idea who any of them play, nor do I really care to find out. Sorry!

Another big factor that possibly needs to be taken into consideration for Beauty and the Beast is that the reviews aren’t nearly as praise-worthy as many of Disney’s 2016 movies, including The Jungle Book. As of this writing, the movie is 68% on RottenTomatoes with a lot of people I know and trust panning the movie. Since I never saw the original animated movie, was never invited to see this movie and have absolutely zero interest in paying to see it (as I did The Jungle Book, which I wasn’t crazy about), I honestly can’t say if they’re right or not. In this case, reviews probably won’t matter that much (for reasons below) although if families with kids or young female fans of the original agree, the movie could drop over the next few weeks even without much direct competition.

So far, I’ve mainly focused on the women, girls and general family audience for this movie, and I haven’t talked much about the guys. That’s because I don’t feel like guys will have as much interest in this movie as other Disney movies, even the animated ones. There aren’t that many straight guys interested in musicals or movies about Disney princesses, and this won’t hold much interest for teen and college-age guys especially. The fact that the movie isn’t as four-quadrant even as things like The Hunger Games, which held the March opening record until last year’s Batman v Superman, might keep the movie from surpassing that movie’s $152.5 million opening even with five years of ticket inflation.

Then there was the recent announcement that Josh Gad’s character Lefou would have an “exclusively gay moment,” the type of thing that would immediately be picked up as clickbait by liberal-minded entertainment reporters as a way to pat Disney on the back for what is ultimately a very minor moment…that pissed off one Alabama drive-in owner to not play the movie and Russia (the country!) not allowing anyone under 16 to see the movie. (Malaysia also edited that moment out for its release.) The latter won’t have much of an impact on American box office, at least before we’re officially merged with the country that rigged our election. (Okay, that’s just a rumor….and a joke.)

Last week, ticket seller Fandango announced that Beauty and the Beast was selling out many of its opening weekend screenings, outselling Disney’s summer hit Finding Dory, which opened with $135.1 million, and “outpacing” ticket sales for last year’s Captain America: Civil War, which opened with $179.1 million.  That’s a pretty big gap of over $40 million. While opening with the latter number would set a new March record, the other number wouldn’t, although it would still be a solid third place. Mind you, I’m always a little dubious of Fandango’s sales announcements, because it’s a little like a pizza place saying, “We’re selling more slices than ever!” in hopes that people will rush over to buy slices before they sell out. In other words, they have nothing to gain by just saying, “This movie is selling really well.” Granted, they have their own analysts, I have myself, and I’m less prone to hyperbole, so take that for what it’s worth.

The last factor to consider is that Beauty and the Beast will be opening on many 3D and IMAX 3D screens, which may be the choice of watching the movie for many moviegoers, and the ticket price uptick for those screens certainly will make a difference in the movie’s box office.

Wrapping things up, this is clearly going to be one of those big event movies that does way better than anyone expects, because it’s really hard to gauge the actual demand for it. Similarly, it’s going to be hard to tell how it might do over the weekend vs. Thursday and Friday, because it might be like The Hunger Games where a lot of people wanting to see it rush out to see it early…or it might perform like a normal family film and have a decent bump over the weekend. Without knowing how much of the tickets being sold are for Thursday/Friday vs. the weekend, it’s hard to tell. Either way, we’re definitely entering new territory here, although I’m still keeping my prediction somewhat modest--somewhere in the $145 million range--knowing that a lot of the tickets sold will be for kids and therefore, discounted, potentially counterbalancing the upcharges for IMAX and 3D.

(Sorry. No interviews or reviews for this one.)


belkoexperimentreview1.jpg

THE BELKO EXPERIMENT (BH Tilt / Orion Pictures)

Cast: John Gallagher, Jr, Melonie Diaz, John C. McGinley, Tony Goldwyn, Michael Rooker, David Dastmalchian, Gail Bean, Valentine Miele, Sean Gunn.
Director: Greg McLean (Wolf Creek, Rogue, The Darkness, upcoming Jungle)
Genre: Horror, Thriller
Rated R
Plot:
The Belko Corporation’s busy office building in Bogota, Colombia is shaken up when an announcement comes over the P.A. that everybody has 30 minutes to kill two of their fellow employees as steel shutters seal them inside. At first, they think it’s a joke until four of their co-workers are brutally killed and they’re forced to take the commands over the P.A. more seriously.
Theater Count (est.): 1,341

This week’s counterprogramming option seems very much like David taking on Goliath where for once, it’s a genre film that might appeal more to guys than the higher profile blockbuster.

