On Friday, film lovers in select cities will be able to catch a showing of the coming-of-age film mid90s, written and directed by Jonah Hill. If you happen to be in the L.A. area, Jonah and the cast will be holding several Q&As at the Landmark and Arclight theaters Friday through Sunday after the viewing (see link for details). The film is set for limited release, along with What They Had, a drama starring Hilary Swank as a daughter who returns to her hometown to support her Alzheimer’s-suffering mother.
This weekend also seems ripe for watching swindlers in action. Robert Redford and Sissy Spacek star in The Old Man & the Gun, a film about bank robber-slash-prison escapee Forrest Tucker, and Melissa McCarthy plays real-life forger Lee Israel in Can You Forgive Me?
Beautiful Boy, an emotionally pummeling drug-addiction drama starring Steve Carell and Timothée Chalamet, has been out for a week now, but it’s so good we thought you should hear about it twice. And the 11th installment in the Halloween franchise will hit theaters later this month, just in time for the eponymous holiday.
Read on to see what critics are saying about these new films.
Jonah Hill retells a segment of his childhood in the coming-of-age mid90s, a film about a 13-year-old boy named Stevie (Sunny Suljic) who finds refuge in a group of teenage skaters in Los Angeles. He’s thrilled by their devil-may-care lifestyle and willing to play the part in dangerous situations and antics to be accepted by them. Variety critic Owen Gleiberman said “it could pass as one of the coolest films that ever played at Sundance,” and THR’s John Defore praised Hill’s directing, calling the film “a gem that feels simultaneously informed by its author’s adolescence and the product of a serious artist’s observational distance.”
What They Had
At the urging of her brother (Michael Shannon), Bridget Ertz (Hilary Swank) returns home to Chicago after their mother has an Alzheimer’s-related episode in What They Had, written and directed by Elizabeth Chomko. Their father, played by Robert Forster, is in denial and refuses to transfer his wife to a care facility, marking just one of the stressors that is drawing the family apart. Vulture’s David Edelstein writes: “there’s raw power in Chomko’s directing, but so much scrupulousness and craft that you feel safe when the time comes to weep,” and THR’s David Rooney calls it “a film made with genuine feeling and smooth professional craftsmanship.”
In Beautiful Boy, directed by Felix Van Groeningen, teenager Nicolas Sheff (Timothée Chalamet) seems to have it all—good grades, athletics, artistic prowess—but his addiction to meth threatens to destroy him. The movie is based on the best-selling pair of memoirs from father and son David and Nic Sheff, chronicling the heartbreak and inspiring experience of survival, relapse, and recovery in a family coping with addiction over many years. Washington Post film critic Ann Hornaday calls Beautiful Boy “a painful, frustrating, sometimes infuriating depiction of helplessness, even passivity, as a life full of potential circles the drain.” “It’s a film about unconditional love at its most powerless and supernaturally healing,” she writes.
The Old Man & the Gun
Directed by David Lowery and starring Robert Redford, The Old Man & the Gun tells the story of Forrest Tucker, who, at the age of 70, makes an audacious escape from San Quentin and orchestrates a string of heists that confound authorities and grip the public. THR critic Todd McCarthy says that “[Redford’s] work is natural, subtle, ingratiating and doesn’t miss a trick,” likening Tucker’s tenor in the film to Redford himself, as “two men nearing the end of their prolific careers.”
Can You Ever Forgive Me?
In Can You Forgive Me? Melissa McCarthy assumes a dramatic role that follows the real-life con artist Lee Israel. The film is adapted from Israel’s own memoir, where she documents her criminal past. New York Times film critic A.O Scott writes that “partly because the movie is so splendidly and completely absorbed in its characters and their milieu, it communicates much more than a quirky appreciation for old books and odd readers,” adding, “Can You Forgive Me is neither judgy nor ethically neutral.” Most critics believe this film more than makes up for McCarthy’s recent misfires and reminds viewers of her undeniable talents.
Directed by David Gordon Green, Halloween serves as a direct sequel to the original version in 1978, ignoring the events of the nine films in between. It’s been 40 years since Laurie Strode survived a heinous attack from maniac killer Michael Myers on Halloween night. She has shuttered herself in a heavily armored home for those years awaiting Myers escape from Smith’s Grove Sanitarium. Laurie now faces a grim showdown when the masked killer returns—but this time, she’s ready. Empire critic Chris Hewitt writes: “regardless of how silly you think it all is, this will have you scared witless by the time the end credits roll,” adding, “it’s low budget horror hog heaven.”
Have a great weekend.