As I do at the beginning of each month, it’s time to take a look at the films coming to theaters in the coming twelfth of the year. Buckle up, because summer blockbuster season is upon us. Here’s the first half of March:
London Has Fallen – Ugh, a sequel to one of the blandest action films of the last decade? If you liked Olympus Has Fallen, which envisioned an attack on the White House, you’ll surely love this sequel which envisions an attack on the British equivalent: Big Ben. Wait, what? Stars Gerard Butler, Morgan Freeman, Angela Bassett, and Aaron Eckhart, directed by Babak Najafi.
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot – Tina Fey is magic on TV, but so far I haven’t seen her in a single good movie. Here’s hoping this political comedy, which sees her playing a war correspondent, will break her string of duds. In its favor: a great cast, and directors who’ve also done their best work on TV. Stars Tina Fey, Billy Bob Thornton, Martin Freeman, Margot Robbie, and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau.
Camino – This film is a genuine enigma. Director Josh Waller is responsible for two of the most heinously awful and imbecilic films of the last few years, Raze and McCanick. And star Zoe Bell, beside her stunt work and solid work with Quentin Tarantino, has not really been great in a lead role. And yet, the premise—a war photog snags footage of a beloved revolutionary committing an atrocity, and she has to escape the jungle with the evidence—is actually quite good and the film looks terrific. It also stars the great Spanish director Nacho Vigalondo in a heel turn. Stars Zoe Bell, Nacho Vigalondo, and Kevin Pollak.
Knight of Cups – I haven’t liked a Malick film since The Thin Red Line, and this one looks like his most painfully slow, self-indulgent, and oblivious film yet. That said, it’s still Terrence Malick, and the cast is out of this world. If you go for this sort of thing, you’re going to want to go for this thing. Stars Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Natalie Portman, Antonio Banderas, Freida Pinto, and Wes Bentley, directed by Terrence Malick.
10 Cloverfield Lane – I wasn’t in love with Cloverfield, but it did have some things to love and a lot of innovative ideas. This non-conventional sequel (of sorts) to the popular monster movie from 2008 takes the action to an underground bunker, where a classic sci-fi premise plays out: what if you woke up in a weirdo’s bunker and he told you the world outside had been poisoned/destroyed/whatever’d and you couldn’t leave? Bonus points for a screenplay from Damian Chazelle, who stole my heart with Whiplash (2014). Stars Mary Elizabeth Winstead and John Goodman, directed by Dan Trachtenberg.
The Brothers Grimsby – It feels like Sacha Baron Cohen has been on a slow slide into unpopularity since Bruno, which is unfortunate because he’s great. Even though I thought Bruno and The Dictator were both amazing, they both flopped. This one also doesn’t look too promising in terms of breaking that streak, even though it also looks amazing. Cohen plays a soccer hooligan who is conscripted into duty assisting his suave secret agent brother in this action comedy. Stars Sacha Baron Cohen, Mark Strong, Penelope Cruz, Ian McShane, and Rebel Wilson, directed by Louis Leterrier.
Hello My Name Is Doris – The State alums have had a mixed track record of success with their solo projects, but this one has a ton of promise; a meek 60-something is inspired to try and court her co-worker who is half her age. It’s the kind of simple premise that could lead to greatness, or oblivious and unintentional offensiveness. Stars Sally Field, Max Greenfield, and Stephen Root, directed by Michael Showalter.
Eye in the Sky – Hollywood can be so puzzling sometimes. Usually the problem is they’re too calculated on marketing, eschewing the right casting for the most potentially lucrative. But then sometimes they make films like this, with a cast so poorly put together you find yourself almost wishing for studio meddling. In this one, Helen Mirren is a British military commander who has to make life or death drone strike decisions from her high-tech bird’s eye view. Stars Helen Mirren and Aaron Paul, directed by Gavin Hood.
The Lobster – This new film by the brilliant and bizarre Greek director of Dogtooth (2009) and Alps (2011) is his first American production. It looks amazing. Imagine a world where all single people are rounded up and taken to a singles resort where they have 45 days to find a mate or they will be transformed into an animal and released into the wild. What the f*ck? This sounds great. Stars Colin Farrell, directed by Yorgos Lanthimos.
Remember – Atom Egoyan is one of the best directors around and is responsible for some of the most important films of the last quarter century. But he hasn’t exactly been killing it lately, with his last two films, The Captive and Devil’s Knot, both sucking with gusto. His new film looks like a return to the simple form that made him legendary with films like The Sweet Hereafter, Exotica, and Felicia’s Journey. Remember is the story of two elderly Holocaust survivors who go for their last chance at revenge for the murders of their families when they realize their ailments will soon make it impossible. Stars Christopher Plummer, Martin Landau, Dean Norris, Bruno Ganz, and Jurgen Prochnow, directed by Atom Egoyan.
By Ygal Kaufman