A little background: The Belko Experiment was a screenplay written by Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn years ago but was back-burnered so he could work on other things. A few years back he figured out they could make it and had a little more cred in the industry so he moved forward to get it happening.

The movie is directed by Australian filmmaker Greg McLean, who broke onto the scene with his thriller Wolf Creek, which led to a sequel and a recent mini-series on cable, but he also wrote and directed last year’s horror film The Darkness, starring Kevin Bacon, which bombed, opening with less than $5 million and grossing just $10.7 million.

Like many horror films, there aren’t that many big names to keep the budget low, the most prominent actors being John Gallagher Jr. from 10 Cloverfield Lane and Tony Goldwyn from ABC’s hit show Scandal. There’s a few other recognizable names and faces like John McGinley (Scrubs) and Melonie Diaz, and fans of James Gunn’s movies will be happy to see the likes of Guardians veterans Michael Rooker and his brother Sean Gunn.

Unfortunately, none of those actors will get people into theaters and it’s more about the premise, which is quite a good one, because those who work in a similar office might be curious about what might happen if they’re ever put into this sort of survival situation. (Imagine a cross between the Japanese thriller Battle Royale and the television sitcom The Office, and that’s a fairly apt description of this movie.) It’s hard to tell if that concept is coming across as well as it could in the movie’s marketing.

The Belko Experiment premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival last year as part of the “Midnight Madness” track, and it was received fairly well with 63% on RottenTomatoes from 8 reviews, although one expects that when other reviews hit this week, that number is probably going to drop. Sure, film critics seem to be more into horror, especially socially-relevant horror, these days going by the success of Jordan Peele’s Get Out, but that movie will also be offering competition for Belko, as will college basketball with March Madness starting this week. 

Opening in around 1,200 theaters, this is probably going to end up opening in the same range as The Darkness with less than $5 million. 

The LRM Interview with Greg McLean

REVIEW


BOX OFFICE PREDICTIONS:

Yeah, there’s absolutely no way that Disney’s Beauty and the Beast isn’t #1 this weekend with the amount of tickets sold already, but will it make a play for the current March opening record ($166 million, held by Batman v Superman) or even second place (The Hunger Games in 2012 with $152.5 million) without the interest of male moviegoers both of those movies had? I guess we’ll have to see as we may be entering new territory with how well one of these Disney live action remakes could do compared to Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland. The only other new wide release, The Belko Experiment (BH Tilt), is coming into the weekend going up against a lot of genre competition between Kong, Logan and Get Out plus March Madness, so it’s looking at the bottom half of the Top 10 at best. 

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

UPDATE: The hyperbole behind Disney's latest release is starting to get to the Weekend Warrior and not to fall too far behind the pack, I've upped my weekend prediction to closer to the opening for The Hunger Games, and at this point, it's definitely close enough to at least take second place, but I still think it'll fall behind Batman v Superman, which had the benefits of Good Friday on its side.)

1. Beauty and the Beast (Disney) - $152.3 million N/A (Up $6.9 million)

2. Kong: Skull Island (Legendary Pictures/WB) - $28.5 million -54%

3. Logan (20th Century Fox) - $17.1 million -54% (down .4 million)

4. Get Out (Universal) - $14.5 million -30%

5. The Shack (Summit/Lionsgate) - $5 million -52%

6. The Belko Experiment (BH Tilt) – $4.4 million N/A

7. The LEGO Batman Movie (Warner Bros) - $3.6 million -50%

8. Hidden Figures (20th Century Fox) - $1.5 million -42% (down .3 million)

9. Before I Fall (Open Road) - $1.3 million -57% (down .1 million)

10. John Wick: Chapter 2 (Lionsgate) - $1.2 million -55% (down .3 million)

LAST YEAR:

This mid-March box office frame last year saw the release of two new movies, but neither The Divergent Series: Allegiant nor Miracles from Heaven could defeat Disney’s Zootopia in its third weekend at #1 with $37.2 million. Allegiant only made $29 million to take second place, nearly half what its predecessor made, forcing Lionsgate’s hand in cancelling the franchise without finishing the story. The $14.8 million made by Miracles from Heaven was relatively better since it only cost $13 million to make and it was on par with the recent faith-based drama The Shack.  There actually was another wide release, though, Sony Classics’ comedy The Bronze, which bombed with just $386,000 in 1,167 theaters, a per theater average of $331… OUCH!


THIS WEEK’S PICKS:

 So I know I said that I was going to pick one narrative and one doc each week, but I'm already going to break that rule and go with two narratives...

FRANTZ (Music Box Films)

Cast: Pierre Niney, Paula Beer, Ernst Stötzner, Marie Gruber, Johann von Bülow, Anton von Lucke
Director: François Ozon (Swimming Pool, 8 Women, In the House, The New Girlfriend, Potiche, Time to Leave and many more)
Genre: Drama, Wartime
Rated PG-13
Plot:
As WWI comes to an end, a young German woman grieves for her fiancé Frantz who died in the foxholes of France, though she’s mystified by a young man she sees putting flowers on his grave, who she learns is a French comrade from before the war who is hiding a big secret.

I’ve been a major fan of French filmmaker François Ozon probably as long as I’ve been writing about movies, and while his recent output has been relatively hit or miss, he goes in a wildly different direction with this mostly black and white period piece set after World War I.

It starts out so simply as a German woman sees a man placing flowers on her fiancé’s grave. When it’s learned that this young man is French, it creates mixed emotions in the dead soldier’s family, as well as the others of the small community, who are still quite bitter about all the young men who died fighting for Germany in the foxholes of France during the recent war.

If you’re familiar with Ozon’s previous work, you might think this French man is the secret gay lover of his fellow musician, but the film doesn’t go in that expected direction at all.  Instead, it’s all about a friendship formed before the war and how that’s torn apart by the war, seen in hindsight through the eyes of the dead man’s loved ones. The performances by the film’s two leads, Pierre Niney and Paula Beer--neither of them familiar to me before this film--are fantastic, as their relationship grows through their mutual love for Frantz.

I honestly haven’t seen another movie that covers the topic of World War I in such a uniquely beautiful way as this film does. As mentioned above, the movie is mainly in black and white, which contributes to that unique feel, but every once in a while, Ozon transitions into color, often quite organically and almost imperceptibly, which also contributes to the storytelling.

With music playing such a large part in the story, it also greatly adds to the film, as Ozon takes a more minimalistic approach, similar to Michael Haneke’s The White Ribbon (also in black and white!). The film’s scoring is most prominent in scenes where there would be music already, but it’s also used in a subtle way where there’s often music adding to the scenes without overpowering them.

Either way, this is an absolutely fantastic film from Ozon, one that probably didn’t get nearly as much love as it deserved out of the festivals where it’s played over the past six or seven months, maybe because Ozon’s prolific output has been somewhat erratic in recent years. Frantz is easily Ozon’s most striking and solid films in years that will surprise any detractors the French filmmaker may have gained in recent years, and hopefully it will find him some new fans among those who enjoy historic drama.

Frantz will open in New York at the Film Forum and Lincoln Plaza Cinemas on Wednesday (Today!!) and will expand to other cities soon.


 T2 TRAINSPOTTING (Sony/TriStar Pictures)

Cast: Ewan McGregor, Jonny Lee Miller, Ewen Bremner, Robert Carlyle, Anjela Nedyalkova, Steven Robertson, Shirley Henderson
Director: Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, Slumdog Millionaire, 28 Days Later, Steve Job, Millions, Sunshine, The Beach, 128 Days and many more!)
Genre: Drama
Rated R
Plot:
Twenty years after the events depicted in Danny Boyle’s second film, an adaptation of Irvine Welch’s novel, we’re reunited with Ewan McGregor’s Mark Renton as he returns to Edinburgh, Scotland and the friends he betrayed 20 years earlier: Spud (Ewen Bremner), Sick Boy (Johnny Lee Miller) and Franko Begbie (Robert Carlyle), as old wounds are reopened and new ones are created.

I remember exactly when and where I first saw Danny Boyle’s Trainspotting in 1996, and it’s a movie that I loved back then, and I still love every time I revisit it, which granted, hadn’t been in a while.  Since then, Boyle has continued to be one of my favorite directors--as well as people, having spoken to him many times--and over the years, the topic has always come back to “When are you going to do that real-time sequel you’ve talked about?” That’s the main reason why I included that movie in my top picks, because I’ve been waiting so long for it to be realized.

It was really nice seeing all these characters again, to see how they’ve changed and grown…or stayed the same, but I won’t go into all the major changes in the characters or what they’ve been up to, so if you’re a fan of the original movie, you can find that out for yourself.

I will admit to being slightly disappointed with T2, maybe because there’s just no way it could live up to my love for the original. There are definitely some memorable moments and some great resolutions to the stories begun in the original movie, but the movie gets very strange at times and the constant tonal shifts is somewhat off-putting at times.

It’s still an interesting character study and a nice book-end to the original Trainspotting (with Millions being the thematic centerpiece of the two films), and it’s especially nice to see that Robert Carlyle and Ewen Bremner can still pull off what made both their characters so great twenty years earlier.

It’s obvious that Danny Boyle was trying to make a different movie that changed with the characters and the film’s primary Scotland location, but the movie seems to lack the energy of the original, maybe because everyone involved is 20 years older and because times have indeed changed.

Either way, I can recommend the movie with a few reservations for fans of the original movie. I’ll probably have to see this a second time down the line to really appreciate it.

T2 is being released in select cities on Friday but is expected to expand nationwide on March 31, so Sony/TriStar has two weeks to start promoting it!


This week's Honorable Mention is The Show About the Show (Factory 25), the new movie from indie filmmaker Caveh Zahedi (I Am Not a Sex Addict), another cross between reality and fiction as Zahedi goes about making a television show for BRIC TV, the Brooklyn cable network, where each episode is about the making of the previous episode. It’s a very strange but funny movie indeed. It opens at the Metrograph in New York City on Friday.

A few more New York-centric events to check out...

Lincoln Center and MOMA once again team for this year’s New Directors New Films 2017, a look at films from new directors and new films from old directors…or something like that. This year’s festival starts on Wednesday with the opening night film being Geremy Jasper’s excellent Patti Cake$, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival a couple weeks back. It stars newcomer Danielle McCarthy as a young Jersey white trash who wants to be a famous rapper, so she teams with a drug store clerk and a seemingly homeless outcast who calls himself Bastard the Antichrist to form the rap group “PBNJ” (you’ll have to see the movie to get the reference). Other films from Sundance include Eliza Hittman’s Beach Rats as the Centerpiece, and Dustin Guy Defa’s Person to Person (starring Michael Cera) as the Closing Night film. There’s a lot of other films from all over the globe but the only other film I’ve seen is William Oldroyd’s period piece Lady Macbeth--based on the play--which features an amazing performance by Florence Pugh. (Remember that name!!) There are a lot of other interesting international films, many of which don't have distribution yet, so there's always some interesting choices at this series.

Also on Friday, New York’s Metrograph theater starts a very cool new series that might be of interest called “The Singularity” running from Friday, March 17 through April 3, which looks at movies based around robots, cyborgs and artificial intelligence, which will include Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, the original Bride of Frankenstein, Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Terminator, Robocop, The Matrix, Ex Machina and odder choices like Resident Evil: Retribution. It also will include some Anime classics like the original Ghost in the Shell, which will play there for a week before the Paramount live action remake. As you can see, there’s a lot of cool movies in this series.

Of course if you’re a fan of Marvel’s martial artist Iron Fist, you’ll want to check out the Netflix series, which starts on Friday, starring Finn Jones from American Horror Story, because it’s going to be the last piece of the puzzle that will lead up to Marvel’s The Defenders later this year. (It features Rosario Dawson’s Claire Temple, who is all kinds of awesome!)


OTHER LIMITED RELEASES: 

Terrence Malick’s long-in-the-works new film Song to Song (Broad Green) comes out Friday after opening the SXSW Film Festival last weekend. It’s a “modern love story set against the Austin, Texas music scene” that stars Rooney Mara and Ryan Gosling as struggling songwriters, and Michael Fassbender playing a music mogul who pursues a waitress played by Natalie Portman. Going by Malick’s recent films, that’s about the clearest dissection you’ll get of the plot than actually watching the movie. It opens in New York and L.A. on Friday. Presumably, it will open in Austin eventually.

Emile Hirsch and JK Simmons star in Gavin (The Art of Getting By) Wiesen’s comedy All Nighter (Good Deeds Entertainment) playing the ex-boyfriend and father of a young woman who seemingly goes missing so the two of very ill-suited guys join together to look for her.  This lame comedy opens in a bunch of theaters in L.A. Friday and then opens in other markets, VOD and Digital HD on March 24.

After playing the Toronto Film Festival back in 2015, The Devil’s Candy (IFC Midnight), the latest from Australian filmmaker Sean Byrne (The Loved Ones), will open in L.A. Friday and in New York on March 24. It stars Ethan Embry as metal-loving artist Jesse who moves with his wife and daughter to a Texas town, not realizing their new home has a dark history of demonic happenings, something they learn when the house’s former owner Ray returns to continue the devil’s work.

Douglas Schulze’s The Dark Below (Parade Deck Films) is a survival thriller about a woman trying to survive underneath a frozen lake while a serial killer stalks her from above. Sounds very scary (but honestly, it’s not very good)…and it opens in L.A. on Friday and in New York on March 24.

The Italian action-comedy They Call Me Jeeg (Uncork’d Entertainment) from Donatello Award-winner Gabriele Mainetti is about a young ex-con named Enzo who gets superpowers he uses to further his crime career until he falls for an Anime-obsessed girl, who convinces him to become a superhero. It opens in L.A. (at the Laemmle Noho), Ft. Lauderdale and at the Alamo Drafthouse in Dallas on Friday then at other Alamos after that.

In a similar vein, Dominic Monaghan (The Lord of the Rings) and Tom Sizemore star in Dagen Merrill’s sci-fi film Atomica (Syfy Films) about a safety inspector (Sarah Habel from Riverdale) forced to fly to a remote nuclear power plant that has gone offline only to get caught up in a mystery involving the two onsite employees.  It will be available on VOD and Digital HD March 21 after opening in select cities Friday.

Opening Wednesday at New York’s IFC Center is Sarah Taksler’s doc Tickling Giants, yet another movie about comedy in the face of adversity (as with the recent The Last Laugh), this one about Egyptian heart surgeon Dr. Bassem Youssef who left his practice to do comedy on a political satire show following the Arab Spring.   It will open in L.A. on April 7 and in a lot of places in between, which you can find out where on the Official Site.

The new doc from filmmaker Ted Braun (Darfur Now) is Betting on Zero (Gunpowder and Sky), following hedge fund titan Bill Ackman as he goes after Herbalife to prove that they’re a pyramid scheme. It opens in New York, L.A. and other cities. 

This week’s other Netflix option includes another film that premiered at Sundance, Sydney Freeland’s Deidra and Laney Rob a Train (Netflix) about two small-town teenage sisters who plot a series of train robberies to survive when their mother is sent to jail.

This week’s repertory release is a 4k restoration of Edward Yang’s 1995 feature Taipei Story (Janus), considered a “touchstone of the Taiwanese New Wave” that follows a number of characters struggling through the country’s modernization. It will play for a week at the BAMcinématek in Brooklyn.

That’s it for this week, but join us again next Wednesday right here on LRM Online for a look at new movies, this time with three wide releases including the new Power Rangers (Saban Films/Lionsgate), Ryan Reynolds and Jake Gyllenhaal’s Life (Sony) and the movie based on the ‘70s TV show CHiPs (Warner Bros).

Tell us what you think in the comments below, and don't forget to share this post on your Facebook wall and with your Twitter followers by using the buttons at the top of this page.

(Text copyright Edward Douglas 2017. The Weekend Warrior logo designed by and copyright Tim Nardelli 2017.)

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